Tagged: chromebooks

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TEACHER VOICES: Dave Keller, #5

Chromebooks in Classrooms: What does the usage data show?

favicon This just came across my virtual desk and it seemed worth sharing.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 12.01.07 PM

The graph shows usage during a week (24 hrs a day) for the entire K-12 Piedmont Unified School District, which has about 2,600 students. First, some context: 2015-16 is the first year my high school and middle school have gone 100% 1:1. This means every 6-12 grade student has a Chromebook that they can take home.

Here is a little more data:

Snapshot in time – At 10:00 am Thursday December 3:

  • 390 student Chromebooks were in active use.  
  • 186 high school students, or roughly 22% of school population
  • 118 middle school students, or 18% of school population

The week of 12/8, students spent:

  • 3,806 hours on Google Docs,
  • 377 hours in Membean, a personalized/adaptive vocabulary service for 6th-12th grade students
  • 360 hours checking grades on Infinite Campus,
  • 305 hours on the Math textbooks piloted for 6th-12th graders
  • 109 hours on Newsela, with differentiated nonfiction current event articles for  3rd-6th graders
  • 96 hours using Desmos, an online graphing calculator
  • 87 hours listening to Pandora music
  • 45 hours using Kahoot, a fun classroom quiz game
  • 36 hours in Scratch coding

The week before Thanksgiving also showed the 187 high schoolers using their Chromebooks to apply for college: 173.7 hours were spent at admissions.universityofcalifornia.edu.

Dave Keller - TEACHER VOICES - IserotopeAs a result, our teachers, students, and families are trying to understand the benefits and problems associated with so much technology.

The reaction from faculty has been mixed so far, but one thing is for sure: These numbers are causing quite a stir. What strikes me is that 3,800 hours were spent using Google Docs. Almost a third of computer time is spent writing text or reading text curated by teachers. Of course, it is hard to tell how Docs is used. Some of my Docs activities are digital worksheets. If that is the predominant use, then Chromebooks are a modern version of the mimeograph (or “ditto machine” for those who remember the pungent, blue paper).

However, some of my digital activities teach students to evaluate each other’s writing (using Google Forms). I also use technology to quiz or review (using Socrative and Kahoot), to increase collaborative work (with Docs and Teacher Dashboard), and to promote research while evaluating sources. These uses of technology are showing good results.

Students report liking the computers that are now part of their academic toolbox. They say their organization is improving and collaboration is easier in many ways. For example, online flashcard decks are routinely shared, as are student-generated review sheets and research. When it comes to reading, students seem divided on which they like best: paper or digital. I use a digital textbook and many digital sources but can’t tell whether digital has improved students reading or learning.

Some faculty are alarmed by the amount of time spent on activities that are not directly related to classwork, claiming this data shows that over 50% of computer use is not related to academic work. For example, 11% of Chromebook time was spent on YouTube and 360 hours were spent checking grades.

Like much of the data gathered by Google, these stats are interesting, colorful and fun—but might not tell us much about student learning. However, I am excited to see what future conversations about this information will reveal about our students’ lives at school.

If you have an observation or question about the data, please leave your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you! favicon

Dave Keller (@dkeller101) has been teaching Social Studies for 17 years, consistently looking for new curriculum and methods of instruction. While experimenting with technology in education, Dave focuses on teaching the reading and writing skills required for studying our social universe. He has taught classes throughout the Social Studies discipline in a variety of high schools, including a large comprehensive inner-city school, a charter school, and a competitive independent school. He currently lives in Oakland and teaches at Piedmont High.

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Typing Speed Monitor: A great way to track your typing speed

favicon I like typing. Some people, especially my former students, remark that I type quickly. In seventh grade, I was the second-fastest typist in my middle school, at approximately 72 wpm on a manual typewriter. (Millie was No. 1 and pretty much unbeatable.) (Mrs. Schaeffer taught us well.)

Today I came across Typing Speed Monitor, a Google Chrome extension that keeps track of your typing speed and trends. There’s no way for me to tell whether it offers accurate feedback, but so far, I like what it’s telling me. (See below.) Typing (The only problem with this extension is that it might make me freak out and always want to type fast. Like, right now, I’m trying to type fast.)

I’m thinking that students might like this extension. If students have Chromebooks, and if they have their own log in, then they can install this extension and see how their typing speed is improving (or not). Now I just have to keep my speed above 100 wpm. favicon

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Students give thanks for new Chromebook

favicon Remember when I challenged you in February to help me surprise Nancy Jo Turner and her ninth graders with a new Chromebook?

Well, because of so many generous donations (including some contributions from Ms. Turner’s former students, now in college), the Chromebook is now a reality!

Here are some pictures of students with the Chromebook:

And here are a few thank-you cards that Nancy Jo’s students wrote:

Thank you again! favicon

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Screencastify: Simple, easy, solid

Screencastfavicon Teachers, if you’re a screencaster, I’d like you to try out Screencastify. It’s easier and simpler than Jing or Camtasia, and it’s the first screencasting software that works on Chromebooks.

It’s a Chrome app, so you need to use Google Chrome, but if that’s OK with you, Screencastify then becomes an extension that’s easy to access.

Screencastify takes about five seconds to set up. (You need to allow it to record your voice). Then, just click on the extension, then on “Start Recording,” and you’re off and running.

Here’s an example (about 50 seconds)!

After you’re finished, the screencast is saved directly in the extension window. You can upload your screencast immediately to YouTube (public or private) or export it as a file.

The only weakness is that it doesn’t directly save to a URL. It would be amazing, for example, if a copy of the YouTube URL were saved to the clipboard so I could email or text a student my screencast.

This would save a huge amount of time, especially because I know many English teachers who like to screencast their essay comments.

If you try out Screencastify, please let me know what you think in the comments. Meanwhile, maybe you’ll see more screencasts on Iserotope in the near future! favicon

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Surprise ninth graders in Berkeley with a Chromebook to help improve their writing skills

NJTfavicon Nancy Jo Turner is an extraordinary ninth grade English teacher in Berkeley. She’s also a good friend of mine and a former colleague. There she is on the right!

About a month ago, Nancy Jo shared a dream with me. She wants a class set of Chromebooks so that her students can work on their writing and revising skills.

(I share that dream. I’ve seen what Chromebooks do for students, particularly to improve writing, and I’m hugely impressed.)

Nancy Jo means business. In just two weeks, she already has one Chromebook, thanks to several people who made contributions on DonorsChoose.

Here are a few pics — one of the Chromebook and one of Nancy Jo’s classroom library, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

Now it’s our turn! I’d like to surprise Nancy Jo with a Chromebook for her students, and I’m asking for your help. With tax, the computer is $300, and I’m committed to donating 10 percent of the cost. That leaves $270. This is going to happen!

Update! This project is complete! Thank you, LeAnne (Fremont, CA), Laura (San Francisco, CA), Zoe (Oakland, CA), Rashada (Ann Arbor, MI), Marilyn (Los Angeles, CA), Gavin (Berkeley, CA),  Jasmine (San Francisco, CA), Kyle (Sacramento, CA), Pauline (Davis, CA), Franklin (San Francisco, CA), Stephanie (Santa Cruz, CA), and Elaine (Stanford, CA)!

Want to help out? Here are two easy ways you can donate:

Donate an Amazon Gift Card!
I’m going to buy the computer on Amazon (for free shipping). So an easy way to contribute is to donate an Amazon gift card! It’s super easy. Click on the card below and fill out the form. My email is iseroma AT rocketmail DOT com. Be sure to leave your name and email address in the message box so I can get back to you!


Send me money over email!
There’s this new app called “Square Cash” (affiliated with Twitter) that lets you send money via email. You don’t need to start an account. All you do is click on the button below. An automatic email will pop up. In the subject field, change the amount to what you want. Then type your name in the message field before clicking send. You’ll receive an email that will request your debit card number. Easy peasy!
cash-button-blueThank you, Loyal Iserotope Readers, for thinking of making a donation to surprise Nancy Jo and her students with a new Chromebook. (Just don’t tell her!)

If you contribute, you’ll receive a thank-you letter from me (for tax purposes) and a thank-you card from Nancy Jo’s students (for heartwarming purposes).

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Can’t wait to see what happens! favicon

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2 days, 22 Chromebooks

favicon Things got a little crazy last week when Google announced a partnership with DonorsChoose to offer teachers up to 30 Chromebooks for $99 each.

I learned about the deal — thanks, Google Reader! — between coaching meetings, quickly signed up, and emailed the offer to my colleagues and teacher friends.

And then mayhem ensued.

Within a few hours, hundreds of teachers (728 to be exact, according to Google!) requested thousands of Chromebooks. The system was overloaded, and DonorsChoose had to shut the offer down.

In the meantime, however, I was lucky enough to write proposals for two projects:

  • 20 Chromebooks for a Math teacher to promote blended learning with Khan Academy,
  • 2 Chromebooks to pilot a study on increasing homework completion.

Yep, it took me less than an hour to write these proposals and less than two days for people to fund them. The total amount donated: around $2,800.

The unfortunate news — and the part that makes me a bit frustrated — is that many hardworking teachers did not have the chance to apply for this amazing deal because, well, they were teaching. This is the part that Google and DonorsChoose got wrong.

I mean, I can’t fault them; after all, many teachers received many Chromebooks, and many students will benefit. But it’s too bad that some people got lucky (because they were on a prep that period, or because they were sick that day, or perhaps they were at their desks during a test) while others didn’t. favicon

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Why Chromebooks are perfect for education

favicon This is an excellent post (also in Iserotope Extras!) from Steve Philp about why Chromebooks are so great in classrooms. His point is that they’re “faceless” — in other words, they’re about student learning rather than the sexiness (and expense) of the device.

Mr. Philp writes:

I wish they had more shiny about them. If only they were more complex or more difficult to setup – for example if they took a good day of technician time to setup , then, at the least, the technician would know about them. But no. Not Chromebooks. They just work. The kids use them. For learning. Boring really. There’s nothing else to say.

via frogphilp.com

Tablets (iPads, Android tablets, Microsoft Surfaces) are too expensive and gadgety to work in classrooms. Chromebooks work and they’re cheap. Yes, you need a wireless connection, a huge block for many schools. But once that happens, a lot of purposeful learning can go on without too much unnecessary fanfare. favicon