Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Google Advanced Search

"The noblest search is the search for excellence."
~Lyndon B. Johnson

A simple Google search can give you access to practically anything in the world that you could possibly want to learn about. Unfortunately using poor search technique can also lead you to several billion web pages that have virtually nothing to do with what you were looking for. Google has a simple way for you to narrow down your search results to just the content you want. Here is a short video introducing you to Google Advanced Search.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Quick Tip - Making Columns in Google Docs

"Learning never exhausts the mind."
-Leonardo Da Vinci

Here is this weeks quick tip for you. This tip will show you how to mimic columns in Google Docs. Enjoy.


If there is anything you want to learn more about or if you have a great idea for a video, shoot me an e-mail.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Quick Tip Tuesday - Advanced Sharing in Google Drive

"The Internet is a great way to get on the net."
~Bob Dole

In an effort to keep you all learning new things, I will continue to share with you Apps, websites, and tutorials that I think you will find helpful in your class.  The reality is you probably don't have time to try them all. Therefore, I introduce to you, "Quick Tip Tuesday". Each week I will share with you a short tip that I hope you can use immediately. Today is a tutorial about an advanced sharing feature in Google Drive that I hope you find helpful. If there are things you would like to know more about, please let me know and I can share what I know.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Running Records with Fluency Tutor

"A text is at a students' independent reading level if they can read it with about 95% accuracy."

~Marie Clay - "An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement" (1993)

Running records are a little window into the world of our students. They allow us to understand how a student sees the words on the paper and their strengths and weaknesses with regards to vocabulary. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find time to sit with students one-to-one and listen to them read as often as you would like. 

Fluency Tutor is a free app available in the Chrome Webstore. This app syncs with your Google classroom and allows you to assign Lexile leveled reading assignments to your class. Texts are available through the app or you can use text from websites and Drive.  The great thing about this app is that students can record themselves reading the passage. The student and teacher interface is really easy to use. 

I tested this app with a class and the kids were really excited to be able to hear themselves read. Used on a regular basis, I can see how this program can be great for students. They get an opportunity to reflect on their own reading and hear for themselves how they can improve the way their reading sounds. For you as a teacher, it gives you the opportunity to hear every student read multiple times a week and take running records as needed. Students could also just as easily respond to a text instead of recording their actual reading.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Collecting Data Using Flubaroo

"Experts often possess more data than judgement."
~Colin Powell

Anyone anywhere near a classroom these days hears the word data more often than they would probably like. Some teachers have long defended their use of judgement to evaluate students. The reality is that whether we like to admit it or not our judgement is often flawed.  I am not saying a gut decision every once and a while is wrong, however, we should be using hard data regularly to guide our practice.

The trouble with data is without ways to easily collect it and analyze it, you end up with a pile of useless information. Fortunately, there are ways we can use technology within our classrooms to make collecting and analyzing data a little easier.  Some solutions require a little time to set-up in the beginning, but the investment pays off in the end. Today I will introduce you to one that can be easily incorporated with online quizzes.

Flubaroo is an Add-on to Google Sheets that automatically grades quizzes and provides data in an easy to use and analyze package. To use Flubaroo, you must first create a quiz in Google Forms. The responses get populated in a Sheet and then the Add-on can be run to score the quiz and provide data that is easy to analyze. Below are some resources to learn more about this Add-on.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Just Keep Learning

"Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time." 

-Rabindranath Tagore

I am sure most of you have heard someone say, "...but that's the way I have always done it!" It's a classic refrain from people too stubborn to learn a new way. The problem with that mindset in education is that we are teaching kids to be prepared for a world that doesn't exist yet. Why not try something new?

Here is a resource that I would encourage you to try sometime this year. I offer a couple suggestions on how you might incorporate it into your routine but I would love to hear ideas on how you use it in your class.

Classroom by Google

Google Classroom is part of the Google Apps for Education package. This feature allows you to create virtual classrooms where you can post assignments, hand out "worksheets", and collect assignments. It is a great resource for teaching students to become more independent. I am using this in my class to achieve the blended learning approach I am aiming for. The app is really easy to set up and essentially creates an invite only webpage for your class.  You can access Classroom at classroom.google.com or from the Classroom link on our start portal.

Idea for Kindergarten through Second Grade:
  • Set up a classroom as an easy to update webpage that students can go to for links to games, videos, and activities that you want them to do in class.

Idea for Third through Fifth Grade:
  • Create a classroom for literature circles or differentiated groups.  As a teacher you can post questions and students can have discussions within this class.
Please feel free to ask questions and send me feedback on what your experience with Classroom is.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A New Chapter...

A New Chapter...

There are many analogies to describe life and living.  Each one speaks to us and resonates within us in different ways.  We all have our favorite authors; Shakespeare, Lincoln, Confucius, Eminem.  They each weave with words a different take on the life we lead.  We all have our favorites...

To me, Forrest Gump's Mama said it best.  Everyday we encounter something new.  Sometimes it is hard to sink our teeth into.  Sometimes it is hard to swallow.  At times life can be bitter sweet, smooth and silky, or even a little nutty.  All we can do is make the best of today and enjoy the hope that overall, life will be pretty sweet.

The past couple of years teaching as a profession has been the chocolate covered maggot hidden in our box. We have each been challenged with finding ways to persevere and continue doing what is best for our students. For many teachers these years have been wrought with self-reflection about the direction of their life and career.  Some have changed grades, sought new schools, or left the profession altogether. This has been my existence these last several years.  I have struggled to find my place in this world. This year is no different but now I find myself with new hope.

In my new role as the technology teacher, I find myself with the exciting challenge of teaching our students how not only to use technology, but how it can enhance or lives, our learning, and how it can be used as a voice to the world. I want our students to know that they can use technology to make an impression on the world.  It is a tool that will allow anyone to see that they are the best and brightest. 

I also hope that I can use this year to help my colleagues learn new tools and how to make better use of the technology they have. This blog was an old tool of mine that I found a lot of satisfaction in creating. It is my hope that I can regularly update it again with new and useful tips, ideas, tools that can be easily incorporated into your daily teaching. Together we can raise the bar and achieve the excellence that we all know that we possess.