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Document Camera Review: IPEVO

I was contacted by a company called IPEVO to review their document camera and it couldn't have come at a better time since the one in my classroom was broken. When they asked me to review the document camera I told them that I would but only under the understanding that I would be very honest in my review. They agreed and shipped the camera to me.

I want to disclose that I am in no way making a commission from the sale of these document cameras, I'm not an affiliate and I will make no profit from them if you purchase one.

IPEVO Document Camera Review

I received the document camera within two days of them shipping it to me (the first plus!). I love fast shipping! I'm an instant gratification kind of girl (I might have an Amazon Prime addiction). 

The next day I took it to school and started removing the parts from the box and I was surprised at how few parts there were. I'm not the type of person to get anxious about putting things together (especially techie things as I'm usually pretty good at that) and even I was pleasantly surprised at how few parts there were to put together and how easy it was. 

All you need to do is screw the base into the arm part and you're good to go! When I first saw the camera on their website I was wondering how the camera manages to stay upright since the base is so small but then once you feel the base you understand. That little round part weighs about a pound and a half and the arm is very light weight. The whole document camera weighs 2.2 lbs.

I hooked up the camera right away to test it out and I couldn't believe how clear and crisp the image was. My old document camera produced a slightly blurry image that was difficult to focus. Look at how clear my hand turns out and the math problem page! It looks like I just took a picture of the paper on a desk but that is a photograph of the image being projected onto my white board! It does have an 8 megapixel camera with high definition resolution so I guess that explains the nice clear projection. Instant love for this document camera. 

The other thing that I really love about it is that it is super light weight and doesn't take up a lot of space. There are buttons on the side to adjust the focus and light but it auto adjusted beautifully.

The projected image showed up great both with my classroom lights on and off and the swivelling head moves all over the place.

The camera also comes with software that you can download (for Mac, Chrome and PC). One is called visualizer and you can read about it here.  This seems like the main software that you would use with it (though you don't need the software to use the camera). If you are just projecting images then you don't need to worry about the software. I like to have my students record themselves solving math problems and we usually do this on an ipad but then it requires a second person to hold it. Using the camera they would only need one person. You can also use the camera as a scanner with this software. There are many other features as well so I suggest reading about it on the IPEVO site.

The other software is called annotator and can be used with an interactive whiteboard but doesn't need to be. I don't have an interactive white board but I'm looking forward to playing around with this software.

The only thing I didn't like was that it uses a USB outlet but didn't come with the USB adapter to plug into your wall or power bar. Luckily I have a few of these hanging around in my classroom but if you didn't have an extra USB plug adapter you would need to go out and get one. 

After using this camera for about a week I am hands down recommending it to you! I am in love with how light weight it is, how clear the images are and how easy the software is to use.

Getting Started with a Classroom Economy and Class Money

Guest Blog Post from Mr. Create Dream Explore:

Are you looking for an engaging idea to build into math talks? Maybe you are looking for something you can use to assess learning skills, responsibility or character development.  As a new-ish teacher I have been looking for all the above and have found it in a place that I never realized I would find it:  money.  Here is the path I followed to realizing the myriad of ways I could use money as a teaching tool in my classroom.

This post contains affiliate links for which I will receive a small commision if you click through and make a purchase:

             I was approaching my first full year substitute job with a lot of nervous excitement and was trying desperately to organize my ideas related to managing my classroom.  Since I had a split grade class (grades 4 and 5), I figured that a good first step might be to give students jobs to do around the room.  After a nice and productive class meeting the first week, we had a list of jobs for everyone that we would rotate through each week. Jobs ranged from organizing our coats and boots to watering classroom plants and being the kid who gets to run things down to the office when necessary. I wanted to add an incentive for the students to actually do their jobs so I decided I would pay them for doing their jobs each week.
When I was in teachers college I had created a set of fake money using a website that allowed me to put my own face on pretty much any bill (see the samples below of both American and Canadian bills...there are other options on the site as well).  I used it during a presentation related to Alfie Kohn about how reward systems don’t  work (insert irony here).  I told myself that this wasn’t a random reward system and forged on.  The kids were interested right away and they thought the money with my face on it was hilarious.  I started out paying the kids $100 class dollars each week.  Five crisp twenty dollar bills handed to each student on Friday afternoon.  The caveat was that I needed something for them to spend their money on.

I decided that what I needed to do was provide them with some interesting things they could purchase.  A short poll of interests filled a “store” bin with skipping ropes, emoji themed items, bouncy balls, smelly markers, etc. I had to add a new job to the list as store manager, and on we went.

About six weeks into the year, I introduced the idea of having the students pay rent on their desks.  It did two things right away: first it gave me a reason to have them clean the accumulated junk out of their desks regularly.  Second, it provided a reason for them to save a little bit of money from week to week.  What happens when you don’t have enough money to pay rent? Well, I gave them the option to do extra classroom jobs not on the list or borrow the money from a friend.  Over the course of the year 5 different students found themselves short on the rent at least once.  One particular student had a very difficult time saving enough to pay rent, not having enough money 3 months straight, so I sat down with him and we made a plan.

Next discovery: some kids are born entrepreneurs. Shortly after I introduced the store where they could buy things, I noticed several students had stores of their own and were selling basically anything.  School supplies of all types were trading on the black market.  I monitored what was happening but made the choice to let them experiment with business and finances and figure it out on their own.  That's a personal choice you as a teacher would need to make since it could lead to other challenges.
            I really began to see a few of the things that teachers are always looking for and working on.  Responsibility was a clear need for several students who couldn’t seem to keep track of their money.  Controlling our impulses was another big teachable moment after seeing 3 students unable to pay rent two days after Hallowe’en but they were sporting pencil cases full of black market candy purchases. One student actually opened up an equipment rental business that charged a membership fee and allowed other students access to an array of fidget spinners, theraputty, smelly markers, and a soccer ball to use during breaks.

This story isn’t all rosy. There were some downsides to our classroom economy as well.  We had a few instances early on of people’s class wallets “disappearing”, only to have other students suddenly able to buy big ticket items from the classroom store.  A hastily called class meeting curtailed that activity with a stern warning.  Some students also seemed to find humor in other people’s lack of money, and as a class there was lots of discussion about empathy, positive language, social justice, and mindfulness related to the issue.  Several times people who had borrowed money from a friend denied having done so, leading to some interesting conversations about banking, charging interest, and the need to secure collateral.  Those conversations were born out of the students inquiring and their needs… giving immediate engagement and a desire to understand.  

I began to see many more ways to use classroom money to build engagement.

Social studies: Ancient Civilizations:  How did citizens in ancient China get the items they needed for their family?  How does that system compare to the types of money we use in our class?  How was wealth distributed in Medieval Europe?  How would that look in our class?

Language:  "Let’s come up with an agreement between loan giver and receiver that explains in detail the expectations for repayment.  Our language needs to be precise and clear so that there are no bad deals". We created a rental agreement for the desks that included how the desk needed to be taken care of. We also wrote resumes and held job interviews for specific jobs that students wanted within the classroom.

Science:  Students have the ability to purchase STEM activities for the whole class, as well as science-y items such as gliders.  Using the idea of cost/profit when looking at issues surrounding industrial impact and resource management.

Math:  There are so many ways to connect a classroom economy to math such as calculating sums during a math talk (e.g.,  I have 3 of this bill, 4 of that, etc.). We tied into learning about decimals. We made piles of different denominations, where each pile had to have the same total value, and we looked at what fraction was represented by one bill from each pile. Having a student be the banker and collect/distribute pay as well as rent was a great way to have them practice early multiplying, number recognition, skip counting, and overall number sense.  We created division problems with money themes and that had a real world application to our classroom economy.  The list for math activities goes on and on.

By the end of the year, I had printed about 100K of classroom money, had the students paying rent, utilities, and grocery costs.  Many businesses had come and gone.  The kids had a better understanding of some pretty important ideas such as value, consumable goods, supply/demand, banking, responsible ownership, and enough other things that the effort I put in was 100% worth it.  I finished the year knowing I would definitely use the classroom money again, and with so many more ideas on how I could blend it into my classroom teaching.  The site I used to create my money is free and is called www.festisite.com/money.  Give it a go, and I hope you enjoy creating a classroom economy as much as I did.

How to Use Google Forms in the Classroom

It's no secret that I am in love with Google Suite for Education. We use Google apps in my classroom everyday and multiple times a day. One of my favorite Google Suite tools is Google Forms. There are so many applications for its use. I've listed my favorite ways to use it below.

How to Use Google Forms in the Classroom:

1. For assessment tracking. Google Forms has an option to create a rubric style question (it's called multiple choice grid). I use google forms for every single one of my assessments. It's so easy to go through and just click the buttons and then add in a comment. I have mine set up using the docAppender add on which allows me to send the form response directly to a google doc for each student. Then you can just print the docs off to send home or share the doc with parents. In my case I have one doc called "assessment" for each student. It's shared with the student so they can check their rubrics as soon as I have them marked. Here's a sample of one of my assessment forms.

2. For behavior tracking: Similar to how I use Google Forms for Assessment tracking, I also use it for behavior tracking. I often have behavior consultants come into my classroom for various students and every single time they ask for the behavior to be tracked using an ABC tracking chart (antecedent, behavior, consequence). It's so easy for me have a form opened on my laptop, chromebook or bookmarked on my ipad. Then I just go through the drop down menus that I have set up for that particular student and I can add a comment if needed. The best part is that when you go to the responses section it shows the data in a graph so you can visually see how often a particular behavior is occurring.

3. Get to know you survey for back to school: At the beginning of the year I always have students fill out a get to know you survey at home with their parents. It asks about how they learn best, their strengths and areas they feel they need to improve on. I send the link via email to parents but you can also send the link on paper (use a URL shortener to make the link simple).

4. Reading Interest Surveys: I also do a reading interest survey at the beginning of the year but I get students to fill this out at school. I ask about how they see themselves as a reader, what genres they like, whether they read at home etc.

5. Self-Grading Math Warm-Ups, bell ringers or early finisher work: Using the quiz feature in Google Forms I created recursive math forms for my students. Sometimes I use them at the beginning of the day, sometimes it's early finisher work, or for my split grade class I have one grade working on the math forms while the other is working with me. I'm a busy teaching mom of three littles and these have saved me so much time because they mark themselves! I can quickly use the data in the responses section to see how students are doing. Check out the video below to see one in action. You can find these in my TPT store (click here) and there are full year bundles for 2nd grade to 5th grade.

This is the short and sweet video:

This is the more in depth look at the resource:

You can get a free sample of these self-grading math warm-ups by signing up here.

6. Google Forms for Quizzes: Google forms has a handy quiz feature that will allow the quiz to grade itself. It's also nice because all of the data is in one place and using the graphs on the response page you can quickly see where your students are struggling. You can create quizzes for any subject.

7. Google Forms Digital Breakouts: If you don't know what these are just think of "Escape Rooms". A digital breakout is an online version of an escape room or escape box. Here's a video to show you how they work using google forms:

8. Student created surveys for data management: If you teach math then you almost certainly have had your students create a survey at some point and then graph the data. Google forms are great because students can collect their data and it graphs it form them. Then they can spend more time interpreting the data. My students get really creative with their forms. They love adding picture questions or inserting short videos.

9. Taking Anecdotal Notes: This is along the same lines as assessment. I often have a form that just has the students names in a drop down menu and then the only question on the form says "comments" or I might have an expectation listed as the question and then I just write my anecdotal notes. I use this often for tracking learning skills.

10. For students to demonstrate their knowledge:  I often let students choose how they want to demonstrate their learning and creating a google quiz or survey is one of the options they can choose. For example, after a read aloud students can create their own quiz that they can share with a peer. The depth of their questions often shows their understanding of the book.

11. Google Forms for Parent Feedback: At the end of the year you can ask parents questions about how the year went in order to get their feedback.

12: Parent Volunteer Survey: Send parents a link to find out their availability for volunteering as well as what areas they are willing to volunteer for.

Want to talk more about google forms in the classroom? Join our facebook group for 3rd to 5th grade teachers and ask any questions you have or share your ideas!

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