Google Tips - Optical Character Recognition, Read&Write
One of the really powerful tools in our Google Drive is something called Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This capability enables users to turn PDFs into editable Google Docs. In many cases, you wouldn't need to edit the PDF. However, if you had a student who needed some support with reading, this could be an interesting way to make information accessible to them. When you combine Google Drive OCR with Read&Write for Google, you have a powerful accessibility tool. For example, let's say you have a student in one of your classes who struggles with reading. You can scan a PDF copy of the text you want them to read, open it as a Google Doc, and then have them use Read&Write for Google (which all of our students now have access to) to ensure the student can access the information. Watch the clip below to see what I mean (Read&Write for Google sounds much better in person).
A Gathering Place Part 2
As I wrote last week, many of you requested that we develop a space for curating and housing examples of lesson plans, assignments, activities, and student work. I suggested we use this blog as a way to store these items. However, it was suggested to me that we utilize Google Drive to achieve this outcome. I agree and think that would be a much better way to store these pieces of information. As such, I have created a shared space for us all: https://goo.gl/956AKC. This link will bring you to a folder titled "Grasslands Teaching and Learning." In this folder, there are subfolders for K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. In each of those folders, I have created "Lesson Plan, Activities" and "Examples of Student Work" folders.
The material you share here does not need to include technology or Google Apps for Education; that is not the purpose. The purpose is to provide a space where you can share resources with your colleagues. The resources could be lessons that you like, assignments that you thought went well, or activities that you would like to share. You can share hard copies of lessons or videos of you working with your students on the lessons. For the student work section, you can share pieces of student work that you and your students are very proud of. One thing to note, however, if you do plan on sharing student work, be sure that you have their permission to do so prior to posting in in the folder. In addition, it is a good idea to remove the student's name from the work. I always appreciated seeing examples of my colleagues' lessons and the work our students were doing.
I hope this space is helpful and that we begin to create a repository of all the amazing things that are going on in the district. I have the privilege of travelling to schools and working with so many teachers and students. I get to see the really great things you are all doing. It would be awesome if you would share that with all of your colleagues!
Education for All Success for Each - Multiple Means of Representation
In looking at the idea of success for each of our students, I thought it would be beneficial to write a little bit about multiple means of representation. This is an idea that really keys in on finding ways for all of our students to demonstrate their understanding of topics we cover in class. As we move more and more toward outcomes based assessment, this is a powerful way to ensure we know where are students are in mastering outcomes.
Multiple means of representation simply refers to the idea that we provide our students with different ways to demonstrate their understanding of the topics we cover in our classrooms. They could do so through posters, creation of websites, videos, verbally or through written text. When I taught full time, I always had specific tasks that were non-negotiable - students had to complete them the way they were outlined. This was specifically important for my Social Studies 30-1 students and their written work as it was required of them on their Diploma Exam. However, for many of my other assigned tasks, I gave students the choice of how they wanted to complete them. Of course, this did mean I needed to do a bit more work in creating rubrics. But, once I had the rubrics for a specific outcome, it didn't really matter how the students demonstrated their understanding because they were graded using a rubric for the outcome not for a specific task.
Providing our students with multiple ways to demonstrate their understanding ensures we get a true sense of where our students are at and whether we need to provide them with support with the outcomes.