Wednesday, August 17, 2022

An Old Story About Digital Badges and Why Kids Like Them

In the last two weeks since I published a video about creating a badge tracker in Google Sheets, I've told the following story from May of 2015 three times to people who have asked for my opinion about digital badges and whether or not they're worthwhile. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Rhythm Fit - New Lesson Plans from OPEN Phys Ed

Last spring I highlighted OPEN Phys Ed's National Field Day activities and lesson plans. For the new school year OPEN has published a new collection of lesson plans, activities, and videos for K-8 students. The new collection is called Rhythm Fit. You can access all of the Rhythm Fit resources right now with a free OPEN Phys Ed account. 

Rhythm Fit is a series of physical fitness activities set to music created by Hip Hop Public Health. Don't let that description make you think that Rhythm Fit is just a set of dance activities. As you can see by watching this short video from the Rhythm Fit collection, the activities incorporate equipment commonly found in school gyms. The Rhythm Fit collection includes lesson plans (PDF and Word versions available), activity cards that you can distribute, assessments, and demonstration videos. 



Applications for Education
One of the things that I really appreciate OPEN Phys Ed in general and the Rhythm Fit collection in particular is that kids don't have be natural athletes in order to be successful as they would in traditional physical education activities. Furthermore, OPEN provides suggestions for UDL adaptations to help teachers include all kids in physical education.

Free Email Etiquette Posters

In this week's Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I shared a bunch of resources for teaching about digital citizenship. In that newsletter I included a link to two posters about email etiquette that I created last fall. I also mentioned that Canva is running a free poster printing promotion later this month. 

You can get PDFs of my email etiquette posters for free right here. Once you've downloaded the PDFs you can then import them into your Canva for Education account. Then on August 26th you can request professional printing of the posters from your Canva for Education account. Watch my short video below to learn how to download my email etiquette posters and import them into your Canva account. 



Disclaimer: I do not have any current affiliation with Canva. Read all of the fine print on Canva's offer to find out if you meet the eligibility requirements for their free poster printing offer.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Book Creator Now Offers Audio, Video, and Text Commenting

Last week Book Creator introduced a great new feature just in time for the start of the new school year. That feature is the option to add video, audio, text, and emoji comments to students' books. The new feature is still in beta, but you can try it right now. You can add comments to any page within books you've created or books that your students have created in your class library. 

Watch my short video that is embedded below to see how easy it is to use the new commenting feature in Book Creator. 



Applications for Education
The new commenting feature in Book Creator should make it easier than ever to give students feedback on their work in the way that works best for you and for them. It could also be a great tool for student to use for peer-editing.

Learn more about Book Creator in the following blog posts:

Kikori Offers Free Morning Meeting Planners and SEL Lessons for All Ages!

Disclosure: Kikori is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

Kikori is an app and website that I first reviewed back in March shortly after its initial public launch. Since then it has become a popular resource for teachers looking for social emotional learning (SEL) lessons and activities for students of all ages.The free monthly SEL activity calendars, like this one for August, is one of the things that has made Kikori popular.

Building on the popularity of their monthly SEL calendars, Kikori is offering free morning meeting and advisory meeting planners for the start of the new school year. The Morning Meeting planner is designed for use in elementary school classrooms. The Advisory Meeting planner was created for middle school and high school use. Both planners are aligned to CASEL Social Emotional Learning Standards, 21st Century Skills and Sustainable Development Skills. 

Sign-up for a free Kikori account and you’ll have access to both Kikori planners in the mobile and desktop versions of the Kikori app. The planners will appear in your account once you've created a free Kikori account. If you already have a Kikori account, you should be able to see the planners now. 

How to use Kikori’s Morning Meeting and Advisory planners.
The Morning Meeting and Advisory Meeting planners use the same format with slight differences in the recommended activities between the two. The format is to list a National “X” Day like National Relaxation Day and theme for the day like Mindful Monday or Wellness Wednesday. The planner then lists SEL activities that you can do with your students. The activities for this month are:
  • Greeting activity
  • Sharing or Acknowledging Activity
  • Special Day Activity (i.e. National Never Give Up Day!)
  • Morning Message or Announcement
  • Themed Activity!
Finding the details for those activities is easy because they are all listed and linked under “August SEL Calendar” in the Kikori app. See the screenshot below for an overview of the Morning Meeting Planner for this week.
In the Kikori app you can find details for all of the activities listed in the Morning Meeting and Advisory Meeting planners. When you click on an activity’s title in the app you will find details about the purpose of the activity, how to prepare for the activity, a list of materials you might need (if applicable), and suggestions for variations on the activity. My screenshot below shows part of the details page for the Neighbors Greeting activity on today’s Morning Meeting planner.
Why I Like Kikori's Advisory Meeting Planner
There are some things that I feel like I’m good at in the classroom. However, running advisory meetings has always been a challenge for me unless I had a plan going into the meetings (I attribute that to my penchant for going off on tangents). Kikori’s new Advisory Meeting planner is perfect for people like me who need a plan and focus for meetings that aren’t a part of a traditional subject area curriculum. 
How to Access and Use Kikori
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.



More Planners for September!
In September all teachers who download Kikori's August Planners will receive a unique September Morning Meeting or Advisory Planner for PK-K, grades 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, middle school and high school. So if school isn’t in session for you right now, download the August planner anyway so that you can get the September planners.

Discounts for Upgrades
Kikori operates on a freemium model. Everything that I’ve mentioned in this blog post is available to you for free. If you want to access everything that Kikori offers, you can upgrade to a premium account. Use the code BACK2SCHOOL10 for 10% off until Sept. 30th.