Friday, January 23, 2015

Using Canva for Student Creation

Over the last year, I have seen some posts by Bill Ferriter, on using Canva as a tool for creating nice presentations and posters using Creative Commons Licensed photos from Flickr. The Canva site is free (there is also an iPad app), and is a great way to let students demonstrate what they know in creative ways, one of the goals of Digital Age Learning. By using the Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr, you are getting pretty high quality, and most are licensed for use with attribution. Of course, if the student can use their own picture, that is the prefered option!

Here are a couple I came up with:

Recently there has been great turmoil in Yemen, and one of the leadership groups there is called Houthi. Reminded me a bit of Darius Rucker!

I created this next one during a meeting, sitting next to Doug Johnson. He had just commented on the importance of Visual Literacy, and how sometimes visuals are created that mean very little. I've tweaked it over the last few weeks, finally settling on this image that I took a month ago.

Canva has templates for posters as well as presentations, and is a quick and easy way for students to express themselves. I know that Bill has used it with his 6th graders, and has found it to be pretty intuitive and easy to use with them.

Students should know that there is free content on the site, but that some premium features do cost money. Another reason to try to use your own images if you can!

Give it a try, and let me know what you come up with!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lessons on Using Data for Assessment From A Football Game

via NY Post
The last couple of days, I've been a little bit down, emotionally. I'm a Packer fan, and an "owner," and I was coming to grips with the fact that the team had thrown away a great chance to advance to the Super Bowl in one of the most epic collapses in NFL history

As I perused some of the articles written about the game, I was startled to see the statistics from the two quarterbacks in the game, the Packers Aaron Rodgers, and Seattle's Russell Wilson.

QB Ratings for NFC Championship
via ESPN

One of the ways that quarterbacks in the NFL are evaluated is by Quarterback Rating. This rating is based on a complicated formula involving Completion Percentage, Yards Per Attempt, Touchdowns and Interceptions. While some believe that the formula is flawed, it has been used for many years to evaluate a quarterback's performance.

Based on this generally accepted formula, neither quarterback had a very effective game. In fact, Wilson had a 0 for a rating through most of the game. Still if you used this formula, it would appear that Rodgers played close to 4 times better than Wilson based on the statistics. Despite this, Wilson's last three passes resulted in a 2 pt. conversion, a key 3rd down reception, and a touchdown that won the game for his team. 

This got me to thinking about how students and teachers get evaluated. Some teachers complain about the student who coasts all semester, only to turn it on in the last few weeks to pass the class. They want the grade to reflect that "lack of effort."
Others want to evaluate teachers based on standardized test scores of their students, despite research that questions the correlation

Based only on the statistics, it appears Rodgers had the better game. But I think he'd take Wilson's numbers if it meant he'd be playing in the Super Bowl in a few days. 

There are some flaws to this analogy, but I hope it encourages people to think about the data they use to assess students and teachers, and how sometimes, numbers don't tell the whole story. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

#EPSThink Digital Citizenship Month in Edina

This week is the first full week of "Digital Citizenship Month" in Edina Public Schools, an effort to raise awareness about the importance of being a good citizen online. We recognize that this topic can't just be a "one and done," lesson. Just like we talk about proper behavior in our face-to-face classrooms every day, we also need to talk about proper behavior in the virtual world, every day!
To that end, we've put together this Website for staff.
Each week, we are covering a different topic:
  • Digital Safety
  • Giving Credit/Taking Credit
  • Information Literacy
  • Digital Footprint
At the elementary level, students are utilizing the Digital Passport curriculum from Common Sense Media. At the middle school level, students are working on earning badges by completing activities. Parents had the opportunity to attend a talk on "Digital Consciousness: Public and Permanent" from Richard Guerry, founder of the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication.
At the high school, Media Specialist Sara Swenson has partnered with some of the student leadership groups to encourage students to tweet out public service reminders to their classmates with the #EPSThink hashtag. Here are a few examples of what students and staff have come up with!

It is our hope to raise the awareness of our students and to get them "THINKing" about how they interact online. We know that sometimes we all make mistakes, and hopefully those mistakes aren't ones are permanent. Thanks to Shannon Long, who came up with the THINK poster.

Update: I wish that I had been able to use ALL of the posts on the #EPSThink tag, but alas, I could not. A couple of students had put some less than appropriate information on a few of their tweets. We know that kids will make mistakes. Today we met with the students and tried to make it a "teachable moment." Hopefully they learned the lesson.