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Given that social media is, well, social, many people ordinarily assume that using such media websites and its various abetting gadgets just comes naturally to everyone. However, as educators, we know that our students require as much guidance navigating the ins-and-outs of social media as they do direction in cooperating and collaborating with in person. And just like at home and school, students need a place online to test new ideas, make new friends, and comfortably find their voice. Fortunately, this school year DELTA ELA students have had such an opportunity to experiment in a new online learning environment by being enrolled in an Edmodo classroom. If you aren’t familiar, Edmodo is a social networking site geared towards educators and students of all ages to create collaborative, online learning spaces. New Hartford’s Elementary Library Media Specialists such as Mrs. Adrienne Ciampi from Bradley Elementary (pictured here working with some of her Delta ELA students) have been using Edmodo to augment their instruction all year long, and have witnessed some welcome surprises along the way. Initially, district planning teams had assumed that the newly rebooted DELTA program was a good place to pilot an online learning experience given its small class sizes. Yet teachers have found that Edmodo is especially good at helping them manage DELTA student enrichment opportunities because it allows teachers to extend learning experiences beyond the classroom. DELTA ELA teachers such as Ciampi welcome this opportunity. “Given our schedules, we really only get to meet as a DELTA ELA class once in every six day cycle,” she says. “Edmodo allows my students to submit their homework assignments to me, respond to a question I’ve posted, or converse with one another about their reading.” Students have been able to collaborate with Mrs. Ciampi—and one another—during snow days and even over the course of a school break. All the while, students are learning some of the key elements of online literacy and etiquette. Though it may surprise some adults who have been dazzled by their little sorcerer’s mastery of an iPad or computer games, DELTA ELA students have been provided some much-needed college and career-oriented tutorials on how to politely post their ideas, how to differentiate between make a “new post” or merely “replying” to a teacher’s post, and how to submit digital assignments online. Also, students have been encouraged to monitor their own “screen time,” how to pace themselves in completing online assignments, and ways to best communicate with their teachers when not in the classroom. “Edmodo has been great when I don’t see my students for a longer period of time, because they know that they can just ask me a question on Edmodo,” Ciampi shares. “Still, they need to understand that there are rules to that interaction with their teacher, such as when and how quickly I’ll be able to respond to them about a question pertaining to an assignment or project.” Virtual learning experts all agree that helping students realize that their teachers and classmates cannot always be expected to immediately respond to every item in their virtual classroom is a vital lesson in cyber-citizenship and e-learning. Overall, Ciampi, her colleagues, and our DELTA ELA students have experienced first-hand that learning management software like Edmodo can be powerful additions to one’s educational toolkit. If you would like to implement some kind of online tool like Edmodo to augment your own classroom instruction, contact the district Tech Team. They can offer options, ideas, training and more to get you and your students started right away!

 

While Spartan Docs is a great place to store and work with all kinds of documents online, math and science teachers & students especially may struggle to use Docs when they want to integrate mathematical equations or graphs directly into their documents. While Docs does feature an equation editor, it may seem limiting or difficult to use. Luckily, there is a new powerful Add-On for Docs that makes this task even easier and better than ever.

If you aren't familiar, Add-Ons are third party services designed to integrate directly into Docs that make the environment even more useful. The Add-On we are referring to in this case is called gMath and it is free and very easy to set up and use.

To get started with gMath, you start need to first install the gMath Add-On. You can do that from any open Doc and choosing Add-Ons > Get add-ons. In the Add-Ons "store" window that appears, search for gMath then click on its blue Free button to install it. You will then need to authorize to use your Google credentials and connect it to your Drive.

Once gMath is installed, you can access it from your Add-Ons menu. From its menu, you choose to create a math expression, a graph, or a statistical display, (see screenshot below).


Once you have selected the type of math expression or graph you want to create, a sidebar will appear on the righthand side of your document. From there, you can either speak to dictate what equation you want (if you are using Chrome), select a prebuilt formula from a library of visual examples, or use LaTeX commands (the standard programming language for math equation typesetting) to manually compose your math expression, (see screenshot below),


Because it uses LaTex, gMath lets one create formulas that are even more complex sing the built-in Google Docs Equation Editor, include geometric signs, custom characters, and formulas (like the Quadratic formula.) With the graph creator, you can type in functions and inequalities and it will create the graph associated with the functions and inequalities. You can also plot points in the same graph, find the line of best fit of those points, and specify a viewing window.

Finally, after you have customized and created your formula or graph as you would like it to appear, simply click the blue Insert button to easily place it at the current insertion point in the document.

Hopefully, you can see how gMath can be an invaluable tool for any math or science teacher and students alike working in Docs. With the gMath Add-On, creating math expressions & graphs digitally in a collaborative document is now quicker and easier than ever!

 
   
Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
 
iTunes Content for Your Classroom

Have you been wishing there was an online whiteboard just like your SMART Board to share notes & lessons with your students? If so, Pixiclip might be just the tool you have been looking for!
 
PixiClip is an online canvas that runs in your browser and lets you communicate using a webcam and a microphone. Just click record and you’re ready to go. Recordings can be shared via social media or even embedded into your school website or a learning platform via an embed code. Teachers can use this tool to record short videos to explain different concepts that children can play back after the lesson. Likewise, students could also use itto demonstrate what they have learned. Take a look to see how PixiClip can be used in your own classroom today!
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Teaching at a Distance
CEET

This series of concise PDF documents provide some excellent, quick professional development that can be used to prepare teachers for teaching online. Each of them discuss various tips & tricks for different free web tools that can be used to offer simple online teaching and learning within a K-12 curriculum. They also share great ideas on how distance education has the potential to change the learning environment. Take a look today to what online learning tools you can add into your own classroom!
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The New Hartford Tech Spotlight is a monthly informational e-mail newsletter published for all faculty and staff of the New Hartford Central School District by Mike Amante & Kathy Donovan. If you wish to contribute to or inquire about the newsletter, please visit here.
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