To Moodle or not to Moodle? Part 2

As promised, here is part two of my Moodle review. I am going pick right up where I left off:
Quizzes (“Calculated” questions)
As I mentioned last time, after reading “Using Moodle”, I was very intrigued by the “Calculated” question type for the quiz module. Since the last post, I have finally jumped in and given my first calculated quiz and I LOVE it!!! It was a trigonometry quiz for my advanced math class. I was able to create complex word problems with parameters representing different values within the problem. I then created an equation for the correct answer involving the parameters from the question.  I was even able to set a tolerance of +/- 2 units to allow for a little error from rounding.  I also wrote equations for expected miscalculations and granted partial credit for these answers.  Another nice feature is “Adaptive” mode for questions in which students get instant feedback for submitted answers and are able to correct their answers with a penalty for each try.  When kids get tangled up in arithmetic errors, this is a great way to allow them to find their own mistakes and fix them.

Math teachers!!! Check out this link to find out more about the “calculated” question type and how you can use this powerful math assessment tool in Moodle.

A practitioner of Project-Based Learning, I really like the Assignments module in Moodle. It allows students to upload files directly to the course website in response to a project prompt. For example, I had my students create a “Math Minute” Video using Animoto. I posted the instructions to the Moodle site as an assignment link in our weekly agenda. Students were able to upload their completed project directly to the site, and I could view and grade the submitted files, and even leave comments all on the Moodle. Here is a graphic I made using screenshots from this assignment and Picnik (to make it pretty).

Discussion Forum and Blog
The discussion forum module is a tool for collaboration and interaction between students in the online course. I have seen students ask for help and get assistance from their peers using the discussion forum. This is a great way for students who choose not to speak out in class to get the help they need from me and their peers.
Each Moodle participant also has his or her own blog to write in throughout the course. My students use it in a variety of ways–some jot reminders to themselves about what we do in class. Others use it as a place to store and share information they find on the internet about what they learned. Some just use it as a journal where they celebrate high test grades or bemoan the quiz for which they were not prepared. Although each student has an individual blog, all blog entries can be viewed for the entire course or sorted in myriad ways. I love going in and seeing what my students blog about; it’s always interesting! Click below to see snippets from our discussions and blogs.

a few final thoughts–
I require my students to “moodle” at least once a week for their participation grade in my class. This has produced a lively Moodle site that I have enjoyed watching grow from nothing to a rich online learning community in one grading period. So what’s the final verdict? I think you saw this already:

Please do not think this is my last post about Moodle; I am just getting started! I have also been using it for Professional Development and of course, I’ll be blogging about that soon! So, if your a Moodler, a wanna-be Moodler or just interested, stay tuned! Also be sure to check out part 1 of my Moodle review, in case you missed it. As a parting gift, here a short video created by my students about their use of Moodle. Enjoy!

Moodle Student Video from Tinashe Blanchet on Vimeo.

I’m Ba-ack! (with My New “Digital Kiosk”)

Sorry for the big break in posts. My husband and I celebrated our tenth anniversary on Valentine’s day with a cruise to Mexico where we renewed our vows on the beach! Good times! It has taken this long for my mind to leave Mexico and return to normal things, like my classroom.

I guess the biggest thing going on right now is the TV/ “digital kiosk” that I’ve recently had installed outside of my classroom door. In September, I wrote a “Quality in Science and Mathematics” (QSM) grant for a 40-inch TV and an Apple TV unit to use as a digital kiosk to display my student’s tech projects. In my previous job, I worked at a school where project-based instruction was the norm. To show off the projects students had created, teachers would fill the halls with posters, dioramas, models, and other artifacts of their work. As I have made the transition to tech projects, I was finding it very difficult to find ways to display my students’ work. Of course I could print things out, but they would not have the same dynamic qualities that could only be shown in digital form. Here we were doing all these great projects and no one had a clue! I know that when you display student work, they take more pride in it. Students also feel their work is validated when they have an audience, even if it’s just passersby in the hallway. Of course the big TV in the hallway made quite a splash when it was first installed, but like all new things, it is slowly becoming a natural part of our school landscape that occasionally catches someone’s eye.

When I first had the TV installed (by the shop class who built and painted the case for it, (thanks, Coach Bridges!!!) I envisioned it showing a never-ending slideshow of student work pulled from my Flickr account. That’s why I got the AppleTV–it has lots of cool options for slideshows that can stream directly from Flickr or your computer via iTunes. Shortly after, I realized that I could stream video from iTunes and suddenly the floodgates opened.

I created a slideshow of student work using Animoto and added it to a video playlist including student video projects, instructional videos, and my students’ favorite–math rap videos I downloaded from youtube. I find ones related to what we are doing in class, and the kids in my classes (and everyone else’s) love to watch to see what the new video is! Here’s our current favorite:

Limits in Plain English [[RELOADED]]

Back in October, I posted a video from the ongoing “Calculus in Plain English” series that my students have created about Limits. It was great and recieved a lot of positive feedback from students and colleagues. So, when I was asked by my principal to submit a technology project for our district’s digital media fair, it was a “no-brainer”…we had to enter “Limits in Plain English! My students were wa-a-a-a-y more tech savvy in December than they were when they orginally made the video, so we took a few days to update the original video with screencasts and sound effects. We also had to create a 2-minute intro/trailer for the project, which you see above. I am very happy with the result and think my students should be very proud! They used Google Docs to collaborate on the script. Here is a quick screencast I made to show how my students use Google docs for projects like this: is a website where you can create FREE, no-download required screencasts through any Java-enabled browser.  It took all of five minutes for my students to figure out how use this awesome tool to update the instructional segments of their video.

Check out the new, IMPROVED Limits in Plain English!!!

Let me catch you up–Grants and Glogs

There has been SO much going on.
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First, I FINALLY finished my Master’s degree in December. YAAAAAY!!! Now that I have scratched that off my list, I can focus more on family and work.

I recently recieved a $10,000+ “Model Technology Classroom” grant which will result in way more tech tools for my students and I to use in class. An effect of my going from a technology magnet school to a large urban school has been the lack of readily-available technology tools for my students to use. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a Promethean board and access to many tech tools, but I came from a 1-to-1 laptop environment where every teacher had digital cameras, Flip cams, GPS, and other things. Here we have to share 10 sets of camera equipment among 150 teachers, for example. Getting this grant means I will have more tech stuff at my fingertips, and I am really excited about that!!!

In the meantime, I have been taking my financial math classes to the computer lab and library to get acquainted with my tech-rich teaching style. This week, we finished up a career project using Glogster. I did a lot of poster projects with my calculus and statistics classes last year, but Glogster seems like a great alternative , and the kids love it! Although I have known about it for a while, this is my first time using “Glogs” (virtual posters). I was really impressed with the students’ work! I hope you are, too. Click here for an example of an “virtual poster” created by one of my students.  I enjoyed seeing the students get creative while getting the necessary information across, and I am looking forward to doing more projects like this in the future.