Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Try Plickers for Fast, Formative Feedback

Plickers providing Amanda McKay with instant, actionable data

Plickers is an awesome app.  Just ask Amanda McKay.

It's the end of 4th hour and Amanda's physics students have been hard at work.  A poll question appears on the board.  Her students reach under their desks and grab personalized QR codes.  As they hold up their codes, Amanda scans the room.  In a flash, Amanda knows every student's response to the poll question.

Three questions with Amanda McKay about Plickers:

What is/are "Plickers"?

"Paper Clickers.  The mini QR codes can be oriented in four ways to show four different choices for a multiple choice question.  As I scan the room for responses with my device, a real-time bar graph of results appears."

How do you use Plickers?

"I use them to collect quick bits of formative information to assess what students know or how comfortable they feel about a topic that we've covered.  They are secured to the underside of my desks with velcro so that students can quickly take them out and show me their answers."

What do you like most about them?

"It quickly gives me important information regarding whether students are ready to move on or need to spend more time learning.  And, if my device is charged, I can run the app."

Data, data, data.

In addition to the real-time results, Plickers provides a number of breakdowns that are useful for teachers.  The teacher can view the class distribution of answers to questions, responses to a question by student, and averages by question and student in a spreadsheet form.  

For the best information, assign cards to students by name when you set up your classes.  And while using Plickers for quizzes and exit tickets is nice, consider the possibilities of using Plickers to immediately differentiate or group students.

For more information, check out this video and go to their website, www.plickers.com. Check out their quick start guide here.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Try this the next time you play a video.

I somehow toggled the close captioning on while showing a Youtube video the other day and the results were pretty cool. It helped me pay closer attention to what was being said. Someone in the audience said it might be worthwhile for some classrooms to turn on the feature so we created this post to help.

Not every video offers closed captions so you may not see the little CC icon in the lower right corner. Just click it once to have the captions start appearing.

Friday, January 27, 2017

It is always good to share.

Google Photos is pretty slick for many things but have you taken a look at the sharing features? This post will show you and your students how to share their pictures to one common album.

Shared Album - Creation
To accomplish this you need to start by creating a shared album.
Start by opening the Google Photos app on your phone.

Click Albums.

Click the plus in the lower corner.

1. You need to assign at least one image to the album.
2. Click next

1. Name the album.
2. Click Share.

Add people to the album.

Shared Album - Adding Images
The following steps are how to share images to a specific shared folder.

Start by opening the Google Photos app on your phone.

Click Albums.

Click Shared. It should appear in the upper left.

Click on the album that was shared with you.

Click the little picture+ near the top of the screen.

1. Select the picture(s) you want to share.
2. Click Done

Your images may take a while to upload depending on your LTE/wifi connection. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Well that didn't go as expected...

I had this idea that I thought would be epic. The point was to help teachers see the power video can have over people. I started by showing a tiny clip of the Slap Chop. This was a product from a few years back. The infomercial played on cable and in the wee hours of the morning but the thing sold making someone millions.

The original video moved people to remix it.  That sold many more Slap Chops. Just google Slap Chop Remix, it is hilarious!

The final outside of education idea was the My Pillow.  You might have seen this on the news lately for deceptive advertising practices. Even after the news and government told people not to buy it, they still bought pillows. So many the company is manufacturing 25,000 pillows every single day. That is not a small number of pillows.

These three examples were meant to show the power of a convincing video. These videos moved people to do something they might not otherwise do on their own.

The final was to show how a student uses video to convince millions of kids to read. If you watch even one video by @thelivbits you can't help but get excited. Check out her website to learn more.

I'm pretty sure my intended outcome was not exactly what I thought it would be. I'm not sure I made the connection strong enough for the teachers. Someone once told me, or maybe I read it somewhere, when something does not go right give yourself time to grieve, feel bad or just let the emotions run but after twenty-four hours you have to let it go. Don't forget what happened but stop letting it get to you. Learn from the mistake or failure but stop letting that control you.

While I might have led some teachers down a confusing path, I will not stop taking chances to figure out how to inspire people. I am sure I will fail and other times I will be successful.

Don't stop trying. The world needs you to take a chance.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Google Sites - From Idea to Publication (Google Sites ELITE 1)

One of the most powerful things you can do is to take your idea and show it to the world. Creating for anyone outside the classroom can be a great motivator but finding an appropriate tool used to be difficult until now. Google Sites might be the simplest tool we have ever encountered for students to publish their work.

One critical step before anyone builds a site is to create a plan. We used paper and Post-It Notes to start planning our ELITE website. Check it out, brilliant work!

Immersion Activity
This activity was created to help you create a site quickly, like within seconds.
Follow the three green steps below to get your site up and running.

Open your email.
1. Click the waffle in the upper right corner. (The small group of nine squares.)
2. Scroll down and find Sites. Click on that.

1, Click Create.
2. Click in new Sites.

1. Name your site.
2. Name the page.
3. Find a blank spot below the title and double click. Click text and add some text.

Now add

  • an image
  • A Google Doc/Slides
  • a video

That is it. Your site has been created.

Next Steps
An overview of how to create your site.


Padlet - Collaborating and Sharing Made Easy (Padlet ELITE 1)

Collaboration is easy, fun, and engaging with Padlet!

Whiteboards are amazing--the open space, the endless possibilities.  They are incubators for collaboration and innovation.

Padlet is the 2.0 version of the whiteboard.  It's digital--you can post and organize your ideas, and collaborate with students or colleagues.  Leave a note, add an image, insert a link, post a video.  All things are possible with Padlet.  And it's free.

Give it a try.

Immersion Activity:
This activity was created to introduce you to the potential of Padlet quickly.
Follow these steps to become a contributor to my...wait for it...Minecraft Padlet!

Your Task: Post to our padlet.  Share a resource, idea, or opinion.  Here's how:

  1. Click here to open the padlet.
  2. Double-click on an open space in the padlet to add a post.
  3. Add a title and text.
  4. Click on the icons at the bottom of your post to add a link, file, or picture.
Now, take a moment to post to our Minecraft padlet.  Don't take your post too seriously, but please contribute.


  • For an in-depth walkthrough on all of Padlet's free-to-play features, check out Jamie Keet's video:
Note: Anyone can post to Padlet, but if you want to create your own padlets, use your Google ID to create an account.  

Backchannels Keep the Conversation Flowing (TodaysMeet ELITE 1)

Picture a classroom where students are actively engaged in learning...
Were you imagining a lecture?  Probably not.

Backchannels are digital environments (chat rooms) that provide a place for students to actively participate by posting questions, comments, and ideas.  The teacher monitors the backchannel and responsively addresses student needs in real-time.

TodaysMeet is one of the easiest backchannels to use.  It's browser-based, so it works on all devices with internet access.  Setting up a backchannel takes about a minute.

Let's try it out, first as a user.

Immersion Activity:
  1. Open this backchannel on your browser: todaysmeet.com/selfie_conscious
  2. Share your reactions to this video on the backchannel as you watch:

Creating a Backchannel:

  1. Go to todaysmeet.com and sign up using your Google account.
  2. Pick a name for your room
  3. Decide how long the room will be open and who can join.
  4. For an additional layer of safety, set a password to limit access the chat.
  5. Open your room!
Share the backchannel with your students as an address, link, or QR code.  It's so easy!

Examples from the Classroom:

  • Stacey Roshan talks about the impact on Socratic Seminars in English class
  • Tanner Higgin on giving introverts a voice
  • Backchannels are a great place for students to leave questions for the teacher outside of the school day.  When new students come online, they can catch up on the conversation, find the answers to their questions, and glean new understandings from questions they hadn't considered.
As you prepare to use backchannels in your classroom, think about how you will manage the chat room.  With clear expectations and understanding, backchannels can be a great tool for student engagement. 

Seesaw - Deep Inside The Human Brain (Seesaw ELITE 1)

Seesaw is described as a learning journal, a way to make learning visible (and hearable). If there ever was an app that could help transform your classroom, this is it. I also believe this might be the first app that is being used at every level, from our youngest to the oldest students we serve.

Your task:

  • Download the Seesaw app on your mobile device (iOS or Android) or visit Seesaw on your laptop.
  • Enter Seesaw as a Student.
  • Enter your code.
    • These codes will be displayed on the board during our session

Click Photo.

Line up the article you just read.
Click one of the green camera buttons to take a picture.

1. Click the microphone and record your voice summarizing the article in thirty seconds or less.
2. Click the green check to start the upload process. Then find your name and click the green check again.


  • Your students can capture authentic classroom artifacts.
  • They add their own voice or video to their creations. 
  • You and the student now have a great way to reflect upon the work.

Next Steps
Why Seesaw? Check out three ways to use Seesaw in the classroom.
Then visit the Seesaw Help Center to get started.

This might be the best PD idea ever. In these YouTube videos Seesaw teaches one topics in ten minutes. Check out the topics for a quick how-to.

Below are the various links and blog posts we found and shared with the staff over the past year or two.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Solar Expo 2017 St. Louis

Are you ready for the solar eclipse? Why not check out this free event happening in June to get you ready for the big event. It is totally free but you need to register.

Friday, January 20, 2017

What side are you on?

Some weeks are hard and others are ten times harder than the last. I saw this in a window of some random store and it made my day. Somedays you really just have to create your own sunshine when the world just isn't cooperating.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Could you just summarize it for me?

This is a close representation of me at about 7 PM.

Lunch sometimes seems to last only about four minutes on some days. Don't get me started about when I get home after school! It seems once dinner and homework is complete I am falling asleep, no joke. There are so many great posts and articles to read online but I am super pressed for time. Sound somewhat familiar?

Next time you are at a crossroads of so little time and wanting to read just try out this Chrome extension.

Visit the Chrome store and installing the TL;DR extension.

Start by highlighting all the text of the article you want to read.

Click on the TL;DR extension to the far right of the address bar.
It will instantly summarize the article!
Like what you are reading? Then go back and read the whole thing.

Fixes 99% of all Chrome issues.

Sometimes your videos will play but there won't be any sound. Sometimes certain websites will just not work. Sound like something you have encountered? Try these two solutions and I'm confident your issues will vanish.

First Fix
Restart your computer. This fixes almost every issue I encounter.

Second Fix
Follow these steps to update the Chrome browser.

Open Chrome.
1. Click the ice cream cone in the upper right corner. (It looks like three dots.)
2. Click Help.
3. Click About Google Chrome.

Chrome on my computer is currently up to date. If not, this process would start the update. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

New Feature for Google Classroom

If you use Google Classroom there is a good chance you already saw this the last time you logged in. The newest feature allows you to assign things you add to Classroom to only certain kids. Maybe it is something for differentiation, maybe sharing something that someone should read/watch or whatever you see fit.

I added this announcement to a Classroom. Near the top is a new drop down feature.

I can deselect anyone I don't think needs or could benefit from what I am sharing.

There are a million uses for this.

Friday, January 6, 2017

New Year, New Project, New Blog

Sometimes it is nice just to start over, other times you need a simple venue to share you thoughts and projects. One of the quickest ways to publically share is through Blogger. This post will serve as a basic how-to for Blogger. Note: this publishing platform is available to all staff and only the LHS students. 

Getting Started

Creating a Post

Tags and Schedule

Easiest way to create a website is...

Google Sites!

Google Sites was updated back in 2016 and it is worth taking a look at. We created this short how-to view to step you through the basic creation process.



Shortcuts - iPad Edition

We recently published a very popular post about keyboard shortcuts for your laptop. This post continues the idea with creating a shortcut for a webpage on your iPad.

Open Safari on your iPad. (This appears to only work with Safari.)
1. Navigate to the site you need to make a desktop shortcut.
2. Click the little icon in the upper right corner. It sort of looks like a piece of paper with an arrow on it.

Click the Add to Home Screen icon. 

1. Change the title if you need.
2. Click Add.

To visit the Marine Corps Recruit Depot - San Diego all I do is click. 

Easy way to increase traffic to pages you need the students to visit, such as Symbaloo

Seesaw - Summer 2018

This post was created to help guide our Seesaw session. Seesaw is a student-driven online portfolio which can also be used for parent c...