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Chat Animator: An Excellent Formative Assessment Alternative

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Chat Animator could be an excellent alternative for formative assessments because students can express their understanding through text messaging! When we provide options to recruit student interest , we generate engagement because students are connected to learning in meaningful and relevant ways. Most students use text messaging to connect with their friends and family daily, which makes Chat Animator easy to use and understand. How Do I Use Chat Animator's Texting Story Maker?  First, visit the Chat Animator website  to create your texting story!  Then, create your conversation! Chat Animator provides you with customized tools for creating a realistic conversation. Change the names of participants, upload profile pictures, and generate a text messaging conversation in the text boxes.  Finally, you can record and save your animation as a video (.webm) or as a GIF.  Scenario Imagine that you have taught a lesson on the properties of triangles. Chat Animator could be used for stud

The Fill-in-the-Blank Definition Template

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The Fill-in-the-Blank Definitions template is an excellent tool for scaffolding learning and helping multilingual students or all of your students learn new terms.  The following template uses: 1. Google Docs 2. Dropdown feature in Google Docs 3. Google AutoDraw A drop down menu contains a word bank of terms that can be used to help construct the definition of the term. Additionally, students benefit from using visuals to make connections with new vocabulary. Students can insert images from Google or construct their own using Google AutoDraw!  Check out my video tutorial or access my template here !  

5 Powerful Vocabulary Strategies for All Students

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I was recently listening to a presentation about multilingual or ELL learners. The speaker talked about the progression of language development and the importance of vocabulary and student performance. Then they said something so simple yet profound. They said, "we are all language learners." Sometimes, I need to remember that language is a progression, and we all have to learn new jargon and terminology anytime we learn something new. For instance, a high school biology student and a business education student must learn new vocabulary and jargon to progress through each course. The new teacher must learn the terminology and acronyms within the building.  All learning begins with vocabulary, but how often do I emphasize vocabulary during instruction? When I try to universally design my classroom, I need to proactively look at learning barriers and honor the variability in my classroom. For instance, why do my students get confused and bored when I teach vocabulary? One reaso

Yippity: Master Study Skills with AI

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Studying is such an important skill for students to master; however, many of our students struggle with basic study skills. Why is this? Learners may vary in their executive functioning skills, which help set goals, manage information, and utilize strategies to reach and master goals.  Our students sometimes need additional tools and resources to help them master study skills. If you do a quick Google Search, you will find tons of resources, tools, and strategies. I want to share with you a tool that I recently came across called Yippity.  What is Yippity?  Yippity is a free website that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create a list of questions and answers from a website or notes pasted from a document to help you study!  Check out this video below or read the text below.  How Does It Work?  Step 1: Copy and paste your URL or notes to Yippity.  Step 2: Click Generate and Yippity will develop a list of questions to study from!  Step 3 : Study time!  Yippity develops a list of

3 Hacks for Creating an Amazing Jamboard Template

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I was recently presenting at a webinar when a participant shared with me their frustrations with Jamboard. One of their biggest frustrations was that students can delete the activities they worked so hard to create. I suggested the following hack for making a Jamboard template and bonus interactive activity! I shared one of my favorite Jamboard templates of all time! The Mood Meter! Click here to make your own copy.  How Did I Do It?  Check out the video or text below to learn 3 hacks for creating your own Jamboard template.  Hack # 1: Create a Jamboard Slide Template in Google Slides First, make sure that you create a custom page setup of 1920 x 1080. Then, design your Google Slide as you wish your Jamboard background to look like. Finally, download your slide as a JPG or PNG.  Hack # 2: Set Your New Background After downloading your Google Slide as a PNG or JPG, you can open up a new Jamboard and upload your new background.  BONUS Hack # 3: Add Shapes to Make it Interactive In t

Random Thoughts on UDL Lessons

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The following video will share: 1. The Four Components of a UDL Lesson 2. Standards-Based Choice Boards ( Great Gatsby Example ) 3. Flexibility in the Product or Process 4. Single Point Rubrics 5. Adding Scaffolds and Supports 6. Force a Copy of a Google Doc and create a Template Preview 7. Google Smart Chips Watch the video below!

Polypad by Mathigon is a Game-Changer in any Classroom!

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Mathigon is indeed a "mathematical playground" for students and teachers alike!  If you are not familiar with this amazing tool, it contains a variety of free tools, courses, and manipulatives to make learning math engaging and accessible. Whether you are in an online, hybrid, or face-to-face learning environment, there are tools for you to use!  Polypad Mathigon's Polypad is one of my favorite tools because it provides manipulatives and visuals for students to understand fractions, numbers, geometric shapes, algebraic equations, and more! Brain research tells us that students need multiple exposures and mediums to understand concepts and topics. How Does it Work?  Want to see it in action? Check out my three-minute video  to see how it works! 

Develop Mastery with The Math Learning Center Apps

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I recently talked with a math teacher, who told me how important mathematics is to develop cognitive and critical thinking skills. It makes sense because both are extremely important for mastering the skills necessary to solve problems.  The foundation of math curriculum is often based on method standards, which show if a student has mastered a particular skill. If students fail to master one skill, it could lead to problems down the road as complexity tends to increase.  The Math Center Building background knowledge is an important strategy for scaffolding learning and helping students master content or skills. This can be accomplished by exposing students to multiple representations and examples. For instance, if you were teaching the value of money to a group of students, you may use manipulatives, video clips, and simulations. However, what if your students struggled with understanding the connection between the coin and its actual value? The Math Center has an excellent web applic

Develop Important Student Thinking Skills with the Thinking Routine Toolbox

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 How do you infuse critical thinking and decision-making into your classroom? Critical thinking is an important part of the learning process and developing important cognition skills; however, if you are like me, you tend to run out of strategies that students can use to model the thinking process.  I recently came across Project Zero's Thinking Routine Toolbox , which is filled with scaffolded thinking routines aimed at developing thinking skills within students. Interested in trying a routine out? Project Zero's website contains ten categories, such as core thinking routines, possibilities and analogies, introducing and exploring new ideas, and more.  For example, I often introduce new ideas and concepts to students. Don't get me wrong, the KWL charts that I often use are great; however, there are times when I want to try something out of the ordinary! I recently came across a thinking routine called Compass Points. Students are asked four questions corresponding to the p

Crash Course on Using Mentimeter to Engage Students

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 There are so many cool educational technology tools to choose from! Mentimeter is quickly becoming one of my favorites because I can quickly engage large audiences with various free tools and features, such as quizzes, word cloud generators, rating scales, etc. If you are just learning Mentimeter, the free version will give you all of the bells and whistles you need to create a great presentation! When you are ready to take it a step further, there are various paid options to choose from.  The following video will show you how to use the free version of Mentimeter! 

Quickly Summarize and Increase Accessibility with Smmry and Lexend

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Reading comprehension can be difficult for students of all ages. Smmry is a tool that can be used to support students who may need a simplified summary to support their learning. It can also be used to make the research process more efficient.  How Does It Work?  Smmry reduces the text to the most important sentences by looking for keywords and phrases, then removing unnecessary transition phrases, clauses, and examples. How does it work?  First, install the Bookmark widget on Chrome or visit the Smmry website. Next, paste your content in the text box, upload a file, or paste the URL of an article into Smmry. You can choose how many sentences you would like to summarize the text. Smmry uses 7 sentences by default; however, you can change this number.  Finally, choose "Summary" when you are ready, and Smmry will automatically summarize your article.  BONUS IDEA I love how I can use Smmry to provide students with additional support for reading a text. I like to provide stude

Map Skills Made Easy with MapPuzzle

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Cartography, or the ability to identify specific states, countries, and regions on a map, is an important part of learning; however, many of our students struggle with this important skill. There are a variety of reasons for this. One of the most common learning barriers is that student differ in how they comprehend and perceive information . In other words, they need options for representing material in a way that works best for them. Remember When You Were In School?  How did you learn to identify the location of specific states and countries on a map when you were in school? If you were like me, your teacher probably handed out a worksheet and colored pencils and asked you annotate and color each land portion.  This one-size-fits-all solution may have worked for my classmates, but I struggled with this particular strategy. For some reason, it did not "click" like my teacher had anticipated. I prefer more hands-on learning opportunities; however, that was not part of the cu

Use Tiny Wow to Convert and Customize PDF's, Images, and Videos

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Tiny Wow is a free website you can use to quickly convert and customize files, images, and videos into the formats you need.  For instance, PDF's are a very common file type in education because they provide a convenient format that is accessible on multiple devices and screen readers. However, educators often find themselves frustrated trying to customize PDFs to their needs.  Tiny Wow provides you with tools for quickly creating, editing, and manipulating PDF files to meet your students' needs! Have you ever tried to share a JPEG image; however, it appears in HEIC format instead? You can use Tiny Wow to change the format of your picture! Videos can be converted as well! How Does It Work?  Tiny Wow is free and simple! 1. Upload your file to Tiny Wow and choose your format 2. Tiny Wow will convert your file into the correct format 3. Download your file! 

Two Google Docs Tricks for Providing Students with Templates and Graphic Organizers

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If you are like me, you want to provide your students with the best tools, templates, and resources for completing assignments. I often attach these resources to Google Classroom; however, this can become very cumbersome if I have more than three links.  One strategy I found helpful is embedding templates and graphic organizers into my instructions in Google Docs. Instead of having students make their own copies, I have used the following tricks to "force a copy" or show a "preview" of the template. Then students can choose to use or not use the templates without remembering to visit File > Make a Copy.  How to Force a Copy or Create a Template Preview How does it work? Check out my video

The Key to Choice? Offer Flexibility in the Product or Process

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Teachers often ask me, "How can I infuse autonomy and choice into learning?" It's a great question; the key is understanding the power of choice. Choice is a powerful tool in creating learner engagement; however, the type of choice matters greatly.  It's NOT the Choice, But the Type of Choice That Matters Katz and Assor (2006) stated that it's not the choice but the type of choice that matters. They argued there are three essential elements of choice:  Autonomy - Do students understand the relevance and meaning of the task? Competence - Are students appropriately challenged, and can they master the task? Connectedness - Do students feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment? We, as teachers, sometimes struggle with providing our students with choices. There have been times when I have felt guilty and had to give myself permission to give students choice. There have been other times when I was frustrated by the lack of flexibility I thought I had.  We Have a C

Creating Engaging Google Docs Activities with Dropdown Menus and Emoji Reactions

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Have you seen some of the new features in Google Docs lately? I have seen a lot of ideas swirling around on social media about using the Dropdown menu and Emoji Reactions features on Google Docs. One of my favorites is a Cloze Reading activity by Eric Curts . If you haven't seen this, you should totally check it out!  If you are not familiar with these features, here is a brief overview.  The Dropdown feature is a great way of providing students with scaffolds and support for correct terms, numbers, symbols, etc. I decided to take the plunge and see how this could be applied in the foreign language (or any) classroom. Here is an example of this in action:  The Emoji Reactions feature is a great way for checking for understanding! Emojis could be used to demonstrate understanding of a term, analyze the emotional state of a character, or summarize a paragraph. The best part is that this feature has a collaborative component. In other words, you could ask students to work in groups

Amazing Google Lens Trick! Copy Printed Text with Your Phone and Paste in Google Docs on Another Device

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Did you know that you can use the Google Search App on your phone to scan, copy, and even translate a printed text on another device? You can literally scan a printed text from your phone and send it to your laptop with a few taps. This is a game-changer if you want to Universally Design your classroom and make printed text more accessible to ALL students!   Printed Text Limitations We know that learners differ in how they interact and perceive different media and printed text does have several limitations. First, you are limited in how you can manipulate and interact with printed text. For instance, you cannot change the font size or style. Secondly, hyperlinks to additional resources and tools cannot be embedded in printed documents. Finally, printed text does not have built-in speech-to-text tools.  Educators are sometimes limited by budgets and resources, creating barriers to creating accessible learning environments. This simple trick is free and how students learn in your classr

Extreme Makeover UDL Edition! Making a Self-Pace Google Slides Activity Accessible and Even Better!

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I recently saw an awesome self-paced activity using Google Slides by the Sprinktop Teacher ! It was engaging and well designed. As someone constantly thinking about the importance of design and accessibility, I thought..."how could I make this amazing activity even more amazing and accessible for ALL students?"  UDL Makeover: Making An Amazing Activity Even More Amazing and Accessible  Check out my video below to learn: 1. How to create your own self-directed slides in Google Slides 2. How to make your activity accessible Embedding audio in your slides with Mote or Vocaroo Adding scaffolds and supports with Screencastify   Making your fonts more accessible with Lexend Publishing your presentation and providing a QR-code generated from Chrome    Conclusion When we identify high-probability barriers to accessing learning activities and design with accessible options in mind, we can create highly engaging learning activities for all students. Check out more about the UDL frame

Making Reading Accessible Through Lexend

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Researchers have found that reading fluency is one of the factors that distinguishes good readers from poor readers; however, many of our students and even adults struggle with reading throughout their careers. In fact, a ccording to the US Department of Education , over 70% of the population struggles with some form of reading difficulty.  What if the problem was more than fluency and literacy?  In 2001, Dr. Bonnie Shaver-Troup discovered and designed a new font called Lexend to reduce visual stress and improve reading performance for struggling readers and those with dyslexia. Shaver-Troup found that the Lexend not only makes reading more for struggling readers and those with dyslexia, it actually benefits ALL readers. Researchers have found some powerful evidence for Lexend: Reading fluency is calculated to find the correct number of words spoken per minute. Researchers discovered that 90% of readers had better fluency scores with Lexend font than Times New Roman.  Reading fluency p

9 Ways to Make Your Presentations More Accessible to Students

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Presentations are an important part of the teaching and learning process. There are times when instruction must occur in small or large groups; however, are your presentations accessible to all of your students?  Variability is the rule and not the exception in our classrooms. When you have so many learner differences in one learning environment, you are bound to have learning barriers emerge. How can we make presentations more accessible to students?  Check out my vide o below for 9 ways to make your presentations more accessible to students.    As a reminder! There are so many different ways to make your presentations more accessible to students!  Guided notes and a “live” note-taker on a document camera / Google Doc. Take a picture of physical notes and post it to Google Classroom.  Use the Closed Captioning feature in Slides Screencastify  to record presentation Post materials to Google Classroom Periodic pauses for reflection Q&A feature in Slides for live questions Pear Deck

Take Your Instruction to the Next Level with YoTeach!

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 Have you ever considered using a chatroom in your classroom? I know it sounds intimidating because chatrooms and backchannel chats have had a reputation for misuse. However, YoTeach! is a teacher and student-friendly website that may change your mind. Why YoTeach!?  YoTeach! has so many great features like:  Password-protected administrative controls to filter for profanity and moderate conversations before they are posted Chat and voting mode Spaceboard - a collaborative whiteboard for students and teachers to use!  Drawboard - an individual board to draw, brainstorm, and add ideas Hand raising feature for students! Math doodle board which converts your handwritten content into digital equations!  How might you use this in your classroom?  Take your instruction to the next level and provide students with opportunities to connect, ask questions, and understand instruction in different ways. Here are just a few ideas! Provide students with a space to ask questions during instruction C

Accommodations for ALL Learners is the Most Amazing Website!

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Learners are highly variable in the way they learn and interact within learning environments. Unfortunately, not all learning environments and lessons work for our students because many are designed to provide a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. When we teach toward an "average student" (which doesn't exist), we can unintentionally create barriers in the learning environment and learning process.  The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework is a research-based method of designing accessible lessons and learning environments for all students. Although students are highly variable, all students need flexible options for:  Representing content Demonstrating understanding (Action & Expression) Engagement   Creating access begins with effective design and accessible tools. I recently came across an AMAZING website called Accommodations for All Learners  that is dedicated to sharing tools and resources to make learning accessible for all learners.  The website

You Can Get with This or Get with That: Infusing This or That Choice Boards in the Classroom

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Offering choice is an excellent way of creating engagement in the classroom. Simply providing choice is not enough. According to Katz and Assor (2006), the types of choices we offer students are critical. I like to say, "it's not the choice, but the type of choice that matters."  Effective choice should offer (Katz & Assor, 2006): Autonomy - Do students have opportunities for choice, evaluation, and decision-making?  Competence - Do students have an appropriate amount balance of rigor, relevance, and mastery?  Connectedness - Do students feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment? Choice shouldn't be a free frawl because too much choice can be paralyzing. The key is offering structured-choice that provides opportunities for students to exercise autonomy, competence, and connectedness. Research suggests that our brains are wired to handle between 2 and 9 choices. In other words, 2 - 9 options are the "sweet spot."  This or That Choice Board One of my

UDL Lesson Makeover: 1893 World's Fair Project

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One of the most exciting aspects of my job is to help other educators find solutions to make learning accessible to all students. For instance, I once worked with a group of teachers, who had a really cool project, but it needed some accessible options. Teachers wanted students to understand how the 1893 World's Fair inspired Milton Hershey to solve problems and innovate the confectionery industry. Teachers wanted students to create an invention and analyze it to achieve this goal.  How could we design a lesson that was accessible and provide all students with an equal opportunity to be successful?   Planning My Lesson with a POP Planning with accessible lessons that address learner variability begins with a POP.  I use this acronym to: Predict  high probability barriers in the methods, materials, and assessments that I am using Overcome  barriers with accessible options for how content is represented, how knowledge is expressed, and how students engage in learning (aka  UDL Framew