Creating a reusable rubric in Word 2011 (Mac)

Hello blog readers. If you’re a teacher who has a large number of students you probably use rubrics or checklists to assess students from time to time. Rubrics are a great way to assess students. A good rubric is not vague, concise, and gives clear expectations. However, grading with paper rubrics can be a bit tedious and wasteful. Microsoft Word (in fact just about any word processing program) has the answer. You can turn your rubric into a template. This will allow you to open up each time and it will be blank and ready to fill in. Still, I yearned for more, such as fields to enter text into, drop down menus for scores, and with Microsoft Word I can do that! Read on past the break to learn how you can make easy, effective rubrics to help you speed through grading those projects.

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Blogs AWAY!

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Blogs are great ways for students to express themselves, share their ideas easily with the class, and students can do it anywhere at anytime (provided they have an Internet connection). On top of that, it is a great way to integrate a little English into any subject. This semester was the first time Omar and I tried it with our students and it worked pretty well. While it seems like a no brainer of why creating a class blog is beneficial; there were a lot of details that Omar and I needed to consider before creating our class blogs. Read on past the break to find out what those details were and what we discovered.

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Google Docs – Presentation – A real trainwreck

*UPDATE* I did follow up and try Zoho and Prezi the next time. Read what happened (it was good by the way) here.

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Google Docs offers something that Microsoft PowerPoint, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and iWorks cannot–real time collaboration. I recently just finished up a unit working with two of my grade six classes about building an effective presentation and how to present. I gave them a general topic and they were to create a presentation in Google Docs, share it with their partner, and share it with me. How did Google Docs do? Well . . . not so great. Read on past the break to find out why I used it and what went wrong.

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Let’s go to school! Maybe not quite yet.

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I recently responded to a post Less Do, More Think, where Jerri Kruse warns the educational community about rushing blindly towards technology integration. I agree with many of his points, and there have been some good comments left on my post. Thanks everyone, but alas I am afraid that Jerri’s fears are being realized. My wife showed me this article from the NY Times. It’s a quick read, but I couldn’t help but smack my forehead, close my eyes, and slowly shake my head. Read on past the break to find out why I, Jerri, and a few others are more than a little concerned.

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WikiLeaks: Are you talking to your students about it?

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In case you’ve been camping in the middle of nowhere for the past couple of weeks, the website WikiLeaks has been making headlines about the confidential documents they have released to the public. This is serious history right here and it is definitely something that needs to be brought up in class. I’ve listed a few discussion points, but if you have some better ones add them into the comments.

  1. Do you agree with what WikiLeaks is doing?
  2. Does information really help keep governments honest?
  3. Should WikiLeaks be considered a terrorist organization?
  4. Is the large amount of information on the Internet a good thing or should it be regulated?

I’m sure that this is not the last of the big news from WikiLeaks. Keep your eyes peeled and your minds open to the new exciting growth of the Internet.

Educational iPhone Apps – Novemeber

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It’s been a good Thanksgiving weekend and now as I sit on my couch a few belt notches wider watching Machete by Robert Rodriguez, I am pleased to bring you five helpful apps for the king of mobile devices the iPhone. Read on past the break and see how you can better bring out your iPhone in the classroom, and remember Machete don’t text.

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PowerPoints don’t suck YOU DO

I’ve had the privilege to work at some good schools over the past decade, but by God if they all had people who gave terrible presentations. Sure PowerPoint isn’t the greatest program to giving a presentation, but the platform itself is not to blame for the lowsy (and I mean terribly lousy) presentations that I  had to sit through. Rather than relive those nightmares and end up in a corner sucking my thumb I’d just share with you a couple of presentations from slideshare.com. The user Jesse Dee has made some fantastic presentations on how to give presentations. I’ve embedded the shorter one below. I know it says fifty slides, but this is truly great and there are few wasted ideas. Start clicking, reading, and smiling.

Parent Conferences – How can technology make it better?

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It’s conference time in my neck of the forest and I’ve been reflecting on how this process could be made better with a little technology. This time can be stressful for all the parties involved but why? Conferences should be time where the education team (parent, teacher, student) work on strategies to reach the student’s potential. I know technology is not the answer to all the problems in education, but it can certainly be used to make it better. Read on past the break to see how I think technology could be used to make this process a little better.

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Zoho Challenge: The picture says it all

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Last week I wrote a review about Zoho writer and it’s many, many features. While exploring the whole Zoho suite I came across Zoho challenge. What is it? Well, it is a very effective, free test maker online. In other words it is a love affair waiting for teachers (IT or otherwise). Zoho Challenge is a great alternative to grading which has all sorts of pluses to it, but to get to hot and heavy details you’re going to have read on past the break. Come on, you know you want to.

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Leap of Faith

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This is a short one people, so no bother looking for more of the article, because this is it! It occurred to me today as I am starting to wrap up my video unit, that I made a leap of faith concerning my students. A leap that was well worth it in my opinion. Let me explain. I had a detailed unit plan (30+ pages including assessments), and in that unit plan I had scheduled to talk about iMovie (the video editing software we used). Due to time constraints I dumped that part of the unit and leaped right into making the movie. I was worried. I felt I had done my students a disservice, but what happened was my students made very different and very creative videos. Wow! The students discovered and came up with their own techniques on their own. I had very few questions while they edited their movies and the results turned out pretty well. One thing I learned about all this: don’t underestimate, sell short, or assume students have a limited ability to learn complex skills by themselves. I think if the editing section was formerly presented, it may have stifled some of their creativity-this was definitely not the goal. Overall, it was a good experience and next time I have a better direction of what to do, not just for this unit, but others as well.