Thursday, October 20, 2016

Beautiful Messaging

I recently came across the tool Pablo by Buffer as a great way to create some really awesome communication graphics.  While intended to be used for social media, I have found it a great resource for creating creative graphic slides for the message boards in our libraries.  While the feature to add quotes easily from the bank of available quotes is awesome, I to find that the ability to add my own text is more valuable.  The images are awesome and the search-ability make the tool really efficient. I have not only use this for our display screens but they make some great slides when inserted in a Google Slide presentation as well.  Give it a try!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Five for Friday - Resources I Just Had to Share

This week while working on the resources for the monthly Digital Teacher Challenge in my district, I spent some time digging into Apps.  Our theme for February is Get Appy!  I concentrated on apps for all different tools as we have Chromebooks (Chrome Webstore and connected Apps), iPads (iOS Apps), and Android Tablets (Google Play Apps).  Through this research I came across so many great resources both app and web-based, I thought it was a shame not to share here as well!  So here's Five for Friday!


Read with Me - This great app helps teachers to assess fluency in students using custom options.  Some of the custom features available in the app are the ability to add your own miscues, name the miscues in a way that makes sense and the ability to count or not count the miscue in the score of the student.  Additionally the reports look to be quite complete.  They are integrated with Google Sign-in and Schoology.


FlipQuiz - This jeopardy style review game is a simple fee way to make review games with kids.  Find quizzes already built or create your own.  You can add answers to the game board if you choose so that you can be hands-free and host the game as you walk around the room.  Because all the answers are built in, you have the ability to send students a link to the game and they can play and review at home!  This is a free resource but with the PRO version you will  will get in-game score keeping, the ability to add your personal images, and many other features.

Hstry -This great resources allows you or your students to build a historical timeline rich with media (images, video and audio) in addition to the engagement features of commenting and quizzes or checks for understanding.  Timelines can then be shared and easily embedded on a website or blog using the embed code generated on the site.  With the free service you can have 200 student timelines.  Explore this amazing timeline from their site on Life in the Colonies.

ApplicationAlgebra Calculator  - This great resource is a calculator that gives a student step-by-step help on algebra problems.  Students can use this to enter a problem and instead of the calculator generating just the answer, it generates each of the steps to get to the final answer with a short explanation of what those steps entailed.

ApplicationPeriodic Table - Chemistry Tools  This is a free interactive app for exploring chemical elements and their dependencies in the periodic table.  The app allows students to see the elements in various ways and makes the periodic table interactive.  See the elements, details, atomic structure, boiling point and more.  Student s can sort by properties, classification or state.









Monday, January 4, 2016

Quizizz - Make Learning Fun!

There are a number of review tools available for teachers to use to add interest to studying information.  I hear the sounds of Kahoot, Socrative and Formative and I get encouraged by the excitement that is stirred in students through gamifying studying that I remember being boring a laborious.  Another resource that I came across on Twitter today adds to the growing number of resources that can be used to encourage the excitement.
Quizizz allows for multi-player practice encouraging collaboration.  It does require that students under the age of 13 have parent permission, but it also has a way for students to play without registration.  Similar to other resources, once a teacher initiates a quiz, a code is generated for the quiz in which students enter to play.  Students answer the questions at their own pace and once they complete the question set, the can review their answers while awaiting the rest of the class to finish.  Quizziz has many already created question sets of which you can try out.  Give it a try.  Here's a quick video walk through.






Additionally, Quizziz has added a feature for homework in which you can launch a quiz using the homework feature that will allow you to set a deadline for the homework.  The assignment displays live and the reports feature will tabulate during the window of which you set for the quiz.  They have recently added a feature to this that allows students to resume a homework game that they may have started before.  This would be a great test review in which students begin in class and then finish at home!

Quizizz keeps a blog with some great tips that is worth checking out.  I'd love to hear from anyone who give this resource a try!  Let me know how it goes!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Geo fun with Google Maps

I could spend all day exploring the great things to do with maps in the classroom.  Between Google Earth and My Maps, there are so many ways to explore the earth and connect it to content in the classroom.  As I prepare to teach a class on this for staff, I got lost in the many games that are now available for kids to just have fun with maps.  What is really great is that they work on a Chromebook making it something that kids can do on their own devices.

SmartyPins is a marriage of trivia and maps that is wrapped up in a fun game for kids.  You begin by selecting a category (arts and culture, science and geography, sports and games, entertainment or history and current events). You are given 1,000 miles  certain  number of miles of which you can lose for inaccurate answers or gain for fast answers.  Areas currently covered are the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canda.

Another equally fun but more interactive map exploring game for kids is called Geoguesser.  This web-based game can be played in single player or challenge mode.  You are dropped in a street view map and you have to guess where you are.  You can move around the location, spin the view to explore and use clues to explore.  You gain points while trying to guess 5 different locations.  Additional games for various continents and topics are also available.  Learn about the location while experiencing real street views!  So much fun!


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dress up those Presentations!

A while back I learned about Slides Carnival as a resources for some great presentation templates to dress up Google Slides.  I used many of them and was pleased with how easy they were to copy and use.  Slides Carnival not only provides you with great templates but each template has some awesome presentation tips and guidelines for creating better presentations.  The second slide of the presentation generally give instructions for use as well as the attribution requirements for the graphics within the slide making it easy, clear and fun to build off of some great ideas.
This week I revisited Slides Carnival to see if there were new templates I might use and was pleasantly surprised to find that they have added several new ones.  And they are FREE!  Specifically the Halloween 2015 Slide Carnival Template Deck would make for a fun Halloween themed lesson full of pumpkins, cats, spooky font and more.  Check it out by clicking here.



From the last time I visited, only a few months back, there are 8-10 new templates for various topic and styled presentation.  They are so useful for their flowcharts, graphics and backgrounds.  Most of them include tables and maps but they all have a series of icons and clearly support a one color presentation styled focus.

Give Slides Carnival a peek to add some variety to your classroom lesson slides.  Communicate creatively!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Video on a Chromebook - No Problem!

More and more schools are equipping students with Chromebooks as another tool in the toolbox of the 21st Century educator.  Making use of the webcam is something that kids love to do but using it requires opening up app and resources that are not always the best for kids under the age of 13. While a resources like WeVideo is great, it has many steps and is not one I would consider to be a simple solution for a teacher that wants to do a simple one-take video.  So, I went searching, and I found it!


Clipchamp is a web-based service that is great for kids as  the videos that you make never leave your computer, there is no needed account to set up and it is free!  Students can record up to a 5 minute video using ClipChamp.  Once the video is recorded they can either download the video to their device or they can share it.  Sharing the video give them options to send the video to Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook or.... GOOGLE DRIVE!  Yea!  How perfect for schools using Chromebooks! ClipChamp is also available as a Google Chrome App in the Chrome Web Store here.


Simple directions for using ClipChamp are here:

Clipchamp is marketed as a video trans coder or converter so  you will notice that from the home page there are two options:

For classroom use and to simply record a video:

  1. Go to ClipChamp.com
  2. Click Record Video 
  3. Click to Allow the browser to access to webcam and microphone
  4. After the 3, 2, 1 countdown, record the video
  5. Once you are done, the screen will change to a green color and you will notice two buttons for "Share Video" and "Save to Computer"
  6. The "Save to Computer" will save the video 
  7. Hover over Share Video and option of:  YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and Google Drive appear in the drop down menu
  8. When you allow ClipChamp to save to the Google Drive, you will be given options as shown when saving.  Complete the form and Publish!

From Google Drive the video can be shared with only certain people.  The integration with Google Drive is key here because it allows students the opportunity to create a simple video and share it with their peers or teacher.  Another great tool to help kids show what they know!


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Simple Formative Assessment

I am always looking for an easy way to digitally complete formative assessment for teachers.  It seems like there are always so many different hoops to jump through to get to the actual assessment piece and so when my friend Tim Childers tweeted out about Formative, a great tool for collecting live formative results from students, I investigated.  (Actually, for most people who know Tim, we all listen when he Tweets, posts or otherwise makes his digital mark.  It is always good and you should all follow him here @tchilders.)

Formative assessment is loosely defined as assessment used to collect feedback that guide the lesson, and learning for the students.  Generally they are low stakes assessments that help personalize and support the flow of the instruction.  With that in mind, Formative is a tool for collecting information that helps the teacher better know what students need.

One unique feature of Formative is that it allows for personal responses in the form of written responses, drawings or even through the submission of an image.  With the ability for a student to submit an image or drawing it opens opportunity for creative unique responses that are otherwise hard to collect. A sample of the tutorial drawn responses is shown below.

With Formative teachers will be able to view live results of the students as they work in class.  Another great feature is the ability to share an assessment with other teachers.
Upon logging in as a teacher you are presented with the Formative dashboard and a tutorial and sample assessments to help you get going.  Formative also has this great Google Doc to walk you through their product.  Formative has a channel on YouTube full of various topics in which you can learn all you need to know.  They are very well done and brief enough to allow you to select only those that you need to get going.  The introductory video is here and should give you a great overview.

Formative's claim is that the tool works on any platform.  I have not tried it on all devices but I would guess that some forms of entry, such as drawing a response, would be easier on a tablet device than a Chromebook or computer.  Additionally, it is important to know that Formative's Privacy Policy requests that if a child in under the age of 13 that consent is obtained by a parent or guardian.

I am really excited to see how Formative can be used in various classrooms.  Please share or comment if you are or have used it!