The deeper you dig into the world of Google, the more you discover. After attending several workshops on Google Apps, I ran across some information regarding Google Maps. Using your gmail account, you can go to http://maps.google.com/mymaps and you can create your own Maps that allow you to integrate data collected in a Google Forms Response Sheet or any Google Sheet.
Here are a few tips on how to use this in your classroom:
In the past several years, many different web tools have developed to help teachers administer tests and quizzes in the classroom. As schools advance further toward 1:1 computing and as schools go BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), administering tests has become easier.
Two of the best I have found for classroom use are discussed here:
Socrative started out as an independent testing tool and was quickly snatched up by MasteryConnect. It provides a free, simple to use interface that allows teachers to create and deploy their own tests. Students can connect to assessments using any web enabled device (class computer, iPad, Chromebook, phone, etc...).
When you create your account, Socrative provides a Room number that students connect to. From there, you can deploy pre-created quizzes/tests, or as a quick question on the fly. Best of all, with Quick Questions, you can also allow students to vote on the best answer to create discussion.
This site is great for stepping up student engagement. If you've ever been out to a restaurant and you played trivia on the TV monitors supplied by the chain, then you'll get the idea of this tool. We recently started using this during lunches to draw students into the cafeteria.
Kahoot allows you to create your own question sets, or choose from over 1 Million public question sets over a wide variety of topics. You can find something for everyone, ranging from Trivia Crack to Math and Science.
Students can use cell phones or computers to engage with content. A Game PIN is provided when you launch a question set and students join in by entering the PIN and a nickname. A leaderboard shows the top 5 point earners to create a competitive spirit. Great for reviewing for tests!
Google Forms were originally developed to survey or gather information from respondents. But with this easy to use tool you can quiz your students, flip your classroom, or create a discussion tool.
Forms for Assessments
If you'd like to find a quick way to create quizzes without the hassle of hand scoring assessments, try using Google Forms with the Google Sheet Add-On Flubaroo. Watch this video to see how it works:
Flip Your Classroom
If you've recently made the switch to a flipped classroom, Google Forms can make your life a bit easier. To ensure that your students are watching your videos as homework, add a short Form with a few questions as a check for understanding.
Just as you can insert questions, time, date, etc... you can also insert videos into a Google Form. Watch this video to see how:
Finally, if you want to change things up a bit, you can use a Google Form as a discussion tool. You'll need a website to post your form for a discussion, so I would suggest using a Google Site so you can embed your form there.
First, create your form with questions.
Using the Send Form button, copy the HTML code for your form.
In your Google Site, edit your page and click the HTML button.
Paste your Code.
To make this less confusing, I usually type a work like "Frog" in the space where I want my form to appear. Then when I open the HTML editor, I highlight and paste over the word "Frog".
Update the HTML Code and Save Changes
Here's my form. Fill it out and provide your own answers, then see what others are doing with Google Forms by scrolling down to view the Response Sheet.
Then, to allow everyone to see the responses of others, you can embed your Google Response Sheet on your webpage or blog.
From your Google Response Sheet click the File Menu
Choose Publish to the Web
Click Publish and select OK
Copy the Embed Code
Click to Edit your Google Site.
Open the HTML Editor and paste your embed code into your Google Site.
As each new respondent submits, their answers will show up in the posted sheet so everyone can see and discuss. This is a good way to create an archive of answers that future learners can benefit from.
Recently, in the discussion board of my Differentiated Instruction class, we talked about different ways to teach students and ways for students to show understanding. Much of the class focuses on student learning styles and as we talk about our own hangups in terms of learning. I run participants in the class through a discussion of what learning styles mean for students. In doing so, we talk about how not all students are alike. You will have some who are visual learners, others auditory, and some kinesthetic. If you follow Gardner's train of thought, it can be more complex than that, but in either case, if you focus solely on an auditory means of teaching (standard lecture), you're going to lose more than half of your audience as your visual learners can't picture what you're saying and your kinesthetic learners - well let's just say they're itching to get out of their seat and out of the room! To get teachers in the mode of understanding the impact, I have them take a Learning Style Quiz to see where they lie on the spectrum of learning. Try these for yourself and your class:
After they take one or more quizzes to assess their style, I ask teachers to reflect on their own learning (what life was like in high school for them) and how they feel this impacts their teaching style. As they do so, they start to see how some kids could easily be left behind (no that was not an NCLB reference) in the process of presenting content. This quickly gets us onto the discussion of student work. We discuss the use of video content to present work in new ways that allow a bit of auditory and visual content. By creating your own content on video, you can flip your classroom and save time for other tasks such as projects and labs. Take it one step further and get your kids to create content of their own - a kinesthetic learners paradise!
Try these free and cheap tools to start creating your own content:
Screecast-o-matic - http://screencast-o-matic.com/ - record anything on your computer screen, with audio, and save to YouTube or as an MP4 file to your desktop.
In order to know that your students understand what is being taught, you need to assess them. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of a simple Multiple Choice test that can be auto-scored by a computer, but let's face it - to gauge true understanding, kids need to show us. So why not lend them a hand and let them collaborate! Use the tools above to help them in creating content to show understanding. Use a Rubric to grade the process.
But sometimes, regardless of how content is presented, some students never understand on their own. IF they stay within their silos, they soon become frustrated. This is why collaboration is so important. Collaboration is key in assisting with understanding, but also fostering creativity and generating new ideas. By placing students into groups and stations, you can create an atmosphere that allows for true collaboration.
Group work and stations - Get students to work toward assessing content, checking for mistakes, applying understanding by creating their own journals - but have them do it in groups that rotate through stations. As students move through each station, they can work as a group to comment and correct material at each station. When they move through stations as a group, they not only benefit from the work of their own group, but the ones who have rotated through the station before them, as they begin to dissect comments and corrections made by others.
If you don't have the time, but you have the technology, have your students work in collaboration outside of the classroom in a Discussion Forum. Discussion Forums are great for vetting new ideas, Q&A sessions, help with homework, or just simple project collaboration. Here are a few resources to help you get started:
Today's Meet - https://todaysmeet.com/ - If you'd like a simple backchannel style discussion thread that students can interact with in realtime, Today's Meet is a great free option. You can setup a web link for them to access, and you can choose how long you want it to stay open. You also have the ability to download a copy of the discussion to print.
Finally, there is no greater way to get kids to show understanding than writing. Blogs can help. If you want to call it journaling, you can call it that too, but in either case, the very act of writing gets students to hash out their ideas and thoughts. Assign students activities that they have to blog about. One great way to do this is to have kids create technical instructions. Give them the task of explaining a concept such as math or scientific procedure in such a way that their English teacher can understand it - and do it on a blog or discussion forum. This idea came from a workshop on literacy integration in our school. Wonderful idea!
WordPress - https://wordpress.com/ - Wordpress is a wonderful free tool to use to get your students into blogging. There's also an app for it for iPad users.
Blogger - https://www.blogger.com - If you have a Google Account, you already have access to a free Blogging Tool. Use Blogger!
What does all of this have to do with learning styles? That's where we started, right! Well, as a kid, one of the things I always hated was taking tests. And creating dioramas - don't even get me started. I was the type of kid that would blow it on a test, but I could always write a great essay (that may not always be evident here). I hated making dioramas or cell projects in science, but I could make a mean poster! A student's learning style has a great deal to do with their strengths. Some kids are very musical/rhythmic, so why not allow them to show understanding by writing a poem, song, or dance. Others are very visual, so whay not allow them to use that to create visuals that teach others through use of a cartoon.
Allowing students to play to their strengths seems very simple, but many teachers don't want the complexity of grading a hundred different projects. My answer is to go back to rubrics. Design a simple rubric around the concepts/standards you want students to focus on in the lesson. Then use those key points to grade their project - not on creativity or pieces such as number of slides in a powerpoint, but their ability to relay content in such a way that others can understand it!
So what if you receive a myriad of different projects, in all sorts of media formats! Allowing students to use their creativity means they will have more fun with it and possibly learn something in the process. Think about this - what are your most memorable projects from school? Were they the ones that allowed you more freedom to create in your own way, or were they the ones that forced you to do the same thing everyone else did?
As our district gathers steam in implementing Google Apps, we are in the midst of creating opportunities for training. One of the best ways of providing valuable information to our teachers is through the use of short video tutorials. With that in mind, I have started creating a series of Tiny Tutorials which I am sharing in this post for anyone interested.
Sharing a Google Doc
Sharing a Folder in Google Drive
The third video of the series is a little different from the rest, as I am experimenting with WeVideo, an add on to Google Chrome. For those interested in Google Chrome Apps, you can get WeVideo here.
This article is probably overdue, as we are already more than halfway through 2014. But as the school year is still fairly new, I thought it was worth addressing. As educators know already, the past five to ten years have created a sizable shift in technology, instruction, and the way students learn. As we have moved from an era of flip phones to carrying around small computers in our pockets, it is clear now more than ever, that technology changes have given us the ability to teach in ways we have never been able to before.
The difficulty is that we are also thrust in an age of confusion. There are so many new ways of integrating technology that the educational environment has become chaotic. Which new technology should schools buy? What trends do we listen to? Do teachers abandon old practice for something they are unfamiliar with only to find it doesn't work?
The key thing teachers and schools need to remember is that change should not be something that is rushed into. We need to take advantage of the experience of others and the vast amount of research that has been done in terms of educational technology. A big fear is that technology is replacing teachers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although technology has changed, students will still need teachers as a guide, facilitator, and purveyor of learning. Not all of our students are technologically savvy or are as advanced as others in terms of content. Rather, technology now affords us the ability to differentiate education in ways that allows us to cater to the needs of all learners.
All this being said, I am using this soap box to pass on a few key information sources that can be valuable to teachers and administrators:
New Media Consortium Horizon Report - This yearly report defines up and coming trends in technology for the next 1-10 years and the impact those changes will have on teachers, teaching, and education. Pay particular attention to page 6 covering teacher roles and page 32 covering important developments in technology for schools.
Edutopia - Technology Integration - The George Lucas Foundation funds this website which focuses on providing best practices for educators. This specific link covers all articles on Technology Integration in the classroom. Everything from Differentiated Instruction to The Flipped Classroom can be found here.
Google Educators of Oklahoma - Facebook - this facebook page was set up for teachers in our district to stay apprised of new changes to Google Apps for Education as we make the shift to Google. It was expanded to the state to allow anyone to keep on top of Google updates. Articles are curated from many sites around the globe.
Edudemic - This site provides articles covering many different topics in education, most of which are related to technology integration.
Sandite Exchange - PLCs - this in district site was developed for our teachers to share and exchange ideas. The PLC page, still in its infancy, is growing as we add more resources. If prompted to login, choose login as a guest.
Hopefully these resources help you and your fellow teachers in finding valuable resources regarding technology integration. As trends change, use these resources to stay on top of things.
This question is actually not a new one. Clickers have been in decline in recent years as online options have changed. But the topic came up recently as I worked with a few teachers in setting up a classroom for use with student response clickers. The question came up as to whether student response systems were worth the time or if mobile solutions were better.
For those of you that may or may not remember, for years, eInstruction, Renaissance Learning, and Smart Response among others, flooded the market with Student Response Systems. These systems consisted of a computer program in which the teacher could create and deploy test and review questions that students could respond to using hand held clickers. Of course this was not a new idea as it had been around for years. These companies had just gotten into the business of perfecting and selling the idea, which was a good one.
Flash forward a few years, and teachers started to see the emergence of free options that allowed students to use mobile devices to respond and interact with classroom content. Some of the following may ring a bell:
What does this mean to the classroom teacher who can't afford to buy an expensive set of clickers? If you are in a school that has gone 1:1, or you have a checkout lab or iPad cart, these online solutions allow you to create and deploy tests in your classroom for free. Free is definitely good in my book. Plus if you use Google Forms, you could create quizzes or exit ticket questions to go with videos for the Flipped Classroom.
Whatever situation you are in, we are now in an educational age where free technology is closer to our grasp than ever. Make use of it in any way you can to further your educational goals. Just remember that technology is the tool, not the main focus. We need to work hard as educators to help students learn that there are several tools out there to help them achieve their goals.
Recently while teaching an online class on Differentiated Instruction, I found that many of the teachers involved in the class had gotten the fire in them and were excited about finding resources and implementing DI in their classroom. Rather than let them leave the class with no path to keep them going, I put together this list of resources the help them find what they needed. The emphasis I placed on the end of the course was for them to build their Professional Learning Community. Finding the resources to help students starts with building a Professional Learning Community. There are tons of resources out there and it can be daunting. My solution is to put social media to work! Here are a few places on Social Media to start:
There are other tools you can use to gather your newly found resources in one place so they are easier to digest. Some of these tools, I have shared in previous articles, while others are new. I hope you find them useful:
ScoopIt! - This tool lets you choose topics and websites so you can digest all those articles out there on the topics you are interested in.
Flipboard - Similar to ScoopIt, you can gather twitter feeds, facebook pages, magazine articles and websites into a magazine style resource so you can put all your interests in one place.
IFTTT - When sharing what you have found, you can use If This Then That (IFTTT) to put recipes together that make your life easier. For instance, if you post a resource on YouTube, you can have IFTTT automatically let your fellow teachers know on Twitter. If a new article pops up on twitter with the topic "iPad Tips", you can have an email sent to you.
Paper.li - turn your twitter feed into a paper that publishes daily, then have an email sent to you so you can read all your favorite resources like a newspaper.
Finally, if you've never used these resources before, here are a few websites dedicated to making the teaching profession better
Edutopia - The George Lucas Foundation has a vested interest in helping teachers learn and grow to help students. Visit their site, or create a free account so you can keep up with trends in education.
Edudemic - This site provides resources for teachers and students with the goal of infusing technology into the classroom. Check this article out on their site to start http://www.edudemic.com/great-edtech-twitter-chats/
This week, teachers in our district received their Teacher Login for Google Apps for Education. When I teach classes on Google Drive and Google Apps, I often get skeptics who aren't sure why they would take the plunge. Many just don't want to let go of the things they have traditionally relied on. With that, here are a few reasons I give for the switch:
You can go paperless - Google Drive and Google Classroom let open up the possibility of pushing assignments out to students in the form of a link to a Google Doc, which students can copy and then fill in. Then they can resubmit the lesson for grading. Plus, inside Google Drive, you can comment on student work and share it back with them in real time, meaning they can receive feedback immediately - with no need to wait on papers to be passed back.
No more flash drives! - I used to carry around a small case that held all of my flash drives so I would always have my documents with me. But with Google Drive, you can have all of your files with you as long as you have access to the internet. That means on a computer, your phone, your tablet - anywhere! But often people say, "what happens if the internet goes down?" If you download Google Drive to your computer, your files are synced from the web to your computer - so you have a backup!
Publish your files to the web! - If you have presentations that you use in class or in meetings, you can publish your Google Slide presentation to the web or embed it on your Google Site. Then any changes you make in the future will be available on your site and with others you have shared in real time.
Collaboration - By sharing a doc, you can work from anywhere at any time with others in real time.
Put Google Drive to work for you - There are tons of Add Ons and Scripts that allow you to put Google to work for you. For instance, in our Virtual Academy program, I have a form that I use for enrollment. Our counselors fill the form to let me know what courses our online students need. Once the counselor submits the form entry, a script called Autocrat automatically merges their selections with a document that is emailed to me!
In an effort to help our teachers understand the world of possibilities this opens up to them, I am also publishing a few links I have found to be helpful with Google Apps and Google Drive.
Recently, our district decided to make the switch to become a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school. We are in the middle of the transition and are slowly adding teachers to our district account, one site at a time. This transition has made things simpler for me, and the discussion that I have had with several teachers has gotten them in the mode of thinking about how Google could be leveraged to making their lives easier too.
The difficulty I have had is helping them understand just why they should use Google Apps. The biggest and best answer I can give is that Google allows the following:
Free Cloud Storage - 15GB for a Free user, 30GB for a GAFE Teacher
Access to Google Drive
Real Time collaboration - share docs and collaborate from anywhere at anytime with an Internet Connection
Google Docs - word processing in the cloud
Google Forms - for quizzes and tests
Google Sheets - for collecting and sharing data
Google Slides - convert your PowerPoints into slides and access them from anywhere.
...and the biggest...NO NEED TO CARRY AROUND FLASH DRIVES ANYMORE!
To help our teachers learn how to use these apps, I have created a few tutorial videos that I wanted to share with everyone.
Google: An Introduction
Beyond these videos, there are several links that will help new users keep up with Google News:
For teachers that want to go to a paperless classroom, the one drawback is finding a free solution that allows you to distribute work and still collect work without complication. Many teachers have a dropbox account and have created public folders so that students can submit work. The problem with this is that students can see everyone else's work, which leads to problems with academic integrity, cheating, and plagiarism.
Today, I ran across a great solution that will help teachers using Dropbox. This tool is called Jotform. If you go to Jotform.com/dropbox, you can create a form that allows students to submit assignments to your dropbox account. Its pretty simple as long as you already have an existing dropbox account and you use the link above.
To get started, you'll first need to go to http://jotform.com to create an account. Then, follow the instructions below to create your dropbox form.
You'll be asked to login to your Dropbox account and link it to Jotform.
After linking the two accounts, you'll get a link and an Embed code you can use to post your form online.
A form template has already been created, so all you need to do is click Next when prompted.
After the process is complete, close the popup window and go to My Forms. You can see and edit your form at any time.
After you create your form, you can always go back to Jotform and find your Embed Code and URL for sharing. You can also edit this form to include collect other information such as Class Period, Grade, etc.... If you click the Integration button, you can also integrate other services besides dropbox.
Once your Dropbox account and your Jotform account are linked, you will see a new folder in your Dropbox account called "JotForm to Dropbox". You'll want to test our your new form for the first time after creating it.
This is a great alternative if you are not a Google Apps for Education school and you are a religious dropbox user. My suggestion would be to create a separate dropbox account apart from your personal one that is used only for your classroom. Then start collecting student work!
One of the biggest complaints I hear from teachers is that they just don't have enough time in the day to grade papers, commit to extra duties, attend workshops, or search the web for professional learning opportunities. And I have to say that I agree - it is very hard to fit all of that into a busy schedule. But one big things that has helped me this year, is that our school district has joined SimpleK12.
In terms of professional growth, it takes a great deal of time and many don't have that time, but the question that keeps nagging is whether or not you want to...
* Learn about the latest technologies helping other teachers excel?
Join discussions with other educators about implementing new standards?
* Stay in tune with what matters most in today's schools?
* Feel up-to-speed on the "latest and greatest" strategies and tools?
All these questions are important to our roles as teachers. Finding all of these things is a huge task, and SImpleK12 makes it a little easier by putting it all in one community.
If you answered YES to any of the above, join me inside the hottest education
resource: SimpleK12’s Teacher Learning
It's a little soon to be talking about the first day of school, I guess, but a class I taught today got my mind going about back to school. In a class on QR Codes, we were discussing the different ways that QR codes can be used in the classroom. When you take into consideration that mobile devices can open up so many options for learning, QR codes seem an obvious pathway to providing tips, hints, or answers to frequently asked questions. But as we talked it became evident that one clear cut solution for back to school is to provide a QR code for new students and parents. That QR code could be a link to:
a supply list
an introductory video
a guided tour of the school/classroom
In order to create your own code and provide access to these and other pieces of information, you need to keep a few things in mind.
First, where will you store your information?
Google Drive - Store documents and slideshows in your cloud based account. Just make sure that in your sharing options you have set your document so that it can be viewed by anyone with the link. Click Share and change "who has access" to "anyone with the link".
YouTube - Any video that you create for tours or introductions to your parents and students can be stored on your YouTube channel. Just copy the link to share.
Second, how can you create your QR Code? Make sure you copy your link from the item you want to link back to from your code, then go create a code on one of these sites.
QR Stuff - This site makes it easy to create a QR Code from any link.
Finally, make sure when you print off your code or post it, you do the following:
Let users know what information is being shared (i.e., Syllabus, supply list, Meet the Teacher Video)
Provide users with a link to a QR Scanner if they don't have one.
Print or post it large enough that it is easily seen and easy to scan.
Here's an example of a QR Code linked to a Back to School Doc:
When you create your code, post it on your door so that parents and students can scan it during schedule pick up or meet the teacher day prior to the start of school. If you do this, you have the satisfaction of knowing that your students will have easy access to a supply list prior to the first day of school. Plus, your parents will love you for getting this out of the way early!
While looking through twitter today I ran across this resource: Technology Resources For Teachers - http://t.co/Bxk7DMJnkh. This link provides a list of resource guides for several great current topics in educational technology. But while looking through it, the thought ran across my mind how social media has made gathering resources so much easier than just a few years ago.
Prior to Twitter and Facebook, the search on the Internet for resources was tough if you didn't know where to look- even tougher before the advent of the Internet. But in the few short years since social media has taken hold (Facebook was born in 2004, Twitter was born in 2006) there have been several apps created to help in gathering resources.
Here is a short list of places to make your research easier:
Twitter - create an account and follow your favorite educational organizations. Search for others to follow by looking under educational hashtags - Hashtags from Cybraryman
Facebook- create an account on FB and do the same as above.
Hootsuite - download this app for your mobile device and access all your social media news feeds from one place.
Flipboard- follow your favorite topics from RSS feeds to social media. Create a magazine to archive your favorite articles and share it with others.
ScoopIt- similar to Flipboard, follow your favorite topics and sources. Create your own archive and share it.
Evernote - another app/service to gather your thoughts all in one place.
The great thing about all of these links is that their services are accessible from your mobile device. If you haven't jumped into social media yet, then what better reason than to make your search for ideas and resources a little easier. Start today!