Friday, February 24, 2012

13 Ways to Use Socrative as a Formative Assessment

Socrative is a smart, student response system that empowers teachers to collect data from their students via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. I find Socrative to be the most useful SMS app because students can use it on any platform with internet service, rather than phones with text messaging services.  I let my students use Socrative with my laptops and iPod Touches in the classroom.  It is a great way for teachers to assess students and collect immediate feedback.

Its so Simple
Teachers login through their device and select an activity which controls the flow of questions and games. Students simply login with their device and interact real time with the content.

Quick and Easy Assessment
Student responses are visually represented for multiple choice, true/false and Short Answer questions. For pre-planned activities a teacher can view reports online as a google spreadsheet or as an emailed Excel file.

I am a huge advocate of Socrative for several reasons
  • Socrative was created by a group of teachers
  • Its interative and engaging
  • It provides immediate feedback via formative assessments
  • It is paperless
  • It saves time when grading assignments
  • Students can use Socratic on any device, on any platform. 

Below are 13 ways that I am currently using  Socrative as formative assessments with my students.

  1. True or False Questions 
  2. Multiple Choice Questions 
  3. Short Response 
  4. Visual Data (Bar graphs and visual short responses) 
  5. Exit Ticket 
  6. Pre-Assessment 
  7. Post-Assesment 
  8. Create Short Quizzes
  9. Upload Premade Quizzes
  10. Reflection 
  11. Collect Background Knowledge 
  12. Quick Check for Understanding 
  13. Voting on best responses

Here is just one example of how I use Socrative with my students.

In this example, I first use Socrative as a pre-assessment to get my students' background knowledge on how they perform an online search. I have them rate their ability level of conducting an online search from a scale of 1 to 5.  Then I display their responses in the form of a bar graph. I then ask my students to think critically by having them draw their own conclusions from the graph and share them with the class.

Next, I have my students respond to the following short answer question: What is one trick that you use to help you perform a Google Search? I have them type in their responses for everyone to see.  After all of their responses are displayed on the projector, the students then vote on the response that they feel is the most valuable.  Next, I have my students watch a screencast that I created, showing them additional tips, tricks, and features of Google Search.  Lastly, I have them take a Post-Assessment and have them respond to the short answer question: What is the most valuable feature of a Google Search that you learned from watching the video?  Then I have my students vote on the most valuable response.

You might also like

8 Reasons Why iGot 6 iTouches 4 My Students 2 Use
6 SMS Tools 4 Yr Studnts 2 Use w/ Thr Cells
Get Ahead of the Technology Curve with BYOD
6 Reasons Why You Should Use 6 Laptops in Your Classroom

Thursday, February 23, 2012

8 Reasons Why iGot 6 iTouches 4 My Students 2 Use

I recently just got 7 new iTouches for my middle school TECH classes.  I ordered 6 black iTouches and 1 white iTouch for me to use for demonstrations.  This has become a total game changer for my students in the classroom. 

I decided to order the iTouches due to a limited budget and my school district's no BYOD policy.  I was determined to get my students learning digitally... the way that they like to learn and the way that they will learn in the future.  So for only $199 each, I decided to order a total of 7, 8G iTouches which is a lot cheaper than a computer or an iPad.  In addition, I was able to get them all engraved for no additional cost. 

Applications for Education
For each group of students, there is 1 iTouch for the students to use.  Here are 8 ways how I am using the iTouches with my students. 

1.  Images
-take pictures

-edit pictures
-upload pictures to Flickr or Picasa

2.  Video

-record HD video
-edit and create movies with iMovie
-upload movies to Youtube or Vimeo

3.  Research

-perform research on Google
-use the Wikipedia app

4.  Assignments

-create and share Google Docs
-take notes and share notes using Evernote

5.  Calculator

-use the basic 4 function calculator
-turn the iTouch sideways for a scientific calculator

6.  Apps for Education

-use educational apps for learning such as Bridge Basher

7.  Student Response System

-take quizzes and formative assessments with Socrative, a student response system

8.  Student Engagement
-students are already familiar with iTouches and are comfortable using them.  They immediately become engrossed in the lesson when using these devices. 

iTouches in Action
Here is just one example of how I am using the iTouches with my students.  For the Bridge Challenge unit that I created, my students use the Bridge Basher App on their iTouches to test their bridge designs before they build their bridge from balsa wood. 

*Note: This video was filmed, edited in iMovie, and uploaded to YouTube all from my iTouch, without ever touching a computer!

Final Thoughts
If you are strapped for money in your school district, think about ordering iTouches for your classroom.    Who knows what your students just might do with them ...

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6 SMS Tools 4 Yr Studnts 2 Use w/ Thr Cells
Get Ahead of the Technology Curve with BYOD
6 Reasons Why You Should Use 6 Laptops in Your Classroom

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

6 SMS Tools 4 Yr Studnts 2 Use w/ Thr Cells

SMS or Short Message Service is a great tool to use in the classroom if your students are allowed to bring their own technology device (BYOD) to school.  Some of the best ways to use SMS tools is for quick, formative assessments and to collect data immediately. Formative assessments allow teachers to make informed decisions that guide instruction to best meet the needs of their students.  Below are some great apps to use SMS for formative assessments.

Socrative is a smart, student response system that empowers teachers to collect data from  their students via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. I find Socrative to be the most useful SMS app because students can use it on any platform with internet service, rather than phones with text messaging services.

Poll Everywhere is The fastest way to create stylish real-time experiences for events using mobile devices. It's the easiest way to gather live responses in any venue: conferences, presentations, classrooms, radio, tv ... anywhere. 

Celly turns classrooms, schools, teams, neighborhoods, offices, or any organization into their own private communication networks. These are called  “cells”. Cells let members communicate in a group using their phone (via text messaging) or the web. Communication is secure, private, and can be moderated by one or more curators.

GroupMe is a group messaging service that allows you to start groups with the people already in your contacts. When you send a message, everyone instantly receives it. It’s like a private chat room that works on any phone

Google SMS Gmail chat lets you easily send text messages to and from cell phones. If this feature isn't already enabled on your account, you can enable it. Just Click the gear icon in the upper-right and select Gmail settings, and select the Labs tab. Scroll down until you see Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat, select Enable and Save Changes. 

ChaCha Get human-powered answers to any question - anytime, anywhere, all for free - on the web and through your mobile phone by texting 242-242

Resources for BYOD and cell phone use in the classroom

  1. Making the Case for Cell Phones in School
  2. Creating a plan with students to use cell phones for learning
  3. Respond to the Naysayers with these Answers to FAQs about Using Cell Phones for Learning

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Digital Learning Series: Developing a Professional Learning Community of Educators

In order to get the teachers in my middle school sharing and learning with each other, I have been brainstorming some ideas with the Technology Specialist in my building. Together, we recently developed a solution to this problem, by creating one blog for our middle school teachers to use. It is called the Digital Learning Series. Our hope was that our teachers will start to read the blog posts that we write, and slowly become motivated to contribute, by writing their own blog posts on the Digital Learning Series. What we didn't realize was how fast this would catch on!

Background Information

February 1, 2012 was Digital Learning Day and we used this day to kick off our Digital Learning Series. Each month we will have a new Digital Learning Theme.

We got started by utilizing our district's Google Apps in Education account. This allowed each teacher to have a Schoogle Account which comes with the Google Blogger App. I created the Digital Learning Series blog and then authorized every teacher in my building to become authors to the blog, empowering all of my teachers to learn and share with each other. I just created the blog this week and it is already spreading like wildfire.

How it Works

The Digital Learning Series Blog, created in Google Blogger, is a solution to learning and sharing with each other. Every teacher is an author to the Blogger Account, therefore every teacher can contribute to the Blog by creating a blog post about anything he or she finds useful. The great thing about this system, is that we can all contribute to this blog at any time. This creates one place to learn and share with each other and it doesn't have to take up any more email space.

Exponential Growth

After authorizing the technology specialist at the high school in my district to become an author of the blog, he contacted me yesterday about opening up the blog to the entire district. I immediately thought, "What a great idea!" This would ultimately expand the learning and sharing exponentially, creating a Professional Learning Community for all of the teachers in our district.

I decided to make him an admin to the blog, and he is going to authorize every teacher at the high school to become an author to the blog. This will put the Digital Learning Series blog over 125 authors, all within our school district.

Now, this is just our own Professional Learning Community. In order to maximize our learning and sharing, we are going to be sharing the Digital Learning Series via Twitter , Google+ and other social media applications to contribute to Professional Learning Network of educators around the world.


I recommend all school districts to take this approach to digitally learning and sharing. Even if your district does not have a Google Apps in Education Account, all it takes is one person to create a blog in Google Blogger. Then, that person just has to invite other teachers to become an author by sending them an invitation via email.

Visit the Digital Learning Series to see our progress at

For more information

To check out my blogging tips, tricks, resources, and screencast on how to blog, visit my blog post: Get Your Teachers Learning and Sharing with Google Blogger

Friday, February 10, 2012

We're Not Allowed to "Copy, Right"?

Picture from: 
Right! Yet a lot of students (and teachers for that matter) do without even realizing it. "Lately, we’ve been hearing more and more about digital copyrights and fair use in the news and online – particularly with the whole SOPA/PIPA uproar that recently swept the web." [1]

In lieu of sharing with the Digital Learning Series, this is just a simple reminder that we need to share, but we need to share responsibly


1. Give Credit, Where Credit is Due by Citing Your Sources

Here are some resources to make this an easy process.

2. Use Free, Legal Content with Creative Commons


Creative Commons helps you share your knowledge and creativity with the world. It develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. [2]


Looking for music, video, writing, code, or other creative works?
Creative Commons has got you covered. Search for creative work through sources like Google and Flickr right here. [2]

Search Creative Commons:

3. Create your own content! 

Take your own photos for that PowerPoint presentation, Create your own graphics for that poster, etc. Creation is good! (Thanks for the comment Brett)


  1. How do you share responsibly in your class?
  2. What resources do you use?


  1. The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons
  2. Creative Commons:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

5 Ways to Prepare Our Students for Their Future?

When most of us were deciding what to major in at college, we made decisions about our future employment based on what we knew existed at the time and what we knew would exist in our future. We would become educators, journalists, doctors, lawyers, marketing reps, engineers, etc. [1]

Fast forward a couple of decades (just 1 decade for me) and we see that the career landscape has changed so drastically that jobs need new definitions. Social media strategist, app developer, mobile web engineer, etc. [1]

Some of us could ask ourselves, "Would I have have embarked upon my current career had I predicted how the Internet would revolutionize every part of our lives?" [1]

Simply stated: We need to prepare our students for their future.

Cathy Davidson, the author of Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn believes that “65 percent of today’s grade-school kids may end up doing work that hasn’t been invented yet,” [1]

Given this information we as teachers should embrace technology, project-based learning, and creative critical thinking, in order to prepare today's students with the 21st century skills that they will need to solve the problems of tomorrow in the workplace.

Did you know?

  • A surge of new technologies and social media innovations is altering the media landscape.
  • Convergence is everywhere. It's easier than ever to reach a large audience, but harder than ever to really connect with it.
  • These changes are affecting the way people behave. [2]

 Quotes from Cathy Davidson:

“We’re 15 years into something so paradigm-changing that we have not yet adjusted our institutions of learning, work, social life, and economic life to account for the massive change.” [1]

“I think we are on the verge of seeing a major change in educational policy and in how we test, how we measure, and how we teach and learn.” [1]

Now that you know ... what are you going to do to prepare your students for their future?

Cathy Davidson suggests five practical applications to apply to every school in the country. (5 Applications from MindShift)

  1. End standardized EOG tests–they demotivate learning and good teaching. Instead test in challenging ways, using tough game mechanics with real-time feedback on results so kids can learn from the test—not be taught to scam the test! 
  2. Make all learning real, relevant, tied to communities, with real application in the kids’ lives outside of the classroom. Example: Ban research papers—unless they are published online and have an informative, persuasive, or other real purpose for others. Learning should have an impact beyond getting an “A” on the assignment.
  3. Teach kids to think through, with, about, for–and create–new, interactive digital global communication. I don’t mean this as an add on. I mean rethinking all the subjects we now teach in view of the possibilities (what techies call “affordances”) of the digital age. That means getting rid of the “two cultures” binary. STEM subjects are impoverished without creativity, analysis, critical thinking. The Information Age is about putting back together the knowledge that the Industrial Age subdivided. A simpler way is to say have them all learn Scratch multimedia programming and think about the possibilities.
  4. Restore arts, music, shop, P.E., dance: Kids need the soul-stirring learning that lets them move, make, sing, create, dream.
  5. Eliminate the “college prep” and AP distinctions, and stop making college the implicit standard for all education, back to preschool. Many worthy careers don’t need higher ed. Many careers that don’t need higher ed still need a liberal arts education in creative, applied, cross-disciplinary thinking, all of which are as necessary to run your whole hair salon or motorcycle repair shop as they are to get a law degree. Conversely, make college free and open to everyone, at any age. Now, that would be a game changer! [1]

You Might Also Like

  1. MindShift: How Do We Prepare Our Children For What's Next?December 26, 2011 | 9:36 AM | By Tina Barseghian.
  2. YouTube: Did You Know 4.0

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Get Your Teachers Learning and Sharing with Google Blogger

Picture Source:

Sharing is one of the most powerful tools that we as teachers have.  Yet, most of the teachers in my school either don't see the value in it, or they are simply not interested in learning and sharing from each other.  I am trying to find ways to get them inspired and motivated to WANT to learn and share with each other.  However, this has been more challenging than I anticipated.


After reading What Ed Said: 10 Steps to Get Teachers Into Blogs, I became even more motivated and empowered to get my teachers learning and sharing together!

Action Plan

In order to get my colleagues sharing and learning with each other, I have been working with my Technology Specialist in my building.  He and I have recently created a blog for our middle school teachers.  It is called the Digital Learning Series.  Our hope is that our teachers will start to read the blog posts that we write, and slowly become motivated to contribute, by writing their own blog posts.  Our goal by the end of the year, is to have a blog post every day by at least one teacher in our building.

How it Works

Our district recently signed up for Google Apps in Education.  This allowed each teacher to have a Schoogle Account which comes with the Google Blogger App.  I created the Digital Learning Series blog and then made the Teacher Tech Ambassadors in our school authors to the blog.  After a few weeks, I will allow every teacher in our building to become authors to the blog, empowering all of my teachers to learn and share with each other. 

The Digital Learning Series Blog, created in Google Blogger, is a solution to learning and sharing with each other.  When every teacher has access to the Blogger Account, anyone can contribute to the Blog by creating a blog post about anything he or she finds useful. The great thing about this system, is that we can all contribute to this blog at any time. This creates one place to learn and share with each other and it doesn't have to take up any more email space.

How to Get Your Teachers to Blog

If you are interested in creating a blog post, watch this screencast demonstration that I created on how to use Google Blogger. I hope that the video shows you how easy it is to create a blog post and I hope that it encourages you to share your own knowledge and experience so that we can all benefit as a personal learning community of teachers!

Blogging 101:  How to use Google Blogger

Benefits of Blogging

Here are some of my favorite benefits of blogging: from the 21 Key Benefits of Blogging
  • Improves your writing skills
  • Enhances your knowledge
  • Gives you a voice
  • Motivates you to engage in professional development
  • Connects you with other professionals
  • Helps you to aggregate research

What Should I Blog About?

  1. An interesting article that you read
  2. A great resource that you found
  3. An inspiring video that you watched
  4. A fun and exciting activity or lesson that you did in your class with your students
  5. A great activity or lesson that you saw another teacher do in class.
  6. An idea that you have that you would like to share
  7. A reflection of your own lesson, or someone else's lesson.
  8. Anything else that you would like to share ...

Still not sure what to blog about? 

Safer Internet Day: Info, Tips, and Resources

Today is Safer Internet Day! This day is dedicated to bringing awareness about internet safety to parents, teachers, and students. The internet continues to become a more dangerous place if it is not used correctly.  Students need to continue to improve their digital citizenship skills in order to make good decisions when they are online.  Take Safer Internet Day as a good opportunity to remind students to be safe when they are online. 

"Safer Internet Day (SID) is organised by Insafe in February of each year to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people across the world. Safer Internet Day 2012 will take place on Tuesday 7 February 2012, centred on the theme "Connecting generations and educating each other", where we encourage users young and old to "discover the digital world together...safely!" [1]

This website aims to showcase the many exciting activities and events that will be taking part across the globe to celebrate the day.

About Safer Internet Day

"Over the years, Safer Internet Day has become a landmark event in the online safety calendar. Starting as an initiative of the EU SafeBorders project in 2004 and taken up by the Insafe network ( as one of its earliest actions in 2005, Safer Internet Day has grown beyond its traditional geographic zone and is now celebrated in more than 70 countries worldwide, and across six of the world’s seven continents." [1]

"From cyberbullying to social networking, each year Insafe aims to be at the forefront of emerging online issues and chooses a topic reflecting current concerns. This year we are focusing on connecting generations, as we invite people of all ages from very young children to parents and grandparents to 'discover the digital world together… safely'." [1]

Insafe, a network set up within the Safer Internet Programme

5 Online Safety Tips

  1. Think before you post 
  2. Keep your personal information private 
  3. Lock your personal devices and online applications with a strong password 
  4. Be respectful of other people when you are online 
  5. Report any suspicious or inappropriate online activity 

Resources for Internet Safety

The Google Family Safety Center introduces parents to and shows them how to use Google's safety tools including safe search, safe search lock, and YouTube's safety mode. Google has partnered with a number of child safety organizations to develop educational materials for dealing with topics like cyberbullying, strangers online, protecting personal information, and avoiding malware online. Finally, Google's Family Safety Center contains a collection of videos featuring Google employees sharing the strategies they use with their own kids for teaching online behavior and keeping their kids safe online.

Visit Google's Good to Know: Online Safety Website for tips and advice on how to stay more secure on the web.

For Additional Resources on Internet Safety, visit the following blog post:  Free Technology for Teachers: 15 Resources for Safer Internet Day


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Schoogle: A New and Open World for Learning

This year my school district finally launched Google Apps for Education for our students to use. We initiated Google Apps last year and began using Google Calendar with teachers and faculty for scheduling purposes. It was a good way for teachers to get experience using Google Apps. Unfortunately, that was the only Google App that we used in my middle school. After recently learning that every student now has a Google Apps account via my school district, I immediately began using Schoogle with my students.

Picture from:

Schoogle is what we call our Google in Education account, because it's simply a blend of "School" and "Google" ... thereby adopting the name Schoogle for our school district.  Schoogle has honestly changed the way I teach and the way my students learn.  I have always valued project-based learning, student-centered learning, and collaboration, but Schoogle takes teaching and learning to a whole new level!  

In this blog, I will address the following information about Google in Education:

I.  Google's three initiative's for Google in Education:

  1. Building a foundation of technology and access ...
  2. To empower innovative communities ...
  3. And make learning magical for students ...

II.  Youtube: Saline Area Schools talks about Google Apps

III.  Screencast on Schoogle

I have created a screencast for my students and colleagues in my school district, to demonstrate how to login to our Schoogle account, how to navigate Schoogle, and how to operate Schoogle.  

IV.  Below are just 8 examples of the many different ways in which I am using Schoogle (Google in Education) with my students.

  1. Completing Assignments:  My students have been creating Google documents, forms, presentations, and spreadsheets for various assignments in my Technology classes.  I often require my students to answer reflection questions, provide feedback to assignments, complete surveys and respond to writing prompts.
  2. Monitoring Student Progress and Providing Feedback: When my students create a Google Doc, I have them immediately share their document with me, which allows me  to (comment) on their document.  This also allows me to monitor their progress as they complete their assignments and I can provide constructive feedback to their assignments as they are working.  
  3. Turning in Assignments:  When my students are finished with an assignment, I have them "share" their Google Docs with me.  This is system acts like an online Teacher Turn-In Dropbox.  As soon my students give me permission to (view) their Google Docs by "sharing" them with me, I can easily view their assignments for assessment. 
  4. Creating an ePortfolio:  I have my students create (collections) or folders in their Schoogle Account to start collecting and saving their projects and assignments for my class.  In addition, I also have them upload assignments that they have completed for other classes so that they can start organizing them in their Schoogle Account.  This ultimately acts as an ePortfolio that they will be able to use for high school, college and the workplace. 
  5. Collaborating on Projects: I often have my students work in partners or in groups to complete assignments and projects.  Students often assign different tasks to each other, working on different computers while simultaneously editing the same document.  I have also created a Google Spreadsheet for groups of students to enter in their data from experiments.  I then have my students analyze the collected data to make conclusions, create infographics, etc.  Additionally, I encourage my groups of students to work collaboratively on their Google Presentations by having each student responsible for one slide.  This allows the each student to contribute to the presentation simultaneously. 
  6. Collecting Information and Conducting Research:  I encourage my students to use online google searches such as Google Advanced Search and Google Scholar to research information.  In addition, I also encourage my students to create Google Forms to use as surveys to easily collect information and gather data that they can use for projects and assignments. 
  7. Scheduling with Google Calendar:  I encourage my students to use their Schoogle Calendar as an online interactive agenda to view calendars from their teachers, and to create events to keep themselves organized.  They can easily keep track of their assignments, homework, projects and due dates. 
  8. Empowering my students:  I allow my students to use many of the other available Google Apps that they have in their Schoogle Account to create their own projects.

V.  Google in Education Resources:

You might also like:
  1. 12 Free Online Resources to Get Your Students Publishing
  2. The 21st Century Learner Needs a 21st Century Teacher
  3. 15 Free Online Apps to Get Your Students Creating
  4. 6 Reasons Why You Should Use 6 Laptops in Your Classroom
  5. Could PBL be the Solution to Education Reform?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Today is Digital Learning Day: A Gift For You

When I opened up my email today, I received a Free eBook as a gift from Sunburst.  My school district currently uses their Type to Learn 4 Program, so they sent me a gift in lieu of Digital Learning Day.  I never knew how passionate Sunburst was about education until I read their new eBook.  If you choose to read it, I hope that you find it useful and share it out, for the love of digital learning!

Email to me on February 1, 2012:  Digital Learning Day

Today is Digital Learning Day!

“To succeed in the 21st century, all students will need to perform to high standards and acquire mastery of core subject material. All students also will need to gain the cognitive and social skills that enable them to deal with the complex problems of our age” (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2007).

Today, a nationwide celebration is 
taking place. This special day has been selected to educate the world on how digital education can provide both teachers and students with engaging and rewarding learning experiences. In recognition of the national event and to give you more insight into why we do what we do,Sunburst Digital is offering you this free eBook entitled "Identifying High Quality Academic Digital Content."

For Digital Learning Day thousands of teachers, over one million students, and hundreds of school districts are banding together to show why they believe digital tools are vital in improving student achievement outcomes in today's ever-changing world.

What is Digital Learning?

Digital Learning consists of well designed digital content solutions capable of promoting kids' critical thinking and at the same time supporting local instruction, building teacher capacity, and integrating existing classroom technology. In recent years, there has been an explosion of curriculum solutions capable of providing unique ways to inspire, engage, and motivate learners. Read more in the research based e-book about how teachers and administrators can identify digital solutions with impact.

To Learn more about Digital Learning Day and to find out how you can get involved, please visit the Digital Learning Day homepage.


Michael Mallett
Curriculum Solutions Advisor
Sunburst Digital

For more information about Digital Learning Day, visit my blog posts: