Happy February Everyone! I am so happy to be entering this lovely month and FINALLY be out of long, cold, January! Since I just LOVE tech so much, I figured I would fill the blog this week with some techy stuff I love.
The first thing I love – with Tech – is Google and all of their innovation! This week, on Tuesday, Google released a pretty hot extension: Password CheckUp. This amazing little extension, made by Google, will let you know if your password has been breached. Pretty innovative right? Read more about this amazing little nugget here, and install the extension from the Chrome Web Store here.
More than anything, I enjoy playing with all of the little things that you can do with Google Apps. Fonts, tables, colors, add-ons, etc. its just so much fun! Recently, I was playing around with transparency and auto shapes. Check it out below, it’s a BLAST.
Sharing is Caring
Are you looking for another option for student expression? This past week I was worked with Sarah Trainor and Kerri Trumbull, respectively. Sarah showed me a tool that I hadn’t seen before, Kidzoa! Kerri and I through our work discovered Flipsnack together. Check out both of these great tools below – you may find them to be a great option for student expression!
Flipsnack is a REALLY neat, free, site that allows you to make brochures, flyers, and books that are 3d, meaning you have virtually turning pages. This would be really cool for a brochure of some sort or flipbook. You get 3 free products before the pay structure kicks in, BUT, you can delete a project and make another.
Valentines and FUN
Eric Curts is my NUMBER ONE all-time favorite Tech Blogger. He always puts out the most awesome ideas AND he encourages you to use them, share them, manipulate them and tweet them. He’s so very collaborative and really believes in the “together we are better” mentality, which is huge for me. This week, in his own blog, he shared some Valentine’s day tech and also sent the link to ETCH-A-SKETCH! YES!!! Virtual Etch a Sketch – HOW FUN!
What do we do about apathy? There are so many obstacles when it comes to teaching, so many hills and valleys, but what do we do about the student or adult who just does not care?
Don’t try and fix something you love – but look at what doesn’t work. We all have to try and close the gaps between our achievers and those who are not reaching learning targets. If we want to believe every child can learn, we should not be proactively taking them out of the game and expecting them to do something else. We need to find ways for them to successfully access the curriculum. We need to give all of our students a voice.
Do you have students apathetic to learning? Engagement is key in decreasing student apathy. Offering students choice increases access to a goal and can also provide engagement. As educators, we cannot assume that our preferences as teachers are their preferences as learners. We may think a lecture is best, taking notes is best, showing a video is best, technology is best, but this may not be what works for every learner in front of us. Data doesn’t lie, and if we have gaps in our data between those achieving and those who are not, then what we’re choosing may not be what is working.
When students take ownership of their learning, they are more engaged and thus have greater success. As educators, we often decide the activity surrounding the lesson. We may even get excited about our plan, but some of our students may not. Again, our preference may not be theirs and our activity may not be accessible to all learners despite what we may think. Surveying and asking kids what they’re interested in can assist in learning what they prefer. Google Forms are an awesome tool for this and it gives us valuable data to say: “We’re doing this becauseI have data that shows…” If we want to steer the direction of the lesson, providing some choices for students and allowing them to choose a preference can also work. What are some choices we can provide? How about some options that give our students a VOICE! Let’s take a look below:
Google Forms are a great tool for assessment, but they are also a great survey tool as well. They can really assist us as educators in learning our students’ preferences as learners. This is a great post by Catlin Tucker on using Google Forms to get to know our students. If we can gather information on our students’ likes and dislikes it can help us be more effective as educators. Catlin even provides a FREE Google Form you can use to get to know your students.
OMG, have you tried Anchor? WOW this podcasting app, and web tool, incredible!!! It is also FREE! Thank you to Brandon Hall, tech integrator from Pembroke, for walking me through this awesome tool. Podcasting has exploded on the scene with both students and adults listening to Podcasts and creating podcasts! There’s a podcast for everyone really. You can find a series on sports, education, mystery etc Many of your favorite TV personalities even have a podcast. So, how does this apply to the classroom – let’s have kids MAKE a podcast and cast their voice! What an incredible way for a student to show learning, and the best part, you could listen to it on your drive home, or while correcting papers. Reach out if you would like to start Podcasting with your students! Check out this great Google Slidedeck here on how this can be used in the classroom and Brandon’s overview of Anchor below!
This is a great article on how to use Podcasts in education. Our own Tori Cameron has a popular podcast channel on all things STEAM that you can listen too as well, and she is the guru when it comes to podcasting!
Student video is also a great way to allow students to cast their voice! It is also another great way students can showcase their learning. Flipgrid, SeeSaw, and Screencastify are all wonderful tools that allow students to create video easily to showcase knowledge.
You could use Wakelet to put all student video in one place! Wakelet now integrates with both Flipgrid and Screencastify and would provide a great curation example of student video!
As a teacher, you can also create video and flip your classroom. Check out the video below from Bill Silva, East Bridgewater Biology Teacher, that he uses with students.
Recently, Microsoft unveiled their new translator app. This app is incredible and is available across all platforms. I was playing with it the other day, thanks to my pal Colleen Terrill, and it has many more features than my previous fav – Google Translate. This article here describes the features and functionality of the app. If you are traveling to a country where you cannot speak the language, or have EL students you wish to communicate with, give this app a go and provide voiceto your student!
Tech Tip of the Week: Google Voice
Did you know your Google Account can be associated with a phone number? You can then link that number to your actual number on your mobile phone. You can also use Google Voice as an app and on the web. This would be useful if you wanted to text students or parents, but didn’t want to give out your personal number and did not want to pay for an additional number or phone. Click here for an article from another Tech Blogger on his top reasons he uses Google Voice in the classroom!
How will you give your students a VOICE and let them be heard?
In my position, in East Bridgewater, I am alone. There is only one Technology Integration Facilitator, and I’m it. I would say I feel more alone than most being the only one, but I don’t think that’s true. Often, as teachers, we don’t get past our classroom walls or out of our own hallways during our teaching day. At one time the copy room is where we would chat, but with increased technology, the line at the copy machine has significantly decreased. Our time is valuable and I see teachers choosing to eat in their classrooms and use their valuable minutes to get things done, rather than chat and eat together. Teaching can be isolating, so how can we connect? We truly are better, together…and two minds are better than one, but where and when do we find the time?
I have to truly make an effort to not feel alone, but the effort is worth it. Twitter has been the answer for me, but different tools work for different people. You may be on Instagram following other teachers, Facebook, Snapchat, Reddit, or even the new (highly recommended) Wakelet. Maybe you make time with colleagues and schedule face-to-face time together. You’re lucky if your schedule allows that! If you’re feeling alone, or you just don’t know where to find new ideas, try one of these tools to connect with other educators. You don’t always have to spend a million dollars on Teachers Pay Teachers, there are many teachers out there willing to share FOR FREE. I especially recommend a social networking tool it if you’re in a solo position like me, or feel like you are. You’d be surprised how many others are out there who think exactly like you do. They will lift you up, inspire you, and encourage you. You will feel excited to try a new idea they may share with you. Let’s take a look at where we can find these people and what great ideas transpire 😉 🌍
Twitter Chats are AMAZING! There are many chats in education happening every week. ISTE has a list of some of the top Twitter Chats for educators that are national. You can see that list here. I find that I like more local Twitter Chats and I usually find those by following @MassCUE. You don’t have to be a member of a group to participate in the Twitter Chat. For instance, Massachusetts Administrators have a regular Twitter Chat and they welcome anyone who wants to participate. The questions usually center around leadership topics.
In addition to having a great discussion on a Twitter Chat, it is also a way to network with other educators and administrators around the state. Recently, we had a MassCUE Twitter chat that focused on NEW IDEAS. I was able to use Wakelet to record the chat. Take a look at the chat here and you can get an idea of how a Twitter Chat runs, you may also find some new ideas! Take a look at one of the Q & A’s below. Please reach out if you would like to find a Twitter Chat to try, I will gladly help you!
This is the third week in a row I’ve mentioned this tool, but each week I find another great use! This week, I’ve seen how I can use it to connect with other educators. They post content, or collections, that provide ideas that inspire me! They even invite me to participate in the collections as well. Together, we are better! Take a look at this great collection on Choice Boards by Rachael Mann (which provides links to make copies of each one, FREE) and also this great collection on top education bloggers! You do not need a Wakelet account to view these collections and there are MANY great ideas within the collections! You can even share a collection with students or colleagues and they don’t even need an account to collaborate on the Wake! It also records the username of the person posting the activity!! WOOHOO!!! Check it out below:
What’s for Dinner?
Sometimes, email is the way to connect. Recently, I emailed colleagues and asked for their great ideas. I’ve started putting together a curation document of all of the learning menus various teachers have sent me. Have a good one and want to include it? Send it my way. Check out this Doc of all-stars in our own district and the learning menus they’ve created!
Sharing is Caring
Together, we are better and as a result, I get many resources sent to me via email, Twitter, my Google Trainer’s group, my job-alike group, MassCUE etc. Below, I’ve included a few of the Fish Bits that piqued my interest this week:
A pal from my MassCue committee group and awesome tech director Jen Judkins sent me this cool resource by Tony Vincent on YouTube – it shows how to translate videos, get the transcriptions, blur faces – it’s NEAT!
Do you have something cool to share? Send it my way and I’ll happily put it out there!
Tip of the Week: PrePEAR to Share! 🍐
This week Pear Deck released a new feature, making it EASIER than ever to share decks or Pear Deck vocabulary lists for flashcard factory with colleagues, or anyone really! Take a look at the video below! 🍐
I hope you have a moment to connect with those you love this weekend and please always feel free to connect with me, reach out! You are not alone!
Wow! It is the first five day work week of the new year and boy am I energized!! So much good stuff happening everywhere! This week I’d like to feature a few awesome teachers, and also a few awesome tools, that all center around digital creation. When I see students creating, I see engagement! Students are working, sometimes together and sometimes alone, on a common objective. They may all be using the same tool, or have a choice of different tools, but they are problem-solving and synthesizing information to present a product that demonstrates mastery of a concept. When I’ve been in rooms where students are creating, I notice not a single student is off task. Every student, even if talking, is concentrated on creating the product. Now, this may be because the tool or the content is engaging. AS we know, the first step is engagment…that hook! Once we combine the tech tool, with engagement and content….BOOM! It’s where the magic happens and it’s amazing to see! Let’s take a look at these engaging tools, and teachers, below!
This is an AMAZING tool for student and/or teacher creation! It was suggested to me by my good friend Colleen Terrill, Instructional Technology director of Mashpee after her students had such success with it! Take a look at the video below to see how to use Brush Ninja, an animated GIF creator. It is so much FUN to play with. This is also a great article by Richard Byrne on ideas of how you can use this tool for presentations. Amy Schleinkofer, 5th grade teacher, used it this week and had students post their GIFs to a Padlet. Check out some of the amazing examples of the water cycle by clicking here…Ally’s is pretty AMAZING!
Google JamBoard is both an actual board and also a Google App located in the waffle, just like Docs or Slides. It’s intended to be used on Google interactive boards (Jamboards), but can be used by any Google user. This really cool app works best on a tablet, or the app version in the Google Play store, but also has a web-based version. Think Smart Notebook Software (kind of) but in the Drive! On the app version, you can Drive content, images, links, and also write on the blank canvas. As you write, the jam appears to anyone you share it with in live time. Just think – you can walk around the classroom with a tablet and whatever your write appears on your mainboard and also student screens. Pretty cool right? The possibilities for this tool are endless! Take a look at the video below for a brief overview. Click here to try Google Jamboard!
As I learn more about this tool, I grow to love it even more. Wakelet, as I mentioned last week is a curation tool. You can add various types of content and keep it in one organized place, called a Wake. Recently, Wakelet paired up with both Flipgrid and Screencastify to offer integrations with both of these great tools! Take a look here at this article on Screencastify + Wakelet. Below, I included a brief video which mentions the Flipgrid integration. Simply post the family link in your Wake, and BOOM your videos appear! You can then add additional content with your Flipgrid videos, like Slidedecks, links, text, and video!
Shout outs to some awesome teachers this week!! Check out the Choice Boards below created by Amy Ronayne, Jamie Hulke, Stacy Linnehan and Beth Barra (in that order). These boards provide engagement for students as they choose how they want to approach a concept. The end product allows for creativity and a bit of student personality as well. These teachers are always willing to share, be sure to reach out to them and/or follow them on Twitter! They will gladly send you a copy of the board to modify for your own needs!
Just to give you an idea of the power of Choice Boards and/or Learning Menus, take a look at this tweet from Stacy Linnehan regarding her choice board she tried. Check out how many views it received. WHOA! This board was originally inspired by another teacher she saw on Twitter. Sharing is caring and together we are better!
Tip of the week: BIG Google Classroom Updates (again) 💡
So, if you haven’t already noticed Google Classroom had another huge update this week! It looks quite different and a few new features have been added like drag and drop in the classwork page and assigning form quizzes directly from Classroom. Take a look at the article from Google here.
Twitter Chat 🐦
Don’t forget, if you’re looking to discuss great things you’ve tried, or you’re looking for new ideas, join our Twitter Chat THIS TUESDAY! It is going to be an AMAZING chat that will leave you feeling excited! I will release the questions ahead, so look for them THIS weekend! Haven’t done a Twitter Chat before, but want too? Reach out and I will gladly walk you through it! They are super easy and SO MUCH FUN!
I hope you’re finding this time of year as ENGAGING as I am! If not, reach out and let me help you feel engaged!
Welcome back, everyone! Are you ready for it? Another great calendar year in Ed-Tech? I know I am! I can’t wait to see what this year holds. 2018 was full of so many great ideas that I know 2019 can only be better! Do you have the resolution to try something new? A “new year, new me” sort of thing? Don’t just insert innovation into your diet – try it with your instruction too! Even if it’s just something small, trying something new can reinvigorate our practice and our students. My blog has some neat ideas for new activities, such as my post on Choice Boards, Student Expression, or one of my favorite tools: Pear Deck!
As a tech-educator, I am also trying new things…here’s what I’ve tried this week! Take a look:
Curating Content: Wakelet (The new Padlet, only better)!
This is a pretty neat tool I must say! I had heard of Wakelet last year when Padlet instituted a fee structure, but I had yet to play with it. Then, I was on a Twitter Chat with my good friend Colleen Terrill before the holidays and she was able to save the WHOLE chat to Wakelet. She then shared the collection or “wake” with me! She put me in touch with James from Wakelet and he walked me through it. Well, to say I was blown away is an understatement. This tool has so much potential and you can do so many cool things with it! It reminds me of Padlet and Pinterest all wrapped into one! I’m just getting into it, but I am SO pumped about it! You could even use this awesome tool to create Choice Boards too!
This is a great post by Karly Moura about Wakelet where she includes others who are using it and her experience with it! I have a feeling you’re going to see this tool EXPLODE on the EdTech scene!
This is so much fun! It came to be from an AWESOME Ed-Tech blogger by the name of Jake Miller. If you haven’t checked out his blog, I HIGHLY recommend subscribing. He teaches everything using GIFs! It’s so cool! I’m a video girl myself, but GIFs are quick and FUN! Check out his blog to see what I mean. Meanwhile, here’s how you can use emoji for bullets. Take a look at my video below!
I caught this neat activity in another blog I subscribe too, Control Alt Achieve by the AWESOME Eric Curts! By subscribing, I get an email with little gems including his “intake” from other Ed-techies! This one is by Amanda Sandoval, a history teacher from California.
Tip of the Week: Multiple Google Accounts
Have you had family Google Photos show up in your school account? Wonder why a link is opening under your personal account when you’re logged in at school? Take a look at this great post from Shake Up Learning regarding how to manage your multiple Google Accounts. She actually suggests creating separate profiles. This is a GREAT tip!
New year, New Ideas… 🐦
For more new ideas, please join me in the first MassCue Twitter chat of the new year. We will be discussing new ideas and learning from each other! It will be GREAT!
I often think of my own children when I think about choice and expression.
What do I do when I want my kiddos to eat vegetables…do I just put them on the plate and say EAT THEM? Well, yes…sometimes I do – because sometimes there are MUST DOs. However, sometimes, I really want them to eat some good stuff – like before a soccer game. So how do I get them to eat more, and want to eat it?! I cut up as many vegetables and fruits as I can, I put it on a platter, and put it in the center of the table. The same vegetables that I will have the argument over if just PUT them on the plate – magically get eaten. How many Pinterest posts do you see of food being made to look all sorts of cute (engaging) so kids will eat it?! How many secret recipes do you make to “hide” the veggies? Have you done this? Prepare food in a different way, or different presentation so someone will eat it? Sometimes, I let my kids cook the food – and that same food that they turn their nose up at (shrimp) now becomes appealing because they had a stake in it. They know the love and work that went into making the food, and it makes it that much more appealing.
Whether it’s at home with my children, or here at school, sometimes simply the way we package things can make all of the difference. Are we giving choices? Are we giving different ways to interact with what we teach? Are we giving different ways for students to express their learning? How are we engaging our learners so they want to learn? Mickey Mouse pancakes with pureed zucchini hidden inside. 😉
In our own lives, we have choices of how we express ourselves as both individuals and also as teachers. We can choose to dress and present ourselves a certain way, we can also teach and present material in the way we choose. Think about the excitement and empowerment you feel when you’ve curated just the right lesson. YOU were able to choose that activity, lesson, idea etc So why not allow students the same choice? How can we allow students to choose how they show knowledge best? Let’s EMPOWER and EXCITE our learners by providing them with a choice! Just like my children with their vegetables, choice can produce some magical outcomes!
The Brain 🧠
Did you know that when we offer students multiples ways to express learning we’re actually activating a whole network of the brain?! Pretty incredible right?! By maximizing the different networks of the brain, we are increasing student learning and success!
So how can we give choice in expression?
There are so many options we can give to students in how they can express knowledge. They could take an assessment, write a paper, record a video, create a project etc. Whichever way they choose, the rubric to assess could still remain the same! Seeing what students choose is eye-opening, and gives us some insight into their learning styles!
Let’s take a look at some different options that you could use for students to EXPRESS knowledge:
Infographics can be BEAUTIFUL ways for students to express knowledge – think Digital Poster. They can include information, images, links, animations and plenty of other cool features! PiktoChart and Canva are two great (free) tools to use to make Infographics. The advantage to these tools, over say Google Draw (a personal fav), is that they have some canned content you can use. Lots of speech bubbles, shapes, frames, backgrounds etc. As always, let me know if you need help with these tools!
Digital Books are so much FUN! Think of a book on a computer with virtually turning pages! A digital book can contain text, audio, video, images, and much, much more! Unfortunately, you only get one free book per digital book site, BUT, there are many digital book sites out there. Here are two of my favorites:
If you’re looking for a cool Slide Presentation tool that goes a little beyond Google Slides (gasp!) check out Animaker or Powtoon. Both are free (although do have premium options) and allow students to make some pretty cool presentations! Check out a video example below of a current 6th grade project we’re working on!
Putting it all together
So, next time you need to assess a standard, how about a Choice Board for student expression? For instance, students can write an essay, make a Digital Book, create a presentation, or make a poster (digital or drawn). I find giving choice, but not too many, can provide some parameters for those that can get overwhelmed. Switch out your choices with different assignments – offer a test as an option or a make a video! Not every student learns the same way, so why give everyone the same assessment? Provide the same rubric for everyone with the key points, and see the magic happen. Let me know if you give this a whirl, I’d love to see it in action!
Tech Tip of the Week: Download Docs (or Sheets, Slides, Draw) into other Formats
Sometimes it’s the little things that we need…Take a look at this SHORT video clip here to see how you can take your Google Format and convert it into PDF, Microsoft, or other formats.
It’s been another amazing week here in East Bridgewater! I feel so lucky each and every day to do the work I do, and work with the people I work with, and connect with amazing educators outside of EB! This week, I’ve included my updated holiday tech document as well as a few pretty COOL Google updates! Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy!
Tip of the Week: YouTube Live!
Want a nice, QUICK, way to get video out to specific people? Try YouTube Live! You can set the video as unlisted, use your doc cam to record what’s happening in class, and grab a link when it’s done to email out!! You can invite students to watch you live as well and project to student screens easily!
If you wanted to show a really quick, cool, lesson to families then this tool is for you!
Check out my how-to video below!
First and foremost, click here for my running Doc of Holiday Technology Activities. I update this document when I find new items. Let me know if you have an activity to add! If you find that something no longer runs that is linked to this doc, please reach out and let me know.
An idea I have not linked, how about some stop-motion animation with slides with a winter scene?! That would be fun!! Check out my previous blog post on stop-motion animation…the possibilities are endless!
Google Classroom Expands to Personal Accounts
WOW! Google Classroom now appears in the Waffle of your personal Gmail account. Why is this great?! Well, think about if you ever want to run a training with those outside the district…you can’t do that via your school account because it’s domain only. If the app does not appear right away in your Waffle, scroll down and click “more apps.” I was so excited when I saw it appear on my personal account below! Read here for more information!
Forms can be locked down – Coming soon
Coming very soon will be the ability to lock down the Chrome Browser when students are on a Google Form. I have signed up (our district) for the Beta of Google Forms Lockdown mode. This mode will always be optional and will need to be an option selected. Being in the Beta will simply give us the option to do this. I’m waiting to hear back from Google when our Beta is launched! Read here for more information on this AMAZING option.
New Activity Dashboard – See who’s looking
This activity dashboard is pretty cool! It gives you some NICE data. Check it out below:
Thank you for making the choice to read my blog this week. I’d really like to tap into the topic of student choice. There are so many great ways, digitally, that we can offer students choices. In the recent article, What Giving Students Choice Looks Like in the Classroom, the author goes on to highlight the small things we can do as educators to give students choice within their day. As brain-based research shows, giving students choice and ownership over learning increases engagement, thus increasing student success. Believe it or not, student engagement leads to teacher happiness 😉 When students are engaged in learning you will feel so jazzed up that YOU created and/or facilitated that experience and the growth that students have. However, with the standards in place dictating what we have to teach, how can we give choice? Well, it can be done in such small tasks as allowing students to choose whom to work with or if to work alone. It can be the choice of where to work or sit, or it can be in greater tasks such as how they will learn the material and interact with the curriculum as well as how they will express their knowledge. Let’s take a look below at some options for student choice in the classroom!
Why What How
When I think of Choice Boards, my mind immediately goes to HyperDocs. They are alike but quite different as you can read in this great article! HyperDocs are similar to Choice Boards, however, Choice Boards may not include “hyperlinks.” In fact, Choice Boards can be COMPLETELY non-digital (gasp!!)! However, we can use digital tools to easily make choice boards. We can give students multiple ways to engage with content, work with content and express what they know with content! Google Docs, Slides, Draw and even Sheets lend themselves to creating Choice Boards which can then be easily pushed our via Classroom or simply displayed on the board. You could even print choice boards for students so they can check off choices they make. Take a look at the template below that I obtained from fellow Google Certified Trainer Tracy Mulligan. You can have your own copy to manipulate and customize as well, click here! As always reach out for help, anytime!
Choice after the Mini-Lesson
In Grade 1, DeAnna Munroe has been working on Choice Boards for her literacy lessons. Entire Slide-Decks dedicated to offering choice with the “what” or representation of the lesson are being created. While the teacher facilitates and moves around the room, students are choosing how they want to practice the skill. DeAnna is seeing incredible growth and output when students are choosing what to work on and can also use their own self-interests to connect to learning!
We were working on the sound of al yesterday (heard in walk, talk, etc.) and after one student completed her first choice she visited the creation station and wrote a story with a bunch of al words in it on a large poster. She attached little flaps to the story with hidden al words and the goal was for her to find the words hidden in the story. The other day we were also working on plot and first, next and last. In the creation station, a student wrote her own story about a Ninja Bunny and attached a plot organizer to a poster and filled in the events in the story. We were working on the sounds of sh and th and a student made his own color by word project. My students are feeling very empowered with their learning!
Choice within a Station-rotation Model
Check out Sarah Beberman’s Math Choice board when students are in the Chromebook station. While Ms. Beberman has a small group, another group is choosing what to explore on their Chromebooks related to math content. She creates this in a Google Doc and pushes it out via Google Classroom.
Choice Board for the Entirety of the Lesson
Sherri Craven recently made her own choice board and it was incredible. The students came into class very energetic. Sheri introduced her choice board and it was amazing how well it went. The students were consistently on task, students were helping each other, and not once did they need to redirected back to Math. Sheri has always been an amazing teacher but with this choice board it could reach new heights.
It was so awesome. All of the students were engaged! It was my first try but I was happy with what the kids were doing. I was able to check in with many more kids that I usually do!
Choice in Expression of Content (assessment)
This is an amazing Reading Response Choice Board created by Plymouth Tech Integration Specialist, Joli Boucher. You can view the Google Doc here and “File>make a copy” for your own needs! This board gives students choice in the way they will be assessed on the skill. Notice, they need to choose three!
I firmly believe in giving students choices and since I am such a strong believer I created my own choice board for my children. Digital Literacy is important to me, as both a parent and tech integration facilitator and I do not feel as though my boys are getting these skills at their own school. Therefore, Santa will be giving them Chromebooks and I will be bookmarking the choice board below (still a work in progress) to my sons’ bookmark bars.
Tip of the week (unrelated to the theme):
Instead of “do you have any questions?” state… “What questions do you have?”
In closing, I hope you feel as though you have many choices in your own learning. Explore text, video, blogs, Twitter, colleagues, friends – we have so many options even for our own learning.
Take care this week and stay tuned….Winter Holiday Tech is coming soon….. 🎄 🕎
If students are actively engaged, they are more likely to be actively learning and succeeding with content as opposed to passive learning. Every learner is different, therefore trying to engage in many different ways will most likely reach more learners. Perhaps the coolest lessons I see are when teachers are App Smashing! What is App Smashing? Well, it’s when you are on your favorite app and you combine it with another! There are so many cool apps you can combine, I do it every day! Anytime you see a video from me, I’m usually combining Screencastify with something. Screencastify is my favorite app to smash with since it is such a versatile tool! App Smashing can be very engaging when done correctly! Students this week really enjoyed smashing some apps!
Google Slides + Screencastify
A REALLY neat activity I worked on in 6th grade this week was a stop-motion animation project. Students took Google Slides and showed how food traveled through the digestive tract. They would take the slide and move the food ever so little and then duplicate the slide. Once the 50+ slide deck was complete, students put the deck into present mode, started up Screencastify and narrated over the process explaining every organ the food traveled through. The students were all highly engaged and quite enjoyed the stop motion! When the phases of the moon topic come in, teachers may try this again showing how the moon cycles around the sun and show the different lit phases. Take a look at my video below to see how you may pair Screencastify with Slides!
Google Slides + Pear Deck + Your Favorite Site
If you’re a reader of my blog, you know I love Pear Deck. Well, here’s one more reason to love it…embed websites! How many times do you have students have multiple tabs open? Why not just embed the site, or even a Doc or Draw item, directly into Slides. Simply get the link and choose the Embed Website option in Pear Deck. See the links below for more information on this awesome SMASH!
A pal of mine loves to use Snapchat with her older High School students smashed with Padlet! Students take “snaps” of independent books they’re reading. They highlight something in the book that strikes them. They post the “snap” on a Padlet wall that is for the class to see. Most students include some bitmojis with their snaps and circle particular text within the book page. This Padlet wall of booksnaps encourages other students to also read the book, thus engaging students and increasing independent reading!
FlipGrid + Screencastify
Check out this great post on the FlipGrid blog of Smashing Flipgrid with Screencastify! It’s pretty awesome!
“Oh my goodness, I’m so excited about all of this tech my heart is racing.”
These were the words a fellow educator spoke to me this week, and I knew she was bitten by the bug 🐛…or maybe I should say fish 🐟 😉! When I get texts late at night, phone calls early in the morning, a stop in the hallway, or a booking on my calendar – hearing the excitement in a colleague’s voice about some recent tech that was used to enhance a lesson….well, it makes my heart race with the same excitement!
Why are we excited?! 🙌🏻 🙌🏻 🙌🏻
It’s not because of the awesomely cool tech, but rather it’s about the effect it’s going to have on student learning, student outcomes, and the engagement it will (hopefully) lead too. Trying new things and presenting material in a new way is scary, but the investment is worth the return. We do not all learn the same…some of us love a powerpoint and a two-hour lecture, where some of us are bored to tears and simply stop listening. Some love tech and others do not. However, if we invest now in offering a variety of ways to both present and assess material, our returns will grow exponentially as we will continue to reach more students. I really love what Katie Novak said recently:
Think about this next time you are creating a lesson plan for your classroom: How can you incorporate more choice and flexibility into how you motivate students, present information to them, and let them express what they have learned, in alignment with standards? In the end, you may just find that your students are engaged, purposeful, and self-directed. – Katie Novak
So – let’s feature some of the those who get my heart racing and really EXCITE this Fish! Teachers who, like Katie Novak states, strive to motivate students and give them choice. They give me the greatest returns on my investment of time in researching, learning, and creating activities that will work for them with the engagement and success of their students.
QR Codes and Forms
This week, Stacy Linnehan knew her students needed to take a math assessment, but needed a different way to do it. She decided to use Google Forms, with answer feedback and set up QR Codes around the school. The students will travel around the building and scan the QR Codes. The code will bring them to a Google Form that they will complete. Upon completion, they will receive a video that is set in the answer feedback of the form. This video will direct them to the next QR code. The assessment in Google Forms isn’t a new idea, but the QR Code and video scavenger hunt to get them to the form is a pretty AWESOME way to present the material and will engage the students as they travel around to answer the questions.
HyperDocs and School Yourself
If you haven’t met Meg McGovern, you don’t know what you’re missing. This girl is a whole lot of energy and excitement. She is someone who makes me better at what I do, simply by asking me the questions of how can I make this more engaging in regards to a particular lesson. Meg is very engaging to talk to, so when we started looking at HyperDocs together – well, it was pretty awesome. After meeting a couple times, Meg was off and running and making HyperDocs of her own! You can see an amazing (work in progress) example below. Through Meg’s HyperDoc I learned about this cool site called School Yourself! Check it out, it’s a great math site!
To be in a first-grade room is just magical. Seeing those early learning skills, growth, and the wonder of a “firsty,” there’s just nothing like it! Jen Mahoney, first-grade teacher, is a pleasure to work with. She reached out to learn new tools so she can have different ways to have students show what they know. We recently collaborated to get Google Classroom, Flipgrid, and a plethora of other sites up and running in her classroom. While collaborating, she showed me this great site that I was unaware of Unite for Literacy. This is a great, free, site for early readers. Take a look below!
Kim Wolojian is a breath of fresh air. She’s always smiling and welcoming to everyone who enters her room. Recently, she invited me in to show me ClassKick. This site is similar to both GoFormative and Pear Deck, but much more user-friendly! See what students are doing in real time and display student answers on the board. This would be great for an exit ticket or quick check-in! Bonus- the kids REALLY like it, so it’s ANOTHER engaging option for students to display their knowledge! It even has an assignment bank, so no need to create!
Recently, there was a GREAT post from Shake Up Learning about formative tools. Personally, Pear Deck is my go-to tool for real-time, interactive, engaging, formative assessment. However, students need variety and choice to maintain engagement. Just think – do you like doing things the same way, every day, all the time? Maybe…but some of us may not. Variety for some students is what keeps them engaged. This post has so many great options for Formative Assessment. Recently, a math teacher pal of mine from Fairhaven reached out. She was asking about great online assessment options for Math that mimic MCAS. She chose this site and really likes it! Edulastic seems to be a great choice that was highlighted in Kasey Bell’s post as well! Use it for a quick question, collaborative item, or a formal assessment! It has some AWESOME features!
Tech Tip of the Week – HUGE!
This week’s tip is a new update within the accessibility settings on a Chromebook. Take a look at the video below. Chrome now has dictation available and students can dictate into any text field, on any website, by using this tool. This is great for students who need text-to-speech, but also for students that may not know how to spell a certain term when searching or working independently.
The Common Thread
The common thread among all of those I highlighted is that these educators share. Together we are better, and these teachers also believe that! Thank you for sharing with me, teaching me new and amazing things, and being cheerleaders for engagement and student success! Your energy is contagious! All of you make me better at what I do, every day, thank you for sharing with me 😊
Feel free to email, comment, or tweet and share your ideas with me! Sharing is caring and Together we are better!