Thursday, February 16, 2017

Gaming in the Classroom

We know that in the 21st century, it can be hard to obtain and hold students' interest in the classroom. According to Jessica Trybus of the New Media Institute, "When education or training feels dull, we are not being engaged and motivated. In other words, we're not really learning. "Learning" doesn't mean rote memorization--it means acquiring the skills and thought processes needed to respond appropriately under pressure, in a variety of situations." 

One way to engage students and keep them motivated is to incorporate gaming in the classroom. This week at PETE & C, there were many sessions about gamifying learning experiences, so this post will focus on a few different ways you can get started. Below is a slide from one of those presentations, making the argument for incorporating game-based learning in the classroom.

Gaming in the classroom can take many forms. We've posted (and also presented at in-service) before about some formative assessment tools you can use that are in the game-based format. Some of those include Kahoot, Quizlet, and Quizizz. In addition to incorporating gaming, these are all great use of devices in the classroom and can fit any grade level and content area.

There are also several video-game type options that have been tailored specifically for schools. Many students spend hours playing video games at home, so why not tap into their enthusiasm for this hobby by incorporating it into the classroom?! Both Classcraft and Minecraft EDU have a gaming platform that can be used in a variety of ways. Teachers can use Classcraft as a classroom management tool and can incorporate assignments within it. Students can earn points and level up for behaviors the teacher sets like helping other students, correctly answering questions, and being a hard-worker/having a positive attitude. MInecraft EDU is based on the extremely popular game that you've probably heard students talking about at one point or another. Teachers can create lessons for students (or use already created lessons) that  have students utilize the Minecraft EDU platform. These lessons and activities cover subjects across the curriculum and can be used  with virtually any age-level. These gaming options are the perfect way to cover content, enhance collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving skills, all while keeping students engaged and motivated. You don't have to have a background in video games to utilize these resources in the classroom and there are lots of tutorials and premade materials to help you get started!

My new favorite game-based find for this school year is Breakout EDU. Breakout EDU is similar to the idea of an Escape Room, but students are using boxes with locks instead of being locked in a room. They are given a back story and must use clues to solve a series of puzzles and unlock locks to "breakout." Again, the common theme among all of these different gaming ideas is that they promote teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking AND one I haven't mentioned yet-learning that failure is okay and a necessary part of learning. Teachers have already created a huge database of Breakout games that cover just about every concept under the sun and you can find games to fit every age-level. If you don't find something that fits your needs, you can create your own game, or even better, have students create the games! Check out the video clip below for more information and also the Techshowcase tab above for pictures of Breakout EDU games in action.

There were a lot of different ideas packed into this post and I know that can be overwhelming at first. However, I encourage you to think about how you could start small and incorporate a little bit of game-based learning in your classroom. Focus on one idea and go from there. If you need the support of a tech coach, please don't hesitate to ask!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Throwback Tuesday-BYOD!

We’re starting off February TechTuesdays with a throwback post…then next week’s post will be something fresh and new, hot off the press from PETE&C (Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo & Conference) in Hershey, PA!
It's been a little over a year since our school board updated the SMASD BYOD policy. Have you utilized BYOD in your own classrom yet? It might be a great way to supplement the devices our district has provided. Check out the "Featured Post" section in the top right corner of the blog for our previous post on BYOD. If you have found success or have run into any roadblocks, please feel free to share them in the comments section below!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The New Snipping Tool

In this week's Throwback Tech Tuesday, I am featuring our past post on the Snipping Tool in our Featured Post section in the top right corner of our blog.  The snipping tool is a great tool that comes installed on most machines. 

However, with most everyone having a surface now, I wanted to remind everyone of the new Snip tool available on Office Mix online. 

     -  Go to the following link:

     -  Then click the orange button that says "Download Snip" in the top right corner of screen  

     -  Run the Snip download and it will install on your surface

     -  Go to the Search bar in the bottom left corner of your surface and search for "Snip"

     -  Click on it when it appears in the list and it will run until you close out of it

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Creating Your Teacher Website

A Staff Directory is available on each of the school's websites for their teachers.  The idea being that students and parents can access the staff directory to get to a teacher's web page to find out a little more about the teacher, the teacher's email address, classroom information, and any other additional resources or information the teacher would like to share.  Going to and clicking Staff Directory will show staff consisting of administrators, business office, secretaries, etc.  To access your school's staff directory be sure to be on your school's website.

To edit your teacher page you will use one of the following web addresses:

Depending on which building you work, type (or click on) one of the above addresses into the address bar of your web browser.  Then use your computer logon credentials to log on.  Follow the video tutorials below to create your website.

**Note if you work in more than one building, you can link the page from one building to the other so you don't have to do the work twice.  However, if you want different information for each building you will want to create a separate page for each building**

Video Tutorials from our Tech Department

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rethink Google Slides

Google Slides aren't just for presentations anymore!

Go through the presentation above to find out more or click here to open the presentation in a new tab.

Have an idea for using Google Slides in your class?  
Contact a Tech Coach to help you get the ball rolling!

Monday, December 12, 2016

ActivInspire connects with Classflow

Remember these guys? 
Image result for activexpressionImage result for activoteWow! They were really the cat's pajamas! 
Image result for cat's pajamas

But now, their batteries are dying, kids don't remember how to text with a number pad, etc... 

So how do we gather feedback from our students with all these fantastic flipcharts we already have? 

This button right here should be at the top of your ActivInspire Flipchart.  
(If not, let a techcoach know you need updated!)

Go ahead!  Click Connect!
Now just click the "G" to sign in with your account!

Here comes the money!  Your class code.  Best part - it NEVER changes!  So, make that poster for your classroom that says: 
> Join
> Q9772 (use your unique class code)

*Students do not need an account & you don't have to pre-prepare anything!

Image result for activinspire expresspollAll the student needs is a device with the Internet and you are in.  

Use your Express Poll button to send out these types of questions on the fly.  No prep needed.

- Multiple Choice
- Text Response
- Numeric Response
- Sort in Order 
- True / False 

Image result for activinspire expresspollStudents will receive a copy of your slide with a place to submit an answer.  All the data comes to your flipchart with an immediate pop up graph of responses.  

AND - as if there couldn't be more - the responses are stored in a separate page at the end of your flipchart for you to reference later for individual data collection.  

Unique ideas I used last week

- Send the slide to your students to take notes without squinting to see the board.  Send them a Yes/No question to find out when they are finished copying.

- Instead of sending students to the board to go over answers, have a representative from each group send their answer to the board as the response to a text or numeric question.

'Tis the season to RECEIVE!  Contact a techcoach for a demo before break!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Give Googley Feedback

You've done it!

  • You've made your Google Classroom.
  • You're students are in it.
  • You have created an assignment.
  • Submissions are rolling in....
Now what?                                                                      

Sure you can print them, but why?  Then you just need to lug your papers back and forth like you always had.  Put that Surface to work for you and join me as I show you ways to assess a Google Doc (or Google Slides) submitted by a student.

What does it do? ~ It leaves a comment for the reader in the margin of the doc.
How do I do it?  ~ Put your cursor on the word you want to comment on or highlight the text.  
            Hit Ctrl+Alt+M. Type your comment in the box and then click Comment.

     Tip #1: If your students are revising their work, tell them NOT to click "Resolve".  This way you can decide if the correction was adequate and get through your final copies faster.
     Tip #2: Use the comment box to provide resources that will help them fix their error.  Copy a web address to direct them to notes or a tutorial.
Tip #3: Copy and paste your rubric at the end of the student's doc.  Then comment, giving feedback  on the box/score/level he achieved. 

What does it do? ~ It adds a suggestion directly into the text of the document.  Letting the author know what you think it should be.

How do I do it? ~ Click the "Editing" button in the upper right hand corner of your doc.  Change it to       "Suggesting" mode.  Highlight the text that you want to replace and begin typing.  The       highlighted text will have a strikethrough appearance and your text will be there between brackets.

Tip #1: Please note that the student will simply have to accept or reject the suggestion for it to take effect.  The original author does not have to type in the change himself.  Therefore this may be a better tool for students to use with each other on a group assignment, leaving commenting the tool for a teacher to guide a student to improving his work.

Returning Grades in Google Classroom: 
What does it do? ~ It gives you a place to store your grades for the assignment until you are ready to put them in PowerSchool.  Seemingly taking place of a paper gradebook.  You can view the grades for each of your Google Classroom Assignments individually, or you can view all the grades for that class in a spreadsheet.

How do I do it? ~ Click on the assignment in Google Classroom.   Change the total points at the top.  Add your grades in as you evaluate each student's work.  (Don't forget to return the grade to the student with any comments you have).  Click the gear in the upper right to see a spreadsheet of all of your Google Classroom grades for this class.  Copy them to PowerSchool periodically.

Tip #1: At this time you can't put in 1/2 points.  It will round the number up.  
Tip #2: If students have the Google Classroom App, they will get your grades and comments as a notification on  their ipod, tablet or phone.  This greatly improves feedback speed as well as submission of redos.
Tip #3: You can give individual comments as well as group or whole class comments when returning a grade/assignment.

       What tricks do you have for giving digital feedback to your students?  Comment below!