Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Social Media Your Students Can Do

OK, so it's not really fair of me to use the title that I did, but I HOPE it caught your eye enough to be intrigued.

I try to focus a chunk of my time on is sharing out ideas that I've see or read about. I hope that activities I find are useful ... or maybe they are innovative ways of doing activities ... or possibly ways to better utilize the tech we have in our classrooms. Some ideas are well received. Others, I never hear a peep about.

If I'm being honest & upfront, this is not HOW to use social media, rather it is about how you can TURN social media into a productive and creative tool in your classroom. Writing doesn't always have to be paragraphs ... images in a report don't always have to be portraits ... critical thinking doesn't always have to take place in a huge time-consuming project ... conversations regarding tools in a program don't always have to be dry and lecture style ...

One teacher who entertains A LOT of my ideas is Beth Kingsley [@bethkingsley13- 3rd grade teacher who already does a fantastic job of incorporating tech in her room and trying out new ways to "do" school. 

Background: I read this on Twitter: [LINK to actual Tweet]

And I was INTRIGUED! I had to check out these Google Drawings @JenniferPeart used with her kiddos to make fake Twitter accounts for ... of all things ... the planet MARS! What??? In her tweet, she thanks Ryan O'Donnell, aka @creativeedtech, for his template.

Two of my FAVORITES! Templates and the recommendation from another teacher who has done it. 

Anyhoo ... Ryan's blog [LINK] has an entire page devoted to templates for "for student or teacher use".  How awesome! I shared this link with the teachers in the elementary buildings where I work.

Beth talked to me and said she was going to do the Twitter one for Groundhog Day! Of all things! But you know what? It is SUPER cool! Groundhog Day is right around the corner so it is timely. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Digital Flashcards You Can Do

During the last several years I was in the classroom, I strongly encouraged and supported positive study habits in my students.  I had majority of them for both 7th & 8th grade Social Studies, so I invested quite a bit of time in the 7th grade year building up the "tools" and then 8th grade I changed expectations to them self-selecting what worked best ... FOR THEM.  My one and ONLY study requirement was that they did SOMETHING. It didn't have to be my "thing" ... they just had to do something.

I cannot stress enough to all teachers out there - brand new & veteran - it was through the conversations I had with students following tests/quizzes that truly allowed me insight thus allowing me to support them in the future.  I needed to figure out how to support and empower my students right where they were ... not where I thought they "should" be.

One of the best things I discovered to help with meeting my students where THEY are is digital flashcards. I'm sure there are about a hundred different ones out there, but I have 2 favorites ⇒ Quizlet & 

Quizlet was a favorite for my students. I created the study sets (to ensure the information was correct) and gave my students the set title so they could easily find it & study. [There is also the ability to create a class to house your sets for even quicker access.] These were available to students from the very beginning of the unit. The coolest part about Quizlet ... Students have the ability to take that ONE set and to learn in multiple ways! 

The traditional flashcards are there, but depending on the student, "Test" were popular, as were the 2 games "Match" & "Gravity". I had several students who would also simply use my set to make their own, whether on paper or on Quizlet.

Better? It's digital - Students. Can't. Lose. Them. Ever. (And not to mention the # of 🌳🌲 we have saved is pretty cool!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tech Your Little Ones Can Do

Sometimes, the littlest learners don't reap the rewards of devices in the classroom. And to be honest, creating realistic activities for the littlest ones to really be able to do ... just sounds exhausting! 

Be rejuvenated! There are plenty of things out there for them (& you!). Don't be afraid to incorporate bite-sized tech into the class for them.  Several educators already have tackled this and are sharing their ideas, tips, and tricks. Here are a few of the ones I regularly see sharing ... add them to your PLN. 

Eric Curts is one of my absolute FAVORITE techies.  He's a fellow Ohioan who I've had the privilege of sitting in several of his OETC sessions as well as watching numerous of his FREE on-line webinars. He is a former classroom teacher who regularly shares ideas, tips, and templates. His blog - ControlAltAchieve - is an amazing website FULL of useful activities.  Follow Eric on Twitter @ericcurts.  Some of my favorites from Eric's vault:
  • 💖 6 Googley Wintertime Activities 💖 [LINK] - Six Seriously Stupendous activities for students of all ages ... it'd be tough to pick a fav, but for the littlest ones I'd recommend #1 Build a Snowman (Google Slides) OR #4 Pixel Art Ornaments (Google Sheets).
  • Pattern Block Templates and Activities with Google Drawings [LINK] - no need to purchase sets of pattern blocks or worry about losing them when clean up time is cut short.  This template supports learning about symmetry, fractions, tessellations, angles, and more ... all while also reinforcing tech skills of dragging and manipulating objects - can we say fine-motor?
  • The Future of the Google Drive Template Gallery [LINK] - the Template Gallery may not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking about how to better use Google in the classroom, but Eric does a great job in sharing how this gallery can really support the younger students (& yourself!) by providing a basic template. Students can focus on the information rather than the basic format of the document.

Friday, January 12, 2018

You Can Do ... Anything!

I've structured my blog around the theme of being able to "do" technology.  Today, I want to share a bit about the human side of technology. This is where the power in technology comes - the people.

I am excited to share that my district is embarking on a digital book study next week.  The prep work has been going on for some time and WE DID IT! We have over 50 registered!

"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

The book is an AMAZING one ... George Couros' "The Innovator's Mindset". The whole theme is right on his cover - "Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity". It's an inspiring and reaffirming read which I know will resonate with my colleagues. [And if this sounds like something you might like - don't question it ... get it! Read it! Don't hesitate!]

"Innovation is not about the stuff; it is a way of thinking." 
- George Couros

Now, technology has played a HUGE role in this - the planning, the roll out, the organization, and the sustainability of it. We built a website, are utilizing a badging system built off of a Google Sheet (thanks to Daniel Sharpe's BadgeU!), incorporating our LMS platform Schoology, sprinkling in Google Forms, Mentimeter, Twitter, Padlet & Flipgrid.  That's a LOT of tech, come to think of it, that we plan to do ... that we WILL do.  And it's all tech you can do, too!

"What we model is what we get."
- Jimmy Casas

A team of people put this all together ... a team of people bounced ideas off each other ... a team of people supported, encouraged, questioned, pushed & pushed back.  And if I can brag a little, it's a team of people that I am thrilled & honored to be a part of!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Google Drive Organization You Can Do

🎉 Happy New Year! 🎉

I'm starting this year off with my favorite topics - Google & Organization - and when you put these two together, I'm in heaven!

Remember the days of 4 drawer filing cabinets ... I do!  They took up a lot of floor space in my classroom (I might have even decorated mine 😆 ).  These are fabulous organizational tools ... and, at the same time, organizational nightmares! 
You know what I'm talking about!  

A lot of thought and energy was put into the overall organization of these file cabinets, but we all kept a section for papers "To File Later" ... which we rarely did! Your Google Drive can easily become the same nightmare ... but it doesn't need to be.

The new year is a great time to make the decision to organize your Drive.  Below, I've shared some basics to get you going.  But I must warn you.  It will be an ongoing task.  You will never be "done". Organization is something you must do regularly and faithfully.

Get Started:

"My Drive" ... the big picture ...

How do you organize? How is your day divided up? Content? Periods? Do you manage groups? What are the biggest chunks of your day?  Make folders to match these groupings.  Don't get hung up on how to organize inside these yet. Then, drag & drop individual files or folders inside these "main folders". 

Tip - if you have files/folders that you have no idea what they are, I recommend opening them and decide to keep or delete.  Don't be afraid to delete ... this is an incredibly important organization feature! 

Folder Names ... an overlooked tool ...

When you decide names for your "main folders", think about this ... does your brain organize by dates? By names? Be sure to use terms/phrases that you are familiar with. Keep it simple and broad.