Hook ’em in: Using tech to build relationships ↩🎣️ 💙

Is there anything better than working with students? When you see the light go on? How full is your “bucket” after teacher appreciation week, last week? ☺ I certainly hope it is very full, and that your students sent you some love. We can take a look at education and talk about the variables that are beyond our control: kids are different today, families are different, standards are different, testing is different, technology is different, the administration is different, etc. However, what is not different is what is at the heart of education and that is relationships 👥 .  In relationships with students we as teachers make the choice and have complete control. We can choose to take on the difficult task of getting to know our students. I say difficult because often times we have to peel back the many layers of a youngster before getting to know him or her, and this takes time. Time is what we feel we don’t have, however, if you take the time it pays off during learning. It’s not always an easy world we live in, the demands of academia combined with social pressures and the internet fueling the fires 🔥, make it a difficult world for children to grow up in.  Many families are struggling and some of our kiddos are coming to school just holding it together. They need you, and not just as a teacher 💓. So, my focus this week is how technology can help build relationships with students.  What role can technology play in building warmth and trust with students? Well, read below to hear from a few of our very own on how they are doing just that! 

“Know ‘em so we can grow ‘em” 🌱

Google Classroom and Slides 

Tori Cameron, Grade 6 Teacher, says: During homeroom on google classroom I always have a question of the day. It can be about anything but usually has to do with timing during the school year. When I taught younger grades I used to have morning meeting and we always had a question of the day, so I wanted to keep up that kind of atmosphere in middle school. Throughout the year I have also given the students opportunities to create their own slides/videos on various topic to share with their class/friends.

Ginny McCarthy, Grade 6 Teacher, says: would turn the traditional sheets that ask them getting to know you questions to google slides where I could also use a program to show the students the results so they could tell who answered what. What is your favorite color etc… I also do big getting to know you poster. I was just thinking wouldn’t it be cool to scan them and create a digital presentation highlighting each child in the class! It could also run during Open House!

Laura McPhee, Grade 6 Teacher, says: I have them do an “all about me” Google Presentation at the beginning of the year.  They share them with the class so we can all get to know each other better.   I also do one myself.

These are GREAT Tori, Ginny, and Laura! I especially love how you combine the technology with a hands-on poster. Great blended learning!

💡 Idea: Start the year off with a Google Slides template you create about “getting to know you” and have students fill it in and personalize it. Sometimes having a template for them to fill in can be a bit easier for littles than a blank canvas
💡 Idea: The “Ask a question” feature is a great tool in Google Classroom that creates a blog-like atmosphere in a safe space. Consider using it, like Tori said, for a question of the day to get to know your class and they can get to know each other.  It also allows for practicing of typing skills!

Pear Deck 

Amy Ronayne, Gr. 8 ELA teacher, states: Although I don’t use technology explicitly to get to know students, it does allow me to understand them better. The biggest impact that technology has in my classroom is giving all students, especially the quiet students, a voice. Instead of me asking a question and hearing from the same 10 volunteers who always put their hands up, technology such as Pear Deck 🍐 and Google applications allow me to hear from all students. By using technology in brain breaks, I get to know students’ personalities much better (ex: use Pear Deck to draw your favorite food). 

I love this Amy! I agree Pear Deck is an awesome tool to hear from every student thus allowing us to know each learner a little better!

💡 Idea: Consider using a Pear Deck on the first day to get to know students, then you can share their answers with the class anonymously. This is a great activity that every student enjoys! I even have one made if you’d like to use it! Just reach out 🙂

Google Forms  

Bill Silva, HS Science Teacher, says: For my AP kids I do a google form to ask students questions about themselves and their interests.  I use this form to also collect book #, Email and other contact info.  This is always done in June of the previous year and allows me to communicate with them over the summer and assist them with their summer work. 

Awesome Bill! Google Forms is a GREAT tool to get to know our students, and also our families with the younger level.

💡 Idea: Consider sending out your “getting to know you survey” digitally via Google Form to parents if students are younger, or your students if they are old enough.  You can refer to it all year and it puts the data in a very nice, clean, spreadsheet!
💡Idea: Consider sending a “how do you feel about ______” Google Form at the beginning of the year. Ask students their strengths and weaknesses and have them reassess themselves throughout the year. Have it be anonymous and show them the data, and have them reflect on how they’ve grown. See my example here. 

Student Choice 

Joanne Cross, Gr. 3-6 Computer Teacher, states: When I do something like coding or computer animation with kids, it’s awesome to see some kids just excel at it. It may be a student who doesn’t necessarily have success academically but I can see some real coding/programming/animation talent in some kids. They just get it and make the connections necessary to work in these fields with computers. I talk about becoming animators or programmers later in life in my class all the time, especially with students who may not have found something that they shine at yet. I like that I am able to open new avenues for students to feel success and potentially build a career path as an adult.

Dan Parks, Gr. 7 Social Studies Teacher, says:  Kids have made videos for projects that show more of their personality than a written response can demonstrate. If I provide student choice in assignments/projects I see their strengths/likes based on the choices they make.

YES! I couldn’t agree more Joanne and Dan, and this is one of the key concepts in Universal Design for Learning! Simply giving students choice over their learning allows us to know them better and foster those relationships.

💡 Idea: Consider allowing students choose how to show mastery of a concept. Narrow down those choices with tools like Google Slides, iMovie, Animaker, Powtoon, Flipgrid, PAPER and PENCIL, hands-on projects, photos…etc!

SeeSaw/FlipGrid  

Maureen Holbrook, Spanish Teacher, states: When I use SeeSaw I usually ask students questions about themselves in connection with the material that we are learning.  Their responses are personal and unique.  I will always make a comment back to them based on what they say in the video/recording.  I respond to each recording – giving advice for improvement or simply commenting – letting them know I am reading/listening to what they have to say.  It is a personal response/interaction even though it’s through technology.  It is a way to connect with students using technology – their mode of communication 😊

Tori Cameron, Grade 6 Teacher, says:  Seesaw is great because the kids can comment and encourage each other. When I give the students opportunities to make videos, their personalities really flourish. 

Sarah Beberman, Grade 2 Teacher, states: Using an application such as FlipGrid not only takes some student barriers out of the equation but lets you hear the student “voice” that you hear in writing magnified. Their personalities shine and they think they’re mini-Youtubers.

💡 Idea: Consider trying out SeeSaw and/or FlipGrid. These are great tools to post prompts and see personalities shine! You can even share it with families. SeeSaw has a parent app as well to allow for a bit more privacy than FlipGrid, where a parent may see the entire Grid.

I’m here and ready to help you get some of these tech tools in place for next year! Let’s make a Google Form for the first week to send to parents and/or students. How about a “getting to know you” Google Slide activity or Pear Deck activity?! Let me know, I’m here and ready to “hook” you up!

Closing Thoughts 

As a parent, I care MOST about teachers loving my sons. My sons spend more time with their teachers during the week than me, so it’s important to me that they’re loved first. I can assist with academics at home (luckily), but I can’t replicate the relationship they form with their teachers, I can’t replicate that inspiration they provide or the curiosity they spark. There are so many great ways we can use technology to assist in getting to know our students! However, nothing compares to you sitting with them and taking the time to talk and truly get to know and love them. “The best teachers in the world connect on some personal level with their students.  They do not only know their students, but their students know them” (Couros, 2015).

💙

oFISHally Yours,

Erin Fisher 🐟 🐟 🐟

 

Fishy Feedback 📝 🐟

 

Hello hello!

I hope this post finds you well. It has been a tremendous week here in EB. It was a pleasure to pass out the Chromebooks to our first 25 teachers willing to pilot 1:1 teacher devices!  Already, we have teachers using Screencastify with students and this is due to having a Chromebook – Amazing! It was great to get to interact, even for a short time, with some faces I don’t usually see. I hope to work with you further. Remember, I am here for your benefit – so please reach out! There is no task too small!

Shout out to a whole SLEW of teachers this week – EB and OTHERS:

CHROMEBOOK PILOT TEACHERS way to step outside the comfort zone for some of you and take a Chromebook! I know you’re doing to do great things! PLEASE use me as a resource! I’m here for you!

Julie Sunderland and Kathy Pittsley are high school math teachers at Fairhaven High School.  Julie also happens to be a very dear friend of mine for over 20 years! Julie happened to text me on a Saturday night “Hey have you heard of Pear Deck?”  Have I heard of Pear Deck?!!! 🍐 OMG! Well – next thing you know, I basically force her to come to my house on MLK day for a 2 hour tutorial of how to use Screencastify, the Pear-Deck add-on in Slides, Quickshare Screenshot extension, and Equatio.  THESE TWO TEACHERS ARE AMAZING! Julie – right off the bat – told me “treat me like I’m dumb” which she is NOT. However, often I think that’s what we fear others will think when we don’t know about a certain concept – which can be anything, not just technology. Let me tell you, this is NOT the case with me. Never, ever, do I think anyone is dumb. In fact, I LOVE showing a new piece of technology you may have never seen before.  Needless to say, these two amazing math teachers left with some great stuff – and they emailed this week to let me know it! Math teachers – these four tools make for a great combination in HS math – give me a shout out if you want to see!

Matt Savage I loved walking into your room and hearing Disney Music and seeing Pear Deck Vocabulary running! Woohoo! Boy did your students look engaged! Way to integrate Steve McGuire’s Disney Day!

Speaking of Steve McGuire, I heard Central School Preschool had a pretty awesome dance party this week! The kids loved it!

So much fun podcasting with Tori Cameron! Did you know she has her OWN podcast?! I was honored she asked me to be on it, thanks Tori! Check our her Podcast site: Steam Up The Classroom.  A certain Ross Clayton has been featured on the podcast as well!

Sarah Beberman Thank you for allowing me to start digital portfolios with a group of your second graders! Imagine what their portfolios will look like when they graduate? So cool!

Let’s see what tips and tricks I have this week that may help you out:

Technology in Central School Preschool 👦🏻🖥️👧🏾 

I’m so very lucky that my own children have been able to attend the Central School Preschool.  If you are a staff member in this district, you may want to look into this FANTASTIC preschool program. All three of my sons have been through, and this year we were lucky enough to have the amazing Mrs. Gorham for the third (and final 😥) year. I am also lucky enough that Mrs. Gorham and I have built a great relationship, so much so, that I can say to her “How about I come in and try Flipgrid with your students!”  This week I had the most wonderful opportunity to run the iPad center during center time AND use Flipgrid with PreK E.  Flipgrid was very successful, we asked each student “What is a farm?” and the responses were precious.  PreK E then watched every response on their smartboard and had a great time seeing one another on screen. I would love to share this with you, but due to the blog being public, I will not post it here. If you are interested in seeing this cute example of Flipgrid please reach out! However, here’s a cute slideshow of PreK E using their iPads this week! If you are a teacher who would like me to come in and run a technology center for you, I would be more than happy to do so! I can even create you a CUTE slideshow after the fact to share with parents.

 

Feedback in Writing 📝 

Providing meaningful feedback for student writing is a hot topic everywhere you turn! As educators, we want to provide feedback that will both engage and assist our students with the writing process, but it can be so very time-consuming.  Below are some great posts regarding digital feedback that may make it easier, engaging and more productive for you and your students!

This is a great post from Catlin Tucker (yes that is how you spell her name) regarding shortcuts in Docs. 😺 Catlin is a HUGE proponent of not bringing home grading! She was the keynote speaker at MASSCUE a few years ago…and let me tell you…AMAZING! Her post is worth a look.

http://catlintucker.com/2017/07/shortcuts-in-google-docs/

Anyone who knows me, knows I just LOVE the extension Screencastify! This great post from blogger Jake Miller highlights how he uses Screencastify to provide feedback on writing for students in his class. Imagine giving a student audio feedback while you correct a paper, so effective! We have many teachers here already using this great tool, check out another awesome way to use it!

Click here for Jake’s post: http://jakemiller.net/screencastify-for-feedback/

See the video below about how to use Screencastify:

Special Characters in Docs 😀 

Speaking of feedback – how about using some smiley faces or even a taco in your feedback?! Have you ever needed a certain character in a Doc? Well, thank you Ginny McCarthy for asking me this question – it will help so many.  Take a look below to see how to get certain characters easily and efficiently!  Examples include checkmarks, happy face, dogs, frogs, – pretty much anything! ✅😀🐶🐸🌮

 

I hope to see you soon! Imagine what we can do! 

oFISHally yours,

Erin Fisher 🐟 🐟 🐟

Don’t get TIDE down 🐟 🌊

YAY for long weekends!  I could use a little extra sleep this weekend with the chilly weather coming in and three young boys adjusting to Daylight Savings Time, how bout you? As November is upon us, and we have disjointed weeks with Veteran’s day, Thanksgiving, and Central School Conferences, my calendar starts to slow down a bit. It seems we start to get tied down to all of the tasks that need to get done in this short month. However,  I would LOVE to see you, in your classroom, and show you how Peardeck runs (I’ll build you one), Flipgrid works (I’ll create the lesson), or any of the other great tech tools we have here in EB! Please check my calendar and book me to come in, even if it’s just to show off!

I have SO MUCH TO SHARE with you this week. Check it out below:

Nice work Science Teachers  🐸 🔬

Awesome job Megan Krugger and Kelly Hansen! These 8th-grade science teachers presented at the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers annual conference last week on Debate in Science Education. They focused on GMOs, Fracking, and the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s some pretty interesting stuff, with great lessons involved! I learned quite a bit just by reading through their presentation.  Take a look at the website they designed for the presentation, it’s very impressive! Click Here. 

Attitude of Gratitude HyperDoc  ❤  😊 ❤  😊

This is a great activity to modify and use with your students (click here), especially during this thankful time.  This HyperDoc asks people what they are grateful for.  Then, the answers are displayed in a word cloud or Padlet.   The creator of this HyperDoc linked Answer Gardens to each question. You could do the same, or link a Google Doc and share results with the class. The only issue I have with Answer Garden is you cannot tell who wrote what, leaving room for students to be inappropriate. If I were to modify this activity, I would link out to a Google Doc or Padlet where students can write their answers, allowing me to see who is writing what when I view the revision history.   If you’re interested in this activity, but would like assistance or the original modified into a format you can use, please book me today! I would be more than happy to put this into a format you can use!

Build a Turkey 🦃 🦃 🦃  🦃 🦃 🦃

If you want a fun activity where students use Google Slides to build a Turkey, click here! It’s very cute! This is inspired by Eric Curts “Build a Jack-o-Lantern” and created by @bethkingsley13

MORE FONTS for Google Docs 🔠    🔠

(taken from Eric Curt’s Blog post 800 Fantastic Fonts)

There are over 800 fonts you can use in Google Docs!  It’s very easy to add more fonts to your font choices. Check out this cool font below called Creepster:

You can preview all of the Google Fonts by going here: https://fonts.google.com/

Then, to add a font to your choices, in your own docs, simply choose your font menu and click add more fonts.

Enjoy this Ryan Gosselin SNL video about Fonts 🙂 HEHEHEHEHE!

Change your default font in Docs  😁  😁

WHAT?!! This is so simple, and I’ve been manually altering my font for years! Check out this great post from tech blogger Jake Miller.  You can see the whole post here, or view the GIF below to see how to change your default font in Google Docs. I’m a big fan of the Sniglet font myself 🙂

Pear Deck Add-on – EVEN MORE AMAZING (and easier) than the site!  🍐🍐

If you have been overwhelmed by Pear Deck in the past or found it cumbersome to create Decks then this post is for you! If you flat out LOVE Pear Deck, this post is also for you because it just got BETTER! Pear Deck has added an add-on for Google Slides. What this means is that now you can take ANY Slide presentation you already have, and add questions right to the slide. IT. IS. SO. GREAT. You can watch my video if you’d like, or you can read about it from Pear Deck by clicking here.  If you’d like to see what Pear Deck is all about, I will gladly create a Deck for you and come in and present it to the students so you can see how it works. Lisa Grinkis did that last week, and it worked very well! Please just book me for the time to create it, and then if needed, for the time to come in and use it with the children. Lisa felt comfortable presenting it herself since she is an avid user of Pear Deck!

Piktochart: Cool Infographic Site 🖼  🖼

Thank you, Megan Krugger for sending me this fun site to play with! If you’ve attended PD on infographics in the past, you may have seen Picktochart.  This site is free (although does have a “level up” paid option) and allows you to create some pretty cool infographics.  It has many templates, text boxes, images, “stickers,” graphics etc etc that you can use. It reminds me of sites like Shutterfly where you can REALLY get into making something. BEWARE, once you play with this, you are committed to HOURS of fun. I made an example below, which allowed for easy embedding (although large). This would be a great project for students to show their knowledge regarding a certain concept! Unlike Google Drawing (my app of choice), there are many templates that one can just insert information rather than start from scratch.

School Committee  🏫  🎒  🏫 🎒

Lastly, I had the wonderful opportunity to present and give an update regarding technology integration to the East Bridgewater School Committee on Thursday evening. You can check it out on EBCTV, if you’d like, and you can also access my presentation here.

 

I LOVE showing off the awesome things you do! Book me to come in today and see it!

Have a nice weekend everyone.

oFISHally yours,

Erin Fisher 🐟 🐟 🐟