Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Three Thanksgiving Lessons You Can Do in the Next Week

Thanksgiving is just over a week away here in the U.S. Should you find yourself looking for some Thanksgiving-themed lessons to do, consider giving one of the following options a try.

Create a Thanksgiving Story Map
Where Does Your Thanksgiving Dinner Come From? is an interactive storymap that displays where eight popular Thanksgiving foods are grown and harvested in the United States. Students can create their own storymaps about Thanksgiving. An easy way to do it is to use StoryMap JS. In the following video I demonstrate how to create a storymap with StoryMap JS.

Create a Thanksgiving Traditions Flipgrid, Wakelet, or Padlet
Flipgrid makes it easy to have students record and share quick video responses to a teacher's prompts. Create a Flipgrid and ask your students to share their favorite Thanksgiving traditions. If you work quickly, you could use Flipgrid's Flipgrid Pals tool to find other classrooms to connect with to share stories of Thanksgiving traditions. Both Wakelet and Padlet will let you create a digital sticky note board to which students can add notes about their favorite Thanksgiving traditions. Their notes can include pictures, text, and videos.

Contribute to the 2019 Great Thanksgiving Listen
For the fifth year in a row StoryCorps is hosting The Great Thanksgiving Listen. This annual event is an effort to get families to talk and record their stories around the Thanksgiving table. The project was originally developed to get high school students to record the stories of their parents, grandparents, and other older family members. It has expanded over the years to be open to anyone who wants to participate. Students can their stories to a national collection or keep them private for just their families to enjoy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Now You Can Reuse Google Classroom Rubrics

A few months ago Google started rolling-out a rubrics tool for some Google Classroom users. To get access to the rubrics tool your domain has to be enrolled in the Google Classroom Beta Program. I was fortunate to get access to the beta a couple of months ago to test Google Classroom rubrics. At that time it didn't offer the option to reuse rubrics so you had to create a new rubric for every assignment that you gave. Fortunately, that is changing as Google has announced that those who have access to Google Classroom rubrics can now reuse rubrics.

Here's my video on how to create rubrics to use in Google Classroom.

Create a Sorting Game With a Free ClassTools Template

In last week's episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast I answered a question about tools for creating sorting games. The Dust Bin game template from ClassTools was one of the tools that I suggested using for creating a sorting game. The template lets you create a review game in which students sort answer choices into four categories. It's a template that is easy to follow to quickly make a review game for your students to play. In the following video I demonstrate how to use the Dust Bin game template from ClassTools.

7 Great Places to Make and Find Story Starters

For many people the hardest of starting a writing assignment is choosing thinking of things to write about. This is particularly true when it comes to starting creative writing assignments. Fortunately, there are many good tools and websites that teachers can use to generate writing prompts. Likewise, there are lots of good websites that offer creative writing prompts for students. Here are some of my favorite tools for creating story starters and favorite sites for finding story starters.

500 Prompts on The Most Dangerous Writing App
The Most Dangerous Writing App is a website that provides a blank canvas to write on for a minimum time of your choosing. The catch is that if you stop writing before the time is up, you lose your work. 500 writing prompts are provided for those who need a little inspiration to get started. In the following video I demonstrate how to use The Most Dangerous Writing App
. Update: November 2021, this tool is no longer available. 

Create Story Starters in Google Sheets
Flippity offers a few templates that can be used to create random story starters. One of those is a mix & match template that can be used to combine words or phrases from up to ten categories. Click the shuffle button in the mix & match template to generate a story starter. This video provides a demonstration of how that template works.

Flippity also offers a random name picker Google Sheets template. While it was designed to randomly select a student's name from a list, you could list story prompts instead of names in the sheet and have it display a random story prompt every time the picker is shuffled. Here's a video about how it works.

Flippity MadLibs is another Google Sheets template that can be used to create story prompts. As the name implies, it can be used to create MadLibs-style fill-in-the-blank stories. Watch the following video to see how it works.

Emojis as Writing Prompts
Update November 2020: This tool is no longer available. 
Emoji Prompts uses emojis as writing prompts. To generate a prompt just go to the Emoji Prompts site and click the blue "and then" button to add emojis to the screen. Students can write stories inspired by the combinations of emojis that are displayed.

Writing Sparks
Writing Sparks offers timed writing prompts to share with your elementary school students. Students can respond to the prompts by writing on paper, in a word processing document like MS Word, or by writing on the Writing Sparks website. The Writing Sparks website provides students with templates to complete as they respond to each writing prompt. In the video that is embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to use the free Writing Sparks service.

Scholastic Story Starters
Scholastic Story Starters is a great tool that students will enjoy using to create short, creative fiction stories. Scholastic Story Starters offers four story themes; fantasy, adventure, sci-fi, and scrambler. To create a story on Story Starters a students picks a theme, enter his or her name, chooses his or her grade, and spins the big wheels of prompts. The student can spin the wheels until he or she finds a prompt he or she likes. After the prompt is selected the student can write his or her story using the letter, postcard, notebook, or newspaper format provided by Scholastic Story Starters. When the story is finished it can be printed.

Microsoft Forms Now Supports File Collection

Microsoft Forms offers a good way for teachers to create online quizzes and surveys. Over the last couple of years Microsoft has steadily added more and more features to it. File collection is the latest feature to be added to Microsoft Forms.

File collection in Microsoft Forms lets you create questions that students or parents respond to by uploading a file. Microsoft Forms supports the collection of audio, video, image, PPT, Excel, PDF, and Word files. You can specify the file type that you will accept as a response. You can also specify a maximum file size that you will accept through your form. I learned about this new feature through a Tweet from Mike Tholfsen. His Tweet including the demo video that is embedded below.

File upload is a new feature and is being rolled-out to Microsoft Forms users over the next few weeks.

Applications for Education
The file upload option could be a great way to collect samples of your students' work in one place. This could be a great way to have students turn-in things like spoken responses to questions. Have them record with a simple tool like Vocaroo then upload their audio recordings to your Microsoft Form.