Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Start With "The Why" - Student-Centered Learning Enhanced by Technology

Our school district has made the Future Ready District Pledge. Neuqua Valley High School has also been focusing on improving student-centered learning connected to the ISTE Standards. The Future Ready Initiatives give us another set of resources to learn and grow as educators.

In my building, when we talk about student-centered classroom enhanced by technology, we always start with "The Why" before ever considering the "How or How Much".

The new ISTE Standards for Students are a great foundation for "The Why".

I recommend that all educators take a look at the ISTE Standards for Students as they evaluate teaching and learning in their classrooms to be more "Future Ready".

Simon Sinek's TED Talk: How great leaders inspire action is another great place to start thinking about "The Why". 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Presenting with Purpose

Google Slides is a beneficial platform to use to present information to a group. While presenting, however, it is extremely important to assess the group in front of you to confirm that they are learning the content being presented. There are numerous formative assessment resources available to use alongside Google Slides, and one noteworthy extension is Poll Everywhere in Google Slides. 

This extension provides an opportunity to transform a room and engage all audience members. Any device can be used in order to get actively involved in the presentation, and all responses are sent automatically to Google Slides. 

Presenters can...
  • Create questions for the audience
  • Embed poll questions and surveys into Google Slides
  • Invite the audience to respond
  • Watch responses appear in real time in order to assess the room
Click here to add the Poll Everywhere extension to Chrome. 

Wait...There's More!!!
Here are more options for assessing your audience while presenting: 

  • Google Slides Audience Q and A
    With a simple link displayed on a Slides presentation, audience members can submit questions from their phones, laptops, and tablets—and vote on those they want answered the most. Click here to see it in action.
  • Peardeck
    With Pear Deck, bring interactive, engaging slide presentations to your classroom. Real-time formative assessments and discussions enhance understanding.
  • Nearpod
    Nearpod is a classroom tool for teachers to engage students with interactive lessons.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Get more out of your Revision History in Google Docs

We all know that Google Drive has a revision history embedded in the file menu where you can see the revision history of the document.   This allows you to see who has revised the document at any given time.  But what if you want to find out more information about the revisions?  I recently came across a new Google Doc Add-On called "Revision History Analytics" that does exactly that.  When you add this add-on and view the dashboard, you get a window of nice graphs that give you are more in-depth analysis of the revisions.  It will tell tell you how many revisions were done by each user (along with a graph), the number of total edits by a user and how many comments done by each user.

This tool can be helpful when you may be assigning a collaborative assignment and you want to see how the work was distributed.

Another useful tool in Google Docs is the "Draftback" extension for Chrome.  The Draftback extension will turn your Revision History into a short "movie" so you can see the revisions take place sequentially.  This tool is a good way to see what the students are contributing to the process.  It also can use be used to see if students are copy and pasting large amounts of text that may be an indication of plagarism.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Putting the Fun into Formative Assessment

Student engagement is the product of motivation and active learning. It is a product rather than a sum because it will not occur if either element is missing.” - Elizabeth Barkly

Learning should be exciting and fun. Nothing can take the fun out a classroom quicker than a scantron on a student's desk. All types of assessments have a place in a classroom, but relying on only a few traditional types of assessments makes the classroom a dull place for both the teacher and the students. 

Enter Game-based assessments and learning for the save. Students are more engaged when they are active learners in the process and the assessment. Game based assessments can build excitement for both students and teachers. There are many great formative assessment tools that can bring a competitive game show experience to your classroom.

One of my favorite formative assessment tools is Kahoot

Kahoot allows a teacher or student to create a learning game made from a series of multiple choice questions. Creators can add videos, images, and diagrams to the questions. Kahoots are easy to quickly set up. There are also "Public Kahoots" that can be copied and modified for your students. At last count, there were over 9.7 million Kahoots for almost every subject under the sun. 
Learn how to get started with Kahoot: Kahoot Professional Development & Teacher Resources


Kahoots can be played in class or outside of the classroom. There are more than 9 different ways to play. Students love competing with each other in a classroom setting. There are many built-in tools that encourage students to engage in the questions.
Learn more about the 9 Ways to Play Kahoot
When Kahoots are done in the classroom each question is followed by a view breaking down the responses. This is a great opportunity to clarify misconceptions and answer questions.. The results from a completed Kahoot can also be saved to Google Drive. 

Additional Game Based Learning Resources
  • Quizizz
    Quizizz allows you to create and play awesome multiplayer quiz games, both in class and at home.
  • Quizalize
    Quizalize lets you engage your class and deliver instant assessments for personalized learning on any computer, tablet or smartphone.
  • Socrative
    Socrative has both traditional assessment tools and some game based resources.
  • Quizlet Live
    Quizlet Live is an in-class, team-based learning game. Students work together to correctly match a Quizlet set of terms and definitions.
  • Triventy
    Triventy is a collaborative game-based learning platform, which allows teachers & students to co-author and play quizzes in class.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Amplify Teacher Voice Using TED-Ed

Passion, thought, creativity, and purpose all go into building a classroom lesson that will benefit our students. A dynamic classroom lesson includes engaging content and formative assessments that check students' understanding of the content. TED-Ed provides an outlet for teachers to create, share, and search for lessons that are "worth sharing" with other educators. Their lessons are designed to spark creativity and critical thinking, and assessment tools are included to check for understanding.

TED-Ed's video based lessons include a video to start the lesson, questions to consider/answer, more resources in order to dig deeper, and guided questions to discuss with others completing the lesson. 

Visit TED-Ed to...
  • Search by content, student level, video duration, and subtitles
  • Customize lessons you find in order to meet the needs of your class.
  • Create your own TED-Ed lesson by finding a video, adding questions/prompts, sharing your lesson with students, and tracking their progress. 
Watch the video below to learn more about this powerful resource. 

In addition to TED-Ed, here is a list of other beneficial video assessment tools: 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Google Tone - Chrome Extension

I recently came across a new Chrome Extension called Google Tone  It allows you to share URL's with nearby computers using sound.  For it to work, all computers must have the Google Tone Chrome extension installed and be within a reasonable earshot of each other.  Then, when you are on a webpage you would like to share, hit the little Google Tone button on your browser and you will hear a little succession of beeps.  Nearby computers will receive a notification with the sender's Google profile picture and the URL.  The receiver can choose to open the URL on their own PC.

Although their are various other ways of sharing a URL to others, this is another way that Google allows the user to easily share information instantly with others in the room.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Recap for Quick Feedback

There are a ton of good (and free) formative assessment tools for teachers these days: Kahoot, Socrative, Plickers, PollEverywhere, etc. Most are easy to use and can provide quick and powerful assessment information you need for teaching.

Recap is a newcomer to this line up that allows you to collect student answers in the form of short videos. Teachers can use their laptops to create recaps and students can respond using their smartphone, their Chromebook or other computers.

Quick Start Guide for Recap
A short guide to setting up your account and creating your first Recap.

It is very simple to use. 
  • The teacher creates a recap question using a short video or just text and assigns it to his or her class. 
  • Students respond by recording a short video clip and clicking on a thumbs up / down self-assessment poll button. 
  • Teachers can view the responses all at once in a continuous video reel, can watch each video  individually or by groups according to how students answered the self-assessment poll question (e.g. all of the Got it responses at one time). \
  • The video recording and playback all takes place within the program, so there is not need to use outside programs like YouTube.

Example Dashboard of Completed Recaps

The site is still in beta. In other words, they are still in the "almost totally ready" stage of development, but  their website says several key features are in development and will appear this fall. For instance, Google Classroom integration, the ability for students using an e-mail login to work with more than one teacher (there is a temporary workaround), ability to add co-teachers and parents. To see the features in development, see their website.