Tuesday, March 31, 2015

VPEF Grant Thank Yous from My Class

Typing our essays on student desktop,
Chromebook, and hand written.
Earlier this school year, I applied for and was granted some generous funds for my classroom.  We were able to acquire two more Chromebook laptops to bring my class's grand total of available student computers up to seven (or sometimes eight or nine depending on the old ones working properly that day!).  In all, we have five Chromebooks now and those are nice for the students to use due to their speed and since my district set me up with google Classroom this semester.  So overall, this grant has had a large impact on my classes.
Working on a Slide Presentation for
Speaking and Listening Standards

I asked my students to write thank you notes to the Vacaville Public Education Foundation which granted the funds.  It was not lost on them what kind of impact these added computers had for our class and I'm sharing a
Part of our class writing essays.
handful of their notes here. Here's one below, and links to some more from the class.

Here are some of the projects we worked on using these computers this year:

Starting my first google Classrooms.
For the writing assignments, I was able to use google Classroom thanks to +Dawn Marsh at the district office who set up my classes as part of the pilot this semester!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Batting Order Rotation

Thanks to this code that I borrowed, I was able to create a batting order rotator for my son's Tee Ball team.

You can see it in action here.

I can see how this might be useful for elementary classes that want to rotate line leader and class jobs frequently through the day etc. etc. and also possibly in high school for seating charts (although there's other programs for that--usually attached to your grade book program) or for lab work in science class and things of that nature.

It surely would have taken me 1000 years of study to get to those few lines of code in JavaScript to rotate an array (the ones in there with the % sign I think are the trick, if I understand what I'm looking at!).  I was doing it just fine in a spread sheet thanks to this video, however, pulling from a live spreadsheet and displaying on a web page was beyond my skills at the moment and seemed like too many steps.  Then I thought I could create an array pretty easily in JavaScript and it should be a sinch to essentially follow the same neat procedures from that youTube video to lookup the correct index for each new batter.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sci Fi book choices for 12th grade

About a year ago, I sent a request out for some Sci Fi books for 12th graders to read as part of their unit in short stories.  Here's a link to that post on a different blog which is worth taking a look at just for the few titles I collected in the comments. I've copied the post below:
J’s 12th grade co-teach class is going to do a unit on science fiction short stories and wanted a list of a few good ones. So I’m posting here to get some titles.
I suggested Arthur C. Clarke’s Nine Billion Names of God and Asimov’s Nightfall. I also gave some authors: Zelasny, Heinlein, L. Niven, a couple others.
Nightfall is hardly short at 300+ pages but it fits the genre in other ways.
Any other suggestions from folks?
It's that time of year again, so I've got a couple of students asking me for more suggestions. I emailed this same list to them and I'll again ask for suggestions this year so I can have a wider list every time I send it out.

Any more suggestions?  -- I guess it doesn't have to be a short story, but that is the unit even though the focus for their assignment is on the Sci Fi part, not necessarily the short story part.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Making Technology Run Smoothly

I'm pleased that my question via Twitter made it in to @TechsavvyEd 's #TechDirectorChat podcast segment last week!

Ben had asked for any questions from the gallery for a tech director. Being a lowly teacher and having had to deal with tech and tech departments, I know what I really wanted to ask and the way I might typically ask would not be productive for his venue.   When I find myself complaining about my classroom situations specifically, especially when I'm in professional development (or on a twitter chat), I then try to flip my negativity around and ask a question from the opposite direction.

So for my question for Ben's Director, Pete, I tweeted this:
Pretty vague and open.  Ben and Pete both took a turn giving me an answer in his podcast.  Skip ahead to 13:00 and listen to how well Pete and Ben interpret my vague wording and both give useful answers to help make working with tech in education a little less of the nightmare it can be on the worst days.

Here's the Link.

Thanks +Ben Rimes  for the shout out and the thoughtful response.

For the record, my original intent on the question was the way Pete interpreted it--making sure stuff just works correctly between version numbers, power, internet, all those moving parts.  Ben's interpretation (tech integration into lessons) and answer were what I should have been asking!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Shut off Spell Checker in Docs

This I just found and it might be useful in two or three applications: You can shut off the spell checker in Google Docs. Most people are smarter than I am, and so probably already knew that.  Here's the quote from the help page: 

Spelling suggestions as you typeAs you type, Docs automatically underlines in misspelled words in red. Right-click an underlined word to see the suggested correction and replace the misspelled word.You can turn off the spell-checker by unchecking Show spelling suggestions from the Viewdrop-down menu
Click here for the full page.

There are two times I can use this:
1) During an everyday type activity when I want students to focus on composing volumes rather than editing and fretting over perfection.
2) During California Exit Exam proctoring when a very few number of my students have "use of a word processor with the spell checker turned off" written in as an accommodation during the testing.  Then I can have them sign in to a convenient Chromebook without disrupting the other testers or having to arrange a second adult proctor to escort them to a separate place with a clunky desktop that may or may not work, or possibly has an older version of Word etc. etc.

I hope this is useful for others too.