Pitch…Perfect?

Here at Hoodlum Central, we believe in Design Thinking. We integrate it into most things we do and it’s been pretty fruitful both in our day jobs and in our business practices.

No matter which flavor of Design Thinking one subscribes to, ideation is essential. You can’t prototype anything if you don’t have a smorgasbord of ideas to play with. While Webs and I generally do this with the Googles, I recently came across a tool I hope to use during my 9-5 hustle. Pitchcard seems like a promising tool to use in a classroom looking to encourage designing.

Pitchcard allows you to ideate publicly if you wish. You title your idea, choose a color, and then write a brief (200 word) description, which I think is awesome. Being forced into being concise allows one to hone the “spirit” of the idea more authentically in my opinion.

Once your idea is placed on the card, you can distribute it publicly on social media or privately via email.

The feedback that your idea garners is sent to the email that was entered which hopefully allows one to refine the idea into a better concept.

Classroom Applications

GAFE

If you are at a GAFE school, one could utilize this tool pretty easily. Everyone of your students would have an email address, giving them the ability to send ideas to classmates efficiently and to archive the feedback so that it could be referred to when needed. Generating feedback on ideas for projects and writing assignments just got #mosexy.

Exit Tickets

Looking for thoughts about what students learned during class? Don’t want to create a Google Form or use Exittix? This is a pretty streamlined way to gather information from your students about what they learned or struggled with during the school day.

Lesson Feedback

So you want to know if your lesson was the bomb or just bombed? Send a Pitchcard to your students and allow for feedback.

Lesson Plan ideas

Send a Pitchcard to colleagues about an idea for your have for that quantum physics lesson and see what they say.

A Open Ear to the World

Say you’re a teacher with very little technology at her disposal and you’d like to use the tool. If you had a classroom email or social media setup, you could have students generate ideas that could be posted for feedback and then disseminate that feedback to students. Class project could be #mosexy if you sent a Pitchcard rather than used snail mail or limited contributions to conversations in the room.

In short, Pitchcard is a tool I hope to roll out next week during my day job. Students will be pitching video game ideas and Pitch could be a very slick way of making students feel even more empowered.

There in a Gif-fy…

I love making gifs. LOVE it. I just recently became aware of the a new site called Gifs which is pretty “baller” as Webs would say. It makes making gifs insanely easy from media that is already uploaded on Youtube or to upload gifs you’ve made on your device. It’s free.99. It’s ease of use definitely has implications for your classroom especially if you’re a GAFE school. ***As always, set your students up for success and model proper digital citizenship. **

Exit Tickets

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? A gif is worth a million views. Have students stretch their creativity in order to describe what they learned in class and how they feel about it.
//gifs.com/embed/Dk7BJY

Assessments

Instead of having students write responses to questions, have them answer in gifs. The created gifs have links that can be placed in Google Forms, Wizer, GoFormative , etc. Talk about taking the mundane and making it the magical.
//gifs.com/embed/gJVvQl

Projects

So one of the things one can do with gifs is have students use them to present research. They embed nicely in websites, blog posts, and learning management systems.
//gifs.com/embed/Z6D5p2

Teaching with gifs is pretty slick as well. Embed them into your Smart Notebook files and ClassFlowsto help students visualize information. The entertainment value is priceless and it’ll make your lessons far more unforgettable. Just ask Drake…

//gifs.com/embed/NknPWN

Economy of Class

In the words of Pink Floyd, “Money, get away. Get a good job with more pay and you’re ok.”

I chose to return to the classroom this year and one of the biggest challenges of being a classroom teacher is finding a way to motivate students.

I hesitate to say classroom management because no one wants to be managed. They want to be motivated. Maybe that’s what I’ll call it: classroom motivation plan.

To read the specifics of set up and resources, check out My Classroom Economy. In addition, I have students deposit their money into their Bankaroo. Keep in mind with Bankaroo you are limited to 1 class of max 30 students.

I want to talk more about the impact it has had on my classroom.

1) Addressing curriculum – math and social studies:
I started out giving students their balance, but after two weeks of doing banking everyday I gave students their previous balance and had them add and subtract based on if they were depositing, withdrawing, or purchasing. Likewise, when students made purchases of multiples of the same thing, they started out doing repeated addition and moved to multiplication when they were ready. Economics are a required part of 3rd grade curriculum in Nevada. When certain items became popular, I raised the price and we talked about supply and demand.

2) Building community:
One of the positive side effects to using a classroom economy is that it allows students to build up the sense of community among them. I have students who choose to loan money to other students and purchase things for their friends. Likewise, they can share ideas for rewards or fines. Students with behavior plans or point sheets, have consistent motivation. I reward my students who use point sheets by paying them for earning 9 or more positive behavior points for the hour.

3) Natural and real life consequences:
Perhaps the most obvious natural benefit to using a classroom economy is that students get to see the results of their choices and how it impacts their financial well-being. They get to experience what is necessary to get what they want and see the consequences of negative choices as well. Financial literacy is something absent from our everyday curriculum and this is one way to begin to include it in a meaningful way. This is especially beneficial for students who do not have the advantage of receiving financial education at home.

If you would like to know more about my workflow, please tweet me: @WebersWords

iPadpalooza 2015: Close Reading for Super Villains

Webs - @weberswords-2Webs and The Chocolate Teacher are available to engage YOUR school in professional development in a unique, dynamic, effective, and memorable way. Contact us at theintelligenthoodlums at gmail.com for more information.

Links

Examples:

  • Reminders for Explicating (or analyzing or evaluating)
    Photo Jun 25, 5 09 56 PM
    Photo Jun 25, 5 10 02 PM

If there are other examples or more info you’d like to see, please comment or contact us.

E Highlighter for Close Reading

by @chocolateteacher

eHighligher is a pretty nifty way to integrate both physical books and technology into your close reading activities.  The app is reasonably priced at $1.99 and offers real value with minimal risk.

Say you are using a text book, reading a novel with your students, engaging in research, or having students read independently with certain goals in mind.  You have iDevices at your disposal and you want to integrate notetaking and transcription into the activity.  eHighlighter could be a tool you might employ.

Have Barcode? Will Scan

The first thing I love about the app is that you can acquire a books bona fides (title, Author’s name, and publisher) by just scanning the book’s barcode.  The app uses WorldCat, “The World’s Largest Library Catalog,” for reference and the speed in which it returns results is impressive.

If you’d rather search for the book and edition you possess, that option is available as well as just manual entering the information.

You scan a barcode and..."Voila!"

You scan a barcode and…”Voila!”

If you can take a picture…

Then you can bring in your text pretty easily.  Once the picture is added, you’ll have options to add page numbers, any notes and tags, which will give you the ability to organize any work you’ve done.

Take picture, bring in your text

Take picture, bring in your text

Adding a Note (for Metacognition)

Want a response to a text dependent question?  Want to record an “Aha!” moment, a question about the text, or something to bring up during class discussion? Make a note of it.

Notes for Metacognition? That's convenient.

Notes for Metacognition? That’s convenient.

Transcribe

You’ll be prompted to add highlights to the beginning and ending of the text you’d like to have transcribed.  This is my only real beef with the app.  It can take a while to transcribe something.  The good thing is that I wouldn’t necessarily be using the device for transcription as the original image and note you take are always available for viewing.

Even if the transcription process is labored, the functionality of the app makes it one that both teachers and students could use effectively.

It's not perfect, but it's pretty darn close

It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn close

Yakit, Hack it

by @chocolateteacher

I love Yakit kids. All the apps in which one can manipulate pictures tend to make me smile. It seems I’m easily assumed.  Yakit kids can be applied to many aspects of your classroom besides the obvious ones.  This app can tilt the “Dopeness” scale positively and it’s really easy to use.  Even my kindergarten friends on my day job can manipulative it pretty adroitly.

A Portrait of a Student as a Strange Man (or Woman)

I was never a great artist.  Try as I might, my dream of being Van Gogh took a rather large tumble quite early in life.  I still love to doodle and draw however.  If you want to integrate a bit of art into your classroom duirng your literacy block, you might do this…

1. Have students choose a character from a story that you’re reading.  It could be independent reading or a story everyone is enjoying.

2. Give out some construction paper or printer paper and ask students to choose a scenario that the character finds herselfr or himself in.  They should be mindful of the setting, the character’s attitude, and actions during the scenario.

3.  Have the students draw the character by beginning with a large circle (or another shape) as the head.  DO NOT HAVE STUDENT ADD EYES, EYEBROWS, LIPS, OR A NOSE.

4. Add a rendition of the setting that the character finds herself or himself in the background.

5.  Open the Yakit App on your iDevice and click on the camera to take a picture of the newly drawn artistic work.

6.  Have students add whatever flourishes they’d like, including the eyes, nose, mouth, etc., and then record themselves as if they are the character.

7.  Finished products can be shared by text message, AirDrop, Cloud Storage, or with an app like WeTransfer rather easily.

Tutorials

Now, this one takes a little more imagination.  Apps like Doceri, Educreations, Showme are far easier apps to pull tutorials off. They’re not half as much fun to use as Tellagami or Yakit kids because you can add an avatar or speaking image and you have to use a little ingenuity.

One way you might use Yakit kids to have students do tutorials, say in math, is the following.

1. Have students write a math problem down on something.  I’d use a white board personally, but you could just use a sheet of paper. Then take a picture of the white board from within the Yakit kids app.

2. Have students script how the problem would be solved.  Using storyboarding here would be awesome.

3. Armed with a script, pull in one of the characters into the scene in Yakit kids.  Have students record the first part of script/storyboard, then immediately stop as soon as they are done.

4. Press “Add a Scene” and change your math problem to fit the criteria necessary for the next part of the script/storyboard.

5. Add the new picture and continue the same process until the problem is explained.

*The only issue with this functionality is that there is a limit amount of recording time. 

You can just keep it Basic

So if you want to be basic, just use Yakit to take a selfie and make it run it’s mouth.  This is great for any subject area.  Also, you can just bring in any picture of any figure from historical period and then make him or her bend to your will.  To avoid complications with copyrights, one might acquire pictures from a site like Photos for Class so citations will be made for you.

The Final Frontier: A Kinder, Friendlier American History

by @chocolateteacher

Heroes?  We don't need no stinkin' heroes.

Heroes? We don’t need no stinkin’ heroes.

Always on the look out for new apps and fun games to play,  I happened upon an app called “Frontier Heroes,” from A&E which depicts a pretty interesting version of American history.  The app is divided into 6 eras- Early America, The Colonies, American Revolution, The Frontier, California Gold Rush, and the Land of the Free.  I was quite excited to play the game. Each era is full of games depicting “life” during that era and DYKs (Did you Knows) that inform the player about life during the era. I thought this was a tool that would be great instructionally.  I was both very wrong and very right.

Early America (1600)

Them Natives?  They're all the same...

Them Natives? They’re all the same…

Nothing really exciting here. You shoot a bow and arrow and bang a drum.  Again, nothing really mind blowing. The remarkable thing about this is that in the DYKs Native Americans are lumped together, despite there being 566 Federally recognized tribes currently.  It’s great to lump people together, but then again, it’s not.

The Colonies (1607-1755)

Colonists?  Oh, they survived all by their lonesome.

Colonists? Oh, they survived all by their lonesome.

Early America only lasts seven years. (Who knew?) The colonists come into the picture with no mention of what has happened to the Native Americans.  The activities one engages in never even allude to the very real reliance of the original colonists on the Native tribes.  The only mention of “Native American” is that the main food in the Pilgrim’s diet was ‘Indian corn.’

American Revolution (1765-1783)

The American Revolution...a  enterprise devoid of diversity.

The American Revolution…a enterprise devoid of diversity.

So, it’s 1765.  Estevanico has been dead for 200 years now.  But in the world of the “Frontier”… there ain’t no sign of Negroes.  None. Oh, except the Affirmative Action blackish face that one encounters in an anachronistic rendition of Yankee Doodle Dandy.  By 1640, there were Africans on what is now the continental United States, yet they are conspicuously absent from any point of game play in this era.

There were black spies during the American Revolution. There were female spies during the American Revolution and women were integral to the success of the war. There were black slaves during the American Revolution.  There were blacks that fought for the British during the American Revolution.  Heck the first dude to die for “American Freedom” was a black dude, but…you wouldn’t know that if you used the app.

The Frontier (1800-1848)

Manifest Destiny is ALIVE!

Manifest Destiny is ALIVE!

Home on the range and…still no sign of the Native Americans, who by this point are being forced off their ancestral lands or killed.  There is a red face dude that looks severely sunburned who might (maybe) be a white guy in red face when one simulates the Pony Express.  No mention of Spanish missions. The only people involved in Manifest Destiny were white dudes.  True story.

California Gold Rush (1848-1865)

 

What? Who what have thought the Gold Rush was more important than the Civil War?

What? Who what have thought the Gold Rush was more important than the Civil War?

Different era…same song.  It is interesting that this era encompasses the years of the Civil War.  No Abe Lincoln.  No Jeff Davis.  No Frederick Douglass.  No Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Just toothless miners. Totally glossing over the war that freed the slaves?  Kinda inexcusable.

 

Land of the Free

I left this one undone because obviously, the brothers were still in chains.

I left this one undone because obviously, the brothers were still in chains.

The Land of the Free being locked is a metaphor for this entire game.  One cannot arrive at the reasons why our country now has a level of freedom for all those that reach it’s shore through the game play of the app. It would seem to reinforce the fact that white men are the only people that have and will make history here…and that’s a real shame.

Let It Flow, Let It Flow

by: @weberswords

I’ll spare you the “Let It Go” parody video.

workflow

Creating word art: the only thing Wordle is good for.

What is it? It’s a great buzzword, but why is it valuable?

One of the big misconceptions is that workflow requires technology. That’s not the case.

It’s simply the way in which your work……..flows. The way it progresses from one stage or process to the next.

In the classroom, writing is a great example of this. In many cases, first you prepare an outline or work in a graphic organizer, then you draft, revise, edit, and write the final draft or publish.

This can also be applied to doing tasks. For example, if I think of something I have to do I might write it down on a sticky note. After I have five (completely arbitrary number it could be three or 10 just as easily) sticky notes, I sort those tasks into categories of to do lists – errands I have to leave the house to do, professional tasks, and tasks that can be done at home. After that, I write them in my handy, dandy notebook and as I finish those tasks, I mark them off. No tech involved. Yes, AND a great example of effective workflow.

To do list workflow

To quote the late, great Stuart Scott, “BOO-YA!” workflow. No special degree required, people. You can totes do this.

Just like planning in the classroom, you have to know WHAT you want to do before you bring in any technology.

In the case of workflow, sometimes seeing what other people have done will inspire you to create a new workflow.

Just remember: The point of creating a workflow is to make things MORE streamlined, not more complicated.

If you create a new workflow and find it’s actually making work more difficult, I’m giving you permission right here and now. ABANDON SHIP! Try something new, but reflect and learn from the failure. Where did the workflow go wrong? Maybe you don’t have to abandon it entirely, just pivot. Tweak it and see if that helps.

Here are some tools and workflows (digital and analog) *I* use that will hopefully inspire you:

Bullet Journal – Webs-style (Analog)

We love journals here at Intelligent Hoodlums. It’s a bit of a love affair for some of us (*cough* @chocolateteacher *cough*). Writing things by hand helps you remember things.  I’ve adapted my bullet journal to something that works for me.

[Everything in the next paragraph is something I talk about in the video so don’t watch AND read. Save yourself some time and do one or the other. The video might clarify if you can’t visualize what I’m talking about though]

In addition to the index and summary of the month I have a summary of the week where I record events that will occur when I’m looking ahead at the week and events that do occur as things happen during the week. I also fold my pages into two columns and record one or two days worth of to dos and events in a single column. This way I can fold the page and focus on just one or two days or open up both pages and see the whole week.

Automator (OS X)

I think this is a hidden gem of OS X. If you have a Mac and you haven’t peeped this check it out. Go to spotlight and search Automator or from your Launchpad it’s in the Other folder.

Other folder

I’m pretty sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of what is possible with Automator. I use it for three major things:

  •  One double click = quitting all open programs

Quit all buttonThis sits on my desktop and all I have to do is double click to close everything that’s open on my computer.

  • I created a pseudo-program that generated a random writing prompt for my students to practice the state writing test.
  • Bulk editing photos: You know how your camera or phone names your photos IMG9829829829834928 and you have no idea those are your pictures from your 2012 trip to Tahiti? With Automator you can select a group of pictures and rename them complete with date and a numbering system in a couple clicks and a few seconds.

IFTTT (web, Android, & iOS)

Workflow screen capture

Priorities.


Similar to Workflow and Automator, IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, takes tasks you already do and puts them together to make you MORE ALL POWERFUL (MUAHAHAHAHAAA). IFTTT is available on the web, iOS, or, if you’re so inclined, Android.

In the examples I shared, if I lose my phone and email myself with #lostphone, it will call my phone and an automated voice says Liam Neeson’s monologue from Taken.

Other things I do with IFTTT are:

  • Favorite tweets get sent to Pocket to read later
  • I can send things to Evernote and they get automatically organized by the way I hashtag them in the subject. For example, if I had an Evernote notebook for 3rd period algebra, I could email #3rdperiod and all my notes would automatically go into the right notebook.
  • I have a secondary backup of my contacts because any new contact I add gets sent to a Google Drive spreadsheet.

Workflow (iOS)

This app is pretty sweet.

Photo Jan 19, 9 44 48 AM

This is the app that prompted this post. The world is pretty much your oyster on this one (as long as you have iOS 8). You can put together as complex or as simple a workflow as you like. I have one that allows me to speed dial from my home screen. That’s one of the best features IMO. I can save workflows to my home screen for one touch access.

Hopefully this has given you some insight into the mysterious term “workflow” and shown you how you can become a productivity ninja using these concepts and tools.

QR Codes and Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs is a video game that reminds me of some of the early 90s movies I grew up with, like The Net and Hackers.  Cinema of this kind played on fears of the unknown, underground, darker side of technology that often involved making use of back doors hidden in systems, uncovering some vast illegal plot that a group of seemingly ne’er do well-type individuals were the only chance of thwarting.  Watch Dogs takes that idea on a sandbox-style ride, sadly rife with stereotypes and predictable tropes in the form of the main playable character being an angsty white male.

 

Character qualms aside, this video game has a really interesting feature that serves as a side activity that can fill in some pieces of the storyline.  You are charged with tracking down QR codes, scanning them and then listening to the audio files as pieces to a puzzle in the storyline.  It’s not as simple as hunting down the QR codes and taking a snapshot with your cell phone.  In Watch Dogs, you have to be standing in a very specific place to image the QR code, otherwise part of it is obstructed.

 

The hunt begins!

The hunt begins!

This is one of the QR codes that can clearly only be scanned from the right position on a nearby rooftop.

This is one of the QR codes that can clearly only be scanned from the right position on a nearby rooftop.

Once in the right position, you can look at the QR code straight on and take a snapshot of it with the camera on your cell phone.

Once in the right position, you can look at the QR code straight on and take a snapshot of it with the camera on your cell phone.

QR codes, if you aren’t familiar, are a fantastic way to condense a whole lot of information into a tiny pixelated label. You will see these on product packing, shipments, price labels; they are incredibly helpful for a variety of industries. Naturally, these codes have some excellent applications for education. If space is limited with whatever students are producing or you need a link to provide more information, it’s QR codes to the rescue.

Here’s a short list of ideas I find to be very effective at harnessing the power of QR codes:

  • Put in the library, when scanned they open a student-made audio or video review of the book in hand.
  • Attached to dioramas, art projects, or any other physical creations, they link to an online report, a journal, or some additional information generated by the student to describe the item in more detail.
  • Added to a poster board with limited space, they can easily double the content of a presentation by linking to a Prezi, PowerPoint or some other digital tool.

The list above is mainly for students to make use of, but what if teachers want to find a place for QR codes in their own assignments?

It’s completely doable and the main reason I connect it to a video game such as Watch Dogs. In the game you are required to hunt around for the perfect location to capture all of the pixels in the QR code, otherwise the link to the audio file will not activate. It sounds like a perfect treasure-hunting type activity for some kinesthetic learning in the classroom. Print oversized versions of the codes so that they can be broken into pieces that either have to be assembled or can only be scanned from certain positions in the room. In this way, half the fun is figuring out the correct positioning before you can even get to the reward of what’s behind the QR code itself.