Renegade Ideas

Incorporate VR Field Trips and Explorations into your Formative Assignments!!

posted Feb 12, 2016, 1:41 PM by Joe Marquez

Virtual Reality (VR) is all the rage right now, but did you know you can easily incorporate it into your everyday Formative Assignments? Let's take a government class for example, how do you teach “How a bill becomes a law?” Maybe a School House Rocks song or a Crash Course Government Video off YouTube, Which are both great by the way. But also why not TAKE them to see our nation's capital where it all happens! Well a real trip is out of the question, and budget, but a VR trip is easy to use in a Formative assignment.

You can do this all in three easy steps:

1) Go to the website:, and look up the destination you want to go to. Click on your destination.

2) Once in your destination VR image go to the upper right and click on the “link icon”, an embed window screen will open up, then select copy, this will copy your HTML embed code. Do not worry, you don't need to know how to code, just copy and paste. View the steps above in animated gif below:

3) Now all you have to do is begin editing your formative document. Use the “Add Content” green button Then Choose “Add Text”. The first item choice in this tool is the embed button which looks like this “<>”. Click it and the text block will create a black screen. Click on the screen then “Paste” the embed code in this spot. Click on the “<>” embed button one more time and whala, you now have a VR tour of your location!!! View the animated gif below:

Here is a completed example for you to use )

Ziteboard a new way to collaborate using sketch notetaking.

posted Feb 5, 2016, 10:33 AM by Joe Marquez

I love it when I come across a new tool that seem simple but has a chance to make a huge impact on education. Yesterday a friend of mine, Ed Campos, showed me a new chrome extension called Ziteboard. In simplicity it is a digital whiteboard which can be shared to a group through an email or a link. In the grander scale it has the chance to transform your classroom  by increasing collaboration on simple ideas and discussions like no other tool I have seen. By design, Ziteboard is an easy to use chrome extension (found HERE) which allows you to sign in directly with your pre-existing Google account. The extension itself gives you a clean white canvas, a simple pencil drawing tool, eraser tool, and undo button. The power of Ziteboard is not simply in its whiteboard function, but in its Prezi like format allowing users to zoom in and out of the canvas at will, giving you an unbounded space to collaborate and create on any subject and topic.


This unbounded canvas allows for you the educator or presenter to offer your students, staff, and participants a new way to take notes, REAL TIME COLLABORATIVE SKETCHNOTING! If you have not seen the power and creativity of sketchnoting please see the examples below and please read blogs by Kathy Schrock HERE and Matt Miller HERE. Sketchnoting allows your students to visualize their learning and create a digital mind map of their understanding of the topic or subject being taught.  Normally sketchnoting is a personal exercise, but with Ziteboard you open your ideas to others, allowing them to be built upon or extended by other participants. Ideas can be connected togethers and a bigger picture of the topic can take root.


Sketchnote by Doug Neil

I am only in the fantasy phases of using this tool, but I cannot wait to see if it can be used in a class of 8th graders and college students the same way. I envision this tool being used not only as a note taking tool, but also as a visual backchannel for my classes to share collaborate and create at any moment during class. I have big ideas planned for such a little tool!!

How Kahoot! helped me start an edtech explosion!

posted Feb 2, 2016, 5:23 PM by Joe Marquez

As an edtech leader on my campus I am always traveling and searching for the newest and best tools to use in my classroom. About a year and a half ago I came across a great little site called Kahoot!. The colors were bright, the site looked friendly, so I decided to investigate what this company was all about. What I discovered could only be described as EduFUN! The site and its game-like assessments were reminiscent of my favorite time sucking app, Trivia Crack. I have for years been playing "Trivia Crack" with my students to build relationships and have them learn at the same time. I had now found a way to bring the thrill of "Trivia Crack" into the classroom to replace my modern pen and paper assessments. I WAS HOOKED!

Being the tech guy on my campus, and an overly excited person, I went around my campus room to room praising the new web app Kahoot! as the next big thing in our classroom. I was awestruck when I discovered my fellow teachers were not as enthusiastic about my discovery as I was. I told them how fun it was to use and how easy the "Game/Quiz" was to make, but all I got was a shrug and a nod. As I later found out, I was known around campus as the "Too much of a Tech Guy" and the perception was whatever I said was easy, must still be complicated to the average teacher. Nothing I could say would goad any teacher into trying my new found discovery. 

I started to send out invitations to my fellow teachers, "Come one, come all, see the amazing Marquez and his Amazing students learning and having fun all at the same time!". No takers. Hmmm, what to do? I brought in my computer in to our PLC (Planed Learning Community) meetings to have them play one of my assessments, but there was no time for silly games when there is real data to be gone over. Hmmm, what to do? Finally, I went to a fellow teacher who never, I mean never used technology in his class. I sat him down a made him an offer he could not refuse "Please let me make you an assessment in Kahoot! for you to give in class. I will do all the work. I will collect and analyze all the data. I will even cover your duty for a whole week. Please, please, please, just try the Kahhot!" Reluctantly the teacher took me up on the deal. He tried the Kahoot! and all HELL-O technology broke out. The kids were hooked, and they could not stop talking about the quiz they just took and the fun they just had taking it.

Soon the word of Kahhot! spread across campus like a wild fire. Students were asking to be assessed almost everyday! Teachers across campus heard the "No Tech" teacher was using it, so it must be EASY to use. Soon every classroom was a Kahoot! classroom. Soon teachers were asking for more technology in the classroom. Soon teachers were willing to try all the tools I had been building up in my EdTech toolbox. Soon our classrooms became Google Classrooms, and our PowerPoints became Nearpod's, our videos became Zaption's, and our worksheets became Formative's. It was a tech revolution that is just now gearing us up to be a completely 1:1 campus. Kahoot! was the spark that ignited our educational firestorm. Thank you Kahoot! for being my match to start an explosion!!!

How Fomative makes worksheets\assignments WORK again!

posted Jan 31, 2016, 7:14 AM by Joe Marquez

How Fomative makes worksheets\assignments WORK again!

Formative Assessment tools are only useful if they are effective. How is effectiveness measured? Two folds:

  1. The tools must be familiar in feel and easy to use for the teacher.

  2. Yield instant results and feedback for the students.

The Problem with Worksheets

In the classroom, a worksheet is given to students to assess if they have grasped or understood a particular topic or concept learned in class. As a teacher, it is absolutely essential to assess a student after instruction to validate whether learning has in fact taken place. The problem with worksheets is the turnaround time from completion to comments to correction. With a traditional worksheet the turnaround time for a teacher with 120 students can be a week or even more. With so much time passing the effectiveness of the lesson and the correctness of the comments truly does not work for the student. Nor does it work for the teacher, who is is not given enough information as to which topics need to be readdressed for clarity.  Due to the limitations of worksheets to give meaningful feedback in a timely manner, they are no longer a meaningful form of student assessment in the classroom.  

So how can we make worksheets work again?

So how can we make worksheet work again? Worksheets will only work if teachers can, in real time, inspect student answers coming in. By inspecting these answers teachers can dramatically visualize if their instruction has truly translated into understanding. If the instructor notices a trend in the class answering the questions incorrectly, they can instantly direct the class towards what they are doing wrong and redirect them towards how to make their responses more meaningful. This redirect leads to the students making a correction to their answer to fully understand the material being taught. This process of “Inspection, Redirection, and Correction” truly brings meaning back to the worksheet, making the web based tool Formative an effective and invaluable tool for today's 21st century educational setting.

Formative turns “good” students into “GREAT” students.

As stated above, the only way a worksheet can be used in a meaningful way is if it allows the teacher and students to Inspect their answers, redirect their focus, and correct their mistakes instantly.The answer to the worksheet is Formative, which allows teachers to create interactive digital worksheets from scratch or utilize existing files already found on their computer or the internet. Through Formative’s innovative platform the teacher/student relationship has truly become a symbiotic relationship to acheive greatness from every lesson. This is realized in three very easy to see ways:

1) Teachers can see a student’s answers populate in real time so they can see if learning has actually taken place. If students are answering the questions incorrectly the teacher can redirect the class and reteach the topic, which Formative has shown was not truly understood.


2) The instant feedback teachers receive from students helps to demonstrate to the class the difference between an unacceptable, good, and great answer. This allows the teacher to push students to always be continuously working towards being GREAT.

3) Allowing students to view the difference between good and great answers allows students to redirect their attention towards what the teachers is truly asking from them and elevate their responses to a truly meaningful level. The redirection and correction can take place in a whole group discussion. The teacher can use real time answers from the class to show true examples of unacceptable, good and great work. The instructor can easily zoom in on any student's answer and instigate a meaningful class discussion on what needs to be changed in an answer to turn a good answer into a great answer. An real world example of this can be seen HERE.

The power of Formative allows for the instant inspection of student learning, instant redirection of teachers lessons, and elevates the correctness of student understanding. Formative helps us teachers understand that we no longer have to be complacent and accept just good work from our students. Now we the teachers have the power to expect great work and instantly model what that greatness should look like in real time instruction. Finally we have a formative assessment tool that works. Formative has truly made worksheets WORK again.

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