An Elementary Idea: Using Twitter During the #Last5 Minutes of Class?


Let's continue with our series titled #LAST5 and explore several ways to keep your students engaged during the last five minutes of class. Here's what we have covered so far:
  1. Part 1 - Provide students with an audio version of summarizing learning through AudioBoo
  2. Part 2 - Provide students with multiple ways of using post-it notes through Padlet
  3. Part 3 - Changing the ways students engage with one another through Today's Meet
What about using the idea of social media in your classroom?

Social media is a curse word in many school districts; however, its use in education is not only engaging, but game-changing. Here are some ideas on incorporating social media into any classroom:

1. Class Social Media Accounts

One of my colleagues, Christine Halliday, is a fourth grade teacher at the Milton Hershey School. She was recently featured on our local news for her use of Twitter in the classroom with her fourth graders! Check out her report!

Christine uses a class Twitter account  as a teaching tool to teach content, communication, digital citizenship, and even collaborate with other classes across the country! What a cool idea of combining technology and learning! Her students are learning powerful real-world examples by her powerful idea!

2. No Technology? No Problem!

I spent last week speaking at the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (Columbus, IN) Universal Design for Learning Institute. I gave several presentations on how to use UDL and technology, but one of my most interesting presentations didn't involve technology at all. It was titled No Technology? No Problem! Check out some of the resources here

In the presentation, I provided resources on how you can use the power of social media without technology. I mentioned that you could create Facebook profiles of historical figures (instead of book reports) and you could even "tweet" your ideas using this simple 12 x 12 table that I created in Microsoft Word. 

Students use the 144 boxes (1 per letter) to compose a "tweet" what they learned about in class that day. There's even room for hashtags!


The idea of Twitter and microblogging is a powerful one because it forces you to share the most important details of an event in 144 characters or less. It can easily be implemented in the last five minutes of class because it is quick and effective.

As we have seen from this post, you can use social media without directly having students using it in the classroom. This is perfect if your students are too young or your school restricts social media. If you want students to use social media in the classroom, resources like Edmodo are a great way to start. 

4 Ways to Engage Students with Today's Meet During the #Last5

Let's continue with our series titled #LAST5 and explore several ways to keep your students engaged during the last five minutes of class. Here's what we have covered so far:

  1. Part 1 - Provide students with an audio version of summarizing learning through AudioBoo
  2. Part 2 - Provide students with multiple ways of using post-it notes through Padlet
So far, we have talked about different ways to say it and show it. What about changing the way that students engage with one another? 

Engage Your Class Differently with Today's Meet:

If you want to create your own temporary chatroom or discussion forum, Today's Meet is the site for you. You can easily create your own chat with a customized URL without a username or password. You can customize how long your chat is open and best of all, you can download a transcript of the entire conversation. 

In the past, I have mentioned Today's Meet as a popular tool for back-channeling. Today I would like to show you other ways to help students learn!

Ways to Incorporate Today's Meet into the #LAST5 (Minutes of Class)

1. K - L - D Charts 

What does K-L-D stand for? "Know," "Learn," and "Do." Begin class by having students work individually or in small groups to post something they "know" about today's topic. As you progress through today's lesson, you can easily share URL's of resources with students through Today's Meet. At the end of class, have students post something they "learned" and one thing they will "do" with what they learned.

2. The Last Word

Maybe you or someone you know always has to have the last word. Why not use this concept in the classroom? Give students the opportunity to use one word to describe what was learned today. State a vocabulary word and have students use one word to describe or define.

3. Quick Review

Assign each student a vocabulary term or concept covered in class. Have students give a quick synopsis of what it means, provide any examples, or share resources with the class. Save the transcript of this conversation and you have a study guide!

4. End Class with a Question

The Common Core emphasizes the need for students to reflect. Questions are an excellent way of driving reflection and learning. Why not have students reflect on what they learned by posing a question to their classmates? You can require students to ask one question and answer one of their classmate's questions.


Don't have a one-to-one initiative? Students can use it on any device. Students can't bring their own device? Have students work in small groups with laptops, tablets, or other devices. 

Technology is changing the way that our students interact and engage with content and each other; therefore, it is essential that we use this tool creatively. Do you have any other ideas to engage students in the last five minutes of class? I'd love to hear your ideas! 

What are You Doing with the #Last5? A Padlet Parking Lot with Options

What are you doing with the last five minutes of class? Are students doing homework, packing up materials, and goofing off? Let's continue with our series titled #LAST5 and explore several ways to keep your students engaged during this challenging time period. My last post focused on providing students with an audio version of summarizing learning through AudioBoo

Today we will look at creating a parking lot. Many teachers use parking lot activities to summarize learning at the end of the day. Teachers post a question and have students record their responses on post-it notes. Post-it notes are then placed on a wall, chalkboard, or window as students leave. The teacher collects the post-it notes and checks for understanding. 

This is a simple, but effective low-tech way of seeing where students are at; however, it only addresses one type of learner - students who like to write.  How can we use technology to accomplish the same thing, while providing students with different options for demonstrating their understanding (Multiple Means of Action / Expression)? 

Post-It Notes with Options

If you love post-it notes like I do, then Padlet is the program for you. Create and customize your own Padlet "board" and share the URL with students. When students access the board, they can double-click on it to create a virtual post-it note. This can be done without having an account! 

After the post-it notes is created, have students record their names and answer your question with several different options. Students can:

  • Type their responses
  • Share a URL
  • Upload any type of file. For example, students can upload a picture, which will appear on the post-it note. 
  • Use their webcam to take a picture

The UDL Way of Using Post-It Notes

To make this assignment more UDL-friendly, I would provide students with three ways of responding. 
  • They can type their responses
  • They can upload a picture for their responses
  • They could share a link with their response recorded in AudioBoo or create a video on YouTube and post the URL of their recording. 
Want to see a sample board? Check this out!

Management Made Easy:

With just a click of a button, you can easily organize and use use collected information. Teachers can view student responses in a grid, newsfeed, or randomly spread format. Are you concerned about privacy? You can set your board as private, require a password, or set it as read-only. Have a response you don't like? You can delete it!

There are multiple ways of sharing it with students. Create your own custom URL, share it through a QR Code, use social media, or embed it in your website. Data collection is even easy! After students are finished with their responses, you can set your board to read-only, export as a PDF or Excel!

Why is this Important?

Everything that I just showed you can be completed by students in less than 5 minutes. Why not try it? 

We know that when students have options for demonstrating their knowledge, they are more likely to connect with and understand material. The easier you make it for them to demonstrate their knowledge, the more learning and engagement that takes place. 

What are you doing with the #LAST5? AudioBoo

What are you doing with the last five minutes of class? This was a question that I asked myself several years ago when I was finishing up my Masters degree. Through my research, I found that most of the discipline and engagement problems (in the school I taught at) occurred during the first five and last five minutes of class.

Let me ask you again, what are you doing the last five minutes of class? Are students doing homework, packing up materials, and goofing off? How can we increase the engagement of our students during this time period? I'd like to introduce you to my new series titled #LAST5. Let's explore several ways to get your students engaged during this challenging time period.

Options for Summarizing Learning:

If you are not familiar with AudioBoo, it is a free Podcasting platform available online or as an app. Students can use this program to record short podcasts called "boos." In the past, I have used this program to have my students answer discussion questions. I like the fact that it gives students multiple options (multiple means of action and expression) for responding to discussion questions. Some students may prefer to write their answers, while others may want to discuss their answers. AudioBoo gives students both options.

Step 1: Prompt

I will provide a written prompt, as well as a recorded prompt using AudioBoo. This provides students with multiple ways of representing material because students can choose to read, listen, or read and listen to the prompt. I publish my boo and provide my students with the link.

Step 2: Response

Students visit my prompt and have options for responding in the comments section. They can can type out their response or they can record their voices responding to the prompt. The first time that I did this activity, I was surprised at the number of students who wanted to type their responses. As students gained comfort with AudioBoo, they began to choose which method of response worked best for them.

Check out my first assignment that I gave students! I provided a typed version of the prompt on a PowerPoint slide. Instead of using this during the last 5 minutes of class, I used this as a beginning of class activity to discuss strategic planning. 


I like the flexibility of AudioBoo because it provides students with multiple ways to express themselves. It helps the student who may have trouble getting their thoughts out in written form. It helps the student who is unable to type due to disability or injury. It provides the shy student and outlet to respond.

I also like that students have multiple ways of accessing AudioBoo. They can access it from the web, their iPad, or mobile device. This is a perfect way of having students do assignments on the go!

#1iPadClassroom: #ClassDojo for Classroom Management

Let's face it, not every district has the ability or capabilities to go 1:1 or BYOD right now. How can you harness the power of technology, while staying true to your budget? If you are strapped for cash and only have access to one iPad in your classroom, then this series is for you. Our previous #1iPadClassroom posts include:

Keeping kids on task can sometimes be a difficult thing to do.How can an iPad help with classroom management? Class Dojo could be a helpful addition to your classroom management tools. Here's a few ideas on how to incorporate this awesome App into your #1iPadClassroom:

1. Document Positive and Negative Behaviors
Part of being a teacher is handling discipline issues. None of us really enjoy dealing with them (maybe unless you are aspiring to be a future assistant principal), but it just comes with the territory. Class Dojo is a unique way of keeping track of the individual performance and behavior of students in your class. You can instantly record data on your phone, laptop, computer, or iPad. If you have multiple periods, it gives you the opportunity to create multiple classes.

This is a great way of helping students manage their behavior, while effortlessly keeping track of documentation for parents, teachers, administrators, and your records. Check out this brief tutorial I created several months ago:

 2. Randomly Call on Students

Every classroom contains students who love to participate and those who are a little shy. It's nice to hear from all of your students. I've tried different techniques in the past to avoid having my students feel like I am "picking" on them, but there has always been so much work on my part to do so. I've made popsicle sticks, used random name generators, etc.

Since I already use Class Dojo, I can easily use the random name generator. This feature lets you randomly select students and you can even award participation points. This is a perfect tool for randomly calling on students to answer a question or participate in class.

3. Communicate with Parents
As students participate in your course, you can award positive and negative points. You can even share reports with parents by downloading the report and even emailing it! I think that the best part of this is that you can give your students real-time feedback.

Class Dojo just announced a new feature called ClassDojo Messaging, which enables teachers and parents to easily communicate two different ways:
  • Teachers can send parents private, “Direct Messages," updating them on their child's progress!
  • Teachers can send an entire group of parents a “Broadcast” message to communicate class events!

#1iPadClassroom: Use #Educreations to Turn Your iPad into an Interactive SmartBoard?

If you are strapped for cash and only have access to one iPad in your classroom, then this series is for you. Wouldn't it be nice to turn your iPad into a Smartboard? Here's a quick idea:

Ingredient # 1: Projecting Your iPad

How can you get your iPad to appear on your projector screen? You can do a few things:

1. You can get a 30-pin to HDMI to VGA adapter
2. Use Apple TV
3. Use the Reflector App to project from your laptop or Macbook

Ingredient # 2: Educreations

Educreations is an all-in-one interactive whiteboard App available on your iPad. You can choose from ten different pen colors, add text, add pictures, and record yourself teaching. Your videos can easily be shared via email, URL, or social media. How can you use it in your classroom? Here are some ideas:

English or Foreign Language Classroom?

Teaching sentence structure or parts of speech? Why not use Educreations to help students diagram sentences. You can easily prepare several pages of sample sentences in advance. Perhaps you type in your sentence using the text tools or you take a screenshot of a sentence. You can proceed using different colors of ink to diagram different parts of speech.

Pass around your iPad and have students explain their reasoning. Use the eraser tool to correct mistakes. Then share with students who may need to see it again or who were absent. Want to see it in action? Check this out:

What about the Math Classroom?

Why not diagram 2 + 2, algebraic equations, or complicated calculus. You can very easily have students solve each equation or you could do it yourself. I like the fact that Educreations gives you different colors of ink to choose from. This is very helpful if you wanted to color code each step (perfect way of providing students with Multiple Means of Representation). Want to see it in action? Check this out:

What about the Science Classroom?

Do you have a diagram you want students to remember? Do you have pictures from a lab experiment that you want to explain? You could very easily incorporate Educreations into any science classroom! Check this out:

Need some other ideas? Do you want to see other features? Check out more stuff that Educreations can do!

  • Are you interested in earning 3 graduate credits and a free iPad? Why not take Eduspire’s iPads in education course. If you are interest, emailme for details.
  • This blog is designed using the Universal Design for Learning framework. Want to know more about UDL? Check out CAST.

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