Monday, March 31, 2014

Turn in ANYTHING to TurnItIn?!

Since I'm not in the classroom accepting and grading assignments anymore, I don't venture onto TurnItIn much these days. When I was teaching English, I relied heavily on it for collecting assignments and checking originality, sometimes venturing into the GradeMark aspect and trying out the peer review system. I know that TurnItIn has made vast improvements to its system over the last few years including a new, more user-friendly GradeMark interface and a new iPad app that allows grading on TurnItIn without an internet connection (I would have loved THAT five years ago).

This morning I went to TurnItIn to check some stats from the administrative perspective. The homepage got me VERY excited:

Grade ANYTHING? I had to learn more. Apparently this was a new concept introduced earlier this month. According to the press release,
"The groundbreaking functionality appeals to instructors across the curriculum who increasingly are assigning student projects beyond the traditional written paper, such as presentations, spreadsheets, visual designs and calculations. In addition, instructors who need to evaluate student work that does not require a file submission, such as a live dance performance or musical recital, can use Turnitin’s new grading template to provide timely and meaningful feedback to students."
I broke out my headphones and watched every demo available when I clicked the "Learn More" button...

Grading PowerPoint presentations DURING the presentation on an iPad? AWESOME. Having math students submit their homework by taking PICTURES of their work? GENIUS. Use a special grading template to provide feedback for performances with no file submitted to TurnItIn? EXCELLENT.

I'm excited to explore this more with our teachers. Cor Jesu has had a subscription to TurnItIn for a long time and some teachers use it religiously.  However, it has always been seen as a tool for those teaching in the humanities, grading essays and other written work. This development gives me hope that teachers in other disciplines might be willing to explore it - especially after we integrate it with our Moodle system over the summer (finally). Updates to come...

Interested in exploring more? A few helpful links...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Blogging is SCARY

I had no idea what goes into maintaining a blog. Granted, right now my goal is simply to provide information, resources, etc. to my colleagues (not get famous or make money) and a blog seemed an easier venue than a newsletter, but wow. As I explore Blogger and read, well, blogs ABOUT blogging, I get intimidated. So many things to consider.

On top of that, I'm also trying to delve further into social media as a way of getting professional development... which puts one more thing on my daily to-do list, but can also be helpful in this blogging thing. Just checked Twitter for the first time in a week (goodbye, spring break) and saw this linked by another local ed tech colleague (thanks @sueandrewstech):

11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs [Infographic]
Like this infographic? Get content marketing advice that works from Copyblogger.

Definitely a resource I will revisit and encourage my coworkers to visit when they venture into blogging some day. Here is the blog post in which the infographic was originally published; it's full of links to help with the 11 ingredients.

Scrolling through my Twitter feed a little more, I stumbled on a post from one of my favorite ed tech bloggers, Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne). I've been following his Free Technology for Teachers blog for a few years now (I was still teaching English when I discovered it) and have used and shared many of his posts. This caught my eye:

I know that people make a living by blogging, but the idea is actually exhausting to me.  So I thought this blog post could give me a little perspective. And yes, it did. But what I really learned by clicking Richard's link and reading the post was that he maintains TWO blogs. WHAT?! A blog about ed tech and a blog about... BLOGGING. He really might be my new guru.  

UPDATE (3/27/14) - I had initially figured out how to embed the infographic into this blog post thanks to the instructions on its source.  Now I'm excited because I just figured out that I could embed a Tweet into a blog post.  No more opening Snipping Tool, applying Snipping Tool, saving picture, inserting picture, etc.  Just a little HTML code to plug in! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Webinars on the Way - sign up for more free PD

Webinars really can provide us with great professional development for free and without leaving the comfort of our homes and/or desks.  Often they take on a very informal atmosphere because they are done via a social forum like Google Hangouts.  When we participate in them live, we can contribute to the conversation via chat, video conferencing, etc., depending on the format and venue.  

As a follow-up to my last post listing archived and on-demand webinars to explore, I thought I'd link you to some upcoming webinars that might be of interest. All of these are free, but do require registration. is a "professional social and learning network" for educators and is free for anyone to join.  Within the network, there are over 1,000 "communities", or groups, to join as global PLCs. Something to consider joining for professional development and networking.  Or if you don't want to register for yet another group, you can follow the network on Twitter @edwebnet.

The group provides a calendar of upcoming webinars here, sometimes providing multiple a day.  I specifically thought these might be interesting...

Get your students involved with this session!
WHEN:  Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM (Eastern Time)
Hosted by Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation
In this special webinar presented by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, teachers are invited to bring their students and colleagues to hear the personal story of the Medal of Honor Recipient, Harold “Hal” A. Fritz, who received his Medal for his actions near Quan Loi, South Vietnam in 1969, during the Vietnam War.  Hal Fritz is currently the President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which is comprised solely of the 75 living Medal of Honor Recipients.

During this webinar, Hal Fritz will discuss what the Medal of Honor means to him and how it has affected his life.  He will take questions about his experiences and will share his thoughts on character, commitment, and bravery.  The program will be moderated by Noel Wall, Director of Education at the Medal of Honor Foundation.
This webinar is part of a series of webinars on the free Character Development Program, based on the Medal of Honor Recipients' stories, which includes 50+ lesson plans and 100 video vignettes on aspects of courage, integrity, sacrifice, commitment, citizenship, and patriotism.

Webinar attendees will receive details on how to access the full free Character Development Program, available online and on DVD.

Not flipping? Have your students create the videos!
WHEN: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM (Eastern Time) 
ABOUT: Presented by Richard Byrne, Digital Learning Consultant - Free Technology for Teachers
Between cell phones and tablets, it seems that nearly every student has access to a video camera today. In our community’s next webinar, Digital Learning Consultant Richard Byrne will share some of the ways that your students can demonstrate knowledge of content and process - through the use of free video creation apps and web tools. From short, one-take video reports to longer documentary videos to bringing creative writing to life, there is something here that all teachers can put to use in their classrooms. Here are some of the topics Richard will explore during this session:
  • Flipping the flipped classroom by having students create short video lessons for each other
  • How to video blog with YouTube and Blogger and why you might want your students to blog this way
  • Adding videos to augmented reality experiences
  • Creating animated videos to bring students' writing to life
  • Sharing students’ video projects while being mindful of privacy concerns
Join us on March 26 to learn ways to use video creations as demonstrations of learning with your students. is a professional development group with a goal of helping "teachers and schools leverage technology to create student-centered, inquiry-based learning environments". You can sign up for a monthly newsletter from the group, or visit the Tools for Teachers page to get resources. The group seems to specialize in webinars, some of which I linked in my previous post.  

Here are two upcoming webinars that sound relevant to CJ teachers.  The links provided take you to the list of webinars and registration is available on that page...

Get collaborating and using the cloud...
WHEN: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 7:00pm EST
Google Apps, Chrome, and Drive - use one of these Google tools, or all of them, and endless possibilities open up for creation, communication, and collaboration. In just one hour, we'll give you a speed tour through "all things Google" to give you some ideas for how you can bring these tools into your classroom.

Gaming in education - it's a thing.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 7:00pm EST
What can we learn from games? Come explore the many ways that you can use game dynamics and gamification to increase learning and boost engagement in your STEM classroom. Discover how popular games such as Minecraft and SimCity provide playgrounds for creativity and robust opportunities for collaboration and critical thinking in the classroom. Finally, learn about the many opportunities for coding and computer science that are embedded in the process of having kids designing and programming games as a demonstration of their learning.

Sign up for one of these webinars? Get something good from it? Comment below to let us know!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Professional Development, Spring Break Style: from your COUCH

If you...
  • don't have big plans for spring break
  • still need to get in some webinar/video professional development in this semester
  • want to explore some ideas in technology
... take a look at some of the following webinar possibilities.  Some are archived from past sessions, while some are on-demand options.  All are FREE.

From EdTechTeacher:

Below are just a few that seemed interesting/relevant - click above to see the entire list of the archives.
  • WHY Innovate? (1 hr) Winter 2014 - This session focuses on moving forward in our ways of thinking, with emphasis on the way we design our learning spaces.  
  • Creating a Connected Classroom (1 hr 4 min) Oct 2013 - From the Connected Educator Month series, four experts discuss what a connected classroom is, ways to connect students, teachers, etc. to others for learning, and obstacles to connecting.
  • Digital Citizenship in Connected Classrooms (1 hr 2 min) Oct 2013 - From the Connected Educator Month series, experts expound on digital citizenship and how to teach it, encourage it, etc.
  • How Great Teachers Reinvent Their Classrooms (56 min) Aug 2013 - A session exploring what it looks like when teachers use mobile technologies to reinvent their classroom practices

From EducationWeek:

The sessions below are two that seemed specifically relevant to recent conversations at CJ.  More "on-demand" webinars are available at the link above.  All require registration (providing name, email address, etc.) but are free to view. 
  • Time for a Change: A Proven Solution for Blended Project-Based Learning (1 hr) Feb 2014 - "Michael Golden, education strategist and CEO of Educurious, discusses how school leaders can create profound impacts on student learning and teacher development using blended project-based learning, technology, professional development, and connections with real-world experts."
  • Reaching Every Student in Every Class Every Day: The Flipped Classroom (1 hr) Jan 2014 - "Join flipped classroom pioneer Jon Bergmann as he walks through his transformation from a 20-year lecturer to a flipped-class pioneer. Bergmann will demonstrate how blended learning can transform today's educational climate, increase student learning outcomes, and the key considerations for administrators who want to begin implementing flipped learning in their schools."

From METC:

Watch any of the virtual sessions from the Midwest Education Technology Conference last month:

Kevin Honeycutt
April Burton
Josh Stumpenhorst
Kyle Schutt
Lodge McCammon
Howie DiBlasi
Lodge McCammon
Tiffany Whitehead
Robert Deneau, Greg Lawrence, Bill Bass, Cindy Lane, Drew McAllister, Keri Skeeters, Michael McCann, Robert Dillon
Kevin Honeycutt
Robert Dillon
Howie DiBlasi

Watch one of these? Find it interesting? Leave a comment below!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Welcome to The Charging Spot!

Say goodbye to the CJ Ed Tech Update that has appeared in your inbox over the last six months. Say hello to The Charging Spot, our new ed tech blog here at Cor Jesu.  

Why a blog? 
  • Faster way to share ideas, resources, stories, etc.
  • Flexible - can share one short anecdote or write an entire post devoted to a topic
  • Set up the design once and it's good to go - no tricky formatting for each story
  • Searchable - it becomes an archive of resources
  • Trying something new!
I'll still send emails every once in a while, but you can also choose to subscribe to this blog via various methods (more to come later).

If you have tech success stories or resources to share, or would like a topic covered in the blog, let me know!