Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Using CPS and Audacity to Create Read Aloud Tests

There are times when test questions need to be read aloud to students. Since you can add audio to questions in CPS, it occurred to me that a teacher could use Audacity to record themselves reading the question.  That would allow the student to simply click a button to hear the question read to them. The test can be given as a teacher lead test with the student setting the pace. All the teacher would need to do is start the test and then let the student take it from there.
If you have ever used Audacity before, I think you will agree that it is relatively easy make a recording. Each question would only be a minute or two. Just remember to export the recoding as an mp3 file. Then you would add the recording to each question individually.

To add the recording to the question in CPS, choose “notes and media” from the question drop down (in the options area of the question). Click on the audio/video tab in the question note window. Click browse and navigate to your audio file and double click it. Click “ok’ in the CPS – fine details window. Then click “save & close”. Click save and close (two separate buttons this time).

To give the test., click on the engage tab. Put a check next to the name of the lesson (test). Click the engage button. Remember, the test will have to be teacher lead since the student will have to hear the audio. At each question the student can click on the notes button to listen to the audio.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Preparing Your Teacher Website For the Summer

The end of the school year is coming upon us so you might want to start thinking about preparing your teacher website for the summer once the dust settles on the EOC tests. Some items you can add to your site are educational games, summer reading lists, subject level projects, Art activities, summer holiday resources, printable online resources, subject level resources and references and online quizzes. As you know, students can never get enough testing!
Teacher Vision has a page of summer links you can check out by clicking here http://www.teachervision.fen.com/summer/teacher-resources/6668.html.
You might also want to develop your website further by following a few of the tips you can find when you log into Schoolwires and click on the “Editor Best Practices” tab of any page (while in the edit mode). You can also click the “How Do I” tab and look at the “Best Practices for Teacher Sections” in the Additional Resources column. Please remember that our District font is Trebuchet MS size 3 for title text and size 2 for regular text.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Using CPS Verbal Engage Questions and ActivInspire Expresspoll for Formative Assessments

When teachers ask students questions in class without the use of Student Response Systems such as CPS or ActivExpressions, do they receive an accurate assessment of whether or not the students truly understand what was covered in class? Student response systems allow students to remain anonymous and therefore permit all students to respond without worry or concern.  Teachers can ask questions that require more thought provoking text responses from the students.
CPS users have a choice of a large screen where teachers can type the question they want to ask the students or a smaller response bar that can be placed anywhere on the screen. To change the setting from a large screen to a small response bar, choose “delivery options” from the settings menu. Teachers then have the option to check or uncheck the “show large screen” box in the verbal questions section of the delivery options window. Once that is done they would click “verbal engage” from the “engage” tab and choose “short answer” or “essay answer” depending on the character response they want from their students. Short answer has a maximum of 40 characters and essay answer has a maximum of 120 characters.

ActivInspire users would open the expresspoll from the main toolbar and choose text response “ABC”.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Anything Containers in ActivInspire

So let’s say that you are using ActivInspire with your students to teach a concept in class and you need a place on the page for students to write notes or calculate math problems. Let’s also say that you need more than one area for you students to answer your questions or solve your problems and there isn’t enough space on the page. You can use the shape tool to draw a rectangle (note paper) with a tab so that the student can slide it on the page answer the question or problem and slide it off the page to make room for the next students answer. If the student wrote their notes on the rectangle and slid the rectangle off the page, the notes they wrote would not move. Not so if you select the rectangle, click on the properties browser and choose can contain “anything” in the drop down in the container section. If you don’t see any options in the container section of the properties browser, click the plus sign to the left of the word container. Now when the student writes in the rectangle and slides it off the page so only the tab is visible, the notes will go with it. You can also create more than one rectangle (sliding note area) on the page for multiple students.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Helping Low-Performing or At-Risk Students with Their NCVPS Course

If parents or Distance Learning Advisors find that students are falling behind in a North Carolina Virtual Public School course, they should know that they do have options available to help. Here are some suggestions that will help the students pass the course.

1.) Students can contact their instructors during office hours.
2.) Students can set up a time for one-on-one tutoring with their instructor through Wimba, Pronto, or the phone.
3.) The DLA of the school can create peer tutoring sessions with other successful NCVPS students.
4.) The DLA can have EC students meet with the school's EC specialist to help them.
5.) NCVPS has an extensive list of assistive technologies such as text to speech, visual, mobility and Math tools at http://goo.gl/eryLQ.
6.) Students can attend review sessions at the school.
7.) Students can also attend tutoring sessions at the school if they are available.
8.) If the student is not logging into the course on a regular basis, the DLA might consider creating a time that the student works on their course at the school.
9.) If the student has an EOC in the course, the DLA could place the student in an EOC Reviews at the school.
10.) I send out progress reports to the DLA’s every two weeks.  I include the NCVPS teacher contact information (email and phone) in the Excel spreadsheets so that the DLA’s can contact the teacher.
11.) The parents can log into Blackboard with the students at home and supervise their work. 
12.) The parents can also communicate with the NCVPS teacher.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Study Jams is a Math & Science Resource for Students

Study Jams http://studyjams.scholastic.com/studyjams/index.htm has over 200 topics/resources available for students to use to help them learn Math and Science content. Some of the more popular Jams are: Creating Equations From Word Problems, The Universe, Volcanoes and Photosynthesis. The Jams include videos, key vocabulary terms and a test. Related Jams are shown below the selected Jam.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) Help Center

The North Carolina Virtual Public School has a help center to support students taking NCVPS courses with technical issues. The main issue that comes to mind is students who have forgotten their Blackboard password. The Distance Learning Advisors of the schools and the District Distance Learning Coordinator can look up the students password only if they have not changed it from the original password given to them by NCVPS. If the student has changed their password, the change is not reflected in the student information. They would need to contact the NCVPS Help Center. The hours of operation for the Help Center are 8am-4pm, Mondays - Fridays except for state holidays. There are two ways to contact the Help Desk. The first method, and their preferred method is to submit an online ticket. Their address is http://www.help.ncvps.org/. Students will need a valid email address as the solution will be emailed to them. The second method is to call them at 919-480-8770 and leave a voice message. They will get back to the student via email in 1 business day. Return phone calls won’t happen unless there is a time sensitive need to acquire further information to solve the student's problem.
The NCVPS Help Center services all people involved with The North Carolina Virtual Public School. Their services are not just limited to the students. The Distance Learning Advisors of the schools, The NCVPS Instructors, the Peer Tutors and the District Distance Learning Coordinators (LEA’s) can contact the Help Desk for technical issues.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Importing Lessons or Tests from Other Databases

It’s a good idea to create and share tests among co-workers. Why should each teacher create their own work and not share it with others. This is very easy to do in CPS. However, be sure you are working from your single database and share it with one shared database. If you are working with too many databases, you will start to get confused and loose tests. Remember, it’s best to keep your database on the C drive of your computer. The shared database can be stored on a school file server or in the cloud somewhere that all teachers involved has access to. When you import the tests to your database or the shared database, it works best if you copy the shared database to your C drive. Just remember to keep the shared database on the file server (or cloud) current.
Be sure the CPS version you are using is at least 6.70. It is also very important that everyone who is sharing items all have the same version of CPS.
So let’s say someone has imported a test to the shared database and you want to add it to your CPS database. Open your database and click on the “prepare” tab and “lessons and assessments” sub tab. Click “import”. Select the shared database that you copied to your C drive. Click on the plus sign to the left of the shared database name. You will see all the lessons or tests in that database. Put a check in the tests you want to import and click “ok”. You will see the test you imported at the bottom of the list.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Animal Flash Drives

Sure, you can buy the normal looking flash drive, but Staples has animal shaped flash drives available. They have a cow, Nemo clown fish, monkey, mouse, panda bear, pink pig, hippo, sea turtle, and penguin shaped flash drives. They are all 4GB USB 2.0 flash drives and they cost $9.99 except for the penquin and the hippo which costs $19.99. I’m not sure why there is such a difference in price. Just for the record, I did not buy one of these for myself. It would be cool if your school mascot was one of these animals. Of course I really don’t see a mouse as a formidable opponent as a sports team, but to each their own. They do have some thickness so if your USB port is recessed in the computer, you may have some difficulty pushing it in. However, if you do have problems, you can use a short USB cord. I just thought I would pass this information on.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adding a PowerPoint File In a CPS Test

A lot of teachers use PowerPoint. For those PowerPoint users that also use CPS, I just wanted to let you know that you can create a test in CPS (CPS calls them lessons). It’s very simple. Click on the “prepare” tab and the “lessons & assessments” sub-tab. Click the new button and choose “lesson”. Name the test and click “ok”. Click on the name of the test and choose “PowerPoint File” from the “add file(s)” drop down.

Navigate to and open the PowerPoint presentation you want to add to the test. Now click the “engage” tab and the “lessons & assessments” sub-tab. Place a check in the box to the left of the PowerPoint test you just created and click “engage”. Your PowerPoint file will open and the CPS program will scan for your receiver. The type of test will look very much like a “verbal engage”. You will be able to advance the slides or for that matter right click and go to a previous slide or any slide. Click the verbal button to choose the type of question you want. Remember, a verbal engage starts right away. I hope that helps.