Tag: ed tech

Remote Learning A to Z: P is for Practice Slides

Remote Learning A to Z: P is for Practice Slides

One of the many interactive activities in our new remote curriculum are sets of drag-and-drop practice created in Google Slides. These slides are an engaging way to deliver skill building and change things up a little. The best part: if you share a forced-copy link with your students, they will have their own copy to complete and return to you digitally!

In a previous post, I shared our interactive games in Google Slides. Our Practice Slides operate on the same idea of creating a Slide presentation where most of the background is a locked image.

Sample Slides from Our Remote Math Units

But don’t be fooled…these slides are not limited to math! A format like this is perfect for Cloze reading activities, matching sight words, vocabulary in any subject, timelines…basically anything you can think of that can be dragged and dropped!

The How-To

Do you want to make your own activities? The steps are summarized below. A step-by-step is also included here.

Create the Background

In this example, I’m making a math matching activity for primary students.

Create your background with anything you don’t want to move when students use it. Basically, you want everything in the image other than the pieces that move or places where students will type.

I create the background image in a Word document and set the paper size legal and the orientation to landscape. Then I snip the whole page and save it as a JPEG or PNG. Now it’s ready to upload into Slides!

Insert into Google Slides

You can upload your image as a background right in the window where you create slides, but I personally like to use the Edit Master feature. It allows me to have all my different backgrounds in one place.

To access this, go to Slide –> Edit Master. Then duplicate a blank slide, upload your background, and it’s ready to go!

Return to the main screen of the presentation. Click the plus sign to add a new slide, you you will see your layout there. Now you have a slide of your background!

Create the Images

Create a separate image for every item that moves. I usually create them in Word and snip each one, then paste it into the slide. If you want to get really fancy, you can upload it to a transparent editor like LunaPic to get rid of the white border around the snip.

You also don’t need to worry about the pieces you make fitting exactly into the spaces you created, because you will resize them in the presentation.

In some of our Practice Slides we have text boxes where students type instead of images to move around. In this case, you don’t need to create any images and can simply add in a text box wherever you want a student response.

Add Images and Resize

Drop all the images into the slide, and resize them if needed. You can see in this picture the original size of the image I pasted, and then the resized image of fourteen.

I have found it’s better to make the original snips/images bigger because the resolution when pasted into the slide is better.

The Finished Product

Set up your images in the format you want your students to see them. Test by dragging and dropping to make sure everything works.

Your slide is now ready to go!

Share Your Slides!

You will need to share the slides with students as editors, or they won’t be able to move anything around.

The easiest way to do this is to share a forced-copy link with students via Google Classroom or your LMS. Students will then make their own copy, complete the activities, and share it with you finished. Check out how to make a forced-copy link here.

Hope this helps make your teaching and learning more interactive!

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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: 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: 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: A is for Assessment

Remote Learning A-Z: A is for Assessment

All Kinds of Exit Tickets

Formative assessment is one of the most important things a teacher can utilize to collect real time learning data from students. Daily Exit Tickets: quick questions, problems, or reflections collected from students at the end of class or lesson provide a fast and easy window into student thinking. They help teachers decide who need extra support, who’s “got it,” and what to reteach in tomorrow’s lesson.

In the virtual world, formative assessment is yet another challenge for remote learners and educators. The things we used to learn by simply observing a student at work or collecting an index card isn’t so easy to do now.

Here is one more resource that can help! It’s a set of ten Tickets Out the Door (or Exit Tickets) that replace the paper we used to collect from kids at the end of a class or a lesson. There is a PDF of the paper ones for your reference, and for when you return to the traditional classroom environment. All these tickets are in Google Forms! Share the link with your students and (a bonus that couldn’t happen with paper tickets) you will have all their responses in a spreadsheet or summary to quickly figure out who got it and who didn’t.

We hope this makes your life a little easier!

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Collaboration

Collaboration

Collaboration Should Not Be Parallel Play

thoughts by audrey

Collaboration is all the rage these days.  If you have read the Common Core State Standards (as I have many, many, times) you can’t throw a rock without hitting a standard where students need to be able to work together.  Yet what we tend to see in classrooms – those activities where two kids complete the same paper, or the group projects where three kids sit together and watch the fourth kid (also known as, me)  do all the work – let’s just stop calling that collaboration.  Even tried and true teacher tricks like Think/Pair/Share and Turn & Talk, while great strategies for engagement and developing oral language, should not give us the confidence to check off that collaboration box if that’s where the buck stops.

So what is real collaboration, and why do we do it?  

First, the why.  I know it sounds crazy, but we don’t make kids collaborate just because Common Core says so.  We do it because it’s a skill they will need for all of eternity.  When you launch kids off into collaborative activities, it’s really because you want them to learn something from each other, and to see the inherent value that comes from working with people who think differently from them.  Isn’t it?    

 “In a true collaborative task, the task itself cannot be completed without the thinking and work of everyone on the team.”

So if that’s why we are doing it, what is collaboration?  In truly authentic collaboration, everyone plays a part.  This goes far beyond the jobs we are so fond of assigning to group projects.  Just because I’m the timekeeper does not make me a valuable member of the team.  If that were the case, you might as well give a participation grade to my smartphone.  In a true collaborative task, the task itself cannot be completed without the thinking and work of everyone on the team.  In true collaboration, the product you generate is better because you had more heads involved, not just many heads and hands working in parallel with each other.  Finally, in true collaboration, each one of your students should emerge from the task thinking differently than when they started.

But what about blended learning? There is no question that in the world of technological collaboration, Google is King. Don’t believe me?  Being ever the romantic, this is my very favorite video ever about the power of collaboration in Google Docs.   

Now that I’ve made my point, on to the essential question of this post:  How do we leverage those powers to their fullest potential? How do we also keep it real by using a few tools but using them well? Read on! Here are three of my very favorite collaboration activities using Google Suite:

        

Partner Venn Diagrams

When I was teaching, every first day of school, we did a Venn Diagram on how you are feeling – happy, excited, or both.  We actually did hundreds of Venn Diagrams throughout the year, as it’s such a great tool for comparing and contrasting, synthesizing, and analyzing.  
Using Google Drawing, students can insert images and text, as well as manipulate the diagram to suit their needs.  

SUPER TIP:  before you send the link, change “edit” to “copy” and it will force your kids to make a copy of what you’ve sent. 

Choose Your Own Adventure

Remember those books?  Or, did you see the Black Mirror episode? Google Forms has this amazing feature that allows you to jump to a certain section based on responses.  It’s not as easy as it sounds to create a CYA story, and there is a LOT of learning that goes on behind the scenes when you have students storyboard their path and then go through a revision process as they test their stories on each other.

Collaborative Newsletters

I know you know that feeling: every Sunday night…laboring over a newsletter for your families?  A few years in, I cottoned on to the fact that my kids should be writing (most of) my newsletter, not me!  But as we were pre-Google (I had an overhead projector, for goodness sake), every Friday I’d split the kids up into teams and have them write something about what we did.  Then on Sunday night, I’d still be typing all their little paragraphs into a newsletter.