GSuite Classroom Assigning Discussion Groups

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If you haven’t heard by now, there is a new feature in Google Classroom that I have been longing for: assigning individual assignments! {You can read all about the new update features here.}

Released in January 2017, you can now assign students in your classrooms different assignments as well as questions. I have been using this feature for over a week to give it a test run- and it is everything that I have been waiting for!

Some examples of how I use it:

My fourth graders are currently working with a school in India on a project about pollution. The teacher in the school in India initiated the project by creating Padlets that discussed the causes and effects of pollution in India and shared it with us via two blog posts to look over and comment on. I did not want all the students to gravitate to the blog post that contained the padlet with more videos and less text articles. Using Google Classroom’s new feature, I simply divided the two posts strategically as two assignments in Google Classroom. This way I ensured that the students who may have felt overwhelmed by an overload of information, or have a learning disability recieved the blog post that had more videos.

I am also in the midst of coaching a fellow teacher on using the “Question” feature as a way to create groups within classroom to answer a series of questions pertaining to a piece of literature. The students within the group are to respond to one another posts by shedding additional text evidence and asking questions to their peers. The teacher participates as well by replying to the students responses and ensuring they are on task,

Below is a quick Video Tutorial that I created for the teacher of whom I am coaching to look upon as a reference.

How have you used this new feature?

 

Google 4 Parents

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About a week ago (postponed due to weather), I presented an after school training for the parents of the children of whom I teach. I like to do that now and then as I feel that there is great value in keeping our parents (valued stakeholders) current with what their awesome sons and daughters are doing in their classrooms. Especially with technology.

I feel like it bridges the gap between home and school.

I also feel like it eases their minds in case they need to help their children on an assignment. Only if I could help explain math….

Anyway, below is a presentation that I provided my parents. Feel free to grab it for yourself and make adjustments.

I also provided them with “training” Google usernames- so they could experience GSuite for Education themselves. I can attest that they had a lot of fun experiencing GDocs and the features of sharing and commenting.  {Maybe a little too much for that matter!} The parent participants even experienced what it was like to turn in an assignment to Google Classroom. Truly, this was a win-win that I will be repeating again in the spring!

Grab a copy of the Slide Deck here!

My Favortie Wizer.me Tasks: Draw and Fill in on an Image Video Tutorials

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Below are two quick video tutorials from two of my favorite tasks from Wizer.me. You can find more of a detailed tutorial from my blog post here.

Both the Draw and Fill in on an Image task offer a plethora of robust ways to make your digital worksheets come to life!
Enjoy!

 

Making Digital Worksheets- Fun with Wizer

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A few months ago, I was sent on a quest that was initiated by my middle school science teacher to find her an easy-to-use digital worksheet creator that will grade for her. That is where I stumbled upon Wizer.me. So, if you are on the hunt for an application where you can create, share and grade digital worksheets; look no further than Wizer.me!

I have been an advent user of this application myself for a few months now and love the features that this platform keeps adding! I find that if I get myself involved with the app, understand it and fall in love with it- the easier it is to share it with my staff.

Although the list does not stop here, below is a list of some of the perks to creating a digital worksheet in Wizer.me:

  • Ability to assign your Worksheets to Google Classroom, Edmodo or with a link.
  • Promotes collaboration as Wizer.me has an abundant amount of “Community Worksheets” that educators can share with one another.
  • Question options, such as fill in the blank, multiple choice, open-ended, fill on am image and matching.
  • Features like embedding, adding videos and the ability to record your voice!
  • Did I mention that it will grade for you?
I have been presently using Wizer.me as part of a flipped learning approach in my technology classes and it has worked out great!

I created this tutorial here to highlight many of the features available to Wizer.me. Once a member, you can grab a copy of my digital worksheet here and use it for yourself!

Teaching Third Graders Google Docs

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Below is a lesson that I conduct with my third graders each year to help them understand how to use Google Docs more efficiently. It’s all about sharing caring and commenting, because that’s what thrid graders do best!

GOOGLDocs

Understanding Google Docs Objectives:
  • How is Google Docs like Microsoft Word?
  • What is a benefit of using Google Docs?
  • How can you use Google Docs?
  • How can you use Google Docs in a group project by sharing?
  • How do we make comments, share, insert images, word count and spell check?

Assignment 1: Opening, Commenting and sharing- because it’s caring!

  1. Open a new Google Doc and title it: Assignment 1
  2. Teachers, discuss with your students that you will be having a “round robin” writing experiment with Google Docs. Instruct them to write an intro paragraph for a story (we are more focused on the process and not the product here). This story can be about anything! You will be given 5 minutes. If you finish the intro paragraph, you may begin the next paragraph. If not, no worries. Explain that they will have guest writers and illustrators to help them along.{Demonstrate how to complete this task.}
  3. At the end of 5 minutes, show the students how to share that paragraph with the classmate to the right of them. {You can be more creative here, by all means.}
  4. That person will continue to write the the story for an additional 5 minutes. Then repeat steps 2 and 3. Depending on how much time you have, you may want to do this a few times.
  5. The last person who the story is shared with will insert an illustration, give the story a Title and will change the font style and size of the story’s title. {Important: You may want to give the students additional time to read the story and to teach the addressed skills}
  6. The original author of each story will submit their Google Doc Assignment 1 to Google Classroom (if you do not use Classroom, have the students share the story to you).

Assignment 2: Making a Copy and Making A Doc My Own

 

  1. Click on this link here: Google Worksheet: Internet Research
  2. Explain to the students that it is a view only document. To make it your own, click on File –> Make a copy. {And by all means, please do so yourself!}
  3. Discuss with your class that it is now their copy and they are ready to edit.
  4. But, before they do, make sure they share it with you first!
  5. Have the students begin following the directions on the worksheet!

Assignment 3: Making a Comments and Understanding Collaboration

 
  1. For this lesson, you may want to use a worksheet similar to this one that I use with my students here. Or you can just use that. Really. It may be easier.  Directions from the worksheet:
    Welcome to your Google Worksheet Assignment 3.
    I have shared this worksheet with you to teach you how Google Docs can be used to comment and collaborate. Please find your assigned number in the provided space below. In that box please type one interesting fact about yourself using complete sentences. When you are done, you must find a minimum of three students to leave a comment for. This comment must enhance the side conversations. Need a reminder on how to make a comment? Click here!
  2. The idea of this lesson is to get your students to use one Google Doc and be able to decipher the benefits of drawbacks of sharing a document. (There are, of course, numerous advantages to this, the only one that I have received from completing this lesson is that too many students on a doc at one time can be tricky. Hence the fact that I divide it into rows.) A great lesson to branch off of from here is to show the students how you can see last edits in a Google Doc- especially if your students are like mine and accidentally write over other students information. {Great teaching moment.}
  3. If your students have email, you have the ability to assign students a cell to work in and do not need to give them a number. Learn about that feature here.
  4. Demonstrate to students how to comment, reply and resolve comments.
  5. Discuss benefits and drawbacks from their experience. How can they see using this in the future?

Fun With Making Movies, Digital Story Writing and Comics for the Kindergarten Technology Class

Kindergartners are fun, imaginative souls.  They have a lot to share and their stories are genuine.  This is a great age to start introducing the basics of digital story writing and exploring that creativity.

Below are some sites that I use with my Kindergartner to second grade students:

Arthur’s Comic Creator
Those little hands will have a blast adding backgrounds, prompts and text with ease!

Buster’s Movie Maker
Learn about the elements of a great movie and change the mood of the movie.

My Story Maker
Another fun Website with writing prompts! Great for younger students! You can print and share the stories when you are finished as well.

Storybird
One of my favorite Websites to use with my students. Easy to use and offers a lot of great visuals!

Story Maker from ABCya!
Who doesn’t fall in love with what ABCya! offers on their site? Students can create a story from scratch and print it out when they are done.

Create and share stories with ease for free with the possibility of purchasing a published book.
Of course, there are many others out there on the market. Another one of my favorites is Make Belief Comix featured here. What are your favorites? 

What do you expect from your education?

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As educators, how do we know if we are doing a good job in providing our students with the best opportunities for the future? We can look at test scores and evaluate data, but are our students engaged? Are they learning? More importantly- are they satisfied? What if we were to create an education that encompassed our students’ needs while delivering content that was relevant to them. What would that look like?

A little background before we begin….
My current place of employment is a private nonprofit school located in a small suburban town. We have block scheduling, with ELA and Math taking up three periods of the schedule every other day and Social Studies and Science taking up two. I only see them for one period. Sad. I know.

In my small corner of the world, I took it upon myself to ask my middle school students a series of questions in an anonymous survey. {I, of course, at first had to explain anonymity to a few to ensure honest results.} It was even asked to be completed at home on his or her own time. I asked my students to think of their overall classes, and not just mine when they sat down to answer my survey. Is their education up to par? Do they expect more?

While I was not surprised by their responses, I found their open-ended answers refreshing. One student responded “One thing I expect out of my education is to learn information that will be helpful/useful for my future and every day life. I would like to have a basic understanding of simple things and I would expect to use more technology in other classes that aren’t tech because this day in age that will be more influential.” While another stated “From my education, I expect that we should use much more technology, as that is what many other schools use. In our classes, we use technology and I believe it would be more effective if we used it more often. I also believe that with the new times, our education should be more relevant and suited towards how things work today. I feel that we should learn more things that could help us in the real world. I believe that knowing about how birds can fly is not preparing me to be a good citizen in the 21st century.”

Interesting enough, although many were unsure about what they wanted to be in the future, their responses looked towards the possibilities “I would not only like to learn how to do things, but learn things that I could potentially use on a daily basis when I get older.”

Don’t worry. I also received the responses like “I think we need more free time” or “to be fun and educational” which is what I thought I would have gotten more of considering my pool of respondents were 11-14 year olds.

But then there are the ones who got it, and took advantage to explain their disposition:

“I feel that the education system is in need of change. While I may know the density of a planet and how to do complicated math equations, I still do not know how to pay my bills or manage myself when I am older. I understand that I am just in 8th grade, and that this subject may be touched upon in high school, but I still feel too many students have no direction of what they want to be in the future. In school, we fill out bubbles in tests that have been created by people who have never taught a day in their life and compete to receive a letter/number that determines the quality of our work. In some countries, such as Finland, there have been radical changes to the educational system. Now, they are ranked as having the highest educational system in the entire world. There are proven methods to improve-we just have to be open to them. Instead of set curriculum on how to teach, teachers should be free to explore their own methods of teaching. In the 21st century, we need people who will think creatively with open minds. Through the current standards, students are not encouraged to discover their future. And while students may be only 20% of our population, they are 100% of our future.”

Honestly. Brought tears to my eyes. I wish I knew who wrote it. They would have received bonus points!

Below is an info-graphic with my students responses. I thought it was interesting enough to share, and perhaps provoke you to ask “What do you expect from your education?”
Click image to see live infographic.

Google Certified Trainer Application

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Well, I did it! I finally took the plunge and completed my Google Trainer Application. I am very anxious and yet excited to see the outcome of my application.

I am uncertain of what was required in the past, however the application is very straightforward. I had a very hard time keeping my video to the 3-minute limit, because as you know, I am a run-on sentence.

Anyhow, here is an example of my video:

If you are interested, you can find my Google Slide Game: Code Name here. 

I very much look forward to a reply.

Happy holidays!