02 May 2014

Highly effective PLCs utilize data from formative assessments to determine best practices in their subject area. And creating a common formative assessment can be pretty easy. The really big challenge with regards to doing data protocol is grading the formative assessment in a timely manner and then sifting through the data. And while it may be easy enough to discuss overall scores or averages, it is incredibly time-consuming to get stats on every student’s response to every question. Google can be your best friend in saving you and your PLC time!


The data protocol process can be done collaboratively and quickly using Google Drive. Start by creating a Google Form and then share it with your PLC by adding collaborators. Using question types like multiple choice, choose from a list, or even the grid, results can be automatically graded and shared. Be sure to create questions for student names, teacher names, and automatically collect students email addresses so you can email them their results as well.


Once you have your questions complete, you’ll need to install a “script” called Flubaroo. Click here to see step-by-step instructions on how to install and use Flubaroo.


I have spoken with two PLCs that completed this process. Not only was it easy to do but it also gave a question by question statistical breakdown of each question. PLCs can quickly decide where they need to adjust their instruction based on questions they do poorly on. With any luck, this process will also help determine best practices that teachers are using to get favorable results.


Hard to get your PLC in the same room at the same time? Google Drive Spreadsheets allow you to comment and discuss data asynchronously as well! Leave comments for your colleagues asking them how they help their students learn a standard or concept.


07 Apr 2014


Pardon me if I nerd out for a bit. I love technology. I love video games. I am basically a child.


To give you a little context, when I was in 6th grade, Pokemon was unleashed on the world. The game was based on the premise of a 11 year old boy setting out on a journey of the world with the goal of capturing and training 151 monsters. Along the way you collect badges from gym leaders to show your fighting prowess. It might be hard to relate to this story as an adult, but as an 11 year old boy, it was a game made for me. Needless to say, I put dozens, possibly hundreds, of hours into playing this game. The Pokemon franchise has so many addicting elements, over 200 million of their games have been sold worldwide since 1996.


Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, I wanted to share with you how I spent a few hours on April Fool’s Day. It very well may be proof that I am a fool but it was still a lot of fun! I saw the video below posted on Facebook and decided to pull my iPhone out and see if Google was pulling another April Fool’s Day prank or if I was doomed to spend hours on my iPhone during Spring Break. Give it a watch!



Google Maps: Pokemon Challenge was essentially a mini-game built into Google Maps. You go to locations around the world including Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, and even the Galapagos Islands to find Pokemon to catch. I found one at the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and deep in the Amazon Rainforest. I explored many different parts of the world, looking at street views along the way. The ultimate goal is to catch 150 Pokemon before the April 2nd deadline (which was extended due to its popularity). If you complete the challenge, Google (jokingly) suggests they will invite you to their Headquarters to participate in the final round of interviews to hire their official Pokemon Master.


It is no wonder then that when Google announced the Pokemon Challenge to recruit applicants to become a Pokemon Master, many people did exactly what I did; they pulled out their phones to see if it was real. It’s hard to say how many people participated in Google Maps: Pokemon Challenge. But I am confident that thousands of people around the world decided to spend hours on their phones searching for Pokemon. One Google Spreadsheet I found had over 2500 respondents that captured all 151 Pokemon (including the secret one you can only collect after you have the first 150). So many fools on this April Fool’s Day!


I was one of those fools. I quickly realized that searching the world to find all of these Pokemon would be nearly impossible to accomplish in the time allotted. I Googled “google maps pokemon locations” and immediately was barraged with results that detailed all the latitude and longitude coordinates for each Pokemon. There were Google Spreadsheets with their locations, newly-created websites, wikis that anyone can edit and add to, and even a couple Google Maps that allowed you to place a marker where you found each Pokemon. Strangers were collaborating to complete a “challenge” that essentially had no reward or purpose.


Now let’s make the connection to teaching, shall we? Our students can learn in the way that I described my Pokemon hunt. Giving students the opportunity to collaborate will allow them to accomplish tasks that they cannot alone. Technology really can make this process faster and more efficient. Google Docs and Maps are really powerful tools for data sharing and analysis.


Want to create your own Pokemon Challenge? Consider the game mechanics that Google used. They created a story to hook their audience, an introductory video, and gave them an empirical goal of capturing 150 Pokemon. These game mechanics are what motivates our students to put hours into seemingly meaningless tasks. Using, I created map quizzes for students to complete. If they created an account with Purpose Games, your best score is placed on the leaderboard. My students spent hours trying to get a better score and get on the leaderboard! And when it came to our geography quizzes in school, the students simply performed better and had fun doing it. Another cool tool that is very similar to Google’s Pokemon Challenge is GeoSettr, which allows you to create a five question geography scavenger hunt that requires students to read clues to find locations around the world.


Perhaps another way of engaging your students around the school would be to create a QR code scavenger hunt in your school. All they need is a smart phone, iPad, etc. and some clues and locations picked out around your school. Enter those clues into this website and paste them up around school. Or to make your scavenger hunt similar to the Pokemon Challenge video, you could have students use the Aurasma iOS/Android app. When they place their devices camera over something included in your scavenger hunt, digital content such as a video, 3D animation, or picture will be displayed on their screen. See it and believe it if you watch the video on Aurasma below!




Call me a fool! It took an April Fool’s Day joke for me to realize that a meaningful educational experience could be gleaned from this endeavor. And it’s clear that this experience is only taste of things to come.



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