PBS: Beyond Downton Abbey and Mercy Street

PBS_LogoIf you are anything like me, you may have either grown up watching Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Mr. Rogers on PBS, or you know children who did. While I do not watch Downton Abbey (yet- says the person with the growth mindset), I do watch Mercy Street and love diving into historical fiction (the costumes and the sets are amazing).

But beyond great television is a great learning site from PBS Learning Media.

PBS Learning Media is a site that I have spoken about and shared numerous times before. I love that you can search by grade, subject, and type of lesson- from media, to interactive, and audio to self-paced lessons, and that you can browse by standards for each grade and subject. There is even a video about The Tooth Fairy! PBS Learning Media has something for every age and every subject.

With the elections on many peoples’ minds, PBS Learning Media has several fantastic collections including in Election Central including interactive maps, videos on the process, information about each candidate, virtual field trips, and more.

In the email I received this week PBS is featuring Civil Rights Then and Now where you and your students can learn about topics like segregation, justice, and poverty as it was then and how it is now. Additionally, if you teach Kindergarten through grade 3, you can learn about early Civil Rights Leaders like Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Ida Wells-Barnett. There are numerous other resources on Black History for all ages of students including this, Should Black History Be More Than a Month?

So check out PBS Learning Media for these and other rich resources to use with your students, then sign up for your free account and get started!

PBS Logo” by PBS – http://www.pbs.org/. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

I Went to the Chrome Store and I Got . . .

Icono_web_storeWho does not love to shop?! Actually, I don’t love it and have to be in the mood, meaning I have to begin to feel withdrawal. And when I am in the mood, I rarely enjoy shopping if it involves going to the mall. This is why I enjoy “shopping” in the Chrome Store.

One of the (many) things I love about Chrome is the Chrome Store and I can get lost browsing the many apps, extensions, and themes all while on my way to looking for something else. So this post is my list of some recent Chrome additions and ones I think could be useful (and fun) to you and your students.

But first, some vocabulary.

App: Installs on your Chrome home page. Some act like shortcuts to sites, others allow for productivity (like Sheets, Slides, Docs, Drive), and still others just open in a separate window (like the Whiteboard app below).

Extension: These are tools that live on your bookmark bar

Theme: Colorful, fun decor for your Chrome home page, bookmark bar and Tabs (perhaps you have recently seen snow falling on your kids’ screens or beautiful flower blossoms on your colleague’s screen. These are themes.

This all started while I was looking for an online whiteboard app so that students who use a laptop can create math tutorials to show evidence of learning. I popped into the Chrome Store the other afternoon for what I planned on being about 5 minutes so I could do a quick search and found two to try: Ziteboard and Whiteboard Lite. After trying both, I am recommending Whiteboard Lite for its ease of use and the different tool options. You can add text, shapes, change colors, change background (to include something you upload) and change line thickness. Since we have Quick Time installed on our Macbooks, there is no immediate need for a different tool to record the screen, but if you do not, my friend and colleague Wendy recommends Screencastify. The whiteboard is a must.

Like Stacey’s Pita Chips and other salty foods, it is difficult to stop at just one and there are so many apps that I got caught up browsing the other educational tools.

I added the Highlight Key Words for Google Search extension so that when I run a search, my search words will be highlighted when I open a link. This will allow me to easily and quickly locate the info for which I am searching. This is one I am going to have my students install so that it will help make their research time more efficient.

Student-Created.TV is a fantastic site of tutorials on all subjects created by (6th grade) students for students. I first heard about this from Alan November’s, Who Owns the Learning and landed there again when I was looking for examples of math tutorials. Imagine how thrilled I was to see this can also be an app your students can add to their Chrome home page so that they can learn anytime. Then, they can use the Whiteboard Lite app and create their own!

Revolutionary War Guess My Name and Civil War Guess My Name are two “guess who” games will make learning studying the Revolutionary and Civil Wars feel more like a challenge than a test. There are four different modes: quiz, game, learn, and review so your students can get to know the various players in these important historical events. Clues are given and students choose between four possible answers. Add these apps to Chrome and your students can easily access it right from their Chrome home page.

Fraction Puzzles, Fraction Wall, Number Golf, Hundreds Grid Chart– Math game apps that your students can use to practice their math facts in a fun, interactive way. Add these apps to your Chrome and make this an option for your fast finishers. Both Fraction Puzzles and Number Golf are games within one site from MathPapa and would be great for all ages of elementary, middle, and quite possibly early high school math as they go from basic math facts, positive and negative numbers, to algebra and graphing. What I like about the Hundreds Grid Chart is that the chart can change from whole numbers, positive and negative, and decimals; it also includes a built-in calculator, a coloring tool, and the option to print. Additionally, it goes beyond numbers to 100. Fraction Wall by Visnos is an excellent visual of fractions, equivalent fractions, percents, and more. From simple to advanced, this interactive wall has many options for you and your students to practice and learn fractions.

Of course, there are countless others but I will save those for another day. . .

I went shopping in the Chrome Store and I got all these apps and extensions; what will you get?

Icono web store” by Google Inc. – Chrome Web Store. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


Let’s Get Ready to Rumble (or, 10 ways to Formatively Assess Your Students)

Photo on 2-17-15 at 2.07 PM


My apologies for waiting until Friday to send out my weekly shares. I started two Coursera courses and have been engrossed in business classes that I am finding have applications toward teaching and learning which I will share.

“If you want your message to be memorable, think SUCCESs: Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Unexpected Stories” ~@j1berger

In any event, this week is all about formative assessment – that checking in you can do throughout a lesson or unit that can inform how you proceed. I saw this wonderful Livebinder of formative assessment using technology and have opened and checked out a good number of them. There are 32 and while you may have enjoyed at one time or another all 31 wonderful flavors at Baskin & Robbins, you will probably not have the time nor the inclination to check out all of these. But keep the binder in your tool belt library for when  you are sitting around  in your house due to bad weather.

Here are the some of the ones I checked out that I think are particularly great. 

#1 FlipQuiz Just like Jeopardy but without the music or Alec Trebek, FlipQuiz has a board set up in columns with topics across the top and points in columns ranging from 100 to 500. This is a free site to sign up but with a small fee you can get some premium features like automatic scoring. I think the fair value version is good enough. There are pre-made game boards that others have created like The Road to the Revolution or Fractions, Decimals and Percents, or you can create your own.

#2 Quizizz This is a fun one complete with exciting sound effects, music, and fun pictures. Also free, Quizizz has a library of quizzes that other teachers have made on a variety of subjects including music. You can choose to use one of teacher resources or you can create your own or you can do a hybrid which is create your own but include questions from other quizizzs. Students can join a quizizz live OR you can make it homework and students can do it on their own time. What I like about it is the lovely line plot the teacher gets at the end showing which questions students got correct/incorrect which can inform you which type of problem you need to remediate in your class. 

#s 3 & 4 Zaption and Educanon I have spoken numerous times about both Zaption and Educanon (and Edpuzzle for that matter) and so will make this brief. These tools allow your videos to be interactive. Both tools allow you to add your own video OR search within the tool for YouTube, TeacherTube Vimeo, PBS, and many others. Zaption has a presenter feature which allows you to watch a video as a class and it will pause for the questions while your students answer. You can also enable audience questioning during the video and questions on the fly from you. A tip: if using presenter, make the Qs True/False, quick short answer- QUICK- or Multiple Choice. The longer it takes for students to type in their longer short answers, the more you lose the flow of the video. Educanon has 7 different question types. Both are embeddable and share to Google Classroom.

#5 GoFormative This one is by far the most versatile but takes time on your part. This is the one I think my friend C Dub is going to like due to all the Star Wars references in the tutorial videos and tutorial document. You can add all types of questions, you can upload content including images, videos, PDFs, and documents, you can add questions on top of these items, you can have your students show their work by drawing their responses, upload images for their responses, or type their answers AND you can view it all live as it is happening while offering feedback at the same time. Phew, that is a lot you can do. But there is more— you can create classes and assign to specific classes OR you can open the assessment to everyone and they join with a join code. This is entirely FREE and worth every minute it takes to create an assessment. 

#6 Class Flow Class Flow is another extremely versatile assessment and differentiation tool. Here is how it works. You create an account via Google single sign on, Facebook, or email/password, you can upload content like video, images, documents from your Google Drive, Smart Notebook, Office 360, or dropbox, the web- pretty much anywhere;  you can use lessons from the Class Flow community or create your own, give your class a code and get started. One of the really great things is the ability to make smaller groups and send questions directly to these smaller groups thereby allowing for differentiation. All responses come back to you in real time so you can see how everyone is doing. You can view your classes understanding by lesson, grade class, student in color-coded blocks so you can get a quick visual on how everyone did. This works on all devices.

#7 Bingo Baker Who does not enjoy a lively game of BINGO after a few rounds of Heads Up 7-Up? This is an old-fashioned game that you can create online, add images, it will scramble the board for you and generate the call card. You can then print them out or play online. 

#8 That Quiz This one is tried and true for Math, Science, Geography check-ins. Nothing fancy here but your students can set the timer, the level of difficulty, the number of questions, and see their progress. This is for all grade levels and is a no-brainer when you want to offer some practice for your students.

#9 Answer Garden creates a lovely garden of words that grow in size depending on how frequently they are used in responses submitted by your students (like a word cloud). You can create an answer garden on the fly, send the code to your students and have them respond. I have used this for one-word responses, you can use them for short answer or numerical responses. You will not see who answered what. This is more for brainstorming and quick feedback.

#10 Kahoot Similar to Quizizz, Kahoot offers the ability to gamify your classroom and get feedback in real time. Best played in class, Kahoot offers the option to use or modify community Kahoots (and there are THOUSANDS on EVERY SUBJECT from Art to Technology and everything in between) or create your own from scratch. There are featured Kahoots, Favorite Kahooters or you can search by subject, school level, or type of Kahoot (discussion, survey, quiz). Teachers can view the analytics and get real time feedback on what their students know/think/feel. And Kahoots don’t only have to be for what they have already learned, but could also be a way to introduce a topic as well. Kahoot is fun, exciting, and your kids will love it!

And now for something completely different and unexpected. 

My blood pressure is 90/40.

Ok, so I thought adding that unexpected tidbit might make this particular Weekly Wow more memorable. Did it? Because adding something unexpected makes your message more memorable. This is something I am learning in Contagious: How Things Catch On with Jonah Berger from Coursera. Not only does he have great curly hair, his lessons are Simple, informative, interesting- not to mention Credible, Concrete, and include Stories.

But really folks, Global School Play Day is coming up on February 3rd and I thought you would want to know about it. What it is is a whole entire day dedicated to PLAY- unscripted, unplugged, unstructured PLAYTIME. Is this something you think you could do? Could you devote at least half a day to this to highlight the importance of play for your students?

I hope you enjoy the snoweekend.

Boo! A Not so Scary Share

This week I am sharing articles and posts that I think are timely and important.

I just read this article about the importance of helping and teaching our students not only about how to be good digital citizens, but also how to be good digital leaders. Just because they don’t see themselves doing anything stupid or silly online when they Google themselves does not mean that they should not be found at all. We need to help and encourage our students to create a positive digital footprint so that they can be found when Googled, and that when they are, it shows their leadership, innovations, and inspirations.

Since many are implementing digital portfolios, I thought this EdWeek article by Larry Ferlazzo about the importance of making reflection a habit would be appropriate to share. EdWeek articles require a log in to read. This is free to subscribe to with your school email and a password.

I read an article from The New York Times about teaching math and in it was this great site for math riddles to be used for problem solving and critical thinking that I thought you might like to try with your (older for many riddles) classes. The riddles range in difficulty from easy to very challenging and topics from Geometry to Algebra, probability, logic, and more and would probably be best if these were worked on in small groups so students can practice problem solving collaboratively. 

Here is a site that I shared last year but that came by again in my Twitter feed this morning. Hstry.co is a cool site for learning and creating using interactive multimedia timelines like this featured one on Life in the Colonies or this one on Using Twitter in your classroom. You can include text, images, videos, and quizzes in the timelines you create and then share or embed these on your site. One drawback that I have is the inability to filter timelines by subject. The site is free to sign up and free to create, though access to some of the really great bundles that Hstry.co creates  (and there are some really perfect ones for our 4th and 5th graders) are for premium users at $49/year. Beyond that, it’s pretty cool.

That’s all folks.