The Jens

The Jens
jen b & Jen P

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Two Post Scripts

So two short follow-ups to previous posts:

Digital storytelling

Overall, I had fun reading the end products and students had fun creating them. The only feedback from students was that they needed to know upfront who their audience would be -- specifically, were they writing for children, peers, the world in general? So next year I will build in time to discuss writing for an audience and together we will determine for whom they are writing. 

I gave them very little in terms of constraints -- I said their story needed to include both text and non-text elements, and the text needed to include both narrative and informative writing -- they seemed to like the complete freedom, but some had trouble starting and wanted me to give them a genre or topic. Also, next year I will spend more time in class discussing certain aspects that some seemed to struggle with (point of view/narration, audience, incorporating dialog, building tension).

I found these additional resources that I plan to look at more closely and possibly integrate next time:
Storybook Creation Tools and Playfic, a site that allows people to create interactive stories together.

Here is an example of one of the stories my students created (shared with permission by the authors)

Scripts in Google

I am loving using autoCrat to start students' assignments in Google Drive! Besides having the assignments in the correct folders, named the way I want them to be named, and following the assignment template that I want them to use, the other nifty aspect of using this script to generate assignments is that I can change rights after I grade so that students who want to revise have to notify me to change them back to editor. Last semester, students submitted work well after deadlines and didn't tell me so there wasn't an easy way to know who revised or submitted late work other than to open each class folder and then each student folder to see the last edited date. AutoCrat has made it much easier for me to manage student work in Drive.

My new goal is to learn how to send out feedback using a script. Alice Keeler shared another super helpful video on using valmerge to send out feedback based on a rubric. Love learning these time-saving tips!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Going paperless

I haven’t made the complete switch to the paperless classroom, but I’m trying. At the beginning of this year, I made the move to google docs for our writing bootcamp. During the first seven weeks, all writing was completed in google drive – I didn’t have any hard copies of what ended up being 15 pieces of writing from each student.  Each student set up their drive with three folders (or collections) – one for each of our classes. These folders were then shared with the corresponding teacher, so I ended up with over sixty shared folders for English work and close to forty for shared College and Career Readiness work. As folders were shared with me, I set up class folders to house each of the student folders to try to organize drive. Keep in mind that I was learning google drive with my students and in many cases, students were far more proficient than I in how google docs worked.

This worked well in terms of cutting down paper, but did not help with organization. I had to open the class folder, then open each student’s folder, then hope they named the document correctly before I could comment, grade, and enter it into the gradebook. Many documents were named incorrectly, which slowed down the process while I figured out which prompt they were answering, but the bigger problem was that often students forgot to share the document with me.

Autocrat to the rescue! I had heard of autocrat and scripts, but I really didn’t understand how it could be used or why you’d want to use it. But this weekend at the East Bay CUE conference it all became clear. I attended two sessions on forms and scripts and started to understand how this would change my life and make me love having all student work in my google drive. After several rounds of trial and error, I used autocrat to create two assignments today and it worked beautifully. The assignments went right to the folder for that particular assignment (instead of to the class folder) and all student work was there, in alphabetical order, ready for me to quickly check who had completed the assignment. No more untitled documents, no more papers without headers, no more “I thought I shared it with you.”

I can’t explain how to do it as well as these pros, so here are the links to the two sessions I attended that give the step by step how-to.

Alice Keeler has great instructions HERE . She and David Malone were super helpful.

Will Kimbley gave an overview of autocrat and fluberoo HERE (I have not yet tried fluberoo). His presentation was fast and I accidentally deleted all my notes, but he had tons of great ideas on how to use forms.

I also found these helpful blog posts (sometimes it takes me several different explanations to “get it.”)
THIS one from EdTechCoaching
THIS one from Ed Tech 4 Theater

So how am I using this? Well, yesterday I posted our weekly informational text assignment (based on Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week). Today I had them log on to our class ning page where they found the link to a google form. Once they completed the form, they logged into their email where they found a google doc I had started for them (with the correct header and title) with sentence frames from They Say, I Say to use as a starting point for their responses.

The second assignment was to write a rhetorical précis based on a primary source document that they are also using in U.S. History. Again, they logged into ning to get the link to the form, then to their email to get the doc I started with the template for writing the rhetorical précis.

Student response was overwhelmingly positive. They liked that they didn't have to worry about where the doc was on their drive and whether or not it was shared (though I encouraged them to move it into the correct class folder) and they liked that it was started for them (they really liked how their names were already in the header - magic!)

I think we’ll also use this next week when we have an information meeting. Instead of having parents and students sign in on paper and then later have to type up their contact info into excel (and hope we can read their handwriting), we’ll have them fill out a form, which will then automatically send the “thanks for attending our meeting” email AND create the spreadsheet with their contact information. Nice.

I’m pretty pleased with it all.