Thursday, September 24, 2015

An Hour with 2 Techie Teachers: Webinar Event

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 4:00pm

Join us for our first ever webinar event as we share the importance of encouraging your students to create in the classroom on a daily basis. We'll share easy, no-prep activities that will have your students creatively sharing authentic work in all subject areas. Learn how to maximize the best of what your students’ iPads have to offer. We’ll also highlight our use of digital interactive notebooks using Book Creator. This is one concept guaranteed to positively change the workflow of your classroom! 
We will be live and ready to answer your questions about organization and management, favorites apps and programs, and more!
This event is through the Indiana Office of eLearning.  You don't have to be from Indiana to learn from this webinar!  You can register for the webinar here.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Interactive Study Guides with Book Creator

Looking for a way to help your students effectively and efficiently study for an upcoming assessment?  If you aren't using digital interactive notebooks, then it isn't too late to provide students with purposeful study materials they can personalize.

We recently completed our Ancient Greece unit, and I wanted to provide students with the key details we covered in class as well as extra online resources for them to check out.  Students worked on these study guides in class with a partner and had full access to them the week of the final assessment.

Looking for the "how to" behind creating these guides?  I used the same process that we use for our interactive notebooks.  Check out that step-by-step guide here.

Why use Book Creator? Simply put, Book Creator provides both teacher and student with a variety of tools to personalize learning while using a user-friendly format that even the littlest of learners can tackle.  Hands-down, this is our favorite paid app loaded on our student devices.  We find new uses every week!

Here are a few samples pages (screenshots) from our Ancient Greece study guides.  Note that I was able to mix media by adding video, images, text, links, and more.  You can even link out to digital flashcards or games that you may have created using resources such as Quizlet or Socrative.

The Cover Page is clear and easy for students to distinguish from other books.
Add a personal message that gives the students a purpose using video.
Interactive features give students a more authentic learning experience. 

Students can add in their own text or photos that enhance their learning.
This student added a photo that named the 12 gods of Mt. Olympus,
and they used the notes section to roughly answer the "Think About It" section. 

The final page is reserved for extra resources for students to go above and beyond in their study.
Including links to information websites as well as interactive features such as Kahoot!, gives students a broader range of study materials to choose from. It also allows parents a great resource to help their students go deeper into the material. 

Happy studying!

Study Guide Medium Credits: 
KG Fonts ( (clip art) (map)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lose the Worksheets with these Easy Digital Quick Checks

"I love standing in line for the copy machine on Monday morning," said NO teacher ever.

There is something about a paperless classroom that is utterly freeing.  When I made the jump this year to middle school life, I made it a priority goal to minimize the number of copies I make for my classroom.  Aside from projects I've printed to hang on my classroom walls, I've made exactly zero copies for my sixth graders.  Ahhhh....

After coming off of a stint in primary where paper skills are still extremely valuable and necessary (cutting, gluing, coloring, and other fine motor skills as well as station materials), I find myself not spending my Sunday afternoons hugging the copy machine and subsequently visiting with the laminator.  I don't miss it yet, but I am sure someday I will.  Until then, Brittany keeps me grounded by recounting her many hours spent cutting out lamination!

Even at the primary level, there are still many ways to reduce the amount of "papers" that travel home with your students each day. Let's face it...most of those quickly find their ultimate home in the trash can after a quick glance from a parent.  I know because I am one of those parent-type creatures.

You still need to quickly assess your students' understanding of a lesson or a concept.  Let me throw out a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.  Have more ideas?  Share them in the comments below!

5 of the Easiest 5 Minute Quick Checks that Save Trees and Encourage Creativity

1) The..."Quick! Act it out and show me what you know" video.
After a rousing discussion of the four main types of government used in Ancient Greece (what ISN'T fun about that?), I asked students in groups to create a quick 30 second video in which they act out a chosen form of government.  What ensued was hilariously fun, and it provided us with AMAZING review material!  We showed the videos and students had to guess which form of government was being demonstrated.  Did I mention fun?  

2) The Digital Exit Ticket 
Within our LMS, Canvas, students can comment on discussion questions that I post for them.  Take the exit ticket a step further and let this be a student-driven learning opportunity. Allow students to submit exit ticket discussion proposals and select one!  If you don't have an LMS, you can use polls in Kahoot, Socrative, etc. to get a similar effect.  This is a great way to gauge who has it and who doesn't.  You can also allow older students to "backchannel" your lesson and discuss with each other using resources like Today's Meet.  

3) The Twitter-esque Post
For word lovers like me, Twitter with its 140 character limit can be agonizing.  However, it does force you to be concise!  Have students compose Twitter-esque narratives that demonstrate their understanding of the concept.  Students can post these wherever convenient for you to check.  Take it a step further and create a classroom Twitter account and a jazzy hashtag to follow.  Our school has SM blocked, but there are ways around this.  You can select well-written Twitter responses and make them live and breathe out there for the world to notice for your students! #dontforgetthehashtag

4) Graphic Organizers with Style 
When I need a quick check that students always love, I go to PicCollage.  Whether I want them to compare/contrast two characters in a story or discuss the pros/cons of tyranny in Ancient Greece, PicCollage is always a top contender.  Kid-friendly and fun, it also allows the addition of relevant content such as video and photos that add more authenticity to their responses.  Bonus...I can do this on the fly if I see we just aren't "getting it." This allows me to assess quickly and adjust our learning. What can you PicCollage this week?

5) Sketchnoting or Doodling...pick your poison
This is another easy idea that is suitable for any age or stage.  I have always been a major doodler...the proof is on my church bulletin each week!  First graders can sketch or doodle while their teacher reads a story which encourages visualization, text connections, and other comprehension must haves.  Teachers can direct the flow of sketching/doodling or allow students free range.  Older students can also sketchnote/doodle their way through a content rich video or discussion.  The key here is proper management so students understand the purpose of this activity.  Doodles/sketches should be relevant and enhance their learning.  Showing them some great examples that are out there on YouTube can be very helpful, and/or model good technique yourself. There are many great apps for this skill. Idea Sketch, IdeaStorm, Inkflow are just a few of the free ones out there.  Not sure you want to go all the way with sketchnoting?  Try any whiteboard app (DoodleBuddy for primary, EduCreations for intermedate+) and allow your students to doodle 'til their hearts' content. Oh, and do let them share!

What are YOUR favorite quick checks?