Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Club Elections 2.0

With more and more kids getting involved in numerous school sports and activities it is so hard to get them all together in one place to hold elections for clubs. There are some simple solutions to this problem, but most of them come with a problem of their own...not every student gets a voice. As I started trying to figure out how to solve this problem, I realized that the answer had been staring me in the face all along. That answer was Google Classroom! As a Google district I already used it with my students, so why not with my clubs?

How to Set Up an Election
The first thing our election needed was campaign posters. To accomplish this, I created a quick image template in Google Drawings that the students could alter and posted it in Classroom as an assignment so every student automatically got their own copy. They were given a deadline of when the poster needed to be complete. 

Once the deadline hit, I posted all the campaign posters to the Classroom stream. After a few days were given for club members to view the posters and decide who to vote for, I posted a Google Form ballot for students to vote for their choices. The ballot was posted for a set amount of time and when the time limit was up, the winners were announced on Classroom. 

The great thing about this is that not once did I have to get every kid in one room to make them part of the election process. Everyone had the same opportunity to choose their officers, whether they could be there or not. This election was the easiest one I have ever done, and is my recommendation for anyone who has the same troubles I do with getting all my kids together. It's an easy setup and kids can really be creative with their poster, even if they can't draw. Try it once, and you will never want to do elections any other way.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Individualized Observation 2.0

Individualized observation is a hot topic these days, and because I love tech so much I found a tech tool to get it done. Swivl is an amazing tool in my classroom! I already have all the tech I need to use it, and can position it anywhere in my classroom. It is truly a unique system to help educators grow.

Before I tell you how I use it, here's what you need: A Swivl Pro+ account and any iOS or Android device. You can use up to 5 devices at once.

The first way I used Swivl Pro+ was to help a new educator grow. One of the staff members at my school came and asked me how we could record her student teacher practicing with the students, so immediately I thought of Swivl. We set up the devices and recording about 4 different class periods. Not only can the student teacher use the video to evaluate herself, but we also sent the video to her professor to evaluate her teaching.

The second way I used Swivl Pro+ was to record my training session with teachers. I set the devices up before the training session and then recorded the training. It helped me to see how the material I was delivering was being received by my audience. By using Swivl, I can become a better trainer.

If you haven’t tried Swivl already, please give it a go. You will be amazed at the endless possibilities on how you can utilize this tool.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Lifetime of Learning

If one thing is certain about being a teacher, it's that I will never stop learning. No matter how good we are at what we do, there is always room for improvement. This year, my goal has been to get certifications to improve my knowledge of certain technologies. So far, out of my 4 part goal, I have completed the first step. Now that I have my Google Certified Educator Level 1, it's time to tackle Level 2. 

The hard thing about technology is that there is so much of it out there. How do you possibly decide which ones are the most important? I think the key is to choose the things you use the most. For me, that is G Suite for Education and Microsoft One Note right now. Of course, over time those things change. 

If you are a teacher, my advise to you is to embrace your lifetime of learning. There's a satisfaction that comes with each new milestone you hit, so enjoy it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Classcraft Changed My Classroom Management

I am a huge fan of video games and am no stranger to the fact that my students are too. So when I heard about a program called Classcraft that is basically gamifying your classroom management system, I was all for trying it out. I pulled up the website and started looking over tutorials to see if it is right for my students and I to use. 

The initial setup is a bit cumbersome, but once you get it done, the rest is easy. The thing I love about this game is that it is fully customizable. You make the rules, the rewards, and can add to the game as it goes on. It really is ever evolving. 

The first thing you do before even playing the game is have your students sign the Hero Pact. This pact says that they agree to play the game all semester (or year) without quitting and understand that the rules of the game can change at any time. Once that is signed, they will need to create characters (or you can do that for them) and customize them. The students will pick what class they are (Warrior, Healer, or Mage), male or female, and a skin tone. Once those are chosen, let the game begin!

At my school tardies are a big problem. So when one of my students comes in late, they get docked 10HP (Health Points). They also lose health points for disrupting class, not working on assignments, etc. Throughout the semester they do get chances to restore their health and gain additional XP (Experience Points). So far, my kids love this game! They are all about what they can do to get additional XP. 

Now for the big question. Does it work? In the first week that I introduced the game to my class, I went from 10 tardies through the day on Monday to zero on Friday. For a school where tardy policies are often adapted to make them more effective, this is a huge victory to me. As a whole, I have seen a marked improvement in my classroom. Behavior is better, kids are being held accountable by their teammates, and they are getting to class on time and staying engaged. 

I would absolutely recommend Classcraft to anyone looking to improve their classroom management. The greatest thing about it...There's a free version! The free version is a bit limited on what you can do, but it is still effective for class management. If you upgrade your account, you can give quizzes or boss battles on the game and also give your students assignments that will earn them XP. The full version is only $8 a month and $6 a month if you have more than 3 teachers sign up together.

I will be honest, maintaining the game and managing the adding of XP and subtracting of HP does add a little bit to my workload, but it really is worth it. You can even manage the game from the iPad app if you don't want to use a computer.

If you want to check out Classcraft for yourself, you can do so here.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

TCEA 2016 - Day 4 Wrap Up

Day 4 at TCEA was a bit slower paced for me than the previous days this week, but just as educational. The first session I went to today was Creative Coding with Games and Apps. This course has changed my life! I now know the basics of coding, and look forward to learning more with Microsoft Touch Develop. I also got my hands on the Creative Coding curriculum, which I can't wait to incorporate into my class.

I also visited the Microsoft booth today in the expo hall and learned about Sway. Sway is a Microsoft product that allows you to basically tell your story in a cross media outlet. You can use videos, pictures, words, and more. The best thing about Sway is that you can access it from computer, tablet, and phone. There's even an app for it.

This afternoon, I went to the Meet Your Area Director session. Anyone who has attended one of these will tell you the best thing about going is that you have a good chance to win prizes, and amazingly enough, I actually did! In the session I did learn a couple of things, and I won a Google Chromecast.

I am so excited to take back all the things that I've learned to my classroom and see how I can use it to inspire my students.

TCEA 2016 - Day 3 Wrap Up

Wednesday, I started out with presenting my very own session on Broadcast 101: How to Create a Successful program. This was an amazing experience! When I walked into the room to set up, I was shocked by how many people were already in the room waiting. The presentation went very well and I actually got quite a bit of feedback. I left my session with a sense of purpose, as I had so many people asking for my help on setting up their program, what to teach, and what to buy.


The session I went to after my presentation was "The GameEd Canvas". This session was fantastic! It was all about how to make a lesson into a game that your students will want to play? If they are playing , they are learning.

Next, I attended "The Social Media Secret Sauce", which was all about how to effectively use social media. From this session, I learned some awesome new tools that will help me to keep track of my digital footprint.

My last session of the day was called "Nomophobia". This session absolutely blew me away!!

It was all about an experiment that a teacher did to see how her students would do without their phones for a day. After seeing the results, I was inspired to implement an experiment similar to this when I go back to my campus. I am really looking forward to those results.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

TCEA 2016 - Day 2 Wrap Up

Today was very much about Google Sites for me. I started the day learning about how to use advanced features in Google Sites such as embedding items and adding things from Drive.

My next session was about connecting the high-tech industry to education. In that session, I learned about how to find sponsors for things, and introduce your students to the working world without ever leaving the classroom.

The next session I went to was also about using Google Sites, but this one focused on making digital portfolios with those sites. This session has prepared me to teach my students to make some rocking portfolios!

In the afternoon, I hit the Leading an In-District Twitter Chat session and learned how to use this feature for professional development and more.

The last session I attended was about connecting through collaboration. This session showed some great collaboration tools like Edmodo, Google Classroom, Padlet, and more.

Tonight I am preparing my presentation for the morning since I am presenting at 8am. Wish me luck!