Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thoughts on Chromebooks

Thoughts on Chromebooks

It was a rough start with the devices.  We started the semester off having a ton of issues with network connections.  Our tech. department was a huge help in resolving these issues.  Since fixing this problem the devices have worked as advertised.  Below is a list in no particular order of my reactions to these devices:
  • Slow - The devices as a whole are very slow.  I will give you that they boot up very fast within 10 seconds but when switching between windows or loading Google drive they slow way down.  Sometimes the device would mysteriously close windows when loading to many panes.  
  • App Issues - There are a ton of apps and scripts for the device some good some bad.  One difference between Apple's app store and Google's is that the apps for the iPad are true apps.  Some of the advertised apps in the Google Play store are not really apps but links to websites.  I do love the concept of scripts and have found several of them very helpful.  They are not always the easiest to find or use initially and for a common user not friendly.  
  • The device that was chosen is not the most sturdy of devices.  We have had several mouse pad issues.  The concept of the device I like a lot.  A device that can be customized per user that is completely cloud based is very interesting.
  • Simplicity of use - The device itself is very easy to use.  It took very little time to teach the students how to use and navigate the device.  From a teacher's standpoint I feel like this is a huge plus over the iPad.  Some areas I would like to see improved on is the ability to install scripts and apps on the student devices.  
  • Creativity - I feel like I had it out for these devices from the start because I had such a great experience with the iPads.  One of my dislikes of these devices is that they do not lend themselves to creativity.  I feel like the students could very easily be creative with iPads.  You can do almost anything on a Chromebook that you can do on an iPad but there are a lot more steps to go through.  
Overall I feel that the Chromebooks are great devices because of their simplicity.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Post Psychology Fair

Psychology Fair infused with a lot of technology was a huge success!
  • We expected 1490 students to come to the fair. 
  • We had 3527 QR code scans.  Not as many as we hoped but a great start for our first year. 
  • We had 4834 Google form entries used at different booths. 
  • We had 872 paper surveys given.  This is way down from previous years which equates to a huge paper savings.   We are estimating that we saved around 8,000 sheets of paper this year.  We are looking to improve next year, our goal being 0 sheets of paper used.  
 Here are the numbers to pull this off:
  • 30 Chromebooks
  • 30 laptops
  • 18 iPhones
  • 29 separate QR codes.  1 for each experiment.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

QR Codes and Psychology Fair

QR Codes and Psychology Fair

This year in an effort to cut down on the use of paper in Psychology Fair we have embarked on a QR code adventure.  Each experiment (29 in all) has QR Code check in points as part of their experiment.  Each participant will use their phone to "check-in."  The codes will then redirect the participants to a Google Form that the groups have put together to ask their surveys or what not. 

  • We will save around 15,000 sheets of paper!
  • Will help simplify data entry for post fair data analysis.  Currently it takes around 2 days for group to enter all their data into Exel for data analysis.  By using Google Forms this step has been done automatically for them.   
  • Participants will hopefully thing it is fun to use their phones in a school approved fashion, helping to create a digital citizenship experience.
  • Praying that the network can handle the traffic.  We are expecting around 1,500 participants over a 6 hour period.  Plus the over 60 Chromebooks and laptops that will be connected to the network to carry out the experiments.  We have a few copies of the surveys on paper if we need them. 
  • Participants utter lack or preparedness.  We have around 400 freshman coming to the fair.  I fear that they and others will not know what a QR is or how to use it.  I have done a lot of training with my students (experimenter) about how to help participants with their tech issues.  
If you are interested in following along with the experiments you can view their blog at the following website:



Today we used a new game website called Kahoot to  help review for our unit test.  I have always struggled with finding a game that causes the students to be motivated to play.  This game follows a lot of the same principles as "Bar Trivia" games which award points for correct answer and how fast your respond.  My classes loved it and got very involved.  We had a lot of trash talking about who would win.  It was great to see learning going on in a fun environment.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Psychology Fair

Psychology Fair

All Chromebooks are now up and running with no problems.  We have just started our major project of the semester which is Psychology Fair.  Basically a month long constructive project that allows my students to prove to me and the school what they have learned about psychology.  You can check out my students journey here:  Psychology Fair Blogspot

Thank you to Joe Geiger for helping to organize this short synapses:

What is Psychology Fair?
The fair is a carnival of demonstrations, surveys, and, experiments related to the many different topics in psychology. The student-directed fair involves a multitude of ideas that define the many facets of psychology. For example, they may have materials related to memory, the brain, learning, and/or social psychology. Psychology students' design stations or learning areas that people can visit and try the hands-on materials. The many booths expose people to psychological topics, experiments, and the scientific procedure that is the backbone for the fair. People who participate in the booths receive tokens. Psychology students tabulate the results and summarize their findings. People (other students, parents, school board members, administration, brothers and sisters) who attend the fair not only learn about the field of psychology but also about themselves and other people. 

The objectives of the fair are to
Y Give psychology students experience using the scientific method
Y Give psychology students an opportunity to explore different interests in psychology
Y Give psychology students an exposure to different demonstrations, surveys, and experiments
Y Give psychology students an opportunity to demonstrate psychological materials
Y Give psychology students an opportunity to learn independently
Y Give psychology students an opportunity to recreate textbook information
Y Give exposure to a psychology course and program
Y Give parents an opportunity to see children's efforts in psychology class
Y Give school board members an opportunity to see student directed learning
Y Give students an opportunity to conduct an activity on a grander scale than just in the classroom
Y Give visiting students an opportunity to learn about psychology
Y Expose academic psychology to the media (newspaper and cable TV)
Y Expose the school and its programs to visiting people

Basic Ideas about the Fair
A.                Students are allowed about three weeks from the start of the project until the conclusion of the fair.
B.                 Students need to select a demonstration, survey, and/or experiment that allows for a hands-on experience. It should also be one in which other students, parents, and school officials can learn something about academic psychology.
C.                 Students design materials needed for the activity. These would include interactive materials for the activity as well as a way to tabulate and summarize the findings.
D.                Students design a three-piece accordion style cardboard backdrop that is related to the activity.
E.                 Students practice conducting the activity in class before the psychology fair.

History of the Psychology Fair
Mr. Joe Geiger and Mr. Desi Vuillaume teach Psychology at Carl Sandburg High School. The Psych Fair began several years ago by Jim Matiya and has been an annual event. There are over 3,000 students at Carl Sandburg. One day in May is taken in which classes are invited to the fair. The Psychology students have taken projects and collect data on the day of the fair. A little over 1,000 people go through the doors of the gym by 2:00. After the fair they summarize their data and write a formal paper.

A Selection of experiments, surveys, and demonstrations
There are several books available for people who are interested in classroom activities. Many of these ideas can be converted for use at a psychology fair. Teacher's guides seem to work the best because they tend to contain activities based on studies found in journals. These psychologists have devised and tested these activities and demonstrations the bestThese books are also preferred because the students have fewer decisions to make. Students have been known to waste time. Just deciding to decide can be a problem. By providing them with possible activities, they simply have less to decide. The introduction material is projected to be completed and typed within two weeks. With such a time constraint, the decision making process needs to be concise and limited. Also, if high school age students are allowed to devise their own projects, they would solve all the world's problem. The prepared projects have been honed down and prepared to help with these problems. Often, these books provide step-by-step directions to help the students. The time factor is also important for everyone. These books contain ideas that will work in a psychology fair. These books contain the best ideas for helping students decide what to do and when.

Books of experiments, surveys, and demonstrations
Benjamin, L.T., and Lowman, K.D.,eds. (1981) Activities Handbook for the Teaching of Psychology.
Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Makosky, V.P., Whittmore, L. & Rogers, A., eds. (1987). Activities Handbook for the teaching of psychology.,  
Vol.2. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Makosky, V.P., Whittmore, L. & Rogers, A., eds. (1990). Activities Handbook for the teaching of psychology.,
Vol.3. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Kincher, J. (1990). Psychology for kids. Minneapolis, MN. Free Spirit Publishing.

Kincher, J. (1995). Psychology for kids, (2nd ed.). Minneapolis, MN. Free Spirit Publishing.

Kohn, A.(1993). Instructor's resource guide for Kalat's Introduction to psychology (3rd edition). Belmont,
California. Wadsworth, Inc.

Bolt, M. (1992). Instructor's resources for use with Myer's Psychology (3rd ed.). New York. Worth Publishers.

Bolt, M. (1995). Instructor's resources for use with Myer's Psychology (4th ed.). New York. Worth Publishing.

Chrome and 1:1 Integration Presentation

Chrome and 1:1 Integration Presentation

Slide Presentation on Chrome and 1:1 Integration

Friday, February 7, 2014

Google Training

Google Training 2-7-14

Just a quick review of learned material from 2-7-14 PD

Google Connected Classrooms: Bring the world into your classroom using Google+
Google Connected Classrooms
Google Connected Classrooms allow teachers and students to go on Virtual Field Trips for free.  100's of reputable providers have created field trips but teachers and students can also create their own.  Some key features.  When used live you can have remote video playing of a presenter with a Q and A session running on the side.

Google Hangouts and Google Air:  Both of these are similar in function.  Google Hangouts seems to have some great use when it comes to collaboration between teachers from different schools, countries, etc.  The possibilities seem to be endless.  Once you start you will find that you can share video, screens, pictures, voice, and much more.  I think this is a much more useful tool then Skype.  You also have the ability to record the entire experience for use at a later date.

Google Sites:  A Google product that allows you to quickly create websites.  For novice users this is a great resource if you are looking to put together a website but do not want to learn HTML.  How do I access this?  Once you create a site you are able to edit the site very easily.  The edit feature looks similar to a Google Doc

Getting Sand Everywhere:  Website that lists different Scripts that can be used in Google Drive to help make your life a little easier.

The Learning Revolution Project:  A great resource that curates technology related professional development courses and events for teachers all in one source.  The best feature from this site is the ability to embed the sites Google Calendar into your own personal calendar.

A nice document put together by Mike Geraghty explaining different apps and extensions.

D230 Learning Mobile Explorations:  A Google Site created by Lucy Gray as a history of the 1:1 process through the 2013-2014 school year.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Personality WebQuest

Personality Web Quest

Today was the first day that all machines worked as they should.  Overall it was a very successful day.  We started out class with a 6 question formative quiz taken using the Mastery Manager Online Portal.  Then we moved onto a Web Quest.  The Quest itself was shared through Google Drive to each individual student using Doctopus.  I showed students then how to split their screen on the Chromebooks using an extension called.  *Split Screen* which will divide the chrome-browser into two equal browser windows.  

I was able to re-collect all assignments back through Doctopus which allowed me to quickly grade the assignment and email out the students' scores and feedback. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chrome Extensions

Chrome Extensions

What is a Script? - A script is a piece of software you can add to the Chrome Web Browser that will hopefully make something in your life easier.

How do I find these Scripts?  The Chrome Web Store Most are free

Below is a list of some of my favorite Chrome Extensions:
  • Read Comfortably - This allows you to do three different things when viewing a web page.  
    • First it will take a web page and strip it of its ads and clutter and change the text into a cleaner more readable copy.  I love using this with my students.  If I find a newspaper article I can run it through this script before sharing it with my students.  
    • Second it will take a web page and save it for reading at a later time.
    • Third it will take a webpage and send it to your Kindle for reading at a later time.
  • WatchDoc - Watch Doc allows me to keep tabs on my shared folder in Google Drive.  When I open Chrome it updates me on what files have changed that I have share with people.
  • Diigo - Social Book Marking - Diigo allows you do so many things.  In is simpilist form it allows you to keep your bookmarks in the cloud.  If you are feeling a little more advanterous you could do the following:
    • Use it for exploration of what others are bookmarking.  Since it is a Social Bookmarking site this means that you can search what others are bookmarking.
    • Share bookmark folders - Very helpful as a teacher.  I can setup folders in my bookmarks and share that folder out.  Ex. Psychology 1 folder of all websites that my students will need to visit this semester.  Share this out to all my students an now they have all my bookmarks.  The nice thing is that as the semester moves forward and I decide to change link it will also change in their bookmarks.
    • Sharing and Annotate - Diigo also allows you to take a website and email, tweet it, or annotate it and save it as a PDF.
  • URL Shortner - Simple Script.  Ever have a URL that you want to share but it is way to long?  Click this script and it will shorten the URL to a more manageable length.  
  • SplitScreen - This script allows you to split one webpage into two.  If you are working on a Windows based computer I see no purpose in using this.  If you are working on a Chromebook or a device with a small screen this is very usefull.
  • Awesome Screen Shot Capture - Similar to Windows Snipit Tool.  This Script allows you to Screen capture whole webpage or portions.  It then allows you to annotate over what you have captured.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Psychology Perspectives Assignment 1-14-14

Psychology Perspectives Assignment

Today I used the Chromebooks to do a simple jigsaw activity.  I used Doctopus to distribute several files to students using the group function of Doctopus.  Here are the files.  I showed the students how to use the Split Screen Script which allows you to split one web page into two different panes.

Had several problems with the devices themselves.  First issue - several students had profile issues.  Had technology look into the problem and seem to not have a complete solution yet but have solved most.  Second issue was a Google Chrome error that popped up on several devices.

Things to think about:
  • Easier way to move between multiple websites.  
  • Look into speed issue of device

Monday, January 13, 2014

First Day with Chromebooks

My first impressions of the Chromebooks is that I am disappointed with the touch pads.  They do not seem very responsive.  I introduced the Chromebooks to my Psychology 2 classes.  These students had the pleasure of working with the iPads first semester.  They are very disappointed that they no longer have iPads.  I spent most of the period talking up the pluses of the Chromebooks and how these will be able to help us do a lot of the same things as the iPads just a little different.

One thing the students brought to my attention was that the Chromebooks are not as similar in setup as the iPads.  Even though students could customize the layout of the home screen on the iPads, I as the teacher could over write these settings by plugging them into the MacPro and over writing their settings.  With the Chromebooks each student will need to setup their profile how I want with the layout I want for quicker management.

I'm looking for quick buy in over the next week so that we can get past the device and into what the device can do for us.  

Observations about iPads

Observations of iPads

Starting this 1:1 adventure, I was very open minded about the two devices.  After using the iPads for 18 weeks I hate to admit that I have very much fallen in love with the iPads.  One of my biggest fears with the iPads was the fact that there was no keyboard.  In the end this seemed more of a problem for me and less of a problem for my students.  On two different occasions my students had to type class essays.  They seemed to be able to type just as fast on the iPad as they could on a traditional keyboard.  This problem seems more generational than anything.  My current students have grown up using touch screens and texting on touch screens.  This is practically second nature to them now.

My second fear was one of them breaking.  This was also one of the biggest fears of my students.  At the end of 18 weeks all made it through with no damage.  To the shagrin of administrators, some had been dropped.  For 30 devices with no protective cases being handled by 120-130 students each day I feel that's pretty impressive.

I can honestly say that the iPad was initially a hassle.  The biggest challenge was getting around the lack of Flash, which my online textbook uses.  Once I was able to get over this hurdle I can  honestly say I fell in love with this device.  Below is a list of my favorite apps:
  • Google Drive
  • GMail
  • 3D Brain - Allows students to manipulate a human brain.  They can move and tilt the brain highlight specific area which then gives them a definition of what that piece does.
  • Puffin Browser - Allows for the use of flash on Apple devices
  • Socrative - Assessment App
  • NearPod - Assessment App
  • iMovie - Used for producing movies and movie trailers.
Overall I feel these devices accomplished everything I set out to do with my students.  I believe that there is so much more left to be explored with these devices and overall are a great choice when looking to move 1:1.  One of my biggest regrets is that this is not a true 1:1 program yet.  I feel like there was so much more that I could have done with these devices if the students where able to take them home each night.  I would have really like to start using iTunesU and iBooks.  iTunesU truly seems intriguing and could easily be used as an LMS.

Google Integration for iPad

Google Integration with iPads

One of the biggest things I focused on when preparing lessons for the 1:1 devices was making sure that all assignments could be replicated on both the iPads and the Chromebooks.  For the most part I held true to this.  Google Apps Suite really was the lynch pin that helped to make this happen.  

iTunes offers a free Google Drive app for the iPad.  There are some limitations to this app as it does not do everything you can do on a regular desktop, but for the most part it was a very effective and efficient means for handing out documents to students, mini assignments and for handling workflow for handing in assignments.

The biggest hurdle to tackle with Google apps is how to keep kids organized and how to quickly handout assignments to the class and collect them back.  Two Google Scripts helped to tackle this problem.

The first is gClassRoster  This allows me to quickly create and share folders for each of my students.  Here is a video to help explain how it is used:

The second is Doctopus  This script allows me to quickly share files with each student.  The nice thing about Doctopus is that I can revoke editing rights when it comes time for grading the assignments.  I can mark up the assignment and email out graded work all from within the script.  Here is a video to help explain how it is used:


Assessment on the iPad

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to enter into the 1:1 program was to help me break my dependence on paper in my classroom.  One of the biggest areas of paper waste in my class is through the use of assessment tools.  the iPads and any device for that matter helped me greatly reduce my paper usage in class.

The first tool I used was Master Manager:

Mastery Manger offers an online testing option which allows me to enter the majority of my multiple choice assessments into this online format.  The reason it was chosen is because it is our district's assessment application for scanning scan-trons.  It is a little difficult to set up initially, but the online side of the software is pretty easy to use and easy for students to use when testing.  The biggest plus for me, as the teacher, is that it grades the assessments as the students enter their answers.  

The second tool used was Socrative:

Socrative allows me to easily handle my formative assessment in a quick and no-non-sense fashion.  It allows me to ask multiple choice, true/false, traditional exit tickets.  You can do this either as a teacher paced or student paced.  The biggest plus to this system is it is fast and allows me to enter into conversations with my class immediately about what they known and need more information on.  

The third tool used was Nearpod:
Nearpod is a wonderful tool for a 1:1 class.  It gives you the ability to control the devices screen that is in the hands of the student.  You construct presentations (think PowerPoint) and you present them through their devices.  It allows you to present normal slides, graphics, videos, various assessments and much more.  When you assess through this program it gives you immediate feedback on how students are answering.  The downfall of this tool is that the free version only gives you 50mb of storage.  The paid side is a little pricey.  

The raw numbers for paper saved:
Paper saved over the course of 2013-14 through the use of iPads/Chromebooks for online Mastery Manager tests.  Figures include 3 preps.  5,820 sheets of paper saved this equates to 11 reams of paper

Paper saved over the course of the 2013-14 through the use Moodle for posting of assignments and the such.  Figures include 3 preps.  8,100 sheets of paper saved this equates to 16 1/2 reams of paper saved.


iMovie Project

I think one of the coolest projects my class undertook with the iPads was an iMovie project.  Here is the assignment product descriptor.  

The total project took 3 days.  Day 1 was spent introducing the topic, showing the students how to use iMovie Trailer, and splitting up into groups.

Day 2 and Day 3 the students worked on their movie trailers.  This was more than enough time.  All groups finished before the end of day 2.

Here is my favorite for creativity:

As a class we then showcased the video's.  Each group showed their video and then talked the class through the meaning of the amendment and how it effects us as citizens.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014


The purpose of this blog is allow me to document my year long process of implementing two different devices (iPad and Chromebook) into my classroom.  I guess I have started this a little late since I am half way through the process, better late than never.

I will attempt to summarize my first 18 weeks of the implementation process.  I am apart of a 1:1 Grant which is helping our district to decide what type of device, if any, would be beneficial for students to use.  First semester I had 30 iPad 2's in my classroom.  These devices were
 controlled by a MacPro which allowed me to control what apps each device had on its home screen.  I initially tried to keep all activities that I did in class neutral to the platform that was being used.  Knowing that I would have to recreate all these activities with Chromebooks the next semester.

I was very surprised at how easy it was to get up and rolling with iPads.  There was the normal hiccups with the network needing some tweeking to handle the added traffic.  Both the students and their teacher getting use to how to organize the workflow for the new devices.  Then there was the dreaded problem of working around flash based activities.  For those not familiar with Apple products and flash, they do not get along.  This is a really big problem when your assigned online textbook for your students is flash based.  I was able to quickly find an app called Puffin that handled most of my flash base needs with no problem.

I quickly fell in love with the iPads.  They seem very versatile and offer a lot of possibilities.  I can tell you that I was very sad to see them go and am kind of nervous to start with the Chromebooks.  I think the best recap of my iPad experience is with a few follow up posts keying in specifically on assignments and activities that the devices were used for.