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Sunday, April 15, 2018

5 Ways To Measure Engagement Without Breaking Your Lesson Flow

The book "Bold School" (Keischnick, 2017, p. 95),  states that "Trying to measure engagement and comprehension without breaking the flow or falling behind schedule is a great challenge for direct instruction."

This is where technology can come to the aid of a teacher trying to infuse checking for understanding throughout the lesson without pauses or time-consuming transitions.  Chromebooks and iPads have created numerous opportunities for teachers to measure engagement during instruction.  The trick is how to measure engagement without breaking the flow you've created in your instruction.  How can technology help in keeping the lesson flowing, without interruption or dead spots?

The other consideration is to make sure every student has a voice.  If you simply ask students if they get it, some may genuinely understand, while others, not wanting to risk embarrassment or hold up the class, shake their head in the affirmative.

These apps can help you reach each student while incorporating checking for understanding in the lesson without breaking the flow of your lesson.

1. Nearpod: Use Nearpod for all phases of your lesson, from the introduction all the way to your formative assessment.  All the while checking for understanding in between.

2. Pear Deck: Pear Deck will not only help you present your lesson and incorporate checking for understanding with an anonymous thumbs up or thumbs down option, but you can also ask a question on the fly for students to answer in the lesson, without having to exit your Pear Deck lesson.

3. Google Slides Q & A: If you're presenting a Google Slides presentation, make it a Google Slides Q & A presentation.  Students can have their phones at the ready to ask a question without interrupting the class.  Q & A is great for those students who oftentimes are too shy to ask a question.

4. Kahoot: At the beginning of class, prior to the lesson, ask students to prepare for a Kahoot by having them go to  Then, you can insert Kahoots at various points of your lesson.  Prepare a few checking for understanding questions throughout your lesson.  Then, when the time is right, throw in a Kahoot.

5. Socrative: Use the Quick Question feature in Socrative to ask a multiple choice, T/F, or short answer question.  Like Kahoot, ask your students to prepare to use Socrative.  You can either have questions prepared (in which case, you can make a rocketship race out of it) or ask them on the fly.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Tech Tools Teachers Can Use To Keep Parents Involved

  • 1. Seesaw:  A fantastic portfolio app!  Ask parents to install the Seesaw parent app. From there, whenever their child posts something (like a journal entry, a photo of their work, a video, or a drawing), their parents are notified.
  • 2. Google Classroom: Use the Google Classroom email guardians feature to email parents about student missing work, upcoming work, and any other relevant class activity.
  • 3. Weebly/Google Sites/Adobe Spark Page: Create a web page.  Use web site creation tools such as Weebly, Google Sites, or Adobe Spark Page to create a page that shares classroom information such as a classroom calendar, upcoming events, and student work.
  • 4. Twitter: Create a class Twitter account!  Add photos of student work.  Keep parents abreast of upcoming class tests and assignments.
  • 5. Instagram: A class Instagram account would serve the parents well.  Include photo’s of student work and daily class goings on.
  • 6. Pinterest: Create a Pinterest board!  Include pictures of the class at work as well as student work.
  • 7. Blogger:  Keep a blog!  Use Blogger or Google Sites to blog.  If you find it difficult to keep a daily blog, try a weekly blog.  Write about what you’re doing in the classroom. Include photos of student work.  Include a calendar of upcoming class assignments and events.
  • 8. Remind: Use Remind to let parents know about upcoming tests and assignments due dates.
  • 9. Class Dojo: Let parents know how their child is doing in class by sending messages, photos, or any updates from class.
  • 10. Bloomz App: A great way to communicate with parents!  Bloomz allows you to instant message parents—pretty cool.  Once parents have signed up, they can receive posts you’ve written, announcements, alerts, and upcoming events.  Use Bloomz to schedule parent/teacher conferences too!
  • 11. Edmodo for Parents: If you use Edmodo in your class, this sister app is a must for parents!  The app allows parents to be notified when their child turns in an assignment, when tests are upcoming, and when homework is due.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

5 Apps That Should Be On A Teachers Phone

A smart phone is an indispensable tool in the classroom.  As a teacher, you have to be prepared to do things in the classroom at a moments notice.  Some of those things might include classroom management tasks or jotting down a note.  And, it helps to have a small, mobile device to help you do those tasks.
To help in the classroom, there are five apps that should be on every teachers smart phone.

Post It Plus

Sticky notes for your iPhone.  Available for iOS, Post It Plus allows you to take a note on a virtual sticky note.  Simply tap the “+” button take a quick note, jot down a reminder, or create a to-do.  Post It Plus allows you to group sticky notes into “boards.”  Perhaps you want to group your sticky notes according to class subject or tasks.  Post It Plus also allows you add a photo to your sticky notes.  A great way to take a quick note.


Ok, so there are two apps here (So there’s really 6 apps, not 5).  They are both made by the same people and go hand in hand in your productivity workflow.
The ever-popular Evernote.  Evernote is all-purpose note taking app available on all platforms.  Set up various notebooks in Evernote based on class period or topic.  You can add pictures to your notes as well as sync them across devices.
Scannable is made by the good people at Evernote and is the perfect companion to Evernote.  Take a quick scan of student work, and share it to various apps.  Along with being a great scanner app, it saves your scans directly to Evernote.  If you have Evernote, you should have Scannable.

Google Keep

Google Keep works across all devices.  If you yourself are using a Chromebook, Google Keep should be your must app for note-taking.  You can add pictures, to-do lists, and even sketch out notes.  You can ad a drawing and image to your notes.  Create a to-do list and ad collaborators to your notes.  In a Google Classroom, Keep is a must.

Google Classroom

A must for the Google Classroom!  If you’re using Google Classroom to manage your class, this app has to be on your phone.  The functionality is virtually the same as it would be using a computer.  The app allows for the addition of classes, the posting of assignments and announcements.  You can use your phone to review and mark-up class assignments.

Class Dojo

Class Dojo is a really good classroom management app where students are rewarded for positive behavior.  And, on that same note, you can take points away for negative behavior.  This app is especially useful on a mobile device because while you’re monitoring students, you can simply take out your phone and reward behavior.  Students get a kick out of accruing points and can become competitive, therefore promoting positive behavior in your class.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Technology Alone Won’t Help Your Students

A teacher recently told me that he has both a class set of iPads and a class set of Chromebooks in his classroom.  He went on to say that he has trouble deciding which to use on a daily basis.  This got me thinking.  It should never come down to trying to decide what technology to use, but it should come down to the learning objective or target.  

So I told them that although it’s great to be surrounded by technology, it doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have a learning objective. If you don't have a learning objective, technology won't help you.  You don't determine the technology, the learning objective does the choosing for you.

The iPad or Chromebook is not the end all be all of education.  Technology is just a tool after all. If you don't use your tech with a purpose, those iPads might as well just be sitting in the corner of your room.  Your objective determines the tool that you will use. 

Those Chromebooks and iPads the teacher referenced are just tools. They are a means to an end. You don’t use technology for the sake of using technology, you have to know where you’re going first. Your objective must be clear and concise, then determine which tool you will use. 

If you know me or read any of my other pieces, you’ll know I love technology!  Walking into a classroom that’s equipped with iPads, Chromebooks, or even Windows laptops makes me think about the possibilities of the extent of learning that can happen in the classroom. But at the same time, I know those iPads are just a means to an end. Making the technology effective begins with the days' target. 

If you want the students to write a short essay, perhaps using a Chromebook with its keyboard might be a better choice.  If you want to shoot and edit video, the iPad might be the tech of choice.  Now I know that not all teachers are lucky enough to have both iPads and Chromebooks, but the point is, you shouldn't use whatever tech you have just for the sake of using it.

A coherent and clear objective begins with SWBAT.  Objectives should begin with the words “Students will be able to...”.   At the end of your lesson, what will your students be able to do?  Then, once you've determined that, ask yourself which tech tool is a better choice.  Or, in most cases, it's not which hardware will work best, but which app suits the assignment.

Again, if you don't have a clear objective, technology won't help your students.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

5 Apps To See If Your Students “Get It”

I'm not talkin' about an app to use for formal assessments, although you can use some of the apps for a formal test.  I'm talkin' about those apps where you can quickly insert an assessment in order to see if your students "get it."  Or, perhaps you want to do a quick review of the previous days material.  These apps will most certainly help you out:

1. Socrative: A fantastic app that can be used with Chromebooks or iPads.  Socrative is great to use for an exit or entrance ticket.  Socrative also has a "quick question" option where you can ask a question of your class on the fly.

2. Nearpod: A great interactive presentation app, available both online and as an iOS app.  You can make a quiz as part of your lesson.  Or, if you prefer, insert quiz questions throughout the Nearpod lesson and monitor your students learning as the students work through the Nearpod.

3. Pear Deck: Another good interactive presentation app that works great with Google Classroom in that you can post your "Takeaways" to your Google Classroom and send to your students Google Drive.  Pear Deck allows the teacher to verbally ask a quick question, giving your students a space in the Pear Deck in which to answer.

4. Seesaw: A super app to use for student portfolios.  While students are working in the app, it's easy for the teacher to insert a quick question for the students to address to check for understanding.

5. Kahoot: A staple in most tech based classrooms.  Kahoot makes it easy to put together a couple of questions and take the temperature of your class.  Gamify your check for understanding with Kahoot!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

6 New Things To Try In Your iPad Classroom

If you’ve got iPad's in your classroom, Apple's March Education Event gave teachers a few extra tools.
  1. Apple has incorporated the capabilities of the the Mac’s iBooks Author app into its Pages app for iOS.  This means that you can now create ebooks that can be shared to the iBooks store.  Creating ebooks has never been so simple.
  1. Apple’s iWork suite of apps supports what they call “smart annotation.”  Teachers can write on a document in which the annotations stay anchored on the page.  So subsequent document editing will provide for the annotations, not typing under the annotations or over them.  Instead, editing will go around the annotations.
  1. Now, collaboration is much easier with the iPad.  Apple added “real time collaboration” to their iWork suite.  Now groups of students can work on a document in real time.
  1. Pages now comes with a new “presenter mode.”  This new mode makes it easier to do two things: use Pages as a whiteboard, presenting what you have on the big screen in easier to read font.  And, should the need to pressing a speech, presenter mode makes it easier to read and scroll the text in the document.
  1. The Schoolwork App is on its way.  The Schoolwork app is Apples answer to Google’s Classroom app.  The app will allow the teachers to point students to a particular app, check on student progress while they are working in an app, and create handouts for students.
  1. Teachers can now manage their class from their Mac! The Classroom app, once only available on iOS, is coming to the Mac. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

22 Ways Students Can Demonstrate Their Learning

Think of this as a compendium to my last post about students creating content.  This time, my focus is not on the creation of content, but ways that students can demonstrate what they’ve learned.  Twenty-two apps that can help students show-off what they’ve learned include:

1. Annotable:  A fantastic tool to annotate pictures or documents.  Students can annotate pictures they’ve taken, labeling different aspects of the picture.  In biology class, students can take pictures of plants etc. and label the parts.

2. Skitch: A great annotation tool.  Use it to annotate pictures, drawings, documents, etc.  Students can use it to label certain aspects of a picture.  They can use the picture of a particular person and label their attributes and/or accomplishments.

3. Popplet: Students can use Popplet to create a web of knowledge.  They can use it to explain a concept, map out a family tree of a famous person, or create a timeline.

4. MindNode: Great for thought-mapping.  Use MindNode to create timelines, explain the process of a science experiment, or show how to solve a math problem.

5. Explain Everything: A digital whiteboard.  Students can record themselves explaining a concept while they use the digital whiteboard to show what they’ve learned.  Then, show it to the class.

6. Educreations: A fantastic digital whiteboard.  Students can use Educreations to record themselves explaining how to solve a math problem or explain certain aspects of history.  Then, when done, show it to the class.

7. Shadow Puppet EDU: Create videos.  Include voiceover narration with pictures and graphics.

8. ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard: Students can demonstrate a concept or explain the significance of a person or event through their white board.  Students record their report and can play it back for the class or export it to the teacher.

9. iMovie: What better way to show off you you’ve learned than to make a movie about the topic.  No matter the subject, from math to social studies, students research their topic, film it, and present it to the class.

10. GarageBand: Students use GarageBand to record a podcast about their topic.  They can record an audio report or a conversation between two or more people.

11. Recap: With Recap, the teacher poses a question where students can respond with text or a video reply.  Other students can join in by replying to each other’s post with a video or text.

12. Flipgrid: Using Flipgrid, students video record their responses to a question.  Or, like Recap, they can comment on each other’s post.

13. Paper by 53: Paper is a drawing tool for iOS.  Students can use Paper in a multitude of ways, from drawing a concept to  writing text.

14. Paste by 53: Paste is available as an iOS app or a web application.  Paste is a presentation tool of sorts in that it allows the user to create presentation decks from screenshots, videos, docs, as well as links to other sites.  Works great with its sister app, “Paper by 53.”

15. Keynote/Google Slides: Whether your class is using iPads or Chromebook’s, Apple’s Keynote and Google Slides are a great way for students to present information on their topic.  Each app allows for the insertion of pictures and video to accompany their text.

16. YouTube: Students can share what they’ve learned using YouTube.  The teacher sets up their own YouTube channel where students can upload their videos about their topic for the class to view.

17. iBooks Author: Using a Mac, students create their own digital books about a topic, including videos, recordings, and other interactive elements.

18. Seesaw: Seesaw is the ultimate in digital portfolios.  Students can upload their work to their Seesaw journal or address prompts from the teacher right in Seesaw.  A great way to show what students have learned over the course of a semester or year.

19. Weebly: Using Weebly, students can create a website about their topic.  Whether it’s a historical figure, event, or science topic, a website is a great way to have students research and present a topic.

20. Animoto: Ask students to use Animoto (iPad) to create video essays.  Student simply important the pictures, such as a historical figure, then choose the music and video style and off they go.  Add to the video with captions explaining the pictures and topic.

21. Grafio 3: A mindmap and diagraming tool.  Grafio for iOS allows students to create how to diagrams of ideas and concepts.  Students can create tree maps of historical figures and events.

22. Stick Around: Turn the tables on your students.  Instead of you creating the quiz on a topic, ask your students to create a labeling quiz for their fellow classmates.  Stick around is an iPad app that allow's students to create their own labeling quizzes.  In creating a quiz, students must provide the answer key.  In order to create the questions, students must know the answers.