This weekend has been busy!!! I have taught a lot of group ex classes (AMRAP format is still going strong) and have made a lot of creations! I plan to do a post this week displaying all the new creations from this weekend–especially since I hinted to a super cute one on Friday. Here’s a pic of another beautiful rose cake I just completed.
Thanks to everyone who has purchased a puzzle piece. Abby was helping us work on it this afternoon.
The bulk of my weekend was spent working on my classroom–from home! Aside from teaching high school and aerobics, I am also the Business Executive with the new eduational company SkoolPad. This company is a classroom and technology collaboration platform that is easing the transition from “regular” classrooms to virtual classrooms. SP’s vision is to become an all-in-one platform that a school can use for indiviual classroom/student use as well as total school/community unity. Today’s post will focus on individual classroom/student/teacher use of SP. The all-in-one concept is desirable because I have taught in schools that required me to visit five different websites/servers prior to starting my class! I had to go to the school district’s home page to check my e-mail, then the school’s webpage to read the daily announcements, then I had change servers to edit my classroom website, I then had to go another host site to take attendence, and finally other server to access my grade book. Are you kidding me? This might be abnormal for some readers, but it’s a reality for a lot of teachers. SP hopes to place all of that in one domain–your school’s own domain. It’s easy and they do all the work for you. I promise!
Prior to working with SP I thought I was doing a great job incorporating iPads into my classroom. The text is online, we take virtual field trips, perform virtual labs, watch animations, submit papers via e-mail, take notes in note-taking apps, etc. Umm no. That is not collaboration, but I am now collaborated as you will read further in this post. That’s enough fluff, let me give you some “real life” examples of how I have used SP in my room within the past week and simplified my life…
1) Paperless! No more waiting at the copy machine, passing out papers, dealing w/ kids that “lose” their papers, etc, etc. You may upload all of your existing documents pdf, ppt, etc or even take a pic of an old worksheet or textbook passage). All of this info will be stored on your “SHELF”. Think of your shelf as the huge folder or binder you have filled with your lessons for each unit. You will move info from the Shelf into the active class site as needed. This would be the same as you passing out sheets for lab assignments, activities, etc. Students also submit all their work through the system so you won’t be dealing with papers!! You can grade the work via iPad/computer. It’s amazing! It even works with papers that the students write or graphs they draw. They can take a pic of it, upload it, and boom…paperless on your half. You can even do a real-time annotation and draw/write on the paper (think rough drafts of English papers) and send it back to the kids via SP.
2) Automatic Grading. I successfully gave my first test via SP this week. I typically
sleep with tests under my pillow am a test nazi and was very wary, but I decided to be brave and let the kids use their iPads/laptops to the take the test during class. Success! Uploading the test was easy as was setting the start/stop time. I know what you are thinking and, NO!, the kids did not cheat!! This is the best part about SP!! They cannot get out of the system (go to Facebook, text msg, etc)without you knowing it (a message pops up on your screen and their status box becomes deactivated—you will see a small box on your screen with all active, online kids). Also….if they get out of the system during an assignment or test the work gets submitted and graded immediately and they are locked out until you let them back in!! Mu-hahahaha!!! LOVE. Mine know this and they are terrified to hit the wrong button! It works, promise!! Also, SP hopes to be synced with an SP gradebook by next school year (2013-14), so your grades will be automatically inserted ! OMG YES!
3) No more excuses All of your class info may be placed on the SP calendar; therefore, the kids (and parents) will always know when an assignment is due. Absent kids will no longer ask you the dreaded “did I miss anything?” question b/c they can get assignments, lectures (yes, SP allows you to video/record your class), etc while they are at home
playing Xbox on their death-beds.
4) Student Involvement I have found that SP has allowed me to get to know some of my quiet students! My students affectionately refer to SP as “Nerd Facebook” and while it is a form of social interaction for the classroom, it is NOT social media. SP will register your students to your SP classroom and the kids will be able to make a profile, “friend” each other, create statuses, and “like” each other’s status/comments, but all of that is visible to you! Students can’t “friend” students in other classes or in other states. SP has a discussion/poll feature on your classroom homepage that I use as a “bell ringer” area. As soon as my kids walk into my classroom and log onto SP they comment on the “bell ringer”. Then they enjoy commenting/liking each other’s responses. This feature allows all students to be involved in the discussion–especially the quiet ones.
5) Moo-Lah SP has a library that will allow you to search for, purchase, download, and use amazing lessons/activities from other teachers! You can also submit your own genius lesson plans, price them, and make some good ole cash money once an item has been purchased. Win-win! SP has ongoing contests encouraging teachers to submit material and at times they give away big ticket items such as iPads! Even if you are not interested in utilizing SP with your students I encourage you to use the library.
If anyone is still reading this post 1) congrats and 2) you win a prize! If you would comment on this post with your e-mail address I will send you the registration sheet and give you a free SP trial until the end of the school year. There are no obligations or sketchy deals I SWEAR! People, I do not have time to invest in some crap company; therefore, I did the research for all of us. SP is legit and I firmly believe it is going to be viral soon. Get in NOW!!
This post covered about 50% of the classroom uses for SP. Entire schools can use SP and I will save that post for
a rainy another day. Seriously, if you could pass this info to your teacher friends/family members I will appreciate it, but so will they! Promise! 🙂