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!


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!

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