Recently I came across an article titled, “50 Ways Google Can Help You Become A Better Teacher.” One of my passions surrounds all things Googley, so initially I was caught up in all of the amazing ideas shared in the article. It wasn’t until I considered sharing this that I noticed the title: 50 Ways Google Can Help You Become a Better Teacher.
Let me say this - teachers are amazing! All the time, energy, emotions, and resources that we put into our content, planning, classes and individual students is beyond what people outside the profession can understand. Google doesn’t make you a better teacher. It is a tool. Teachers are the architects creating the environments that empower students in their learning. Google resources support those amazing things you bring into the learning environment.
Beyond the title, what does the article have to share? Here are some of my favorite ideas:
50 Ways Google Can Help You Become a Better Teacher
Have you seen those illustrations depicting various concepts in journals, magazines or online? Those are Sketchnotes! While some might call these doodles, they are really so much more. A sketchnote is a visual representation of a topic that requires listening and synthesis of information.
What is the process? One description calls the process “circular breathing”: listening, synthesizing and visualizing (Berman). It’s about transforming what you hear into a visual piece of communication, structuring that understanding, giving a hierarchy to the concepts and synthesizing the information. It’s an individual, personal experience that isn’t about being an artist.
What do I need? Most avid sketchnoters agree that there are certain elements of a sketchnote: text, containers (shapes), connectors (lines and arrows), and icons (stick people, smileys, etc.). As you become more comfortable, try adding shading and color. Of course, you’ll need a medium. Blank paper and a comfortable writing utensil are the best places to start. Is there an app for that? Of course! Pair a stylus with an app like Notability*, Penultimate*, Paper by 53, Inkflow, Procreate, Sketchbook Express, or Autodesk Sketchbook*. Digital or paper, it’s really about what is most comfortable for the user.
Why sketchnote at all? Sketchnoting is personal and expressive experience which encourages the note-taker to interact with the material in new and different ways. The note-taker is engaged, making connections to the material and “adding some joy” to their notes (Irgens). Research has found that as a learning strategy, it can help learners “organize and integrate their knowledge and ultimately be transformative.” It can also provide “teachers with windows into students’ thinking” as well as being a means for peers to “share knowledge, discovery and understanding” (Davis).
What can I do now? Start with me! This is an area of growth for me, one that I’m diving into and cultivating. Take it easy and try some templates from the Sketch50.org resources page or join me in 50 Days of Sketches promoting a growth mindset with educators. Follow the hashtag #Sketch50 on twitter to see what others are sharing.
What can I do next week? Want to try bringing this into your classroom? Start by allowing students to sketchnote as they take notes in class. Encourage them to share or present their notes. Students are often really proud of these notes! Check out this Social Studies example or include students in the 50 Days of Sketches challenge.
What can I do next month? Assign sketchnotes to your class. Have students share their notes in an ALEC* forum, using the Remind* app, posting in Schoology*, or uploading to a class Padlet*. Did your students use pen and paper instead of an app? No problem! Have them take a picture and upload their sketchnote from the camera.
Some additional thoughts on sketchnoting. This is a brief introduction to sketchnoting. There are books, websites, podcasts and YouTube playlists devoted to this. This is about trying something different and engaging using digital tools or a combination of traditional and digital. There are sketchnoters that have turned this into a hobby and have preferences regarding type of paper, brand of pens, apps and stylus. Don’t let them keep you from trying! If you’re ready for more, explore some of the sites and videos linked here for more information.
A few of my favorite Sketchnote links:
At the end of every week my students pulled out their iPads and they wrote. They opened up blogs that they created, designed and personalized, and they shared their stories. They wrote about what they learned that day or that week; they shared thoughts about the lessons or topics; they added images to support their thoughts; they responded to specific questions about what they were learning and they shared overall thoughts. This recurring assignment appeared in our LMS, but it was part of our class culture. We were learning together through this regular process of writing and reflecting.
Telling the story of our learning is a powerful means of processing and sharing that learning. Students construct meaning and apply prior knowledge to their new learning during this process of reflection (Costa). This process helps students to see the significance in what they’re doing, process what went well and what needs to change; and pause to think critically about the content (Alrubail). It’s Google-proof.
We may be well aware of the benefits of reflection, putting that into practice can be something different. Which tool do I use? How often do I have the students do this? How do I assess this process? These are very real questions that need to be considered before you start the process.
The habit of reflecting is what brings about that metacognitive process, so regular practice is key. The means depends on you, your practice, your available resources and your class culture. Paper and pencil are of course an option. That wasn’t an option for me because I wanted students to be able to include images and audio (plus I didn’t want to carry them), but that was my class. Blog and Vlogs are are popular options. Google Sites, Weebly, Edublogs are all good resources for that. Flipgrid is newer on the playing field and provides a platform for students to really exercise their voice. Padlet has added a number of new features to allow students to draw, video, take pictures, add audio and type directly into Padlet. Google Docs or Slides are additional possibilities, too. What tools works best for you? Which tools fits best in your classroom culture?
What do you have students write and reflect on? What questions do I ask? What stories should they tell? Here are some resources to help:
How do I evaluate these pieces? Here are some rubric examples to help you get started:
These last weeks of the semester before winter break move so fast! There seems to be so much to do: managing grades, final exams and keeping students engaged. In addition to an extra cup of coffee or two, we can all use a few tips as we move forward toward the end of the semester.
Let’s look at some tips and suggestions gathered from the sources listed below.
Keeping students engaged:
Maintaining your own sanity:
Now that our school year is in full-swing, it’s a good time to reflect on how you’re managing all those devices in your classroom. No matter what type of device you’re using or seeing in your classroom, it’s good to regularly reinforce your expectations regarding technology:
Ideas for routines with devices:
As you go through your day, watch for the signs of distraction:
Redirect as you notice distraction:
Don’t become outraged when students are initially distracted. Redirect and give them the opportunity to reconnect with you and the task at hand.
Remember, everyday is a new day to start, practice and reinforce expectations
Teaching in a 1:1 environment will involve all of these aspects of teaching. And while you can get by having students use technology simply as a substitute for what they would otherwise do on paper (read, write, work on math problems), there is a much larger world of discovery and creativity now at their fingertips. – iPad Bootcamp for Teachers
It’s time for parent-teacher conferences! In the coming days, encourage your students to attend conferences and include them in the conversation. This is a time to build positive relationships with parents and your students.
Plan your upcoming conversations: how will you welcome parents, how will you highlight student’s work, which effective strategies for classroom success will you share, what kinds of action plans might you need, how will you close the conversation, how will you keep the lines of communication open.
Your laptop, desktop, iPad are tools to support these conversations. They can demonstrate student work through online submissions, portfolio contributions, and even pictures. They provide on the spot access to IC, ALEC and other online resources.
Know your grade book and how to maximize its use during conferences on an iPad: showing only one student at a time, coloring grades, emailing an update during conferences. Will you be using a laptop? Visit our Google Drive folder on IC for additional tips.
Find out, do your parents know how to access IC, ALEC or whatever online platform you’re using. Show them how if they don’t. Our Google Drive folder has directions for parents. Download and send them to parents. Do they have questions about the 1:1 Program? Direct them to our parent web page or have them contact me: email@example.com.
Explore my Scoop.iT! for articles on tips for teachers and parent-teacher conferences: http://www.scoop.it/t/parent-teacher-conferences-by-susan-murray-carrico
Students are absent, maybe 1 or 2, maybe a large number. Managing 1 or 2 students absent is one thing, managing a higher percentage can be something different. Perhaps it’s a field trip, perhaps it’s widespread illness, perhaps it’s the weather or perhaps it’s testing; whatever the reason, we all want to make the most of our class time and stay on course. How do you make this class time valuable for students present without the others missing out? Let’s explore some digital options!
Need some additional ideas? Try these sites:
We have access to amazing digital tools in our building. Those tools are here to support learning, to support the instruction that is happening throughout the building, not to replace it. These tools can streamline workflows, organize materials, ease communication, allow for more one-on-one time, differentiate product and instruction, and more. Translating our instruction into those tools, what that looks like for some skills, can be confusing. Notetaking is one of those skills.
Notetaking is essential in many of our classes, but research seems to say that digital notetaking doesn’t lead to retention of material. So what does a digital school do?
A closer look at the research shows that when notes are taken with a keyboard, students tend to retain less than when notes are handwritten (Mueller). Students tend to be more concerned with getting material recorded than engaging with the material. Still, there are those that argue that typing frees us and provides us more time to think (Chemin), but we’re assuming that the receiver is actively engaged with the material.
What can we do, as a digital school, to ensure that our students are really interacting with the material they’re noting? There are strategies that can maximize the tools available as well as notetaking skills, engagement and retention.
Quizlet IS a flashcard site, yes, but so much more! It’s cross-platform, that means that students can work on their iPads, their iPhones, their Android phones and desktops. Create your own card sets, search for set already created, search for a set from your course materials, or have you students create sets as part of their own review and practice.
It’s not just flashcards, either. There are a number of games students can play as part of their practice (the desktop version has more options than the mobile versions). The “Learn” activity is my favorite for spelling reinforcement. Targeted spelling feedback lets students know where their errors are. When students are having a difficult time with terms, adaptive training helps them focus on those items. You can even have the cards “read” to your students.
Create a class and track student progress when students “join” your class. Go a step further and embedded sets into ALEC, Schoology and other sites. Have students take notes by creating cards for key points. Use the Quizlet Live feature for a collaborative race to learn the material.
Use this as an assessment tool and let Quizlet create quizzes for you! Multiple choice, matching, true/false, Quizlet will create the quiz and let you proofread it before you print. Are you interested in going paperless? Save the PDF version of the quiz and upload it to Showbie*.
*For quizzing situations like this, I would recommend requiring the students to complete the quiz in Showbie and not allow them to open it and complete in Notability. Students are able to expand the PDF in Showbie for easier writing. When the quiz is over, lock it so students can’t share it with others.
As teachers, we have a responsibility to model and guide students as they dive into the online waters. That may spark the question: who is guiding us? Yes, the online world is fast-paced and we may feel like it is zooming past us, but you aren’t on your own. Last year we started offering Digital Citizenship workshop sessions. This year we’re doing that, adding monthly information in this newsletter, piloting a District Digital Citizenship course for staff and offering optional mini-workshops in March and April. We’re reaching out and hopefully catching you in a manner that best meets your schedule.
There are two main resources our building and District reference regarding Digital Citizenship: ISTE and Common Sense Media. Our freshmen are working through portions of the Common Sense Media resources in their Computer Apps courses. I encourage you to explore these resources as time allows. For them moment, I would like to share some “Teachable Moments” from ISTE’s resources as a what can I do in my classroom now piece.
You'll find this complete resource and the ASD20 poster that details these teachable moments based on ISTE's Essential Elements of Digital Citizenship.
I am a Digital Learning Coach by title, but lifelong learner by practice. An Apple Teacher, Google Certified Educator and Microsoft Innovative Educator, my goal is to assist educators in investigating, exploring, and investigating resources to embed in their instruction. I also hope to be a part of their journey toward an innovative and transformative practice that empowers learners and strengthens their own craftsmanship. I spends my free time with my family, my dogs and a good cup of coffee.