It was bound to happen. Thankfully, we have Yodio!

I remember the days when the only way to record yourself through your phone would be to call a friend and have them hit "record" on a tape recorder on their end (or why not just use your own?). Then along came Gcast and gabcast. They were great! You could call a toll-free number, enter a PIN, and record to your heart's content! This was great for classrooms, as now there was no need to have any recording software or laptop. All that was needed was a phone (which pretty much comes standard with any classroom) or a student or teacher cell phone. Great!

Unfortunately, Gcast and gabcast are businesses, and they need to make money. Through gabcast, you can purchase minutes ($.10 a minute...reminds me of old Sprint commercials) for use for recording from your phone, and Gcast will be charging a $99 yearly subscription fee for recording phone calls (Edit: uploading audio you already have recorded is still free). It was bound to happen. I wish Gcast would have given more than a week's notice, as I was planning on using their service for a class project in two weeks. I can't really afford to spend the $99 out of pocket for a subscription at the moment, so I needed to find a new way to record from a phone. (Edit: Gcast is offering prorated subscriptions for educators through the remainder of the school year.)

Luckily, someone found another way, and it is known as Yodio. Currently, it is free to record from your phone on Yodio, so I think I will be trying this out with my Advanced Algebra classes later this month. I am going to see if there is a way to allow kids to record from their cell phones or my class phone and then funnel them into one page for listening, and I think there is a way. It seems that I can search for recordings by unregistered phone numbers while also including a PIN, but I guess we'll wait and see.

Aside from still being able to record for free from a phone (how long until Yodio switches to a pay plan, I wonder?), Yodio has another feature that could be very helpful in extending digital storytelling. Not only can I use audio in Yodio, but I can use digital pictures that I (or a student) uploads to help share my thoughts. Then, it can be embedded and emailed, as well.

In the end, it could be a blessing to the quadratics project I am having my students do to be able to use Yodio instead of Gcast, as I was planning. I was more familiar with Gcast, but part of being a lifelong learner and teacher is to be able to try new things, and this is yet another opportunity.


A Great Day

Today was the kind of day that all educators dream about. It started this morning with a trip around to various teachers to deliver some converted audio files for Envirothon and to register for a CFF Exploration day for our social studies teachers, where they will be given the chance to work on creating a 21st Century lesson plan with social studies teachers from throughout our IU. See this site to check out lessons from our science, math, and English day.

During my Advanced Algebra classes, I saw some of the enthusiasm from students I thought I had lost. And we've been working on a difficult topic: factoring quadratics. I knew that if I could get them past the initial frustrations that they would get some of their confidence back. But I wasn't expecting what I saw: students who wanted to do the math, with smiles on their faces, eager and willing to do more. So I finally was getting my students back. Even students who hadn't done homework all marking period completed and understood the homework, AND volunteered to do problems at the board!

I could hardly believe it. I passed out a worksheet that is going to be graded, and all but one student immediately began working on it (I need to find a way to win that student back). They were asking questions. They were helping each other out, pointing out mistakes and actually enjoying the math.

Over the next hour after my classes, I had math students from all throughout the school stopping in my room for help. This is during the time where I should be doing my CFF work, but I just can't turn away a student. What kind of educator would I be if I did that? I was helping two, three students at a time in three different subjects. I would give one a problem, get them started, then jump to another. It's like we finally have the Math Lab that we've always wanted, but it's starting to be at the expense of my sanity and ability to get work done.

Next thing I knew, it was time for my Math for Standards class, and I knew I was going to disappoint this class. I had scheduled for them to play review basketball, but as they had not completed all of the work I had assigned, I was taking it away. As they filed into the room, I was getting ready for the backlash.

"We are not playing review basketball today," I said. "Instead, you are going to work on the work you still owe me." Ok, here it comes. I was ready.

"YES!! I need to get these done!" "Sweet!" "Alright!"

Wait, what? This group didn't want review basketball? They wanted to work on their old worksheets? I think I stood there for a moment with my jaw hitting the ground. Then I picked it up and went to work with them. They each had a notecard with their current grade and what they still owed. They got their worksheets out. If they had lost them, they printed out new copies from my wiki. Again, students who I thought I had lost were all of a sudden apologizing for not doing their work earlier and doing what they could to catch up. One was a student I had gotten quite upset with in class over his lack of trying. Since then, he has been really nice to me, and seems to really want to make me happy now. I hope I can get him on track better. He is smarter than he knows.

After that, I had a few minutes to get some CFF work done, then it was an outside soccer practice! After a Nor'easter came through Monday and freezing temperatures the last two days, we were hoping today would have been nice enough to get outside. The forecast was for a high of 41, so we all prepared to bundle up. Then, we step outside, and it was be-yoo-tee-ful. It had to be at least in the 50's. I was ready to bundle up, but shorts and a long-sleeve tshirt were perfect. And this year's group of girls is enthusiastic, they want to learn, and they're willing to listen. And we have a large, young group, so even though this is a "rebuilding" year, I think we'll surprise some teams, and we have a good future.

By the time all the girls get picked up, I gather work from my room, and eat dinner at home, it is 7:30. Wow, where has the day gone? Well, obviously the day is over, right? Nope! I sign in to AIM, and students are there ready to ask questions about the worksheet and other lessons we had gone over. So, instead of sitting down and grading and lesson planning, I have been working with students online for the past 3 hours. And they're learning. They're getting things to click. It's great.

And I'm tired. I am so far behind on my work. I have to do laundry. But you know what? Today was so worth it. I hope tomorrow is just like it.