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:

Calculus in Plain English–Volume 2

I have a lot of stuff to blog about, but so little time! Here is a tidbit: “Calculus in Plain English” is back!!!  I am teaching AP Calc AB this semester, and I only have 5 students in the class.  They will be making videos for each unit we cover.  Here is their first– “Limits in Plain English”.

BlanchetBlog regulars will notice that this is my first non-TeacherTube video. I am currently making the transition to Vimeo. It has its drawbacks (slow upload), but TeacherTube has become so bloated with ads and everything else but videos, that I have finally decided to try other sites. I would like to give SchoolTube a try, too. Since YouTube is blocked by our school system, I will always be searching for a good alternative for video sharing. Vimeo seems to be getting the job done for now.
I am very proud of my students and their first video. I know their next, “Derivatives in Plain English”, will be even better. Stay tuned!!!

Project Alert!

Here is a montage of the Photostory projects my Geometry students recently finished on parallel and perpendicular lines. I adapted this activity from a “scrapbook” suggested by the state comprehensive curriculum. Here is a tutorial that you can use with your students so that they can use Photostory to create videos like this one on any topic. It was an easy, quick project, and I am very pleased with the results.