Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday Teacher Tips Office 365 & Your Students, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas & Intro to Genius Hour

Office 365 & Your Students

Last week I talked about using Office 365, which is a suite of web-based Microsoft products, including email, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and SkyDrive’s cloud based storage con­nected through your school email.  The suite of products are also available to your students through their email accounts.
In our district, ALL students (K-12) have access now to their email accounts and the Microsoft Web applications hosted there.  If you choose to use those services with primary stu­dents, it might be a good idea to share information with par­ents about it.
Encouraging your students to create documents and store them in the “Cloud” provides many benefits for students.  Cloud based storage means no more broken or lost jump drives, no more searching through network folders and no more concern that students are saving to the “wrong” location and at risk of losing their work forever.  Additionally, encour­aging students to actually CREATE their documents through the web version of Word, PowerPoint and Excel, which can be found under the SkyDrive link, will mean that students only have to go to one location and it will auto save their work for them.  In addition, they will be able to access and work on their documents from any device that has an Internet connection—including tablets.
To get your students started using Office 365 for creating doc­uments, check out this one page student guide [here] or copy and this URL into your browser http://goo.gl/cEjZPU
As students begin using the different features of Office 365, it is extremely  important that you discuss good Digital Citizen­ship with them, and explain that when they are on their stu­dent accounts and any features within Office 365, they should be acting in a “professional” capacity.  It’s a good idea to re­mind them to THINK: before the post or create—is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Needed and Kind.  If it’s not, then they shouldn't post or create.
To help students working with Office 365 from a mobile de­vice, like a tablet, you can find directions [here] or copy and this URL into your browser http://goo.gl/obwiUM.

Christmas Read Aloud with Pete the Cat

Who does Santa call when he’s sick in bed and unable to deliver presents to all the boys and girls? Why, Pete the Cat of course!
In Eric Litwin and James Dean’s Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, Pete is faced with the challenge of his life. And, although Pete is small, he knows that if he gives it his all, he can help Santa and save Christmas for all the children.
The book, with it’s excellent Pete the Cat illustrations, is a fun way to talk about the ways that even the youngest people can lend a helping hand to those in need of  a little help.
Check out the video record­ing of the song [here]

Genius Hour: Something to Dig Into Over Winter Break

Genius Hour is a movement in education that is based on the 20% release time construct that Google uses to help spark creativity in it’s employees. Using release time, employees can en­gage in learning anything that interests them, provided that it could have an impact on the Google business later.  Through this set up, Google employees have come up with many inno­vative concepts.
In Genius Hour in schools, students are given an hour of class time a week to pursue their own interests and passions, with the idea that allowing students to engage in their own interests will help to improve student productivity and intrinsic motivation.  A good genius hour includes these things: a strong research question that requires real digging and work to under­stand, research and a project that is shared with the world.  Projects could be short and confined to that 1 hour, or they could be long-term lasting over several weeks.  You also may find it beneficial to ask students to relate their projects in some way to the content you’re study­ing in class.
Check out this video [here], by Chris Kesler for a 3 minute introduction to the concept. 
Follow Chris, on Twitter [here] @iamkesler.  If you have some time, you also may want to take a look at  Kesler’s archived presentation of Genius Hour [here] for a lot more information on the subject.   Kesler also gives some great advice for find­ing time to do Genius Hour—check that out [here.
For even more information about how to get started with it, try this Livebinder by Joy Kirr [here] (follow her on Twitter [here].
If all of this information is too overwhelming, I would suggest starting small, and participating in a #GeniusHour chat, which occurs the first Thursday of each month, or search the #20Time hashtag for more information on Twitter.

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