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The structure of the Interstitial App, or, Observations & Conversations - Part 2

This builds on my earlier post (link here).

Observations & Conversations : Part 1 of many?

I kinda run on some basic principles when using IT -- it's gotta be free, increase teacher efficacy (modulo some smal learning curve), reduce time spent, it's got to digitize content and I have to be able to to work with the data to find meaning.
So every other year we get inspected by the Ministry of Education and her most recent feedback has been that we need a way to record evidence of observations and conversations in our classes -- and provide a structure for how they are included in the grades of our students.  Now we have read Growing Success (link to PDF), the guide to assessment & evaluation in our province and we thought we were doing really well with discussions, debates, Harkness, one-on-one conversations, videorecordings, student screencasts, Flipgrids, well, you name it.

But NO.  She wanted evidence of incidental noticings, conversations-in-passing -- those ephemeral interactions with students that build up our gut-instincts of what a student knows and doesn&#…

Visibly Random Grouping in Excel

So I was in the Lounge the other day and one of the teachers mentioned that she heard I used Excel for Visibly Random Grouping and asked me to explain it (previous blog post).  Well, I use Excel just to assign my students to one of five tables - at the tables, they can sit in whatever arrangement they prefer.

Well, she wasn't happy with that so asked if she could have a tool that she could design her seating arrangment (sometimes a U, sometimes groups, sometimes rows/columns) and have the students randomly assigned in that.

Well I did a few searches online and there were a few apps but many of them cost money (no way, buddy) so during a class coverage where the students had free work time (i.e. I didn't have to actual teach or ensure they were doing something) I whipped up an Excel macro (well, VBA, but you know what I mean) that would let her design the seating map and then drop the students in randomly.
You are welcome to download the Zip file and use/edit it as you like :

Choose your own... PD.

When we return from March Break, we tend to have a teacher-only day of PD and meetings.  The admin had broken the faculty into 3 groups for two sessions and hadn't planned anything for the third so I suggested I run a tech PD.
Since this would be my swan song as the tech guy I wanted to do something interesting but also to value the time of the teachers. I would have 30-40 teachers at a time, so I knew I couldn't do a workshop or a "presentation" of tech so I turned to an idea I've had before -- a Choose Your Own Adventure PD.  Why?  Well, I haven't had any time to give them PD this year so I had a lot of things to share, I wanted to make sure they found it profitable, and I wanted it to be something different than what they'd done before.  (I've talked about Choose Your Own Adventure earlier on this blog here.)

I had a long list of things that were new, new-er or just hadn't reached universality.  I was a little restricted because IT doesn't…