Keep Parent-Teacher Communication Open with MashPlant
Parent-teacher communication plays an important role in education. Communication is a two way street that should be present in every classroom. According to, The Parent-Teacher Partnership from pbs.com, “a positive parent-teacher relationship contributes to your child’s school success.” Sometimes this communication is lacking for one reason or another. Schools should be thinking of an easy solution for all teachers and parents to keep the line of communication open. Virtual learning spaces make this possible and effortless for teachers.
When communicating with parents online, teachers should keep in mind the tone of the message. Try to be as clear and concise as possible. When words are written rather than spoken, the tone can sometimes be misunderstood.
MashPlant’s virtual learning environment builds a community of engaged learners in your classroom. MashPlant can also build relationships with parents. It keeps parents informed about what their child is doing in the classroom. A parent can log into MashPlant to see a portfolio of their child’s work.
When parents are involved in their child’s learning, it becomes easier for parents to help their child when they need it. Parents can also easily send a message to contact the teacher. This gives parents a reason to connect. Check out MashPlant.com today for free and start building your community!
How to use Tackk and MashPlant for Student Projects
Tackk is a great new tool to create blogs, flyers, posters and webpages easily. When you get to the homepage there is a short video explanation of how to use Tackk.
I love that you don’t even need a login name (without a login name the Tackk will only be live for 6 weeks. If you want it permanent, each students will need to create a login name). This step saves a lot of time when using this tool with students. Simply click start tackking and begin. Your students will be promoted to enter a title, pictures or videos, and text. This is a great tool for students to show what they know in a creative way. Students can also choose different colors, fonts, and styles.
There is a publish tackk button at the bottom of the screen. After the tackk is published a link will appear in the bottom right hand corner.
Here is where you can have your students copy the link and paste it into MashPlant.com. MashPlant is so great because the kids can see each others work and engage with each other online. I love having all of my students work organized in one place. It makes my life so much easier and the kids end up with a portfolio of their work at the end of the year.
Here is what you will see after you have uploaded the Tackk to MashPlant.
6th Grade CCSS Math Project Idea to Get Your Kids Motivated
I recently had my 6th grade students work on an Independent and Dependent Variables Project. Integrating fun technology apps into projects really gets kids motivated. Two of my favorite apps are GlogsterEDU and GoAnimate!. GlogsterEDU is a virtual way of creating a poster. Kids can insert text, video, and images into a virtual poster. GoAnimate! is a fun and easy way to create animated videos. Animated videos let your students tell their story out loud. Both options are great ways for kids to show what they know and be proud of the final product.
Not sure how to share student projects? Make sure to check out MashPlant.com. You can create a studio where students can upload their projects, see each others work, and comment. It is great way to turn your classroom into a community of learners.
Below is the outline of the project on Independent and Dependent Variables. This project aligns to the Common Core State Standards for 6th grade CCSS.Math.Content.6.EE.C.9.
Help Students Find a Voice Using Just One Platform
Giving students a voice is an important part of the learning process. According to Wikipedia, “Student voice is the individual and collective perspective and actions of students within the context of learning and education.” A voice allows students to express their understanding of their learning, become self confident, and feel part of a community. They become active participants in the learning process instead of passive individuals. Students are also more likely to perform better when they share their work for others to see. It becomes meaningful and they feel a purpose for an assignment.
So how can we give students a voice?
Technology is a great way to help students find a voice. An article from edutopia titled, 4 Technologies to Help Students Find Their Voice In Your Classroom talks about using blogging, media collection, podcasting, VoiceThread, and YouTube Channels. These are all great platforms to use but this seems overwhelming to me. Teachers need simplicity and to know that students are safe. Managing multiple platforms to give my students a voice means multiple user names and passwords that my students will probably forget. It also means a lot of time learning each of these platforms and looking into the security settings. YouTube is great, don’t get me wrong, but as a teacher I do not feel comfortable having my students post their videos for the world to see.
What I do look for is something that will do all of these things. MashPlant.com is a perfect solution. The most important part is that students are safe and secure. MashPlant is TRUSTe certified. Within the platform, students are encouraged to have a voice. They blog, post articles and videos, create their own videos, comment on posts, collaborate with each other, and ultimately form a community!
So get started and give your students a VOICE!
Is Online Student Data Really Private?
We always wonder if new apps and platforms for education are safe and private, but how do you really know if a website protects your online data? It can take a long time to research these apps before using them with your students. And lets face it, this can be overwhelming.
I am concerned about internet privacy because of the recent news about Google, who is accused in class action lawsuits about privacy and providing consumer data to advertisers.
What exactly is internet privacy? Internet privacy is the privacy and security level of personal data. It involves who has access to the data and how they use it.
One tip you can do is to look out for the TRUSTe Privacy Seal on a website, app, or platform. TRUSTe is recognized globally as a high standard for privacy management. To become TRUSTe certified, a company must follow a comprehensive and proven in depth process to ensure privacy practices meet the standards.
Below are TRUSTe Seals on Mashplantstudio.com
My advice is to do your research, look for the TRUSTe seal, and don’t just accept a company saying that student data and information is private.
How to Use MashPlant for Flipped Learning
We have all heard the research behind the flipped learning experience and the benefits to students learning, but many of us think, where do I begin?
The first step is to start and the rest will follow! Using MashPlant makes it easy to upload your video lessons in a safe and secure environment. The environment we speak of is your virtual community. It is a space where your students not only watch the videos, but they can comment, post their own videos, and interact with their classmates. It is a great way to turn your students into a community of engaged learners.
To get started, you need to sign up for an account. When you fill out the required information, you will be sent an email confirmation.
When you login, you will be in the studio homepage (corkboard). This is where you can create your first studio by clicking “create a studio” I prefer to create a new studio for each unit, but you can do it however you like. I have several studios on my homepage from various projects I have done. I love it because they are very easy to find.
Once your studio is created, you can click on it and hit “upload stuff” to upload your videos. When you upload your videos, they will appear in chronological order!
Now that the studio is created, you simply click “my students” to invite them to join the studio. They will instantly get an email and can join to see all of the videos and become a part of the virtual community!
Create Customized Projects with Powtoon and MashPlant
Powtoon.com is an awesome website where you can create animated videos and presentations for free. These projects can be used by anyone. When you get to the main site, you can sign in as a student, teacher, video artist/animator, entrepreneur, start-up, marketing pro, or other.
After creating an account, you can start from scratch or pick from tons of styles in the gallery. I used Powtoon with my students after a unit on two variable relationships in math. Their task was to create an example problem, write the equation, create a table, create a graph, and explain what the relationship between the two variables. They were able to to this by inserting their own images along with the ones provides within Powtoon. My students love to show what they know! They really enjoyed being able to create a presentation that was animated and I Ioved that they could add voice and explain their thinking process.
My students worked on these in groups of two and it was so easy to use MashPlant as a way for them to collaborate. They posted the link into MashPlant and were able to work on it as a draft until they were ready to submit. My favorite part of using MashPlant for student projects is its security and ability to keep everything in one place. My kids loved being able to watch each others videos, rate them, and provide feedback to each other.
Check out a sample video here.
7 Tips for Managing Technology Use in the Classroom
How do we keep kids on task when using electronic devices in class? With the internet, kids have the world at their fingertips and we should take advantage of that. Use these quick tips to manage students while using technology in your classroom.
- Always have a back-up lesson prepared in case the technology fails.
- Post directions for frequently used computer operations near the tech center for kids to refer to.
- Make sure laptops, monitors, and iPad screens are turned off when giving directions.
- Assign a few students to be the classroom technology managers. You can also assign students to be technology specialists. Specialists can help others on a particular task such as animation, text, audio, powerpoint, uploading videos, etc.
- Plan a class meeting to talk about acceptable uses. In the meeting, students can create a list of expectations when using technology. Kids love taking ownership and might think of ideas that you did not think of.
- Help students recognize that technology in the classroom is for learning.
- Arrange classroom seating so that it is easy for you to move around the room, see students screens, and get to them quickly.
There are numerous management strategies to add to this list, but here is a start. This is your opportunity to teach students to become independent and trustworthy. They need guidance in the beginning, but soon your students will take action and become engaged, self-motivated learners.
Global Collaboration in the Classroom
Online learning is powerful. Students in traditional classrooms have been limited by the four walls of their classroom and a textbook, however, classrooms today have far more opportunities to connect outside of the classroom.
Students are able to communicate, collaborate, and share with students their own age from any classroom across the globe using MashPlant. They are able to gain real world experiences that are new and exciting to them in a safe and secure environment. Students are motivated to learn through experience and teachers can add a global project to any subject that they teach.
A high school teacher in Colorado Springs used MashPlant to connect her students globally. She said, “I use MathPlant as a platform for my students to upload their videos securely. In this way, they were able to connect with a French speaking school in Belgium and use this as a virtual pen pal experience. MashPlant became a central place for my students to upload and download their videos as well as for the Belgium students to be able to share their videos. This way we didn’t have to wait weeks to receive pen pal letters and communication with each other became almost instant. My students love being able to comment on them, to rate them and it felt like using the French language for a real goal in their life rather than just as a class subject.”
So…how can YOU get started collaborating with international classrooms?
To start, find a partner school to connect with. If you wish to work with multiple schools, go ahead and dive in. There are tons of international schools all over the world where English is the primary language spoken in the school. In other schools, the primary language is the country’s native language.
The link below will take you to a network of international schools.
After you have a school to connect with, collaborate together on project ideas.
Some project ideas to collaborate on
- Action projects - Collaborating with your partner school to make a difference in the world
- Learning a language - Learning through a real experience using the target language
- Cultural Awareness - Exchanging different areas of culture with you partner school. Student debates.
- Social Awareness - Being aware of problems that the community of your partner school faces
The great thing about using MashPlant as a place to share and collaborate is that teachers can create a studio that students in both classes can access. This allows kids to create videos that teach others a new language, post blogs about their culture, etc. Introducing kids to the world will get them excited and inspired to learn with peers far beyond the four walls of the classroom!
Building Classroom Community Through Technology
Building Classroom Community is Essential
A strong community is an essential part of the classroom. There are many things teachers do from day one of the school year to build classroom community. Teachers go out of their way to get to know their students and think of community building activities. Students and their teacher work together to set expectations and goals for the year. The students need to feel that they all part of the community and have a voice in the events that occur in the classroom. How can we go beyond what has already been done?
How Can We Build Classroom Community Through Technology?
The use and availability of technology makes it easy for teachers to use technology as an avenue to build classroom community.
MashPlant Studio can improve overall classroom community which in turn will increase student motivation. How can MashPlant do this?
1) Students feel connected to their classmates and the teacher in each studio
2) Students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas in the virtual space
3) It increases student confidence when posting work they are proud of
4) Student work can be collaborative (collaborative learning encourages positive and fulfilling relationships with others)
5) Comments can be controlled by the teacher to prevent bullying online
6) Students receive immediate feedback on their work
7) The use of posting work, sharing, and commenting increases student motivation