Epic Updates and a Day-long

27992885494_5fd46d6f0c_mThis week I have two epic updates to share that you will love!

First off, actual updates to Epic!, an amazing site I have posted about before.This week while on Twitter I saw this fantastic post by Sara Malchow which naturally piqued my interest since it is about reading and connecting with other classes.  As you might know, Epic! is a  FREE (for teachers and librarians), fantastic, browser-based site and app for books. It is “the Netflix of books” as they are known, and now with recent updates, as recent as last week, teachers can now create collections of books and then assign those collections to their students! Imagine the possibilities here: you have groups of students in your class researching various topics (as a group)- you can create a collection of books that they can read for information (or for fun), then assign that group the collection. You can differentiate based on interests, reading level, topic, etc. You can pull together collections of books for thematic units; the possibilities are nearly endless! Sara has created a collection of books and padlet activities for the month of November that you and your elementary classes can easily participate in. She has the primary and intermediate versions here that you can print out, hang in your classroom, and use a QR code scanner for the activities (or share with your students via Google Drive). This is a great way to read and connect with others around thematic and seasonal books.

Next is an epic update to Google forms. As you might recall, one of the things you can do with Google forms other than collect information, is create self-graded quizzes. While it used to be that you had to use only multiple choice, true/false, or drop-down questions, now you can assign point values to short or longer answer questions, grade them, and then return the graded quizzes to your students. Eric Curts’ post does a great job of explaining and showing exactly how to do this in a step-by-step fashion. Now you can get your students’ higher order thinking on- hooray!

Speaking of Google, it is just one month until the Google Education On Air online conference begins in the Americas with the keynotes starting at noon on December 3. Breakout sessions led in English and Spanish will go all day from 1:30PM until 7PM with sessions geared to teachers, leaders, IT professionals, and everyone. Themes range from hacking the classroom, using Google tools, empowering students, professional development and more. I am looking forward to hearing from Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis as they speak about HyperDocs at 5:00PM (Hyperdocs? Read my recent post). Of course there are many other exciting sessions that I will tune in to and will happily share my learning with you once it is all over.

Feeling like you want more? Check out the Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition for great articles like this on how a happy school can lead to successful students and this on adding mindful pauses to your classroom to engage your students.

photo credit: Say It With A Camera Find My Epic via photopin (license)

Final Share of the School Year

Thank to Twitter, I have come across a few things that I think you might enjoy reading, trying, viewing.

The first is Context U. For those of you who teach History (I would say grade 4 and up as it is designed for middle school and high school) or who are history buffs, this site is for you. It is currently in Beta which means its developers want and ask for feedback so give it to them. What it is is actually in the name- Context U is a site that puts historical events in context by placing them on an interactive timeline, pinning them on a Google map, grouping them in groups, and showing cause and effect. The best part is it is all interactive. As you know, understanding the context and background offers insights and understanding in a deeper way, making the learning of the topic go deeper. So, take a look, offer feedback, and share it with your students.

Next are some great Google Chrome extensions that will make reading online more about the reading and less about the distractions of the ads. I use the Evernote Clearly extension and love it because it I use Evernote to store articles (and recipes) and links from the web and the Clearly extension merges clean reading and the ability to then clip and save the article to my Evernote notebooks seamless.

 This next is an article about how one teacher made some shifts in her thinking and teaching and how these shifts allowed her to have a memorable 13th year of teaching. Before we all move on from this school year, what things will you think about that went well, and what things will you want to leave behind?

About a month ago was Google Education on Air, a two-day live streamed event that was all about the Skills of the Future for our students. I watched a number of the speakers live, and found the event to be exciting and motivating. Fortunately, even though the event is long over, the videos and the messages are archived for our viewing and reading pleasure. First is the skills report, a 21-page survey report on the skills students will need in the future to be successful. The top 3 from the survey are Problem-solving, teamwork, and communication. Read on to see what other skills students will need for the future. 

And what would a share of mine be without multiple somethings from Google. This time it’s Google Photos. Many of you are cleaning out laptops and want to know where to put your photos that are not synced with the I-cloud. Well, Google Photos is a great option. Take a look at all you can do with the Google Photos app for your mobile devices as well as the app for your Chrome home page. Seeing is believing.