Sunday, August 25, 2013

Managing 40+ Students Per Class

It has been two weeks since school began.  I'm still focusing on learning names and personalities.  I am teaching four Spanish 1 classes each with 37 - 41 students.  Just making sure I don't trip has been an ongoing concern.

In terms of the flip, my students seem like great candidates.  Most are already very self-motivated and want to achieve.  They attend a "tech" school.  Many of them are pre-IB candidates.

However, we still lack wifi in our "tech" school.  Students who have phones with limitless data are about 6-11 per class.  With an average of 40 students and trying to maintain groups of 4, that means that not all groups will have a phone with data to do activities.  So I'm really excited about wifi, which was promised last December but will hopefully be in place this December.

Also - there have been quite a few students who say that their Internet is unreliable or unavailable (if I had less students this would be less of an issue).  I can make DVD's of any videos and other materials, but that takes time, planning and is expensive.   I put my Syllabus up via Explain Everything, and used this info from Crystal Kirch's Welcome Letter.  (with her permission).

I gave students 2 days to watch the Alphabet Song I made with Camtasia for Mac and PhotoBooth, but I am discouraged because quite a few could not watch it and thus could not take the quiz to make sure that they had watched it.  I've done other videos and things, but this is the only one I quizzed on.

Camtasia has been AMAZING and I've also been having fun with GoAnimate and Voki.

Our first day was pretty awesome - I was really nervous about it, but it went great.  I took the advice from "Teach Like a Pirate"'s  Dave Burgess and we made Play-doh creations.  I like for my student groups to have names of animals, so this is what they created:


They also created bears, sharks, narwhals, turtles, etc.

In terms of classroom management I'm using the Smart Seat app for iPhone for my seating charts, attendance and random "picking" of students.  It runs $5.99 but it really has done wonders for me the last year.  

I'm also going to go back to using ClassDojo for missing books, good participation, random "picking" and other behavior management.  

One of the best things I adopted for the Flip was  However, our school's Internet does not like Sophia, so I am using MyBigCampus, which comes from our district's license.  Not as clean looking but it will do the job. 

So I'm wishing I had smaller class sizes, because it's easier to manage tech and difficult situations and students who "don't tech" when there are less students.  But I will persevere!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Knowmia, Knowmia, Wherefore Art Though, Knowmia?

I knew I was playing with fire when I decided to use an iPad Screencasting/Tutorial app that doesn't allow people to export to YouTube nor any kind of useable video file.  After spending approximately 3 hours on a Knowmia Screencast on Monday (8-12-13) night (after the first-day-of-school, mind you!) it would NOT upload to Knowmia.  Ugh.  I could have played it on my iPad if it had exported there.  But no, there it was, stuck in screencast purgatory (in my Dropbox) as a .ktl file.

After an evening of exporting what I thought was going to help me through my day, I got this message:

Then this:  

I went to Knowmia to see if magically the tutorial was in my account, but Knowmia told me this:

Huh?????  So I left my iPad running at home so hopefully it would upload again.... it never did.

The people from Knowmia were quite nice and supportive when I emailed them.  Said they would retrieve the file from my Dropbox and put it on my Knowmia account. But too little too late.  I had to do a lot more work the next morning.  I had PLANNED to go through the tutorial with students to show them how to pause, rewind, etc.  I was going to have it up so students who missed the second day of school could just "watch the video." But instead I had to do twice the work on half as much sleep.

Today I went on the App Store to update my iPad.  The latest Knowmia Update was a doozy.  It rolled out the SAME DAY I had my great failure. 

I have learned that I should have stuck with an old standby (Explain Everything), but I wanted to learn a new program.  Maybe I'll come back to Knowmia.  I love the "Teacher in a Picture" feature - as I have blogged about and tweeted about before.  I really like the "library" of pictures that can be imported and manipulated.  I did go through the tutorial many times trying to figure it out in previous weeks to my Knowmia attempt.  I'll need to have Knowmia more stable before I'll try again. 

Next on my list - Camtasia for Mac Desktop!