Shelly Ragains and I went to the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) conference in January. One of the sessions we went to was using speech to text technology to enhance writing. While we were both familiar with S-T and use it to varying degrees, the session provided some interesting insight for everyday application. The presenters (Amber Rowland and Sean Smith from the University of Kansas and Min Wook Oh and Kavita Rao of University of Hawaii at Manoa) provided information about use in the elementary level vs high school level. Students at the elementary level were more apt to just jump in and get technology(iPad) and take it to a quiet area in the classroom. The high school students showed more reluctance with just jumping into the activity. The theory was that the high school students had other strategies for writing along with the classroom structure not having as many places to go in the classroom.
As someone who uses Speech to Text with my students, I understand the difficulties of having enough places to have students use Speech to Text. I have sent many students into the hall with an iPad or their phone to capture their ideas. Flexibility of space is vital for student success. During the workshop, the presenters recounted that students were able to get past the typical writing difficulties of how to spell things or searching for just the right word. Those students who say “I don’t know what to write” can be encouraged to just start talking about the topic and realize they have more to say than they thought!
Shelly and I will be implementing more speech-to-text sessions with our students over the rest of this semester, so look for more information as to how it is working (or not) in a furure post.
Sheila Lefresne is a native of Pennsylvania but has lived in Maine, Virginia, Florida, and currently resides in Indiana. She has been involved in education for the past 25 years in various settings and grade levels including work as an Educational American Sign Language Interpreter. Sheila earned her B.S. of Education from Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA and M.Ed. Reading from Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, Florida.
LARGE CLASS SIZE AND TEACHER EFFICIENCY: How one music teacher uses technology to save time and stay organized
As an orchestra teacher, I want my classes to have a lot of students because I want to attract as many students as I can to learn to play an instrument. With growing class sizes each year, I’ve found the best way to keep sane is to stay as organized as possible. Seeing almost 50 students at a time has forced me to get creative with how I collect information and conduct assessments. One of my favorite tools for doing this is through forms – either Google or Office 365.
One way I use forms is for quick checks for understanding. Because the form will automatically populate a spreadsheet with each student’s answer, it’s a quick and easy way to see which students are getting it and which students need some extra help. I will often use a form in place of a paper exit ticket or bell-ringer. I always link or embed the form in a place that is obvious, such as on the students’ Canvas homepage, to make this process quick and effortless.
Another way I use forms is in place of peer and self-evaluation rubrics. I use peer and self-evaluation rubrics often to gauge how well students are working together in groups and how they are viewing their own progress. I also use peer evaluation rubrics when students are doing a blind audition for a solo part so that students may vote and perform anonymously. I used to have students fill these out on paper and go through each one individually to gather data. By putting these rubrics into a form and having students fill out electronically, it now takes me no time at all to look though the responses as the data is instantly available for interpretation.
My classroom is organized into sections based on which instrument a student plays: violin, viola, cellos, bass, piano, harp, etc. For efficiency purposes, I put one student in charge of each of these sections and it works out to about 10 students per student leader. On extremely hectic days when I have students meet in sections rather than as a whole group, I have my student leaders help with attendance by filling out a form online to tell me who was present, who came late, and who did not show up at all. When students are rehearsing as whole group it is easy for me to take attendance because they have assigned seats, but when they are spread out or sitting in different places it’s almost impossible for me to determine who is present. It would take me the first 10 minutes of class just to take attendance! The attendance form and student leaders have really solved this problem for me. I always pick responsible students with good attendance and I train them to do small jobs for me to maximize the limited amount of class time we have together. A form is a quick efficiency solution that allows me to gather information about the whole class from just a few responsible students.
I’ve tried my best to identify tasks that eat up my valuable plan time and my even more valuable class time with students and think of ways to make those things more efficient. By creating forms for students to fill out electronically that will quickly populate data I’ve saved time. The more time I save by not doing menial data collection tasks, the more time I can spend analyzing that data and figuring out what my students need. If I’m not spending 10 minutes taking attendance, I’m spending those 10 minutes building relationships, giving feedback, answering questions, and teaching children. By becoming more efficient, I’ve become a better teacher.
Today's thoughts come to us from Ms. Lauren Gruber. Lauren is the Director of Orchestras for Richmond Community Schools in Richmond, Indiana. She teaches students in grades 6-12 to play string instruments. In her free time she enjoys playing cello and taking her therapy dog, Delilah, to visit local hospitals.
When I entered the cadre, I had one main goal. I wanted to begin teaching the students I have now instead of continuing to teach the students that I had when I began my teaching career, nearly fifteen years ago. I want my classroom to feel relevant and the math that we learn to be relevant and I want the way that math is introduced and practiced to feel authentic. I have started using some tools in my classroom this year that have helped push me towards meeting my goal. Prior to being introduced to new technology tools, I tended to use technology only as an afterthought or as an electronic worksheet. Some of the tools that I have used work well with all disciplines while others are more math content focused. I hope you find value in some of the programs I have tried.
EdPuzzle has been a life saver in gaining valuable classroom time. With EdPuzzle, I can make a video (or use one that already exists) and insert question slides in the video. This allows me to give some instruction and force my students to interact with the content before being able to move on. If students are asked to complete an EdPuzzle assignment in the classroom, then I am free to move among my students to answer questions and provide one on one instruction. I have found it freeing to be able to keep my class moving forward on a topic and still have the classroom time to check in with each of my students. Students tend to enjoy this kind of lesson since they can move at their own pace and rewatch sections that they didn’t understand. Students, overall, prefer to have instructor created videos instead of “boring” videos that I find on a topic. Both have their merit and value. I have also found EdPuzzle to be a good way to introduce new material on our district E-Learning Days as students have verbal and visual instructions and check points along the way.
Flipgrid is not a new concept, nor is Flipgrid exceptionally groundbreaking, but for me, my first use of Flipgrid was eye opening. I used Flipgrid as a formative assessment check on a new topic. I asked my students to explain everything they knew about a newly introduced topic in 90 seconds or less. I was shocked at the quality of content displayed with the videos. Students complained about having to video themselves, but the tasked made students really think about the topic and plan a strategy for discussing the content in a confined space. I was overjoyed to see how much my students understood after only a little instruction. I am positive that I could have had my students write a short statement about the topic, but I don’t think I would have had the same deep thinking displayed in their responses.
Desmos is a graphing site. My students actually introduced me to the desmos calculator and showed me some of the graphing applications imbedded within the program. My students use desmos like a graphing calculator; however, I have found the program to have many more uses. I have created and found desmos classroom activities. Classroom activities are essentially a collection of interactive slides that are topically connected. I have used desmos during an algebra inquiry lesson where students explored parallel and perpendicular lines and I used desmos as a way for pre-calculus students to explore polynomials. Desmos is very subject focused, but with the ability to add sliders to various parts of equations, allows teachers to have a dynamic visual for some of the more complex mathematical topics within the curriculum.
There are so many hidden gems that exist and I have only scratched the surface in learning about and trying programs with my students. Every time I try a new program, present a topic in a new way, or ask my students to respond a little differently, I step closer to my goal of teaching the student that walks into my classroom in 2019. I am excited to continuing to meet my students where they are and trying more and more new tools with them.
Today’s thoughts come to us from Mrs. Lori Dilworth. Lori is a math teacher at Richmond High School in Richmond, Indiana. She teaches students grades 9-12, currently focusing on algebra and calculus topics, but she has taught students from first grade through college. When she is not teaching, Lori enjoys being with her husband of 10 years and their four year old twin daughters, volunteering at her church, and listening to audio books on her long commutes.
To some, Canvas is just another tool we have been required to incorporate into our classroom. To me, Canvas has been another way to engage students, check for understand and help introduce other tools into my classroom.
My Canvas journey began during the 2015-2016 school year. I had attended a half day training in the Spring of 2015, and kind of jumped in head first. I began to set up my classroom page, had my students participate in their first discussion, and soon began creating short assignments and quizzes. Before I knew it I was asked to present at our district’s technology professional development in January with our elementary elearning specialist. I did not think I was experienced in Canvas, and was not sure what I could offer to other elementary school teachers. However, during that 40 minutes I was able to share some ideas with teachers who were nervous about this thing called Canvas and help them start slowly in their our Canvas journey. Many left feeling less panicked and after attending other sessions, I was eager to try new things in my classroom.
Over the last three years Canvas has become an integral part of my classroom. I still start out each year similar to my first year; setting up my classroom page, having my students take a profile picture, and participating in a discussion. They quickly become engage, excited and want to do more. Students have enjoyed using the Canvas app to “write on” pdf assignments and submitting them. Canvas also allows me to share external tools like Flipgrid, Padlet and Nearpod to my classroom. It has kind of become a “hub” for students especially since we are using more laptop computers than iPads. Each year I try to incorporate something new into my classroom. This year I have started recording spelling tests for my various groups, giving video feedback to students, and started to use Quizzes.next to give my students more variety when doing skill checks.
My Canvas experiences have not only assisted students, but their parents as well. Many parents are unsure how it works, or how to view their child’s assignments. I have provided short tutorials for parents in order to help them view assignments, lessons I have recorded for them to view at home or how to complete elearning day assignments. I also rely on my students to be the experts at home and teach their parents. They are comfortable to navigate their way around Canvas and are quick to help each other.
I know my journey is relatively new and on-going. I enjoy learning new tricks and secrets to Canvas and then sharing them with my colleagues and students. It has pushed me as a teacher in many ways, opened doors for new opportunities and enhanced the learning in my classroom.
Today's thoughts come to us from Ms. Rebecca Lafuze. Rebecca teaches 3rd grade at Charles Elementary School. She has taught in various classroom settings over the last 17 years, but Third grade is her favorite. Rebecca and her husband, along with their two young daughters, live in Indiana. She enjoys traveling, the beach, rooting on the Purdue Boilermakers, yoga and dance parties at home with her daughters.