Much Ado About Everything and Then Some

Last week I shared my post, Much Ado About Everything that included information about all the new features of Flipgrid. As I was going through some flagged emails, I came across this video tutorial by Richard Byrne (aka Free Tech 4 Teachers/Practical Edtech) where Byrne reviews the whiteboard and drawing features from teacher and student views as well as how to create a grid and download student response QR codes (which would make your walls come alive). As if that were not enough, Matt Miller posted 20 Activities to Bloom (think Taxonomy) with Flipgrid’s new features where he shares different ways you and your students can use these features. Of course the Flipgrid blog has their amazing resources including their Innovation Station with their age and subject-specific integration docs.

So, whether you are someone who is new to Flipgrid, or someone who has already drank the Kool-Aid, there is something here for everyone.

This Week’s Possibilities

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“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.”
Ann Landers

It always amazes me how many tabs I find myself with each week full of things to read, share, or try. I know I have said it before, but I am not a hoarder of things- my house is very organized- (though my children would say I have emotional attachments to some things)– I do tend to hoard my tabs until I am able to share them. And while I do use my One Tab extension when I am sharing a group of links on a particular topic with my students or colleagues, I keep the ones for my weekly share open as a visual reminder.

Many teachers at one point or another have their students participate in a group project. I use the term participate loosely as you will see in this post by John Spencer, The Four Biggest Pitfalls of Collaborative Groupings (and How to Avoid Them) that there are various forms of participation depending on the group’s individual members and their personalities. His post (which also has the podcast version included if you are more of an auditory learner) is full of great examples, strategies, and helpful videos like Collaboration vs. Cooperation, and The Seven Keys to Creative Collaboration (or more affectionately titled, Why Group Work Doesn’t Have to Suck). If you are one who either participated in group work as part of your PLC, your department, your grade level, or graduate class; or if you do any sort of group work with your students, this is one post you may want to take time to read/listen to/watch.

Who doesn’t love a good smackdown! Matt Miller posed variations had a tech smackdown during his #DITCHBook Twitter chat (every Thursday at 10PM Eastern) on this question, What are your best tips for using (GSuite tools, Flipgrid, Quizlet Live, Quizizz, Kahoot; , in your classroom and got countless responses. He culled them and put this post together, sorted by the three questions and I am sharing them here with you ICYMI. No need for FOMO here. So if you have been thinking about incorporating some new ideas into your repertoire, or have been thinking about trying a new tool, take some time to learn from fellow educators.

Continuing on the learning path, MCIU (Montgomery County Intermediate Unit) has some excellent offerings this fall that you might be interested in taking advantage of. You can filter through 12 different categories like Social Emotional, Equity and Diversity, Literacy, or you can just scroll to your heart’s content and see what catches your eye. If you really want to dive deep, there is this Universal Design for Learning Professional Learning Community (PLC) that will be run from mid-September through May.

Last is a fun extension to your Flipgrid, Padlet, and Epic books experiences. #EpicPals is now in it’s 5th year running and is brought to you by Sara Malchow. Each month there will be a new collection of primary and intermediate books available in Epic (you can use the app or the browser version) that you can search for using EpicPals. There is also an accompanying Google Doc for each month that has the books as well as both a link to the Padlet that goes with the particular book. You can read about getting started with EpicPals here then you will want to join in the fun with your students and the hundreds of others who are also participating.

For more great tips, tools, and articles like this one from Eric Sheninger, “Why It’s So Important for Teachers to Cultivate Their Own Resilience” check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower and Middle School Edition.

Happy learning!

Much Ado About Everything

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“LEARNING IS NOT ATTAINED BY CHANCE, IT MUST BE SOUGHT FOR WITH ARDOR AND ATTENDED TO WITH DILIGENCE.” ―ABIGAIL ADAMS

I love the start of the school year because it gives me a chance to think about what I want to do with the year ahead. I am not saying that the days leading to the beginning of school are not fraught with thoughts of wishing I had more time to stay home and relax (I work out of town most of the summer break), but, once I am back, I am all in! It’s kind of like when I wake up in the morning and calculate the number of hours until I can go back to bed, once I put my feet on the floor, I am up and there is no turning back.

One of the things I like to do is find tools, articles, websites for my colleagues and students that will enhance their teaching and learning, will reinforce initiatives, are helpful, or are just plain fun. This week’s share has all of the above!

First, a great tool that keeps getting better: Flipgrid (what is Flipgrid you ask? You can check out my previous posts that include it) has some exciting updates and improvements which you can find here in their blog, one of which is Shorts. Shorts is the ability to use the camera to make videos for your students, colleagues, parents, and community that includes a whiteboard mode, picture overlays, cool filters, and unlimited clips. You can see an example here.

Next are some tools I learned about from a recent post on Twitter asking people to share their favorite tools.

Genial.ly is a free tool for making and taking your images and presentations to the next level. You can begin a genial.ly in just a few clicks choosing first what you want to create. The options are many going from blank slate or template to learning experience, presentation, interactive image, vertical infographic to name just a few. You can work on your own or invite a collaborator. I made this one in about five minutes and it was not only easy to do, it was really fun looking at all the optional elements to include. Be sure to hover over the overlaid images and click on the button.

If you are a teacher, parent, librarian, someone who enjoys reading aloud to others, then this app is for you. Novel Effect amps up your read-alouds- no pun intended- by adding sound effects to the stories as you read bringing them to life like never before. Using your phone or tablet, find the book in their ever-growing library (currently over 200 favorite story and poetry books), plug in to a speaker (if reading for a class), then just start reading (note: you need to have a copy of the book, they have the music and sounds that correspond to the book). Novel effect adds the soundscapes, music, and sound effects as you read in the spots where the sounds go. If you stop reading, the sounds stop, if you slow down, the sounds will wait for you. You can check out their FAQs here and read how teachers are using it here. Adding this to your app collection is really a “no brainer.”

Speaking of stories, who does not love listening to a good one!?! Six-Minute Stories is a podcast I literally just heard of. When I say, “literally,” I am not being dramatic. I took a Facebook break and checked out the recent post from George Couros on the Innovate Inside the Box study group page and while reading the comments, I learned that one of the teachers uses Six-Minute Stories as a transition to class with her students. Of course I had to check it out (Curiosity is not in my top 5 signature strengths but is gaining ground with all its use). But I digress . . Six-Minute stories follows one storyline all year long, six-minutes at a time. It will definitely keep your students coming back for more. But wait, there’s more! The options do not stop at Six Minutes. Kids Listen has a whole host of podcasts (like Girl Tales and Tumble Science Podcasts for Kids) and story podcasts (like Sparkle Stories) for children on a whole range of topics! This one is definitely click-worthy.

While we are on the topic of kids, this next site will quickly become a favorite resource for your students of most ages (I try not to overgeneralize, hence “most” and not “all”). The Kids Should See This is a growing library of educational videos curated by its founder (with help from her two children) for kids of all ages. You can search from the more than four thousand videos in the Science, Technology, Art, Music, DIY, Space, Animals, Nature, Food, or Random categories, or get the list of new ones delivered to your inbox each week. I did a quick search for “sustainability” and got quite a list — 130 to be exact.

Last up is strictly for middle school science teachers; everyone else is free to go check out the other items :). In yesterday’s EdWeek email I clicked on an article about Next Gen Science Standards open educational resources called Open SciEd. Open Sci Ed is a fully free set of high-quality, full course, instructional materials for middle school teachers and student, along with accompanying professional development resources for science teachers. Currently there is one 6th, 7th, and 8th grade unit available for your use on the following topics: Thermal Energy (6th), Metabolic Reactions (7th), and Sound Waves (8th). By 2022 the full middle school science course that aligns to the NGSS will be rolled out and available but until then, there will be one unit available every six months. Their goal is to expand the resources from Elementary through High School.

Enjoy!

Back to School Learning Opportunities

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I hope you have all had and are continuing to have a great summer!

With the start of school around the corner, there are many learning opportunities to be had for all areas of the curriculum. Here are just a few to get you started on a great year ahead.

Project-Based Learning

This opportunity popped in to my inbox this morning so I wanted to pass it along to you. It is a FREE, ONLINE workshop for teachers  (and school leaders, curriculum coordinators) about turning units and experiences into Project-Based Learning. You can check out the email below and click this link to register. A. J. Juliani will be leading this tonight.

Differentiation from Day ONE

“How can district leaders and educators make decisions that promote equity, inclusion, and learning for every student?”

Newsela and Ed Current offer monthly webinars throughout the year. You can read about the one I attended on Universal Design for Learning in this post. In this webinar, you will hear from Dr. Rhonda Bondie Director of Professional Learning at Harvard Graduate School of Education and how you can begin differentiating from the first day of school. Click here to register. Can’t attend? Not to worry, register then you will get the link to the recording and the materials!

Fall History Courses with Gilder Lehrman

You know the amazing resources you find at Gilder Lehrman, and these fall online history courses are yet another reason why you should check it out.

All NEW Flipgrid

You loved Flipgrid before, you will love it even more now! Check out the new features like whiteboard mode, photo overlay, and more.

Handpicked Just for You

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I love when I have great things to share and today is one of those days. I have collection of items that include student voice, collaboration, exploration, and more than one that I think you will want to start using immediately.

First off is a favorite of mine for feedback, sharing, and reflection– Flipgrid. Here are some great ways to share your love of literacy from the Flipgrid blog. It’s titled, “Loving Literacy 365 Days a Year!” and it offers numerous ways you and your students can use Flipgrid to share a love of reading, discuss characters, learn from an author, and collaborate with other classes. For example, this teacher shared her 5th grade classes Flipgrid on book talks and opened it up to other classes to listen, comment, and add their own book talks. This authentic sharing of a love of books is just one of the amazing ways you can utilize this great tool. It’s not just for kids though, doing a search in their Disco (short for discovery) library will find that colleagues can participate as well through book chats, PD sharing, and more like this one on using tech in PE. Flipgrid is constantly upping their game and making it even better than it already is and it’s free for educators so why not get started and sign up?!

Next is a virtual book club paired with “a unit in a box” and it’s called #thebookchat. The creators of #Thebookchat choose books that introduce students to underrepresented voices and authors. Every six weeks or so educators from around the country are participating in an online discussion via Twitter using #thebookchat to discuss the selected book. Their next chat discussing James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time will be on March 10 at 9PM. What is fantastic about it is the list of diverse books and the accompanying resources for each. Everything you would need to share with your students as they read this book is included in the HyperDocs for each selected book. If you are looking for a way to add more diversity and inclusion to your curriculum (which we all should be doing), this is for you. While these books are mainly for high school students, this list from Edutopia offers books for all grade levels.

Sutori is a great tool for creating interactive timelines, but did you know you could do much more than that? This post offers 50 ways to use Sutori in all subjects and each level of school that you may not have considered. Think study guides, book reports, biographies, interactive discussions, assessments, lab reports, and 44 more.

Last and certainly not least is Classroom Screen. I learned about this yesterday from a tweet from my friend Loren and have been obsessed with it ever since. It is a multifunctional classroom management tool that you can begin using immediately. It combines timers, noise-level monitoring, stop light, a random name selector, white board, backgrounds, video, text, and more into one neat package. Just click the link, select the tool, and go. It’s that easy, that fun to use, and that good.

Resource-Full!

cup of clear liquid on glass surface

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This week I am sharing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But first, apologies for the lack of sharing this past month. I have started a specialization through Coursera and have been trying to be efficient with my time, i.e.,  when I have it, I am using it to learn.

And now the shares!

Listen Up

I have listened to and read transcripts from several podcasts, TED talks, and articles the first of which is from The Cult of Pedagogy, aka Jennifer Gonzalez. Gonzalez shared how she is transforming her teaching and therefore student learning by incorporating what she learned when she began going to Crossfit workouts with her husband. Gonzalez shares four ways she has changed how she teaches based on the Crossfit methods. My personal favorites are the Differentiation and Student Choice, and Variety Matters. Who says all the students need to be doing the same things at the same time, and who says that you can’t switch things up in your classroom!

While I was browsing Gonzalez’s site, I came across her post about ways we as teachers can support students of color  which was inspired by Dena Simmons’ TED talk . Her post offers four ways Simmons suggests we can begin and continue to change our behaviors and our classrooms to honor and recognize all of our students, one of which is Create ways for students to bring pieces of their lives into the classroom.

If you teach middle or high school math or have children who are in these grades, then these Math tools Chrome Add-Ons are for you. Graphing calculators anyone??

This next was a BIG find! Thanks to Nicole Mancini who created this Author Connections Flipgrid, you and your (elementary) students can hear authors read aloud first chapters of their books, get writing advice, as well as hear the authors share their books and why you should choose to read them. It is a great resource for your budding writers and readers.

If you do anything on (in?) Chrome, then these Top 10 Must-Listen Google Teacher Tribe Podcasts are for you. From add-ons to Slides, Classroom Hacks to Special Education, there is a Must-Listen podcast for everyone that includes links to numerous resources. One of my faves is on different things you can do with Google Slides that go beyond presentations. Thanks Kasey Bell and Matt Miller for these resource-full podcasts!

It’s all about the search!

Sometimes I just get lucky and today was one of those days. I was looking for a Twitter template for a colleague and while I was searching, I came across some fantastic options. First is this list of results from a template search on Matt Miller’s DITCH That Textbook website. I knew he has written and shared about these before so his would be the first site I checked. And you know me, one click leads to another and I found Template Palooza. Take some time to browse the numerous options and then get your creative juices flowing for ways you and your students can do a deep dive into a character’s thoughts and motivations using these and other templates.

Next on the agenda

Lastly are some articles I have open and ready to read. While I have not read them yet, I am sharing them with you because I am sure they will be meaningful and thoughtful. First is an article on over-scheduling, next is on teaching students how to structure their thinking,  and last is on the importance of building relationships in our classrooms.

 

 

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

birthday bow box card

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If you are singing the song and thinking about the holidays, then you are partially correct. While this is not a post about the winter holidays as it is only nearly September, it is a post that brings “gifts”. These gifts, however, are in the form of great tools you can use and connections you can make right off the bat for the new school year ahead!

First off is the All New Educator’s Guide to Flipgrid 3.0. In early August, Fligrid launched a slew of updates including making it FREE to educators everywhere! Now you and your students can share your voices, connect with other classrooms, become epals, and co-pilot topics safely, securely, and easily. Just imagine using Flipgrid on one of the first days of school for students to share something they want you to know about them, goals for the start of the year, or a favorite poem.

Speaking of sharing, flattening classroom walls, and connecting, the 2018 Global Read Aloud will kickoff in just over a month on October 1. Join with over a million other students and teachers in reading one of this year’s selections.  Then use Flipgrid to share reflections, favorite passages, and messages about the book with other classrooms from around the globe.

Richard Byrne has recently released his Practical Ed Tech Handbook for the 2018-2019 School Year that you are free to view, download, and use in your classroom and schools. In it you will find tips for staying in touch with parents and students, ways to use online quiz platforms, tools for making stop-motion and documentary-style videos, and more.

As my school continues our implementation of Positive Education under the Positive Psychology umbrella, and schools are realizing the importance of promoting and facilitating a growth mindset in their learners and faculty, Learn Storm and Khan Academy offer these growth mindset lessons and activities for elementary, middle, and high school students that you can utilize with your free Khan Academy account.

Day one is coming or for some is already here. Here are three options for one-minute of retrievals from Pooja Agarwal you can use with your students to get them primed and ready to learn. These are simple, quick warm-ups you can easily implement that are research-based ways to deepen your students’ learning. You can subscribe for weekly updates, read about the research and download free guides and follow Agarwal on Twitter.

Lastly, while you are setting up your classrooms, taking a walk in the beautiful weather, or just like to listen to learn, then take a few (usually hovering around 5 – 10) minutes to listen to Matt Miller’s DITCH podcast. This will take you to a podcast about more ways to use Quizizz and if you scroll down, you can hear about Fliphunts (a mash up of Flipgrid and a scavenger hunt), changes to Google Classroom, Educator Goals and more.