Thursday, December 26, 2013

Learn How To Grade Google Form Test & Quizzes Automatically with Flubaroo Script (sample videos to help) !

As an instructional technologist one of most interesting tools that I've been able to share with other teachers this year is Flubaroo which allows us to now be able to grade our Google Forms tests and quizzes automatically with the use of an additional script added to the application. This can be a great time saver and may provide a new way for doing assesment both in and out of class.

Flubaroo Helps:

  • Quickly Grade Google Form Quizzes & Tests With Percentage Values
  • Email the Grades & Correct Answers
  • View A Graphic Spreadsheet of Student Performance
  • View Student Performance on the Most Difficult Questions

Google forms have long been a great way to assess students knowledge on subjects or to collect data related to any variety of the subject. Now with the addition of a specific script you can add an answer key which will automatically go through all of the collected answers and provide an actual percentage grade for every different submission that is added to the form.

In order to successfully use Flubaroo you need to have created your test or quiz have a prepared answer key. You and also will need to know how to add the Flubaroo script into the application. The benefits of this application are great time savings as you no longer have to go to each students grades in order to grade them individually. Watch the videos in completion to get all the details before starting. I have walked through all the critical components in these videos.

Watch These 2 Videos To Learn How!

Video 1: Creating The Form

Video 2: Adding The Script and Viewing Results

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Students Leading Ed Tech Change: Drawing Inspiration From The Tech Savvy Student

In my past 8 years of teaching a variety of levels of technology fluent students in the classroom I have become exposed to the variety of different ways that students supplement their knowledge acquisition of technology skills while away from the traditional classroom. I always find it very interesting when speaking with students to discover how they found this tool or that web resource and see how they have built upon their skills completely independent of school curriculum. I am also curious how they then share and collaborate with these skills. 

Technology knowledge driven students spend hours of their time learning how to learn develop a variety of skills such as programming, research skills, web fluency and development. In this process they define goals, find resources and match those goals to projects with meaning. These students become the leaders and show superior knowledge acquisition in most classrooms. We hopefully have all met these trailblazers at some point in our educational careers, they take acquiring skills in which to create projects and develop knowledge to a new level. I love working with these students because I learn from them and I grow with them. By encouraging them I am allowed to envision what their projects goals are and how their research will impact their learning.

In my web design and mobile app development courses I often had students who had more advanced programming knowledge prior to taking my introductory course. Some of these students acquired their skills in a summer camp or other venue but many of them had found the resources themselves on the web and become familiar with the skills necessary to be complete tasks independently.We operate in a time in education in which most students have many resources to direct their own independent learning. 

I think it is important to ask students: "What skills and knowledges do they use to compensate for the knowledge’s they don't find in the traditional curriculum?" It is with their answers that educators can find the opportunity to provide students with a range of new and interesting skills. It is time to investigate what students research, and how they use their time to better understand what the world of education is for students who are doing much of their learning online. This will provide a real opportunity for educators to see what they're missing. It may lead to better formulated lessons, more comprehensive curriculum and skill based learning. 

Having a classroom open to collaboration and connecting to the real world by introducing business owners, entrepreneurship opportunities and connection to employability based soft skills can help keep your classroom vibrant and infused with learning which is relevant to world applied knowledges. The modern student is looking for the knowledge and examples to apply skills to complete projects with self defined goals which are relevant in the real world. I really believe this is at the heart of education, helping students learn and guiding them towards resources. Let's allow them to develop their own thoughts and create their own projects which can really help change the world.

Students are engaged with games like Minecraft, which enables students to create their own worlds and are able to develop their knowledge of the Java programming language to create modifications (Mods) to their games and worlds. Our current technology education system has not caught up with these trends and provided opportunities for students to develop the skills in the real world classroom. In this process we are losing out on a critical opportunity to connect with students and better understand what drives their acquisition of knowledge. We are also not able to frame their skills and build realistic connections to apply their skills in the real world. Students are deciphering the web and finding their own curriculum in order to learn how to acquire deeply engaging technology embedded skills.

Students are also learning new programming languages that their current classroom teacher has not caught onto yet. Their young active minds are moving beyond just being tech savvy and helpful when a teacher is in trouble, they have developed their own system of knowledge acquisition which plans projects and needs to be valued and encouraged in and out of the traditional classroom.

Educators are missing not only a valuable opportunity to connect but also but also a valuable opportunity to continue their personal growth with the integration of technology. Embracing the independent technology learner enables teachers to draw from student experience and knowledge and can help create more engaging lessons and strategies to connect with students. The web the way students view it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Helping Teachers Place Their Materials Online: Phase 1-Instructional Strategies & Introduction To Tools

Most teachers when thinking about how to organize their existing content into a web based format play with a variety of tools and resources such Wiki's, Edmodo or other District Based Learning Management Systems. When stuck in between these resources and still looking to have a web based presence for the classroom that offers the look of a teacher website a great option is a blog which can present presentations, links, documents and even a variety of assessments. Many districts have their own policies for teacher websites and access so it is important to check with your district about their policies before beginning and committing to any projects.

This post will include some of the central considerations to consider from an instructional design perspective and also some of the central considerations when choosing to integrate the Google Blogger platform and the associated Google docs and tools. That said, a variety go blog platforms exist and some are extremely interactive (Wordpress, Weebly, Tumblr, Typepad).  I have chosen on this post to focus on Google Blogger due to my success with integrating the tools in the classroom and also the ease in which I can explain its immediate benefits.

Planning-Instructional Design Considerations

Before creating your blogger account and Gmail for the creation of a blogger blog it is important to collect all of the content you would like to have on each section of your blog. I often encourage teachers to organize their blogs as though it will be their website for their classroom in which each course they teach will have its own page and be the focus of that area of the blog. A site map should be developed which helps organize the thinking of the content. This site map can be done formally on paper or can be outlined and integrated immediately. In the example photos below the breakdown of an AP European History course is shown. 

This teacher(photo) has identified specific presentations (PowerPoint’s) and documents (Word) which she will link of this course homepage. I have worked with this teacher to turn these documents into Google Documents for the ease of backing them up on the Google Drive Cloud and linking and sharing opportunities with students. Teachers can also integrate existing PDF's teachers may have been printing in an online format or even turn documents into PDF's.

The process of aligning your course sequence of materials and preparing them to placed on a web based platform can be tedious but it can benefit teachers to back up their documents online and improve the fluency in which they deliver materials online. The process of creating links and sequencing material also enables teachers to reconsider the order in which they present materials and can also allow them to better introduce web-based assessments using tools like Google Form, Socrative or linking to Edmodo environments. Teachers can also begin to consider the integration of screencasts of video lectures for homework or students who have missed courses. The graphic on the left was created using This site enables you to create sitemaps and organization graphics.

Discuss Teacher Strategies, Goals & Motivation

From an instructional technologists perspective it is important to have deep conversations with teachers about the intentions they have with their content online. Web platforms can quickly turn off teachers transitioning to creating more online resources. They often feel they do not deliver their materials in way their students or are used to.

Provide support as teachers delve into placing materials online. This support is critical to having teachers see the long-term benefits of web based resources and flipped classroom models. Integrating these tools consistently is a process and fluency with technology in the classroom only grows as it is being used regularly and fitting the environment intended. There will be setbacks in the process but assuring teachers that the time invested can save them time as the forward can help motivate and inspire them to create for the web.

Also assure teachers that providing web-based content does not mean they are replacing traditional instructional methods. In the beginning of this process the tools placed online should be tiered toward supporting instruction and can be used from once a week to daily depending on the comfort level with the tools and resources.

Key Tools & Tips To Consider In the Development of Blogger Blogs For Teachers

(I will be updating this page with new posts in the coming weeks with more specifics on each of these topics. I have included some sample links).
  • Organize all content for each course in a folder and review the order of instruction and course assessments and goals.(Consider creating graphic like the one above. I used
  • Set Up A Page For Each Course (This provides a separate space for each course and a way of differentiating for each class.)
  • Create A Google Calendar To Share Course Information (The same calendar in your Google email can be embedded into your blog and used to post course updates)
  • Use Of Google Drive for Storage (Using Drive can streamline linking of resources and also create an immediate backup)
  • Use Google Groups For Collaboration (An easy method for communicating with specific groups based on email address)
  • Use Google Hangouts For Offline meetings (live and recorded collaboration online with video, great for college students and adult professional development)
  • Use YouTube for videos of lectures, videos and supplemental course videos and embed them into the areas of the blog pages with HTML (Screen casting is a powerful tool for sharing screen recordings with presentations or web based instruction).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Collaborative Wiki Project In A Science Classroom

In November I had the opportunity to sit in and work with one of the science teachers at Andover High School Mollie Shenker who developed a lesson using Wikis with her students collaboratively. Students grouped in pairs were assigned a project to create a wiki, which covered invertebrates. Students added links, photos, different pages and text, which described their chosen family of invertebrates. 

Mollie was very creative with her approach to this lesson in that after students had begun their wikis she had them edit each other’s wiki and share the knowledge that each group had developed on their pages. Another twist was that the students from different classes do the editing and by doing this created great cross collaboration and sharing. 

Besides using Wikis for the creation of the pages students also used the Ipad in the class for the adding of the pages, inserting images and editing text. A tip for teachers who want to try and use Wikis on the IPad's should know is that they do not have a great view on the layout of the Ipad. It is hard to create and edit pages. A recommendation would be to have student use laptops or desktops for the use of Wikis. 

Another tool Mollie had students use to collaborate with their acquired content was Google Docs. These were used to assist students with sharing their collaborative research before it was added to the Wiki. One of the issues students found using the Ipad's with the Google Docs was the ability to add emails to share their documents without using the desktop view on the Ipad's.

Overall this project was well conceived and relied on students to use a variety of technology-based tools and develop fluency with them to gain a desired result. Another component that added a layer of detail to the students project was the creation of clear citations for all the sources from images, content and links. This added an important layer to the editing process for students an allow them to find new sources and evaluate the organization of content.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Andover Innovation Lab/Help Desk Presents At "Today's Students,Tomorrow's Teachers"(TSTT) Conference - Wheelock College Boston,Ma

Right before Christmas break(12/20/13) I had the opportunity to discuss with some future teachers the application of Project based Learning with Technology to some motivated young high school students who are interested in becoming educators at the TSTTT(Today's Students Tomorrow's Teachers) conference at Wheelock College in Boston. Today's Students,Tomorrows Teachers is a non-profit organization whose mission is:
"To recruit, mentor, and train culturally diverse and economically challenged students from high school through college and place them as effective teachers and committed leaders who strengthen schools and communities."

Wheelock College TSTT Conference
Myself (Dan Downs) and the Help Desk Intern Zach Griffin, Digital Learning Specialist Barbara Murray,Director of Digital Learning Joanne Najarian and 3 female students from Andover High School traveled down to the conference together and spent and an engaging afternoon together collaborating with the students and presenting to them a variety of teaching strategies and perspectives on working in education.

My Presnetation(Link In Text)
The conference at Wheelock  provided an opportunity for this high school students to engage in meaningful dialogue about what it means to be a teacher with educators. My presentation was focused on showing them the benefits of a PBL curriculum using technology and how projects engage students on a different level and enable students to acquire a range of leadership, technology and collaboration skills as they complete projects(My Presentation Link). The girls also had an opportunity to learn about how to use Wikispaces (Presentation of Zach Griffin,IT Intern) and ask critical questions about what the process of becoming a teacher really is. 
The conference was a great opportunity to engage the students with the benefits of the teaching profession and answer their questions. I hope that the girls that I met during my presentation follow through on their goal of going into education and can help influence the lives of other youth. The experience included a variety of media presentations on the importance of 21st century skills for students and the chance for students to interact with educators outside of the classroom.

For more information about this program check out their website: