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Thursday, December 29, 2016

7 Tools to Make Classroom Management Easier

Classroom management is an important aspect of teaching. Here are some of my favorite tools for managing your classroom:

Too Much Noise! 

1. Noise Down iOS App

Noise isn't such a bad thing, but how can you keep your students at a manageable noise level? An excellent FREE tool is called the Noise Down App for iOS. This simple to use App helps you manage the noise in your classroom and even your home. 

Use Noise Down to measure the current noise level in decibels and set your maximum decibel limit. As soon as someone goes over the limit, an alarm sounds. Students (and your own kids) now cannot say that they were not being too loud!
Documenting Student Behavior 

2. Bouncy Balls

Don't have an iOS device? No worries! Bouncy Balls is a free web-based tool to measure the noise levels in your room. The site uses your microphone on your computer to measure noise levels. Students can visually see how "noisy" it is through bouncy balls, emojis, and even bubbles.  

Documenting and Communicating Student Behavior

3. Class Dojo



Keeping kids on task can sometimes be a difficult thing to do. Class Dojo offers a unique way of keeping track of the individual performance and behavior of students in your class. You can instantly record data on your phone, laptop, computer, or iPad. Class Dojo also offers you tools to communicate with parents. 

4. QR Codes + Google Forms


Are your students too old for Class Dojo? You may want to consider using a Google Form paired with a QR code. This is a helpful way to document behaviors as they occur!

Here is a helpful video to show you how: 




A Few More Ideas! 

Conclusion:


There are many other tools that you can use to manage your classroom, here are a few extras below. 

5. Remind to communicate upcoming events and announcements to students and parents through a mass text. No need to share your cell phone either! 

6. Google Classroom is an excellent tool to post and collect student assignments. I also like how it automatically posts assignments (and due dates) to a class Google Calendar. NOTE: You can only use this if you are a Google Apps for Education School. A good alternative may be Edmodo or Schoology

7. If you don't have a tool to make seating charts or you want your seating chart to actually look like your classroom layout, you may want to consider using a tool like Google Drawings. This tools lets you easily import student pictures and draw your seating chart to match your classroom layout. 

What are some of your favorite classroom management tools? I would love to hear! 






Wednesday, December 21, 2016

11 Creative Ways to Use #HyperDocs in Your Classroom

Are you just using Google Docs as a substitute for a worksheet? Why not use the full capabilities of Google Docs by creating a HyperDoc?

If you are not familiar with the term, HyperDoc, it essentially means "an interactive Google Doc that guides students through innovative and inquiry-based learning lessons using directions, graphic organizers, links, and possible collaboration. The learning can be made to be self directed, and students can work at their own pace" (Google Training Center, 2016).

Let's take a look at 9 creative ways to use HyperDocs in your Classroom:

1.  Websites and Articles

Obviously this is the most obvious to link to. Google Docs provides your students with access to resources that a typical paper worksheet can not. Why waste your time making copies of articles for students to read, when they can access the via a link? If you students need a paper copy, they can always print them out. 

2. YouTube Playlists

Yes you can link to YouTube videos, but have you ever considered creating and linking to a playlist? This provides students with options on which pre-selected videos they should watch. 

For example, if your students have a homework assignment, you could create and upload a video with instructions and other supporting videos. Not sure how to create one? Here is a link:



3. Documents and Folders

How many times have you shared a document with someone only to have them "lose" it? By providing a hyperlink to the document that you shared, you avoid wasting time for the person to "find" the shared document. This is perfect if you have a number of resources that you need to share with others. 

4. Make an Audio Copy of Articles

How often do you provide students with a one-size-fits-all approach to reading text? Everyone has students who finish assignments early. Why not have that student record their voice narrating the article you will assign in the future? Use tools like Audacity, GarageBand, VoiceRecordPro, etc. to record and upload an MP3 file to Google Drive. Share the link from Google Drive. 

5. Graphic Organizers

Have you used Google Drawings? If not, maybe you should. In a previous blog post, I had described how you can create your own graphic organizers with Google Drawings. Why not create a set of graphic organizers and have students to choose the most appropriate tool.  


6. Quizzes

Have you thought about adding a formative assessment into your Hyperdoc? Why not use the Quiz Feature in Google Forms to create a self-grading quiz to test your student's knowledge?


7. Google Maps Street View

If you are studying about another part of the world, why not use the Street View in Google Maps to provide students with an opportunity to "see" the location you are discussing? 

Another added benefit is the Historical Imagery feature of Google Maps. This feature allows you to see how an area has changed over time. I love sharing with students how the site of the World Trade Center has changed since 2007. 



8. Google Maps Photosphere

You may even want to consider linking to a Photosphere or 360 view of a site. For example, if you are talking about the Great Wall of China, why not take your students to it through a link

9. Table of Contents

Do you have a major project that students need to complete? Why not use the Table of Contents feature in Google Docs to hyperlink to various parts of your document? This could be helpful in making sure that students go in a sequential order. It also provides numerous scaffolds and supports to meet the needs of all students in your classroom. 



10. FAQ's

In any assignment, I often think of 3 - 5 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) that my students will have. I hyperlink materials, answers to questions, video tutorials, etc. to serve as scaffolds and supports for students.  This helps students to find the answers they need if I am not available. 

11. Custom Search Engine

Are you tired of your students constantly using Wikipedia? You can create your own Google Custom Search engine (powered by Google of course) to determine which sites students can use and cannot use. 



Conclusion:

There are infinite ways to use Hyperdocs. All you have to do is think creatively. Do you have experience with Hyperdocs? I would love to hear about how you use them. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Google Drawings + Google Sheets = Badging System!

Badging systems seem to be a popular trend in today's schools. Whether you are using badges with students or staff, there are many benefits, such as providing:

  • A sense of autonomy 
  • Feedback
  • Visual representation of progress
I am currently experimenting with this idea. I have a student tech crew (aka SWAT team) that I work with on a monthly basis. I wanted to provide their teachers with accurate information on competencies they have achieved and technical knowledge that they have gained.  Here is my first stab at a badging system!


Step 1: Use Google Drawings to Design Badges

I designed my badges using Google Drawings. If you have not had the opportunity to use this valuable tool, you may want to check it out! It is more than just drawing pictures.

Step 2: Publish Your Drawing

You will need to publish you Google Drawing to the web for the next part. How do you do this? Simply visit the File menu and select Publish to the Web. Click Publish and make sure that you copy the URL because you will need to published address for the next part. 




Step 3: Create a Google Sheet to Display Your Badges

How do you display your badges? It is very simple! Check out my brief tutorial to lead you through the process:



Conclusion:

Badging systems are quite effective in helping students or staff address competencies. If you are considering a badging system, why not try out Google? Do you have other ideas for badging systems? I would love to hear! 


Monday, December 12, 2016

4 Strategies for Using Video More Effectively

Video is an effective medium many of us are use to enhance instruction; however, have you thought about how to use this tool more effectively?

1 - Where You Post Makes All of the Difference

Where you post your videos makes all of the difference for learners who are hearing impaired, English Language Learners (ELL), or need to see written text. YouTube is an excellent place to house your videos because of its Automatic Closed-Captioning features. Click the Closed-Captioning button and there is nothing else to do.


2 - Embed Notes with Your Videos with VideoNot.es

There are several different web applications that you can use to embed notes with your videos. One of my favorites is called VideoNot.es because it links with your Google account.

How does it work?

  • To create your first video,  paste a video link into VideoNot.es and load your video.
  • Add notes to your presentation in the side margin. Each note will contain a bookmark with the exact time it occurs in the video. If viewers click on your note, they will be directed to the exact spot in your video. This is perfect for step-by-step instructions.
  • When you are finished, save your video. It will automatically save to your Google Drive and you can share it with your students. 
How does it work? 



NOTE: Students will need to open up your video using the VideoNot.es Chrome App. 


3 - Don't Repeat, Just Rewind

Are you tired of repeating yourself over and over? Why not use a tool like Screencastomatic, Screencastify, or another screencasting program to record your beginning of class, end of class, or homework instructions?

If a student didn't hear you, walked in late, or was absent, just have the student play the instructions. This will save you valuable time and frustration!

4 - Scaffold Instructions with a YouTube Playlist

One of the main reasons why students fail to complete assignments is that they don't completely understand the content. Why not create a YouTube playlist containing a brief tutorial of the assignment and other helpful videos to help with the assignment?

I often think of 2 - 3 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) or topics that will prevent my students from understanding or completing the assignments. I provide solutions in the form of videos on my YouTube playlist.


Conclusion:

Hopefully this is a great reminder that video is a powerful tool and even more powerful if used in strategic ways. Do you have other video ideas? I'd love to hear about them!



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Google Drawings Choose Your Own Graphic Organizer Template


Graphic organizers are popular tools for gathering, organizing, and displaying information in effective ways. Have you ever thought about using the power of Google Drawings and choice to do so?

Step 1: Create a Template with Graphic Organizer Options

Simply create a new Google Drawing and use the drawing tools to develop different types of graphic organizers.  Place each graphic organizer in the margin area of Google Drawings, so that users can eventually drag the proper graphic organizer into place.

I made my graphic organizers smaller, so that students can drag and resize to better meet their needs.

Check out my example here. 



Step 2: Share Your Template

Click on the "Send" button in the top-right corner of your screen to create an editable copy of your image. You will want your students to make a copy of the Drawing.

Here is a quick trick for automatically forcing users to make a copy of your drawing. 

 Step 3: Have Students Use The Template

Have students drag and drop the most appropriate graphic organizer for the task or develop their own.



Step 4: Turn In

Students can share the Google Drawing or go to the "File Menu," choose "Download" and create a .JPG or .PNG file.

Conclusion:

This is a great way to provide students with options, while still getting the information that you need. The best part is that you can design graphic organizers or other tools that work for your specific situation. If you are not comfortable with Google Drawings, why not use graphic organizers developed by your students?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Post #500: Two New Features from SeeSaw

Thank you everyone for your support over the years! I cannot believe this is post number 500! 


If you are a SeeSaw user, then you may have noticed that it has recently introduced two new features.
Image: SeeSaw (2016)

1. Text Labels Tool

Students now have the ability to use text labels to annotate drawing or video with the iOS version of the App. Choose from 8 preset label styles or create your own customized labels. According to SeeSaw, this feature will be available on the web and Android version of the App soon!

Check out the following link for a demo and lesson ideas!

We know from brain research that students need opportunities to express their knowledge in different ways. This is a great tool to increase the opportunities for students to communicate knowledge.

2. Translation Tools

With the increasing number of ESL and ELL students in our schools, we need to find creative ways to connect with parents inside and outside of the classroom. SeeSaw now has the ability to translate any note, caption, or comment into one of 50 different languages!  Simply tap "See Translation" and Seesaw will translate the content automatically!

Why should language create barriers towards connecting with parents? This is a great tool to eliminate the barriers and create connections that will change lives.



Thank you for your help with clicks 4 a cause during the month of November! 

If you would like to continue to help Addison and her family, please see below:
  • The family needs gift cards! Please contact Matt for more information. 

Clicks for a Cause has been helping children in need since 2013! For more information, check out my Clicks for a Cause Page!