EdPuzzle is No Puzzle to Use

On Friday, I introduced my students to a new technology tool:  EdPuzzle.  It was first introduced to me several weeks ago at a Blended Learning workgroup.  Before EdPuzzle, I was keen on using Videonot.es which syncs to Drive, but since Videonot.es only allows the use of YouTube (which is blocked by my district)…the thought of annotating videos seemed out of my reach.

Not so any more.

EdPuzzle is very easy to use.  It’s easy for students to sign-up and it’s overall use is intuitive.  I loved that my students were able to rewatch video clips before answering either an open-ended or multiple choice question.  The notion of rewatching video clips came in especially handy since the narrator of the clip I chose was British.  It didn’t occur to me that my students would struggle with his accent until I started receiving answers spelled phonetically (e.g. Sway as opposed to Sui…Tong as opposed to Tang).

EdPuzzle automatically grades multiple choice questions and gives students their scores which is actually misleading because the open-ended questions were not graded yet.  But that’s my only gripe about this awesome tool.

Grading the open-ended questions was a breeze because EdPuzzle gives you the option to grade all of the open-ended questions in one fell swoop.  All I had to do was click the red X or the green Check for each student answer.  In fact, I had all of the open-ended questions graded before my students left class.  Easy.

Because I teach history, I use a variety of primary and secondary sources:  print, picture, video, and music.  EdPuzzle is an easy way to have students take a step back when watching a video to really try to understand not only the contents presented, but taking a look at bias as well as using the video to corroborate other resources.

I love the fact that technology tools are constantly evolving to make learning more fun and meaningful for students.  It’s even better when the technology tool is designed for easy use by teachers as well.  EdPuzzle does not disappoint.

Back on Track

Wow.  The past two weeks have taken the students and teachers of my district on a roller-coaster ride.  We were given various excuses as to what had happened and what was currently happening…but nowhere were we given a time-table as to when the technology issues would be fixed.    All we know is that our server was hacked and then to protect all data, we were effectively cut off from the outside world (Internet) for three days.  Then followed seven more days of intermittent Internet access.  It was weird.  Everything seemed to work well in the morning (as I planned my day) and throughout first period, but after that, it was anybody’s ball game.  Sometimes the Internet worked for 2nd period and 5th/6th.  But it rarely worked for 3rd or 4th period.  Did I mention that I teach World History all day?

Needless to say, all of my classes were off pace both with the district pacing and each other.  I couldn’t keep track of which class was where.  I had to extend due dates, completely drop some assignments, and bring out Plans B, C, and D (on occasion).  It was a mess.

And I wasn’t the only one affected.  My district rolled out a huge amount of Technology PD during Super Week, so there were quite a few teachers who were directly affected by this Internet blackout.  Teachers who were new to using technology, some of whom were already a bit skittish about using technology…were among the ones who were likely freaking out.  My colleagues who are a 1:1 iPad/Chromebook class (who are tech-savvy) were just as freaked out and frustrated.

But there was a light.

Last Friday as I was putting the final touches on an Internet-based assignment, the Internet shut down.  I mean, completely.  I couldn’t even access our internal attendance and email.  I watched the clock slowly tick towards the start of the school day and grew more frustrated by the second. I mean, COME ON!  I’m never going to finish this unit.  We’re going to be on Arabia for-EVER.  One of my colleagues poked her head in my classroom with a frantic look on her face.  I just shrugged my shoulders.  We’ve been here before.

The bell rang.  We finished the pledge of allegiance and morning announcements.  I had one student get out her iPad and try to log in to our HaikuLMS class.  I didn’t want to give up (yet).  She got in.  No, could it be?  Was the Internet back up and running?  I tried the site on my computer…lo and behold…it loaded.  I held my breath as I told my students to get their iPads.  I was hoping that we wouldn’t lose Internet-connectivity.

We didn’t.  The Internet worked all day.  For all classes.  Even 3rd and 4th period.  They couldn’t believe it.  After two weeks of frustrated efforts to log in…postponed due dates…eliminated activities, they were on.  And my students took off!  They didn’t waste any time…mostly because they didn’t know if the Internet was going to suddenly stop working.  It was a sight to behold.  For me, it was a huge relief.  Things were finally getting back on track.  We are still WAY behind on the pacing, but at least we’re moving forward.

Things are certainly looking up.  =)

Thank God for Plan B

I know I’ve blogged and tweeted about the wifi issues in my classroom.  A couple of weeks ago, I thought the issue was resolved when I got the magic blue light on the wifi booster in my classroom.  In fact, my students and I breath a sigh of relief each day when the blue light shines oh so brightly in my classroom.

Flash-forward to this past Monday.  The Internet in my classroom came to a screeching halt.  We had the blue light…but none of our devices could stay on the wifi network.  I troubleshooted all of the way through 1st period and partly into Period 2.  About 15 minutes into Period 2, I gave up.  I already lost two days of instruction when trying to use Google Classroom with my kiddoes several weeks ago.  I couldn’t afford to lose any more.

I switched around lesson plans.  Thursday’s lesson, now became Monday’s.  No problem.  It wasn’t ideal…and the order was now off, but at least the students were able to more forward.

The PR person from my district sent an email around 4PM informing us that the Internet was down district-wide due to automatic iOS updates throughout the district.

I didn’t buy it.  When Apple releases an new iOS, it doesn’t automatically update.  None of our iPads automatically updated to iOS on my campus.  We contributed nothing to the Internet break-down, but suffered none-the-less.

We took Tuesday off from the iPads.  My students participated in a TCI Skillbuilder Activity.  It was fun, it was engaging, but most of all, I loved hearing the conversations between my students.  Boy, some of them are sharp!  =D

And that brings us to Wednesday.  It was collaboration day.  My grade level colleague and I reworked our lesson in HaikuLearning.  We planned to introduce students to our LMS and have them complete two tasks:  a GoogleForm which would allow them to see peer responses and a discussion topic with peers from across all seven sections of World History.

Period 1 was able to create an account and complete Task 1.  Period 2?  Nothing.  The Internet crashed.  I mean, nothing, nada, zero, zippo.  I got the kiddoes started on Plan B while trying to see if the Internet stoppage went beyond my classroom and the blue light on the wifi booster.  It did.  I received a text message and phone call from a colleague (at a different school) who uses Chromebooks with his kids.  Another colleague had to take her students back to her room because her technology lesson was kaput with no Internet.

This is ridiculous.  I think the issue goes WAY beyond the supposed “auto iOS updates”…but whatever the case, it needs to be fixed.  And I’m not saying that because I simply want to use technology with my students.  I want my students to take their learning to the next level by using technology to demonstrate their understanding of historical content.  I have so much I want to share with them.  It’s like we’re all chomping at the bit.

It’s a small consolation to know the the district office is also feeling the pinch.  Payroll cannot answer questions about stipend pay because they cannot access their records.  Emails are going unsent, unread…unwritten.  A colleague at yet a different school wrote in an email, “I’m teaching like a cave man”…

Well said.