Monday, January 30, 2017

Quick Key + Google Classroom = Great Way to Conduct Formative Assessments

Quick Key is an excellent platform for creating and conducting formative assessments. I often include Quick Key in my presentations about formative assessment because it is a tool that works equally well in classrooms that are 1:1 and in classrooms that are not 1:1. This is possible because Quick Key allows you to create formative assessments that you can distribute electronically as well as on paper.

If you use Quick Key to distribute your assessments electronically, Quick Key will score your students' responses automatically. One of the latest features of Quick Key is an integration with Google Classroom. This integration lets you use your Google Classroom rosters to distribute and collect assessments.

If you distribute your assessments on paper, you can use the Quick Key mobile app to quickly scan your students' answer sheets and receive the scores. Watch the following teacher-produced video to learn how easy it is to use Quick Key to score formative assessments.

Applications for Education
Conducting formative assessments on a regular basis is one of many ways to understand what your students know and don't know. That information can help you design your next lessons to meet the needs of your students. Or as Tyler Welch from Sumner Schools in Tennessee wrote, "Quick Key allows me to give ten standards-aligned questions at the start of each block of instruction. It takes 5 minutes for the students to complete and less than two minutes for me to grade. I am able to tool my instruction towards the specific needs of my students much more quickly.”

Disclosure: Quick Key is an advertiser on

Make Your Own Virtual Reality Headset

On Saturday afternoon I saw Hall Davidson give the closing keynote for the Fort Worth ISD Technology Conference. In his presentation he spoke extensively about the possibilities for use of virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence in the classroom. One of the things that he mentioned was that you don't need to spend a lot of money in order to use virtual reality in your classroom. In fact, most schools already have the materials necessary to create virtual reality viewers. With some cardboard, glue, and plastic bottles you could build enough virtual reality viewers for a classroom.

The Google Cardboard website has templates that you can print and follow to build your own virtual reality viewers (scroll past the items listed for sale). Instructables also offers a template and directions for making your own VR viewers. And for those who would like to see the process before embarking on the project, the following video covers the process from start to finish.

Three Reasons to Maintain a Photo Gallery With Your Students

We are all taking so many more pictures today than we did fifteen to twenty years ago. Thanks to cloud storage we can save and share thousands of images from our phones. No one knows this better than our students who will never understand the agonizing waits we used to endure after dropping off rolls of film at the local photo developer. Since our students are already snapping thousands of pictures, let's take advantage of that habit and use it in our classrooms. Here are three reasons to maintain photo galleries with your students.

1. Copyright freedom.
Use a Google Drive, Dropbox, or another cloud service to create a gallery of pictures that your students can access for use in their multimedia projects. Ask your students to submit pictures that align to themes that you designate. For example, you might have a nature theme or pet theme in your gallery that you have students add pictures that match that theme. If you're worried about inappropriate submissions, moderate submissions by first having students upload to a folder that only accepts files then move the pictures to a publicly viewable folder. DropItToMe is a great tool for doing that. Learn how to use DropItToMe by watching this video.

2. Writing prompts.
Anyone who has ever taught a language arts class will tell you that one of perennial challenges is helping students who say, "I don't have anything to write about" when you give them a creative writing assignment. Having an image gallery for those students to scroll through can be of assistance in those situations. Have your students scroll through one of the thematic galleries you've created and choose a picture or two to craft a story about.

3. Concept illustrations.
Math and science is all around us. Have your students take pictures that they think illustrate or are representative of the concepts they are learning about in your math or science lessons. By putting those pictures into a classroom gallery you're letting all of the students learn from and with each other.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Three Options for Adding Q&A to Your Slide Presentations

Building questions into your slides is a great way to get your audience to think about your message and to interact with your message. You can do this by putting a question on your slide and then directing people to a TodaysMeet room or another similar chat service. The problem with that method is that you then have to exit the slides to show a browser window when you want your audience to see the questions and answers on the screen in front of them. That's when using a presentation tool that lets you show questions and answers without using a separate program is convenient for you and your audience. The following three tools will let your audience interact with your slides.

A Q&A feature was added to Google Slides in May of last year. The Q&A feature lets your audience submit questions to you. They can all of the questions submitted and vote for the ones they want you to answer. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how this feature works.

Mentimeter lets you add questions to your slides. You can create slides in Mentimeter or import slides from your desktop. You can create poll questions that your audience responds to in a multiple choice format or they can respond by using emojis. Like a lot of audience polling tools, your audience responds to your questions by going to a specific URL then entering a code to access your questions.

Microsoft Office users can take advantage of the OfficeMix plug-in for PowerPoint to add quizzes and polls into their slides. Watch the tutorial below to learn how to use the features of OfficeMix.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Week in Review - The Texas Edition

When it Texas, wear cowboy boots.
Good evening from Fort Worth, Texas where I am relaxing after a great day at the Fort Worth ISD Technology Conference. I had the honor of giving the opening keynote and the privilege to see some other great presenters including Hall Davidson and Maggie Elliott. The conference had a great mix of opportunities for hands-on learning, break-out presentations, and some time for exercise (have you tried Drum Fit? I did today). If you're in the greater Fort Worth area, put this conference on your calendar for next year.

Tomorrow morning I'm leaving the relatively warm weather of Texas to go home to the cold of Maine where I'm already making plans for the summer. Those plans include hosting two Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps. Discounted early registration is now open for both events.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Six Tools for Collaborative Brainstorming - A Comparison Chart
2. Slick Write Helps You Analyze Your Writing
3. The Climate Time Machine
4. This Handy Extension Helps You Get Back on Task
5. Use Google Maps to Tell a Story Within a Story
6. 5 Good Elementary School Activities from the Smithsonian
7. A Great Example of Using Google Maps in Science

Next week my Wednesday Webinar series begins again. The topic of the next webinar is Mind Mapping and Collaborative Brainstorming. Learn more about the series here.

Do you need a workshop or keynote speaker this spring or summer? 
My calendar is filling up, but I still have some dates available. Click here to learn more about workshops and presentations.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Math Playground offers hundreds of math games and tutorial videos. 
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.