Friday, June 11, 2021

Ziplet - A Great Way to Gather Feedback from Students

This morning I saw an interesting Tweet from a company called Ziplet. The Tweet is what prompted me to write this blog post. Ziplet's Tweet this morning was an interesting exit ticket prompt. Here's the prompt:

"Imagine a classmate is absent from class today. How would you explain the lesson to him/her in 25 words or less?"

Ziplet is an online tool that lets you create an online classroom to post questions for your students to respond to with emojis, with words, or by selecting an answer choice. You can let your students respond anonymously or require them to identify themselves. Those features alone don't make Ziplet different from lots of similar services. What Ziplet offers that is somewhat unique is the option to respond directly to individual students even when they are responding to a group survey. The purpose of that feature is to make it easy to ask follow-up questions or to give encouragement to students based on their responses to a question posed to the whole group.

Applications for Education
Ziplet fits in a gap between tools like Kahoot and Google Classroom. For that reason it could be a good tool for engaging students in discussions about assignments, course topics, or the general feeling of the class. Ziplet does offer a Google Classroom integration as well as an Office 365 integration. Students can respond to Ziplet prompts in the web browser on their computers or by using the free Ziplet mobile apps. 

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. 

More Virtual Background Options in Google Meet

Last fall Google added options for blurring your background in Google Meet and using your own pictures as backgrounds in Google Meet. This week another background option was added to Google Meet. 

You can now use videos as virtual backgrounds in Google Meet. Right now the options are limited to just videos provided by Google. Hopefully, more options including uploading your own videos will be added in the future. The current video background options provided by Google are "classroom," "party," and "forest."

Applications for Education
This update isn't going to change the way that any of us use Google Meet for online instruction. That said, it is nice to have an option to break-up the routine of Google Meet meetings with a fun background choice. In the future, if Google allows us to upload our own videos to use as backgrounds we could us those videos in a virtual green screen environment in which the video plays behind us while we talk about what's displayed. I'm picturing that working much like the animated green screen backgrounds used by television meteorologists on morning news shows.

For those who haven't tried virtual backgrounds or blurred backgrounds in Google Meet, in the video below I demonstrate how to use both of those features.


This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image taken by Richard Byrne at Norway Lake in Norway, Maine. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Five Sources of Summer Math Activities for Elementary School Students

If you're like me and you still have another week or two until summer break, you might be looking for some resources to share with students and their parents to help prevent summer slide. In fact, a few readers emailed me this week looking for suggestions for math activities to share with parents of elementary school students. Here are five good places to find summer math activities for elementary school students.

MathGames.com
Don't let the name fool you, MathGames.com offers more than just a series of math practice games. You can find hundreds of worksheets to print for free on MathGames.com. Those are organized according to grade level.

There are plenty of games for students to play on the site too. You can find those by clicking on the "games" header in the site. If you do that, scroll down the page a few times to find the MathGames.com digital textbook which organizes the games according to topic.


CK-12 Elementary Math Resources
CK-12 offers a good collection of resources for elementary school math practice. The collection is organized by grade level (grades 1 through 5) and skill set. The resources include a mix of videos and online practice exercises. Students can review a video and then attempt the practice activities.

MathQuiz.io
MathQuiz.io is a math game developed by a student. It's a relatively simple site that presents you with a series of math problems to solve in your head then enter an answer. The problems are presented in sets of ten consecutive questions. You can play in an "easy" mode which is mostly simple addition, subtraction, and multiplication or you can plan in the "medium" mode which incorporates problems with fractions, division, and negative numbers. 

A Maths Dictionary for Kids
Jenny Eather's A Maths Dictionary for Kids has been one of my go-to math resources for many years. It students provides simple and clear definitions of math terms. Each definition includes a small diagram or simple activity to illustrate the term's definition.

A Maths Dictionary for Kids has more than 270 free worksheets arranged according to topic. All of the worksheets can be found here.

ABCya
ABCya offers hundreds of educational games for K-8 students. The site is arranged according to grade level and Common Core standard. The trouble with that arrangement is that you can't search for a skill without knowing the corresponding Common Core standard. If you use keyword search on the site, it will yield results to everything on the site, not just the games.

Free Summer Reading Packets from ReadWorks

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere. If you find yourself looking for some summer reading that you can give to elementary and middle school students, ReadWorks has you covered. 

Once again this summer ReadWorks is offering free summer reading packets that you can send home with your students. The free summer reading packets are available with fiction and nonfiction articles for students entering first grade through high school. Click on either the fiction or nonfiction packet for a grade and it will open a PDF that you can print and distribute to your students. There is an option to download a packet with reading comprehension questions for each grade level.

To preview, download, and print the ReadWorks summer reading packets you will need to create a free ReadWorks account.


If this is your first time reading about ReadWorks, there is much more to it than just PDF packets. ReadWorks offers a complete online environment for finding grade-level appropriate fiction and nonfiction assignments then distributing those to your students. Here's a video overview of how ReadWorks works.

Four Important Padlet Updates to Note

For more than a decade I've been using Padlet to facilitate online brainstorming sessions, create KWL charts, to make multimedia timelines, and to host many more online activities for more my students. Just like any well-loved tool, Padlet has gone through some changes over the year. In the last week or so Padlet has announced some upcoming changes that should be noted before the next school year begins. 

Scanned Uploads
Now when you upload files to include in Padlet notes, the files will be scanned for viruses before they are actually added to the note and visible on the wall. This process just takes a second so it shouldn't impact your user experience other than a momentary delay when adding a note. Think of it like the same process as when you attach a file to an email in Gmail or Outlook.



More Languages
Padlet recently added support for four more languages. Those are Traditional Chinese, Latvian, Estonian, and Croation. This brings the total of supported languages to 42.

Map Localization
Maps will now display the languages and borders of countries as they appear in your local area.

The End of Backchannel Format
The backchannel template that Padlet has offered for a few years is going to be sunsetted at the end of June. While I liked, apparently it wasn't popular enough for Padlet to keep supporting it.



To learn more about Padlet and how it can be used in your classroom, please take a look at this playlist of tutorial videos.