Monday, November 12, 2012

App: Doceri

Doceri is a must have app.  As I write these words, this app offers a free trial.  It will allow your iPad to share your desktops screen and there are many Interactive Whiteboard tools associated with this app.  It is easy to use and connects to your computer through a QR code or password.  The Doceri dashboard shows the QR code that could quickly connect your iPad with your MacBook.

I used it with a Keynote presentation and easily scrolled through the slides.  Then, when I wanted to highlight certain point on the slide, I just choose the interactive whiteboard feature and a highlighter tool.  Doceri also allowed me to record the presentation for others to view the screencast presentation.

I can see Doceri being used to limit the time stuck in front of the class.  It would allow you to present concepts and freely move around, which can help keep your students on-task.

Here's what you do:
  1. Download the app on your iPad
  2. Download Doceri Desktop on you MacBook
    • If you need assistance, let me know
  3. Open the Desktop App for the MacBook and the Doceri App at the same time
  4. Type your password to connect or point the the iPad camera at the QR code
  5. At this point, you should have control of your computer screen with the iPad

Using Video Game Reviews for Writing

Video Game Reviews 

Breaking into the world of student blogging can be a daunting task for many teachers.  From my experience, "book talks" are usually the first thing teachers use when taking this giant leap for student-kind.  And this is a fantastic way to get your "feet wet" with student blogging.

Nevertheless, my mind goes to the unmotivated students fairly quickly.  Of course, just because we are engaging in digital media doesn't mean that digitally-motivated students will take to blogging without instructional guidance.   Teachers still need to provide students with a set of guidelines and guidance.  It also doesn't hurt to display a few anchor papers or models of great book reviews.

From my experience, many of my unmotivated students were boys that really liked video games.  To get my unmotivated students to write anything, I would usually have to start with..."Well, what do you really like to do?"  This question would open the flood gates to a description of their fictitious wartime experience.  The following sections refer to Common Sense Media and their latest app.

Common Sense Media

I have the Common Sense Media app on my iPhone, and I would suggest it for any teacher or parent with an iPhone.  If you don't have a phone compatible with this app, go to the Common Sense Media website to locate review on various forms of media.  This reliable organization has innumerable and invaluable resources for household families and classroom families.

Lesson Idea:

Here's my idea. It's fairly simplistic. Locate a few well-written reviews of popular video games.  Then, using a document camera, the CSM website, and a LCD, display the review for students to see. When visible, read and evaluate the written video game review.  Highlight the important features of what makes the review a great example.

Step 1: Choose the "Games" category to locate game reviews.  Essentially, you can choose whatever form of media you would like.  I chose the "Games" category to appeal to my gamers.

Step 2: Locate a couple popular games the students discuss on occasion.  If you don't know what games they like, start this conversation and learn about your students' interests outside of school.  To take this a step further, refer to Paula Naugle's 10 Ten Days of Passion.  I choose Halo 4 and as you can see it received a 5 star review.  Parents are given a brief overview of the game and they can preview the storyline.

Step 3: Display and read the app review to the students.  Highlight the features that make the review standout from boring reviews.  Ask: Why is the review well-written?  Does this review make you want to buy the game?  Why?  Is it any good?

Step 4: Have students write their own reviews for different products.  Then, have students become critical friends to discuss and revise their writing.  After that, have students blog their first blog review or product review.  Do they recommend or  not recommend the product?

Tip: To evaluate an apps appropriateness, review the ratings below the review and narrative sections.

This isn't a mind-blowing idea, but just a method for reaching out to the gamers.  Overall, this idea will hopefully make writing book reviews less of a disconnected task.  It at least provides a real-world connections students can use a springboard.  Thank you Common Sense Media for giving me the common sense to utilize this app for writing instruction.

What about having students write other product reviews for multimedia?  How can this idea be taken to the next level?  What type of project could proliferate from this small idea?  Please share your thoughts.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mystery Skype

Skype in the Classroom

Many of the teachers involved in the Global Read Aloud project saw a lot of value in using Skype in the classroom. Another teacher and I were discussing her experience, and she stated that her read aloud became more interactive and focused. Rather than just reading for enjoyment, she had an instructional focus. Because the class had to be prepared for their Skype call, the students had a reason to pay attention to the reading, and "Skyping" with another classroom made the experience authentic and relevant.

Mrs. Rizo started charting all of the states and areas within Canada she has "Skyped." See the image of her map below.

Thank you to all that participated in the Global Read Aloud. It was probably a little scary at first but it was educationally valuable.

The Global Read Aloud is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many projects out there to integrate within classroom instruction. Check out Skype in the Classroom to get an idea of what classroom projects are out there regarding Skype. On this site, you join certain projects or start your own Skype project.

Mystery Skype

One that I like is called Mystery Skype. With Mystery Skype, the idea is to Skype a class in another part of the country and attempt to figure out where they are located based on simple yes/no questions. A "yes" answer allows for a follow up questions, while a "no" answer gives the opposing group the chance to ask a question. Students are broken into groups and given jobs for their Mystery Skype session.

Check out the following video overview from Langwitches:

The Mystery Skype Call from langwitches on Vimeo.

Mystery Skype Jobs

All of these jobs do not have to be utilized. They are just ideas that may help. Maybe there are some jobs missing below. What should we add? Please comment below.
  • Greeters – say hello and tell something about us without giving away our location
  • Inquirers – ask the questions of the other group
  • Question Keepers – type questions and answers on computer
  • Mappers – use atlas, Google maps etc. to zero in on the clues
  • Logical Reasoners – eliminate states that don’t match the clues
  • Clue Keepers – collect relevant information from everyone
  • Back Channelers – record what is happening during Skype call on Edmodo or Today’s Meet
  • Runners – goes between other groups and help with research and getting questions to Inquirers
  • Digital Photographers – captures the Skype call with a digital camera
  • Videographer – uses a video camera to capture what is happening
  • Twitter Updaters – is class has a Twitter account send out updates
  • Live Bloggers – write blog post on classroom blog about the Skype. Remember to end with questions to get more comments.
  • Closers – give more information about us and end the call.
  • Langwitche’s Skype jobs
  • Google Doc Job Resource
I suggest  that students write reflect on their experience.   Students could also post their jobs online to demonstrate their involvement.  A whole group reflection on Kidblog can be found here:

Possible Questions

Of course, students can think of additional questions as they eliminate states.
  • Are you in the United States?
  • Are you east/west of the Mississippi River?
  • Does your state border another country?
  • Does your state have a coastline?
  • Does your state have a mountain range in it?
  • Are you attached to a Great Lake?
  • Does the __ River flow through your state?
  • Is the capital of your state __?

Mystery Skype Resources