apps

Students and Teachers as Makers: Apps to Present and Share Lessons and Learnings (Part 2)

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In Part I of this post, I introduce the web-based application Present.me as a potential tool for you and your students to create video presentations, tutorials, and lessons.

Two additional tools my students and I enjoy are ScreenChomp and Screen-cast-omatic.

ScreenChomp (available in iTunes) is-in essence- a white board that you can record.  Teachers utilize ScreenChomp to record their drawings, diagrams, or text on a whiteboard or customizable background with audio explanation and guidance.  You can pause the video, insert photos and PDFs, change the background, erase, and then publish as a link or save to your account to share with students.  Want to be really efficient with your time?  Connect your iPad to a project with AirPlay mirroring through an Apple TV or a VGA adapter so you can record the demonstration or lesson while you are teaching face-to-face.  Then, post the link of the ScreenChomp for students to review.



Check out the developer Tech Smith’s website for an overview of features.

Ideas for students:

  • Demonstrate a process with a “think-aloud” like solving a math problem or conjugating a certain type of verb in a language class.
  • Respond to a picture or prompt by annotating and talking about their responses.
  • Crate a video lesson for their classmates on a focused topic or skill like mitosis vs. meiosis or allusions in literature. 


Screen-cast-o-matic is a free web-based tool you can use to screen capture your desktop on a PC or Mac.  Click on the screen recorder button on the website and a dotted-line box appears that you can re-size to create a record window on your screen.  This is my go-to tool to create quick tutorials for technology topics ranging from citing sources in databases to creating a Google Doc.  The free version does limit the recording time, but in general tutorials are under five minutes, so I haven’t had a problem there.

Web Page Tour Created with Screen-cast-o-matic

There are numerous screen recording apps available.  A trip over to the Chrome Store in your browser and simple search for “screen recorder” yields many extensions and apps.  

What tools do you find invaluable for you and your students as you make and share new knowledge in your class?





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Students and Teachers as Makers: Apps to Present and Share Lessons and Learnings (Part I)

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Thinking about “flipping” your classroom? Looking for tools your students can use to demonstrate their learning? I’ve become a fan of three simple (and free) apps that you and your students can easily use to record and share tutorials, lessons, and demonstrations.

Present.me

For those of you who miss the face-to-face quality of in-class tutorials and instruction, this website might be just what you are looking for to create and share tutorials or presentations with your students while maintaining that human and personal aspect.  Present.me allows you to create presentations with slides and video, slides and audio, or just video.  Upload your existing presentations, PDFs, or pictures and then record a video where you explain or teach in a split screen.  Feeling a little camera shy?  It’s just as easy to record audio alongside the slides as video.

Check out the fractured fairy tale book talk for my example and Present.me’s own list of simple tutorials.

The free version allows you to upload content and record video, audio, or video-only.  You cannot download the video and save as a file with the free account, but you can embed the video in a web page or share through social media sites and the direct link.

A few things I learned while making my own Present.me:

  1. Write your content first if starting from scratch–If you have an existing lesson or PPT, then it should be relatively quick to create your own explanation or to record the lesson you are accustomed to.  If starting from scratch, I definitely recommend writing a script, first.  The better Present.Me videos do have more of an “off-the-cuff” feeling.  I wasn’t quite there with my first attempt, so I split my screen and had a script up that I read from while clicking through the slides.  
  2. Practice your timing before you record–I think I took something like 8 recordings before I got to the final version.  Many of the deleted versions were due to clumsy fingers.  When you record video or audio alongside slides, you have to click to advance the slides while you record…takes a couple of practice rounds to get used to, but then it’s a synch. 
  3. If you video, use a high(er) quality camera–I went with the built-in camera on my iMac, but will try using my webcam next time.  I wasn’t too happy with how pixelated the video came out, and there was a slight delay in motion with the audio.  But, that’s a nit-picky thing.

Ideas for students:

  • “Me-Presentation”–this platform lends itself well to a little bio about yourself or even an alternative to the paper resume.  
  • Explanatory/ Process–Students could create a presentation aimed at explaining a process or concept that utilizes examples or diagrams. 
  • Digital Storytelling–What if students narrated their own stories alongside a visual storytelling technique?  We’ve been using MovieMaker, iMovie, and Animoto for digital storytelling, but those tools eliminate a lot of the power of students’ own voices when telling the story.  Why not allow them to tell the story alongside the story for a dynamic narrative experience?
*Anytime students record themselves and publish to the web it’s important to be mindful of privacy laws and policies for your district.  In general, never post a video of a student to the web without written parent consent, and do not include any identifying information such as name and location.  A safe alternative could be to have students email you links to the video or publishing to a closed group like in Edmodo or a similar online classroom platform that is protected.  

Adventures in iPads: Initial Deployment Woes and the Sites that Saved My Sanity

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The Adventure Begins…

Well, we’ve gone and done it.  Fossil Ridge has taken the iPad plunge.  Last week I had the pleasure (along with my faithful helper, Mme. Morgan) of unwrapping, setting up, and synchronizing thirty iPads for the Ridge.  Now, this process was not nearly as neat and productive as you might first think.  Before we deploy our iPad fleet for classroom use, I wanted to provide some background and explanation for how multiple iPad devices are managed in schools and on our campus.

First of all, when Steve Jobs and Apple first conceptualized this laptop-mobile device, they did not anticipate it would have such a tremendous draw in education. In his 2010 keynote in which he introduces the new tablet device that would revolutionize the mobile device industry and technology in education, Jobs discusses the need in the market for a “third category device” one that blends the portable, compact quality of the iPhone with the speed, productivity, and functionality of a laptop. Jobs does not mention anything about a vision for the devices in institutions, including education.  His presentation continues as he highlights the iPad’s unique features that allow the user to create a highly personalized experience (email, iPhoto, background, etc.).



10 Biggest Questions about iPads in the Classroom



Schools immediately jumped on board the iPad boat, purchasing the hot commodity for teachers and students.  In fact, the very next day journalists and educators were speculating on the impact the iPad will have on education.  Flooding the app market for education specific tools that would engage students at higher levels of thinking, creating, collaborating, and sharing.  Apple, however, was not prepared for the education market, and so when schools ran into issues regarding deployment,  the mobile device company that focused on a personalized experience for its customers needed to do some back-pedaling to consider how to support a  multi-user educational platform.

[Enter site #1 that helped me wrap my brain about iPad deployment in schools]

http://www.scoop.it/t/ipadsineducation 
A collection of deployment guides and resources for schools including a presentation on the role of iPads in schools, Apple’s VPP program, and integrating technology into instruction.



The Scoop It site led me to this fantastic  collection of resources realted to iPads in K12 education curated by Kathy Schrock.  There are lots of lists of suggested apps generated by multiple schools.
Kathy’s site led me to the graphic on the left from an article posted on Edudemic.
Oh, the rabbit trails are endless!
But I digress…back to our deployment.


Initial roadblocks…

1)  iPads are designed to be unique and personalized for their users–the functionality of the iPad (synchronized email, contacts, calendars, apps, iTunes, etc.) does not transfer to school models where iPads are used by multiple students. 

2)  iPads are designed to be managed through a home computer, one at a time–Schools who purchased thirty or more iPads for classroom use struggled to painstakingly sync and manage each device, one at a time–a very lengthy and monotonous process (speaking from personal experience).  Today, we have a MDM (multiple-device-manager) and a nifty little application that allows a school’s device manager (me) to upload content and manage multiple devices at one time–Apple Configurator. 
Not only do we now have an application that cooperates with iTunes so that the devices can be managed all at once, but we have a nifty piece of hardware that stores, charges, and syncs them all, too!
3)  Purchased apps are intended for personal use, with the understanding that they may be shared on a handful of devices in a home or family–In the beginning, educators and schools got away with a lot.  Schools created an iTunes account, purchased a single license app for 2.99 and then loaded it onto thirty or more iPads.  Apple got smart to their ways, however, and implemented volume purchasing for institutions.
http://wafflebytes.blogspot.com/2011/11/ipads-in-classroom-volume-purchase.html
Now you may be asking, “why the heck do we need to understand all of this, Audrey?  Just give us the devices and let’s do it!” 
It’s important to understand the intention behind the iPads and the process we use to manage and distribute them so that you can better implement them in your classes, taking full advantage of their potential. 

So, here’s a little narrative of the process that involved the initial set up and deployment of our iPads, including the top sites and resources that saved our sanity and provided us with a healthy little collection of apps ready for classroom use!

They are here!

Confession–the iPads have actually been on our campus, sitting in boxes in my secret storage space for longer than a week or two.  But before you clench your fists and wave them at me understand that the process of unwrapping, setting up, and syncing the iPads is nothing like the process a personal user undergoes.  This was not a project I could spend five or ten minutes at a time between my other duties and roles.  I needed a solid day, with my office and the library closed, to immerse myself in the tools and processes I mentioned above.  (Yay, for STAAR retesting!) 
With the library closed and my faithful helper, we went about the task of unboxing, unwrapping, labeling, and plugging in all thirty iPads into the Bretford PowerSync Cart.  This took us a little over an hour.

Ummm…everything is plugged in, why aren’t the dang things charging?

PowerSync Cart
And here was obstacle #1 in the great 2012 iPad deployment.  We unplugged and replugged any chord and outlet we could find, flipped the switch on and off, unplugged the cart, and repeated about five times.  I called my fellow librarians who I thought had the same cart…they didn’t.  I got on the website for Bretford and found their support form…I was not about to sit and waste my time waiting for an automated response from an electronic form…a little more digging and we came across an actual phone number. 

The solution?  Easy-peasy.  Remove the bottom dividers, reach back, and jiggle the power cord to the cart, plug in the wall, flip the switch…and voila!  We had power.  This took about another hour of our time.

Two hours into our deployment day and we hadn’t even started the iTunes process.

It’s helpful when you have a working iTunes account.

Obstacle #2–no access to iTunes.  It seems that our campus iTunes account (which had never been used) had been tampered with, and we needed a new account.  Well, this involves setting up a new Outlook email account, which involves calling 1200, which involves waiting for 1200 to decide who the job should go to, which ends up being the “mail” team, otherwise known as the “male” team (no offense guys)–who is notorious for dragging their heals and taking their time.

How the heck do we get all of these tools to play nice?

While waiting to hear back about iTunes, we read and re-read, and read again the directions on using Apple Configurator and the Bretford PowerSync cart. [Enter website #1 that saved my sanity].

Our iTunes delay did allow us to think about the profile we wanted to create for the devices.  Apple Configurator not only allows you to upload and manage the content on the iPads, but it also allows you to enable and disable its features to create profiles.  For example, the student profile we pushed out to all 30 iPads allows for use of Safari, the built in camera, and it is automatically connected to the Student wifi.  Students cannot, however, change the wifi settings, delete or purchase apps, or access iCloud or photo stream.  Nice!

With a few minor interruptions involving COW carts, students sneaking into the library, and lunch we were still waiting on that Apple ID so we could register the devices and download content!

While we are waiting…what ARE we going to put on these things?

Thank goodness for Mme. Morgan’s type A personality.  The two of us split up and scoured blogs, Pinterest board, websites, and Twitter for lists of recommended apps for education. 

[Enter in several more sites that helped us further explore iTunes and the world of apps]

http://appsineducation.blogspot.com/p/maths-ipad-apps.html
apps organized by content area

http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/06/blooms-taxonomy-for-ipad.html
apps organized by Bloom’s taxonomy

http://pinterest.com/gcisdtech/ipads/
Pinterest board for iPads in the classroom maintained by GCISD

Apple’s own iPads in education page.
Ning for iPad educators.  Includes deployment plans, blogs, apps, tutorials, and more!
the MEGA collection of all things iPad for teachers, students, and schools.  Click on the tabs and subtabs across the top.  LiveBinder is a virtual three-ring binder.  Cool tool.
  
Another MEGA collection of 50 resources (links and apps) for iPads
Here’s the final result (also posted on the Fossil Ridge collaboration site): our beautiful spreadsheet.
But…still waiting on iTunes.

Finally, let’s load these babies!

With the assistance of Lisa Ham, Aron Rister, and Tomi Deevers, our new and improved iTunes account arrived at the end of our deployment day.  It took less than an hour to download all of the-preselected apps.  It took another hour (the next day) to do the initial set up and registration for all thirty devices and then sync and load the apps from iTunes.

Final touches…

Our final step in preparing the devices for initial use involves manually organizing the apps by functionality and content onto screens so that they are classroom ready.  This step must be done one-by-one…thank goodness for savvy student aides!

And the final product:






Home Screen

Read and Explore

 

Social Studies



Foreign Languages



Science



Math

Language Arts

Stay tuned for more adventures in iPads!

Tech Tuesday: My Big Campus

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Tech Tuesday:  My Big Campus, a safe online classroom platform

What if we could create an educational mash-up of Facebook, YouTube, Blogger, Google, chat rooms, Twitter, and more?  Why couldn’t we?  In fact, it’s been done.  What began as Light Speed’s answer to providing safe access to YouTube videos for educational purposes has turned into a full online classroom experience.  My Big Campus, with it’s familiar look and feel, allows teachers and students to connect virtually during and outside the school day.  Complete with full filtering, tracking, and 24/7 monitoring, MBC utilizes the same LightSpeed system as on campus.
Groups–Getting started is easy-peasy!  Teachers and students are already registered.  In fact, when you click on your groups, you will see each class period and subject already organized into groups.Students will see each of their classes as well.  Click on a group to enter the online classroom for that class period.
Inside groups students can see announcements, respond to discussions, attend a chat session for tutorials, view additional pages, submit assignments, and view a dynamic course calendar. 

“Right now, I am loving the calendar feature.  Each morning I put our physics plan for the day on the calendar and in the description portion I let the students that are absent know what they will need to do in order to make-up their missing work for the day.  I no longer have to answer the dreaded question “I was absent yesterday, did I miss anything?” ~ Camren Robinson

In addition to groups, teachers and students have access to Conversations, a messaging feature, Schoolwork–the feature that allows students and teachers to create and access many types of assignments.  Bundles allow teachers to create online units of study to align with curriculum. Teachers can upload YouTube videos, pdfs, word docs, and jpegs to “bundle” together to create an engaging extended classroom.
“Your Stuff” provides students and teachers with an online drop box to save and access their work.  Since it is web-based, students can retrieve and upload their work anywhere they have internet access.

Both students and teachers can maintain a blog through MBC.  Blogs allow for a personalized platform to reflect on learning in any content area. 

“This year, I’ve been pushing for my students to improve their writing skills when describing a scientific process or concept. This gives me, as a teacher, a much clearer idea of what they understand and what they are confused about. Writing about science also helps the students to think critically (with an appropriate prompt) about the concepts and helps with retention. Through the first couple of weeks I was met with strong resistance and lazy writing samples. This aspect has vastly improved as the students become more comfortable with using writing to portray their ideas. Not too long ago, I introduced my classes to My Big Campus. That day was a shining beacon of engagement as the students were instantly hooked. My students now write science blogs using My Big Campus to practice writing while using a rubric. I had students get so excited about blogging that they wanted to go home and start their own personal blog. The students seem to be disconnected from the notion that blogging IS writing! My Big Campus, in conjunction with my teacher webpage, has been an invaluable resource for my classroom.” ~Brendon Lowe

One of the most useful features in MBC is the Library.  Teachers can search for content that has been uploaded into bundles to pull into a bundle for their class.  They can also upload additional content and share with team members.

My Big Campus extends the learning experience beyond the four walls of the classroom.  Students engage in learning through a safe, social platform drawing upon their digital awareness and habits to support learning in all content areas.  Teachers can now be a resource beyond the traditional school areas through features such as chat, conversations, and discussions. 
Stay tuned for a video introduction to MBC following the after school workshop on October 23rd.  (Link will be posted below)

Tech Tuesday: Apps for Animation

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Tech Tuesday:  GoAnimate and Sock Puppets

A few weeks ago, Jennifer Morgan, French teacher extraordinarie, came to me with an idea.  “How,” she asked, “could I take advantage of one of these animation apps that I’ve found to engage my students in tasks that require them to use their conversation skills?”
Jennifer already had the free app, Sock Puppets in mind, as one tool, but she also wanted an option for students who did not have smart phones or tablets that they could bring to class.  We determined that the best way to bridge the technology gap would be to find a web-based animation application, similar to Sock Puppets that allows students to create characters, establish a setting, and record their voices for the dialogue.  GoAnimate.com provided several free templates to create animated scenes.
I’ve asked Madame Morgan to be my guest on the blog this week, and she graciously accepted. 
Here is our conversation as we reflected on her use of apps to support students in reaching their learning objectives:
What were your instructional goals for this project?
 My students needed to take a spoken test to show they could carry on a basic conversation in French.  By creating a video, they actually were able to show more of their knowledge, because they performed both sides of the conversation.  These videos were able to show me their ability with the language and the pronunciation of French.

Why did you choose GoAnimate and Sock Puppets?

Sock Puppets is the Apple app – both programs allowed students to record their voices onto pre-made characters to create short videos.  Both programs had different parameters, and I really liked both of them.  Sock Puppets will actually change the student’s voice (they can set it to go higher or lower) and that was really fun for them.  Also, Sock Puppets allows 30 seconds of recording time in the free version.  GoAnimate, on the other hand, didn’t have a time limit, but instead limits students to only 10 lines of dialogue.  In order to include all the required parts of conversation, my students definitely had to get a little creative!  GoAnimate does not alter voices, but it has a wide variety of settings for the videos, and you can change the emotions of the characters.
Can you tell us a little about how you prepared your students to use the apps?
               
 I had created a few samples on each program that I showed my students before they got started.  Then during class I also projected the program and showed them how to get started, up to how to record their voices.  After that, I pretty much let them work on their own – and most of them didn’t need any additional support.  Those that did I was easily able to help.

What obstacles, limitations, or surprises did you encounter?

I had booked the COWs [computers on wheels] for two days, “just in case” and boy did we need BOTH days!!  Neither of the programs we used allow you to save your work and edit/add to it later, so most of my kids spent the first day choosing their characters and settings, and testing out the program they were using.  Then on the second day they were able to come into class, get their device and start recording their final project right away.
Overall, how do you feel the use of these tools impacted student engagement and learning?  Will you use them again
 I think doing the conversations digitally was really fun for the students, and therefore they were definitely engaged in the process.  The videos also made the process much less stressful for my shy kids, as they tend to get intimidated by spoken tests where they have to approach me one-on-one.  Those type of tests still have their place, but this was a great alternative.  As a teacher, I personally really enjoyed many of the videos my students produced – they were really funny, so it was also more enjoyable for me to grade than having them come up to my desk one-on-one.  Although it took two class periods to complete, it would have taken that long for me to do spoken tests, and it was much easier to grade since I could re-play the videos at will.

What are the benefits to using applications and web 2.0 tools for animation?

  • engages students in the learning process as they synthesize content into a digital story
  • supports collaboration between students through the writing process:  brainstorming, story-boarding, drafting, revising, publishing
  • a task with an identified audience of their peers, other students, YouTube, etc. provides relevance along with rigor

We’d love to hear your thoughts regarding possible extensions and adaptations of this project in your content area!  Feel free to leave any questions or thoughts for Mme. Morgan as well.

Tech Tuesday: Socrative, Mobile Classroom Response

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Tech Tuesday (again…late, by 6 days!  oy vey…):  Socrative.com

My apologies for my tardiness.  Last week, I was able to demonstrate a fantastic mobile app and website that allows teachers to create response activities for students.  The fifty or so teachers who sat in on my demonstration were so very patient with my technology flubs and mishaps.  I promised to be more organized in my blog post, so here it goes!

Overview:

I’m the queen of sticky notes.  I love sticky notes for reminders,  annotations, brainstorming, and exit passes with my students.  Sticky notes were my go-to tool for a quick glimpse at what my students walked away with from our lesson that day.  Now, although still love, sticky notes are a little archaic (and costly).  Socrative (socrative.com) offers a way for teachers to engage students in checking for their understanding before, during, or after a lesson.  Students and teachers can access the various tools through the website or the free app. 
How does it work?
The teacher creates an account and is provided with a room number.  After creating an activity (multiple choice, true/false, short answer), students can then enter the classroom by typing in the number the teacher provides them.  That is all they need to do!  No creating an account, logging in, etc.  Easy-peasy.  Socrative asks for the student to enter their name before responding to the activity, allowing the teacher to see who submitted which responses.  Once the time for the activity is up, the teacher can view the results.
Applications
Socrative would be a quick and engaging way to assess student’s prior knowledge, enthusiasm, and attitudes towards concepts and topics that will be discussed in class that day.  During a lesson, students can also submit a response as a “check for understanding.”  At the end of the day, the teacher can post an activity as an exit pass that will help him or her plan for learning.
Limitations
Since Socrative allows for multiple students to use the same device, this is not one of those apps that requires one device per student.  
I invite you to try it out!  Let me know what you think.  Did this mobile tool help to enhance student engagement and learning?   

Prezi and QR: The Next Wave of Information Delivery

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Tech Tuesday #1

Welcome to the first edition of Tech Tuesday!  Each Tuesday I will post a blog that highlights technology tools for instructional use.  This week, I thought we’d take some time to explore two tools that I shared with the staff at Fossil Ridge High School as part of library orientation:  Prezi and QR Codes.

Both of these tools have the potential to engage an audience by disseminating information through Web 2.0 tools and smart apps.  Both are free (whoop!) and both are rather intuitive for the presenter and the audience.



Click on the logo to go to the site



Prezi

Prezi has taken the 20th century PowerPoint presentation into the 21st Century by creating a program that is web-based–enhancing accessibility for creators–and adding dynamic layers, motion, and animation to present a variety of media and information.  Imagine an animated mash-up of your best PowerPoints, videos, images, and text and voila!  Prezi. 

You might consider using a Prezi when introducing a new concept, unit, or theme (Think “view” in VESTED).  Even a three-four minute “viewing” could jump start students’ natural curiousity and help to build background.  Open House is coming up soon; play with transforming your PowerPoint into a Prezi to wow your parents.  Using the html code, you can even embed your Prezi on your class web page to provide an engaging introduction.

Students can use Prezi as a vehicle to synthesize information and create original presentations through a “mash-up” of media .  Since it is online and free, access is open to all students.  Students can collaborate to create the Prezi together on their own devices whether from home or at school. Prezi has also created an iPad app that allows the user to download and view shared and saved presentations.  The editing feature, however, is limited and not very conducive to enhancing the presentation through the iPad.

To get staretd, go to Prezi.com, create an account and watch a couple of their easy-to-follow video tutorials.  Start small and give yourself plenty of time to become comfortable with the tool before trying it out on an audience.


Check out some of these teacher Prezis for more ideas!

Class Introductions:


Jazz History

 

Quick Response “QR” Codes





QR codes are customizable barcodes that allow the presenter to provide quick links to online resources such as pages, videos, blogs, forms, etc.  To create a QR Code, go to one of the several QR Code Generator sites such as:
After pasting in a link, the generator will provide you with a downloadable .jpeg or .png file that can be inserted as an image into a document. QR codes can even be scanned off of a screen during a presentation (you might remember the funny looking barcode at the end of my library orientation presentation).
Your audience can then use their smart phones to scan the code and go directly to the information.  All they need is one of several free QR Reader apps:
Different apps are available for various cellular devices (Android, iPhone, etc.). 
What type of information works well with QR Codes?  Online forms, videos, blogs, teacher websites all work well on smart phone devices.  You might stear clear from using QR codes on smart phones for pages that include a lot of visual information or text as they can be difficult to read on a phone unless the site has a mobile version.  QR codes work great when integrated with instruction to respond to surveys and forms or to quickly link students to class pages and frequently used sites.  One school last year posted their individual class websites on each teacher door at open house.  Parents scanned the QR code and automatically received contact and class information to their devices.
Check out this article from t.h.e Journal showcasing one high school science teacher’s experiences with integrating mobile device technology and QR codes into his classroom.
We are continually bombarded with information delievered in innovative and engaging ways.  Rather than rowing against the tide, let’s harness a few tools to help our students be more critical consumers who can create new solutions and innovations as a result of the unlimited amount of information at their fingertips.
Have you used a Prezi or QR code in your class?  We’d love to hear about your successes and struggles in the comments below!