I had a teacher email me earlier this week and ask for free solutions to a collaborative whiteboard he could use with Zoom so students could graph but not have to share their screen. There are some cool apps out there like AWW app and Bitpaper. Both of these are amazing, but they also charge a monthly fee. Most of us can’t do that. So you know the old saying, necessity breeds invention.
Here’s a little Schoolhouse Rock video if you need the inspiration:
Ok, to the real meat and potatoes of this post. I suggested he use a collaborative Google Slide and the scribble and line tools or a collaborative PowerPoint365 and the drawing tools. He can share the collaborative slide on Zoom while the student drawing is accessing the “whiteboard” on their computer. Our students are more familiar with Slides, but PowerPoint (sorry Google) does a better job with drawing tools.
Slides worked very well for graphs, not as easy for writing (I suggest the text tool)! PowerPoint was awesome for writing but there was a big delay with the image appearing on the shared screen.
You can set the graph as the background so it doesn’t move when students are graphing. I’ve included a little infographic on this process for Slides & PowerPoint.
Another colleague of mine likes to send her kids to the whiteboards every day as a warm-up. Well, using this, it would work the same. You could use it over Zoom (or Meet) but you wouldn’t have to. The cool thing is, it serves the same purpose. Students can look around (on other slides) if they need inspiration and the teacher can give immediate feedback.
Just thought I’d share this little hack we discovered this week.
Those of you who know me know I have been a Notability fan for at least 8 years. I love it. It has improved significantly since I started using it and every upgrade makes me love it even more.
During this crazy time of distance learning, Notability and your iPad can be a welcome help. You can create notes that can easily be shared in Google Classroom. You can screen cast and save to Google Drive to be shared in Google Classroom. If you download Zoom, you can use Notability and share your screen and give notes live.
I have created a few videos to help you navigate and efficiently use Notability on your iPad. This includes backing it up to Google Drive, screencasting, and some basic use.
I don’t have a tutorial for Zoom, but I will work on it and get that added here as well.
Notability is not free. Right now it’s $8.99. I’m telling you it’s worth every penny you spend. They do have volume discounts of 50% off for purchases of 20 copies or more at one time.
Please let me know if you have questions about Notability or if there are additional tutorials you would like to see.
Set up Download and Sync to get your files to Notability faster.
Set up a Folder to make importing to Notability easier
Set up and basic use of Notability
Connect Notability to Google Drive to import and backup
Oh my goodness. Have you seen the new Google Classroom rubrics? You may have noticed it magically appeared in your Google Classroom recently. Curious about how to use them? Well I have created some videos that will hopefully help.
Creating a Rubric inside Google Classroom.
Using the rubric in Google Classroom
I use more of a checklist style rubric. So I created one using the same method.
You can also import from a Google Sheet. Alice Keeler has created a template to help you create one.
Last year I created an electronic bullet journal type calendar/planner and shared it here. This year Slides Mania (@SlidesManiaSM) created a template that is FREE to use. That’s right free and customizable. Head to their site, download the slide, and watch the video to customize your own.
You will want to add as many slides as you want, such as the weekly slides, delete the text you don’t want to see, add dates where you want them to be, and place the slides in the deck where you want them. Once you download this as a PDF, that part is no longer editable. I created my weeks and placed them directly after the monthly view. When I click on January then I can scroll to each week in the month.
You can add links if you want. For instance, you can click on the first week in January and link it to the weekly view. This will take a little more time to edit, but the functionality is nice throughout the year.
Once you have your planner set up like you want it, go to file, then download as a pdf.
I save this in a folder in my Google Drive so I can access it from Notability. Notability is not a free app, but it is worth the money. I use this app daily in my classroom. To explain all the wonderful things Notability can do would take another blog post 🙂
Once this is saved in Google Drive, open the Notability App. Import the file from your Google Drive. Once it’s loaded, the links will still work, but you can also write in the boxes. It’s the best of both worlds.
The best part, in my opinion, is that the template was already created. I was able to change my theme in less than 10 minutes and now I have a planner to use for 2020.
I wrote a post a few years ago about creating digital breakout games. You can view that post here. Quite a few things have changed, so a new post was in order. Matt (@jmattmiller) was kind enough to let me be a guest blogger on his site. He also added a sweet planning guide to help you with the process. Head over to ditchthattextbook.com and check out the post.
It’s been awhile since I posted about Bitmojis and a few things have changed since the last post. Below is an update on how to create and use Bitmojis in your classroom.
CREATE A BITMOJI
You used to be able to create a Bitmoji on your computer. You can’t do that anymore. You must create it on the Bitmoji app or through the Snapchat app. Look inside your app store for either or both apps. This is the fun part! You have three different options for Bitmoji: Bitstrips, Bitmoji classic, or Bitmoji Deluxe. My Bitmoji is the deluxe version.
If you use Snapchat, you will have additional options like using the Bitmoji keyboard (on iOS) and sending “friendmojis”. You can also use it in Snapchat which is pretty fun! **Hint** Remember your username and password for the next step.
INSTALL THE CHROME EXTENSION
Install the Chrome extension for Bitmoji. You will have to use the same login information from Bitmoji or Snapchat, whatever you used to set up your account. Once installed and signed in, you can click on the Bitmoji extension in the top right of the Chrome Browser. It will show the current outfit you have selected from the app. If you want an outfit change, you will have to change it in the app. **NOTE** This only works in the Chrome browser, just another reason to use chrome 🙂
USE BITMOJI FROM EXTENSION
This part is soooo cool. You can search the Bitmoji you want or search through the multiple tabs to find the perfect Bitmoji. Once selected, just drag it onto the Doc, Slide, Drawing, Sheet, Keep (OK, any Google App) or email. You can also drag it from Chrome to a Word Doc or PowerPoint. If you want to use it elsewhere, right click and download the image.
Now the REAL fun begins. What do you do with it? As a teacher, I put Bitmojis on EVERYTHING.
You can also create CUSTOM feedback and store them in Google Keep. Here is a blog post about that process.
You can find the instructions for Custom Headers HERE.
You can also put Bitmojis in Google Drawing and create custom Bitmojis like the numbers in the post. You can make a school shirt, a group Bitmoji, or make one say something new. (Custom Bitmoji tutorial) My favorite is using them for Stop Motion Video. The tutorials are linked.
STUDENT BITMOJI USE
First, Bitmoji is a 13+ app, so it would only be available for high school students. Second, there are some questionable Bitmojis and many school block it. I am lucky enough that they will open it for me while my students are using it. I do have a discussion about appropriate use, much like I do with YouTube. Only use school appropriate Bitmojis or we won’t be able to use it anymore. I’ve been using them in my classroom for 4 years now and only had ONE questionable use, and the student used an alcoholic beverage Bitmoji. He changed it before it was published so no harm done.
Here is a workaround for schools blocking Bitmoji. Students can email Bitmojis to their school account directly from the Bitmoji app.
If you have littles, you can create a folder of Bitmojis for them to use. Create a folder for each kiddo with a Bitmoji that looks like them. Here is a crowd sourced folder of some generic ones. Here is a short podcast talking about creating Bitmojis for students.
Now, WHY do you want to go through the trouble? Because students can create some amazing projects with Bitmoji.
Matt Miller had a guest post on his blog a while back by John Meehan on a game concept called QR BreakIN [*update: John’s book EDrenaline Rush is available]. I love to create BreakOUT games so this idea had me intrigued. John’s graphics were amazing and the game boards looked fun. I pondered how to use it in my math classroom for quite a while until an idea finally surfaced.
A few areas had me stumped. 1. I needed the tasks to be sequential and most games boards where you roll dice are random. 2. I didn’t think, unless it was a review day, I could accomplish much in our 45 minute class period using his format.
I used John’s template but with my own twists. I came up with the Donkey Kong idea because jumping the barrels creates the progression of tasks that I needed. I also made this a unit long game instead of one day. Reading more information on John’s blog, I found a post he had about Power-Ups, so I incorporated that into this game too.
Since the game would be completed over 2 weeks, I made my game board and game pieces electronic. I also wanted to use Google Classroom to release the tasks instead of using QR codes, mainly because our student laptops aren’t the best and they don’t play nice with QR readers.
Here are my takeaways from this unit long game.
I like that I can open the slide from day to day and update the progress of the game instead of moving it from the board and putting it back for each class daily (I did this in 3 classes). However, I felt like it took me longer than I wanted to get the board updated because I was checking and releasing tasks.
GENIUS! I gave my students 3 for the unit. The cards could be used to ask a content question of the Narrator. You know what happened? They asked each other instead, just as I had hoped. We are nearing the end of the unit and NO ONE has used a card. They have worked together as a team to find solutions.
Google Classroom instead of QR codes
This one was tricky for me because of the time issue. I did load each post ahead of time as a draft and then I could release to each group as they were ready. This still took more time than I wanted to spend. It would be much simpler to have the QR codes, but I also like that the tasks are still in Google Classroom if they want to reference them.
Wow, kids are serious about earning Power-Ups. If a student did not complete their practice, the team was ALL OVER THEM. I had more practice completed this unit than ever before. Students were also, mostly, positive in their encouragement of their team.
Would I do this again? YES. This has been a fun way to present a short and mostly review unit for my students. They seem to be enjoying it.
Check out the hashtag #QRBreakIN on Twitter and also lurk around John’s blog. He does some amazing things with students.
I was listening to episode #14 of Making Math Moments that Matter. This episode’s guest was Sunil Singh. One, I know I’m super behind on episodes and two, I’m very excited to order Sunil’s book Math Recess. This post has nothing to do with Sunil, although I’m sure another post will be needed after I read his book.
Either Kyle or Jon (I was using the elliptical so I didn’t back it up to make a note) said they used to tell students “you should know that from previous years.” He went on to say they usually didn’t remember it. I think we can all relate. I know I’ve said that before, or at least thought it. I agree with Kyle and Jon that we shouldn’t use that phrase.
This brought up a thought from my lesson during the last few days, and I think it might be a better way to handle these situations. We introduce the radian circle in Geometry. We don’t assess over it, but we derive it, talking about the components we’ve learned throughout the year. My students always ask WHY are we doing this if it’s not part of our curriculum. I explain to my students about brain research and I tell them about how connections are made in the brain when you encounter new material. While they may not remember everything about the radian circle in the future, the next time they see it, the information they are exposed to can connect to the pathways we have created. Every time we encounter this topic, we strengthen the pathway.
Instead of saying, “you should know this from previous years,” we could say, you have already created pathways in your brain from previous years. Let’s talk about this again and strengthen those pathways. This verbiage empowers students to access previous information without making them feel stupid because they can’t remember it.
I have been doing this activity LONG before computers were a staple in the classroom. (We won’t talk about how many years that’s been!) I love this project now as much as I did when I started.
I used to have a Far Side by Gary Larson desk calendar and each year I would keep the images and use it for this project. I don’t buy the desk calendar anymore, but you can find Larson’s comic’s online.
I take the comics and cut them equally into 3-4 congruent parts (depending on my groups). Students must work in groups of 3-4 to decide on a grid size for their original and a scaled paper size and grid size. Once they’ve worked together to draw this in, they start sketching their drawing box-by-box. We spend about 4 -50 minute class periods on this project.
The students have a lot of fun with this and are proud of their product when finished. It also reinforces teamwork. When one person doesn’t complete their part, a picture is hung up for viewing incomplete. So sad.
Here is the planning guide I use for this project. If you use it, post about about it on Twitter, and tag me @MandiTolenEDU.
This isn’t a story about technology. It’s also a long post, but if you stick with me until the end, maybe it will help you see a few of your students in a different light.
I was visiting with my son a few nights ago about social interactions. I decided to share a story with him. It’s not a story I’m proud of, but it explained a point I was making. After sharing the story with him, I realized that maybe others would benefit from the story too.
When I was in elementary school I was the youngest in my class and the smallest child by far. I was also considered gifted. Now, I’m not certain how that label was given to me, but in reflection, I did learn faster and thought differently than others in my class. I am from a small community and my class probably had a total of 15 students. Some years we combined grades in one classroom. When you have that few children in a classroom, a gifted student sometimes sticks out like a sore thumb. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, without other children, so I interacted with other students more like an adult would. We also didn’t have a lot of money.
So to summarize, I was the small, smart, poor, articulate kid who was an easy target for most students. I was bullied a lot! When I say bullied, I don’t just mean verbally, because that did happen often, but also physically. Once in elementary school, a group of boys took me by the arms and threw me into a concrete wall. I ended up in the emergency room with a concussion. I couldn’t even tell you why it happened. Another time, a student threw a pencil at my head and the lead broke off. I still have the mark under my skin. Another time a student put pins in clay and made clay balls. He would throw them under my seat (and others, he bullied indiscriminately) when I was in the act of sitting down so I would sit on pins. The event that changed everything for me though, happened during my 8th grade year (our school was K-8).
Our teacher left us alone in the room often. One day I had said or done something to upset some boys in my class. I don’t remember what I said or did, but I had angered these boys. When the teacher left the room, 4 boys held me down and set my hair on fire with a lighter. Thankfully only about an inch was singed off, but the event was terrifying for me. To make matter worse, the teacher tried to support these boys instead of me. He would bring up the event often and make fun of me. On the day of our elementary graduation, that teacher made some snarky comment to me about the incident. I decided, at that exact moment, that I would never be bullied again.
Since our building was K-8, we chose which high school to attend. I walked into that high school with a chip on my shoulder and determination. I became the bully! I chose weak people to make fun of because it took the spotlight off of me. I stood up to people, sometimes for good, but sometimes for show. By my sophomore year, people were afraid of me and many didn’t like me. I had a small group of friends, whom I protected with my words as well. I was not bullied in high school. That was my goal. I was also not a nice person in high school. I made others feel like I had felt. That last part wasn’t a conscious outcome; I didn’t set out to hurt others. My goal was to protect myself.
I don’t hold ill feelings against those who bullied me. That hurt has long passed. I hope, for those that I bullied, the hurt has also passed. What I did realize through my experience is that many who bully are trying to protect themselves. What they are doing is wrong, but they need help! Punishment empowers them, builds their image of a badass. I decided in college to be a better person and I was. I found a balance between being stepped on and being a horrible person.
What do I want to you take away from this? Look at the bully. Why are they hurting others? Consequences need to happen for poor actions, but until you know the root of the problem, the bully won’t stop. There are truly cruel and broken people out there who hurt for the pleasure of it. But, I’m convinced that many of our bullies are hurt people protecting themselves and they need someone to help them.