Monday, April 4, 2022

Thank Your School Librarians! And Ask Them for Help!

While looking at the Kikori SEL calendar I noticed that today is National School Librarian Day! Many of you who read this blog are school librarians, thank you! Thank you for the work that you do in schools to help students (and staff) become better researchers, discover new and exciting books, and generally just being awesome! 

Ask Your School Librarian!

"Ask your school librarian" is one of the things that I say at the start of any presentation that I give or course that I teach about search strategies. Why? Because your school librarian is an expert on search methods. Additionally, your school librarian can give you and your students access to many subscription-based databases that your students would otherwise not know about and or would avoid because they didn't know how to access those databases. 

Go to a Library Conference

For those of you who are not librarians, here's something you should know. I've had the pleasure to speak at many library conferences over the last decade. Without exception they are always fantastic and fun learning experiences. If you get a chance to go to library conference, take it. You will learn something that can apply to any classroom. Personally, I was excited to learn that the CASL-CECA conference is returning this fall (thanks to Emil for that news). 

A Calendar of Social Emotional Learning Activities

Disclosure: Kikori is currently an advertiser on

Last month I wrote a blog post about a new app and website called Kikori that provides hundreds of free social emotional learning activities that you can do with students of all ages. One of the things that they offer to help you incorporate social emotional learning activities into your classroom is a monthly calendar of SEL activities. This month Kikori's free SEL calendar is arranged around the theme of Earth Month. 

Within the larger context of Earth Month on each weekday of Kikori's SEL calendar you will find a themed activity. For example, today's activity is Mindful Monday Scents of Knowledge. Kikori's SEL calendar is hyperlinked so that you can click on any of the days of the month and go directly to the direction for the activity of that day. 

Kikori is available to use in your web browser, as a free iOS app, and as a free Android app. Watch my short video below for any overview of Kikori and the SEL calendar. 

Two Great Features of Formative for Formative Assessment

Formative is a tool that I've been using for the last six or seven years to create and conduct online formative assessment activities. You can use it to create all of the typical activities that you'd expect like multiple choice and short answer questions. But it also has two outstanding features that make it one of my go-to tools. Those features are the ability to create show-your-work questions and the ability to upload images and documents to annotate with questions. 

The show-your-work option in Formative lets you write a question that your students answer by drawing or handwriting on a virtual whiteboard. 

The upload option in Formative lets you upload an image or document and then annotate it with questions that appear when students click on the image or document. 

Both of these outstanding Formative features are demonstrated in this short video

Sunday, April 3, 2022

My Five Favorite Flipgrid Video Features

Over the last few years Flipgrid has added so many great features that it has evolved beyond being just a platform for teachers to ask questions and have students record selfie videos in response. Now you can use it to create video lessons, to create audio-only conversations, and much more. In this new video I demonstrate how to use my five favorite features of Flipgrid's video recording tools (web browser version). 

In the video you will see me demonstrate the following Flipgrid features:

  • Uploading and sharing videos made outside of Flipgrid.
  • Creating whiteboard videos with split screens.
  • Blur backgrounds and use virtual backgrounds. 
  • Enable the microphone-only option. 
  • Use the picture-in-picture feature. 

Bonus Feature!

What's Onomatopoeia Mean? - Another Question from My Daughters

Every night my daughters (ages 4 and 5) ask us all kinds of interesting questions. Some of them are about things that I haven't thought about in a long time. Some of them aren't easy to answer in a way that they can understand. And some of them are a bit of both. That was case one night last week when my five-year-old asked, "what's onomatopoeia mean?" I did my best to explain that it is a word like "moo" that is created from the sound that it makes. 

After dinner and my somewhat unsuccessful explanation of onomatopoeia, I turned to YouTube to try to find a video that might help my daughters better understand what onomatopoeia is. That's where I found this cute and short music video about onomatopoeia. I'll warn you, the song is kind of catchy (if you're a five-year-old). 

On a related note, Next Vista for Learning hosts a great video explanation of onomatopoeia. The video was produced by a high school student for one of Next Vista's many student video creation contests.