Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Checking spelling

What do you do when word processing software incorrectly "corrects" your spelling?  Here are some tips on customizing the spell checker in Google Docs.  Other word processors have similar functionality.

*One note about spelling before we continue--  you should never rely entirely on software for correct spelling (and other GUM, for that matter).  When in doubt, look it up! 

As you type, Google Docs will underline misspelled words in red (you can also activate spell check from the Tools menu).  Right-click to see the suggestion.  If you ignore the suggested spelling, Google Docs will then accept your spelling of the word (as well as any future use within the same doc).  If you choose "Add to personal dictionary," if will ignore that spelling in all other docs, as well.

You can also add words to your Personal Dictionary directly (or remove them, if Google Docs is making incorrect "corrections").  To review, add or remove words, go to Tools-- Personal Dictionary...

In the screenshot below, you can see that my job title ("integrationist") is not a word that Google was happy with (actually, as I write this, Blogger is underlining it, too!), so I've added it to my dictionary.

You can also go to Tools--Preferences, where you can set automatic substitutions.  In the screenshot below, you can see that "highschool" will automatically become "high school,"  for example.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blogging Workshop May, 2015

I'm preparing notes for a workshop on blogging, so I thought what better place to do it than in an actual blog?  So here goes:

So what is a blog, anyway?

The word "blog" comes from a truncation of "web log."  What makes it different from other web
pages is that it is regularly updated with posts.  There is (typically) the opportunity to comment on posts, so blogs lead to conversations.  Usually, posts are presented in reverse chronological order.  Sometimes, blogs have static pages in addition to the stream of posts.  Tags are used to make it easier to find posts on particular topics. A blog can have one author or a group of authors.

Why blog?  (without a purpose, blogs die quickly)

Blogging involves writing in a style appropriate for the web.  This means including hyperlinks and incorporating multimedia elements.  Blogging affords students an authentic audience-- they're not just handing something in to the teacher, but publishing their work.  Commenting on others' blogs teaches students how to be constructive and appropriate online.  Here's an article  from the Times of San Diego about other benefits.

  • Teacher provides prompts.  Students blog about them.
  • Students use their blogs to summarize their learning on a regular basis
  • Students organize a portfolio of work in a blog

Who are the authors?  Readers? Commenters?

  • Teacher creates a blog.  Students are readers/commenters.
  • Make one class blog-- teacher and all the students are "authors" (can post).  
  • Each student creates their own blog. Blogs  can be private, have invited readers, be password protected or be public (somewhat dependent on the tool chosen).

What tool to use?

Blogger -- you're looking at Blogger right now.  Easy to use, looks good. Blogs can be private.  No way to set up whole class at once.
Edublogs -- meant for education.  Can create classrooms.  Aggressive filters to keep it clean.
Tumblr -- totally open and public.  Simple and elegant.  What students most likely use already.

How to keep it organized.

The simplest way to do this is to make one class blog with links to each student's individual blog. This can also be done in a Google (or any online) doc.

Exemplars from CVU

(some of these are shared privately, so may not open for you)
English 10/MMW class
CVC-- Our school newspaper
Clothing Construction Portfolio
Use as portfolio in English

Here's a teen who's made a difference with a blog


Using Tumblr as a blog platform

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A trip through time on the CVU home page

Did you know that there is an organization called the Internet Archive that has been backing up public web pages since 1996?  It can be quite interesting to see what web pages looked like 5, 10, 15 and 20 year ago.

Here's the CVU home page over the years.  Many of the links work, so you can read the daily announcements from 2001 or check out teacher web pages in 2003:

1997: http://web.archive.org/web/19970202163153/http://www.cvu.cssd.k12.vt.us/
2001: http://web.archive.org/web/20010217015517/http://www.cvuhs.org/
2003: http://web.archive.org/web/20031216125209/http://www.cvuhs.org/
2008; http://web.archive.org/web/20070703201344/http://www.cvuhs.org/
2010: http://web.archive.org/web/20100623025408/http://learn.cvuhs.org/

Here's the CSSU site from 1997

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Students creating surveys

Students creating surveys and sending them out is an excellent way to work with real data in the classroom.  How can we do this effectively (so that people actually answer the survey)? This document has detailed tips and outlines a process for getting surveys approved. If you're interested in getting your students started with surveys (or would like to create one yourself), let me know!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Two recent inspiring class activities

I had the privilege of working with two classes using technology in recent weeks.  In both cases, students were using technology in creative and transformative ways.  It's always good to share these-- if you're inspired and want to take on something similar, please let me know!

Geology Volcano Project

Kerry Walker's classes are studying volcanoes.  Each student used LucidPress to create an online "brochure" about his/her volcano.  Then, the class used a shared Google Map, attached a pin to the location of each volcano, and provided a link to the brochure.  Check out the final result here:

Current Issues Political Ad Project

Lezlee Sprenger asked her students to create political ads for different candidates. The description and targets are here.
Here's what one student produced: