Thursday, April 7, 2016

New Polling Feature Added to Google Classroom

Google Classroom has offered options for asking questions for quite a while. Today, Google released a new way to ask questions. You can now post multiple choice poll questions in your Google Classroom classrooms.

To post a poll in Google Classroom simply select the "add question" option in the lower-right corner of your Classroom screen, then select "multiple choice," and write your poll question. You can choose to let students see a summary of responses or you can hide the summary of responses.

Applications for Education
In their blog post announcing the new polling feature the Google for Education team suggested four ideas for using the polling feature in your classroom. Those four ideas are exit tickets, task completion monitoring, guiding discussions, and gather lesson feedback. Consult the Google for Education blog for more details on each use of polling.

Learn more about Google Classroom and Google Apps for Education at the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp this summer in Portland, Maine.

Riddle Me This - 7 TED-Ed Lessons Based on Riddles

Earlier this week I shared a playlist of TED-Ed lessons about how the human body works. In responses to that playlist Lisa Winer sent me the suggestion to check out a TED-Ed lesson that she contributed to creating. That lesson is the Locker Riddle. In that lesson students have to use mathematics and logical reasoning to open a locker containing an inheritance.

The Locker Riddle is one of seven TED-Ed lessons that are based on riddles. All of the lessons challenge students to logical reasoning and mathematics to solve the riddle. The playlist of riddle-based lessons is embedded below.

How to Make a Copy of a Public Google Drive File

Seesaw, a free digital portfolio platform, offers a handy instruction sheet to distribute to students to guide them in the process of joining your Seesaw classroom. That instruction sheet is available as a Google Document. If you want to edit it to better meet your needs and or share with your students to save in their Google Drive accounts, you will need to first save a copy of it in your Google Drive account. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to make a copy of a public Google Drive file.

Create QR Codes for Any Item in a Seesaw Digital Portfolio

Seesaw is a fantastic tool for creating digital portfolios and blogs with your students. With the Seesaw mobile apps and web app students can upload digital artifacts as well as save pictures of physical work they've done. Once uploaded to their digital portfolios students can annotate items with text, drawings, and voice comments.

Portfolios that students create in Seesaw can be shared with teachers, peers, and parents. Recently, Seesaw added a new option for sharing portfolio artifacts. Students can now share individual portfolio items by printing items or by generating QR codes for individual items. To generate a QR code tap the "..." button in the bottom-right corner of the screen and then select "print" or "get item QR code."

Applications for Education
As the end of the school year approaches you may be preparing your students to share examples of their best work during a spring open house event. (Those were always my favorite nights in elementary school). If your students have been using SeeSaw to create portfolios, the new individual item printing and QR code option could provide a convenient way for students to share their examples of their best work.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Three Things That Get People to Read Your School or Classroom Blog

I run a lot of workshops for teachers and school administrators about using blogs and social media to connect with students and their parents. At the beginning of those workshops I almost always ask some variation of the question, "have you ever started a blog and then stopped using it?" Most of the time many people say yes. When I follow-up on that the reason I'm given more than any other is, "no one was reading it." There three things that anyone can do to get more people to consistently visit a blog.

1. Be helpful! If what you post on your school, library, or classroom blog is helpful to parents and students, they will come back to it consistently. Being helpful means solving problem for parents or giving students a handy tutorial. Being helpful does not mean simply reminding someone of a deadline because while that is mildly helpful, it's not the kind of thing that keeps someone interested in what you're sharing.

2. Be consistent. It is better to publish twice a week on the same day and time than it is to post five times at sporadic intervals. We're creatures of habit. Once we get in the habit of checking a blog on Monday and Thursday, we'll keep doing it. One of my favorite blogs is one that I don't even subscribe to because I know that every Tuesday and Sunday morning there will be a new post. Should you find yourself in need of blog topic ideas, check out these methods for developing blog post topics.

3. Say more! I see a lot of school blogs, particularly blogs created for faculty, that simply post a list of "interesting" links with a note like, "hey guys, check these out." Add a little original content to those links you're sharing. Tell your colleagues why you're sharing and why it should matter to them.

If you're looking to better utilize blogs and social media in your school, consider joining my class Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders. You can even earn three graduate credits for your effort. The next class begins on Thursday. 

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