Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Generate More Ideas with IdeaBoardz

If there is one thing that I have learned during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it is the skill of using technology to collaborate across distances. What tech tools are available for students and staff to collaborate inside and outside of the classroom? 

In one PD session that I recently gave, a participant told me about a free team collaboration tool called IdeaBoardz. This tool is amazingly powerful and simple! Participants can brainstorm ideas, gather information, reflect, and even retrospect. There are built-in tools for providing feedback in the form of "likes." 

This could be the perfect tool for comparing and contrasting topics in a class, brainstorming PD ideas for the next faculty meeting, or ending class with a reflection. 

How do you create your own IdeaBoardz? Check out my video below. 






Friday, April 23, 2021

I'm a Puzzle: An Awesome Tool to Create Your Own Online Puzzles

 Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are essential qualities for our students today. Puzzles are a great way to help students sharpen these skills. 

I'm a Puzzle is a great site that you can use to piece together a custom puzzle for students. Whether you are giving students a preview about a topic or want to put together a clue for a scavenger hunt, this a great free resource for you to use!

Step 1: Upload your Picture

Upload your favorite JPEG or GIF file. You can also make your own custom picture using a tool like Google Drawings.

Step 2: Select the Game Mode

Do you want traditional puzzle pieces? Or do you want something more untraditional like hearts, stars, and honeycombs? 



Step 3: Select Your Game Difficulty

How difficult do you want to make this puzzle for students? It's up to you! If you make it too difficult, you may lose your student's attention! 


Step 4: Share Your Game

Share your puzzle with your students via a link! This is a great way to keep students engaged and excited as the school year comes to a close.  Click here to access my game! 








Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Helperbird: Your ALL-in-ONE Accessibility Chrome Extension

 I am a big fan of accessibility tools for students because it helps reduce learning barriers and provide access to learning. One of my favorite tools right now is a free Chrome Extension called Helperbird. Whether you need speech to text, text-to-speech, Opendyslexic font, highlight tools, note-taking, clutter removal, Immersive Reader, etc., this tool has all of your favorite accessibility tools rolled into one! 

There is a free and paid version of this application; however, the free version has many great tools to get you started in making your classroom more accessible! Want to see how it works? Check out my video on how to use some of the free features of Helperbird!










Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Create Your Own Custom Background in Classkick Using Google Drawings

 Did you know that you can create your own custom backgrounds for Classkick using Google Drawings? Classkick allows you to create a custom background using any PDF, JPEG, or PNG file. Want to learn how? Check out my video below:


Thursday, April 8, 2021

5 Best Practices for Creating Engaging Screencasts

I'm sure by now you might be familiar with the term screencasting. If you are not, it is a way of recording a video with your device's screen and/or webcam. In fact, if you watch my tutorial below, you are watching a screencast! 


There are a variety of screencasting tools out there; however, it makes sense for you to choose the one that will best fit the needs of yourself and your audience. Here are a few of my favorites:

How do you create engaging screencasts for students? Watch my video below for 5 best practices for creating engaging screencasts



Wednesday, April 7, 2021

How to Create a Multimedia Text Set (MMTS)

 Have you ever used a Multimedia Text Set? If you have ever seen one, you may think that it is another version of a HyperDoc, but there is a big difference. HyperDocs are digital lesson plans, based on pedagogy, collaboration, creation, and critical thinking. 

Multimedia Text Sets


A Multimedia Text Set (MMTS) is essentially a document containing links on a topic and uses multiple media types, such as videos, audio clips, articles, etc. to help students consume and explore a topic. Check out this Solar System MMTS example

Brain research tells us that students need multiple representations to understand a topic because we are using our background experiences, senses, and perceptions to form meaning. You might do this all of the time when you provide students with video clips, simulations, podcasts, and articles. However, a MMTS provides a proactive and structured tool for infusing different forms of media into learning. 

How Do You Create One? 

There are many great templates out there! Berg's 21st Century tools has several great examples and templates. I took a stab at trying to create my own Multimedia Text Set (MMTS) for a graduate course that I am creating. Watch the following video to learn more and see my first attempt! 




Tuesday, March 30, 2021

How Can I Use the Seesaw Blog Feature?

The Seesaw blog feature is a great way to provide students with an authentic audience on the web while keeping students safe! The blog feature can be public on the web and password protected. 

The blog feature is a great way to show exemplary work, share class news and events, and practice valuable digital citizenship skills like posting to online discussions and practice commenting on another classmate's work. 

The teacher is always in control! 

  • The blog can be password protected to add another layer of security
  • You have ultimate control over what is posted or not posted. If you need to, you can unpost something too!
  • Students can suggest something to "post" something to the blog; however, you have ultimate control on whether or not it is approved or not
  • All comments require your approval
  • You can turn the blog feature on / off

Want to see how it works? Check out my video below





Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Crash Course on Creating a Wakelet Collection

 If you have never used Wakelet before, I highly recommend using this tool to organize information, create assignments, or create a playlist.  Want to see my Bread Winner Wakelet? Click here. 

Crash Course on Wakelet 

Check out my video for a crash course on creating a Wakelet Collection! 


Why Do I Like Wakelet? 

There are several reasons why I like this tool! First, Wakelet gives you a variety of tools to share, such as websites, videos, write your own text, connect other apps (i.e. Google Classroom, Teams, etc), add photos, and add PDF's. 


Secondly, the Immersive Reader feature is amazing! Students can press a button and have written text read to them! What a great accessibility tool!


Finally, when you upload the link to a YouTube video on Wakelet, it gets rid of the advertisements and creates a smooth platform for viewing videos. 



Monday, March 15, 2021

Virtual Measurement Activity in Google Slides

Did you know that you could use Google Slides as a tool for virtual manipulatives? I was recently in a 4th-grade classroom, where we wanted to help students understand how to convert units of measurement like ounces to pounds and pounds to tons. 

We developed the following Google Slides presentation to help students. Students are asked to guess how many ounces are in a pound, then they are asked to drag the one-ounce boxes into the one-pound container. When they are finished, they will record their answer in the answer box. 

Feel free to access your own copy of this presentation here! 

Want to see how it works? Check out my video

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Create a One-Pager

 I recently came across a really cool assessment strategy for students called the One Pager. This strategy is based on the Dual Coding Theory by Allan Paivio, which "assumes that there are two cognitive subsystems, one specialized for the representation and processing of nonverbal objects/events (i.e., imagery), and the other specialized for dealing with language," (Instructionaldesign.org, 2021). 

The One Pager Strategy

The One Pager is an excellent strategy for combing language with nonverbal objects and imagery. I've created the following infographic to help you design your own! As a side note, you might want to check out the COSTA level framework for questions. 


How do you create a One Pager? Whether you are using paper or a tool, like Jamboard, it is very simple and shouldn't take too long. Check out my video tutorial below: 






Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Hack for Creating Jamboard Background Templates with Google Drawings

 Did you know that you can use Google Drawings to create background templates for Jamboard? This is a great hack for creating graphic organizers like T-Charts, Venn Diagrams, and Frayer Model templates. The best part is that it takes minutes, NOT hours! 


Check out my video below for how to do this! This is a game-changer! 


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Add Audio to Google Docs or Slides with Mote

 There has been a lot of buzz lately about a Chrome Extension called Mote and for good reason! Mote provides you with the ability to record audio in Google Docs or Slides. Want to give better feedback while editing a Google Doc? Want to easily add audio to your Google Slides presentation? Mote might be the tool for you! 


There are two different versions of Mote available, a free and paid version. Check out Mote's website for more information; however, one of the biggest differences is the amount of time you have to record. The free version gives you 30 seconds, while the paid version is 90 seconds. All recordings are saved on your Google Drive and are published for students to listen to on any device. 



Want to see it in action? Check out my video below




Monday, February 8, 2021

Think Pair Share Jamboard Template for Remote Learning

 How do you use Breakout Rooms for classroom discussion? One of my favorite strategies is combining Jamboard with the Think - Pair - Share model because it is an easy, but effective way of generating class discussion. Plus, it gives ALL students the opportunity to speak. 

How does it work? 

Open up your video conferencing tool of choice (i.e. Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) and share the link to your Jamboard. If it is easier, please feel free to use the following Jamboard templateNOTE: You will want to make sure that your Jamboard can be edited by anyone with the link!

First, have students think and write their response to the discussion question. 

Next, generate breakout rooms for students to pair up and discuss their responses. Most video conferencing tools like Meet and Zoom provide you with tools to predetermine or randomly select groups. In this example, I provided space for 8 different groups. 

As students are discussing their responses, I have provided a spot for them to place their answer on a sticky note. Notice that there is a specific area for students to place their answer. This might be helpful to keep the discussion organized. 


Finally, close all of your breakout rooms and discuss student responses.  Each group should have a spokesperson to share!

NOTE: At this point, you might want to change the Jamboard permissions from "Anyone with the link can edit" to "Anyone with the link can View." This will allow you to use the drawing tools to check off groups that have verbally shared their responses. 


Conclusion

Think Pair Share is an excellent strategy for any classroom! Pairing it with Jamboard can make remote learning even better! It provides you with an opportunity to post your question and have a space, where ALL students can participate and collaborate. 






Sunday, February 7, 2021

Do You TAG? A Great Tool for Engaging Online Class Discussion

 If you use Seesaw or another platform for classroom discussion, then you might want to check out this cool method of leaving class discussion! I came across this while I was doing my Seesaw Pioneer Program training and couldn't resist creating this infographic for more information! 

Feel free to download your own copy here! 



Friday, February 5, 2021

Check For Plagiarism With Google Classroom's Originality Report Feature

If you are like me, you look for ways to teach students valuable digital citizenship skills, which will help them throughout life. The shift to hybrid and virtual learning in many schools could possibly generate plagiarism issues. As we ask students to complete and hand-in more digital assignments, how do we make sure that students are handing in original work?  


The originality report feature in Google Classroom provides you with a tool to educate students on how to develop original works and avoid plagiarism. 

How does it work? 

First, you will open up an assignment that you would like to run an originality report on. Please note, as of February 2021, if you have a G Suite for Education account, you are entitled 5 free reports per assignment. Check out Google's article for more information on how to have unlimited access. 



Next, you will want to open up your assignment and run the report. Want to see it in action? Check out my video below


Conclusion

In conclusion, the originality report could be a great tool in your arsenal for many reasons. First, it provides an innovative way for teaching students the importance of creating their original work and citing another person's work for. Secondly, it can help keep students accountable and provide students with a safe space to make and learn from mistakes. 









Thursday, February 4, 2021

What Do You Want to Learn? Breakout Room Template

Looking for a way to keep students engaged in breakout rooms? It can be helpful to design a learning experience, where students choose what they want to learn and collaborate in a breakout room to learn more. 

For example, here is a template that I created called "What Do You Want to Learn?" Students have four different options for exploring Texas history. 

First, students make their selection by clicking the link of the topic of their choice and visiting the assigned breakout room (Zoom, Google Meet, etc.). 

Next, students work together in their breakout room to explore the topic. Notice that I have embedded different types of media to represent content. I also included a challenge for students to demonstrate their understanding of what they learned. 

Finally, you will want to think about workflow. How will you keep students accountable? Will you want students present their findings, upload their assignment, etc.? Do you want students to build a collaborative project or do you want students to complete something individually? 

Check out my video for more information.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Use Flipgrid's Mic, Screen Record, or Board Feature to Enhance Discussion

 Flipgrid offers several flexible options for students to participate in discussion and share their thoughts in meaningful and flexible ways regardless of their ability or disability. Some of my favorite options are the default video response option, mic only, screen recording, and board features! 


The following video provides you with a 2-minute overview of how to use some of Flipgrid's flexible and powerful features to take discussion to the next level. Enjoy!

5 Time-Efficient Ways of Adding Feedback in Google Classroom

Feedback is a crucial element to learning because it supports student learning, achievement, and engagement.With so many demands placed on teachers, it can be difficult to keep up with the effort needed to provide helpful feedback for students. What if there was an easier more time-efficient way of giving feedback? Here are five time efficient and effective ways to add feedback on Google Classroom! 

Check out my video or read below. 


  • Idea # 1: The Private Comment section of Google Classroom is the perfect place to have a private conversation between the teacher and the student. It could be a helpful place for students to ask questions in private without the judgement of their peers. 

  • Idea # 2: Comments have been around since the dawn of Google Docs. They are a great way to share ideas, links, and assign tasks (just use the @ and type the person's name). 


  • Idea # 3: The Comment Bank in Google Classroom is a database of canned responses or comments that you can choose from. You can copy and paste directly into the comment or use a # to directly insert your canned response into the comment.


  • Idea # 4: Use Suggestion Mode! This is a great way to go to town with edits; however, the student is the one that has to approve or disprove of it. 

  • Idea # 5: Mote is an awesome tool for adding audio notes to any Google Doc, Slide, etc. Visit the Chrome web store and download the Chrome extension. Once you download it, you can add comments up to 1 minute and 30 seconds. 











Friday, January 29, 2021

Sketch and Tell Bumper Sticker Template for Vocabulary Practice

 I am NOT a big fan of using technology for technologies sake. Instead, I am a fan of infusing technology with sound pedagogy. If you have been on social media lately, you have read a lot about the Sketch and Tell strategy developed by Eduprotocols. I really love this protocol for several reasons!

First, sketching and telling can be used on any device and with almost any application. Some of the most popular applications are PearDeck, Google Slides, Google Drawings, PowerPoint, and Keynote. 

Secondly, students have options for expressing their knowledge with different mediums, such as text, diagrams, and illustrations. 

The Sketch and Tell Bumper Sticker

Vocabulary is an important aspect of learning in any classroom. Although it may sound like common sense, research has demonstrated that academic performance and vocabulary knowledge are linked.  With this idea in mind, I developed the following template in Google Drawings for students to use different methods to define vocabulary. 

Want this template? Click here 

How Does This Work? 

The bumper sticker template contains two different tasks. 

First, students need to create a bumper sticker containing the vocabulary term, slogan, and an image or illustration of their term. Much like a Frayer model, this provides students with different ways of sharing the meaning of the word. 

Secondly, the "Tell Us..." section provides students with an opportunity to briefly explain why they chose to do what they did. Reflection is an important aspect of learning because it helps us make deeper connections with learning. 


How Could I Make This Even More Accessible? 

How can we design this in a way for more students to have access? Although students have the ability to draw and add text, have you ever considered adding an audio explanation option? You could easily download the template and upload it to a program like Seesaw or Classkick, where students can add an audio explanation of their idea. 




Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Easy 1, 2, 3: Create Your Own Accessible Book with Slides

Did you know that you can make your own accessible online textbook for students using Google Slides? Whether you are using it for a day, week, unit, or entire year, it's pretty easy. Check out the content below or watch my helpful video. 

Step 1: Add Content

First, open up Google Slides and begin adding text to your slides. It may be helpful to use a slide format that would reduce the amount of text on your slides, such as a single or double text format. 




Step 2: Accessibility Tips and Tricks

Next, you will want to begin thinking about making your book more accessible to all types of learners. Here are some ideas:

  • Adjust the Font! Consider increasing the font size to make text easier to read. It may also be helpful to use formatting tools like bold, italics, highlights, and different font colors for text to stand out!
  • Use Hyperlinks! Hyperlinks are great for providing additional resources to understand ideas and vocabulary words. Plus they are helpful for navigating through your presentation! Did you know that you can use hyperlinks to navigate to different slides in your presentation? 
TIP: Make links stand out by using the highlighter and increase font size!
  • Think about Navigation! Consider adding navigation symbols like arrows. You can use the drawing tools to draw the shape and hyperlink it to any slide in your slideshow. You also might want to consider using an Add-On like SlideContents to create a table of contents for students to use!
  • Add Audio! Many of our students with IEP's may need additional supports, such as text being read aloud. Use the Mote Chrome extension to record audio. Not only is this helpful for students with learning difficulties, it might be helpful for all students. 
  • Add Multimedia! Google Slides makes it easy for you to add video recordings, images, and animated GIF's to further illustrate ideas and processes. Remember that you can insert any YouTube or Google Drive video! Consider adding additional videos of yourself reviewing content, expanding upon ideas, and even creating a screencast demonstrating a math problem. 


Step 3: Publish and Share Your Book

Finally, it is time to share your book! To make things easy to navigate and access, you will want to publish your presentation to the web. I know that this sounds scary, but only people with the link will access. Simply visit the File Menu and choose Publish to the Web.  Share the generated link with your students via Google Classroom or another platform of your choice.



Conclusion

In conclusion, it doesn't take much to create an accessible book for your students. If you know the learning barriers that they may face, then you can design a book that will meet their needs. The best part is that your book is always up-to-date! Anytime that you make revisions or updates, your book will automatically update for students! 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Choose Your Own! 3 Choice Board Templates to Use in Any Classroom

Are you interested in creating your own choice board, but don't know where to start or don't have the time? In my previous post, I had mentioned 4 ways to design effective choice boards; however, the following post provides you with three templates to get started on choice boards:

  • Center Tic Tac Toe Choice Board
  • The 4 Course Menu Choice Board
  • Gamified Choice Board

NOTE: Effective choice boards provide students with opportunities to be flexible in the process of learning or developing a product. How will you provide students with flexibility in the product or process? 


Board 1: Center Tic-Tac-Toe Board

Choice boards often take the form of tic tac toe boards. Although it is helpful to provide students with options, there may be times when you want all students to access  the same material, such as a required article, video, etc. 

The Center Tic-Tac-Toe board has students get started in the same place - the center square on the board. After they have completed the task, students can choose 2 other resources to complete a tic tac toe. 


I added numbers to help students navigate the board. All students are required to complete number 5. I also included a few emojis from Joy Pixels' Emoji Keyboard, which serve as a scaffold and way of capturing student attention. Click here to make your own copy


Board 2: The 4 Course Menu Choice Board

Menus provide students with an opportunity to engage, learn, create, and reflect! The following choice board template provides students with a structured choice board with the sections below. Click here to make your own copy. 

  • Appetizers - This is generally a section where students explore or engage with the topic to get their interest. For example, students may watch a video clip or play a game to "hook" their interest and reflect upon it. 

  • Soup and Salad - This is generally a section where students learn something that will prepare them for the main entree! For example, students may research an article, video, or website, which will help them understand and demonstrate their understanding. It may be helpful for students to reflect in this section as they prepare for the entree! 
  • Entree - This is generally a section where students create a product to demonstrate understanding. For example, students may create a presentation or product demonstrating their knowledge of the topic. 
  • Dessert - This is generally a section where students reflect on what they have learned. Provide students with different options to reflect through different mediums. 
  • Tip - This is generally a section containing a rubric showcasing expectations and how students will be graded. It may be helpful to have a checklist of expectations for complete the project and an opportunity for students to assess themselves prior to turning in the project. 


Click here to make your own copy

Board 3: Gamified Choice Board

My final choice board provides students with an opportunity to accrue a certain number of points to complete the task. The more the points, the more difficult the task! 

If you take this approach, it is important to make sure that students understand your expectations and how they will be assessed. It might be helpful to use a tool like Orange Slice to create a custom rubric.

Click here for your own copy! 








Wednesday, January 20, 2021

4 Ways to Design Effective Choice Boards

Choice boards are a great way of infusing student choice and voice into your classroom. You might think of them as tic tac toe assignment boards; however, there are a variety of different formats to choose from:
  • Lists
  • Tic tac toe boards
  • Gameboards
  • Menus
  • Scavenger hunts

 

In my experience, effective choice boards have several things in common:

1. Goal-Oriented - effective choice boards are goal-oriented, meaning that they have a purpose and are aligned to measuring important skills and concepts. Check out my example of learning about Texas!



2. Engaging - choice boards are engaging, offer a balance of rigor and relevance paired with student autonomy and reflection. Check out my example of the 1893 World's Fair menu. 

3. Flexibility - effective choice boards are flexible in the product or process of learning. 

We are often familiar with something that is flexible in the product, meaning you have the option of creating a final product of your choice. Many students like the ability to have a flexible goal like this! For example, the following vocabulary choice board gives students the option to create a portfolio of the 3 best possible products for vocabulary practice. 


Sometimes you don't have the flexibility to create the product of your choice. Instead, you might have to offer students flexibility in the process. For example, students may have to write an essay; however, you could provide them with flexible ways of writing that essay. Perhaps students type or handwrite the essay, choose to use or not use a certain graphic organizer, or choose how they will edit their draft. Here is an example of a choice board that requires students to learn about a topic; however, they can choose from a variety of different formats to learn about it. 



4. Structured Choice - believe it or not, too much choice can be a bad thing! The sweet spot for student choice is between 2 and 9. A great way of offering student choice is to offer them choice on how they respond to a discussion question. For example, students may respond via text or a Flipgrid video. The idea is for students to have a choice in how they learn or show what they know. 


Conclusion

Choice boards are an excellent way for students to practice making choices. Whether it is determining the best strategy to write an essay or which product to create, choice is a powerful motivator. Remember, choice boards are goal-oriented and focus on meeting a standard, assessing student skills, or measuring student knowledge. Choice boards are engaging, offering structured choice and providing students flexibility in the product or process. 












Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Toy Theatre: Virtual Manipulatives for the Elementary Classroom

 I am a big fan of virtual manipulatives and hands-on learning opportunities for students in the classroom. When students have the opportunity to interact with content in different ways, it helps solidify abstract concepts into meaningful learning experiences. 

Toy Theatre is a great place to get virtual manipulatives and resources for a variety of subject areas geared towards the elementary classroom. 


If you are teaching virtually, Toy Theatre could provide a variety of learning options to help students learn multiplication and division, alphabetical order, symmetry, and more! Want to see this tool in action? Check out my video


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2 Minute Crash Course on Zoom Breakout Rooms

Want to step up your game on Zoom? Why not try creating Breakout Rooms? Breakout Rooms are a helpful way to break students out in discussion or instructional groups. One teacher that I know is creating a room for each of her students so that she can have one-on-one instruction with them. 

Need to learn how to do this fast? Check out my 2-minute tutorial below