Sunday 22 April 2018

How Making Pancakes Can Help Us Improve Assessment

This weekend I went to Beaver Scout camp and I was charged with making pancakes for over 40 kids and adults. As I cooked over the griddle, I realized how much this activity reflected good assessment practices.

If you’ve ever made pancakes, you know that you don’t ever make just one pan. There is always enough batter for a number of batches. The great thing about this is after every batch you take away some learning to improve the next batch.

Here’s how my experience went.

Pre cooking:

The night before I had to cook, I prepared the batter. I had two pitchers full of batter so that when the time came I could just pour the batter onto the grill. I also unwrapped brand new flipper.

The morning of breakfast I was ready to go.

Batch 1:
Like usual, the first batch didn’t have the perfect round shape and was really pale in colour and they were too flat. I realized that I hadn’t waited long enough and the grill needed to warm up a bit more before I did the next batch. I also asked my co-cooks about their preferred hue for a pancake. Some people like them darker, some people like them pale.

Batch 2:
In my second batch, I decided to crank up the heat a little bit on the grill to get things moving more quickly and avoid the pale pancakes of batch 1. They cooked faster, but almost too quickly. They were overdone for my liking. And the size was still too big.

Batch 3:
By batch three, I thought I was ready and I was almost there but not quite. I turned down the heat - that worked for colour. I liked the shape but I thought they were a bit spotty. They were also still a bit too big. I was fearful we might not have enough for everyone. (And you know kids, it doesn’t matter if they have a huge pancake and someone else has three small ones, the kid who has the three small ones clearly got more.)

Batch 4:

I did it! I cooked what I felt was the perfect pancake. My biggest switch: I stopped using the pitcher. The batter was flowing out too quickly making the pancakes too big. I switched to a spoon and scooped the batter out of the pitcher onto the griddle. I also found the perfect length to cook them. It was awesome and I received many compliments on how delicious they were.

So What?

So it’s all well and good that I made the perfect pancake but how does it relate to assessment? Most importantly, I was given multiple chances to improve my end product. I was not judged only on my first batch. I had other opportunities, multiple opportunities. While I cooked each batch, I observed and reflected - just like an effective learner does. I prepared for the task ahead of time by making the batter. I consulted other people I considered experts (my co-cooks) to help me be successful. I adjusted when I noticed tweaks (like temperature levels) that needed to be made. I changed tools when I noticed the tool I was using wasn’t ideal. My end product was being presented to an authentic audience – a hungry group of beavers.

So the next time you are assigning a task to to be assessed, consider my pancake analogy. Have you given multiple opportunities? Is there time for reflection, change? Is it for an authentic audience? If the assessment is not, perhaps it’s time to flip the assessment like I flipped the pancakes. We all have the opportunity to make things “batter” - sorry, I could not resist that pun.

Big thanks to Danaca Barnes and Amanda Kelly for cooking with me, inspiring me and helping me with this blog.

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Searching Multiple People in Google Photos

I listen to this great podcast called Check This Out hosted by Ryan O'Donnell and Brian Briggs.  Their most recent episode (#82) was full of great tech tips.  The one I loved the most was about searching for people in Google Photos.

You might remember, last September, I shared how to to back up iPhone photos to Google Photos.  I love that you can search photos based on many criteria, including:

Location taken (or detected): San Antonio

Object: Lego

Event: Hallowe'en
Or person: Jen Giffen

What I learned was that you can search multiple people!  Have a look at my GIF as I search my name, then add Kim Pollishuke, and finally Sandra Chow.  

We're  all there! It is such an easy way to find fun, group shots!  Think family Holiday card!

Sunday 15 April 2018

The Hashtag Trick

Twitter chats, conferences and EdCamps are some of the best PD around, in my opinion.  The learning is great and often you don't even need to be at the conference because there is almost always a hashtag (#) to follow so you can get the learning virtually on Twitter.


This is all great until you are the one tweeting and it comes time to remember the hashtags and/or remember to add them to your post.  I also find it can take up time to add them in and in the moment you might miss other stuff - especially if you are tweeting quotes from a keynote.

Fear not!  I have a hack - Keyboard shortcuts

Shortcuts allow you to type something short that will be automatically changed into longer text.  For example...last weekend I was at the #EdTechTeam #OntarioSummit.  I set up a keyboard shortcut to "etton" and it would replace with the proper hashtags (you just need to tap the spacebar after the shortcut).  

My friend David Carruthers loved it and decided to use the simple "ht" and said he was going to replace the long text each time he was using a hashtag consistently.

Caveat: make sure the shortcut is not something you might actually type of you run the risk that the replacement is made.  Eg. If I use "EN"as a shortcut for EverNote, I run the risk of turning my name, Jen Giffen, into JEverNote GiffEverNote.

How to do text replacement on iOS

  1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement
  2. Tap the plus sign (+) in the top right corner.
  3. In the Phrase field, enter the full text 
  4. Below that, enter the shortcut you want to use.  

Check out this video I made:

Sorry Android Android phone in the house to get the steps...I will add when I can - or let me know how in the comments.