Posted in Cool Tools, G-Suite for Education, Google Keep

Google Keep – The Gift That Keeps on Giving the Whole Year: Part Two: Students

In a previous post, I extolled the virtues of using Google Keep to get yourself organized and Keep an eye towards the future. This post is going to focus on how your students can use Google Keep to become organized rock stars that can conquer the world! I am a big fan of Keep and would use Keep with my students to help them become more organized, manage homework or other tasks, research and curate content, collaborate, capture quick thoughts and work, and create images or grab photos of important (or not so important) materials. That is a lot of responsibility to put on one little app, but I know Keep can handle it!

Personal Organization – Checkboxes, Reminders, Color-Coding and the Search Feature:

When a student creates a new note, they have the option to show checkboxes. This is a perfect way for students to create a to-do list for that independent project they are working on. In addition to the checkboxes, Keep allows the user to create a reminder. For those students that have a hard time remembering to follow timelines or to attend to due dates that are rapidly approaching, these reminders will help keep them on track.

Google Keep note with checkboxes showing
Create Checkboxes to Organize Tasks and Mark Items as Completed
Google Keep showing the reminder menu
Teach students to set reminders so that they don’t forget about the task at hand

Keep notes can be color-coded and labeled for easy organization and retrieval. If you have students using Keep as a research tool or as a way to curate content for school activities or passion projects, labels and color-coding will be invaluable. Keep is completely searchable by color (and type, label, things and people)! Category labels can be created when a new note is made or from the Keep notepad.

Search by Type or LabelSearch by Person or Color

Research/Curation of Content – Color Coding, Labels, Save to Keep extension and Keep Notepad in Docs:

How have your students curated their research materials in the past? I am willing to take a gamble and say that there is a lot of copying and pasting going on. Students either copy and paste the text from the source or just go even more basic and copy and paste the URL into a Google Doc because they are totally going to refer to it later. Then when they go to actually write their paper or create their projects, organizing their research in any sort of meaningful way can be challenging. With Keep and the Save to Keep extension, students can find resources online, click on the extension to save the source and immediately add a label to the newly created note. Once the note has been created, students can then color-code it by topic, research paper, class, etc. By dragging and dropping or pinning them, students can organize their research into a meaningful pattern. When they are ready to begin writing or creating, they can open their Keep notes right in Google Docs or Slides and either use them as a guide or drop their notes directly into their Doc or Slide.

Note Taking and Text Annotation:

Students can use Keep to take class notes. Once they have written the note, it follows them everywhere their device does! Even better, they can use the picture tool in Keep to snap a photo of anything you have written on your board or passed out in class. They can add their own thoughts and understanding to your words. Once they have their notes created, they can share their notes in order to crowdsource class concepts for the most amazing study session ever!

Speaking of the photo-taking tool in Keep, one of the coolest features is the ability to take a photo of text and then use the “Grab Image Text” option to turn that photo into editable text. Imagine the text annotation goodness your students will now be capable of.

Capture Image Text
Grab Image Text

Once the text has been converted, students can annotate on the note or copy the text directly into a Google Doc. Or they can use the Notepad tool to bring the text in while they are creating and need to quote source material. This is a great option for teachers who want students annotating text since the teacher can create the Keep note and share it with their students to interact with.

Drawing and Voice Tool:

Drawing
This drawing of awesomeness was created with the Keep mobile app.

While this is only available through the mobile app, enough students have their own phones that I believe these tools are worth mentioning. The Draw tool allows the user to create a drawing as a note. Once the drawing has been created, that drawing can then be dropped right into a Google Doc or Slide. For those students that have an artistic eye or a need for an image they can’t find anywhere else, this draw feature comes in pretty handy. Unfortunately for me, my drawings skills are pretty weak.

As for the voice tool, students can record their thoughts, much like the television lawyers and therapist from yesteryear. Not only does Keep transcribe their words for them, it also keeps the audio file for playback. This is great for students to take notes on the fly (think of those field trips to the museum or zoo that we all love to take – student sees an amazing work of art or fancy animal; opens up Keep; snaps a photo and records an audio clip about their impressions).

The student uses for Google Keep are wide and varied and I would bet dollars to donuts that your students could come up with a million different uses for this highly accessible and totally free tool. What do you think your students will do with Keep? What do you want them to do with Keep? Add your ideas in the comments!

 

 

 

Posted in Cool Tools, G-Suite for Education, Google Keep

Google Keep – The Gift That Keeps on Giving the Whole Year – Part One: Teacher

If you haven’t discovered Google Keep yet I am about to give you the best gift ever! Keep has been hanging around for some time but it has had some recent updates that make it indispensable for you and your students.

At the most basic level, Google Keep is a note-taking app. Users create sticky notes of information that can be color-coded and tagged for easy grouping. Notes can be pinned to the top, created as a checklist, and include links, images, and even drawings. Keep also has a search function that allows the user to quickly locate notes in the notepad.

Here is a quick look at my Google Keep:

Snapshot of Keep - Pinned
Pinned Posts on Keep
Keep - Other
The Finest Google Keep In All The Land

App FinderTo access Google Keep, simply go to keep.google.com or use your app finder to pull it up. If this is the first time you are accessing Google Keep, you might need to click on the “More” option to find it. Remember, these icons can be dragged and dropped so that you can easily reorganize them to meet your needs. However, Google Keep doesn’t only live on the web since you can find the Google Keep app for both Android and Apple platforms in the App Store or the Google Play store. Keep synchronizes across all of your devices, so if you add a note on your phone, you will immediately see the note across platforms.

Virtual Sticky Notes of Awesomeness:

Google Keep allows you to create a wide variety of sticky notes for all of your needs:

  • Regular old notes with a headline and a body – but in color!
  • Checklists – I love “to-do” lists and Keep makes all of my organizational dreams come true!
  • Image-based – take a picture or use an already saved image and then write your ideas all over it!
  • Free-hand drawing – No image to match your awesomeness? Draw your own!
  • Audio – (Only found in the Android or Apple app) – Have a lot to say but your fingers are too tired to type? Speak your thoughts right into Keep. The best part? It transcribes your speech to text and saves the original audio file.
  • Location-based reminders – Walk into the door at school and get an automatic reminder to do whatever that thing was that you couldn’t remember to do last time.
  • Share the love – All Keep notes can be shared with collaborators. Every collaborator has the right to view and edit your note of awesomeness.

Applications of Awesomeness:

The question you are probably asking is, “why is this the best gift ever?” The answer to that is very simple; Google Keep has become fully integrated with G-Suite for Edu applications. That means, aside from creating the most spectacular sticky notes ever, you can begin using them for teaching and learning. Your Google Keep notepad will now show up as a tool in Docs, Drawings and Slides. Anything that you have created or saved in Keep is now an item that you can drag and drop into your current project. Look at the new level of productivity you are bringing to your work!

Open Keep
Find the Keep notepad under the “Tools’ menu
Adding from Keep
Adding content from Keep

This process includes any images that you might have saved to Keep, even if they are hand drawn. My artistic abilities are not the best, but I can now add the most poorly drawn heart into anything I want!

Adding Images
Adding Content to Slides

Practical Applications for Use:

  • Feedback/Comments – if you find you are giving the same feedback on a consistent basis, write it in Keep so that you can drag and drop it into student work.
  • Store/share links you use frequently but don’t necessarily want to bookmark.
  • Take a snapshot of any board work or diagrams you drew throughout your lesson so that you have them for later (not all of us have interactive whiteboards, you know).
  • Teacher collaboration – instead of dumping all of your content into a shared Doc, create shared Keep notes. These are really easy to organize and place into a Doc once you are ready to start working on the final product
  • Teacher created materials like diagrams, drawings or playlists can be created in Keep and then inserted into multiple Docs, Slides or Drawings.
  • Research and resource gathering – I used to use Diigo to capture and collect resources or curate content that I needed for teaching and while I still find it to be a valuable tool, Keep allows me to capture resources and then bring them right into a Google Doc or Slide (with the appropriate citations, of course).
  • Save to Keep extension – Found something on the web that you want to save for later? Use the Save to Keep extension to not only save the resource but annotate and tag it for later use.
Save to Keep
Save to Keep Extension

Google Keep is an excellent tool to add to your edtech arsenal and will help to streamline your life in many ways. This article focuses explicitly on teacher use of Keep, but the applications for student use are numerous. My next blog post will focus on how students can use Keep, so stay tuned!

 

Posted in Blended Learning, Cool Tools

Formative = EdTech Tool of Awesomeness

As educators, we know (hopefully we know, please say that we know) that we should be using formative assessments to drive the learning in our classes. Formative assessments are assessments for learning, providing the teacher with important information on how to adjust the learning experiences in the classroom in order to meet the learners where they are. When formative assessments are used on a regular basis the teacher discovers where they should provide instruction and/or alternative pathways to ensure that students are mastering the learning targets and objectives throughout the course of study. This is in direct contrast to waiting until the end of a unit and summatively assessing students only to realize that they were not truly learning or applying content. When formative assessments are given, you know right away if a student has not gained mastery of the skill and can then provide additional or alternative opportunities to learn. Using formative assessments to create a responsive teaching and learning environment is something that every teacher should strive to do. Some popular ways to formatively assess include exit slips, self-reflection opportunities, use of Google Forms, Kahoots, Quizizz or other game platforms. The problem with these formative types are that you still have to wait until the student turns in their work to see where they are in their understanding of the concept. (Click here for more on formative assessments).

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a way to see how students were performing on a learning task as they were working? Guess what?!?! When you use an amazing tool called Formative, you can!

Formative is an online program that bills itself as a classroom response builder designed to track and accelerate student growth. Using a host of Formative tools, teachers can create media-rich assignments or assessments that allow students to respond through traditional means like multiple choice, short/long answer and true/false, or by showing what they know using drawing and creation tools. What sets Formative apart from many of its counterparts is that the teacher can see what the students are doing in real time and can give immediate feedback digitally through Formative or in person as the student is working in the classroom. You no longer have to wait until the lesson or skill practice has ended to give your students valuable and meaningful feedback. As students interact with the content, you can immediately see where struggles and successes are happening and create new and responsive learning opportunities for them. Here is a brief video that gives a nice overview of Formative in action.

Formative is free for teachers and students to use. A free account with Formative is pretty robust and offers question and content creation tools that make any edtech fan giggle with delight. A Formative can include images, videos, text, diagrams, and even allows for a direct embed from other third-party tech tools like Flipgrid, Padlet and Edpuzzle. There is a feature that allows the creator to upload a PDF or Doc and have the students write right on it. (This is limited to 20 pages per month on the free account.) Sharing a Formative is a cinch with the Google Classroom integration, and the student response view is a thing of beauty!

The whole reason to use Formative is because of how you can interact with students as they are working, but the build tools are easy to use and extremely accessible to teachers. When creating a Formative, a teacher can choose to make an assignment, benchmark, classwork, do now/warm-up or exit slip. Question options for the free account include multiple choice, multiple selection, short answer, essay, true or false, and my favorite, show your work. When creating the Formative, the teacher has the ability to indicate correct answers and assign point values if the activity is being completed for a grade. Watch this short video to see the different question and response types.

Giving immediate feedback to students through the dashboard is an easy task. Once the assignment has gone live, you can see and interact with student work. If you see a student making an error or struggling with a task, you can immediately intervene and provide feedback digitally or pull the student and work with them one-on-one before they even have a chance to leave your classroom.

live-responses-grade

Any feedback that you give to the student shows up immediately on their screen! Instead of finding your carefully created feedback tossed carelessly in the garbage (or left on the floor), you know that students will see your amazing words of wisdom right there on their screen.

Formative also has a nice tracking feature. You can see how students do on individual activities and track their work over multiple assignments. There is also a standards option where you can link standards to specific questions. Did the student just get lucky and answer something correctly, or do they actually have a handle on the material? Now you can tell by tracking the trending data over time.

track

If this post has sparked your interest and you want to learn more, mosey on over to www.goformative.com. They recently launched a new community page where educators just like you can collaborate, share, learn and grow. If you are a Lebanon City Schools employee and would like some coaching time with me, just shoot me an email and we can get started. As you can see by my amazing video, I am a Formative expert… 😉

Caveat: As you try new tools in your classroom, remember, it is crucial that you include your stakeholders and onboard your students. A quick letter or email home to parents to let them know what tool you are using and why is a great way to head off any concerns. Don’t forget that many of our families learned in traditional school settings and view programs like Formative and EdPuzzle as a negative because they mistakenly believe that you are not teaching and are just having their kids watch videos or work on computers all day. Be sure to explain that you are using these tools in order to give their children a more personalized and targeted learning experience. Students also need to know the purpose of a new tool, as well as an overview of how to actually use it!

Posted in Cool Tools

BrainPOP Will Blow Your Mind!

When I was still in the classroom, BrainPOP was a great resource for me to be able to show a short video illustrating a concept. The kids loved it, but to be honest, I used it more as a reward or to fill up free time than as an actual teaching tool. I kind of drifted away from BrainPOP and hadn’t really explored it all until just last week when somebody said to me, “Hey, have you seen all of the cool things that BrainPOP can do?” Intrigued, I signed in using my district G-suite for Education credentials and my mind was blown at the amazing lessons, student response options, and concept packaging that is available.  

If you haven’t checked out BrainPOP in awhile, I highly recommend that you give it a second glance, especially since the district has provided each teacher and student with a full subscription!

Features:

G-Suite Sign In:  No need to remember usernames and passwords. G-Suite Login ScreenTeachers and students can simply sign into BrainPOP with their G-Suite credentials. A click quick and you are in!

 

My Classes/Google Classroom Integration: BrainPOP allows you to sync your current Google Classrooms with their system. This sync will pull your Classroom roster and make it easy for you to see individual student progress on any assignments you create within BrainPOP. The My Classes tab shows detailed progress for each student. You can view where they currently are on an assignment, how they have done on any of the items already completed and interact with student work in spreadsheet form. If you want, you can download scores and progress records as an Excel file (don’t worry, you can turn it into a Google Sheet once you upload it to your Google Drive).

Assignment Builder: Instead of just giving your students one video clip to watch, you can create an entire package of learning opportunities. Each video clip has predesigned activities. If you want your students to explore a concept and then apply it, simply select from any (or all) of the activities and have BrainPOP package and deliver them. You can then use the My Classes tab to monitor success and struggles. Assignment Builder

Quiz Mixer

Movie Quiz/Mixer Quiz/Quiz Builder: Each BrainPOP movie comes with a movie quiz, but you also have the ability to create your own quiz. When you use the Mixer tool, you can write your own quiz questions or choose from a bank of questions already written. 

Make-a-Map: Take concept mapping to new heights with this tool. Students can make meaningful connections as they create graphics based on the video concepts by using BrainPOP images, keywords, and movie clips.

Make-a-Movie: Students and teachers love the concept of movie cremake a movieation. Usually, we are searching for tools that students can use to create their own movie, and now you don’t have to look any further than BrainPOP. This extremely robust tool allows not just students to create, teachers can create as well! Click on the image to see some videos created by BrainPOP users!

Creative Coding: Have you been thinking about offering coding opportunities in your classroom? BrainPOP has decided to capitalize on this new focus on coding and STEAM opportunities by developing their own in-house coding activities! Don’t know how to code? Don’t worry, all the resources you and your students need are right at your fingertips!

BrainPOP Challenge: BrainPOP’s auto-graded Challenge feature now accompanies more than 100 topics, from Edgar Allen Poe and Plate Tectonics to Copernicus and Stocks & Shares!  These playful activities challenge students to put their critical thinking skills to the test in fun, interactive ways while seamlessly enabling teachers to assess what their class knows. Each BrainPOP Challenge is a set of topical activities emphasizing cognitive skills including concept mapping, diagram labeling, matching, text highlighting, multiple response, sequencing, and Venn diagramming. Source

Games: So many games! So many fun concepts! So many linked lesson ideas! What a great way to help make learning fun. These aren’t just games for students to waste time on; they are directly linked to content and standards. Each game even has an aligned lesson plan to extend the learning beyond the game situation. Students can create their own games as well!

Newsela: BrainPOP has taken the work out of finding resources for you by including Newsela articles right in the assignment builder.

FYI: Need your students to dig a little deeper? Assign an FYI sheet as part of student work. The FYI link provides vocabulary, quirky information, real-life examples, and possibly even a comic strip!

FYI

Teacher Resources: BrainPOP is not expecting teachers to just create assignments and have the students experience the concepts only in a digital environment. Every concept in BrainPOP includes lesson ideas, printable resources, and additional ways to explore in the classroom with teacher-led instruction or activities.

What are you waiting for?

I am just amazed at all of the resources you have right at your fingertips! And before you decide that BrainPOP isn’t right for the age of your students, know that you can toggle back and forth between BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. With the combined forces of these programs, any teacher from Pre-K to 12th grade should be able to find materials for their students!

If you are interested in getting started with BrainPOP and like to learn on your own, check out the beginner’s guide at https://educators.brainpop.com/.

If you are interested but would like to have a little one-on-one coaching, feel free to contact me and schedule a collaboration time. Believe me, BrainPOP has something for everyone and you won’t be disappointed.

Posted in Cool Tools, Creating Accessibility, G-Suite for Education, Teacher Feature

Teacher Feature – Kat McAndrews and her Digital Portfolios

Kat McAndrews, a sixth-grade science teacher at Berry Intermediate, has decided to throw caution to the wind and jump headfirst into new ways for her students to show themselves as learners and scientists. We had a quick discussion one day about this, and next thing I knew, she had turned her ideas into reality and is using Google Slides and Team Drive with her students as they create digital portfolios to showcase all their learning and growth this year!

I decided that I wanted to see all of this in action and scheduled some time to visit with her and her awesome students. When I first entered her classroom, I could feel the thrum of energy from the kids.

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 They were getting ready to head outside with their soil kits, and even though it was close to 92 degrees, the students were excited to be out in the field. This was day two of their soil quadrant work, and the students were using their interactive science notebooks to record data on the experiments they were conducting. As they were working, Kat walked amongst them, snapping photos and discussing their procedures and results. As the class drew to an end, she began uploading the images to Team Drive so that the students would be able to access them tomorrow in class when they continued working with their digital portfolios.

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I made a second visit later in the day to see a class that was a little further along with this project. These students had finished their lab work and were now ready to show what they knew by creating short skits or presentations about the topic. I watched a newscast, a rap, a scientific demonstration of techniques used, and some very awkward kids hiding behind posters! Kat recorded all of these presentations with her trusty iPhone, and just like she did with the images, uploaded them to the corresponding Team Drives for her students to access.

The next time I was in the room, it was an inside work day (Thank goodness, as the heat was slowly killing me). I circulated around to get a good look at what the students were creating. Since their photos were already in Team Drive, students were able to quickly get to work grabbing images to add to their Slides presentation. Kat gave them free reign to showcase themselves as learners and to share their data. She simply asked them to not select a bold background image because that might interfere with their data and their images.

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The students now have a digital portfolio that showcases who they are as learners and sciAACDC236-062B-4BE1-BCF6-0F895348C06F.JPGentists. Not only can they show their teacher this, they can also share this with family members or other students. Using Slides makes this uniquely portable, and this sixth-grade portfolio can now follow them through their entire school career and even beyond if they decide to make a copy of their school Drive when they go out into the big, exciting world! I am so pleased that Kat has taken this sort of risk and figured out all the pieces necessary to make this a success. She has done a great job troubleshooting any issues that have come up, and even though this was her first time using some of this tech, she has created a vibrant learning community with her students.

Their portfolios are a work in progress that they will continue to add to all year. Here are a few examples (I have removed some Slides to protect privacy)

 

Here are the nuts and bolts of how Kat accomplishes these student created and designed portfolios.

  1. Using the new Team Drive feature in Google Drive, Kat created a Team Drive for each of her science classes. She then added her students to the corresponding Team Drive
  2. Each student created their own Slides presentation that will be used as a working portfolio for the school year and shared it with Kat.
  3. While students are working as scientists, she takes pictures of them in the field. She also records them giving their group presentations. These presentations are designed by the students to show what they have learned in a new and creative way.
  4. Using the Drive app on her phone, she then uploads the pictures and videos to the Team Drive so that students can then add them to their own portfolios.

Using technology in her classroom has opened the door for Kat’s students to create and show their learning all while putting their personal stamp on their work. She could have done something similar with just paper and pencil, but being able to quickly add images, videos, and creative elements to a digital portfolio that can be shared on a global platform brought this activity to a higher level. It isn’t about replacing a paper portfolio with a digital one, it is about the ability of the students to create and share with other people inside and outside of the four walls of their classroom. Good edtech doesn’t replace an activity, it allows you to do something that would be impossible without the tech. This is a perfect example of doing something Kat couldn’t have done before!

I know many of you are doing equally awesome things in your classroom. I would love to hear about what you are doing and spread the good word. Please contact me if you want to share your awesomeness with the world!

Posted in Cool Tools

Explore Math with Desmos

I am going to let you all in on a little secret. You see, math and I…well, we just don’t have a very good relationship. In fact, you might say that we broke up a long time ago and have just never been able to reconcile. I am relatively certain math hates me, and believe me, the feeling is mutual.

Fortunately for me, in my recent years, I have come across a few teachers that not only love math, but are advocates for their subject and got me excited about the way they teach and the tools that they use. Anderson High School math teacher, Kristen Fouss (@fouss) and Trailblazer and Turpin High School math teacher Ben Schulcz (@BSchulcz) are masters of their crafts and both of them use edtech tools to reach all of their learners. If you want to learn about blended learning, using tech to differentiate, and dynamic classrooms full of FUN math (I can’t believe I just said that), then follow these people on Twitter!

In particular, Kristen introduced me to Desmos. Desmos bills itself as “the next generation of graphing calculator.” They also claim: “Desmos wants to help every student learn math and love learning math. But “every student” is a lot of students so we create digital math tools and let the Internet take them to anyone who wants them.” Wait a minute…love math? Like, for real and true? That is exactly what Desmos aims to do through their interactive activities that focus on math concepts like conics, expressions, functions, quadratics, inequalities and a bunch of other math stuff that I don’t understand.

Desmos has a library of activities that teachers can draw from for use in their own classrooms. Activities are easily shared out by creating a class code, and student responses are recorded for the teacher to view.

Here is an activity I assigned myself on Parabolas:

Parabole

Yes, I know my math is wrong. I don’t even know what a Parabola even is. No matter though, because as I am working through this problem, my teacher sees this in her dashboard:

Teacher Dashboard

When I get stuck, my teacher can see where I am stuck and swoop in to save the day! Please, somebody, swoop in and save the day!

The activities are varied, fun, and truly explore the pedagogy and application of math. Desmos is not just limited to high school students. The platform is designed to be accessible to all learners and when you explore concepts and modules, the brains at Desmos have notes and postscripts that help you to identify which activities are appropriate for different grade levels or different types of learners. Lessons are marked as “Introduction,” “Development,” “Practice,” and “Application.” If you are unable to find an activity for your concept, you can even create your own using the Desmos tools.

Desmos has great teacher tools to help you, as an educator, understand the concepts and the best way to work through the activity by providing a teacher guide for each Desmos activity.

One exciting thing that you need to know about Desmos is that it is completely free! There are no hidden costs, no upcharges, and no desire to pinch your wallets since Desmos is paid for by partnerships with textbook companies and other organizations.

Another thing that you need to know is that the Desmos calculator runs seamlessly on any platform. You can add it as a Chrome app, an iOS app, or run it on your android. The calculator has also been chosen to be the calculator provided to Ohio students when they take the AIR test this school year (read the notice here), so the more exposure you can give your students to this amazing tool, the better!

Desmos Calculator
Desmos calculator as it appears in the Chrome app.

There is already a community built around Desmos, and if you do a Twitter search using Desmos as a keyword, you will see how math teachers all over America are implementing this tool in their classrooms. Why don’t you take the risk and join them! You won’t regret it!

 

 

 

Posted in Cool Tools, Creating Accessibility

Collaborative Spaces with Padlet

As much as I love the collaborative tools in GSuite for Edu, sometimes they just don’t meet my needs when it comes to collaborative brainstorming, problem-solving, quick project sharing, or a place for students to have an online discussion about topics being covered in class. What tool can I use to create this sort of open sharing environment for my students? Why, Padlet, of course!

Have you ever attended a professional development class or meeting where there were large pieces of white paper on the wall and you were given sticky notes with which to go about the room and add your ideas or answer questions? Padlet is basically that, but better!  This free program (with paid upgrades available) allows you to create an online bulletin/white board where people can collaborate, share ideas, contribute resources, and share digital materials like links, docs, and videos! Padlet can be as private or as public as you want, and users can access your Padlet from a Chromebook, computer, phone, or tablet. As long as they have access to the internet, they have access to your Padlet. Students will not have to create an account so Padlets can be quickly and easily accessed and used without disrupting the flow of your class. And for that teacher in you that just wants everything to look “pretty” or “cute,” Padlet has beautiful and fun backgrounds to keep your collaborative space from being too plain.

Want to see it in action? Check out my Padlet and add your ideas about how you would rule the world!

Made with Padlet

Now that you can see it in action, just think of the possibilities! Here are a few of the ideas I came up with:

  • Bell ringer activity – ask a question to get the kids accessing prior knowledge or preparing their brains for learning new content
  • Brainstorming – instead of writing out all of the students’ ideas by hand on your whiteboard or poster paper, have them add their own ideas to your Padlet
  • Question/Answer – create a problem and have students share their answers here. This would be especially useful in a math classroom. Have students post their answers and explain their thinking
  • Group work – have students working in groups create their own Padlets to share their resources with each other. Or, create a class Padlet and have students share resources with their classmates across periods/bells
  • Exit Ticket – what did your students learn today and how will you expand on it for your next lesson?
  • Hypothesis and Results – make your science lab an open forum and let the students share their thinking before and after the lab along with their results
  • Guided research – create a Padlet with all of the links and materials you want your students to use for a project
  • Primary Source – sometimes primary sources are difficult to find, but you could curate a collection of them by providing links to them on a Padlet
  • Book Talks – instead of book reports, students can share a picture of their book and a quick explanation of why others should read it

These are just a few quick suggestions to get your brain thinking. If you do a quick Google or Twitter search, you will see that the possibilities are endless!

To get started with Padlet, simply go to www.padlet.com and sign up for an account. I recommend that all new users check out the Padlet Tour when they begin. Of course, I am here to guide you through and if you would rather have some personal training, just let me know!

Posted in Cool Tools, G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom

Share to Classroom – The Extension of My Dreams!

I wanted to make sure that you are aware of one of the most powerful extensions out there for Google Classroom users – Share to Classroom.

The Share to Classroom extension allows you to take a web source and share it with your students in one of two ways:

  1. Immediately push the source to all students at the same time, allowing every student in your class to navigate to the source without having to type in the URL.
  2. Create an assignment, make an announcement or ask a question with the web source as your primary component.

The reason that I like “Share to Classroom” so much is that it allows me to use current materials with my students with minimal effort. Let’s say I want to discuss the current hurricane and how it is affecting the people in its path. I can go directly to a news source (no fake news here) or a site like weather.com or nationalgeographic.com and find news articles, images, or video that I want my students to use. Then, using the “Share to Classroom” extension, I can create an assignment where students have to interact with the materials and then create a disaster plan, write a personal connection paper, or design a social action plan where they define ways that they will help those affected by the storm.

Another way that I see a benefit in “Share to Classroom” is the ability to get every single one of my students onto the same resource at the same time. When I PUSH the web source or video to the students, it interrupts whatever they happen to be doing at that time and opens up the material I want them working with.

To make the extension work they way it is intended, students and teachers must have it installed. Fortunately for Lebanon City Schools teachers, our awesome tech department has already pushed out the extension to the students. You as teachers will need to install the extension. If you don’t know how to do that, click on this link and click the “Add to Chrome” button.  

To use this extension, follow these easy steps themselves:

  1. Make sure you are already signed in with your G Suite for Edu account.
  2. In Chrome, go to the webpage you want to share. Next to the address bar, click Share to Classroom. share to classroom
  3. Click the name of your class. classroom list
  4. From the drop-down list, choose what you want to do:
    1. To share the webpage to your class, Select Push to students and then click Push. The web material instantly appears in the browsers of all active students.
    2. To attach the web material to a post:
      • To create an assignment, select Create assignment, enter your assignment, and click Assign.
      • To ask a question, select Ask question, enter your question, and click Ask.
    3. To create an announcement, select Make announcement, enter your announcement, and click Post.

Just imagine all the possibilities that this extension opens up for you and your students! And I didn’t even mention the ability of students to share materials with you! More on that at a later day.

Posted in Cool Tools, Creating Accessibility

Collaborative Gaming with Quizlet Live

For review opportunities or gathering formative assessment data on individual students, many teachers love Kahoot and Quizizz. And while these tools are awesome and can be played with the whole class, they are actually very solitary in nature. Each student is responsible for their own responses and an unengaged student can remain unengaged in a classroom of their peers. This is one of the reasons that I recommend you mix it up every once in awhile and use Quizlet Live. Quizlet Live takes the solitary experience of game play and requires all students to participate after they are placed together in randomly formed groups. No longer can a student sit back and let the game pass them by; it might just be their answer that leads their group to victory!

To play Quizlet Live, you must first create an account on Quizlet. Quizlet is a program that allows students and teachers to create study sets and then practice their sets through flashcards and mini-games. Quizlet Live lets the teacher take study sets and turn them into classroom games that require group participation. Look at all the awesome features and tools Quizlet provides for teachers and students!

Features

  • flashcard creator that allows teachers and students to create study sets
  • independent practice within Quizlet in a variety of ways including matching, spelling, and rapid fire recall
  • study sets can then be opened in game format by using Quizlet Live
  • collaborative /social learning within Quizlet Live
  • randomized team creation allowing for flexible grouping
  • use your own study sets or search for sets created by fellow users

Game Play

  • quiz style game can only be played in Quizlet Live
  • students must play in collaborative groups because correct answers are dispersed amongst all group members
  • game requires 12 unique terms
  • game requires a minimum of six students
  • students are randomized into teams
  • each student must have their own device: computer, laptop, tablet or phone
  • teams race to match all terms with definitions
  • incorrect answer resets the entire team score back to zero
  • first team to match all 12 (or more) terms, wins

Tools

  • classes can be linked to existing Google Classrooms
  • study sets can be shared directly to Google Classroom
  • classes can be created within Quizlet so that all student names are preloaded for easy group creation
  • Android and iOS apps are available if you want to make your gaming portable

If you are interested in getting started with Quizlet and like to explore on your own, check out their Getting Started page. If you would like a little coaching assistance and are a member of the Lebanon Schools staff, email me at zolnier.melanie@lebanonschools.org or fill out the Request for Integration Assistance Form.

Posted in Cool Tools

EDpuzzle – The Easiest Way to Engage Your Students With Videos

You found the perfect video for that concept you are covering today.  You show the video, but you have to keep pausing it to go into greater detail or ask the students questions to make sure they understand what they are seeing.  You get to the end of the video and discover that one of your little darlings was in the bathroom….THE WHOLE TIME.  And another kid appeared to sleep through the whole thing.  What a waste of time…..

But wait!!!  What if there was a FREE tool that you could use to engage all of your students.  A tool that

  • allows you to create quiz questions during strategic sections of the video
  • allows you to insert your own images and voice comments
  • lets you see how long each student watched each section of the video and stops the video if they try to multitask in another internet tab
  • allows you to upload your self-created videos
  • gives you a large library of videos on multiple subjects already created by other people
  • allows you take and edit videos directly from YouTube, Khan Academy, Vimeo and many other sources
  • easily shares your newly created video with any one of your Google Classrooms

EDpuzzle is the easiest way to engage and hold your students accountable when using videos. Instead of having all students sit in the dark to watch a video at the same time, EDpuzzle gives you the flexibility to have students watch the video independently, in small groups, as a center activity, or as an activity outside of the confines of the regular school day. By having each student interact with the video, you are ensuring that they at least attend to the content and interact with it in a meaningful way.

EDpuzzle has FREE features that make it extremely valuable.

  • Search – You can search for videos with questions already created by looking within the EDpuzzle library. If you want to make your own video and create your own questions, you can narrow your search to channels like YouTube, National Geographic, TED Talks, and Khan Academy among others.
  • Assign – EdPuzzles are easy to share with your students. If you are a Google Classroom user, simply link your class to your EDpuzzle account and you can create an assignment that is delivered right to your students. If you are not yet a Google Classroom user, EDpuzzle allows you to create classes that students join by entering a code. You can even Tweet or email the code to your kids!
  • Video Controls – Want to keep your kids engaged with your video? Through some strange voodoo, EDpuzzle knows when you leave the tab where the video is playing and it STOPS PLAYING!!! What??? You mean I have to actually watch the video and not just put it on while I play video games in another window? You can also set videos so that the viewer cannot skip ahead or move on until they answer a question correctly.
  • Progress Tracking – Speaking of answering a question correctly, progress tracking lets you see how much of the video a student has watched and how many questions they answered correctly. You can even see how many times they watched a specific section before they were able to answer the question correctly.

EDpuzzle can be a very powerful tool because there are so many ways that EDpuzzle can work for you.

  • Flip your instruction by giving students a brief video quiz to watch and complete for homework. That way you can repurpose the time in your classroom to differentiate practice and instructional opportunities based on the data you receive back from the “EDpuzzle” you’ve assigned.  EDpuzzle makes flipped learning much easier as you have the accountability mechanism in place to ensure all students are reviewing and comprehending your flipped instructions.  
  • Differentiate your instruction by creating leveled questions, sharing videos of varying difficulty levels, or assigning videos based on interest or formative assessment data.
  • Encourage creativity and mastery of content by having students create their own videos and question sets to share with classmates.
  • Engage students instead of allowing them to be passive consumers of information.

Now is the time! Get out there and create awesome learning opportunities for your students. If you are ready, go to http://www.edpuzzle.com and create your account. If you would like some help on getting started with EDpuzzle, feel free to contact me through the Contact link on this blog. If you are a member of the Lebanon City Schools staff and would like to schedule a one-on-one session for training, email me via district email.