Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Kahoot Launched a Paid Plan - What That Means for You

Kahoot launched a paid service yesterday. You might have seen some Tweets or Facebook posts about it and gotten concerned as did the folks who emailed me about it yesterday. The paid plan isn't going to have a direct impact on your teacher account.

The new Kahoot Plus plan is designed for corporate users who want to have their own branding on a game, who need a secured peer-to-peer sharing environment, and need advanced reporting options designed for business environments. In other words, not things that teachers generally request.

In the announcement that Kahoot made yesterday, the company reiterated its commitment to keeping the platform free and open to teachers and students. The announcement made it seem that the company hopes that Kahoot Plus accounts purchased by businesses will help with the goal of keeping Kahoot free for schools.

And in case you missed the announcement in September, Kahoot's mobile app now supports distributing games for students to play at home. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Acquainted - Conversational Polling

Acquainted is a free tool for conducting online polls. Unlike other online polling tools, Acquainted is a conversational polling tool. What that means is that people who take your poll can get an instant response from your regarding their selections of poll options. Your responses are written into Acquainted and programmed to appear to poll respondents as they make answer choices. See how it works by taking my one question poll that appears here.

Applications for Education
Acquainted was designed for polling visitors to a website and would make a great addition to a classroom website. It could be used as a mini tutoring service when added to your classroom website. You could build a series of questions for your students to respond to and get feedback that is programmed by you. You could build responses that provide explanations of why an answer is correct or incorrect. Your responses might even include a link to further explanations.

Lesson Plans for SMART Goal Setting

Storyboard That is a great tool that can be used for creating cartoons, flowcharts, timelines, and wireframes in addition to typical storyboards. Storyboard That also offers a huge library of lesson plans on everything from classic literature to history to cyber safety. One of the newest lesson plans added to the Storyboard That library is about helping students set and reach SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Action, Realistic, Time.

The SMART goals lesson plans are designed for use in middle school settings. Each of the five lesson plans focuses on a different aspect of the goal setting and goal reaching processes. A significant component of any goal setting process is being able to identify and visualize the steps needed to reach a goal. That's where Storyboard That shines as it helps students create a clear picture of the steps they need to take in order to reach their goals.

Applications for Education
As we move into the time of the year when many schools have their first rounds of parent-teacher or parent-teacher-student conferences, the SMART goals lesson plans could be useful in helping your students identify what they want to improve upon after the first conference.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on

Vocabulary Lists, Jazz, Grateful Dead, Conversations, and Search

On March 29, 1990 Branford Marsalis sat in with the Grateful Dead. It was an unlikely pairing. It produced amazing music! Here's a sample to enjoy. I'm sharing this music trivia because of a conversation that I saw on Facebook this week. The gist of it was that a friend who teaches high school language arts was bemoaning the fact that many of her junior and senior year students didn't have vocabularies that were large enough to fully understand some of her assessment questions. My friend's complaint is not unique. In fact, a handful of other friends weighed into the conversation with comments like, "I've experienced the same."

The lack of vocabulary doesn't just hold students back in a classroom conversation or on an assessment. It holds them back when they conduct research online. Without a strong vocabulary students will struggle to use alternate search terms and develop alternate search phrases. That's why I continue to believe and advocate for vocabulary lessons.

So back to that Grateful Dead and Branford Marsalis show in 1990...if Marsalis and the members of the Dead didn't have a common understanding of the basic vocabulary of music they wouldn't have been able to seamlessly blend their styles together to make a remarkable performance. Likewise, if our students don't develop a vocabulary that enables them to fully participate in conversations and in research activities.

These are vocabulary resources that you might find useful:
ABCD Wordie

Monday, October 2, 2017

Built to Last - GeoGebra

GeoGebra is the fifth entry into my Built to Last series. This is a series of blog posts celebrating the free resources that have been available to teachers and students over the ten years that I have been publishing Free Technology for Teachers.

When I started writing Free Technology for Teachers GeoGebra was available to use as free software on your Windows or Mac computer. Over the years versions of GeoGebra were developed to work on iPads, Android tablets, and eventually on Chromebooks. One of the marks of a program that is built to last is that it is flexible enough to adapt and change to the tastes of the ed tech community.

I am not a math teacher and have never taught math beyond basic addition and subtraction of fractions therefore I am not an expert on GeoGebra's capabilities. That said, over the years I have had friends and colleagues who do teach mathematics rave about the capabilities of GeoGebra for modeling functions and graphing equations.

GeoGebra has a huge community of users who share ideas and tutorials for using GeoGebra in a wide variety of settings. You can join that community here.

The GeoGebra YouTube channel is probably the best place to find tutorials to help you get started using GeoGebra on your laptop, tablet, or Chromebook.