Internet Tools for Teaching

Education & Technology….YES!

Introductions

Hi. My name is Amy Weinberger. I am a current Wilkes graduate student. I have had my own educational business, The Thinking Center, since 1991. My initial start was in  public and private school settings. I have had the good fortune to create, implement, and direct two private schools and two social skills camps for high-functioning Aspergers and AD/HD children and teens. At this point, I am full time director of The Thinking Center .

I have the continual opportunity to  differentiate curriculum  hourly. My company, The Thinking Center, has two divisions – interventions for struggling learners specializing in reading and language delays and educational strategic planning which includes 504 and IEP audits, curriculum and small educational business audits that lead to innovations, problem solving, and technology operations, collaborations with school systems, school placements for students, as well as, college planning for students in the arts and sports.
My original training is in 7-12 social studies, but my career has lead me down the path of sensory-integration, cognitive, reading and neuro-education training which I integrate daily via teaching, consulting or planning either 1-1 in person or via Skype or other online platform. I hope to take from the course more research-based outcomes of technology implementation for students with learning disabilities. My most recent project that I am involved in is the production and roll out of an online special needs advocacy training training course for graduate levels credits.
An advantage of entrepreneurship is the availability of new technology without permissions from a top down administration. Another advantage is the families that walk through the door are interested in making learning go easier for students. Technology is that cornerstone for most of our students. To the section addressing summarizing and notetaking from the instructional strategies categories, I would add the app Noteability (high school +), Educreations (elementary +) , and Showme (5years old +). I currently use all three for specific purposes. Most of the students we see have mild to moderate language delays. For example, Educreations is a whiteboard that allows students to record their voices while they read, import a picture and create, take and manage notes, and create presentations, and even practice handwriting. There are also feature lesson plans from other teachers to access. Under non-linguistics, I currently use Web 2.0 tools like Prezi in place of PowerPoint because it is more streamlined for students with sequencing difficulties. I was recently I introduced to the beta version of visualize.me for a graphic representation of resùmè development. For brainstorming, Mindomo has been effective particularly for 11 years old plus.
Regarding collaborative learning, I would add the following to the list: Google Hang-out, Skype, and/or gotomeeting.com ( more secure than Skype, but has a monthly fee). I currently use the latter two daily depending on the nature of the conversations. Finally, in the area of setting objectives and providing feedback, I simply recommend texting and Google calendar. For example, I homeschool our son. I use texting to help set goals for the day and Google calendar to confirm exams, tutorial sessions, and other appointments. As far as feedback, we share screens via TeamMeeting or Skype. TeamMeeting allows us to use use one cursor and edit together which allows me to be across the room from him and not over his shoulder. While it is similar toGoogle docs, it seems a bit more effective for our needs.

 

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Me.com

I feel like the links and posts do represent my learning from the recent past and present. I felt relieved to have a place to consolidate. I enjoyed the process so much, I am beginning to think this is the best way to manage my student’s progress overtime. The way I made the documenting decisions was based on my saved files on my hard drive and social networks I already belong too. I am sure I have left information out that just isn’t apparent, but I feel like I have a handle on my own representation. 
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Broadcast Yourself

I used USTREAM (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/being-social) to conduct a discussion about “being social”  which actually lead into a discussion about what a school day would look like when social gets in the way. Most of the participants agreed that online learning or one-to-one environments cures the social problem if there is one for an individual. The participants ranged in age from 13-21.  While the conversation proved to be of some value, the experience was frustrating for all users.

It was a fail overall from a technology point of view. Skype and  Google Hang-out are far more efficient, but I wanted to try a site that I was unfamiliar with so that I could compare. The good news is that I had up to eleven people join, but not all were able to directly participate because of a variety of issues: unable to comment on participant’s end, unable to type in the box because it was skipping letters and would not send, did not seem to interface as easily using an iPad, for a different student the stream wouldn’t work without refreshing, the text box offered limited characters so you could not complete a thought, and by the time we decided to go through FB, the session had ended! Interestingly, broadcasting and recording were quite efficient, but the feedback had a seven second delay and clearly stated that, but when working in real-time, it’s too much of a delay. All of my posts were obnoxiously attached to my Facebook and Twitter pages, and I had to unpopulate them which I easily did. I did not like that I could not hear my audience. It made me feel like I was talking to myself. I was hoping for a talk-show like interface, but that did not happen. I am so glad that it was my own students, cousins and kids who joined this broadcast because they had enough patience and understood the purpose.

I “advertised” it via text mails, and Facebook public and private messages. Tonight was my air date because I have been traveling between Florida and Utah for a educational consultant trip. Luckily, I returned by Saturday at midnight to complete this project.

In conclusion, I will not use USTREAM, and I will stick with Google Hang-Out for webinars for now.

 

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THE HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR COOKBOOK & Social Media

EDUCATORS GUIDE

I was granted explicit permission via e-mail by the author of the cookbook to revamp the guide for educators so that it includes social network opportunities. I have also created a Pinterest board as an example which is posted to the right of the blog space.

 Program Overview

The teaching of the Holocaust is mandatory in several states.  Even where such education is not required by law teaching students about the Holocaust can have a profound impact on their understanding and appreciation for tolerance and the cultural differences that make us unique.

 This project is designed to give students an historical perspective of the Holocaust, while promoting the ideals of family and community.  Using the stories and recipes of Holocaust survivors, students will participate in a program that encourages cooperation and team work while teaching virtues such as respect, compassion and perseverance.  Students will also gain a better appreciation for food and how it connects traditions and cultures to families.

Prior to the curriculum, contact your local Jewish Federation or the U.S. Holocaust Museum for Survivors who can Skype in for interactive interview if they are not able to visit your classroom.

Project and Timeline – 8th Grade -High School

(For Students Who Don’t Live Near a Holocaust Museum)

 Week 1:

Create a private Pinterest account and enter the emails of each of your classmates for private viewing and/or a Videolicious account to start collecting images, interviews, cooking or baking demonstrations, interviews between you and other students, parents and Survivors. Explore your own personal family recipes and take pictures of them to post on your Pinterest account. Watch the video http://bit.ly/13eLwex with Sarah Caras that introduces the story behind the cookbook. Distribute copies of Holocaust Survivor Cookbook to each student. Explain How to Use This Cookbook to students. Have students begin to browse through the cookbook to find a story that touches their heart. Record using Videolicious to understand why he/she choose this story, and post to our class wiki on http://kidblog.org/home/.

Weeks 2-5:

 Students will learn and cook from the Holocaust Survivor Cookbook.

  • Students will interview one other student about a favorite recipe or meal that is memorable from their family. Help students create at least four interview questions that they can use to interview their classmates. Record the memory using Videolicious. Post on our class wiki. Find a picture from the internet that matches the final recipe that you are describing or bring a photo from home regarding the favorite meal or recipe. Post it to your Pinterest account.
  • Reread the story from Day one and share your Videolicious compilation with a partner. Reread the story today and choose three virtues from it. Find a picture on the internet to represent each of the virtues and pin it to your Pinterest board. Include a caption under the virtue.
  • Based on recipe and story chosen, create your Pinterest Board. Your board must include:
      • Recipe being prepared
      • Photos of survivor
      • Story of survivor
      • 3 Virtues (Completed on previous days.)
  • Homework Project 1: Share your Pinterest and Wiki with your family. Interview them using Videolicious about their favorite story about a recipe or food memory.
  • Homework Independent Project: Go to Pinterest account and view other classmates pins. Choose three that are most appealing to you. Copy them and add to your Wiki page and describe in a paragraph (4-5 sentences) each why the pins appeal to you.
  • Students create shopping list of items needed to prepare food.  Students meet with teacher to go over individual recipes and answer questions regarding preparation tasks.  Type up list and pin it. Those students who can go shopping independently will take care of their own list, otherwise, teacher collects shopping list and gives date for student demonstration.  Note:  Depending on number of students in classroom, the cooking project may require 2-3 weeks assuming, two students per class period.  Each student will:  (1) Give a summary of the story and choose one virtue from the story to explain and how it relates his/her life. (2) Show the food prep demonstration and already have the final dish prepared from home. (3) Share samples to each student who has to taste it with eyes closed to discuss the experience from a sensory perspective. *A student must choose a partner to video using the Vimeo app which the videographer will edit for the student and post on our class wiki.
  • Prepare for virtual or live interviews with Holocaust Survivors.  As the final piece to the project, students will prepare for and host local community members to share what they learned and how the project inspired them to build a stronger community.  Students will trace the entire project from beginning to end, one or two stories from the cookbook will be shared with the community, and students will explain what they learned from this experience.  Students will also serve food for guests to sample from the Holocaust Survivor Cookbook.  They will also pair with a community member or Holocaust Survivor to share their social media projects with them.

 Sponsorship

It is quite possible that a local supermarket (or other business) may want to sponsor the program by providing the food and any other items needed.

  • See  sample Sponsorship Poster

 

Project Inspiration

In the spring of 2009, Sandy Brock, Family & Consumer Sciences teacher at Pine Ridge Middle School in Naples, FL, attended a program at the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida about the Holocaust Survivor Cookbook, presented by Joanne Caras.  Sandy was immediately convinced of the cookbook’s value as a teaching tool, particularly in her classes and contacted Amy Snyder, Education Director at the Holocaust Museum, to brainstorm possible programs using the Holocaust Survivor Cookbook as the centerpiece.  Their program has been a huge success with over 700 students participating.  They have graciously allowed us to modify it to meet the needs of educators all across the country. We give our heartfelt gratitude to these amazing women.

 Sample Questions for Survivors

Teachers can arrange for Holocaust Survivors to share their personal stories with students in the classroom through theHolocaustMuseum.  A summary of the Survivor’s experience will be provided to the teacher ahead of time for students to write appropriate questions.  During the presentation, a Museum representative will go through the questions and weed out ones that will be answered during the course of the talk.  He/she will facilitate the questions following the Survivor’s talk.

 

  • How old were you when the Holocaust was happening?
  • Do you have any siblings?  What happened to them?
  • Were you in a ghetto or concentration camp?  What were the conditions like?
  • Were you in hiding with family members or by yourself?
  • Do you remember any specific family traditions?
  • What did you eat in the ghetto/camp/in hiding?
  • Where you ever reunited with your family?
  • How and why did you come to theUnited States?

 Excellent Stories and Recipes from the Cookbook

Rena  Finder and Rozia Ferber Pg. 211  “Brownies”.   Initially it is the recipe for these brownies that capture the students attention and get them excited to make brownies from scratch. However when they read the bio on Rena and Rozia, making the brownies take on a new meaning,  Rena shares her tragic experience of loss  and her close relationship she had with her mother.  This story allows students to reflect on what it would be like to lose your family and how important our family ties should be.

Erika Weibel Kuss “Chicken Paprikasch” page 185.  Chicken Paprikasch  was not made by a lot of students but clearly it was a favorite by the class who had a group prepare this delicious chicken dish. When the students discuss the story of their survivor,  I like them to try and make a connection in some way with the survivor and the student’s personal life.   Erika’s story of perseverance, hard work, and sacrifice for her children are qualities students today can identify with and appreciate within their family unit.

Eva Weigl Shankman “Nut Cresents” page 284.  A number of students from different classes made the nut cresent cookies.  The story about Eva Weigl Shankman, and her mother and father’s struggle to get toAmerica made a “connection” for many of my students.  Eva states in her story her mother died at 47 years old and “never saw the place she longed for years to be-America.”  Many of my students could relate or have a better appreciation for what their grandparent’s or parent’s may have gone through to get toAmerica and give their family a better life.

 Bronia Furst  “Rugelach” page 241. This is a wonderful story of a young girl whose strength a courage led to a reunion with her mother after the war.  Students will relate to Bronia because she was a teenager during the war. The recipe is also very delicious.

 Rachel Epstein and Leon Malmed “Gratin Dauphinois” page 138.  This is an important story because the two children, Rachel and Leon, were saved form death because of the courage and kindness of Christian neighbors who hid them from the Nazis, risking their own lives and their children’s lives in the process.  The recipe is fromFrance, where Rachel and Leon were hidden.

Grading for Food Demo & Pinterest Media

 Food Demonstration

Possible Actual Points             

  1. Organized (everyone knows what to do)                                   25pts.
  2. Work as a team (no “shut-up”/bossy)                                        25pts.
  3. Look and Taste of Product & Nutrient Value                            25pts.
  4. Clean-up (spaces cleaned, counters/sink wiped)                     25pts.

Total: 100pts.

 Survivor Pinterest Presentation, Videolicious & Vimeo Clips

                                                                                            Possible Actual Points

  1. Easy to Follow                                                              25pts.
  2. Followed Directions of Each Activity                    25pts.
  3. Sequential Order of Events                                      25pts.
  4. Daily Work Grade                                                       25pts.

Total: 100 pts.

Grand Total: 200 pts.          

 

 

 

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When I Knew

When I Knew….

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Feedback from Creator of Educreations

My original intention was to share the feedback from the Lexile company, but feedback from the Educreations app developer, Wade Roberts, arrived first.

Hi Amy,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on our app.

In addition to being viewable on any iPad that has our free app installed, all Educreations videos are viewable on any computer that supports Adobe Flash player, and nearly all do. I’m not sure why you had such trouble viewing your lessons on your computer, but I’d recommend verifying that you have an up to date Adobe Flash install.

Then, I’d recommend that you verify that you’re using the correct link to send your videos to others, as noted below. There are a couple different ways to share lessons with people.

Sharing your lessons privately:

To share lessons privately, you can share a special link to your private lesson via email or other means. When you share this link with others, those people will be able to view your lesson, even if they are not logged into Educreations.

To get this link on the iPad, tap the share button on the My Lessons screen. Then either tap on the email icon to share a link to your lesson via email, or tap the gray link icon to copy the link for pasting elsewhere. To copy this link on our website, head to the lesson’s playback page and look in the right-side menu. Note that you should not simply copy the URL in the address bar of your browser.

Sharing your lessons publicly:

If you want to share several videos at once, you may find it easier to direct people to your public Educreations profile page. To get to your profile page, log into our site and click on your name in the upper right corner. Simply copy your profile page’s URL in your browser so you can share it.

Only your public lessons are visible on your profile to users who aren’t logged in, so make sure to select the public privacy setting when saving your lesson. You can change a lesson’s privacy setting by editing your lesson settings on our site.

Embedding your lessons on other sites:

You can also embed your lessons on an external website, like your blog. Only public lessons can be embedded, so make sure to choose the “public” option in your lesson’s privacy settings. If you’re using our iPad app, copy the lesson embed code by tapping on the share button on the My Lessons screen. Then tap the gray link icon for the video you wish to embed and select the “Copy Embed Code” option. To get the embed code on our website, visit the lesson playback page for the lesson you want to embed. On the right side of the page, you’ll find a link that says, “embed on the web.” Once you click this link, you’ll be prompted to copy an embed code that you can use to post your lesson anywhere on the web.

Please let me know if I can answer any other questions.

Best,
Wade

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Twitter…Intense Social Networking

While I have had a Twitter account, I am not proficient at it, and I have not applied it to anything directly educationally. Well, I take that back. I actually have, but it led to nowhere.  I was trying to reach out to the Khan Academy developer because I am enthralled about the democratization of education. I browsed through the categories and there was nothing regarding how to teach reading. I have been on this kick ever since to present Khan Academy with short videos on how to really teach reading. I will have to get back to that, though. I used Twitter to try to connect, but the problem – I had no clue as to what I was doing. Apparently, I have not been alone, but this next quote dates me, and I clearly need to catch up. According to the NielsenWire, “Currently, more than 60 percent of U.S. Twitter users fail to return the following month, or in other words, Twitter’s audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month’s users who come back the following month, is currently about 40 percent” (Martin, 2009). This is not the story in 2013. It now has 10,674,000 unique visitors per month which is a 122% increase over past years. Twitter is now ranked seventh as a most popular app on the Android market (“Nielsen tops of,” 2012).

So the Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything directory (http://bit.ly/WYMHiw) category to be studied is Twitter for Teachers. Holy moly, when I opened my account, I found that I have 11 followers. I knew ten out of the eleven, but clearly I am not making any big impact in this market. From tweetclouds to twubs to twitvid, I am a lost bird. A week is simply not enough time to learn the highly specialized jargon, apply it and make an impact. There are clear reasons why Twitter can have a place in education: it is a source for current and breaking news. So I tried my hand at it, but I must say that I cannot prove that I know this social networking technology as well as the other site and applications of Lexile® or Educreations.

I started with something familiar so I could feel some success with Twitter. I went to my LinkedIn account. I belong to many groups and can usually find useful articles, pictures or other postings that are meaningful enough for me to post. I started posting. Next, I updated my profile and linked my tweets to my Facebook account, activated Twitter messaging capabilities, updated my e-mail settings, chose a design, checked in on which applications are currently accessing my Twitter account and configured a widget. I added people from my Gmail list to follow. I browsed the categories and found nothing appealing to follow. I am just not attracted to knowing that kind of information.  I did reply to Sanja Gupta’s tweet about farmers supplying energy. I offered up the following site – http://bit.ly/XwODej which happens to be a venture that my dad is involved in. By following the Discover page, I learned where the breaking news stories are stored. There are keyboard shortcuts listed under the Settings tab. I even installed the Twitter app on my iPhone. I guess that makes me an official tweeter? I learned how to integrate Dropbox videos as a tweet (http://db.tt/isFXQcwl ). I didn’t feel brave enough to actually try the hashtags or twubs. That just pushed me over the edge. Twitter is the kind of site that isn’t just for the casual social networker. Done right, it’s a branding site for people, places, things and ideas – the perfect place for nouns. The site does have a place for teachers, but they really need to be proficient and comfortable with it before introducing and integrating it into the classroom. It seems like a better use would be for cooperative learning between teachers who are attending a seminar or workshop. Used efficiently, twitter seems to attract big audiences.

Twitter does have an e-mail sign in, but it is completely compatible on standard computers, mobile accessories and the iFamily products. The site is not filled with advertisements, music is available to follow, and it doesn’t have a price tag on it. Is it easy to use, integrate, and follow? For the most part, it is. It seems that one must be consistent with using it to receive feedback. Of the three sites I explored, I would suggest that Twitter holds the least educational value, but if it were compared to other types of sites, it might be in the number one spot.

Resources:

Martin, D. (2009, April 28). Twitter quitters post roadblock to long-term growth. Retrieved from http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/twitter-quitters-post-roadblock-to-long-term-growth/

Nielsen tops of 2012: Digital. (2012, December 20). Retrieved from http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/nielsen-tops-of-2012-digital/

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Educreations…for the iPad Only!

After much discovering and debating, I finally choose a site to explore under the topic of iPad – Teaching and Learning on Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything. It is the app called Educreations, and it was listed in two different categories: Assessment and Understanding. It states that it integrates with both iPad and a regular computer account, but that is not the case. It is “a recordable interactive whiteboard that captures your voice and handwriting to produce video lessons that you can share online. Students and colleagues can replay your lessons in any web browser, or from within our app on their iPads” (Streeter, 2012).  It is fresh, organizing, and manageable for all ages. I prepared two examples for this assignment: one is a silent presentation about the advanced code stories about how the written English language works, and the other is a student working on his alphabet sequencing by writing the lower case alphabet. I offer the links here: http://bit.ly/YksTmC and http://bit.ly/VOv1YR . You are welcome to open them, but like me you will be disappointed that the links do not work in a non-iPad platform. I assumed that they worked because I sent the latter one to a family so that they could see the work their son did with me during a session. Upon further investigation, when I saved the lessons, I used a private setting which seems to prohibit me from sharing. The most recent ones that I have completed are on one of my student’s personal iPads. We complete reading lessons on them. Another one of my student used it this past week to create a presentation about the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France (http://bit.ly/14MtWkI). I tried downloading a featured lesson as well on my computer web browser with no success, however, it is accessible on my iPad, and I did upload one to my Facebook page. When I clicked through it to watch it, it still did not play the lesson. I had another alternative in mind. I went to my mail on my iPad. I had sent the link to my e-mail. I opened it, and it completely integrated with my iPad by immediately interfacing with Educreations. I was relieved. Resolution – you definitely need an iPad for Educreations.

The best feature is that the whiteboard gives someone the ability to teach what they know instantly. The key to its functionality is the record button. Whether you speak or not, it captures your drawings, text, or internet images and allows for movement, resizing, and rotations. It offers plenty of colors to choose from when writing or drawing, and it is easy to change between colors seamlessly when you are emphasizing texts or pictures. Making a mistake is quickly rectified with the back button or you can simply clear the page and start over. It is also easy to go between pages. For my students with vision issues, it allows for text enlargements with a simple touch of the “T” icon. It evens has a left-hand mode for students- that offers versatility. It offers the opportunity for students to practice using their fingers to write or draw. So, it’s a perfect application for students with graphomotor concerns. When you create a lesson, it logs it via the most recent date and the time. You can title the lessons, as well. For me it offers a pre and post model of progress. Many of my younger students do not know either the upper or lower case alphabets when they arrive. We can track the progress with Educreations. Fortunately, many of my students have their own iPads, and most of the work is stored on their devices. There are some new features that have recently arrived in the updates. For example, you can now choose a background of white paper, lined or graph paper or a coordinated grid. You can also duplicate a page and then add or delete as needed. Unfortunately, you are not able to edit your video once you have pressed the done button. It does give you the option of saving it or starting the lesson over. While there is an option to import your photos, there is also the option of importing videos, pictures, and docs from your Dropbox account which I have. It is also possible to import images from the web. They have somehow streamlined the images that appear in a visually easy platform. I did recently participate in a survey that the co-founder, Wade Roberts, sent to me. One of the wishes posted was to be able to save the whiteboard pages separate from the recordings and to reuse the lesson templates for multiple recordings. Another wish includes having the capability to save a lesson in progress.

This app actually stacks up pretty well regarding my criteria for choosing apps. While it does ask for an e-mail address, it is to receive the blogs about the site and other pertinent information. This is a grass-roots app, and has certainly added functionality to process of writing, sequencing, recording, project planning, and integrating with other applications by a simple touch. It is also free which makes it cost effective.

Resource:

Streeter, C. (Designer). (2012). Educreations. [Web Graphic]. Retrieved from http://www.educreations.com/

 

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Frye’s Readability Info & The Lexile® Framework for Reading

I have divided up the three selections into three different blog posts to make it easier to read, manage and reference too.

By far, Kathy Schrock’s directory was most appealing to me, and I chose to spend my time researching the knowledge that she has diligently organized about internet tools.  She posted her first website in 1995. I traced back in time what I was doing at that point – I was nursing and not using a virtual app to do it. It gave me a chuckle. My selections are overtly educational.

The exploration process led me on many adventures, all of which I chose to participate in. I experienced three main challenges:  managing all the material available, getting side-tracked and refocusing on the assignment regarding three sites that are interesting to me personally, linking the technology together and embracing the plethora of tech lingo.  So, after I clicked and investigated most of the topics on the sidebar out of pure curiosity, I created a ranking plan for the three topic areas that I wanted to study for this assignment. They included: Frye’s Readability Info, iPads – Teaching and Learning, and Twitter for Teachers.

Frye’s Readability Info page is filled with articles, directions, research and concise databases of readability material. Since we had to register for a site, I chose http://bit.ly/Y30jXP, The Lexile® Framework for Reading because of the company behind the it, MetaMetrics has created a consistent, common scale that teachers, librarians, and parents can use to universally monitor reading progress throughout a school year, and it has created a level playing field for reading progression. The Lexile® Analyzer measures reading ability and text difficulty While I am familiar with using Lexiles scores because of the reading division of my company, I have never actually used the Lexile Analyzer mainly due to time constraints. If I wasn’t already familiar with typical technology and conversion processes, I would have been stopped in my tracks by the directions for scanning text for grade level readability. Take a look: http://bit.ly/WaLtzj. However, I felt confident enough to proceed to analyze part of one of my own blog texts, Reading…Redesigned and Rewired. The results are as follows: Lexile® Measure = 1320L, Mean Sentence Length = 23.00, Mean Log Word Frequency = 3.44, and Word Count = 345. The Lexile® range of measurements is from 200L to 1700L. When helping a student determine appropriate reading material that fits his readability, his/her range is 100L points below the calculated to 50L above it. In other words, a student with a Lexile® score of 1220L to 1370L would be a candidate to read this particular blog post. The measure is also weighing in on semantics or text complexity like vocabulary and word frequency. This can make comprehension more or less challenging for a student. The scores, however, do not tell us about age-appropriateness like a movie rating does. Whether the content of a book is age-appropriate is still left up to the parent or the teacher.

By understanding and using the Lexile® Analyzer, I can make my job much more precise for my students and their parents. On the reading side of my company, it should be one of the first tools I implement in a student’s remediation process because parents can participate in its monitoring. While, there is a 1000 word limitation per text at the “free” level, most of the students I see have never read that much text. Some other advantages of using this website consistently are it allows me to build a profile for each of my clients based on range of Lexiles® and interests, and then create custom book lists for them. I can even put in my client’s zip code and find a book for them at their local community library. My hypothesis was to convert the unique book lists URLs to QR codes to text to my parents so that when they are at libraries, bookstores or shopping in on-line book stores, they would have their lists readily available. So I organized this for a 4th grade client up in New Jersey. First, I put in the Lexiles® range for her, copied the URL in a QR Code generator, saved it to my hard drive, and texted it to me first to test it. Unfortunately, the QR code did not generate the webpage of her books that I had organized on the website. It generated a URL, but it wasn’t my list. I went back to the drawing board and searched for a more unique URL which I found. I redid the process and the QR codes and Lexiles® website just do not interface smoothly. It would be too complex and frustrating for the mom to use. Instead I created a URL shortner and texted it to me first. That also failed. The advanced technology simply does not smoothly interface quite yet.  I have an e-mail to their strategic developers regarding this type of integration. When I receive the response, I will post to this specific blog.

As far as how this The Lexile® Framework for Reading site stacks up against my criteria for selecting a website, it simply doesn’t. There is an e-mail sign-up for a customer. There are no apps for iPad or iPhone, and it isn’t easy to use for the general public. While there are no direct costs to use the site, when you make the list of books for students, it is linked to sites like Barnes and Noble and Amazon. However, there was no way to download to a Kindle or other e-reader. I also checked the accessibility for our district parents to access lexiles. Here is the link that was very successful: http://sclibs.net/Kids/arlists.aspx . It linked right into the “Find a Book” page which I was trying to create to e-mail to my family. MetaMetrics is a research-based company out of Durham, North Carolina. Ultimately, I was envisioning a way to link the book titles up to an All-Title Set ebook type database where kids could just download the books. A middle school in Sarasota County recently received a grant from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and Bank of America Client Foundation to initiate this type of project. You can visit it at http://bit.ly/VOh3Gh.

Resources

How to use a lexile® measure. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.lexile.com/about-lexile/what-to-do-with-a-lexile-measure/

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Little URLs, QR Codes and Bookmarklets

Initially, when I read the assignment, I felt a bit perplexed, and a bit nervous that I was becoming a tech geek since technology has its own specialized language.. Once I began the research into these word and letter combinations, I began to put patterns together about them. The first word combination –  URL Shorteners – made my mind instantaneously connect to Crisco Shortening which is excellent for frying. While I have never actually used shortening, it’s all my brain had to associate with to try and make sense of it. The word “shorteners” is not even recognized by my computer dictionary. It wants to replace it with “shortness.” So to maintain my corner of new technology jargon, I added it to my dictionary so that it will not be confused in the future.

I am fascinated by two new pieces of information: 1) That URL is the abbreviation for Uniform Resource Locater, and 2) that URLs  can actually be cut in half. I am even more impressed that it takes only a single click and less than a second to create “the shortcut” using a site such as Bit.ly. To me it is synonymous with the shortcut lingo for texting. By making the URL “friendly enough to share it with someone easily over the phone” it puts the Information Process Theory by George Miller from 1956 into modern practice regarding an average brain’s short term memory process of up to seven numbers (Clarke, 2010). The new URL for this blog from Bit.ly is http://bit.ly/ck1SSF. The last series is only a combination of five letters and one number which does make it phone usable if one doesn’t include the prefix of “http://” or “bit.ly.” Another advantage is how the letters and numbers are written. It is visually organizing to remember how the address shortcut looks which is always useful when the brain is storing information.

As far as educational use, it makes sharing sites must less cumbersome. For example, in my work with students via Skype or GoToMeeting, there are often times I have to make reference to a YouTube video or picture because the student doesn’t understand the context behind the content. When the link is extraordinarily long, the kids make comments: “Wow, why is that so long?” or they ask me, “Can you make that shorter? It’s taken up the whole page.” Now, I can make them shorter. It is also certainly beneficial for listing sites for bibliographies. Possibly the best application for a classroom setting for the URL shorteners is the process of bundling. Bit.ly, for example, has a bundle feature that allows you to “use bundles to organize and share all those links you find on one page” (“Let’s get ready,” 2012).

Quick Response codes or QR are actually trade marks for barcoding that were originally intended and used by the auto industry to track cars. The retail industry has grabbed on to it, and research indicates that it has made virtual shopping and branding seamless. But they have also had their shortcomings according to a Alex Kutsishin, a Forbes guest blogger. He wrote a blog entitled, “Why QR Codes Don’t Work.” His argument is as follows:

“The greatest hurdle for the QR code business is the lack of standardization. When    you purchase an iPhone for example, the unit comes with a Google Maps feature, built-in utilities, a standard Web browser, a stock tracker, a weather app, etc. What is not included on any platform (Android, iPhone or Windows) is a built-in QR code scanner” (Kutsishin, 2012).

So, I checked out the ease of downloading the app for QR codes with my iPhone. It was as easy as downloading any other app. Then, I put in my company’s URL in the Creator part of the application. It created a QR code, asked me to share it, and I did so to Facebook. Then I clicked the wrench tool, previewed it. It went right to my webpage URL.  I scanned it to the Facebook page. I checked the page and tried scanning the QR to test it, and it went no where.  I tried a different QR Code generator, and it allowed me to post and use the QR code. I can certainly envision the potential and power it can have for a mobile campaign if done correctly and with all the parts integrating.Jane McPherson, chief marketing officer of SpyderLynk, states the following about QR codes.

“Mobile commerce will bring with it the convergence of promotions, coupons, CRM, ecommerce, and social, having an impact far beyond mobile payments and setting the standard for integrated marketing engagements. Mobile bar codes will be imperative as a tool for activating these integrated marketing engagements allowing consumers to collect points, digital currency and coupons when retailers are ready to redeem them all at check out” (Kats, 2012) .

There are clearly many educational applications for students on a variety of levels that can enhance student engagement which is a big deal. My first thought was for students involved in marketing and advertising. Getting to know this type of mobile marketing is critical to their portfolio development. After reading several articles from Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything blog (http://bit.ly/Xldwxg), educational applications for QR codes became even more obvious. For example, college libraries are using QRs for book renewals or to help freshmen get around campus. What really democratizes education, is that there is a website to even out the playing field for students who do not have smartphones. Go to http://snapmyinfo.com/ and follow the directions that will land you a QR code.  On a personal note, for my internet education business which serves students with learning diabilities, I am going to start to use QRs to cut down on website page clutter and reduce frustration to find a specific website. They will also make time usage more efficient for my students. For my strategic educational consulting business, QRs also have a significant place. I can create them for college level recommendations and share directly with the student. They can weigh in pretty quickly whether or not they want to pursue a particular school. On a more creative note, my colleague and I are hired for special needs private school analyses, and QRs can be part of the marketing campaign solution to increase enrollment for a coming year. Using mobile commerce marketing stirs the competition pot between charter, public and private schools that can help attract new customers.

I have not worked with bookmarklets like The Printliminator or Quietube before. That was just plain fun. Clearly, these two have the most obvious educational advantages. Printliminator also offers another vantage point. When I applied it to my company’s website, I discovered the advantage of editing from a different perspective. When the eye candy is eliminating, my concentration was sharper. Quietube offers the same value – less visual distractions. This is simply remarkable. I will absolutely apply this type of technology on my new site or YouTube searches with my students. I also like the versatility of creating URL shortners with Quietube to email the “edited” video to students or colleagues. What I find so fascinating about these two particular bookmarklets, is there ease and user friendliness. To me these two bookmarklets are so logical and sensible.

 

Resources:

Clarke, D. (2010, November 6). Learning and memory. Retrieved from                                           http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/learning/memory.html

Let’s get ready to bundle!. (2012, August 16). Retrieved from           http://blog.bitly.com/post/29561459795/lets-get-ready-to-bundle

Kats, R. (2012, August 3). How to create an effective qr code campaign. Retrieved from  http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/software-technology/13452.html

Kutsishin, A. (2012, August 03). Why qr codes don’t work. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/08/03/why-qr-codes-dont-work/

(2012). QR code. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code

 

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