Tag: google in the classroom

Remote Learning A-Z: U is for UDL

Remote Learning A-Z: U is for UDL

What Is It?

The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework was created by research organization CAST. UDL helps educators approach their teaching to meet the needs of all learners. The idea is that while the classroom environment may be the same, the learning experience of each student within the classroom should not be.

There are three fundamental guidelines in UDL, and the key idea behind each of the three big umbrellas is designing for multiple means.

Multiple Means Of:

  • Engagement: capitalizing on student interests and motivations
  • Representation: presenting and providing content to promote higher-level thinking
  • Action & Expression: allowing students to demonstrate and apply learning actively

Why Do It?

Outcomes of UDL

UDL done well benefits everyone. In a UDL classroom:

  • All students are clear on the learning outcomes
  • Multiple options for learning are available to all (through intentional planning)
  • Students have access to supports and resources throughout their learning (not only at the beginning, or at test time)
  • Students build their own knowledge, internalize it, and are able apply learning and see its applications to the real world

You can read more at CAST, and with a post from Understood. Below are tips for applying those principles in the design of your remote classroom.

Engagement

Capitalize on Student Interests and Motivation

We know when students are connected to the content, they are more engaged learners. In UDL, engagement involves capturing student interests, clearly defining learning outcomes, fostering collaboration, and self-assessment. See our posts Teaching Responsively and How are You Doing? for more on connecting with students.

Remote Engagement Tools for Synchronous Instruction

There are absolutely times when you need to be face-to-face with your students. There are times when direct instruction is needed. Even so, be cautious your online instruction isn’t always active teacher lecture and passive student learning. Try some of these tools to spice up your direct instruction and keep engagement high:

  • Games: Games just make everything more fun! Reading a nonfiction text becomes more engaging when it’s a scavenger hunt. Learning multiplication facts is more fun as a card game. And a little healthy competition with the teacher is always a engaging! See our post on Games for more ideas.
  • Interactive Slide Presentations: Student visuals are key, and it isn’t just because you can’t always count on your sparkly personality to hold the room. Visuals provide students with something to connect with as they are learning. Ask questions, play games, involve students in the teaching. See our posts on Presentations and Student Visuals for more tips.
  • Access: This would make me cringe too. But when you do present in real time, think about recording your lessons. This allows kids to go back and watch anything confusing. Did you know Google has a closed-captioning feature? Turn this on help support the processing of new information.
Remote Engagement Tools for Asynchronous Instruction

One benefit of asynchronous learning is that it allows students to move at their own pace. This frees you up to support and challenge individual students throughout. Many parent and educators are reticent about this form of instruction because it feels like without a teacher, how can students be learning?

Intentional Planning

But the beauty of asynchronous learning is that the teacher is very much still there. They just aren’t using precious time to stare at kids working independently. The teacher has designed lessons allowing students to show what they know, is giving individual guidance, AND collecting assessment data to plan and refine future teaching.

  • Screencastify: This is an incredibly easy to use tool to create narrated demonstrations and videos to accompany your slide presentations. It works with Google Chrome and the free version is solid. (More on that in the V is for Video post coming soon!)
  • KWL Charts: One of our favorite standbys, the KWL Chart, can easily be done in remotely. See our KWL post for ideas and tips.
  • Google Slides: We’ve sung the praises and versatility of slides in many of our posts, but one tip we haven’t mentioned is the ability to add videos (yours or someone else’s). You can even share these slides in present mode to students, building in pauses to solicit responses or give a task along the way.
  • Hyperdocs: These online tools have the principles of UDL built in. With Hyperdocs, students move at their own pace. They also explore material designed specifically to move them through the learning process. See our post on Explorations for more tips.
  • EdPuzzle: This is a nifty tool for using video for self-paced learning that also allows teachers to track views, narrate, and add questions. (Again, you’ll have to wait for V for more!)
  • Wonderopolis: This amazing program builds on students’ natural curiosity and is an excellent lesson starter to get students asking questions and seeking answers.

Representation

Provide Content to Promote Higher-level Thinking

Now students are thoroughly hooked, but we still have to teach them something! Research tells us this involves a combination of varied content, opportunities for inquiry, and student choice to construct knowledge. (See our post on Rigor for more information.) The UDL framework emphasizes rich content and rigorous tasks that encourage choice, critical thinking and comprehension, as well as ensuring access for all.

Remote Representation:
  • Student Choice: Student Menus and Choice Boards have been around for a long time. We like to use the Google Gameboard (pictured above) for a visually appealing option.
  • Real World Connections: Many websites have been stepping up to provide students with a ways to connect with the real world. The Smithsonian provides amazing virtual tours, and apps like Google Expeditions even incorporate VR into the mix. Here’s a roundup of 25 Ideas from We Are Teachers.
  • Newsela: If you don’t know about Newsela, stop reading and go there now! (Just kidding, go there after!) Newsela has tons of student-friendly, current event articles and ability to vary by grade/Lexile level within an article. It’s amazing!
  • Listenwise: Similar idea as Newela, but Listenwise adds the component of auditory comprehension. They offer podcasts and narration, as well as listening assessments.
  • Infographics: There so much learning in teaching students to read infographics. There’s even more learning in students creating them! (Think about how much synthesis, data, and visual representation goes into making one.) Programs like Canva, Easelly, and Venngage can help.

Action & Expression

Demonstrate and Apply Learning Actively

Even in a remote classroom, we can still provide students with ways to apply learning and show what they know. In UDL, we want students to communicate their learning, apply it, and reflect on it strategically.

  • Multimedia Presentations: Presentations are a natural tool for demonstrating learning in this environment. Be careful: without explicit parameters, the learning can be lost. See our post for how to support both the presenter and the audience for maximum learning.
  • Kahoot! I love the quiz program Kahoot! for all ages. It’s engaging, easy to use, and students can respond using any device.
  • Video Response: While I do suspect we’re going to see a little video fatigue soon, in this environment video is another way to everyone to connect. Programs like Flipgrid and SeeSaw are really useful for this.
  • Peardeck: This program works with Google Slides and also allows for videos, narration, and creation of formative assessment.
  • Socrative: Secondary teachers love this program for quick assessments and feedback.

In a remote world, teacher time is an even greater commodity that it used to be. In the end, designing UDL lessons can free you up to support the needs of your individual students. Time well spent!

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Remote Learning A-Z: S is for Student Visuals

Remote Learning A-Z: S is for Student Visuals

Many teachers have been using Google Slides for years as a visual support for their teaching, and continue to use this resource remotely. In this post, we’ll give you a few ideas to supercharge your student visuals.

We <3 Visuals

Our Student Visuals support your teaching of each lesson with graphics, screenshots, and more to reinforce the lesson objective and demonstrate key skills interactively. The beauty of these slides is that they can be used beyond your daily lesson. Post them for student reinforcement and review, screenshot slides for your LMS, share them with parents and colleagues.

If you are using Google Slides in your lessons, here are a few general tips to make them more engaging for students. (Our favorite is the potential in animation, which is an often untapped resource!)

Drag and Drop to Demo

This screenshot is from our Grade 2 Beginning of the Year Review. It demonstrates the concept of iterative units by using pennies and paper clips to measure a pencil.

In this slide, the pencil is a locked background image in the master, and the pennies and paper clips can me moved to measure. Students can follow along at home with their own materials as you demonstrate.

For more help with this feature, check out our post P is for Practice Slides.

Utilize Images

Our Grade 5 Beginning of the Year Review has a superhero theme. In this slide, students are introduced to the city of Sunnyside. For the lessons on multiplication models with arrays and area, this city of windows helps students connect to the lesson objective.

Examples

Below are a few more examples of images in our Student Visuals. In each case, these visuals support your lesson objective by helping you tell stories, encourage inquiry, and link learning to the real world.

Use Tables and Text Boxes

Our Grade 5 Unit on Expressions and Equations focuses heavily on ratio tables and input/output charts. Why not put a table right into your slide presentation to complete with students as you demonstrate?

Many of our games have accompanying recording sheets. As you will see below, you can add them right into the slide with a table!

Play Games

This a version of the popular game Race to 100, which appears in many of our units. In this slide, the hundreds chart is a locked image, but nothing else is. That way, you can pull a monster card and move your monster marker across the board. There is also a table to use as a virtual recording sheet!

For more tips for using Google Slides games, see our post G is for Games.

We <3 Animation

There are so many possibilities for engagement with the animation feature! Here are just a few:

Fade In and Out

A common warm up in primary classrooms to build number sense is to show a set of ten frame tiles for a few seconds and then cover them up. (Shhh…I used to do this with an overhead projector!)

Adding the fade in and out animation to your slides saves you from needing to get out your ten frames and your doc cam!

Appear, Disappear, Reappear!

Google animations let you select any image and make it appear and disappear. In this slide from our Grade 4 Beginning of the Year Review, animations support algebraic thinking. Here’s an example visual on balancing equations: the weights disappear, then move from one side of the equal sign to the other.

Fly All Around!

Google animations also allow images to zoom, spin, and fly in from all sides of the screen. This is especially fun with monsters and spaceships! The screenshot here is from our Grade 1 Beginning of the Year Review to demonstrate addition and subtraction story problems.

An Animation Example

I’ve saved the best for last to reward you for reading this far. This animation is my favorite, from our newest and cutest unit, Grade 1 Place Value. This unit is monster themed, and focuses on students understanding the concept of trading ones for tens.

Here are some screenshots of the animation. (NOTE: a lot of the the fun with this story is that the monsters fly in from all directions and spin around, which can’t be seen in the images below.)


Meet Ten! He lives in Tenland.

Sometimes Ten likes to visit the
planet next door, Onesland.

The monsters in Onesland all have a
different number of eyes.

Something very cool
happens to them when they get together.

Whenever there are more than
ten eyes together…

They disappear!

And they change into Tens!

With some ones left over.

Yay!

Hope these tips are helpful as you create your own student visuals. If they are, please like or leave a comment below!

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Remote Learning A-Z: Q is for Quizzes

Remote Learning A-Z: Q is for Quizzes

Teachers have been giving quizzes in Google Forms for quite a while. But Google being Google, they are always coming out with new features to improve this experience. For any classroom environment (remote or otherwise) I love two features especially: their self-grading option, and their ability to attach feedback at multiple points in the process. Also, I just discovered a super hack to password protect your form quizzes.

But First: Remember the Why

Before we get to the how-to, I have to get on my little soapbox about assessment. Remember, the fundamental purpose of assessment is to provide actionable feedback on learning, both to you and to your students. Often in assessment we forget about the actionable part. Assessment data, especially given the advantages to analyze it with technology, must be used to give teachers insight on where students are struggling and succeeding. On the other side of that coin, once we get data we need to act on it by modifying our practice for student needs. Otherwise, the information is just stagnant and you’ve missed a prime learning opportunity.

Ok, rant over. Let’s get to the cool features!

So Many Question Types

Google has really ramped up their selection of question types available for forms. The traditional types have always been available: multiple choice, true false, short answer.

Their checkbox feature allows more than one correct answer , which is a huge game-changer in crafting quizzes that move away from just choosing C.

Short answers have the ability be self graded, but can be a little tricky to anticipate for spelling and random capitalization errors so you have to check them over.

Long answers and essay questions are also possible, but those need to be self-graded. However, think of all the time you’ll save only grading the essay questions because Google will do the rest!

Feedback Options

Google Form Quizzes provide multiple opportunities for real-time and timely feedback to students. In addition to allowing students to view their scores as soon as the test is complete, you can also attach immediate feedback to any test question.

Forms even allows you to customize feedback based on the response. If the student answers correctly, you can give them a virtual pat on the back.

Opportunities for Review

If one of our goals is the mastery of subject material, giving students the ability to review answer and try again is key. That’s why I love the incorrect answer feedback! The buttons at the bottom of the window (yellow) allow you to attach a link or a video. If the student gets the question wrong, they can watch a video or read through a text and try again!

Automatic Grading!

Google Forms allow you to create an answer key and set point values (even for long answers), and then it will grade the answers for you. Once students submit the quiz, you get all the responses in not only a handy spreadsheet, but in a host of charts that break down each question. Details are in our help doc.

This little trick will save you a lot of time in the long run, as well as provide some incredibly useful data for by whole class, by question, and by individual student. Now you can quickly identify where students are struggling and where to target your teaching!

Review Questions Quickly

I don’t know how new this feature is, but I was delighted to discover you can now select a question and see all student responses for that one question. With essay questions, this is great because you can read each one, check a box to assign credit, and add feedback right there.

Sometimes Kids Can Be Turkeys

One of the biggest challenges in secondary teaching has always been creating quizzes that are cheat-proof. In a remote world, this problem has grown new challenges. In a classroom, it’s far easier to walk around the room and see if a student has their phone out. Over a Zoom meeting, this is much more difficult.

Teachers have made great leaps in practice over the years in developing assessment tasks and questions that are non-Google-able in a Google-able world, which is one of the best strategies to prevent cheating. But even so, students can always find inventive ways around even our best methods for locking things down.

Creating Password Protection

The brilliant Samantha Groess, responsible for our help docs on Google Docs and Online Explorations, also shared asolution to add passwords to Google Form Quizzes. I mean, really. It’s so much genius I can’t stand it!

Sam wanted to be able to post her quizzes on Google Classroom, but didn’t want students to be able to access or see the quizzes until it was time to take them. So these are the steps she took to password protect them:

Create Question #1

For your first quiz question, ask for a password.

In order for this to work, your question type can only be short answer, checkboxes, or a paragraph. (Usually for a password you want it to be short answer.)

Add Response Validation

Click the three dots on your question and select Response Validation. A dropdown menu will appear under your question. This is where you make the rule for your password.

Set the Rule

I chose to make the password a number, and selected equal to in the dropdown so there is only one password. I entered the unbreakable password of 12345, and added a message if someone gets it wrong.

See more about making rules here.

Add a New Section

Click the equal sign that hovers to the right and a new section will be created. You can see my first question is now Section 1 of 2, and my Quiz Questions are all located in Section 2.

That’s it! You are password protected!

A Note

A feature of Google Forms is the ability to shuffle the question order, which was useful when students were sitting next to each other taking quizzes. If you use the password hack, you can’t shuffle question order because then your password will be buried somewhere in your quiz.

What a Student Sees

Now, if a student enters the incorrect password, they get my error message. If they enter the right password, they are taken to the next section and can start the quiz!

A Few More Tips

There are many videos readily available on locking down Google Form Quizzes to prevent students from sharing test questions and answers. Here are a few other suggestions:

  • Create slightly different forms for each class period. Yes, this is a bit of a pain, but Google does make it a little faster if you make a copy and modify the questions.
  • Set (reasonable) time limits. This can prevent students from looking up information in another screen or on their phones.
  • Add the answer key AFTER the test results have been submitted. You can create a quiz and send it out to students. Once the results are submitted, enter in the answer keys and release the scores.

The Help Doc

We hope this helps you save time, something we know is always a commodity for teachers, but especially now. If you want more details about how to do any of these things, try our help doc here. If you have a tip for using Google Form quizzes, please leave it in the comments below!

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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: N is for Note Taking

Remote Learning A-Z: N is for Note Taking

You know what happens the first time you give a third grader a highlighter and a text to highlight? 95-100% of the text comes back highlighted. The reason for this is third graders loooovve to use highlighters. And many third graders don’t know what in the world they should be highlighting. This same phenomena also translates to high school: just because the teacher said “take notes,” doesn’t mean the student knows what those notes should be about or how to take them.

From about fifth grade onward, we start expecting our students to take notes, either on what we say or what they read. But many students have never been explicitly taught the point of note taking, or what makes a good set of notes. Note-taking is a skill we have to teach if we expect it to be done well, like just about everything else.

Why Take Notes?

My son was so thrilled when he found out he could bring one index card to his tests in science last year. He would spend hours painstakingly condensing everything from the unit in microscopic print on that teensy card. What he didn’t realize was that the act of rereading his material and figuring out what to include was helping it all stick in his brain.

The purpose of taking notes is to have a reference for the information you want to ultimately stick in your brain. Notes should be the most important points of something, but they should also be a way to process and synthesize new information. For so many students, they act stops at the writing and never gets to the synthesizing part. Many students take copious notes, but either they aren’t reviewed, or they are so dense that when they are reviewed, it’s just like reading the whole book once more.

What Makes Notes More Powerful?

Cult of Pedagogy has a great podcast and research roundup about note-taking. To summarize them (and others), here are some key ideas to remember about powerful note taking:

  • Note taking helps: just the act of listening and writing helps things stick in our long term memory.
  • More is actually more: even though we call it a “note,” the more complete they are, the better.
  • Teach note-taking strategies: I said that! (see above)
  • Add visuals: if you ever wondered why you like Pinterest so much, it’s because of visuals make a difference. Visuals help us access parts of our brain that we don’t thought traditional note-taking.
  • Revising, reviewing, and reflecting on notes makes them more powerful: this is a crucial piece often missing from notes, but it’s so important to make notes stick.
  • Scaffolding is important: Providing students with a template or outline helps not only teach students how to take notes effectively, but in the retention of information.
  • Handwriting beats digital, but…: the research is still sparse about this one, but what seems to ring true is it’s about whatever note-taking system works for the learner.

Read With a Pencil

This is a skill students can learn even at a young age. Reading with a pencil is essentially annotating a passage to create connections and meaning. It forces us to attend to the text (and not only an English text: this works for math too!) instead of skimming. There are tons of versions of this strategy out there, with different symbols and ideas. For young students, just circling confusing words or underlining one idea they like is enough.

Graphic Organizers

For another note-taking strategy that spans all ages, I really do love me some graphic organizers. When done right, graphic organizers are an amazing scaffold for supporting student processing of information.

To get your freebie PDF of this graphic organizer, CLICK HERE.

An important thing to remember is that not all graphic organizers fit all purposes. Before you assign one, always think about the purpose of the lesson: is it to summarize, reflect, or respond? Do I want to know what students know, or do I want to support them in making deeper meaning?

Then, think about the easiest way to achieve that goal. Sometimes an elaborate story map or flowchart can end up being more busywork than learning. In some cases, it might be an index card (virtual or not) with a sentence response.

Return Often

Notes aren’t very useful if we only take them. Writing the words down is only the first step: we actually have to return to them to make meaning and get it to stick!

Color Coding Helps!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to color code. Everything. But even if you aren’t like me, having a color coding system for your student to review their notes can help identify what the know, don’t know, and questions they have. Read on for a Google Doc template that can help you with color coding!

Add Visuals

As a Bullet Journal devotee, I love sketchnotes, and it’s not just because I like buying pens and washi tape. The images below are not mine; I could never do anything so beautiful. They belong to the amazingly talented Amy. I find these so inspirational in their beauty and organization. I try every month to be like her, but I’m just not.

There’s something so pleasing about these notes! My son, who hates artistic endeavors in any form, also dislikes sketchnotes. But again, it’s all about what works for the note taker. I will say this: the act of creating a symbolic representation of ideas tickles a different part of your brain and makes you think differently. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, encourage your students to try it. Not one has to look at them but you!

If you’ve been taking effective notes along the way, you may have noticed I haven’t provided any remote tools in a blog series on remote teaching. Remember, since notes are for the note taker, handwritten notes might give our screen-overloaded students a moment of offline time. But for anyone who’d like some resources for teaching note taking to students, here they are!

Notes in Google Docs

Google Docs is a great standby for note taking. It’s quick and easy to use, easy to share, and has all the word processing features you may need. But remember, a blank document is intimidating for anyone. Providing a template to scaffold students as they learn to take effective notes helps immensely!

This template in Google Docs takes students through the note-taking process and requires them to re-read their notes to summarize, color code, and comment with questions or confusions. The more they use this template, the more their note taking skills will improve.

Do you want a copy of this template? Of course you do! CLICK HERE.

Google Keep

Google Keep is a task management/note taking program that you may not know about, at least for student note taking. It’s available by clicking what we used to call “the waffle” in your account (the nine dots). It’s the one with the light bulb icon. There are quite a few ways it can be used for students, outlined in this article from Shake Up Learning. Here is a sample set of notes I took on story structure from the astoundingly brilliant Tim Storm.

Here are a bunch of things I love about using Keep for notes:

  • Easy : Just start typing and your notes appear!
  • Color coded: Need I say more?
  • Interactive: Students can upload images and files to annotate and add notes.
  • Visual: It’s visually pleasing, and also allows uploading of images, creating your own drawings, linking sources.
  • Reflective: Keep’s structure lends itself to review of notes, which we have already learned is key. You can go back and add more notes to anything, add any number of labels to help with organization, color code for things that are important or confusing.
  • Collaborative: in an area where Google is king, Keep also lets you share notes and collaborate with others. So many possibilities!
  • Organized: You can create as many labels as you want and then sort by those labels to only see them. In the example images below, you can see where I’ve labeled some things “Connections,” and others “Story Structure.” When I click on the label, it automatically only shows me the Story Structure Notes. Students could potentially take notes for all classes in one spot, then seen only those things by clicking the label. And when you’re finished with a set of notes, archive them!

Google Jamboard

In an earlier post I focused on Google Jamboard, the interactive whiteboard program. Jamboard is also a great option for quick close reads and notes! Simply drop in an image of the excerpt you want students to read, and let them go to town with the highlighter and stickies. And if you want to add visuals, this is the perfect place to do it!

Here’s a sample Jamboard annotation from Tim’s article:

CLICK HERE to see a PDF of this Jamboard.

We hope this helps your students make things stick! Let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below.

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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: 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!