Hey there? Have you missed me? It’s been a while….and there’s a reason for that. I’ve written this post in my head so many times. I’ve thought about this post for at least a year. Why….because this is my 100th post and I’ve avoided it. I knew it was coming, and the fact that it was coming during such a unique time made me avoid it even more. I have so many feelings and a tech post about 100 tech tools just didn’t seem relevant or appropriate. Well, I guess the tech tools may be relevant, but it still didn’t feel right.
The second week of shutdown due to Covid-19, I started running. I downloaded one of those couch to 5K apps that told me I’d run a 5K by May, and sure enough, the app was right. Boy, am I a SLOW runner…but I’m so grateful I started. I needed something just to get out of my head, to clear it, and to manage ALL of those feelings I was having about everything going on. It was on one of those runs, recently, that this post hit me.
This is my 100th post – and my message to you is this: This year will be different, BUT it will also be the same if not better than any other. Why you ask…because you ALWAYS give it 100. That’s why you’re here, reading this. You are the type of person who reads blogs, who looks for ways to improve, who is on the internet/social media, those crazy groups that make all sorts of Bitmoji stuff (c’mon, you know the one I’m talking about), Tik Tok, Insta following a million teachers, Book clubs, Podcasts, etc etc. You have ALWAYS given it 100% every year and this year will be no different. The year will look different and the teaching will look different, but your 100% attitude of doing what’s best for YOUR students will be the same. You’ve got this…give it 100% – I know I will and I know I am, even right now.
Make your mouse BIG, make your videos SHORT, and give it your 100% this year. At the end of the day, that’s all we can do…give it our very best effort. Thanks for sticking with me through 100 posts. On to the next 100…stay TUNAed for lots more fish puns.
And so we begin…another year! I cannot believe it! How many is it for you? For me, I am starting my 17th year in education. I feel blessed to have been in my career this long. I still love it! Every. Single. Day. These first few weeks, especially these first two, are BUSY!
It feels as though I’m running a race. I lay down at night and my mind takes a bit to slow down. My brain is busy, my body is busy, and my heart is full. I love the back-to-school rush; the smells, the smiles, the wonder…but I miss my children. I miss my pool. I miss my bed. I wonder about the year ahead: How will I manage school, home, kids, and work? How will I stay current? How will I help people? How will I make a difference? Do people like me? I am 38 years young, and this is how I feel. Imagine how our students feel!
One of the most valuable goals we can have, right at the beginning, is to get to know our students and families. Relationships are at the heart of what we do. With positive, trusting relationships we have laid a foundation for success. I really love this article here that highlights that concept! What tech tools can help with this? Well, let’s take a look!
Flipgrid is an INCREDIBLE tool to use anytime! It can be especially helpful to get to know our students and families. You could post a prompt before school begins, or in those first few weeks, for students to take video at home to share about themselves. Have them interview a parent, sibling, or guardian even! Ask a student to show off a pet! Imagine how fun it will be to share those videos?
Even better, Flipgrid had some AMAZING new updates with their camera! We will talk about that more in upcoming posts, but check out the blog post below from Matt Miller that highlights many new features!
And as we all know, Pear Deck is a personal favorite tool of mine! You can get to know students SO WELL with this amazing (free) tool! Here’s a great deck I plan to use in classrooms this year to assist teachers in getting to know their students. Feel free to use it yourself!
Google Forms 📋
Google Forms are a GREAT way to get to know students and families! What’s even better is Forms will give you an amazing spreadsheet of data to use ALL YEAR! I loved sending home a Form to families and asking about their children. They would tell me all sorts of great information I could refer back to all year. This is great to have set up during open house as well, on Chromebooks around the room. You can check out the video below for a detailed look at how to create a form.
Goose Chase 🦆
Have you played Goose Chase??? Oh my goodness, if you haven’t…you need to try it!! This is such a FUN tool that can really do so much. It is an app and needs a mobile device like a phone, iPad, or Chromebook that supports Google Play. Basically, students have to post items in a scavenger hunt format. You create the questions or the “hunt”, so you could essentially use it to get to know your classroom. In East Bridgewater, we do have a premium account. If you’d like to use it, please reach out!
There is so much out there you can use with students to get to know them. The most important task is that we DO take a moment and do just that, regardless of the tool we use. How will you connect with your students and families this year? Let me know!
Take it easy and take a moment for yourself too! <3
I am so PUMPED to share all of this GREAT stuff with you to start your best year yet!!! It’s almost here, and that first-day-of-school smell and feeling is so indescribable. If you’re in education, you know what I’m talking about! Endless possibilities are ahead! This year is a blank slate, so how are YOU going to make it AWESOME?! Below, I’ve provided a few ideas to get your tech started, whether it be with organization or some activities! Remember, I’m here FOR YOU, so reach out anytime!
It all begins with Google Classroom….
The best way to start with students, using technology, is to first set up your Google Classroom.This will allow you a place to push out the tech activities you wish to use. The slides below, from Susan Herder fellow Google Certified Trainer, are a great resource to see how to use Google Classroom. Even veterans of Google Classroom may want to check it out since Classroom had a MAJOR overhaul! The Google Classroom FAQ page answers some great questions such as: “Where is my About Page?” Click here for that resource.
Remember – it’s best practice, and suggested by Google, to set up a new classroom each new year. All new features will not be available in older Classrooms, including notification settings.
This post from Google for Education is also a great resource with videos showing how to set up and utilize the NEW Google Classroom: Click here.
Let’s set up those Chromebooks/Chrome Browser to optimize use!
These tips are helpful for both staff and students! Take a look below and try these for yourself, and with your students to streamline Chromebook use.
Set your Homepage and Opening tabs
Great for littles, but great for me! I love when I start up Chrome and my opening page is exactly where I left off, or a few tabs open that I’ve specifically set! Spend a minute or two setting this up, and it will save you time in the long run! You could use Google Classroom to assist with this for littles, simply put the links in you want them to copy and paste into their settings.
This is the first video I ever made in my current position, and you can tell, but the content still holds true! Be sure to be LOGGED IN to Chrome so your bookmarks stick! If you’re on a Chromebook, you are automatically logged in. If you need help with logging into Chrome, watch this video (by me) here.
Rearrange the Waffle
I love this one….getting my Apps in order just makes me happy.
First-week student activities: Getting to know YOU
Many of us use some of those first moments to get to know our students or to find out useful information from parents. Take a look below for a few great ideas of first week “getting to know you” activities:
Google Form Surveys
I LOVE Google Forms! As a teacher, I used it to survey students and parents. It’s easy to create and to push out to anyone! Super Score – it puts the answers in a handy-dandy spreadsheet that you can access at any time! I liked to use it to have kids rate themselves at the beginning of the year, mid-year, and end of the year. It was great to see how their own opinions of themselves as students change over time. Google Forms recently updated as well, giving it more options for colors, fonts, and themes! FUN! Click here to see the example.
Back to School Pear Deck (fun! and made for you)
Click here for a back-to-school Google Slide Deck that I modified from Pear Deck. You will need the Pear Deck Add-on installed in Slides to use this. From there, open the Add-on and click the GREEN “Present with Pear Deck” button. Feel free to modify this Slide Deck to suit your needs. Students will enjoy this activity, and you will enjoy getting to know each and every one of them! Pear Deck gives every student a voice, even those who may be shy to share on that first day. It allows students to share in an anonymous format, however, you as the teacher can see the student’s voice.
Have Students make YOU a Quizizz (or KaHoot)!
This is a GREAT idea that came from Alice Keeler! In her first week back, she had students create short Quizizz games that showcased their interests. Then she had her class play the games. It was an opportunity for students to get to know each other in a FUN and interactive way! Click here for an overview of Quizizz.
As educators, we all set goals for ourselves so why not do this with our students? It’s important to have goals, hopes and dreams! See below for some techy ideas to set your goals!
This post comes from Kasey Bell of Shake Up Learning! She suggests using Google Slides for Vision Boards! It’s pretty cool! Have the students visualize what they hope to achieve during the school year and make it into a presentation. Read more about this idea and others here! Also, see the example below:
Hopes and Dreams HyperDoc
This HyperDoc, click here, has some great activities connected to one’s Hopes and Dreams for the upcoming school year! If you’re a practicing teacher of Responsive Classroom, this could be a great pick for you!
Lastly, how bout a little fun?! Google does it again with the Emoji Scavenger Hunt! Could be a fun first-week activity! Click Here!
I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU!!! What are your first week of school ideas? I’d love to hear them!