How to Use Chalkup in Your Classroom

Hello, friends! I am so excited to bring you a guest post by Marcus Gollahon about the wonderful tool that is Chalkup. Have you had experience with Chalkup in your classroom? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

Without further adieu, check out…

Great Website to Host Your Flipped Classroom – Chalkup.co

chalkup

As a teacher, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting websites that allow me to interact with my students on a new level. What I have found recently was Chalkup.co, an interactive website for teachers to host whole classrooms discussions, assignments, and more.

“CHALKUP GIVES TEACHERS THE POWER TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE STUDENTS ARE NOT PASSIVELY TAKING IN A LECTURE. THEY ARE ENGAGED, ON TASK, AND GROWING AS LEARNERS.”

– Monica Burns (classtechtips.com)

Teaching with Technology Guest Post-

Here are some perks:

Online rubric creator, that makes grading as easy as clicking a button.

Assign assignments and discussions. Every assignment comes with a discussion page so students can discuss questions and collaborate.

Assignment Annotations. An awesome way to leave feedback on students online assignments.

Integrates smoothly with Google Drive. Assignments can be turned in from their drives.

Easy to add materials to be shared with the class. Post your flipped videos, outlines, notes, etc.

Mobile friendly. They have an app so that teachers and students can stay up-to-date on classroom events.

Oh yea, it’s  FREE. The single best word for any teacher.

My Final Thoughts:

Chalkup to me is a beefed up Google Classroom. It has everything that Google Classroom should but then expands on that by offering more than just a place to turn in online assignments. The discussion sections are in place to offer students multiple avenues to ask questions and interact with classmates. I was posting my videos and using Google Classroom for the longest time, but I am switching over for the 2015-16 school year using Chalkup. Very happy with the switch as it is Google Apps friendly and was very easy to move over my content to its new home. Will post an update once I get started with students to see how much they like the new change.

Please check out Marcus Gollahon’s website here.

Thanks for reading!

OUTDOOR GEAR

Use Google Forms to Organize your Summer PD

Every teacher knows what the rest of the world seems to misunderstand: TEACHERS DO NOT TAKE THE SUMMER “OFF.” While not every teacher teaches summer school, or even gets paid during the summer months, teachers can rarely ever turn off their brains when it comes to preparing for classroom and curriculum …

If you’re like me, summer presents a wonderful opportunity for …drumroll, please…professional development! This year, I am so excited to be able to attend ISTE and FlipCon15 virtually, from the comfort of my couch.

After a great PD session, I always feel a bit overwhelmed with all of the wonderful information I learn. I normally create a folder in my Drive and open a new Doc for each session I attend. This works well, anusingeducationaltechnology.comd is easy to share with my colleagues. However, this year I’m trying something different.

I’ve created a Google Form for my summer professional development that includes basic information about sessions I attend, such as the conference name, name of the presenter, URL of the presentation (if applicable), and then a paragraph text space for notes on the session.

One of my favorite features of Google Forms is that all of the responses are neatly recorded on a Google Sheet. This means that presenter and conference information, as well as my not so organized notes from sessions are all displayed in one place! I can easily share this Google Sheet with my colleagues, or use the information to develop PD presentations, etc. Awesome, right?!

If you’re interested in viewing the form I created, please click here. If you’d like to use this personally, or with your colleagues, feel free to use the form as a guide to create your own.  If you’re interested in COLLABORATING and sharing your PD experiences this summer, then complete the form and I’ll share the results with you!!!

Happy learning!

Thanks for reading :)

 

Reflections from my Flipped Classroom

My first year as a flipped teacher, or a “flipper,” has come to a close.

And, I’m reminded more and more every day …as I am teaching summer school in a traditional lecture environment… why I decided to embrace the flipped classroom strategy, and why I won’t go back to the sage on the stage method.

Reflections

I don’t want to fool you, though. My first year as a flipper was not laced with gold or sprinkled with glitter made from unicorn sweat. There’s a nice image :)

My first year as a flipper did include challenges. For example, at the beginning of 2nd semester, I made the switch from a “traditional flip” (if that even exists) to an “in-class flip.” Why? Simply because I am a HUGE fan of EDpuzzle, and when I assign videos using this amazing tool, I’m also requiring students to have access to a reliable Internet connection. My students have reliable WiFi while at school, but that may not be the case at home. I’m anxiously waiting for the free WiFi everywhere society of the future…but I fear I may be waiting for a while.

Another hurdle included video watching/interacting/grading. I originally create Google Docs with a variety of activities students were to complete (notes, reflective questions, etc) as they actively viewed the instructional video. On these Docs, I would include a link to the video on YouTube or via Google Drive. My original thought was that this activity would be awesome because it not only requires students to take notes on the video, but it also requires them to reflect upon their understanding of the content. Awesome, right?

After the first unit came to a close, however, I realized that this system worked poorly for my students. Since I assigned the students separate documents (which I thought would be helpful) they were unable to keep track of their notes. Also, while Google Classroom is awesome, these activities became a bit of a grading catastrophe, requiring me to spend more time tracking down their video documents, determining whether or not they actually completed the video or just copied notes from someone else, and then determine their understanding of the content. It was a great idea in theory, and an idea I may revisit next year. It just wasn’t effective for my students.

At some point during the numerous complaints I received from students about this system, I decided to use the wonderful EDpuzzle to assign videos and activities to my students. I also fully embraced Google Classroom’s ability to create a copy of a document for each student, assign that copy to each student, and then keep all of the documents in a nice, neat folder in my Drive. Now, I assign a note-taking template for each unit to my students and fully utilize EDpuzzle’s interactive video capabilities. My students view instructional videos on EDpuzzle and split their Chromebook screens to allow them to take notes on their Google Doc while they interact with the instructional video.

I can quickly and easily view student responses to EDpuzzle questions, grade said questions, and view video completion. EDpuzzle even allows me to view how many times each student viewed a specific section of the video…this is an AMAZING feature!

Video length was also a learning curve during my first year as a flipper. During my extensive research of flipped strategies, I read many different “musts” for video length. Some experts claimed that anything longer than 5 minutes was too long, while others said 8-12 minutes is an appropriate length. Since I jumped on the “in-class flip” bandwagon, I have decided that 5-8 minutes is a great length for my videos. Will some videos exceed that timeframe? Absolutely. Will some videos be less than 5 minutes? You bet.

And that is perfectly fine!

Tools like EDpuzzle and Google Classroom have been essential to my success as a flipped teacher, but I still have many goals to achieve in the flipped arena.

Next school year, I plan to jump head first into the “flipped learning” teaching environment, emphasizing mastery learning. I’m still working out the details of this strategy, so stay tuned for my updates.

I’ll also continue down the path of gamification, which was a HUGE hit last year. I plan to learn more about Classcraft and it’s potential this summer.

Since I’m teaching summer school, I don’t feel like my summer has truly started…I haven’t been able to spend many mornings in my PJ’s drinking coffee and watching the TODAY show yet, but that will come :) However, I hope your summer is going well!

Thanks for reading :)

OUTDOOR GEAR

 

How to Add Backgrounds in Google Docs: A Workaround

I’ve been using Google Docs for quite a while. I love Google Docs. It’s easy to use. I can collaborate with any other “Googler” without being in the same room. I can create and share grocery lists with my husband. (Ok, this may not be vital, but it is great for me!)

One complaint I have about Google Docs is that it is somewhat dull.

How to Add Backgrounds to

Let me explain.

If you want to create a colorful and vibrant flyer or poster using Microsoft Word, then you simply insert a background image and adjust the object transparency. It’s also easy to manipulate the size and position of the image on the page.

This is not the case if you’re using Google Docs.

Here’s my workaround for adding backgrounds in Google Docs…complete with screenshots!

Here’s the trick…USE GOOGLE SLIDES!

Open a Google Slides presentation.

Access “File” then “Page Setup.”

slide image 1

Next, select the “Custom” option, and set the size to 8.5 x 11.

slide image 2

Your presentation screen should now look a little different…

slide image 3

Right click on the slide in the slide pane, choose “Apply Layout,” and select “Blank.”

slide image 5

 

Next, select “Background” and choose “Image.”

slide image 6

Drag your image to fill the page, or to fit the desired area.

slide image 7

Next, I added an rectangle shape and changed the shape color to white. This allows space for text while still preserving the “pretty” background.

slide image 8

Finally, choose to add a text box or paste text from a different source!

screen image 9

By using this method, I can still collaborate with others just as I would do by using a Google Doc. I can also download the presentation as a PDF for printing purposes.

Teachers can use this method to assign presentations to their students via Google Classroom!

If you’re looking for more cool things you can do with Google Slides, check out this video from Google Guru!

AND…if you’d like to learn how to create a watermark on your Google Slide presentation, then check out this post from the awesome Alice Keeler!

Thanks for reading :)

OUTDOOR GEAR

How to Teach Vocabulary with Flashcard Monkey

Are your students excited to learn new vocabulary?

Do they relish in the fact that many words with which they are unfamiliar will most likely make their way onto important tests, like the ACT and SAT?

Many students, at least in my teaching experience, are less than excited to learn new words. If students encounter a word in their text they don’t understand, their first response is to ask the teacher, “what does this word mean?”

Would you like to engage your students more in vocabulary acquisition? Of course you would!

Check out Flashcard Monkey!

Flashcard Monkey provides customers with 500 flashcards that allow students to learn vocabulary commonly used  on the SAT in such a way that they can easily remember.

Jane Cui has created 500 flashcards that include…
-a specific term
-an example of the term in a sentence
-the definition of the term
-an AWESOME drawn picture of the word “in action”

The drawing is probably my absolute favorite feature of the flashcards on Flashcard Monkey, most likely because it reminds me of the “Government Pictionary” games I play with my students. Nonlinguistic representations are so helpful in learning new vocabulary words and course concepts!

And…they’re fun :)

Flashcard Monkey provides 500 flashcards, geared to help students learn tricky vocabulary for $35. As Jane Cui shows on her site, that boils down to about 7 cents per flashcard…a steal for the great information provided.

flashcard monkey

Jane even offers a 100% money back guarantee for her product.

These flashcards would be great for any class, but especially an ACT/SAT prep class, or even an English classroom. Imagine displaying these on a bulletin board, a chalkboard, or even as a border around your classroom.

Definitely include Flashcard Monkey on  your list of tools to check out this summer!

Thanks for reading :)

OUTDOOR GEAR

Remind Chat!

Wow! It has been too long since my last post!

The reason I’ve been MIA, you ask?

I’ve discovered Netflix. And Once Upon a Time.

I may be obsessed.

Anyway,…

I was recently chosen to join the Remind Connected Educators program, and I am so glad I did! In joining this program, I learned more about a Remind feature that I will admit I was skeptical about…Remind Chat.

If you use Remind, you already know the basics about this amazing tool. Teachers send text/email messages to their students without having to share cell phone numbers. It really is brilliant.

However, have you ever needed to contact a specific student, or a small group of students? Do you need to remind a certain student that a deadline is approaching, or that the need to turn in their permission slip, field trip money, etc?

Remind Chat allows teachers to contact students individually, without having to share an announcement with the entire class.

This program would have definitely been a huge benefit for Contact your students with ...my students over our extended “snowcations,” as I call them. When students were home over our breaks, most likely watching Netflix and drinking hot chocolate, I would have been able to contact them individually, reminding them of assignments or instructional videos they needed to complete.

Instead of contacting individual students who needed to catch up on their work, I sent multiple messages to the entire class…pestering many students for no reason at all!

I am so excited that I am now able to use Remind Chat!

Here’s a question I’ve received …”why don’t you just email the individual students?”

Well, if all of my students consistently checked their email, I would most definitely do that.

I’ve found that students, as well as the rest of us, are more likely to check and read text messages at least quicker than we do emails.

Remind Chat conversations and announcements made or initiated by teachers, students, and parents are saved to the user’s account. These conversations can be easily printed or emailed at any time.

Awesome, right?

If you haven’t yet, definitely put Remind and Remind Chat on your list of things to learn this summer!

Thanks for reading :)

Using Google Hangouts in the Classroom

I’ve written before about the amazing potential of Google Hangouts in classrooms. Last week, however, I was actually able to experience that “awesomeness” first hand.

My students were able to take part in a Google Hangout with our Congressman, who was in Washington DC at the time. Students were able to ask our Congressman basically any question they could think of. We discussed everything from the Congressman’s views on the use of drones and same-sex marriage to his favorite movie and baseball team.

My students and I truly enjoyed this activity. In class, we identified the elected individuals that represent us in Congress. This Google Hangout was a gUsingreat way to not only connect students to their elected representatives, but also to bring life to the names we discussed in class.

Our Congressman was very clear to point out to my students that they should never feel intimidated, or that they are too young to contact their elected representatives, and that they should take advantage of new avenues, such as social media, to get involved.

My students were also thrilled that we were able to take a selfie with our Congressman :)

This event, especially at the end of the school year, was a great way to engage students in content related activity that was…fun! I hope to make this a tradition in my classroom.

As we ended our Hangout, I asked my students if they could think of anyone else they’d like to “Hangout” with. The top response was, “President Obama!!”

Of course, I told my students that a Hangout with the President of the United States is most likely not going to happen.

However, I do plan to contact the President. After all, the worst he can say is no!

We would also love to connect with similar classrooms throughout the United States, as well as in England.

If you know of a classroom that would like to participate in a Google Hangout with my classes, please let me know in the comments or email me at bjfink1s@gmail.com!

Let’s use technology to shrink the world!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for reading :)

OUTDOOR GEAR

 

Find Great Educational Technology Tools with Ednak

The school year is coming to a close! We have just shy of three weeks remaining…how about you?

EdnakSummer is rapidly approaching, and as we all know, teachers DO NOT take the summer off! We are constantly updating curriculum, researching new teaching methods, and finding cool tools to increase engagement in our classrooms.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an EdTech GEM, Ednak.

Ednak includes dozens upon dozens of amazing educational technology tools, complete with instructions and ideas for using the tools.

Ednak is incredibly organized, breaking down tools by a variety of different categories. Learning Management System, Collaboration Tools, Content Tools, Mobile Learning tools, and so much MORE!

Ednak is so simple to navigate and 100% FREE! Teachers can create an account and can then curate and share tools.

Add Ednak to your summer “to-do” list and find awesome tools for your students!

Thanks for reading :)

Google Classroom Saved the Day!

If you’ve read my previous posts about Google Classroom, you might find today’s post extremely surprising.

It’s no secret, especially around my building, that I have not been 100% happy with Google Classroom this year.

How Google Classroom Saved the Day (1)Yes, I know Classroom is in it’s infancy, and yes I know bugs and kinks are still being worked out.

Today, however Google Classroom saved the day.

Here’s what happened.

I was treated to a wonderful, long (and free) lunch today…it was fantastic! However, I had fully planned to be back in time for my next class period.

I didn’t make it back in time.

As we were finishing our lunch, I was beginning to panic. Not panicking enough to skip dessert, but panicking nonetheless.

My Chromebook was at school, as were my Macbook and my iPad. The only technology I had on my person was my cell phone.

Thank goodness for cloud storage and Google Classroom!

I was able to quickly download the Google Classroom app to my smartphone, sign in to my account, tap a few buttons and voila, the assignment was on its way to my students as they were entering the classroom.

To say that I was relieved would be a slight understatement :)

My students received their study guide for their massive dual credit Western Civilizations final, and I got to finish my steak and eat my delicious frozen custard dessert.

Crisis averted, thanks to cell phones and Google Classroom.

While I would love Google Classroom to add new features, and I’m sure they will…come on, it’s Google…I’m very happy with this document management system.

Especially now that Classroom has FINALLY added a Co-Teacher option! How great is that?

Happy Friday!

Thanks for reading :)

Online Tools to Help Teachers Teach the Writing Process-Guest Post

Happy Friday!

I am so excited for you to read the second guest post presented by Teaching with Technology. Online tutor, Robert Morris, has created a list of great tools to help teachers teach the writing process.

Without further adieu…

Online Tools that Help Teachers Teach Essay Writing as a Process

When you expect your students to complete essays and other types of papers, you have a responsibility to guide

them through the different stages of the process until they become a natural part of their routines. Many educators

neglect this duty and leave their students with an impossible burden.

If you are wondering how you can help your students improve their essay writing skills, you should consider

breaking up the process in different stages. There are online tools that will support you along the way.

I. Pre-Writing Stage

Before your students can start working on their assignments, they need to come up with a plan. The following tools will stimulate the process of brainstorming and outlining:

1. Imagination Prompt Generator provides random writing prompts that can get the writers’ creative juices flowing. You don’t have to assign specific topics all the time; enable your students to take some inspiration from this tool once in a while.

2. Storybird is a digital storytelling platform. Before you ask your students to write an actual essay, you should allow them to go through the inspiring stage of storytelling. Then, they can use that visual story as a base for their papers.

3. Mind42 is a simple, fast, and free mind mapping tool that will make the stage of brainstorming more productive. Most of your students are inspired by visual content, so they will get better ideas if you encourage them to create their own mind maps.

4. Bubbl.us is another brainstorming and mind mapping tool, which is especially appealing to younger students. They can create colorful mind maps and share them with the class to get feedback and more

II. Writing and Editing Stage

Once your students have a strong base of ideas, they are ready to tackle the writing process. Of course, they will still need your guidance, so you can suggest some of the most effective tools they can use for inspiration, writing

1. Write My Essay is a tool that can help you bring the process of academic writing closer to your students. You can get a paper written by a professional author and show it as an exemplar model of the structure each writer should aim for.

2. Google Docs is an effective writing platform that will prevent cases of lost content. Your students will forget to save the text continuously on MS Word, so they can easily end up with a deleted document after hours of hard work. If they write on Google Docs, their papers will be saved automatically.

3. TitanPad is a collaborative platform that makes team projects more fun than ever. The members of the team can work on a single document simultaneously and benefit from each other’s ideas. The contributions of all authors will be recognizable with distinctive highlights.

III. Tools for sharing and editing

Once the paper has shape, your students may lack the confidence to submit it for grading. If you inspire them to share the content online, they will be motivated by getting feedback from the classmates and other readers, so the entire process will become less frightening. These are the tools you can recommend for such purpose:

1. Slideshare is a growing community of people who decide to get their projects published online. If your students turned the content of their essays into slideshows, this is the platform they can use for simple

2. Scribd is a huge source of inspiration for writing. Your students can become part of the community if they start sharing their work on this platform. Scribd can get those papers distributed to a large audience.Online Tools to Help Teachers Teach

3. ISSUU is another platform where your students can publish their slideshows, documents, and even eBooks for free. The tool also provides the users with statistics about how many people viewed and shared

Remember: there is always room for exploring your options further. The tools provided above will help you explain the different stages of essay writing and enable your students to go through them with ease.

Robert Morris is an online tutor, educator and writer. Loves everything EdTech. Follow Robert on Google+!

Thanks for reading!