Recite: Awesome Online Poster Creator

Happy Friday!

In a late-night Pinterest session, I came across another neat tool for poster creation…Recite!

Recite is an extremely easy to use website that requires NO sign-ups or log-ins…which is great!

recite-st8k3y

Simply access the site, enter your quote (or search for a quote from Recite’s database), choose a template, and voila! Your poster is complete.

Creators can download your poster, share it on social media, or email it to a friend.  It really is that easy!

How can you and your students use this in the classroom? Are you reading a novel? Ask students to choose a meaningful quote and create an image on Recite. Students could locate famous or inspirational quotes and create a poster to encourage classmates before a test, or their peers before a big game or competitive event.

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How could you use this tool? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments!

I’ve included a few of the images I created with Recite on this post. Creating these awesome images literally took less than a minute!

I hope you enjoy this tool!

Thanks for reading :)

Gamified American Government: The Nuts and Bolts

Wow! The response to my last post, How I’m Gamifying my High School Government Class, was AWESOME! Your encouraging comments and Tweets are so reassuring, especially since I have absolutely no idea about the world of online Gamificationgaming!

Some of you expressed some interest in the actual setup of my gamified unit, so here it is!

A quick note about the badges...

I have been researching different websites that offer digital badges for my students. Schoology (my learning management system of choice!) provides teachers with the option of awarding existing badges (electronically) to students, as well as creating their own. After signing up for a free account with another popular tool, Class Badges, teachers can create and award badges to their students electronically. Teachers establish “classes” and provide students with a registration code to access their class…very similar to the sign up process of learning management systems, or other online classroom tools.

After I introduced my students to “their mission,” I asked what they felt would be more meaningful; awarding badges electronically or if they would rather physically have the badges. I made sure to emphasize that the badges would be made from card stock, and would not mimic a Girl or Boy Scout badge :)

I was very surprised at their response. My students feel that physically having the badges would be “cooler” than an electronic version.

I’m so glad I asked!

More to come on the world of “Gamified Government” soon!

Thanks for reading :)

 

 

 

How I’m Gamifying my High School Government Class

Welcome to…American Government!

Your Mission: The American Presidency.

Objective: Concept Mastery.

Fourth quarter has been, at least in my classroom, an challenging time for student motivation. The month of May is off in the not-so-distant future, and visions of swimming and sleeping late dance in the minds of our students.

In a desperate attempt to combat what I’ve come to call the fourth quarter funk, I’m introducing my students to American Government…gamified!

Before I explain “the mission,” let me first say that I have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of the world of “gaming.” Seriously..not a clue. In fact, I ran all of my terminology by my husband (a Call of Duty guy) before I presented “the game” to my students because gaming concepts and terminology are, in my opinion, nearly comparable to learning a foreign language. Gaming to me is playing Super Mario Brothers on my 1990’s Nintendo system. Those were the days…. :)

So, even if you are not a gamer, please don’t be scared away from this concept!

I first learned about gamification about two years ago at a flipped learning conference, and it sounded interesting. However, my first thought was, “I have an EOC in my class, and I can’t devote class time to students playing games!”

Gamification of learning and game-based learning are two different concepts, at least in my mind.

To gamify a lesson or unit is to add elements of a game to your activity. Game-based learning involves incorporating learning games into your lesson or learning environment.

After I sorted out these terms, and learned more about gamification from a wonderful session at METC, I decided to give it a try!

Here’s the plan, in a nutshell.

Students earn “experience points” by completing objectives, or targets. These objectives include completing and submitting unit assignments on time, actively viewing instructional videos by their due dates, tutoring their peers after school, researching and presenting current events articles, and other “targets” (activities assigned by me) that may arise.

Students then earn badges through their experience points. These badges provide various perks students may use on their test. For example, if students earn 200 experience points, they can use the “Post-It Pal” badge, which allows them to use a Post-It note of information on their unit test. Side note…I’ve included the stipulation that the Post-It note must be supplied by me and only include their own handwritten information :)

At the end of the unit, 10% of the students experience points will be added to their grade in the form of bonus points.

Mission- The American PresidencyI introduced this “game” to my students yesterday, and their response was remarkable!

They are actually excited about this opportunity, and have asked what else they can do to earn experience points! I’m attempting to secure guest speakers for my students…imagine how many experience points their attendance at this type of event could earn!!

In the next few days, I’ll be posting some helpful documents from “the mission,” badges, as well as student progress and response. Check back soon!

Happy “International Day of Happiness!”

Thanks for reading :)

 

Track Student Progress with Flippity

Seriously, Flippity just keeps getting better!

In addition to creating flashcards, “quiz show” review games, and certificates by simply modifying a Google Sheet template, now Flippity fans can create Progress Indicators for their students!

Flippity Progress Ind

This newest addition to Flippity includes the same simple instructions as the features listed above. Simply copy, modify, and rename the template. Then, add desired information, select “publish to the web,” copy and paste the link in the designated sheet, and voila! A link to your new Progress Indicator is ready to share and use.

What happens when you need to update your students’ progress? Do you need to follow these same steps again?

Nope!

Manage Student Progress with

Simply access your modified Progress Indicator template, which is safely housed in your Google Drive, make the require updates, and access your link. It really is that simple!

How can you use this tool in your classroom?

  • Monitor students’ reading progress
  • Manage students’ earned points in a gamified setting
  • Keep track of and update bonus points students earn

How could you use this in your classroom?

I can’t wait to see what the geniuses at Flippity create next!

Thanks for reading :)

3 Great Tools for Creating Bibliographies

Well, folks. Fourth quarter is nearly upon us! We’re on the downhill slide! The homestretch!

Does it seem like this school year has flown by?

I think so!

As the end of the school year draws closer, many of our students may be frantically sifting through the seemingly endless labyrinth of online resources in an attempt to create a mind-blowing research paper.

As teachers,we’ve been through the very stressful experiences that are writing solid research papers. Below are some great tools our students can use to alleviate some of that citation stress that accompanies the research and writing process.

The Best Bibliography-Creator Tools (1)

Cite This For Me: I recently discovered this tool during one of my late-night Pinterest marathons, and I love it. Cite This For Me is a free web bibliography tool that looks like a Microsoft Word document. Students  create an account and add resources to their bibliography from a website, book, journal, newspaper, etc, and can choose from popular citation styles such as MLA, APA, and Harvard. Cite This For Me is available as a Chrome extension that allows students to create and add citations to their bibliographies directly from their browser. (An add-on is also available for Microsoft Word) Did I mention this a free tool?! The more I play with Cite This For Me, the more I love it. This wonderful tool has additional resources as well, including a page devoted to suggested topics for research.

RefMe: I’ve blogged before about the great tool that is RefMe, and I really can’t say enough great things about it. Students create a free account, download the RefMe app for their android or iOS device and add resources to their bibliographies my simply snapping a picture of an ISBN number. RefMe is also available as a Chrome extension, and like Cite This For Me allows students to add information to their bibliography directly from a website. My favorite feature of RefMe is that students can download the app to their phones or tablets and add resources wherever they are, even if they’re not by their computer. Seriously, where was this tool when I was in college? Then again, where were iPhones when I was in college? Eeek!

Bib Me: Over the past few years, I’ve shared Bib Me with my students as an easier alternative to Easy Bib…oxymoron, right? I feel like Bib Me provides students with an bibliography creation platform that is extremely easy to navigate, provides citations for APA, MLA, Chicago, and Turabian styles, and it’s 100% free. The only downside to using Bib Me, if you can even call this a downside, is that it doesn’t have the Chrome extension or a “snap and add” capability like Cite This For Me or RefMe. While Bib Me may be a more “traditional” electronic citation tool, it is still definitely worth using!

Happy citing!

Thanks for reading :)

It’s Giveaway Time!

While I was attending the wonderful METC conference last month, so many presenters mentioned a wonderful book, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess, that I just HAD to buy the book.

I’m loving the book so much that I decided to share it with you!

If you’re interested in learning how to increase student engagement in your classroom, then fill out this form to be entered in the giveaway!

My daughters will randomly … and I really mean randomly (they’re 4 and 2 years old) choose a winner for this giveaway on March 20.

Share this post with your friends and colleagues!

giveaway for blog

Good luck!!

 

Making Flipped Videos Efficiently and Effectively

-1 and DONE-As the 3rd Quarter of my first year as a “flipper” comes to a close, I think it’s again time to reflect on my experiences. (For the importance of reflection in teaching, click here)

In addition to transitioning my classroom from the so-called “traditional” flipped environment, and using instead the “in-class” flip, I’ve also changed the way I create my videos.

Earlier in the year, I spent way too much time creating my flipped videos…specifically editing my videos.

I wanted to make sure my voice sounded ok, my facial expressions weren’t too distracting, etc.

My biggest and most time consuming hiccup occurred when I inevitably made a mistake. I’ve taught this content for years, and feel quite comfortable with it. However, there is something scary about recording yourself, knowing that your video will be shown to your students, their parents, the community, and THE WORLD!!

I spent an incredible amount of my valuable time rerecording my videos over and over making sure they were 100% perfect.

Looking back, I realize just how much of my valuable time I spent meticulously critiquing my instructional videos.

When we stand in front of our class delivering material in a “traditional” fashion, do we ever get tripped up or tongue-tied?

Um, yes.

Do we sometimes misspeak?

Yup. Sure do.

When these “mistakes” are made in a traditional classroom environment, do we tell our students to rip up their notes so we can go over the same content during the next class period?

I doubt it.

Enter one take video creation.

If you make small mistakes, trip over your words, or make a less than flattering face…it’s ok.  Even if, in your coffee deprived bleary-eyed state, you tell your students that the John Locke’s theory of natural rights included life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…I may have done that once…it’s ok.

Use your mistake as a teaching tool…embed a question about the topic you mistakenly discussed in your video management system (like my favorite, EDpuzzle!) Make sure you emphasize and reemphasize the correct information later in the video.

Leave your mistakes and imperfect moments in your videos.

Doing so will not only preserve more of your precious time, but will also give your video a human element. This can allow your students feel as though they are having a conversation with you, and may help them connect more with the content. After all, their human TEACHER and NOT A COMPUTER is delivering their content.

Thanks for reading :)

Reflective Teaching and Resource Sharing…Why I Blog

I started blogging in January of 2014, and ever since, I’ve been asked these questions…

Why do you do it?

I started my EdTech nerd blog for a few reasons. First, I wanted a way to reflect upon my journey as I attempt to become a 21st century educator. As a teacher, I feel reflection is hugely important, and blogging is the platform I chose to use to do it.

I also wanted to share the cool tools and instructional strategies I find/use with other teachers. I’ve found that when I share my experiences with others, I receive advice, insights, and encouragement from other teachers around the world. Blogging has allowed me to “meet” so many new people and make connections with teachers and EdTech companies, which I think has contributed to my growth as a teacher.

How do you have time?

Hahaha! I don’t. Does anyone really have time for anything, though? As a wife and working mother of two amazing little girls, I don’t feel like I ever actually have time to do anything, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. If I want to accomplish something, I need to make time to do it. I never have time to read a book, but I try to read at least a little bit every day. When I’m at home with my family, I don’t feel like I have time to create instructional videos for my flipped classroom, but I carve out 7-9 minutes when I have to in order to make my 1 take instructional videos for my students. (More about 1 take videos, later!) I don’t have time to do laundry and clean my house…ok, maybe I just don’t want to :)

In case you’re wondering what my point is…I write this blog because I want to be a better teacher, and I think reflecting and sharing resources are steps toward that goal. If anyone wants to become better at anything, they have to make time to do it.

So, if I have to drink an extra cup of coffee (or two) to stay up after my kids go to bed in order to blog, so be it. I love coffee anyway :)

Recently, a few of my readers have asked me for advice about blogging…wow! Here are a few pointers I’ve picked up from the past year:

  • Start small
    • Create a free blog with Blogger or WordPress. I wouldn’t sink a ton of money into a side project, at first
  • Don’t expect to become a millionaire
    • When you start blogging, do it because you want to and you have something to say. Don’t start blogging to make tons of money so you can quit your day job…at least at first ;)
  • Write when you have something to say
    • If  you don’t have something to say, saying nothing is better than producing bad content…I think
  • Be genuine
    • Let people who read your blog see your personality through your writing. Don’t try to write like your favorite blogger or author…write like you!
  • Write about something you LOVE

Why I Blog

I am by no means an expert, and am flattered that I was asked for advice!!!

Check back soon for my thoughts on the “One Take” instructional videos!

Thank you so much for reading!!

 

Why I Use Remind to Connect with My Students

As I sit at my kitchen table, writing to you the night before yet another snow day, I feel like I need to gush about an amazing tool.

Remind!

I haven’t written about Remind for quite some time, and that’s because I honestly haven’t needed to use it that much.

When I need to communicate with my students, I typically just send them an email. If we are at school, most of my students have a tab for their school email open on their Chromebooks at all times. This is just one of the many perks of being a 1:1 Google school :)

However, I’ve recently found that many of my students do not check their school email accounts over the weekend, during school breaks, and especially not when we have snow days. Big surprise, right?

So,  in order to make sure my students receive information I need them to have, I sent a text message using Remind (formally Remind 101).

Students receive this text message from me without seeing my cell phone number :) Which is great!

What did I share with my students?

Continue reading

Creating and Using Groups in Schoology

As teachers in the 21st century, you know that sharing resources and ideas with fellow educators is extremely important.

That’s probably why you stumbled upon my blog :) Thanks for that, by the way!

You also realize, however, that teachers are extraordinarily overwhelmed during the school day with our vitally important, yet daunting task of educating the future.

This is kind of a big deal!

So, how do we find the time to share and discuss ideas and resources with our fellow teachers?

We Tweet, Pin, Facebook, and share everything we can, whenever we can.

I also use features already available through my wonderful Learning Management System, Schoology.

I’ve written about the amazing tool that is Schoology on a number of occasions, and you no doubt know howI feel about its effectiveness and benefits to my students … both inside and outside of the classroom walls.

Schoology can provide wonderful resources for teachers as well, and acts like a social media platform that is accessible through most school filters.

Schoology’s “Groups” feature allows teachers to join communities that discuss a variety of topics, including Professional Development, Blended Learning, Flipped Learning, Social Studies, and so much more.

Continue reading