Thursday, September 17, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Lists: Part One

There is a new post up on the new blogger account. Click here to read Part One of two for making quick & easy book lists in the classroom!

Book Lists: Part One

Monday, August 3, 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

New account is streaming!

My new blogger account is up and running. You can find it at wabacon1.blogspot.com. I shall be posting this weekend & I hope to start posting more regularly again. It's been a busy summer!

I will be posting links to the new blog for my first couple of posts. Please check out the new blog & email me with any future post requests and/or questions! My email for the new account can be found here!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Updates

Two things: 

  1. I am in the process of switching this blog over to my personal email address, all posts before this will stay preserved on this blog but all new posts will begin to be posted from that Google Account. I will keep you up to date on here of when it has been fully switched & give you the new URL address!
  2. I have started uploading my instructional screencasts to my Youtube channel, please check it out for instructional tutorials on how to do different things relating to using Technology in the educational setting! youtube.com/user/wabacon There are just two currently uploaded but there are many more to come! (Remember, it's a busy time in the school year, 6 days left of students!)


Any questions, as usual, please email me & follow, +1, and share!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Flippity Tools

Flippity is a website that has customizable templates that can be downloaded into Google Sheets to make your instruction a little more interesting. You can take these templates, download a copy into your Google Drive & start entering your own content in these templates! Once you finish filling out the template, there are very simple directions on the Flippity website on how to finalize your template & use it in the classroom!

Flippity currently only has three different templates available but they are all pretty useful! What's really nice about all three is that you can embed pictures, videos, etc. in them! (This is a wee-bit tricky, so comment on this post or email me if you want to learn how to do this!)

Quiz Show - Jeopardy - this template allows you to make a jeopardy style game w/ your class content. Makes for an exciting review day!
Flash Cards - this template lets you enter in concept words & their definition right into a Google Sheet & send this off to your students! The cool thing about this is you can update the Sheet at any time & your flashcards will update! Another cool thing is that you can print the flashcards into a short little quiz/worksheet!
Certificate of Completion - this template lets you make a multiple choice quiz, allows students to take the quiz & continue to retake it until they ace it, receiving a certificate of completion! The certificate is customizeable too if you wanted



Friday, May 1, 2015

Tools you Didn't Know about in the Google Suite

There are a lot of gizmos in the various Google Apps' toolbelt that a lot of people are unaware of! Here are some of my all time favorites!

Research 

If there is one tool that is the most overlooked in Google Docs & Slides, it is the research tool! This allows you to do Google searches without leaving your Google Doc/Slide. You can pan between Google Web, Images, Scholar, etc.; as well as insert links directly to the doc, preview, and/or cite the website. One thing I love about this is that I can highlight something I have already typed out, activate the Research Tool, & it immediately starts the search based on the highlighted words! Check it out, you will love it! Here is a video tutorial my favorite Google blogger did on the tool, The Gooru, check out his original post here.

CTRL+F

(Command+F on Mac)

This is the one shortcut that if you are not using already, you are making your life harder than it needs to be! Okay, a little melodramatic, but come on! Pressing the CTRL+F keys (Command+F keys on Mac), will pull up a search box in Google Apps, which then allows you to type in a word that you want to find on the doc! This shortcut will take you to each time the word(s) appear. This tip is NOT confined to Google Apps, it works on any website that has text available. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of times I use this shortcut daily. Just think of the amount of times you scan a page attempting to find something, DON'T DO IT ANYMORE! USE CTRL+F!

video

Linking & Bookmarking

Linking and Bookmarking can be a very powerful tool in Google Apps. Bookmarks allow you to link to various parts in your doc/slides to save you time & efficiency. This can be helpful for long documents, such as meeting agendas, lesson plans, student projects, etc.  This can also be helpful in long presentations when you want to be able to jump to different slides out of order. See my previous blog post on Using Bookmarks in Google Docs for a more in-depth look at this. 
video



Another cool thing about embedding links? You do not need to go out of your Google Doc or Slides to find the links, relevant links to highlighted text will pop up when you click the "insert link" option.

Using Google's suggested links!

Smaller things that are kinda cool: 

  • using Tables to make your docs more interesting. 
  • Preferences (using symbols such as © or ✓ )
  • Sharing Options (edit, comment, view)
    • If you are sending your Google Files to anyone, you should probably know these options! -Sometimes you don't want others to change your info on the doc, sheet, etc. 
  • Publishing to the web (for a more professional sharing)
  • AddOns (AutoCrat, EasyBibgMath)
  • Commenting vs. Suggesting -sometimes it helps to offer suggestions instead of typing right in the document. The owner of the document will receive notification of either comments or suggestions & can choose to accept or remove.

I hope some of these tools were new to you & let me know if I missed anything. Email me your comments & suggestions!










Thursday, April 23, 2015

Using Social Media in the Classroom

There are a lot of naysayers to using social networking sites in the classroom. There are districts that block the various sites! I am here to preach, why that is not the only solution, we can make use of the many advantages of social networking!

Why? It's a perfect way to communicate. Most of my middle schoolers, their parents, & my colleagues have a Facebook, in addition to multiple other sites. In what world does it seem perfectly logical to avoid using this extremely popular avenue that, figuratively, brings outsiders into the classroom? Using social media allows for students to showcase what they are doing in the classroom, which in turn, usually makes them take more ownership & pride in their work! In addition, with little effort, parents can see student work at the touch of their fingers. Finally, social media has the potential to expose student work to a wide audience, across multiple countries! What's not to be liked there?

Social Networking can be an awesome tool in the 21st century classroom, IF used correctly. The socially connected classroom requires expectations to be strongly in place and routines to be highly practiced and consistently enforced! Are there some disadvantages to using social networking? Yes, there are students who will attempt to take advantage, but with strong management, this should not be an issue.

Examples/Ideas of use in classroom:

Facebook example

another Facebook example
Twitter example

Pinterest example

Instagram example


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Using Bookmarks in Google Docs

I have come to realize I should maybe introduce people to this basic tip that I take for granted others may not use or see the remarkable value in! Bookmarking in Google Docs. This is a useful tool if your Doc is going to be multiple sections or is many pages long.

How I've used it?

Two ways: the traditional Table of Contents & for quick & easy access to multiple sections of the document! Table of Contents: I have used this for my lesson plans, creating bookmarks for each week/session. All you have to do is pull up the Doc & click which week/session you are looking for. (My example) Multiple Sections: I have used this for our group Literature Studies, there are multiple things they have to discuss & fill out every session, so I didn't want them to have to scroll endlessly to the various sections. (My example) See the following section for more about this! 


How to use Bookmarks for a multiple-section Doc?

First thing I did was create a header, which I then typed in the various sections that I would have in my Google Doc. (Log, Characters, Predictions, etc.) Why should you do this as a header & not on the top? Because, if you do, these links will be on the top of every page in the Doc (you will not have to scroll to the 1st page to find those bookmarks!) I then created those sections on a separate page each, & inserted a bookmark to the top of each section. Finally, I went back to the header & embedded a link to those same bookmarks. You will then have a very easily functioning document that may be many pages long! All you need to do is click the link you want, & it will take you straight there! I have included a screencast showing some of this below. Also, here is a link to my example for you to see!



Hope you guys see some potential in using this awesome tool in Google Docs. Email me any questions you have & remember to subscribe to my blog for all the latest in technology integration for the classroom!

video



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fluency Tutor for Google

So I just recently found out about this tool from this great article from Shake Up Learning's latest blog post & thought I would share my insight! Best thing about it? It's free!

The tool? Fluency Tutor for Google. It's use? Progress monitoring for fluency. This is a repository of various reading passages that you can assign to your students & they can record themselves reading! What's awesome about this tool is the various things you & your students can do with it. First off, there are hundreds of passages that you can assign to students based off either their Lexile Level or Reading Age. Next, to assign them, you simply share the passage with your students Google account. Once you share the passage, it will appear in their Google Drive. How sweet is that?


So when they open this passage, there are a bunch of interesting things they can do with it. They can have the passage read to them. They can highlight any words that are unknown to them & either choose the embedded dictionary or picture dictionary! They can also record their passage!





What's awesome about this is that the tool records everything the students do & you can click & see everything they have done, from what words they highlighted to define, to how many times they stopped & started their recording!

One wish I have, which knowing Google, they will probably add this on later, would be an inclusion of a comprehension piece! Maybe sometime in the distant future!


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Smore - Flyer Making

I went to the 1:1 Conference in Des Moines, Iowa yesterday. I learned an awesome number of tools that I am definitely going to be using in my classroom! Looking forward to it!

The one that I have put in use today was Smore. It is a cool website that lets you design interesting & easy flyers! I am going to have my students design a flyer for one of our 12 essential reading comprehension concepts & then going to take all of their flyers & throw it together in Flipsnack. Here is my example so far!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tri-State Technology Bootcamp

This summer our school district is hosting a Technology Bootcamp that will be featuring expert teachers from our various Chrome Pilot committees. It will take place July 30-31, 2015 in Burlington, IA & I will be presenting one or two sessions! If you register before July 1st, it's only $75! Also, our conference is available for recertification! Here is the website, we'll see you there! bootcamp.gapps.bcsds.org


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Flubaroo via Google Forms

Hello everyone! Today, I want to talk about a wonderful Add-On that can simplify grading on classroom assignments! Flubaroo! Flubaroo is an Add-On that works alongside Google Forms and Google Sheets to automatically grade input on your Forms.


How does it work? You design your Google Form, and then take it yourself (you will use this one as your answer key.) You are then able to go in to the Google Sheet that your Form corresponds to & activate Flubaroo! Once you activate, you can enable automatic grading, setup email notifications for students, etc. A cool thing you can do is have their choice & the correct answer sent to them!

How have I used this? From taking quizzes, to surveying staff, collecting ideas for possible book studies, exit tickets, voting/polls, etc.


Some suggestions for collecting your data: 

In your Google Form, check over the following "Form Settings" to see which you should enable for what you want to do. For instance, you will probably want to click "Automatically collect respondents username", since Flubaroo requires something to identify your students. If your students do not have Google Accounts, simply write in a question that requires them to enter in their First/Last name.


Form/Flubaroo Example

Student Usernames have been removed for privacy

Friday, March 20, 2015

Kahoot

One of my favorite sites this year? Kahoot! It's a fun, interactive way to ask whole-group questions. For Kahoot to function, every student or group has to have a portable device to enter in their answers! 

Some cool things about Kahoot? The public database! There are thousands of already made Kahoots that educators & students have shared with the world. What's even better is that if those public Kahoots aren't perfect, you are able to modify it for your own needs! Kahoot provides instant feedback while allowing student answers to remain anonymous! The kids love it & can even make some on their own, once they get the hang of it.

My most recent Kahoot project? Well, I teach Reading Intervention & my curriculum revolves around 12 essential reading comprehension strategies that I have been teaching throughout the year. We just finished the last one & unfortunately, the least fun part is headed our way, the big test, over everything. To help them do their best & have a little fun, I made practice questions about each of our skills & made it in to a Kahoot game! I am looking forward to it & I know, without a doubt, that my students will enjoy it immensely!

Remember, email me with any thoughts or questions!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Two-Parter! Split-Screening & Screencasting!

This one is going to be a two-parter, both things are awesome & have so many possible functions in the classroom!

Split-Screening 

Some different splits available.
The app I use for this is Tab Resize, I love, love this app. There are multiple ways you can split your screen & this function always for a lot of things in the classroom! In addition, you are able to manipulate the sizes of the tabs (in case you want one to be most of the screen & the other to be a little bit). Different times I have used it in my classroom: Students: doing research, taking quizzes, etc. Me: looking at data, checking student work on 1 side/updating grades on other side, general multi-tasking.

2-1 split with Classcraft & Google Docs

2-2 split with Classcraft, my email, a random-name picker, & an office referral


Screencasting

The app I use for this is Screencastify. I am pretty new to this one, but it is pretty awesome. I used this one recently, to record myself showing my students how I wanted them to set up their chromebooks to take their quiz. Why couldn't I just show them this on my projector? Well, we have desktops & chromebooks, & unfortunately, the desktop is not as able flexible about manipulating the tabs. Chromebooks are perfect for this; hence why I recorded it on my chromebook & I am going to play my screencast through my desktop! I can see this being used in other ways in my classroom in the future!
video

Hope you guys enjoy, please feel free to email me your questions or suggestions!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Podcasts

Something I think that is extremely overlooked in this technological era are podcasts. I am an avid podcast listener, whether I am commuting to or from work --you know, the 5 minutes it takes me to get to work--or getting dressed, I enjoy filling my time with these wonderful audio treats! Most of the ones I follow are more for my own professional development & general enjoyment. My goal this summer is to find some podcasts geared more towards my middle schoolers age so I can implement some fun activities with them next year!

The following are all available online, but also through podcast apps on iPhone & Android. Personally, I use the Podcast Republic app for Android & love it!


Two you should DEFINITELY check out:

  • Stuff You Should Know (the two guys who run this are absolutely hilarious, they make learning very entertaining)
  • Stuff Mom Never Told You (two strong, empowered women that talk, mostly, about gender equality topics. That's not to say they don't discuss)

Other great podcasts from How Stuff Works-the host site of the 2 above podcasts:

Other podcasts to follow:

  • Serial (this follows a reporter investigating a real-life crime, interviewing the suspects, witnesses, etc.-For the longest time I didn't realize it was non-fiction!)
  • Death, Sex, & Money (this one may be a little more controversial but I find it quite entertaining, they cover random topics in those three categories!)

An additional one if you happen to like Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice & Fire:

  • Cast of Thrones (a pretty-funny gang discusses the books, the episodes, & all things in between. They do tend to get off topic pretty easily, but even then, they are usually great!)


Please let me know if you would recommend any other great podcasts, I am always looking!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Google Remote Desktop

Someone recently asked me on a Google+ community..."What is one Google App you could not live without?" Most obvious answer? Well, the entire Google Drive suite, of course (Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, etc.)...but that's a no brainer. But what one App has really changed my instruction overall? Google Remote Desktop! 
                           

This app is a must for all teachers that use more than one computer. What is it? You are able to remotely control any computer that you have synced with your Google Account. This means you can do absolutely ANYTHING from afar. Whether it is, print sub plans while you are sitting on your couch, working on programs that are incompatible with other devices you use (such as the IEP program on your chromebook), or circulating in the classroom while controlling your, very, stationary desktop. I can tell you, in the 4-5 months I have been using it, it has proven itself to be a necessity more times than I can remember!

The Google+ community forum must have jinxed me because, in fact, today, I had to do the very thing & live without the app! For the hour or so that Google Remote Desktop was down, I was miserable. I definitely can say now that I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I lost this app for good!


NEED INSTRUCTIONS?

To convert most of my building to my Google Remote Desktop ways, I designed & shared instructions via Google Docs & I would love to share these instructions with all of you as well! Here they are!

Friday, February 27, 2015

AR Teacher Competition

Another thing I have been extremely proud of this year? My AR points! I have far exceeded the number of books I have read during the school year, and that's even with months to spare! What is the cause? The AR Teacher Competition I designed & implemented in our middle school!

Our district uses Google Apps, so it was incredibly easy to create & share a collaborative Google Sheets. I put in all the instructions directly on the spreadsheet & shared it with all participants! I then designed a separate sheet for each participant to keep track of their quizzes. Unfortunately, it is not currently possible on AR for teachers to take & keep track of their AR quizzes, so this is why I designed the spreadsheet to record said information for all participants.




I also used a couple formulas on the sheets so that each participant's total would be automatically updated every time a new quiz was added to the spreadsheet! (If you are interested in how to do any of this, please just email me your questions!) Feel free to use this spreadsheet if you are looking to start a teacher competition in your school!

I got 6 teachers to participate in our school, but I certainly wish it would be more! Recently, I decided on opening it to other schools. If your school is interested in joining the competition, or just you, please email me & I would love to add other teachers to the mix. It really is a fun thing to do, it gives me more reasons to keep on reading!

Classcraft (great management tool)

Biggest thing I have been excited about this year? Classcraft! If you haven't heard of it, it is definitely something you need to check out.

Classcraft is the best classroom management tool I have ever seen & it has really made a difference in some of my students with bigger behavior issues! It is kind of a mixture of ClassDojo (publicly rewarding positive behaviors in the classroom) & World of Warcraft. Students are divided into teams & given responsibilities that reflect the type of learner they are. For instance, a student who is responsible would be assigned as a healer.



Students are rewarded XP points for doing positive things in & outside of class. The goal in the game is to earn enough XP points to level up. Each time a student levels up, they are rewarded GP (gold points), which allows them to purchase things to customize their avatar.

Powers (AP)
Positive Behaviors (XP)
In addition, as they level up, they gain more access to different powers. These powers may be things like listening to music while working or getting a drink during class. Students have to make effective decisions on when to use their powers & not, since they are not easily refilled.

Negative Behaviors (HP)
Students lose HP points when doing negative things in & outside of class. Should students lose all HP, they will fall in the game, which results in a consequence in the classroom, such as a detention. The cool thing about this is that students negative behaviors can affect their teammates in the game. The students who choose to fall in battle will receive grief from their teammates, who's HP will take a toll every time a teammate falls in battle.

Lastly, when you create an account, Classcraft gives you a demo class, so you can play around with it before you create your own! So check it out! It is well worth trying out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Connect Four Game (Figurative Language)

A new tool I tried out in my classroom last week was this tool from ClassTools.net (if you have never checked out that site you definitely should, it's got some quick & easy tools that can be used in the classroom!)

Anyway, this tool allows you to modify the popular game Connect Four with content relevant to your curriculum. I have been using it for a review of the different figurative language we have been studying. I tell them, find four examples of metaphors & they come up to the white board & attempt!

Here's a link to mine
Here's the link to the original that you can edit: 




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ingress

So, in exploring online I found out about the app Ingress from this post! (11 Google apps you probably didn't know existed) & I want to play it; so bad! Here is a picture from the post, thank you Venture Beat for mentioning it!



I am hoping I can start playing around with it in the next couple days. I can see this being used in my classroom, no doubt. Having classroom competitions, using Google Maps with it, etc. Check it out for me & enjoy the game, since I can't in lil 'le SouthEast Iowa :(

https://www.ingress.com/

Must Follow Blogs/Communities

I have recently gotten extremely involved in PD across the internet having to do with all things Tech Integration in the classroom. There have been numerous posts that I find highly relevant on the internet. People should definitely check some of them out!

Google Gooru is an awesome blog that I have subscribed of an expert in Google. He posts constantly with all things related to Google! Love it!!

Google Plus Educational Communities: If you haven't checked out Google Plus yet & have been a little wary of it up until now, I was in the same boat, I thought it was the same old, same old, as Facebook, & Pinterest, & Teacher Pay Teacher, etc. It's like that, only more! It is set up like a forum, of people interested in certain things posting & communicating on it.

Ones you should definitely check out:  (the 1st 3 in particular I really love!)
Google Apps in Education
Google Apps Educators
GEG Iowa (if you are another state, there should be a GEG for it!)
Google Apps & the Common Core! 
Technology Loving Teachers

Twitter Educational Weekly Chats: Ok, this is pretty awesome too. There on plenty of educational chats going on weekly on Twitter on different topics! Check them out, if you are new to Twitter or do not have one, there's a chat about that as well!

New Blog

Recently, I have become extremely involved in online PD in all things Tech. Integration. I have subscribed to multiple blogs and Google Plus communities on the subject & am constantly exploring the newest things in the field. I often find myself wanting to post a lot of the information from my research online but apparently, it's more annoying when I constantly send those emails in my district! To combat this, I've decided I should start a new blog to collect & share out all the tech integration I am using in my classroom plus the interesting PD I am finding about it online!!!

Enjoy!