Friday, October 24, 2014

Working @ SIS for SY2014-15

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Comic Life @SIS

Comic Life 3 from
The folks at Plasq, who make Comic Life, have helped us out by providing a nice deal on Comic Life 3. We were able to purchase 35 copies which means the SIS computer lab has it on all computers and every faculty member can put it on his/her computer. If you aren't familiar with Comic Life, you really are missing out on software that is inexpensive, but very powerful in the learning environment. It can be used for a ton of different student products from storyboarding to science labs; a truly multipurpose tool in education. I've personally been using it for years. Back when I first started at KIS, I came across Comic Life online. I downloaded a copy and knew within minutes that I had something magical in front of me. Rich Boerner, the high school principal at the time, came through my room on a walkthrough and saw what I was doing with students. Later that week, he had purchased 500 copies of the software for the entire school based off what he saw in one lesson. I've been forever thankful for that vote of confidence from Rich. Over the years, several teachers at KIS found interesting and creative ways to make use of the program and now I have a chance to offer the opportunity to my SIS faculty. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gathering Learning Artifacts with Comic Life

Comic Life by Aysem Bray
The G5 students have been doing presentations about different countries in Ms. McRoberts (@amie_mcroberts) class. The presentations take most of a lesson to do, because the viewing students are required to take notes; at the end of the presentation, there is a quiz created by the presenter. With the action moving pretty fast and Ms. McRoberts providing support and watching to assess the presentation, there isn't much time left to collect evidence about the learning environment. Later thinking back, a teacher struggles to remember the details of the presentation. Students forget who presented what and when. Wouldn't be nice if there was some simple way to archive what happened during the presentation? Something that didn't require expensive equipment, a large amount of storage space, or excessive time. That is where our EdTech Coach comes into play. Mrs. Bray (@aysem_bray) stops by the room to take photos of the environment, to capture the learning live. Then she puts together a poster in Comic Life to demonstrate what was happening in the classroom. This provides Ms. McRoberts a great artifact to use during Parent-Teacher conferences; plus, it is a great memento for the students and parents. A nice item for the scrapbook to look back on 20 years later and remember when you loved learning in Ms. McRoberts G5 class.
Comic Life by Aysem Bray

Friday, October 3, 2014

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-Teacher Conferences are right around the corner for Saipan International School (October 14) and this year we are using SignUpGenius to schedule appointments for the secondary teachers. It is very simple to set up and allows parents to schedule their appointments when it fits their needs during the day. In the past the school used MySignUp, but I found the UI to be very poor. There was no easy way to correct a mistake, so you needed to get the entire schedule correct the first time or begin again. Terrible! In addition, it looked like something out of the 1990s, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, I remember the 90s fondly, but times have changed and signupgenius allows for different themes that can fit a variety of school uses. Signupgenius was easy to make and correct. Plus, you can easily track who has signed up by checking the account or having updates sent to your email account. Nice! The free version is robust enough to handle our needs as a small school, which means no fees. My wife, Aysem Bray (@aysembray), created two simple to follow tutorials for parents on how to sign up and how to edit their schedules. If you are interesting in giving signupgenius a try, feel free to use these tools with your parents. You can also contact either of us for advise, help, or support.