Saturday, July 26, 2014

Class Dojo: New Features for School-Wide Use

ClassDojo teachers can now collaborate to improve student skills and behaviors, and with  ClassDojo’s  newest  features,  students  build  important skills  across  all  of  their classes and grade levels. 

ClassDojo  —  the  popular  behavior  and  skills  development  app  used  by  millions  of teachers around the  world  —  today  released  a  new  set  of  features  aimed  at  teachers eager  to work together on the application. Teachers across 180 countries already use ClassDojo daily to give feedback to students for important behaviors and skills like curiosity, participation, and grit. Until now,  teachers  could  only encourage  students  in  their  own  classes.  With  this  new  set  of collaboration  features,  teachers  within a  school  can  safely  connect  with  each  other,  give feedback within each other’s classes or for specific students, and even review student reports from other classes.

Over  the  course  of  2014,  ClassDojo  has  launched  multiple  features  which  strengthen relationships between  teachers,  parents  and  students.  As  research  shows,  students  learn important behaviors and skills faster when there is strong alignment and encouragement from all their teachers, peers and parents. Just as ClassDojo Messaging strengthens the parent-­teacher  relationship, Shared Classes and Shared Students creates stronger teacher-­teacher networks within schools:

  • Shared Classes lets multiple educators teach the same class. This feature is especially useful for elementary school teachers, teaching assistants, and any situation where an entire class is taught by multiple teachers. 
  • Shared Students enables teachers in the same school to share students across different classes  and view  their  student  reports.  Individual  students  can  now  move  between different  teachers  and classes,  but  still  build on their progress  over time. This  makes ClassDojo  much more feasible for older grades, allowing teachers to better understand how  their students are performing in other classes very quickly. 

Indeed, the company says this has been middle school and high school teachers’ greatest request. These two features have been beta-­tested for some time ahead of today’s widespread release.

As  they  are  already  well ­received  by  early  testers,  the  company  expects  to  roll  out  many enhancements  in  the  coming  months,  ultimately  leading  to  easier  sharing  and  collaboration between teachers in the same school.

“The launch of Shared Classes and Shared Students is a huge moment for our teachers,” said Sam Chaudhary, CEO and co­founder of ClassDojo. “So far, millions of teachers have enjoyed using ClassDojo individually within their  classrooms, and though it’s been effective, we believe teachers working together can unleash greater power from the platform. With [this] launch, for the first time, teachers are able to easily use ClassDojo together across their whole school or grade  level.  Teachers  have  a  simple,  no­hassle,  school­wide  system  they  can  use  to  help students build  skills and behaviors, students get more consistency across the school day, and parents finally get a unified view of what’s happening at school.”

Shared  Classes  and  Shared  Students  are  available  now, and teachers  can access  them by
signing up for a free account at

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More GoPro: Surfing & Stalking Hummingbirds

I'm not stating anything new here when I say that the more I use my GoPro Hero 3 camera, the more I love it. From taking it to the beach to capturing images in my own backyard, I'm impressed with the quality and versatility.  So far, there are only two accessories that I have invested in for the GoPro: the floaty backdoor and the handlebar mount.

Being new to the GoPro, I did not want to spend money frivously on accessories and instead researched accessories that would be the most versatile.  The floaty backdoor was purchased out of necessity: I did not want to lose the camera when filming in open-water. Poking around, I found the cheapest price on Amazon. Wanting a way to secure the camera to a pole, I chose the handlebar mount because it gave me the most options for customizing: I could attach the camera to my bike handlebars, a long pool pole, or any other bar that measured 0.75" to 1.4". Adapters were also included for a secure fit.  Again, I found the best price on Amazon. If you have any recommendations for mounts for the GoPro please share! 


To capture the video of me learning to surf, my husband stood in the ocean at a close but reasonable distance, holding the camera with the floaty backdoor attached. I've quickly realized that in order to catch great shots, the camera must be close to the action (duh!). I'm thinking about purchasing the surfboard mount for the GoPro, but, one, we are using my brother's fiberglass board for now and two, I'm concerned about the adhesive on our foam surfboard that my girls use. I also need to do some more research on the surfboard mount before purchasing.  If you have used it, please let me know! 

Stalking Hummingbirds

To capture the hummingbird pictures, I used the handlebar mount and secured the camera to the pole holding the feeder.  I then used the wifi network on the camera and the GoPro app on my phone to sit inside and wait for the hummingbirds to appear, capturing shots as the birds flew in and out of the frame.  While the videos are remarkable, I'm really intrigued by the still shots that capture how fast the hummingbird's wings move. For the most part, the birds ignored the camera, but at one point, the female hummingbird investigated the camera. The next pet-projects on my list are putting in the camera in the fishpond and harnessing the camera on my dogs. Any tips or tricks are greatly appreciated! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

#ISTE2014 A Special Post for a Few **Spaeztle** Friends

While at #ISTE2014, I attended the TechSmith party at De Biergarten in Atlanta, GA. It was thoroughly enjoyable chatting with Twitter & FlipCon folks face to face over some GOOD German food. There was Foosball and even pictures with our heads atop German attired folks (Here are some pictures from Kristin D.) We chatted about FlipCon vs ISTE, general ed tech issues, the value of open-source internet, and at one point with Brian Bennett, a very important topic: how to make homemade Spaetzle (Brian Bennett & Aaron Sams make sure you read the post script).

ISTE, while a mind-blowing event in itself, can be overwhelming, and I found the small TechSmith gathering a hospitable, intimate affair.  It was so nice to enjoy the company of like-minded folks over food and drinks without having to shout over the gaggle of the throng and the cacophony of a DJ. It was so interesting to see how small pockets were sewn into the fabric of ISTE-- the Blogger's cafe and Welcome lounge being two such spaces where people collected in the conference center in addition to other small events like drinks with Class Dojo, dinner with Edmodo, and TechSmith's reception. And while I value the ways companies show their appreciation for their users, I greatly appreciate the smaller communal events more so than a big blow-out bash because in the end it isn't the product or technology that matters-- it is the COMMUNITY of PEOPLE that make an event worth attending or a product worth using.

P.S. Speaking of Spaetzle....

Back at home this week I had a hankering for Spaetzle, and as promised for Brian and Aaron, here is my homemade Spaetzle recipe and a video of the process (Sorry for the flipped camera half way through. I forgot which way I was holding my phone, but hey, you get the idea-- and rather apropos since that is how we all met!)

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (add more as suited to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk

  1. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in eggs and milk.
  3. Use a Spaetzle maker or colander (too difficult with slotted spoon) to drop the batter--about 1-2 large spoonfuls at a time-- into a pot of boiling water.
  4. The batter will rise to the top and after about 1 minute or so (but not longer than 2), scoop out the Spaetzle into a bowl with a bit of butter. 
  5. Cover the bowl with a cloth and continue to drop the batter into the pot. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until all batter is gone.
  6. Serve.  
I usually make my great-grandma's meatballs and sauce to have over the Spaetzle in the winter. It is a red sauce, but not the same marinara sauce that you would have with spaghetti. Very hearty & comforting on a cold day. Come for a visit and I'll make it for you in person!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Summer Toy: GoPro Hero 3

My husband surprised me for my birthday with a very COOL present: the GoPro Hero 3 Black edition camera.  I'm very excited to play with it this summer and later throughout the school year and swim season. Keep checking back for new posts on using the GoPro Camera as I learn more tips/tricks.

Since I did not get the GoPro remote, I downloaded the GoPro app for my Samsung Galaxy SIII phone which serves as a remote, connecting to the camera's wifi network. This is great for simple remote-controlling  of the camera: turning it on, starting.stopping record, and previewing what is being captured.  I haven't tested how far the phone and camera can be separated, and it can still have a signal when on the surface of a pool, but the phone app immediately lost the signal when the camera was placed further underwater.  Even though the phone lost the signal, the camera continued to record, as seen in the video below. You can also spot me on the pool deck playing with the app while my daughters and nieces play with the camera in the pool.

The next video showcases my youngest daughter underwater. I am very impressed with underwater filming capabilities and I can't wait to capture my winter swimmers' strokes from an underwater vantage point.

For both videos, I compiled the footage in Windows Movie Maker, trimming the clips as needed. With my daughter's guidance, we also picked out a song to use as the soundtrack for her featured film.

I haven't yet purchased a slew of attachments and accessories for the GoPro camera itself.  I will gladly accept recommendations for mounts and tricks/tips on filming. Please share what you know and check back as I share what I have learned.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

#ISTE2014 Use Twitter & Voxer when Travel Plans Go Awry

My #ISTE2014 trip with Liz and Kyle Calderwood and Michelle Wendt was supposed to begin in Atlantic City with a flight on Spirit Airlines to Atlanta, Georgia, but after a cancelled flight and an unexpected roadtrip, we eventually reached our destination, 12 hours after our expected arrival time.

There are two tech tools that were essential for transforming this ordeal into an adventure: Twitter and Voxer.  Using our smartphones, our group made a concerted effort to devise a new flight plan, all which would not have been accomplished had we not been able to use real-time communication.

Using Twitter, I shared our plight of a flight with my PLN, documenting the experiencing and encouraging Spirit Airlines to notice the issue. Even my #FlipCon14 buddy, Ken Bauer, who lives in Mexico made sure to make some noise. While many businesses use Twitter to blast out deals and connect with customers, it is evident that Twitter is a one-way street with Spirit Airlines. We received absolutely no replies from the Spirit Airlines Twitter account.

Plane Problems:

Humorous Shenanigans from the PLN:

Twitter also provided an avenue for adding humor to the situation. My buddies in elsewhere in the country provided me with comic relief with their sad-faced pictures. Knowing that I wasn't alone helped me stay objective and not react emotionally to the situation. When my frustration level would reach atomic level, my PLN made me laugh and stay focused on problem-solving the situation. Can you stay mad looking at these faces???  Thank you Jason & Steve!


Voxer is a walk-talkie app that allows for quick, realtime communication.  I know quite a few educators are using Voxer as a podcast tool for group chats with participants sharing philosophical ideas in a group conversation, but in this situation we were focused on practical applications. Our group relied on Voxer to keep all members in the know as we talked to Spirit ticket folks, located baggage, and made alternative travel arrangements.

Kyle was on the phone talking directly to Spirit Airlines.  Liz was in line at the Spirit ticket counter making arrangements with one of the employees-- Patty was amazing calm and professional the entire time despite facing an angry and impatient mob. Michelle and I were running from the gate to the ticket and baggage areas, all the while making sure our adopted travel partner, Amy B. was involved in our plans. Without Voxer, we would not have been able to coordinate and would have wasted valuable time and energy running back and forth through the airport. With Voxer, we stayed focused on solving the problem and making new travel arrangements with each person doing his/her part.

Serendipity is something that can be found in any situation, no matter how dire. Sitting near us at the gate as we learned about the delayed plane was Amy B., a first-time solo flyer and recent high school graduate who was visiting friends in NJ and now trying to make her way home. Not knowing what to do once the flight was cancelled, Amy followed me as we made our way from the gate to the Spirit ticket area. Our group quickly adopted her and made it our mission to get Amy home.

As a mother, I can only hope that if my daughters were in a similar situation, that they would find caring folks to help.  So often the news is filled with horror stories, but I know that there are good folks out there who do the right thing for strangers.  I wish the news would promote the positive instead of always sensationalizing the negative-- but that is a post for another day.  Amy stayed in contact texting with her mom in Georgia and her mom followed us via Twitter.  Modern communication systems and social media provided transparency to our travels, reassuring a nervous mother that her daughter was in good hands as we left Atlantic City to catch a flight out of Philly.

Roadtrip Tweets:

At the Airport AGAIN

Amy's Angels

After arriving at Atlanta, a very grateful and relieved mother met us and transported us each to our prospective hotels.  Amy's mom dubbed us "Amy's Angels" through out the trip. While her mom may say we were heaven sent, I'd like to think we were just doing what we, as teachers and good human beings, naturally do: take care of each other.