ramblings, Reflection, Relationships

End of Year Reflection

This was my 20th year of teaching. It was the most challenging year of teaching. I was not my best! I tried to be my best but I wasn’t. I ended the year with all my students by giving them a positive message, telling them how much they had grown, because they had, and how much they had overcome, because they had, and how I hoped they were able to have me as a teacher again so they could truly see how I am. I hate that I wasn’t my best, but there are no do-overs! There is only reflection and growth. I want my students to see that, I want all of you to see that, and I want to remember that myself.

We can’t go back and erase past mistakes. Sometimes we want to and we try to, but even if you try to erase the mistake (apology, restoration,…), the indention of the pencil is still left after you wipe away the eraser bits. Is the paper still usable? Yes! Can we begin again and do better? Yes!

To model this process for students, I give them a reflection at the end of the year. Part of it is for them to reflect over their own learning and part of it is for me to reflect over my teaching. This requires you to be vulnerable. It requires you to put aside your pride. It requires you to be willing to grow. IT’S NOT EASY! Not every student likes you and not every student will say nice things about you.

Read them.

Learn from them.

Be better!

Page one is the student reflection and page two is their opportunity to give me feedback. Why do I ask kids about learning vs. grades? This is a huge focus of mine throughout the year. I want students to learn how to learn and focus less on what grade they have. This is hard for students, especially the top students who are grade driven! I had a Freshman this year that FREAKED OUT because a teacher entered an assignment as missing and it dropped her from a 96% to a 95% (Ok, this was not her only freak-out about grades, SHE HAD MANY!!!). Now, she was going to be in this teacher’s class later in the day and could address the missing assignment but she was having trouble concentrating on my class because her grade dropped a percent. It was still an A, and it would be remedied in an hours time! UGH! Needless to say her reflection this year said she focused on grades and she said there was nothing I could do to make her focus on learning because she wanted to be Valedictorian and her grades were more important. Our system has failed her and so many others with the same focus. I will keep doing what I do, and try to make students see the value in knowledge. It’s an uphill battle!

Now to my reflection.

Students liked: how quickly I entered grades, that I gave chances to improve, that they could choose during the unit when to complete tasks because it allowed them to work around their schedule, class time to work on skills so they could get help, whiteboard reviews, exit tickets, and a few students LOVED the Choose Your Own Adventure (maybe because it was fresh in their mind.) Some told me I was funny and some told me they knew I cared. Some liked that I would dance or sing with them and told them about my life and asked about theirs.

Areas to improve: I was grouchy sometimes and could have angry eyes, it wasn’t fair that students could retake tests because “I worked hard and got it the first time” (Umm… focus on grade student perhaps?). One student told me I played favorites but gave no examples of me doing this so I will need to reflect over that one to see I was unaware of an action. One student was angry that they didn’t pass and blamed me and another was upset with me because I told them to get off their phone every day and they didn’t want to get off their phone. A few students asked that I stop emailing their parents about missing work and redo opportunities.

Things I know I want to do better next year is parent contact, positive and negative. I’m thinking of some kind of newsletter and more positive calls home. We started in remote, then 2 weeks in person, then hybrid, and my usual positive calls home didn’t happen because my calls were more about getting technology situated and seeing why students weren’t joining Zoom.

There are many things I want to continue: flexibility with completion dates, ability to correct or retake, and focus on learning not grades.

I wish I could undo some of the grouchy days (students weren’t wrong about that) but those pencil marks are forever on the paper. I will try to do better next year, which is all I ever ask of my students. Learn from the mistake and do better!

Here is the reflection sheet that I created. Feel free to use (change to your name on the second page) or modify as needed.

No matter what, I loved my students and tried my best to be what they needed. This year was hard and I’m hoping next year will be better!

BreakoutEDU, Digital Escape Rooms, Geometry

Get A Clue Digital Escape Room

** This is a repost from Make Math Not Suck**

We are not giving finals this year. An idea I think I support (it has been hard keeping motivation without a final). I wanted a way to review everything we have learned this year but in a fun way.

I originally planned to do a murder-mystery activity like I saw on Twitter shared by @MrsHiltnerReads.

After altering the idea so we weren’t murdering people, it turned more into a Who Dun It? which morphed into a Clue like escape room.

This idea could be used with any content for any review I would think. I just posted the links to the Slide, Sheet, and Form in Canvas but by embedding it in a Site, it would make might make it easier for students. about:blank

I also made a version using Alice Keeler dice roll page and markers where students could share the page with 3 other students and find the clues independently as they moved through the Get A Clue board. I would want to make one questions clues, however, to make the game go faster. Maybe I will try it the next time.

I hope you can use this or the idea of it to make the end of the year review more fun. Enjoy.

icons

Icons

I love icons. Maybe not as much as I love fonts, but close. Icons are a great way to help students use visuals if they aren’t comfortable drawing. They are also a great way to add visual appeal to your own creations.

Here are a few of my favorite icon places and a few news ones I just learned about.

The Noun Project

I was introduced to The Noun Project by Matt Miller. He is one of the MASTER’S at using icons to make graphics look AMAZING! He also shares ideas about how to use them with students.

Matt’s ideas can be found here.

Instructions to use icon’s from Matt.

The Noun Project has sooooo many icons and you can search by category. Black and white icons are free and you can pay a monthly fee for non-commercial use and color. Inside of Google Slides, you can also recolor the icons. I do give fair warning, you can search for non-school appropriate icons like “boobs” and there are icons for it. I tell my students it’s like using any other online resource, use is responsibly.

Here is a search for Collaboration:

Flat Icon

I learned about Flat Icon last year. It is also searchable and some of their icons are in full color. This one also includes icons that are not school appropriate and this time “boobs” will also be in color. 😂 Some of their icons are premium, so watch out for the little crown icon. You won’t be able to use those.

Here is a search for collaboration:

Icons 8

Icons 8 isn’t new to me. The user interface isn’t a slick as the first two and I honestly forget about it. It does have some great icons that are black and white and full color. Definitely worth checking out. You will also find full color “boobs” on this one too.

Here is a search for collaboration:

fonts.google.com

I just learned about this one this week. I knew you could look at all the Google fonts here but now you can search icons too. On the top right, click the icon button.

Best part, there are no “boobs”! This one is 100% totally school appropriate. They have two tone fonts, outlines and solid. There aren’t as many to choose from, but sometimes for students that is better anyway. Did I mention it was school appropriate! For some kiddos, they can’t handle the temptation.

Here is a search for collaboration:

Slides Templates

Most slide templates have a page or two of icons at the end of the template. It’s a little more work but you can also snag those and put them in a Google Slide for student choices. These should also be “boob” free! At least I’ve never seen anything inappropriate on the icons pages.

Some of my favorites are

Here is an example of an infographic I made in Google Drawing with icons.

I would love to see anything you make with icons or ideas you have to use them with your students. I love them and think it’s a fun way to add a little visual element to your creations.

Bookmark, Chrome

Bookmark Bar in Chrome

Does your bookmark bar look crazy? I sometimes have so many bookmarks that I doesn’t fit at the top. I also have websites I want to open every day and I don’t want to go looking for them. This post will help you use the bookmark tools built into Chrome to help you organize your life.

Tip 1 – Shorten or Remove Names

Most saved bookmark tabs have an icon and words. If you can quickly recognize the icon, you can remove the words to save space in your bookmark bar.

Right click (or command click) and go to Bookmark Manager.

Click the three dots next to the bookmark you want to edit. Then click the edit button.

Delete the words or shorten the words, depending on what you want to see.

Click save.

The icon takes up much less room on the tool bar.

Tip 2 – Folder for Daily Tabs

I access my Calendars every single day. I try to keep them open, but sometimes you need to restart. Now, my Chrome is set to restore tabs, but what if I want to close them for the weekend and reopen them on Monday? I can create a folder to hold the sites I need to go to daily.

I like to begin by opening the sites I want to place in the folder. You don’t have to do this, you can add them by URL if you want to. I think dragging is easy than copying and pasting the URL.

Next, I will right click in the Bookmark area and add a Folder.

Type in the name of your folder and click save.

Now you can drag each tab into the folder. Click on the tab, then click the website icon or in my case the lock icon and drag it to your folder.

The animation doesn’t show it, but when you click on the folder, the sites you added will be there.

You an always go into Bookmark manager and delete anything you no longer want.

Well, I hope this little organization tip is helpful for you. I like to keep my Bookmark bar orderly because it saves me time.

animated gif, technology

Quick GIFs from YouTube

I has hanging on Teacher TikTok and saw this idea from @emily_karst. My head nearly exploded! I love when I see new things for the first time!!!

This quickly creates gifs from youtube videos.

Step 1

(assuming you already have your video selected)

Type GIF before the word youtube.

Step 2

Press enter and a new website will open and your video will load.

Isn’t the website color palette sooo cute!

Step 3

Select the clip you want as the gif by dragging the box at the bottom. You can preview it and move it again if it’s not what you wanted.

Step 4

Click Trim Video in the top right corner.

Now you can add text, graphics, or any of the adjustments.

Step 5

Click create gif in the top right corner.

You can add tags etc if you want to. I love that you can include sound.

Click next.

Step 6

Share it!

You have many options to choose from including download.

GIF – Just Fold It In

And there you have it! Why did I pick this GIF? This is how I feel when I’m asked to implement something new and I ask for clarification. Reflecting on this, I try to be aware when I teach so I don’t tell them to just FOLD IT IN. LOL

This is more fun and less educational but we need fun sometimes!!!

comics, e-books, Google Slides

e-Book Comics

Did you know you can create a comic book and send it to Kindle or iBooks? You can! And… students LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see their creations in e-book form.

The trick to creating these as e-books it to change Google Slide dimensions to 8.5 x 11. Each type of reader has a slightly different page size and I find this one works the best. It also makes it easy to print if you want to create an actual book.

Step 1

You need a comic template. I have shared my personal template below, as well as a template I altered from Sides Carnival. I have also shared original slide templates from Slides Carnival and Slides Mania. You can always let the students create their own too.

I also have a few non-comic type book templates if you don’t want to create a comic book. I mean, it’s less fun, but sometimes you need a traditional type book 🙂

Step 2

Create your comic. There are many reasons you might create a comic in your classroom. We create them in my math classroom, and if we can use them in math, you can use them ANYWHERE! Image a cartoon in Chemistry where students take an element and write a story about it!

Other ideas could include:

  • Caption This (Laura Steinbrink)
  • Idioms and Figurative Language
  • Political Cartoons
  • Cartoons in a world language
  • Conflict resolution and restorative justice
  • Autobiography
  • Genre study

Here are a few additional resources for creating images for your comics:

  • Bitmoji (this is a 13+)
  • remove.bg (to use their own image in comics)
  • storyboardthat.com (you can create comics here but I really like to use their backgrounds in my own templates)
  • The noun project (for basic icons)
  • Google Drawing Tutorial (to make your own images)
  • Wakelet of free image sites

Step 3

Download your Google Slide as a PDF and place that PDF in your Google Drive folder. On you phone or iPad, go to the file in Drive and click the 3 dots in the corner. Click open in and scroll to the end of your apps where is says more. Once you select more, Kindle and iBooks are both an option. It won’t work with Kindle if the file is too big.

Now you have you e-book on your device. Sit back and watch the excitement on your students faces and know you created an positive memorable learning experience for your students.

If you use any of these resources I would to hear how it worked for you and your students!

Google Sheets

Fun with Google Sheets, Part 2

I am back with another installment of Fun with Google Sheets. Let’s dive in.

You can also visit Part 1 here.

Drop Down Menus

I use this when I’m creating my own data sheets but you could also create this in an activity because conditional formatting will still work with it.

Select the cell to place the drop down menu.

Click Data and then Data Validation.

Under criteria, select list of answers.

Type in your selection with commas between.

Click save

Conditional Formatting

This is my 100% absolute favorite thing to do in Google Sheets. It’s so simple and makes you look like a rock star. I use this in my data tracking sheets with students and the many activities I create from escape room to pixel art.

Insert Images

When Google updated Sheets to include images in cells, I was so excited. Prior to that, the image just floated over the cell and it was somewhat clunky! Now you can do both. I use this with activities, escape room, and the it was very handy for the surface area and volume calculator I created.

Now go have some fun with Google Sheets. I will be sharing more Fun with Google Sheets in the coming weeks.

Google Sheets

Fun with Google Sheets -Part 1

After my post last week with my Groundhog activity (Pixel Art) I had some questions about how to use Google Sheets. I decided to do a little series about some basics in Google Sheets. This will be the first post about some fun tips and tricks I use. I am not a Google Sheets “Expert”. I’m just a teacher who will play with tools and learn some stuff.

Checkboxes

-Click on the cell(s) you want the check box.

-Click INSERT and select

If you want the user to have the option to select something in the spreadsheet, check boxes might be what you are looking for. I have used this with students when they self-check standards or topics as they review. You can also use response validation but I like to have my students self-reflect on what they feel like they can do.

Return INSIDE a cell

on a Mac: Command + Return

on a PC: Alt + Enter

I know when I figured out you could do this my mind was blown. How many times have you wanted to start a new line but inside the same cell? For me it was A LOT!

Turn off Grid Lines

Have you ever created a really cool spreadsheet but you wished you couldn’t see the gridlines to make it look more like a document? You can quickly and easily turn off the gridlines and achieve that look. Any borders or cell shading you’ve placed on the cells will remain.

Go to View then unclick Gridlines

Check back in the next few weeks for more fun with Google Sheets.

Google Slides, Organization

Organization for Students

Students need help with organization. Let me say that again.

STUDENTS NEED HELP WITH ORGANIZATION!

I teach high school and many of my kiddos still need help with organization!

Here are a few things that I have done to help them along the way.

  1. Google Docs Calendar

This is a year-long calendar where I add a new month at the top but students can see all of the previous months. You can also add hyperlinks to Google Classroom assignments or other activities you want students to see.

This is also helpful when you go to plan for next year. You have your whole year to look at. This calendar is easy to embed in Canvas or link to Google Classroom.

2. This week in

I started doing this when we were full remote. On Sunday evening I would post this in Google Classroom so students would have an idea of where we were going for the week. This is a Slides Mania template that I used.

3. Weekly Agendas

Sometimes students needs daily reminders. You can have them complete this or you can complete it in advance.

I know there are many other ways to help keep your students organized. Google Classroom and Canvas both have build in calendars that you can use. You can also teach your students how to use these tools.

Enjoy.

digital whiteboard

Whiteboard.chat vs whiteboard.fi

Let me start by saying this is not a paid advertisement for either whiteboard site. This is a teacher trying to find the best product for her students to help them learn. I suggest you try both and see which one works for you.

We are currently not hybrid [1/2 at home, 1/2 in person each day] but I can’t get everyone to the whiteboard at the same time now that we have everyone back in person. I LOVE to have all of my students working on problems at the same time so I can see misconceptions. My district blocks Jamboard (IDK why!) so I began looking for other options.

My friend Melissa (@fungooli) did a comparison of whiteboard.chat and whiteboard.fi on Twitter so I decided to give whiteboard.chat a try. I had tried whiteboard.fi previously. At the time, not all of the features were free and it was super lagy (is that a word?). I checked it out again for this comparison and some of the features, such as saving your board, is still premium. Below is Mel’s comparison of just the feedback portion of the two.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I’m a huge proponent of feedback so the feedback feature in whiteboard.chat was super important to me.

I like the math editor available in whiteboard.fi better, but it’s still lags, A LOT! My student’s computers are not the best and that lag would be frustrating for them. There are some math tools in whiteboard.chat just not in latex format. For what I’m doing, I don’t think that will be an issue.

You can upload a PDF in both. I created a PDF warm-up in Google Slides and used File-Download as PDF. Then uploaded it. It was easy to do in both sites.

The tools for students are more intuitive in whiteboard.fi which means I needed to take some time to explain the tools in whiteboard.chat. Not a deal breaker, just something to note. Tools for teachers are easier in whiteboard.chat. I also like that I can create my board ahead of time because it doesn’t require purchasing an upgrade to save a board.

Overall, I like whiteboard.chat the best. I didn’t actually send whiteboard.fi to my students so I can’t tell you which one they would like the best. Students got the hang of typing their responses using the keyboard. Some were frustrated with writing on their trackpad. Our student laptops have terrible track pads so I feel their frustration. Overall, whiteboard.chat accomplished what I wanted. I still prefer sending my students to the whiteboard when possible 🙂

Here is the first warm-up slide deck I used with my Honors Geometry class. I downloaded it as a PDF and uploaded that into whiteboard.chat.

click to open

If you try it out, let me know and give a shout-out to Mel (@fungooli) who told me about whiteboard.chat.