Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Creating and Engaging CPS Performance Questions

A performance question is an open-ended or subjective question that requires a specific response, usually in the form of short answer or essay. A rubric is a tool associated with a performance question that allows the instructor to divide the total number of points available for that question into distinct categories. For example, the points for a 10-point essay question could be divided into four categories worth 2.5 points each: grammar, punctuation, content, and persuasiveness. A rubric can not be used to give additional weight to a specific question. The student has a maximum of 140 characters for their answer.

The first step to setting up a performance question is to decide how many categories there should be and what those categories should be titled. Once you know that, it's time to create the rubric to show those categories. To create a new rubric, follow these directions:
• Click the settings menu.
• Select performance question rubric wizard. The CPS performance question wizard appears.
• Check the create new rubric box, in the new rubric section. (Note: This option does not appear if this is the first rubric created in the database.)
• Click next to continue.
• On the next screen, fill in the rubric name box.
• Choose the number of categories from the total number of categories pull-down menu.
• Click next to continue.
• Type in the names of your categories, or leave the default names.
• Click next to continue.
• Verify that the information you previously entered is correct. Click back to edit the information or next to save the information.
• On the final screen, click done to save your rubric and return to the prepare - lessons and assessments tab.

Once you have created your rubric, you are ready to create the performance question to go with it:
• From the question author window, select performance question from the top drop-down box in the format section.
• Select the rubric you want to associate with this question.
• Save the question by clicking either the save button or the save and next button.

Performance questions and their associated rubrics can also be added from within the fastgrade window.
• In the performance section of the fastgrade window, click the rubric button to create a new rubric to associate to your question or select an existing rubric from the drop-down list.
• With the rubric selected, click the add button to add the question with its associated rubric.

If you need to edit a rubric after you have created it, you can do so from the performance question rubric wizard:
• Click the settings menu.
• Select performance question rubric wizard.
• Select the rubric you want to edit from the list of existing rubrics in the existing rubrics section.
• Click the radio button next to the edit option.
• Click next to continue.
• Edit the rubric name and/or total number of categories (from 1 to 25).
• Click next to continue.
• Edit any of the category names.
• Click next to continue.
• Verify that your rubric information is correct: click back to change the information or next to continue.
• Click done to save your rubric.

Once you have created your rubric, it's time to use it. To do so, simply make sure that at least one person gives a response for the rubric question as the session is being administered. As with all CPS questions, the performance question must be started, and at least one response must be registered for the question. If no responses are recorded, the question is automatically excluded from the session report and the grading calculations.

The assigning of points for performance questions happens after the session has ended:
• From the reports section of the report tab, select the session containing the performance question you want to grade and click the edit button.
• From the assessment options window, click the re-grade students button.
• In the re-grade window, you will see that instead of the standard checkbox, the performance question will have multiple columns, and those columns will have numeric values. When you have entered values for each of the students, click ok to return to the assessment options window and then click ok again to return to the reports tab.

"Photo Editing on the Web" Workshop

I did a “Photo Editing on the Web” workshop this past Friday. It was part of a two day series of new workshops we did for the teachers of the Winston Salem Forsyth County School District. It also gave me the opportunity to revisit a passion of my past that I don’t utilize as much any more. Photography is a part of our everyday lives and also is used when teachers create content for their teacher web pages. During the training I took the teachers to 3 free web-based photo editing sites. All 3 sites offer users the ability to edit their images in a variety of ways. Picnik present users editing features but list several of their capabilities as premium, in which the user must pay to use. FotoFlexer offers users several nice features. However, my favorite of the 3 is Pixlr This site looks and works like a version of Photoshop somewhere between Photoshop Elements and the full version of the program.
During the workshop the teachers edited their images in a variety of ways including cropping, resizing, dodging (lightening a specific area of the image), blurring (removing wrinkles in the faces of people to make them happy), adjusting brightness & contrast using levels and selecting pixels in one image to add it in the image of another picture. I showed them how to feather selections to make them more pleasing to the eye. I even offered to show them how to add hair on the head of a less fortunate individual but we didn’t have a picture of the back of my head, so we skipped over that.
Then I took them to Big Huge Labs to show some of the many possible projects they can create using their photographs. We started with creating a motivational poster and had very little time for other possibilities. I enjoyed showing teachers these wonderful resources and hope to do the workshop again sometime.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Storing the Mobi for the Summer

I just wanted to send this information out to people who have an eInstruction Mobi. Teachers should remove the rechargeable battery from the pen when it is not going to be used for an extended period of time such as the summer. To do this, locate the little square button on the back of the pen just above the 2 silver rings. Use a key or something to press the button in a bit. Slide the pen apart and you will expose the battery. Take the battery out and store it in a place that you will remember, at room temperature. To place the two pen halves back together, align the inside ridges in the top half of the pen with the slot in the bottom front half of the pen and slide them together until you hear the pen click.

When school starts again in the fall, open the pen and insert the battery with the positive icon facing towards the tip of the pen. Charge the Mobi and the pen for a full 12 hours before using it.

It’s also a good idea to remove the Mobi rechargeable battery as well when not using it for an extended period of time. To do this, turn the Mobi over and use a small Phillips head screwdriver to remove the screw. The rest is easy.

NCVPS Blackboard Upgrade Compatibility Issues

North Carolina Virtual Public School has updated the Blackboard system they use to 9.1. However, they have learned of a few incompatibility issues. These issues occur when students use Internet Explorer versions 7, 8 and 9. Students will experience issues with content not being viewable, not being able to participate in assessments, or uploading assignment files into the system. Internet Explorer can be modified to be more compatible by using IE in the compatibility mode. However, the best suited browser for Blackboard 9.1 is Mozilla Firefox 3.6 or higher. Make sure your versions of Flash and Java are up to date. Also make sure your browser history and internet cache is cleared prior to the logging into Blackboard. Depending on your version of Internet Explorer, follow the list of instructions I have out lined below.

Setting IE to work in the compatibility mode.
  • Open Internet Explore and log into Blackboard.
  • Click the tools menu option at the top of the page.
  • Select the "compatibility view" option from the "tools" drop-down menu.
  • Allow the page to reload.

Clearing the internet browser history and cache.
  • Go to the "tools" drop-down menu.
  • Select "delete browsing history."
  • Click “delete all”.
  • Check “also delete files and settings stored by add-ons” and click yes.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Replacing The KWIK Mobi Battery & the Mobi Pen Battery

Some of you have had your Mobi now for a couple of years so at some point, if you haven’t already done so, the batteries will have to be replaced. There are two batteries that will eventually need to be replaced. The Mobi pen battery is $4.00 from eInstruction and the part number is IW-A-629-039-000. It's a GP (Gold Peak) 1.2 volt battery. To get to the battery, locate the square little button on the back of the pen just above the 2 silver rings. Use a key or something to press the button in a little. Slide the pen apart and you will see the battery. I have also found that if your pen is not working and you have definitely charged it, you might just need to take this battery out and use a pencil eraser to clean the contacts. When you are charging the Mobi and the pen, be sure you see the little pen charging icon. This is a little square with a line at an angle through the top. If you do not see the little square constantly filling and emptying, then the pen is not being charged. It is very possible to charge the Mobi and not charge the pen. You may just have to push the pen down all the way into the pen slot of the Mobi. You also may just have to turn the pen around a bit in the slot. In any case, be sure you see that the pen charging icon is displayed.

The KWIK Mobi also has a battery of course and eInstruction charges $35.00 for it. The part number is CB-A-629-038-000. eInstuction also charges $5.00 for shipping and handling. The KWIK Mobi battery is accessed from the back. Use a small Phillips head screwdriver to remove the screw and then you can remove the battery cover. It is a rectangular shaped lithium-ion 3.7 volt battery. Just be sure that the gold color contacts are facing towards the upper left corner when placing it back in the battery compartment. Again, be sure you see the Mobi battery icon constantly filling and emptying when you are charging it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Big Huge Labs Offers Over 40 Ways to Manipulate Your Images is a great site for turning your photos into creative works of art in a wide variety of ways. Perhaps you would like to create a motivational poster out of your image. Perhaps you see yourself on a magazine cover. You can do that here. Maybe you want to turn your picture into a puzzle or a photo collage using a style the artist, David Hockney uses. You can add comic book style captions to your pictures, create a mosaic from any number of pictures, create a movie poster from your favorite image, create a strip of photobooth pictures, create and print a pocket sized photo album, add a museum style mat to your pictures, make your own ID badge or Press Pass, create monthly calendars from your digital images, create stamps or choose from more than 20 different frames to spice up your image and a multitude of other effects. Are you musically inclined? Perhaps you would like to create your own CD cover. Maybe you have something big to say and you need to put it on a billboard. This would be the place. Do you feel the need to make a slide show? Big Huge Labs has an app for that. There are over 40 ways to manipulate your images on this site. The site is offers it’s services for free. Educators can sign up for an account and receive ad free services. Educators can also pre-register students so that they can sign in without requiring an email address. There are other perks for educators as well. So enjoy the site and let your creative side run wild.