Monday, August 29, 2016

Cut Past the Baloney with BaloneyMeter App


Critical thinking is an important part of learning and involves the ability to reason effectively, utilize systems thinking, make judgements, and solve problems. Although it is an important component of learning, how do you help your students to think beyond the obvious?

You may want to consider using a simple tool called the Baloney Meter. This free iOS App leads you through several questions to consider the relevance of a claim, website, and even political candidate!

Students (even teachers) can use a sliding scale to answer several different questions to determine the claim's relevance:

  • Is the claim baloney? 
  • Is its source reliable? 
  • Can it be tested?
  • Is there confirmation for it?
  • Can there be another explanation? 
As you use the sliding scale, your screen changes color to determine its relevance or irrelevance. 
Although it is not a perfect tool, it is a great tool to help your students to begin thinking critically about the information, claims, and websites they come in contact with on a regular basis. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

iOS and GAFE: Collaborate and Auto Populate a Shared Folder with Images and Videos

Recently, I gave a Classroom 2.0 webinar titled "Amazing Digital Projects for All Students with Google Tools." During the webinar, I spoke of ways to make your pictures speak "a thousand words." I provided an example that I learned from the great Ken Shelton called a class photo vault.

The basic premise of Ken's idea was to create a place where your entire class could populate a Google Folder with photos and video clips from their iPad or mobile device. Your "photo vault" is a location, where students can use non-commercial images and videos to create their own content. Here is how it works!

Step 1: Create and Share a Folder in Google Drive

If you are a GAFE School, you could easily share your folder via Google Classroom or you could enter your student's GAFE accounts in the sharing settings. Make sure that you give your students Editing rights.

Step 2: Have Students Open Up the Folder on Their Mobile Device

If you are using an iPad, have students open up the folder in the Google Drive App. When students open up the folder, have them tap on the plus sign (bottom-right corner of their screen).

Have students choose "Use Camera." If this is the first time they are using Google Drive to access their camera, they will need to give it permission.

Step 3: Photo Shoot Time!

Once students are inside of the folder, they can take pictures that will automatically add content to the folder. This is the perfect space for students to curate content and not waste valuable time searching for that perfect image. Have students use only pictures created by the class to illustrate a concept, make a point,  or express their opinion.

Conclusion:

Another great tool worth mentioning is Google Photos. If you have not checked it out, this Google App provides users with the ability to create and share albums, collages, and animations. More to follow!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

3 Ways to Engage Students with Technology During the First Day of Class

It is that time of year again! School has started or will be starting for many of you. How can you build community and creatively infuse technology into your classroom? Here are some of my favorite activities to try on the first day:

1.  Collaborate on Expectations in Google Slides 

Instead of speaking at your kids, why invite them to collaborate on your classroom expectations? You can easily create a Google Slides presentation and share it with your entire class (make sure they have "editing" rights). Break your students into pairs or small groups, then assign them a specific slide. I usually assign group 1 to slide 1, group 2 to slide 2, etc.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Have students create their top 10 list of classroom expectations 
  • List one specific expectation on the top of each slide. Have your students describe what that particular expectation means to their group.
Have students use text, pictures, and videos to explain their assigned expectation. At the end of your presentation, make it "view" only and have each group present their expectation. You can add any content to each group's slides (as needed) because you have editing rights.  Check out a sample that I have used in the past here. 

2. Gamify Your First Day of Class with FlipQuiz.Me

Instead of talking your class to death on the first day, why not gamify your class with FlipQuiz.me? Share information about yourself, syllabus, and class expectations in a game-like manner. FlipQuiz.me is an online website to make your own online Jeopardy game. 



3. Create Community with Google Forms

James Comer once stated, "Learning cannot occur without a significant relationship." In the classroom, knowledge (about your students) is power. Why not create a Google Form with questions aimed at getting to know them better? You may want to ask about their hobbies, learning styles, interests, etc. Here is an example I have used with teachers for PD. 

If you do not have technology in your classroom, it may be helpful to link your Google Form to a QR Code to allow students to use their mobile devices to enter data. Once a student fills out a Google Form, their data is automatically compiled into a private Google Sheet. 

I like to continue adding to the Sheet throughout the year as I get to know more about my students. This information can be very helpful at strengthening relationships or getting through difficult times. 

Conclusion:

As the first day of school approaches, it is important to find engaging ways to share information and expectations with students. Start your school year with highly engaged students and see the difference! 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

An Easy Way to Force Viewers Make Copies of Google Docs and More

How often would you like to create a template of a Google Doc, Sheet, Slide, or Drawings and force a viewer to make a copy?

Perhaps you have users visit the File menu and select Make a Copy. Maybe you use Google Classroom, which can do this automatically for students enrolled in your class.

I do a lot of presentations outside of my school, which means Google Classroom is not an option. Many of the participants in my audiences struggle with making their own copies, which makes finding an easy way (to have users create copies) essential. After doing some research, I found articles by Kasey Bell and Alice Keeler describing a very easy Google trick!

Here is how it works: 

1. Open up your item (Doc, Sheet, Slide, or Drawing)

2. At the end of your item's URL, you should see the word "edit." Change the word "edit" to "copy."
3. Make a copy of your URL and share with your audience

Now you have a quick and painless way to help your viewers make a copy of document, presentation, spreadsheet, or drawing.

An Easy Way to Force Viewers Make Copies of Google Docs and More

How often would you like to create a template of a Google Doc, Sheet, Slide, or Drawings and force a viewer to make a copy?

Perhaps you have users visit the File menu and select Make a Copy. Maybe you use Google Classroom, which can do this automatically for students enrolled in your class.

I do a lot of presentations outside of my school, which means Google Classroom is not an option. Many of the participants in my audiences struggle with making their own copies, which makes finding an easy way (to have users create copies) essential. After doing some research, I found articles by Kasey Bell and Alice Keeler describing a very easy Google Trick!

Here is how it works: 

1. Open up your item (Doc, Sheet, Slide, or Drawing)

2. At the end of your item's URL, you should see the word "edit." Change the word "edit" to "copy."
3. Make a copy of your URL and share with your audience

Now you have a quick and painless way to help your viewers make a copy of document, presentation, spreadsheet, or drawing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

2 Ways Google Can Help Students Set and Monitor Goals

It is important to customize instruction to the needs of students as instruction becomes more customized. We need to provide our students with opportunities to practice self-regulation and goal setting. Here are three ways you can easily help your students master learning this fall!
1. Set Goals with Google Keep

Google Keep is an excellent tool for creating to-do lists, but have you ever thought about having students use it to set goals? Not only can Google Keep can help you check off your goals as they are completed, it is also the perfect tool for students to collaborate in small groups. Each item in Google Keep can be tagged with a label according to subject area, type of goal, etc. 

I like the fact that Google Keep can be accessed on any device and it provides students with the opportunity to use it for setting goals or creating a to-do list. 

2. Google Forms as a Progress Monitoring Tool

With the big push for more Project Based Learning (PBL) in our classrooms, it is important for students to set goals and monitor their progress. Google Forms can be an excellent tool for students to set their goals (at the beginning of class) and report their progress (at the end of class). I have often used the following Google Form to accomplish this. 




Conclusion

Do you have students set and monitor goals? This is a very valuable skill for students (and teachers) to master. How do you have students set goals? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Master 1,000 Words Worth Knowing with the Quizzitive App

Vocabulary is an important skill for our students to master; however, our students have diverse backgrounds, which can provide access or barriers to learning.

The Quizzitive App is designed by Merriam-Webster to make learning new vocabulary terms addictive and fun!

All learning begins with a goal and the same is true with Quizzitive. The App is designed to help students "master 1000 words worth knowing" through interactive and engaging strategies.

Quizzitive provides students with 10 different difficulty levels and quiz types, such as speed drill, tunnel vision, name that thing, and hidden letters.