Don't Be a One and Done: Socrative + Edmodo = Dynamic Conversation (Part 2)


Join me for Click for a Cause. The nephew of one of my students was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and is at Hershey Medical Center receiving treatment. I was so touched by his story that I wanted to do something. 

For every time someone visits my blog during the month of November, I am going to donate a penny to his medical fund. Although it is not much, several other people have agreed to match this amount. Please help by just visiting my blog or learning more about how you can help. Although it is a little, every click means a lot. 

As part of my Don't Be a One and Done series, I want to republish a post that I made last year! Here it is:

A few weeks ago, I had talked with @linlin8  (who by the way is an amazing teacher and blogger!) on Twitter. She gave me the idea of using an App called Socrative for my classes. It gives teachers the opportunity to poll and quiz students in real time, simply by having them use a computer, iPad, or mobile device. Teachers set up a unique classroom, where they can get a variety of responses from students. I like the fact that you can either prepare questions in advance or use it on the fly. The best part is that you can have the program send feedback, responses, etc. to your inbox! I finally got to use it today and I used the short answer feature, which I will explain below; however, you can use the multiple choice, true / false, and even design quizzes.

My students just finished a reading assignment from yesterday, where they completed a graphic organizer to keep track of significant sentences and phrases from the text. As students came into my classroom today, I had them bring their graphic organizers and divide into discussion groups. Each discussion group was assigned an iPad, where they documented their conversations and favorite quotes on the Edmodo App.

As groups finished writing their responses on Edmodo, I had each group read the recorded responses of other groups. As students were finishing, I had them use the Socrative App to "vote" for the best quote and provide a reason why, which they recorded as a short answer question in the App. This provided a way of stimulating conversation among the class and enhancing learning!

We did this for several rounds and had each person take turns using the iPads (since we only have 10 in my room). It was a unique way of not being a "one and done" aka only using 1 app and then let the iPads gather dust.

Don't Be a One and Done: iBrainstorm + Edmodo = Meaningful Action and Expression (Part 1)

Are you a “One and Done” type of teacher? Do you find yourself using one App per lesson, when your students are thirsting for more! Many of us implement iPads this way; however there are creatively simple ways to use multiple apps in a lesson. What if we were to create opportunities for students to analyze, understand, apply, evaluate, collaborate, and create meaningful learning experiences in one class period? Over the next few posts, I would like to share with you some iPad recipes to reach all students. 
Beginning of Class

As my students came into class the other day, I had them grab an iPad and a partner. I posted a question to the class and had students use iBrainstorm, a free brainstorming app, to brainstorm a list of 2 - 3 they knew about a particular topic. Students used iBrainstorm to create a board filled with electronic post-it notes.

Mill and Fill

As students finished the assignment, I had them "mill" around the room and find other groups who had different answers. Their job was to "fill" their board with 8 total answers from different groups in the room. When students were finished, they returned to their seats and we discussed their answers.

Edmodo to the Rescue! 

After we had finished our discussion, I shared an article / slideshow with students in my class. Each student was to research a particular section of the article and report their findings on the Edmodo App on their iPad. Students created a "Cliffnotes" summary of their section (in about 2 - 3 sentences). As students finished, we discussed their answers as a class. 

The Perfect Ending

When students were finished, they used iBrainstorm to compile a list of information to answer the essential question of the day. Many shared what they had learned from their classmates. Others shared what they had learned from their research. Others shared what they learned from the classroom discussion. 

They took a picture on their iPad and posted it to Edmodo for their entire class to see! How long and what did this lesson take?  40 minutes, 2 free apps, and a fun discussion! 


3 year-old Ayden is your typical energetic little boy, who loves Spiderman, Power Rangers, and trains. He was recently diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that commonly forms in infants and young children. 

Each time that you visit my blog during the month of November, I will make a donation to Prayers for Ayden of one cent per click. 

Web Tools to Help You Manage Your Classroom: #Edmodo is More Than a Social Tool (Part 2)

Many of us are using Edmodo to make a social learning environment, a paperless classroom, or a creative way to assess students. Did you know that Edmodo is more than a social tool? It can help our students stay organized in a variety of ways. Here are a few tools to help your students: 

Planner Tool:

We may require our students to write down assignments in an agenda book, but it often gets misplaced, left in a locker, or is left blank. How can we hold our students accountable for assignments without pulling our hair out? 

Students can use the Edmodo Planner to access a weekly or monthly calendar of assignments that are due. Students can check out all of their classes at once or use a filter to focus on a specific class. This is very helpful for your forgetful students because it can help them stay organized, access class materials, and parents can access this calendar with a parent login. 

Alert Features: 

Every student in your classroom has a computer in their pocket, why not have them use it? Students can use the Alert Features to receive emails or text message updates when assignments are posted and due. 

Some of most unmotivated students are motivated by this simple feature. They think it is pretty cool and this makes it a great tool to use! 

Notes Feature: 

I use the Notes feature in Edmodo as an alternative to a chalkboard when I communicate class instructions, the essential question for the day, or just want to share resources. I do this because students may not be in class that day or they may have forgotten to copy the information down. 

Plus it is easy to do and keeps me organized! I simply put the information on Edmodo and turn on my projector. The best part is that students can access the information from their laptop or mobile device outside of class.

My students often reply to the instructions with questions, which can be answered by myself or another member of a class. This has really cut down on the repeating that I have had to do in class! In a way, it has become a simple way to answer FAQ's. 

Web Tools to Help You Manage Your Classroom: Google Forms and Performance Reviews? (Part 1)

I cannot believe that is is almost the end of October already. Many of us have already gathered our bearings and have set ourselves up in a routine. We are starting to see that the "honeymoon" period is over and now our kids are really starting to show their real personalities. How can we use technology to keep ourselves and our students on track? Over the next few posts, I would like to explore a few web tools to help you out. 

Google Forms = Performance Reviews

Having students think about their performance is key to improving their behavior. At my school, we not only issue a quarterly grade, but a quarterly effort and conduct grade. It's a great idea, but I noticed that it wasn't helping the students in my classroom increase their performance. 

The major problem was me!  In the past, my students have received a grade on their report card, but we haven't had much of a discussion about why they received the grade. To counter this, I created a rubric. It was effective, but I found that it really didn't do much to change student behavior.

I decided to take this idea a step further by creating a "performance review" in a Google Form. With the emphasis that the Common Core places on preparing students for careers, I have decided that I need to do the same. I decided to change the way that I give "effort and conduct" grades and have performance reviews with my students each quarter. Why? I want to help my students grow academically and professionally. With quarter one down, here is what I have done:

1. Create a Google Form

I created a Google Form with three basic questions for students to answer:
  • What have I done well this quarter? 
  • What have I NOT done well this quarter? 
  • How will I improve? 
You could very easily have students fill this out at the beginning of class, for homework, or on their mobile device. I usually have students take the survey 2 weeks before the end of the quarter, so that I have enough time to meet with a few students a day. 

2. Compile the Data

I love how Google automatically provides a time stamped spreadsheet of answers. You can very easily filter out information by grade, by name, etc. It makes it much easier to filter through! 

3. The Meeting

I meet with my students for 1 - 2 minutes and discuss the information that they provided on the form. I allow them to justify what they did well, didn't do well, and what they need to improve. It has been very interesting to see their thought process and honesty. I give them my feedback and suggestions on how to improve. 

You may be asking, how do I do this? I meet with a few students a day, while they are completing assignments or in between classes. It is well worth the investment. 

Are you interested in learning more? 

I will be giving a SimpleK12 Webinar titled "Manage Your Classroom and Your Students with 21st Century Web Tools" on Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 4 pm EST! Check out SimpleK12 for more information!

Creative Ways to Use #Wikis: Word Wall Wikis (Part 2)

Marzano has stated that students need to have "6 meaningful interactions" with vocabulary terms to completely understand the term. How do we use wikis to do this? Wikis are still being used in education today to help build vocabulary skills! Let's continue our series "Creative Ways to Use #Wikis" with an emphasis on vocabulary.

Word Wall Wikis

One teacher I know is an elective teacher, who teaches a new SAT or technical word a week. Over the course of the year, students accumulate a glossary of terms that they use in class discussions, assessments, and writing assignments. In the past, this teacher has developed a "Word Wall" for students to see the terms; however, students are not able to access the wall at home, which is a major limitation. 

To counter this challenge, he created a "Word Wall Wiki," where he provides the terms, definitions, pictures, and links to the word in use. As he teaches a word, he has a student add the word to the wiki. Throughout the course of the week, members of the wiki add resources to help understand the word and its context. The best part is that students have the "Word Wall" at their fingertips, while they are completing assignments outside of the classroom. What a great idea!

Check out more ideas next time, when I talk about more creative ways to use Wikis!

Are you interested in learning more? 

I will be giving a SimpleK12 Webinar titled "Wikis are More than Wikipedia" on Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 5 pm! Check out SimpleK12 for more information!

Creative Ways to Use #Wikis: Pre-Assessments (Part 1)

Have we forgotten about wikis? It seems like there isn't as much emphasis on this collaborative tool, as in years past. This thought crossed my mind the other day, when I was completing an assignment for a grad class. In this course, we have had to create a Wikispaces wiki to serve as a reflection journal. After a lot of thought and researching a lot of creative ideas, I wanted to share a few with you in this series titled "Creative Ways to Use #Wikis":


I recently read about a teacher who loves to use wikis for pre-assessments. Whenever his students begin a new chapter, he has students discuss in pairs what they already knew about the topic. Then he opens up a class discussion to see what students know. When he asks for groups to report their findings, he records their comments and ideas on a wiki page.

After about 5 minutes, he assigns pairs of students to investigate whether the claims are fact or fiction. At the end of the class, students verify the information with cited websites, videos, etc. It was a really great way of having students take ownership of their learning!

Check out more ideas next time, when I talk about more creative ways to use Wikis!

Are you interested in learning more? 

I will be giving a SimpleK12 Webinar titled "Wikis are More than Wikipedia" on Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 5 pm! Check out SimpleK12 for more information!

How Do You Give #Directions? Use Social Media? (Part 3)

Social Media has become a really great way of sharing information inside and outside of the classroom. I hear stories of teachers using various forms of Social Media to communicate to students, parents, and other stakeholders. Some teachers turn to Twitter, while others send home newsletters. The idea is to share important information very quickly. Here are some ideas:

Use Edmodo

Edmodo has literally changed the way that I teach. Students no longer print out assignments in my class, they upload them instead. I very rarely make copies because students can access directions and materials on Edmodo; however, in my Accounting class I use Edmodo for another reason. I generally post an outline of what we did in class that day. I also provide hyperlinks to resources that students can use to study for tests, review what we discussed in class, or access materials.

Wikis and Blogs Anyone? 

One teacher I know has to post an essential question on the board each day. She decided to take this a step further. She uses a blog to "post" her essential question. She projects it on the screen. Each day she has her students respond with their thoughts, ideas, etc. to the essential question on her blog.

Another teacher I know assigns a daily "blogger" to blog about what was discussed in class. He has students post the "cliff notes" version of what they discussed in class in 140 characters or less. This way both students and parents have access to what was discussed in class that day. Even if they weren't there, students have an idea of what was covered in class.

How Do You Give #Directions? Stop Repeating Yourself! (Part 2)

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in church and noticed something. Many of the announcements that used to be in the bulletin were now flashing in front of my eyes on a PowerPoint presentation. I suddenly thought, why can't I do the same in the beginning of class?

So my creative mind began coming up with a few ideas. What do my  kids do in the beginning of class? They tend to ignore directions written on a chalkboard or PowerPoint slide. I get tired of repeating myself over and over and over and.... well you get the point!

I decided to communicate upcoming dates, announcements, materials needed, etc. in a small slide slide show that repeats itself over and over. Best of all, the slides are loaded with bizarre pictures that get the point across. I mean, who doesn't want to get out a writing utensil after seeing a girl with a pencil up her nose? I know! I know! I am being a little graphic, but it does get their attention.

Best of all, I found a way to play this PowerPoint on only half of my screen, so I can use the other half for our warm-up activity. Here's how I do it:

After turning to this, I am able to communicate with my students much better. Best of all, they are more attentive and engaged at the beginning of class. Rather than trying to fool around or walk in late, they hustle to class to see what the next "shocking picture" will be!

5 Tips for Engaging Learners with UDL

Phillip Schlechty (2011) theorized that the highest levels of learner engagement require learners' full attention and commitment. While ...