Thursday, December 8, 2016

Use Stories to Help Students See Possibilities for Helping Others

This is a guest post from Rushton Hurley. Rushton is the founder of Next Vista for Learning and an all-around great guy.

Some of your students may doubt their hopes can make a difference for themselves and for others. This is the time of year, though, to use stories to help them see their possibilities.


After watching this video, challenge your students to make a commitment to how they will make a difference for someone else in the coming weeks. Even if it is something small, help them remember that they can act on what they imagine, and that others can benefit.

The commitment may be to volunteer, or even to tell the story of others who are working to improve their communities. A social media campaign, a good video, or a little time visiting a shut-in one afternoon after school could make a major difference.

'Tis the season!

See other videos of helping others at the Seeing Service collection at NextVista.org.

Two Ways to Grade Short Answer Questions in Google Forms

Last night I received an email from a reader who wanted me to clarify that is possible to grade short answer questions in the default "quizzes" mode. When you are selecting quiz settings in Google Forms you will need to choose the option for releasing grades "later, after manual review." Then you will need to manually score your students' responses to your short answer questions.

Another way to accept and score fill-in-the-blank and short answer questions in Google Forms is to use the Google Sheets Add-on called Flubaroo for scoring responses. Flubaroo will let you have fill-in-the-blank responses automatically scored. When you create an answer key in Flubaroo you can specify one or more correct responses for each question. If you enable the automatic grading option in Flubaroo, students can receive their grades within seconds of submitting their final answers.

Join my January 4th webinar Google Forms for Beginners to learn more about how to create and grade assessments in Google Forms. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Apply for a National Geographic Teaching Adventure

The Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program is an annual program administered by National Geographic. This unique professional development program, open to teachers in the U.S. and Canada takes teachers on field work expeditions to interesting places all over the world. Some of the places teachers could go through the program include Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and Norway.



Applications are due by December 31st. You can get read a set of program FAQs here and see a sample application here. The program is limited and competitive so click here to apply today.

How to Use Canva to Create Greeting Cards

Canva is a free graphic creation tool that I use to create a lot of the graphics that appear in my blog posts and Facebook posts. Canva makes it easy for anyone to create great looking graphics in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Canva offers free templates for creating holiday greetings. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Canva to create greeting cards.


Canva works in your web browser. You can also use their free iPad app to create your holiday card designs.

Applications for Education
If you're thinking about giving an assignment in which your students write letters to family members for the holidays, consider adding a splash of color by using Canva's holiday design templates.

Three Ways to Make Your Blog Posts More Helpful

One of the central purposes of this blog and thousands of others on the web is to help others. Blogs that help people solve problems get a lot of return visitors. Apply that concept to your classroom, library, or school blog the next time you craft a blog post for it. If your post helps a student, a parent, or a colleague solve a problem, he or she is more likely to return to the blog in the future. Here are three things that you can do to make your blog more helpful to others.

1. Include a video. 
This could be a screencast video that you create or it could be an informative video that you found on the web. Screencast videos are particularly helpful when you're trying to show someone the steps to solving a problem.

2. Include hand-outs.
If you find that your blog post is going much past 600 words, consider making it available as a PDF that folks can download to read as a printed copy. Similarly, if you're including slides in your blog post, consider letting people download them to print and write notes on.

3. Include a chart.
This could be a pro-con chart, a flow chart, or a chart comparing similar iPad apps. Over the years I've found that people love having charts, especially ones they can download, to help them make decisions.

More ideas about improving your blog will be shared in my upcoming webinar, Winning Blog Strategies. I hope that you'll join me for it next Wednesday.