Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 30-

While strictly-speaking this site is not very Web 2.0 in terms of its interactivity, TED Talks is certainly a highly useful site for educators. Based on the mission of curating "ideas worth spreading," the creators of the TED universe have provided a deep well of content-learning and inspiration from leaders across the world.

Exploration of this world begins with, but you can also find TED videos on YouTube, via the TED app, and through the TED podcasts. Also, a quick Google search will show that educators have curated lists of great TED videos in nearly every subject area (see below for some examples).

If you are looking for new ideas to spark your imagination or challenge your beliefs, TED is a great place to visit, and since there are new videos being added every day (thanks to annual conferences and TEDx events), there are always new ideas to explore.

The interactivity comes from responding to the videos through the TED community, by sharing the videos with colleagues and students, embedding the videos (which are not blocked by our firewalls) in your own blogs and websites, and ultimately attending, participating in, or even hosting a TEDx event (dare we dream?).

For now, we'll start small and stick to exploring the resource. Here are just a few of my favorite TED Talks:

Here are some other links that might guide your exploration as well:

8 Great TED Talks about the Future of Education and Teaching
Teaching With TED
TED ED Brain Trust
My Love Affair with TED
15 TED Talks for Teachers to Watch
Why Schools Need to Use TED Talks
Top 10 TED Talks for Music Education
25 Awe-Inspiring Science Talks on TED
15 Best TED Talks for History Buffs
20 Incredible TED Talks for Math Geeks

Your Assignment:

As your final assignment for the first-ever EVSC 30-Day Web 2.0 Challenge, we would like you to explore, identify a video that you could use in your classroom or in your professional practice, and describe how you would use that video to drive learning. Please share the title and speaker in your response so that the rest of us can find the video to which you refer in your response. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in the challenge this semester. Whether you completed every part or not, we hope that you will join us next Tuesday, December 13th at 3:00 at the TIC for a celebration for those who participated, and for the drawing of the winner of the iPad 2! If you want to make sure that all of your submissions have been accounted for, here is the link:

30-Day Challenge Tally Sheet

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 29 - Soapbox

Imagine if each of your students came with a confusion barometer during class instruction.  It's possible. This is just one feature that comes in your tool kit with Soapbox, a backchannel tool (more on that in a minute).

When your students are on a SoapBox that you create, they have a status at all times of either "I am getting it" or "I am confused". If at any point during class they become confused, or need you to slow down, they can indicate so by switching their status to "I am confused". You will see a graph with the number of confused students in real time. The individual student's status is completely anonymous to you and the other students.  As the teacher, you can see how many students are confused, just not which exact students.

Wondering what a backchannel is? Backchannels are conversations that take place concurrently with a lecture or presentation, and there are many tools that allow you to create one.  SoapBox's "About" explains it best:

[Backchannels] improve interaction between a speaker and an audience. Soapbox provides a platform for audience member input, while letting speakers facilitate discussion, organize feedback, and gauge audience sentiment -- all in real time. With SoapBox, speakers are able to transform traditional lectures into lasting conversations by integrating audience thoughts and opinions, without any interruption.

The confusion barometer is just one of the features of SoapBox and it could be shut-off if you prefer. Other features include polls, discussion boards, and socially ranked question and answer. You are encouraged to watch this quick 2 minute video overview for details.

Highlighted in the video:
  • web-based, so no downloads
  • no student log-ins; students remain anonymous (note there is a profanity filter)
  • lists four core features and how each works

    Let's say you decide to try out this tool with your students. Here are the basics to post once you have a SoapBox to share:
    1. I have created a SoapBox as a way for you to participate in class today. Even after class it will remain open, so if I don't get a question answered or if you think of something later, you can always go back and check to see if it's been answered or add something new.
    2. Please go to 
    3. In the "Join a SoapBox" text box, type in the title (you provide) and click "Join." 
    4. Once you're in, you'll see any polls or discussion for class and a "How to use Soapbox" button that will take you to a Quick Start Guide.
    5. Do a brief, here's how we will use this demo (You'll get the feel for it once you take the next step.)
    So, pretend YOU are the student. We have created a SoapBox for today!  Please join "30 Day Challenge" and explore the student side of things.  Keep in mind your responses will be anonymous. In the classroom, you can ask students to include their names if you are using this tool as a means for crediting student participation or if they want you to follow up with them individually.

    How do you get started? It's simple. Since this tool is in beta, you have to "Take a tour and sign up..." which consists of clicking a button, scrolling down the page and entering your email address. Once you hit Request Access, a screen pops up announcing they will get back to you with more instructions. Within minutes you get an email and it's all straightforward from there.

    Your assignment:

    Where in your instruction do you need to facilitate constructive interaction?  Here's the tool to do that. How might you use it?  Keep in mind, Soapbox is a tool as are the earlier 28 highlighted in this challenge. Any tool is only to be as effective as the individual who is using it. As an alternative post to how or when you might see using this tool in your classroom, you can share some tips you think would be important to maximize the effectiveness of introducing a backchannel to your students.

      Monday, December 5, 2011

      Day 28 - Class Dojo

      Class Dojo will not apply to every participant in the 30 Day Challenge as it is specifically designed for the classroom teacher, but I encourage you to be open-minded about the possible applications for this classroom management tool, which was introduced in beta early this fall, caught the attention of  educators from the UK to the US, and garnered top prize in NBC News' Education Nation Innovation Challenge. Later in this post, I will share an invitation for you to start your own class(es) with Class Dojo. 

      On the most rudimentary level, Class Dojo is a real-time, digital star chart for student behavior. Yet with some thought and planning, leaders can use it for much more. Based on game mechanics like leveling up, badges, unlocking achievements, avatars and leaderboards, Class Dojo's notifications, when projected on a whiteboard, can keep students aware of their achievement, recognize the correct choices they made, and reinforce their understanding of the behaviors, skills or activities necessary to succeed in class. Take a look at the main features:

      1. Personalization  You can tailor the rewards to promote the learning environment you want, rewarding things like excellent questions, great insight, creativity and collaboration. Add and remove any number of positive or negative behaviors you want to track. You can also build out both groups but display your choice of both or just one when working with the class. All you have to do is adjust your class settings. There are optional award sounds too-- positive behaviors are associated with a bell and negative have a little buzz.

      Don't like the little monsters? You can have students create their own avatar image or use photographs which they share with you so that you can upload them. There is a cost associated with personalizing, but you can get that waived by inviting a friend to register (even if they don’t accept, you get the bonus feature).

      2. Mobility
      You can be anywhere in your classroom and enter data using a netbook, iPhone, or iPad (will you be the lucky winner?).  No need to be tied down to your desk or to precord points on paper that will have to deciphered, entered and analyzed at the end of the day.

      3. Analytics The site analyzes class or individual progress overall (such as earning more positive than negative) as well as each type of behavior (24% of positive points awarded for correctly answering questions) helping teachers and administrators understand what is actually happening inside their classrooms in a data-driven way.

      Under “Report Cards” you have the option to add notes (not seen by students) at any point in time, which is particularly helpful when wanting to follow-up to a particular event. You can even opt to keep the note private or share the note with parents or other teachers.

      4. Parent Communication
      Circumstances often make it difficult for teachers to provide parents with as much feedback as we would like. With Class Dojo you can email each parent how their child did in class that day or at the end of a time period. You also have the option to print out the reports.

      5. Rewards is one of the upcoming features, but in the meantime, many teachers have built in their own system. One simple idea is to start off the entire class with the same avatar monster image and then allow students to personalize or choose their favorite monster avatar once they've met a goal.

      Here is your personal invitation to join Class Dojo.  If you want to learn more about this tool check out these blogs:

      So, what if you decide it's worth your time to create an account?  Once you're logged in there are tutorials to walk you through setting up your classes. The developers include a demo class where you can try your hand at awarding points and even go in and change settings.

      On the lower right corner of the screen there is a Help & feedback button. Not only can you get quick answers, but these guys listen to user suggestions! This is the cool thing about tools in beta, several changes have been made to Class Dojo in response to user feedback:
      • You can award the whole class or a small group an award in one step using the new Give Awards option. 
      • You can resize the avatars so that your students are all visible on one screen without scrolling up and down. 
      • You can control notification sounds and which notifications are visible 
      • You can enter student names in any order and the site will alphabetize them for you.  You can sort by either first or last name.
      Your assignment: Think outside of the box. Clearly you could use this tool as a classroom management tool, but imagine a specific use for this gamified leaderboard to be used with learners/attendees. No credit for using it in the obvious ways spelled out in today's post; although, you can build on ideas shared in the linked blogs.