Saturday, February 11, 2017

Videos With Little (and Not So Little) Kiddos

This is a guest post from Rushton Hurley, the founder of Next Vista for Learning and the author of Making Your School Something Special.

For many of us, student videos call to mind secondary, or perhaps upper elementary students putting together some creative thought about their learning.

Art teacher Tricia Fuglestad worked with her kindergartners to come up with messages about how to be kind. The result is a nice example of giving young students an understanding of their ability to share their voice, and perhaps even a sense of the responsibility that comes from that ability.

How I Can Be Kind

An interesting application of a video like this one is to have older students explain how the video would be different if they were to make it. What have they learned that would recognize a greater complexity in the world than kindergarten students tend to understand?

For older elementary students or middle schoolers, this could be about understanding what may be affecting the person to whom one is being kind. In high school classes, it could serve as a discussion about political messages within video and stories of kindness.

What might you do with this video or one like it?

Dotstorming Adds New Features and Limits Free Plan

Dotstorming is a good tool for gathering ideas from a group and then having the group members vote on those ideas. I have introduced Dotstorming to hundreds of teachers in workshops over the last two years. As recently as earlier this week I had teachers commenting on how much they liked using Dotstorming with their students. Yesterday, Dotstorming changed to a freemium service. Now you can only have five boards (collections of ideas) in a free account before you either need to delete a board or upgrade to a paid plan at a cost of $5/month.

In the same email announcing the fee-based plan, Dotstorming highlighted the relatively new options to download the contents of your boards as spreadsheets and the option to display names on your boards.

If you're interested in seeing how Dotstorming works, watch my video embedded below.

There are other services that can be used in a manner similar to Dotstorming. Padlet is one that comes to mind immediately. I have a set of Padlet tutorials embedded below.

Friday, February 10, 2017

5 Great Google Sheets Add-ons for Teachers

Google Sheets Add-ons make it possible for those of us who would otherwise struggle with spreadsheet scripting to get a lot of utility out of Google Sheets. From things like sending personalized emails to a list of students to creating rubrics to tracking attendance, the following five Google Sheets Add-ons can streamline processes for almost every teacher.

Flubaroo is a popular Google Sheets Add-on that enables me to grade all at once all of my students' responses to a quiz created in Google Forms. The autograde option in Flubaroo allows you to have students automatically receive their scores after submitting their responses to a quiz you created in Google Forms. The autograde feature will send students an email with their scores and the answer key (you can exclude the answer key). With autograding enabled students do not have to wait for you to run the grading process or wait for you to send emails. I have a complete set of Flubaroo tutorial videos embedded below.

Online Rubric is a Google Spreadsheets Add-on that enables to you create rubrics, enter scores, and email scores to students all from one place. Online Rubric provides very clear instructions for each step of the processes of creating a roster sheet, creating a rubric, and emailing grades to students. The video below provides a demonstration of how to use the Online Rubric Add-on.

Add Reminders is a Google Sheets Add-on that will set-up your spreadsheet so that you simply enter reminder messages and email addresses then specify a date on which you want your reminders sent. The Add Reminders Add-on allows you to send the same reminder to everyone in your email list or you can send individualized reminders to everyone in your email list. Watch the video below to learn how to use the Add Reminders Add-on.

Attendance Sorter is a Google Sheets Add-on that will take your messy attendance data collected through Google Forms and make it easy to sort in meaningful ways. The video provides a short overview of what Attendance Sorter can do for you.

Flippity provides teachers with handy Google Sheets templates for creating things like quiz games, audio flashcards, and progress trackers. Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on that makes all of their templates available with just a couple of clicks in any of your Google Sheets. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to install and use Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on.

My Five Most Frequently Recommended Google Forms Add-ons

I receive a lot of emails from readers who have questions about Google Forms and G Suite in general. Many of those questions are answered with a suggested Google Form Add-on. The right Add-on can go a long way toward streamlining your process for completing common classroom tasks like keeping track of supplies or organizing classroom volunteers. Here are the five Google Forms Add-ons I refer people to more than any others.

CheckItOut is a great little Google Forms Add-on that allows you to create a simple check-out/ check-in system. With CheckItOut enabled in Google Forms you simply title the set of items that people will be checking out (iPads for example) then choose if you want people to choose from check boxes, a list, or multiple choice question. Watch the video below to see how the CheckItOut Add-on works.

g(Math) is a Google Forms Add-on that allows you to insert graphs and mathematical expressions into your Google Forms. To insert graphs and equations into your Form select g(Math) from your Add-ons menu and follow the directions that pop-up on the right side of the screen.

Choice Eliminator removes response choices from your Google Form as they are used up. This can be handy when you are having people complete a Google Form in order to select meeting times with you or you're having them complete a form to indicate what they are sending into school for a class party. To use Choice Eliminator start by creating your Google Form as you normally would. Then enable Choice Eliminator on your Form. Once Choice Eliminator is enabled you can select the question or questions that you want to have choices removed from as they are used.

Email Notifications for Forms lets me receive not only a notification in my email when someone completes one of my Forms, it also lets me see their complete responses in my email. In the video below I demonstrate how it works.

FormLimiter allows you to set a time for a form to automatically stop accepting responses. You can also use FormLimiter to set a limit on number of responses a form will accept. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to enable and set limits on Google Forms.

Searching and Sharing Are Thinking Skills

Searching for information in many ways is easier today than ever before. You can search by typing a query into a search engine, you can speak to search, and you can use the camera on your smart phone to search by image. In a new city and looking for a good place to eat? Just turn on your phone's location data and Google will give you all kinds of recommendations.

But while we have more tools to locate information than ever before, we don't necessarily find better information or even accurate information through all of those tools. That's why whenever I teach search strategies, the first thing that I talk about is the thought processes needed in order to form a good search strategy. For me and my students this always begins with creating a list of the things we know to be facts about the topic we'er researching. That way, we can quickly check the information we find against that which has already been established as fact.

Similarly, in a time in which we're increasingly aware of fake news being spread through social media, we should be teaching students to look at social media news stories with a critical eye. Does the story seem to good to be true? (Why would an airline give away $500 to the first 1000 people to like something on Facebook? Answer, they're not). Do the "facts" in a headline seem incongruent with what you know to be facts? Did you actually read the story? These are all things that we should be asking before sharing.

I'll be sharing more thoughts on this topic in Search Strategies Students Need to Know