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Shaking Things Up with a 5-Day Challenge

Sometimes it is good to shake things up a bit to help get you out of your normal routine. Last fall, Rushton Hurley built The 5-Day Teacher Challenge to show that we can all get better at teaching by making just a few small changes. 5 dayEach day of the challenge, you are asked to change one thing – you are even provided with a pair of options for each day! Try something new. Learn a new tool. Have some fun! You and your students will appreciate the change!

I encourage you to explore and embark on the full challenge but for now, here is a summary. (The quotes below come directly from Rushton Hurley’s challenge.)

Day 1: Build Rapport With Your Students! “When students trust that you are someone who is genuinely interested in them, and not someone paid simply to be in the classroom, they are notably more likely to put forth effort when you ask it of them.”

Day 2: Assign More Interesting Student Work: “I’m guessing that if we had meaningful data about such things, we would see that not nearly enough assignments generate truly creative and fun responses from our students.”

Day 3: Improve How You Communicate: “While the students’ willingness is obviously significant, your creativity and patience with how you present material are arguably the most important factors in whether they will give your lesson a chance.” 

Day 4: Tap Into the Insights of Your Peers: “In most parts of the world, teaching until very recently has been a highly isolated profession. However, with all the connections that are possible now, the potential for saving time and having fun building off the ideas of colleagues near and far has increased exponentially.”

Day 5: Connect With Those Who Have (and Can) Help You: “The people that make a school work well are driving buses, delivering food in the cafeteria, answering phones, sweeping floors after hours, etc. Connect with these folks and appreciate how large the team is that wants the best for the community’s children!”

If You Like Kahoot, Try Quizizz!

Do your students like to play games? Do they get excited about a little competition? Many educators are familiar with Kahoot and have probably used it for trivia or as a fun way to review for tests and quizzes. However, Kahoot has limitations such as being created only for live play as well as not showing the question and answer directly on the student’s screen. QuizizzQuizizz is similar to Kahoot but in addition to a live mode, it also has a homework mode. This allows students to play Quizizz and to practice and compete outside of class while still allowing the teacher to track student data and provide feedback. The student also sees the questions and answers on their screen and can review all questions when done.

Quizizz Results

Quizizz also has a fun meme option where students see a different meme after each answer. MemeWhile teachers can easily create memes from dozens of provided pictures, they also have the option of starting from scratch by uploading their own images or they can select memes that have already been fully created.

Here a few other notable features. 

  • Quizizz can be played any device
  • Uses Google’s Login
  • Integrates with Google Classroom
  • Can search for Quizzes that are already made
  • Can duplicate and then edit Quizzes made by others
  • Has the option to shuffle questions and answers
  • Has the option to activate a Question Timer (faster answer = more points)
  • Can show answers after each question and/or review all questions at the end

Want to see Quizizz and test the Homework mode for yourself? Go to https://join.quizizz.com and enter 087822 for the Game Code (expires 3/31/18). Then take the 8 question quiz to test your knowledge of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Note: I turned on all of the features listed above.

Code

Thanks to Mr. Ankit Smith for creating the original Olympic quiz! I merely duplicated, edited and attached a pre-made meme set.

Need more resources? Check out this quick guide or these video tutorials

Invest In Yourself – Attend a Conference!

Going to a conference is a pretty amazing experience. The energy that 4000 educators emit is incalculable. The chance to learn about new things is incomparable. The opportunity to get away from your students for a few days is invigorating. Oh yeah, and the freedom to go out to lunch like a real adult is…incredible! 

Macul
@ 2018 by MACUL

I spent last Thursday and Friday at the 42 annual MACUL technology conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan and days later I am still excited, motivated, optimistic and exhausted! My head is spinning with new technology tools to try, bigs ideas to implement and new professional goals to achieve. Over the coming weeks, I will give a deep look into many of the things I learned at MACUL but for now, I am going to focus on the big picture. 

During these two days, I was motivated by a one-legged Olympian, a 21-year-old genius, and a super-star superintendent. I was introduced to some new (for me) tech tools like Today’s Meet, Quizizz, Buncee, and Google Keep. I even learned about Backward Design as well as best practices for engaging my students from the minute the bell rings. It was all amazing!

If you haven’t been to a professional conference in a while, find one to attend! Then, go to your administrator and convince them that you NEED this experience to learn, to grow as a professional and to rejuvenate.  

Need more ammo to win over your boss? Check out 12 Reasons You Should Attend Conferences by Rick Brooks.

 

Toby the Tab Organizer

Do your browser tabs multiply faster than a cage of frisky bunnies? Are other people appalled when they see your ridiculous number of tabs? Do you have so many tabs open that you can no longer tell what each tab contains? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then Toby is for you!

Think how good it would feel to go from this

Before

to this!  🙂

Now

Instead of cluttering up your space, all of your tabs can be organized and saved into groups (see screenshot below). The tabs in your groups can be opened all at once or you can just click on an individual tab to open! Get started by dragging and dropping your browser tabs into collections or save a whole session with just one-click. You can even access all of your collections on any computer with automatic sync! This extension is even available in Chrome and FireFox.

Toby

Want to learn more about Toby? Check out their website or watch the brief (30 sec) video below.

3 Great Mac OS Productivity Tools

Many Mac users are not aware of the great productivity tools built right into their computer and therefore, they do not take advantage of them! Three of my favorites are Hotcorners, Multiple Desktops, and Splitview and I use these tools regularly to increase my productivity.

#1. Hotcorners:

No, not hot pants – Hot Corners! This is my #1 Mac OS productivity tool as I use it every day (unlike my hot pants). While there are many options to choose from, I primarily use the Hot Corner setting called “desktop” to help me quickly upload or attach files from my desktop (screenshots, images, etc) to my email or a Google Doc. If you are interested in learning more about “desktop” and the other Hot Corner options check out this handy video tutorial. You will learn how to set up a variety of Hot Corners as well as some of the useful things you can do with them.

#2. Multiple Desktops:

While it is not possible to have multiple brains, you can (partially) make up for this by using multiple desktops on your Mac! This tool allows all of us to become multitasking gurus! Maybe you want your Gmail (or Mail client) to be running on one desktop, your Chrome browser on a second desktop, FireFox on the third desktop, your calendar on the 4th desktop and a dreamy picture of your significant other on the fifth one. I have also seen other teachers use multiple desktops to make grading more efficient by having their grade book open on one desktop and student work displayed on the neighboring desktop and then toggling back and forth. (This can also be accomplished by using the Split View feature – see below.) You can find out more about using Multiple Desktops in this video by “PC Classes Online.”

#3. Splitview:

Have you ever had to copy grades from one window (or program) to your grade book? Did it drive you so crazy that you nearly took a mental health day? Well, this might be the answer you have been craving! Do your student ever try to take digital notes while watching a YouTube video? What about recording Google Doc notes while reading an online book or while searching the Internet? Does the pain and frustration in their eyes make you feel slightly guilty? Tell them about Splitview and you might just become their hero! Using the Split View feature might not fix all of the world’s problems but it will make you feel better!  Find out more in this video by “AppleWorks.”

Have a Mac productivity tool we should all know about? Tell us in the comment section below.

Using Video to Hear Student Thinking

I would love to be able to sit down individually with each of my students and talk through our most recent activity, lesson, standard, etc. More importantly, I would love to hear my students think. I would love to watch them as they explain how all the pieces fit together. I would love to fill in any holes with immediate feedback. However, unless my administrators decide to put 10 students in my classes as well as reduce the number of classes I teach, there isn’t time to meet every student one-on-one. So what’s the answer? Recap! It’s a free “question-led chat tool augmented by video that makes it easier to start deeper, more empowering discussions with students and teachers.”

Recap
© 2018 by Recap

Using Recap, a teacher can post a question – or series of questions – and the students can then post a video response. (Video responses can be up to 5 minutes long but the teacher has the option to reduce the maximum time to 15, 30, 60 or 120 seconds.) Videos can also be set as public or private. Public means that the class can watch each other videos while private means only the teacher can view them. Either way, text comments can be left on each video which provides a great way to offer constructive feedback. A few other features I love is that I can share a join pin rather than requiring my students to create yet another login. Also, if you are a Google Classroom user, questions can be posted directly your Classroom. Finally, students can record their videos via computer or they can download the Recap app.

Recently, I used Recap as an avenue to hear my AP Biology students explain how bacteria regulate their genes with operons. This activity required them to build two different operons out of pop it beads and playdoh. Then, they recorded themselves working through their operon model from start to finish. They explained the structures, demonstrated how the operon was turned on or off, and showed the end result. I was able to type feedback comments while watching their approximately 2-minute videos. Through this activity, I was able to assess each students thinking without scrambling to find time during class.

Recap can do a lot more than just post videos regarding one question. Click here to learn more about Recap including how “Journeys” can lead your students on an adventure!


** While Recap gives an embed code, WordPress would not allow me to embed an iFrame. Therefore I screencast the videos and uploaded them to YouTube. Due to this work around, the video quality was slightly reduced.