Hop on the Feedback Train

This is a short week so it will be a short-ish share.

A couple weeks ago I shared a great Google add on for giving feedback to your students, Joe Zoo Express. Well last week they launched their new platform making it even easier for you and your students. They have a great YouTube channel of videos and tutorials that I encourage you to check out and subscribe to so you can get the most out of this tool. Here is the list of new and improved features that they sent in their announcement:

  • New Add-on Design – we’ve redesigned our add-on to improve its usability 
  • New JoeZoo App – to bypass some of the design and functionality limitations inside Google Apps, we’ve built JoeZoo App to house our new Rubric Builder and more great tools to come 
  • New Rubric Builder – it is now faster and easier to use and includes the following improvements: 
    • Customizable Grading Scale – you can now input NAME, IB or any other scale you’d like to use 
    • Fractional Grading – you can now give B+/- Weighted Points Scoring – you’ll be able to give points, as an alternative to %, when grading a doc 
    • Rubric Sharing – if your school or district installs JoeZoo, you’ll be able to instantly share rubrics with anyone 
  • Redesigned Feedback & Grading – we’ve redesigned both to reflect what you’ve told us:
    • Multiple Assessors – now multiple teachers and students can add feedback and grading to each doc
    • Feedback & Grading History – now all of the comments, messages and grades added to a doc are grouped by Date and can be scrolled in our add-on 
    • Self/Peer/Teacher Feedback – based on who assessed whom, we group and label their comments, messages and grades in our add-on 
  • Less Clicks – we’ve reduce the number of clicks to give feedback or grade by 75%, here’s how: 
    • No More Steps – we got rid of all those steps so you can add a comment, message or grade from 1 screen in 1 step 
    • No More Menus – to add a comment you simply search and save, no more menus to click through 
  • New Comment Features – here are the requested features we added: 
    • Point Scoring – you can now indicate if your comment is corrective or praise by give it a score between 1 – 5 points
    • Fix Tip Control – you now control when you want to show a “How to Fix” tip with your comments 
    • Resource Links – you can now add links to comments if you wish students to explore helpful resources 
  • New Monkey Checkers – if your school or district installs JoeZoo, you’ll get the following improvements: 
    • Teacher Monkey Checker – users with ‘educator’ accounts will get this version
    • Student Monkey Checker – users with ‘student’ accounts will get this version, perfect for Self Assessment
    • Multiple Uses per Doc – now you can use each Monkey Checker multiple times per doc 
  • Increased Student Privacy – we take privacy seriously and have made these improvements: 
    • No Personal Information – we will no longer ask for student Names or Gender during the set up of JoeZoo 
    • Deleting Personal Information – for existing students, we will be deleting any Names and Gender information they gave us when setting up JoeZoo 
    • JoeZoo Privacy Kit – we will be providing teachers and schools a kit that will include our new Privacy and Terms of Use policies and a Parental Consent Letter template 

While stepping in at the last minute to cover a 6th grade English class, I found The Teacher’s Corner. I was looking for daily writing prompts for middle school students and this one incorporates historical events and people in each day’s prompt. This link is for the month of October. While Teacher’s Corner’s prompts came up in my query for prompts for middle school, they could easily be tweaked for use in elementary classes as well.

I enjoy thoughtful articles that prompt discussion amongst other educators and this one on homework practice from Eric Sheninger is one such post as it was tweeted and retweeted several times. In it he reminisces about how he and his brother spent after school afternoons playing outside until dinner, participating in school sports, and the like. He then went on to talk about how our students are spending their time after school – often on “obscene” hours of homework. Sheninger reminds us of the purpose of homework and asks us to look critically at the kind of homework we are assigning and at how it is affecting our students.

“If your homework practices make kids dislike school and/or learning that alone should tell you something has to change.”

Last, but certainly not least, is a teaching and learning tool I learned about again from last night’s Edchat Interactive webinar with Kathy Perret. It’s called Class Flow and it’s completely FREE tool to create engaging, interactive, differentiated lessons for your class. I first mentioned in this post along with 9 other formative assessment tools. You can create your own lessons (compatible with Smart, Promethean, and more), find lessons that other teachers have shared, differentiate what your students do  by sending questions to small groups of students, give  badges, check for understanding, and work together in class or out of class.  They have lessons for students from pre-k through post-secondary that you can filter by grade, subject, rating, language- yes- I said language as they have lessons in languages from Arabic to Vietnamese and 22 in between. There is so much more to know (I only just learned about it last night) and you can learn more about it by looking at their information and short video introductions here. And by the way, as I mentioned, it is completely FREE to sign up and use!

For great articles, videos, and more like this one on teacher stress, please visit the Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition!

 

First Days of Spring, Time to Share

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“The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a multi-tab week on my laptop with many articles, tools, and thoughts to share with you.

First out of the gate are two posts on an oft-discussed and debated topic- homework: one from Time titled, “Why Parents Should Stop Making Kids Do Homework”,  in which it talks about the age groups homework actually is shown to benefit and how homework has become the “‘new family dinner'”. The other is from Alice Keeler titled, “Stop Giving Homework”.  Keeler gives many reasons why we as teachers should stop giving homework including kids should have time for other activities, it takes time to grade and go over homework so by not giving it, you are buying back instructional time, and often times there are gaps when some students’ parents are able to help with homework while others are not. She offers many other reasons in this thought-provoking post.

The next is a new digital storytelling tool I recently learned about called while reading about this Earth Day global collaboration opportunity, Buncee Buddies.  EduBuncee is a multi-media, drag-and-drop canvas that combines drawing, animation, slides, video, audio, images, and QR codes into one neat little product. EduBuncee is free to sign up and the paid version offers more options. For the Earth Day project, classrooms will be paired up with Buncee Buddies and all will be given the paid version of EduBuncee for free for the rest of the school year. So why not sign up to share how you celebrate Earth Day in your part of the world and try a new tool at the same time- two great things for the price of none!

We have all been there either with our school children, our personal children, or other’s children- they have just completed something, tried something, accomplished something and we are ready to offer our accolades. What can we say beyond the usual? This article gives us 25 Things to Say Instead of “Good Job”.

This next post is absolutely fantastic. Mrs. Lifshitz, a Fifth Grade teacher, has engaged and empowered her students and altered the way she is teaching writing (and so much more) as you will see when you take a look at Giving Writing Workshop Back to Our Writers: Choose Your Own Mentor Text and a Student-Led EdCamp. The post is lengthy because Mrs. Lifshitz has painstakingly described and documented how she transformed both her thinking about teaching and how it all went down in her class and the result- a Student Wonders site akin to their inspiration, Wonderopolis. It is a worthwhile and mindset-shifting read.

Finally, many of you– hundreds of thousands of you- participate each year in the Global Read Aloud. Well, it is time again to sign up for GRA2016! Don’t be confused by the header when you land at the site as it still shows the 2015 book pics. Scroll down to the form which has been updated for this next school year. If you have been part of it, you know what an amazing experience it is for your students; if you have not, take the leap!