CheckThis: Student websites without a login.

Have you ever wanted to have students create a website, but either a) students did not have accounts on an appropriate hosting site (i.e. wordpress, blogger, google sites, wikispaces, etc), or b) you don’t want students to waste time on complex coding or layout?  If so, then CheckThis.com might be what you’re looking for.

This site is a simple tool for creating websites for quick feedback, but without the hassle of having to log in.  It’s as simple as heading over to CheckThis.com and clicking the Start a page now tab.

You or your students will be directed to a blank slate ready to insert information and links quickly.  Add a title, and then select one of the green tab options to insert text, a link, or a video.  Unfortunately there is no content uploading feature, so images and videos need to be hosted on Flickr or YouTube rather directly on the page.

Once you have inserted your content, then in the top right corner of the page you can select from a few options before publishing.

Selecting the Settings Gear will allow you to mark the page public/private/hidden, as well as how long the page will last.  This second feature is great for concerns of privacy.  Students work can be marked Hidden and to expire in One Week.  This will give you time to assess the information, but greatly reduce the chances of someone maliciously finding your students.  This combined with the anonymous nature of publishing provides parameters for strong protection of students that other publishing platforms cannot provide.

The Paint Drop will bring up various Appearance options such as the background image and basic color selections.  This will allow you to customize your page, but not provide so many distractions for students needing to quickly publish their information.

When the page is completed, selecting the Publish option will allow students to publish their site without a sign-in or opt to use Twitter, Facebook, or Google to save their work.  If work is published without a sign in, a link is given to bookmark for future editing if modifications are needed.

Suggested Student Uses:

  • Quick 1-2 period websites to present research
  • Share group brainstorms with the rest of class
  • Create a website instead of a report and include video and images

Suggested Teacher Uses:

  • Create quick web portals for various learning topics
  • Create quizzes that will expire in one week
  • Make a simple class website

Empowering Students to Leave a Legacy

Originally posted on InquireWithin.
How can we create the desire to inquire? That is a hard issue to grapple with (and worthy of much inquiry by educators), but I’m sure that: 1) it’s not grades, and 2) there’s no silver bullet to get students motivated to dig deeper and extend their own learning.  However, I think one great way to create deep motivation for some learners is encouraging them to leave a legacy.
Mathtrain.tv a site “for kids, by kids” is one example of students leaving a legacy.  Teacher Eric Marcos has his students create and upload math tutorial videos to teach other students.
The true beauty of Mathtrain.tv though, is not so much the videos to replace your own teaching, as it is the idea of empowering students to teach their peers.  Alan November’s TEDxNYED Talk (well worth the watch if you haven’t seen it) highlights the importance of students leaving a legacy, and he uses Mathtrain.tv as a great example of this.
If we live in a collaborative world, why do we often wait until the work environment before we learn from others?  Why do teachers fight the system, or more likely just ignore it? Who knows, but I sure think Alan November and Eric Marcos have something worth listening to.  Never underestimate the power of a motivated student.  Personally, I’m committed to tapping into that motivation, even if it means sacrificing my own ideas about how something should be taught.

Twitter

Twitter is by far one of the most useful PD tools I have come across.  I was at first skeptical, and like many thought it was for finding out when celebrities did silly things.  One of my colleagues convinced me to try it out for educational resource sharing, and I haven’t looked back since!

Twitter allows you to follow who you want to follow.  It also allows you to look where you want to find information.  Use hashtags to find relevant information (#edtech, #edchat, #math, #science, #flippedclassroom, #etc).

Personally I use a twitter feed embedded into my class page to send quick updates without having to access the page code.  That allows me to share information with students quickly, without them having to have a Twitter account.  Those that do have accounts can also share with others on the class page.  This in combination with Google Calendars means I don’t really need to edit my main class page all year!

It’s a bit tough if you’re using WordPress to embed a Twitter Widget, but if you use another platform such as Moodle, Google Sites, Blogger, or any program that let’s you embed objects, then you can easily include custom searches or profiles.  You can check out my G7 Science homepage if you’re interested to see how I use it on a regular basis.

Be “Less Helpful…”

Or so Dan Meyer suggests.

Check out his TEDx talk on how we can help our students better learn mathematics, by being purposely less helpful.  I have started to integrate problems like this in my own G7 classroom, and have found that it has increased engagement, collaboration, and inquiry amongst students.

Dan also has tons of great ideas to use in your own classroom.  I highly recommend Dan Meyer’s 3 Acts: Incredible Shrinking DollarShower vs Bath?A Lousy Mathematical Problem, especially Graphing Stories!