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Remote Teaching A-Z: M is for Multimedia Presentations

Remote Teaching A-Z: M is for Multimedia Presentations

Over the last decade, I’ve probably given hundreds of presentations to groups of educators big and small. Back when I started there was only PowerPoint, so that’s what I used. (Also back then there was New Coke, and I also had to press the letter S by pressing the number seven, four times.) A few years later many flashier products were released. I was one of the first to jump on the Prezi bandwagon. I loved Prezi, but I didn’t love how people used it incorrectly and made me slightly motion sick. And then there came Google Slides, which opened up a whole new world of presentation collaboration.

Then, there was the wave of “presentations are for the tragically unhip.” In this school of thought, a presentation makes you like your aunt on Facebook who doesn’t know the comment section isn’t for personal, back-and-forth conversations about your roast beef recipe.

Bah, I say.

While it may be true for business environments, it isn’t in teaching or learning.

As the Teacher

We’ve all experienced Death By PowerPoint: seemingly endless slides, ten point font, the guy from Ferris Beuller, and that silent prayer when you look through the printout and see there are still 29 left.

However, presentations, when done well, can also enhance your message and provide a crucial anchor for your students. Remember, they’re processing information that’s new to them. They need to visually be able to hold on to something, because it’s hard work mapping new knowledge onto old. A good presentation also serves as a study resource for students after your meeting has ended.

Teacher Tips for Powerful Presentations
  • Know your objective: Even as adults we rarely hear and comprehend the first time something is presented, and we shouldn’t expect students will either. Get to the point quickly and often. Put your objective in big, bold font at the beginning, middle, and end of the presentation.
  • Make slides engaging: Sometimes slides need more text. Sometimes they don’t. (The real answer to this question is in the tip above.) When you do have a lot of text, you can always break it up into smaller chunks. Or, consider writing the extra text in the speaker notes and sharing it with your students for reference. Either way, make sure your slides are easy to read and have a compelling visual image to accompany them when possible.
  • Build in interaction: Google Slides has a feature where audience members can ask a question and vote on it, but even without, think about moments within your presentation that you can stop and interact with your students. More importantly, when can they interact with each other?
  • Circle back at the end: Have students write a $2 summary on a Jamboard or IdeaBoard at the end of the presentation (10 cents a word, with key words free), or use a program like Kahoot! to make a quick, interactive quiz.

Student Presentations

As the Student

It’s not just about your presentations, either. Most state standards now require our students to have facility with presenting while using a variety of multimedia tools to do so. And what an important, lifelong skill to learn!

I will be the first to tell you that sitting through thirty student presentations is…challenging. And sometimes, sleep-inducing. Yet in remote and traditional teaching, student presentations are here to stay. So if we’re asking students to create and deliver these, why not take some proactive steps to ensure your students’ presentations are they best they can be?

Tips for Supporting Students
  • Teach presentation skills: like most everything, we can’t expect students to develop presentation skills without be explicitly taught. I like to show students examples of what not to do, partly because it’s funny. But it also has some great examples of what can go wrong when learning how to use presentation software. To get your copy of the presentation above, CLICK HERE.
  • Engage the audience: if you build an interactive requirement into the assignment (both for the presenter and the audience), listeners will be more engaged. Presenters might hold a question and answer, have a quiz question in the middle, or have a riddle that can only be solved be paying attention to the main point of each slide. Listeners can be asked to give a certain type of feedback, be on the lookout for a goal set by the presenter, or write a 20 word summary at the end. CLICK HERE for a list of ideas.
  • Use a rubric: provide students with a rubric that not only grades on the content of the assignment, but the presentation preparation, organization, and skills. This shows students that the presentation is part of the whole, and that the more they know about the topic, the easier the creation and delivery of the presentation will be. CLICK HERE for a sample Multimedia Presentation Rubric.

Hope you and your students benefit from these tips! Enjoy!

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Remote Learning A-Z: L is for Links

Remote Learning A-Z: L is for Links

More and more in the remote teaching world, we are sending students to a host of links for learning. In the course of a week, students visit dozens of website pages, documents, videos, and other programs. With prolonged exposure, this constant clicking can cause Link Fatigue.

Prevent Link Fatigue!

That’s not actually a thing; I just made that up.

Even so, the struggle is real. We want to provide as many engaging resources as we can for students. There is so much out there to share! At the same time, it should be simple for students and families to access everything without visiting ten separate documents to do it. Streamlining helps teachers as well. With time in short supply, you don’t want to be constantly creating a brand new template from scratch. And finally, if you’re anything like me, you also want it to look pretty.

Below are three strategies for creating appealing landing spots that you can reuse each week: Hyperdocs, Google Slides, and the Google Gameboard.

The Hyperdoc

Hyperdocs have been around for some time. At first blush, a hyperdoc seems like just a document with links, which fundamentally it is. However, upon closer inspection you realize it is much more.

The learning in hyperdocs comes completely from strong teacher planning. A great hyperdoc is designed to lead students through a learning process from engagement, to application, to reflection and extension. Essentially, we are virtually guiding students through a well-designed lesson plan.

One Possible Learning Process

Every hyperdoc you create won’t follow the exact same flow, but here is an example design I like to use:

  • Hook & Engage (essential question, KWL, class discussion)
  • Explore (video, close-read, teacher lecture)
  • Explain (quick whole-class check for understanding, brainstorm response)
  • Practice (collaborate with peers, complete practice problems)
  • Apply (create something)
  • Reflect (respond to what you learned)
  • Extend (provide resources for learning more)

I always find when I focus on the process as I create a hyperdoc, the lessons are so much more engaging and rigorous.

Are you hooked? The Hyperdoc Academy is your go-to spot to learn more and find examples.

The Google Slide

When you’re ready to change up your hyperdocs and add more images, I suggest using Google Slides. Slides is an easy, collaborative tool for creating visually engaging landing spots.

The beauty of this tool is you can upload any background image (including the Bitmoji classroom you spent three weeks making because those tiny book covers are so cute). The background image is then “locked,” so it can’t be moved or accidentally deleted.

A Sweet Example:

The exploration above (from our Grade 5 Expressions, Equations, and Coordinate Graphing unit) is created in Google Slides. Each cupcake is linked and takes students to the components of their exploration:

  • Vocabulary Preview: the green cupcake takes students to a Google Form survey. Students rate their familiarity with key terms for the unit. Bonus: you get all the answers in one spreadsheet to see what your students know before the unit even begins!
  • Cupcake Graph: since the unit is cupcake themed, the purple cupcake takes students to a Google Doc graph to weigh in on their favorite cupcake flavor.
  • Video: Clicking the yellow cupcake takes students to a video of a book that will be referred to throughout the lesson.
  • Response Sheet: the blue cupcake takes students to their Google Classroom, to respond to a discussion about the book they just listened to.
Ready to Create an Interactive Slide?

If you want to create your own engaging landing spots via Google Slides, CLICK HERE for a help doc with tips and tricks.

The Google Gameboard

Even if you’re a Google Docs kind of person, you can still make your link documents visually appealing.

Would you believe that this gameboard was made in Google Docs? All it takes to make this via docs is to change the background color and add a table!

After that, anything goes! Add in the links, spice it up with a few images, and you are ready to share. In this gameboard, I’ve added links both in the text and with some of the the images.

CLICK HERE to see the gameboard and access the links.

Hope this makes your planning and prepping easier!

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Remote Learning A-Z: K is for KWL Charts

Remote Learning A-Z: K is for KWL Charts

KWL Charts (What We Know, Want to Know, and Learned) have been around since long before I was a teacher…and when I was teaching my coolest technology in the classroom was my overhead projector! KWL Charts are still a standby because they activate prior knowledge, elicit questions, and allow students to reflect on their learning.

KWLs have evolved over the decades, though, even gaining a few letters here and there.

K-W-L Variations

If you do a search, there are quite a few variations of good old KWL. Here are some of my favorites:

  • KWHL: The H stands for How can we find out? Love that.
  • KWHLAQ: It’s a mouthful, but this one adds two things at the end that I also love: What action will I take? and What new questions do I have?
  • KWLS: The S stands for: What strategies did I use for this?

A Virtual Tool for KWLs

There are a lot of tools that can be used for KWL charts. Programs like Google Docs and Google Jamboard are easy ways to work in real time on these brainstorms together. Here is one you may not know about.

Ideaboardz is a great little tool for class brainstorms and KWL charting. It’s free, easy to create, and has some cool features that other programs like it don’t have. Also, did I mention it’s free?

How to Create an Ideaboardz

Create a Board

Go to the Ideaboardz site and click Create my own IdeaBoard. Give your board a name, description, and select a format. There are a few pre-made sections, or you can choose up to ten.

I chose four sections, one for each in KHWL.

Tell them you are not a robot, then click Create.

Grab the Link

Copy the link in your browser and send it to your students.

That’s it!

They can start brainstorming immediately by clicking on the green plus sign.

Vote, Delete, or Edit

When you click on a sticky, you can edit, vote for it, or delete it. It’s important to note that ANYONE can do that, even if you weren’t the author. Thus, it’s pretty important to set some ground rules with your students before starting a board.

Combine Like Ideas

This is one of the features I love most about Ideaboardz. In a brainstorm (especially a virtual one with your whole class at the same time) we know there will be many similar ideas.

All you need to do to combine stickies is to drag one on top of another. You will be asked if you’re sure, then the two are one!

For a little extra critical thinking and comprehension, ask your students read through everyone’s ideas and see where some can be combined. Not sure about what a sticky means? What an opportunity to ask clarifying questions!

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Remote Learning A-Z: J is for Jamboard

Remote Learning A-Z: J is for Jamboard

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Google Jamboard is one of the lesser-known apps available in Google Suite. The Jamboard is a nifty online, collaborative whiteboard. It is simple and user-friendly, so it’s quick for students and teachers to learn. Because it’s part of Google, it also integrates with Google Classroom. Jamboards are great visual tool for brainstorming, organizing a host of ideas,mindmapping, and storyboarding. I think of it like a virtual sticky-note board that lets me move everything around and never runs out of room.

How to Create a Jamboard

Find Your Jamboard

From your Google Drive, click New -> More and then select Google Jamboard.

Now you have a blank canvas (called a frame) to create!

Notice at the top that you can keep adding more and more frames to the same board. It’s possible to have your whole class on one Jamboard, with a frame for each student.

Jamboard Tools

There are some cool tools to select along the sidebar: pens and markers, text boxes, sticky notes (my favorite), and the ability to add images, animation, and shapes. There is even a laser pointer!

Text boxes and sticky notes will automatically resize the text when you resize the box. I love that!

Choose a Background

There are only a few backgrounds to choose from, but they work fine. I personally like to upload a great big image as a background because they look pretty, but that image is easily moved or deleted. (If the Google Gods are listening, it would be AMAZING to be able to upload a background that locked! Please please please please!)

Start Creating!

Now that you have your first board, start creating!

The example at the right is a rif on our More Brains are Better resource. With this example, share this Jamboard template with four students. Each writes an individual thought on a separate sticky, then they work together to form the thought in the middle from everyone’s ideas.

The template for this Jamboard is available as a freebie to you. Get it by CLICKING HERE!

Some Jamboard Tips

Some tips. In a Jamboard. That’s kind of meta, don’t you think?

Caution!

Because there are less of the standard Google tools available in Jamboard, you sometimes want more features. There is a limited selection of colors, and you can’t change the font. Also, a big consideration for teachers is Jamboard does not have Revision History, which is why it is better suited to quick brainstorms instead of more involved group projects.

More Jamboard Ideas

Here are just a few ideas for Jamboards: Venn Diagrams, A Question of the Day board, Classroom Graphs, Brainstorming Sessions, and (my fave) An Appreciation Wall. You can even start a new wall (frame) every day and have a collection of appreciations for your students to scroll through! (I wish you could see how that cute little green bean is when he’s animated!)

Have fun with this remote resource!

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Remote Learning A-Z: I is for Interviews

Remote Learning A-Z: I is for Interviews

This post highlights one of our newest offerings: a bundle of interviews and wacky questions to use in classroom discussions. These interviews are a useful way to stay connected. They encourage students to talk (and more importantly, listen!) to each other, share information and little known facts, and find commonalities. Everything in the set is in Google Forms, so you can share one version with students and read all the responses in one spreadsheet.

Printable and Google Form Versions!

Our set of interviews includes a teacher-to-family survey about your student and teacher-to-student surveys around mindset and preferences in Math and ELA. There’s a family history interview, which is perfect for students wanting to connect with a remote family member! Finally, we have two Partner Interview versions (for younger and older students) that students can use to talk with each other.

Bonus! Over 50 Questions of the Day!

What is your favorite smell?

When is the last time you read a book or watched a movie that made you cry?

Would you rather visit fifty years into the future or the past?

If you were a teleporter for 24 hours, what would you do?

This set comes with a PDF that can be used now or when you return to the classroom. As a bonus, we also included TONS of wacky, weird, and thoughtful questions that can be used for online class discussions or a Question of the Day.

Here’s a sample of some of the interviews:

We hope these are helpful! As a reminder, all of our remote resources are featured on our teacher page, with more added almost daily. You can click below to purchase or see a preview.

Have fun, and let us know how it goes by leaving a comment!

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Remote Learning A-Z: H is for How Are You Doing?

Remote Learning A-Z: H is for How Are You Doing?

In a remote classroom, forming connections with students is a challenge. Being unable to learn together physically makes it more difficult to get to know your students, or notice when one of your students may be having an off day. When we were in the classroom, it was much easier to spot when a child was feeling upset or acting different from their norm. It was also easier to intervene, ask questions, and help solve problems.

I know so many teachers who are struggling with this very issue right now. With all the energy and time put in for planning, making videos, holding class, taking attendance, making alternate plans when WiFi goes out…it’s hard to find time to check in with your students just to see how everyone is feeling. Then, when you finally do meet with your class, it’s a challenge to read their tiny faces on the screen!

Tons of Tips for Staying Connected

To help you keep forging those important connections with your students, today’s post is a roundup of strategies to help check in with your students, make sure they feel heard and appreciated, and also remind us why we decided to become teachers in the first place!

Start the Day with Connections

Superstar teacher Samantha Groess created a set of weekly check-ins on one Google Form for her high school students. (Bonus- they also help her take daily attendance!) Each day has a theme: Meaningful Monday, Technical Tuesday, Wednesday “Wonderings,” Talk About it Thursday, and Finally Friday. (She even wrote a cool little script so the spreadsheet answers are put into different day tabs…but that’s a tip for later in the alphabet.)

Do a Mental Health Check

You might also consider sending a daily survey (via Google Forms or other survey tool) specifically around how your students are feeling. For example, this teacher created a daily Mental Health Check that went viral.

End the Day with Connections

The end of the lesson is a perfect time to administer an check for understanding question or a question about how remote learning is working (try a prompt like Keep, Stop, Start).

This is also another opportunity to see how everyone is feeling. I’m stealing this example from a previous post (A is for Assessment), but Exit Tickets are a simple way to check in. A remote bonus is that in a Google Forms Exit Ticket, you get everyone’s individual answers and a class summary like magic!

Find Common Ground

Partner Venn Diagrams are great! And today, they can be done virtually in Google Slides, Drawings, or Jamboard. (I personally prefer Slides because you can lock the background image. But if your students are older, you can always teach them how to use the undo button.) Jamboard is faster and easier to use, but more on that in a few days!

Don’t forget to take part!

Kids can complete this activity with a partner, but teachers should also get in on the fun. Create a Venn Diagram to describe yourself, then share a forced copy with your students. Students can move images that you have in common to the middle, and add their own on the right side. Presto – you now know what you have in common with all your kids!

Want a FREE template? Of course I do!

Get to Know Your Class

A variation on the Venn Diagram that is individual is this FREE Getting to Know You Template. Students choose one of the backgrounds and add images that represent themselves. Don’t forget to make one for yourself and provide time to showcase class creations. Another option is to have your entire class paste their slides into one presentation and share it on your LMS as a slideshow.

The chart paper and sticky note graphs we used to use at the beginning of the year are a little harder to achieve remotely. Our Getting to Know You Graphs for K-4 can help you do this in a virtual environment.

Make Some Videos

On the subject of students learning about each other, my son’s biology teacher did a great welcome assignment using the popular program FlipGrid. He posted a welcome video and included clear directions. Then students posted videos with facts about themselves, watched other students’ videos, and were required to comment. It’s fast and easy to record a video response, too! Learn more about FlipGrid, here.

I’m sure a year ago no teacher thought they would become so comfortable with being on camera all the time. In addition to all those teaching videos you’re making, try and make a few quick ones just to check in with how your students are doing.

Give Some Love

Padlet is an visual and user-friendly tool for posting ideas, brainstorming, organizing information, and discussing. Why not create a Padlet Board just for appreciations or someone in need of a boost? Make sure to set it so that people can comment and give lots of <3. (SPOILER ALERT: There’s also a Jamboard version coming in Letter J!)

Ask Some Silly Questions

Utilize the discussion feature in Google Classroom or in your LMS to ask some silly questions too: What’s your superpower? What’s your warning label? What three books do you want on a deserted island? Would you rather always be dressed up or always wear your pajamas? You can learn a lot with these kinds of questions, and students can learn a lot about you too!

If you’re looking for more silly (and thoughtful) questions we have over 50 for you in this pack with our remote interview Google Forms.

Buddy Up

When we go swimming, hiking, or scuba diving, we should always have a buddy. Remote learning should be that way too, especially since classroom connections are more of a challenge remotely. Assign your students a classmate buddy on a rotating basis: change it up every week or every few days. Buddies are responsible for checking in on each other at least twice during the week, either informally (if you prefer) or more formally (with sentence starters or a google form) and reporting out.

You can even jump into the rotation here and there, which will let you check in with students individually throughout the year!

Get Creative

Watching my husband spend two days on his Bitmoji and teeny-tiny Bitmoji Kindergarten classroom seemed a little over the top to me at first…but these fun things help students feel like their virtual world is a little more personalized. Take a break from the teaching and make a Bitmoji Classroom or a goofy meme to share with your kids!

We hope these ideas help you make better connections with your kids in this challenging time, and we’d love to hear what you have done or plan to do to stay connected with your class!

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Remote Learning A-Z: G is for Games

Remote Learning A-Z: G is for Games

When I was in the classroom, my favorite way to teach math was through games. This is a lot harder to do in the virtual world, especially when a lot of online games are glorified versions of flashcards and don’t require a lot of strategy or critical thinking!

Remote Learning A-Z: F is for Forced Copy

Remote Learning A-Z: F is for Forced Copy

One of the easiest tricks in Google Suite is one of my very favorites: the forced copy. When you send a forced copy link, it does just what the name implies: it gently (and very politely) forces your recipient to make their own copy that doesn’t end up changing anything on your original.

How did you live without knowing this? In case I haven’t sold you yet, you want to use this trick when:

  1. You want to share a document but you want each student to have their own copy.
  2. You want to share a template you made for students to use as a model.
  3. You don’t want to share a document and tell students to make their own copy, because let’s face it…sometimes they don’t. And then stuff gets messy.
  4. You don’t want to make 32 copies of the same document and have it cluttering up your Drive and never find it again because you can’t remember what you originally called it.
  5. You want to share something with a colleague but you want to keep your own copy intact.
  6. You want to save time.
  7. You want to look super tech savvy and impress others.

Convinced? Okay then, here’s how to do it. This works with docs, slides, forms, jamboards, anything! Also, it’s so easy!

Step 1: Adjust Sharing Settings

First make sure the sharing settings are correct on your doc. Click the Share button in the corner and make sure your file is set to anyone with the link can view. (Note: on Google Forms you have to set it to anyone can edit.)

Click DONE.

Step 2: Change the Link

Up in the bar of your browser, you will see the very long link for your doc. See that backslash and the word edit? Delete everything that comes AFTER the backslash and instead type the word copy. The select that whole link and share it!

If you want to test it, you can do this in an incognito window. I would tell you more about that, but I need something to tell you when we get to Letter I. So stay tuned!

What They See

When someone else clicks on the link, they will be asked if they want to make a copy. They’ll click the blue button and get a file that is called “Copy of” and the name of your document. That’s it!

Remember, if you are sharing with students, they should usually rename it using a standard convention (First name in the front of the title, initials, etc.). They will also need to share that file with you; right now it is private only to them.

Hope this made your life a little easier! Enjoy!

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Remote Learning A-Z

Remote Learning A-Z

26 tips for remote teaching
For 26 days, we will be bringing you tips, tricks, and freebies for remote teaching! Here is the list so far:

Follow us and never miss a tip!

Remote Learning A-Z: E is for Exploration

Remote Learning A-Z: E is for Exploration

In remote learning, a challenge is providing opportunities for student skill development and make it engaging at the same time. Our Online Explorations are open ended and visually appealing for students. For teachers, Online Explorations deliver formative assessment tasks that support you to differentiate learning.