Last year a new feature was added to Google Forms which allows users to submit a file (picture,
video, document, etc.) when completing a form. Today in class I leveraged this feature to facilitate
the curation of a student generated study guide for an upcoming chemistry assessment. Because
chemistry assessments usually involve the production of a handwritten graph, diagram or chemical structure, I had students submit a question in text, then upload a written answer using the file
upload feature. Click here to see the live form. Below is a screenshot of the form.
When all groups completed their question and answer an associated, organized spreadsheet was
created that, when made available to students, contains a question and link to a clear, handwritten answer from each group. Students used their phones to capture the image, and either accessed the form directly from their phone and uploaded via the photo library, or emailed the image to their
computer to be uploaded. Click here to see the live form. Below is a screenshot of the form and a submitted picture.
If you are planning on implementing this, or a similar activity, please play close attention to the
sharing settings in the folder that collects uploaded documents.
If you do not adjust the settings to "public" in the folder (that is automatically created when you
publish a form with a file upload feature) students will not be able to access the links generated
that point to this folder. In the case of the activity described, the ability to access the files is
necessary for students to view the document. Additionally, the "file upload" feature does not work unless the user submitting the form is part of the same domain.
Last week, in an effort to keep both my sections of Honors Chemistry moving at the same pace, I found myself with a day to spare in one section. With a unit on lab techniques, specifically titration, quickly approaching, my thought was to pre train this section on the specifics of the laboratory procedure.
Simultaneously, a more playful side of me wanted to bust out the MakeyMakeys from summer science camp and give students some time to explore conductivity, and tinker around a bit repurposing everyday materials to build something just for fun. Then it hit me: Why couldn't we do both?
Back to titration. Digital Drop Counters used to measure the precise volume titrant added to a flask are nearly $100 with the need for more complex software companions for reading data. This it hit me: Could we recreate a Drop Counter using MakeyMakey (along with the pH probes we already have) to simulate the tools we needed for a successful titration? Yes. Sort of! But super fun.
With the help of a few students we devised a simple workflow: First, students wrote a simple program using Scratch that counted clicks when the space bar was pressed. Then, using some fancy graduated cylinder action measured the approximate volume of 1 drop from our Burets, and added a variable to their program that also counted the volume (in mL) of liquid added along with drop number.
Then for the MakeyMakey! By positioning two wires (one connected to ground and the other to the space button on the MakeyMakey) above the Erlenmyer flask with just enough room for a single drop to complete the circuit, and adding some code to delay the click function for any drops that "stick" to the wires, we were able to accurately measure drops added! Finally something more than a video game controller or banana piano!
I was honored to participate in a Public Radio podcast sponsored by the Mill Valley Public Library called "Eight Books that Made Me". Literature has always been a very important part of my life and having the opportunity to reflect on my favorite books, and their impact on my life and career was a blessing. A link to the episode is below:
Students came back this Monday! Although this year marks 17 years in the classroom, one my favorite aspects of the teaching vocation is the feeling of renewal. Invention. Reinvention. Doing this over. Trying knew things. Failing. Succeeding. Sorta succeeding. All the goodness in between. I love it!
Below are 5, simple, nerdy pedagogical shifts I'm making this school year just because I feel like it. Nothing groundbreaking here. Just the joy of teaching. I hope your hear is off to a fabulous start, and you are finding simple, little ways, to see your job as more of an art, than a science.
#1. Plan in the 80's, and revise in 2017.
This year I am going to write every lesson plan as if the only technology I have is a whiteboard. Analyze areas where my instruction could be more robust, amplified, personalized, etc. Then integrate technology to hep fill those gaps and reach my "21st Century" students. I'm hopeful this will keep pedagogy as the primary focus.
#2. Wait 5 seconds.
This year, every time I am trying to gather my students attention, I'm going to wait five seconds, before trying to gather their attention again. I am HORRIBLE at classroom management, and find myself always depending on my loud "teacher voice" to gather them. No more. Wait for them to naturally calm. 5 seconds. Then request attention. Thank you to so much to Jennifer Gonzales over at Cult of Pedagogy for this ProTip.
#3. Three questions.
This year I'm going to put 3 question marks (? ? ?) at the top of every quiz, test, etc. Im such a pushover, and find myself answering questions such as the dreaded "Am I doing this right?". I'm going to give them three opportunities to ask questions, and each time they do, cross off one "?". I'm hopeful this will force critical thinking and metacognition about what they need help on, and what they can negotiate on their own.
#4. Share my writing with my students.
I love sharing ideas with other teachers, writing blogs, etc. This desire was the catalyst for writing Spark Learning. By asking my students to keep Website Portfolios of their work, and engage in lessons, on a website that lives on my personal blog, I am hopeful that we will grow more connected and mutual reflective practitioners as they naturally engage in new work, while simultaneously being in close proximity to mine.
#5. Mobile prep desk (humanities).
The last chapter in Spark Learning is full of various, random "bonus strategies" for teachers that are not necessarily grounded in the book's thesis. One strategy is called the "Mobile Prep Desk" where I discuss using my prep period to plan in the back of a random colleagues classroom. Getting my prep done. Learning from a colleague. Two birds. One stone. This year, I'm going to make a point of doing this only in classrooms of humanities teachers. I see too much Science and Math! It's taken 17 years for me to branch out and actually observe my History and English colleagues. I am embarrassed its taken this long. Just think what I have could have been learning all this time!