Category Archives: Teaching Tools

Stick Pick (Reblog)

I originally posted this 5 years ago.  I was recently discussing it with my colleagues because we are trying to work on better questioning, and thought it couldn’t hurt to reblog about this app.
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Stick Pick is an app with great potential as a teacher tool. The teacher can add one or more classes within the app. To each class, the teacher adds individual student names, determining the type and level of questioning to use for each student from the following categories: Bloom’s Taxonomy, Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, or ESL. Once all students are entered, their sticks appear in a cup from which the teacher can randomly or purposefully choose names. As each student is chosen, a list of question stems from their particular assigned level appears on the screen. This is a wonderful way for teachers to differentiate impromptu questions for students.

Advice for #NewTeachers

In my latest article for Fusion, I give some advice to new teachers – fully aware that I still feel like a rookie after 25 years in the profession.  If you don’t have time to read it all, at least check out the last paragraph where I reveal my favorite teaching/parenting secret that has never once failed me in a quarter of a century😉

photo from Flickr
photo from Flickr

Growth Mindset Memes

When I take a look at the stats for this blog lately, I see that my posts about growth mindset are getting more views than usual.  My hope is that this means that many teachers are getting ready to teach their students about having a growth mindset.  It’s important to read Carol Dweck’s recent statements, however, about how the message she intended to deliver regarding her studies on this subject can sometimes be diluted or even completely misrepresented.  Students may learn the language of growth mindset without really understanding the practice, especially if we don’t model it ourselves.

That being said, I came across a fun blog called, “Growth Mindset Memes,” by Laura Gibbs (@OnlineCrsLady).  She has taken some popular meme images and added her own captions, often paraphrasing or using famous growth mindset quotes. One of my favorites is this one:

from Growth Mindset Memes blog
from Growth Mindset Memes blog

Students love memes, so they will definitely be interested if you hang a few of these around the classroom.  You might also want to allow older students to make some of their own – perhaps after watching the Class Dojo mindset videos to summarize their learning.

If you need more ideas for teaching Growth Mindset, here is a link to my Pinterest board.

Embed a Video From Google Drive

Many of our teachers like to e-mail welcome videos to their incoming students at the beginning of the school year, and some even add the videos to their blogs or school websites.  Although there are an endless number of ways to share videos, here are the steps for embedding one that you’ve uploaded to Google Drive. (Tip: If you are using an iPhone or an iPad to shoot your video, make sure the device is horizontal (landscape) with the Home button on the right.  This can save you from orientation problems later on.)

I’m going to use a short video of our bulldog trying out the pool to demonstrate the steps.  If anyone reading this knows a shortcut, please feel free to share!

Once you have located the video you’ve uploaded to Google Drive, double-click on it.

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At the top right of your screen, you will see the download icon and 3 vertical dots.  Click on the dots.

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First, you need to make sure you give the video the appropriate sharing rights.  If I’m putting it on my blog, I just choose “Advanced” and select that anyone with the link can view it.  After changing the sharing rights, move down in the list to “Open in a new window.”

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Things may not look dramatically different in the new window, but when you click on the 3 vertical dots this time, you will get an embed option.  Click on that.

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Then you can copy the embed code inside the box.  On your blog or website, you can add the embed code to the HTML editor (on WordPress blogs, it’s the tab for “Text”), and your video should then work once you publish.

Let’s see if my bulldog one is working: When you are in HTML editing mode, you can mess with the code a little bit to adjust the height and width appearance on your blog.

By the way, bulldogs can swim.  Ours just runs out of energy and sinks like a rock as soon as he stops paddling – hence the life jacket😉

What You Might Have Missed This Summer

Summer break is over – at least for many of the public school teachers in Texas who return to work today.  Of course, many of us never really stopped working over the last couple of months, fitting in workshops and lesson planning in between trips to the beach and afternoon naps.

I’ve been saving educational articles of interest to Pocket all summer, and I thought I would share some of the news that I curated that might have some impact on your planning for the new school year.  I would love for you to share any other summer education news that I’ve missed in the comments below!

What You Missed

  • Osmo put out two new games this summer, Coding (near the beginning of the summer) and most recently Monster (described as “The Creative Set”).  My summer camp students loved the Coding game, and I’ve just ordered Monster.
  • Speaking of tangible coding, Google has announced “Project Bloks,” which looks pretty intriguing.  The Bloks aren’t available to the public yet, but you can sign up on their interest page to get updates on the program.
  • In other Google news, the Expeditions VR app is now available on Android with expectations to release it on other platforms later this year.  Also, there is a free Cast for Education app that I am really interested in that supposedly allows students to project their work without the need for other hardware/software like Chromecast, Apple TV, or Reflector.  Richard Byrne has a blog post on a new add-on for Google Docs called The Lesson Plan Tool.  By the way, if you want to keep updated on new Google Classroom features, here is a good page to bookmark.
  • When it comes to lesson planning, Amazon Inspire might be your go-to site as soon as it becomes available, with free access to educational resources.  Sign up for early access now.
  • Think about allowing your students to show off what they’ve learned during those great lessons with Class Dojo’s new feature: Student Stories.
  • You may have somehow escaped the Pokemon Go craze, but your students probably haven’t.  Here are some ways to use it educationally.
  • Words with Friends now has an Edu version that is free and can be played on the web or on mobile devices.  I haven’t tried it, but it looks like it even has materials aligned to Common Core.
  • Breakout Edu has Back to School games.
  • Canva now has an iPhone app.
  • YouCubed released Week of Inspirational Math 2 last week.  This is a great way to start your students off with a growth mindset in math.

Do you have some education news that we might have missed this summer?  Be sure to add it in the comments below!

 

Back to School Games from Breakout Edu

In this Education Week article, “10 Non-Standard Ideas About Going Back to School,” by Nancy Flanagan, she gives the following advice:

“Don’t make Day One “rules” day. Your classroom procedures are very important, a hinge for functioning productively, establishing the relationships and trust necessary for individual engagement and group discussions. Introduce these strategies and systems on days when it’s likely your students will remember them and get a chance to practice them. This is especially important for secondary teachers, whose students will likely experience a mind-numbing, forgettable parade of Teacher Rules on Day One.”

It’s often considered good practice to establish rules and procedures at the beginning of a new school year, but I can definitely attest that my daughter came home from each first week during her middle school years feeling bored and defeated.  Not only did the teacher of each subject spend the entire period going over rules, but many of them showed the same not-so-exciting videos, which repetitively appeared in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. (Fortunately, each year improved dramatically after the first weeks, as her fabulous teachers definitely challenged and engaged her.)

As a teacher of 25 years, I’ve gone through many first days, and I can tell you that I am just as enthusiastic as the students when my staff development weeks begin with rules, procedures, and awkward team-building activities.

Nancy Flanagan goes on in her article to suggest doing engaging activities the first day that will also help the students to learn something.  If you are looking for ideas, Breakout Edu offers some Back to School games that might be just the ticket to ramp up excitement so your students go home the first day and tell their parents what they learned and that they had fun doing it!  There is one game each for elementary, upper elementary, and secondary. There is even one for Staff Development! (Note: You will need to register for free with Breakout Edu in order to get the password to access the games.)

Consider embedding rules and procedures into exciting learning activities, rather than making them the starring topic for introducing the year.  Your students – and their parents – will thank you!

from Breakout Edu Back to School Games
from Breakout Edu Back to School Games

Help Your Students Grow By Riding the Pokemon Flow

With the Pokemon Go craze in full swing, augmented reality for education may be generating more interest than ever before. Leveraging trends like Pokemon Go in the classroom can certainly provoke student engagement even though education wasn’t the original intent of the game.  Whether you choose to modify Pokemon Go, or use one of the many other available apps, augmented reality offers new opportunities to our students for learning – when used correctly.

About 4 years ago, my initial forays into augmented reality were all about the novelty of the technology with my students.  They certainly enjoyed those first augmented reality scavenger hunts, but I will readily admit now that more fun than learning took place at the beginning.  As I learned how to use tools to create my own augmented reality, I saw the power it could have for sharing presentations on static displays, or delivering messages from people who could not be there physically.  Sending augmented reality work by the students home to parents added another dimension to their projects.

Augmented reality that is interactive gives students the chance to have experiences, like mixing sodium and chlorine gas to make salt, or touring an estuary in Australia, that they might not usually have in many classrooms.

Ideas are already cropping up about how Pokemon Go can be used in the classroom, such as this article or these suggestions. Discovery Education also has a detailed blog post of Pokemon Go curriculum integration activities.  If you want your students to try to design their own version of Pokemon Go, let them try this Vidcode online version.  Once they start figuring out the code, have them branch out to include some of their own graphics and code that ties in to your curriculum.

If you want to branch out to other augmented reality apps and lessons, I have collected several resources here.  Katie Ann Wilson, author of Diary of a Techie Chick, has many classroom ideas here.  Shell Terrell also recently published a blog post that lists many augmented reality links.

There is no doubt that you will generate enthusiasm from your students by using augmented reality in the classroom.  However, I highly encourage you to read this article by Laura Callisen, which cautions you about the ways good educators should not use this popular trend.

Another thoughtful piece about augmented reality, by Stephen Noonoo, compares the “virtual reality” of our current classrooms to the “augmented reality” learning should reflect – with or without technology.

pokemongoI expect that the Pokemon Go mania will spawn more augmented reality apps, hopefully with education in mind.  My hope is that they will be thoughtful and encourage deep learning while retaining the fun sense of adventure fostered by Pokemon Go.