In the past I have used the Office Lens app by Microsoft. It's a good alternative, but using the Notes scan feature is just faster.
Check-out the short screencast below to see how it works.
As we begin our transition to distance learning having students submit hand written or created material will be something we need to make simple. It's easy to snap a picture and send or upload, but now on the iPhone it's SO easy to actually scan it into a note and upload it directly to Google Classroom or Microsoft. The quality is much better than an actual photo too!
In the past I have used the Office Lens app by Microsoft. It's a good alternative, but using the Notes scan feature is just faster.
Check-out the short screencast below to see how it works.
This is just one more tip that might help a student or teacher's workflow be more efficient!
Whew.....what a week! We are off and running organizing what distance learning will look like at my high school. I want to share a quick tip that I learned this week around creating a folder in my bookmarks bar in Chrome and adding classes in one place from Google Classroom.
Tricks like this save time and increase efficiency. Let me know how it works for you!
This weekend I was creating a new course in Google Classroom and wanted to use my own image. Experimenting with the right size and placement of images took me a bit of time. Have you had the same header for awhile or are you creating a new class? Make your own custom header fast using this template. l
Watch a quick screencast to see how to use the template below.
Students will notice that you have made a change! Use this template to quickly create new headers and keep your Google Classroom page updated throughout the year.
I would love to see examples of headers that you create!
This Voice Recorder is a convenient and very simple online tool that can be used right from your browser. It allows you to record your voice using the built-in microphone on your device and save it as an mp3 file. Just click the mic on the landing screen and you are on your way to recording your audio file.
Student voice is powerful. An audio file is a product that a student can create as a product of their learning. When might you use voice to enhance or show learning? Check out this Voice Recorder to make the process simple.
Checking for understanding is the backbone of effective teaching. As learners are introduced to new material and concepts, many students make errors as they process the information or they don’t have adequate background knowledge to be able to form connections. And the larger the chunk of material that is presented, the more likely there is for learners to develop misconceptions.
Effective teachers stop to check for understanding by asking a lot of questions that require responses, have students summarize what the understand, or have students agree or disagree with other student responses. Through participating in these checks for understanding students have a chance to elaborate on the material and augment connections to other learning in their long term memory or signal to the teacher that parts of the material need to be retaught.
In the book Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques in Your Classroom, Fisher and Frey paint a picture of an ineffective learning experience for a student.
Checking for understanding permeates the teaching world. If you doubt that, consider the last lecture you heard. Whether the lecture was about chemical reactions, the great American novel, or the causes of World War II, the person speaking most likely checked for your understanding several times during the lecture by using such common prompts as "Any questions?", "Did you all get that?", "Everybody understand?", or "Does that make sense?" Rather than respond to these questions, most learners will sit quietly, and the lecturer doesn't know whether they understand, they are too confused to answer, they think they get it (but are off base), or they are too embarrassed to show their lack of understanding in front of others. Such general questions are simply not sufficient in determining whether or not students "get it."
Allow your mind to flashback to a lesson that you taught or observed that bombed. (I have many memories of learning experiences that I created that fell short because I did this.) Chances are good that the questions above were asked as described. Knowing ahead of time where common misconceptions occur for students helps determine the best places to stop and get a quick pulse on where the students are at in their understanding. There are many ways to check for understanding during instruction. Varying the instructional practice that you use for formative assessment helps keep students engaged and actively participating.
Here are three simple strategies that are easy to use to check for understanding:
Socrative Quick Question is a dependable efficient way to check students understanding. While multiple choice and true false questions can give quick feedback, the short answer option creates an opportunity for teachers to receive a lot more information from students. Quick Question requires no preparation time on the part of the content teacher. The use of Socrative also allows for every student in the room to contribute and share their thinking in a safe space. Many students would rather sit in silence than share a thought that they are unsure about.
Response cards are a quick, no tech strategy that supports active student participation. This strategy allows the teacher a quick check of understanding by visually seeing each student’s level of understanding by the scanning the student response cards by color. Response cards can be used in groups, as Dr. Waller did in the video above. (Dr. Waller is an amazing AP English 3 teacher at Bellaire High School in the Houston ISD). Response cards can also be used by individuals as @FastCrayon (Amy Fast) shared in this tweet. The use of student response cards is also demonstrated in this Teaching Channel Video.
Plickers is a blended tool that allows teachers to use technology while eliminating the need for students to have a device in hand. Students just need to rotate a card to show their answer. Teachers use the Plicker's App to scan and to project answers. Questions can be loaded previously or posed in the moment. It is simple to use, simple to set up, and only requires one electronic smart device which reduces risk of failure or technical difficulties. All students have to do is pull out their Plicker Card and they are ready for the questions. You can download a set of cards here.
@BurnsideMath shared the idea of having students glue their Plicker Card on the back of their interactive notebook. When she wants to ask a quick question, students just pick up their notebook to answer. This eliminates the need to have any device out to respond.
These are just three of a countless number of strategies that can be used in classrooms. If you are looking for additional strategies, check out these resources:
Do you have some "go to" strategies that you like to use to check for understanding? I would love to hear more ideas of which strategies you have found to be effective.
Winter break brings time to rest, relax, and reflect on 2019. For the 5th year in a row I decided to embark on selecting "one word" or "three words" to be a guide or north star during the upcoming year. While this post is not about how my three words, ARENA, MOMENTS, and FAITH impacted 2019, I will share that each word drove either a significant decision or a reaction to an experience that I had during 2019. I find these moments of reflection incredibly powerful in that they allow time to evaluate and measure growth while taking notes on how I have changed.
What I have discovered about myself is that "my comfortable place", the place where I have things under control and figured out, is not a place that I can stay for very long without beginning to feel stagnant. I haven't always operated in this zone. There have definitely been "seasons" of my life where staying comfortable was all that I wanted.
My three words for 2020 were selected to help push me forward, both personally and professionally. And I hate to say it, but they will hopefully move me into that space where I am unsure, uncomfortable and a little scared of failing and not accomplishing what I had hoped. #my3words
Consistent - showing steady conformity to character, profession, belief, or custom*
"Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose and of action over a long period of time." ~Bruce Springsteen
I picked this quote because an "audience" can be a crowd, a staff, a small group or an individual. Investing in small things daily, consistently will compound with time. Small actions over and over create something bigger. In 2019, I had a brief encounter with the power of consistency when I worked towards doing the swimming leg on a relay team for the Half Ironman Texas.
Hands down, the strongest leaders that I have worked with have been consistent. Consistent in their expectations, actions, and support. Consistency builds trust. It's an area that I want to grow in and be held accountable in by others.
Intentional - done by intention or design*
"Good intentions will never take you anywhere you want to go. Only intentional actions will get you to the things you want in life" ~ John Maxwell
Success is uphill all the way. It doesn't happen automatically. Striving towards excellence has to be intentional.
I commit to pausing and making intentional decisions. One area this will happen in is professional learning. Intentional decisions will be made around the learning that I engage in throughout the year. Many times my learning moves in directions organically with no clear path. This is an example of having good intentions but no specific goal being accomplished. I commit to continuing to learn about improving authentic engagement in classrooms, strengthening the cores of PLC's and about how leadership can empower and supercharge the culture in ways that amplify teacher leadership and autonomy. (I am sure that I will add to this list.)
Ship - to be sent for delivery*. (When one "ships" to publish and put a project out in the world.)
"Amazing ideas and incredible projects die at the hands of people who think just one more tweak, one more proofread, one more change is needed before putting that project out into the world. These people are paralyzed by the resistance and can’t ship." ~Seth Godin
I often assume that what I have to create and share everyone already knows. At a conference a few years ago Aaron Hogan shared this video: Obvious to you. Amazing to others. - by Derek Sivers
I find that most of my better work is often paired with some fear, or at least a feeling of less than total confidence. Ironically, I am learning that if I'm afraid people won’t like what I’ve done, that’s often a good sign. It means I care, and it means there are stakes. Creating things is often about risk, intimacy and vulnerability. I want to get better at shipping. Not everything is going to be substantial or even good for that matter. But if done "consistently" I will change. And when it's not good, or I just miss it....I will remind myself that in my heart I had good intentions.
There you have them. Three words intentionally selected to push me into uncomfortable spots, uggh.....and ultimately help move me forward! #my3words
A shout out to Chris Brogan for authoring the idea of "My Three Words" and to Jennifer Hogan for being the conduit to the idea for me! I am counting on my PLN, my family and friends to hold me accountable.
I would love to know what your "word(s)" are or in what ways you have committed to improvement in 2020?
*Definitions are from the Merriam-Webster International Dictionary.
I just finished reading 17,000 Classroom Visits Can't Be Wrong; Strategies that Engage Students, Promote Active Learning and Boost Achievement by John Antonetti and James Garver. There are so many things that I want to share from this book. The authors first look at Bloom's Taxonomy and the focus on learning in classrooms. In their thousands of classroom visits, they looked for evidence of how the level of thinking intersected with brain research. They sought to find out whether Bloom's Taxonomy was still relevant in today's classrooms. In short, the answer was YES.
Fractus Learning [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
In 87% of the 17,000+ classrooms visited, students were tasked with low-level thinking activities. Antonetti and Garver identified four reasons that the abundance of learning was occurring at this level.
How do we move the needle and get better in 87% of these classrooms? It's simple; we learn! As educators, we have to evolve in our practices and improve instructional design and incorporate advances in brain science into learning experiences. In the 17,000+ classroom visits, they found that the key to raising thinking in a meaningful way was to focus on the middle two levels of Bloom's taxonomy, application, and analysis.
I often hear focus on "the verb" to increase the level of thinking, but Antonetti and Garver point us towards looking at our Instructional design and what science tells us about how the brain learns. As a student, when asked a question by a teacher, I would give an answer if I knew it. If not, I'd more than likely sit and wait for the next person to provide the solution. If the teacher is in control of all of the questions, what impact does that have on learning?
"We have seen this phenomenon repeated in classrooms in which the thinking is pushed to the middle. students who are working through their own content patterns -yet do not have all of the answers- will voluntarily go and seek more information." Antonetti and Garver
So if this is how our brains are wired, how can instructional design help facilitate students towards engaging in learning that involves application and analyses? John Medina, a molecular biologist, published Brain Rules in 2008. His researched formed 12 big ideas about the brain that apply to our daily lives, especially at work and school. (It's been 11 years since his rules were published and I have never read his work.) The complete list of Brain Rules can be accessed here and here.
Reading about Medina's Brain Rules led me down a path to learn even more about them!
In the podcast Vrain Waves hosts Ben and Becky interview John Medina. Medina connects his research to both learning and teachers. (If you don't have time now to listen to the podcast, I highly encourage you to stop and add it to your playlist. It is SO good!)
To improve learning experiences, we must not only strive to design instruction so that we push thinking to the middle, we must take into account what we now know about how the brain learns and responds. Need an example? In 17,000 Classroom Visits Can't be Wrong, Antonetti and Garver shared an example of a simple vocabulary lesson they obsereved in a 4th grade classroom. The lesson was learner-centered and had students working in the mid-levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.)
These ideas and resources are just the tip of the iceberg of ways we can improve the experiences students are having in classrooms and teachers are having in their professional learning. The next time you plan instruction, how might you help activate learning by what science has taught us about the brain? How might learners experience and process the content in a more meaningful way using application and analysis?
Next up on my blog, I'll look into the levels of engagement in learning. Are there qualities present in instruction that increase student engagement?
Last week I observed instruction that was facilitated through the use of a Hyperdoc. (It was a great lesson by Ms. Tellez!) The objective of the lesson was identifying the setting and the impact a setting plays in a text. Having content organized in a Hyperdoc allowed for the students to move at their own pace and it offered different modalities for students to interact with content. Learn more about Hypderdoc's in Jennifer Gonzalez's post on Cult of Pedagogy here.
As students moved through the Hyperdoc and interacted, completed and created content, I noticed that they tended to spend the least amount of time with resources that were text rich and that did not have any media embedded in them. It made me think about using a tool to help students read the text and allow them to listen to it. I remembered that I had a chrome extension installed called Read Aloud that will read a web page with one click to a student. You can learn more about installing the extension in a screencast created by JP Prezzavento here.
Then I was in a Wakelet Collection and discovered the Immersive Reader App icon. That little icon opens the door to so much for students. (I am a huge fan of Wakelet and wrote a blog post about why you should be using it as a tool here.) The digital content that you save and organize in Wakelet now can be read to students through the Immersive Reader App. Immersive Reader, might be the most useful technology that Microsoft has developed for education.
Immersive Reader will:
The translation piece is huge! Watch below to see how easy it is to use.
An Algebra 1 teacher approached me to help her with a new student that she had just received that only spoke Turkish. Watch how I used Wakelet to show her how to meet the needs of her new student.
Taking content and organizing it within Wakelet and then linking into a Hyperdoc or LMS gives a structure to the resources that improves the use of instructional time. Give it a try and see how it's a game changer. Through combining these tools, students can learn and interact with content in ways that they couldn't in our classrooms a decade ago!
Give it a try and let me know if you find other ways Wakelet and Immersive Reader can support and facilitate student learning.
*Post Update Mike Tholfsen shared this additional post All About Immersive Reader!
Over the past 15 years I have tried and used a few curation tools on the web. To name a few of them...Evernote, One Note, Diigo, EduClipper/Participate, and Google Keep. Up until last year Evernote was my favorite. What I didn't like about Evernote was that it had lured me in and then began to charge a fee to use it on all my devices. I liked Evernote so much that I jumped in and paid because the ease of the tool was worth it to me. Then came Wakelet! Wakelet helps you find, organize and share digital information and it's free. Educators and students will want to check it out!
I am going to throw in a 5th reason to use Wakelet, the company has a specific focus on education. Wakelet has created a guide for educators. You can download that here and a YouTube channel. Wakelet integrates with both Screencastify and Flipgrid to make curated content from those sources seamless. Students can easily create their own videos or projects and share to one collection in Wakelet. Teachers also can share a Wakelet collection directly to Google Classroom.
To get started create a Wakelet account. Click here to add an extension to your browser of choice. Find a resource that you want to save, use the extension that you installed to grab the URL and create and name your first collection and save.
Let me know what you think about Wakelet! It has been one of my favorite new tools to use to increase efficiency and organization of digital content.
In my first two posts about our professional learning journey, I shared our shift in mindset and practices surrounding professional learning as a school community. In our annual 2018 Spring survey to staff, an interest in social-emotional learning and how, as educators, we could learn more to help our students. Our journey was super charged with the opportunity to work with Dr. Brene´ Brown and her Daring Classroom's team. If you are not familiar with Dr. Brown's work, please watch the video below taken from a keynote address she gave at SXSW in 2017.
Our three days of learning with Dr. Brown's team was hard and deep at many points. We quickly learned that we were not just going to be learning about ways to support students in our school, we were going to be learning about ourselves. We have a very large faculty, close to 200 people, and as with any learning, there were teachers that were not in a place where they could connect with and engage with the topics we were learning about. And that was OK. If you have read my previous two posts about our learning journey, you might be asking how this fits into our shift in mindset to encourage autonomy, choice, and risk in professional learning. Our work with Dr. Brown opened our minds to what some of the barriers can be in adult learning and in fostering learning mindsets in our students. We began our work with Dr. Brown and her team by identifying our own core values and then spent time reflecting on how our values shape and guide us personally and professionally.
What we quickly learned was that everyone comes with a story...EVERYONE. And learning more about vulnerability and empathy were the first steps in helping us to enter classrooms and look below the surface at our students.
`Vulnerability is defined as the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. Each of us is unique, and the feelings that we experience with vulnerability are also unique. For me, vulnerability begins in a conversation between my head and heart, a queasy feeling in my stomach that comes from the fear of being emotionally exposed. Brené Brown talks about vulnerability being “…based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process” (Daring Greatly, p.45).
Creating a safe space within our classrooms for students to feel safe is something that we need to actively seek to create. When we are vulnerable with students we are showing that not only do we respect them, but we trust them. The thing about learning is that it's hard, and if we want students to show up and give us their best we have to work to create a that space where they can share openly. Mr. Houle, a new member of our staff, shared how he would approach a sleeping child in one of his classrooms. He spoke about first getting down on the students level, rousing them from their sleep and then he "would do his thing". He went on to share, "because if you don't have your thing, you won't be able to connect with the student.
We learned from Dr. Brown that “Empathy is… communicating the message of, "You are not alone.” And in that moment of realizing you are not alone, you feel a connection to someone else. Dr. Brown goes on to explain what connection is; "Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued: when they can give and receive without judgement." Brené Brown's short film below is the best source that I have found to explain empathy.
In our work with students extending empathy can mean:
A key take away for us was that rarely can a response make a difference when interacting with a student, it is forming a connection that ignites a relationship.
In addition to the three days, we spent with Dr. Brown and her team, as a faculty, we read Daring Greatly, Rising Strong and Dare to Lead by Brené Brown. Our learning throughout the year encompassed a more in-depth understanding about empathy and vulnerability. We saw, heard and felt the impact our knowledge was having in some of our classrooms.
I captured an assignment that Ms. Oertli, an English 1 teacher created for her students below. It's just one example of our time with Dr. Brown's team being integrated into a classroom.
Many students have never taken the time to define their core values. Although they are familiar with terms like loyalty, respect, or humor, they have not constructed an identity around them. Based on our work with Brene Brown, I have created an assignment that prods students to set intentions for the year through a vision board where they define their core values and identify strategies to live according to their values.
And so our learning journey continues... As a faculty and staff, we have embraced a culture of growth and learning, and that is exciting. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to learn from Brené Brown and her team. She is funny and smart and just REAL. As a school, our greatest asset is the people that walk through our doors every day. If as adults, we commit to continue to learn and serve our students in better ways, we can't help but get better. This blog post gets us to date as to where we are in our professional learning journey. I am excited to see where new learning takes us in the future! #BHSLearn
Our 2018-2019 Learn Shirt!