Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Choose Your Own Adventure Writing with gSlides

Are your students getting ... distracted... this time of year? Do you need something different to spice up delivery of your stellar course content? Marzano points to student choice as one way to increase engagement in the classroom in his book The Highly Engaged Classroom.1 He goes on to further say creating choices that give students impact on their learning gives you the most bang for your buck. He recommends that choice can be offered in the learning tasks, options for demonstrating learning mastery, and determining goals or behaviors (pp. 14, 101).

One way to practice choice is to leverage the tools in a simple Google Slide to build activities that offer choices through hyperlinks on slides. Generally, slides are linear, one slide after another in a presentation format. Utilizing links to other slides creates a non-linear presentation that gives students practice with choice.

Think of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books... if you want Timmy to explore the cave, go to page 23, if you want him to return home, go to page 47... You can build Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories in Google Slides. Students could utilize a story written earlier in the year and collaborate with partners to embed adventure choices in their own stories. Or, you can give students choice on which concepts to explore first; allowing them to more independently navigate the material.

Students could build their own Slide Presentations with hyperlinks to write alternative endings or change a pivotal event in history. See the How-To Guide for steps to create your own non-linear slide presentation. 

What other ways could you use non-linear slides to give students choice in their work?

1. Marzano, Robert J., Debra Pickering, and Tammy Heflebower. The Highly Engaged Classroom. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research, 2011. Print.

How To Guide: http://www.controlaltachieve.com/2016/01/interactive-slideshow-story.html

Friday, April 7, 2017

Improve Learning with Feedback and Digital Assessments

At a recent conference I attended, Wes Kieschnick, an energetic teacher and motivational speaker said, “Technology is awesome! But, teachers are better.” Whoa! That is so true! Good teachers can become better, more engaging, and more efficient with the right types of technology support.

We know that feedback is important for students. When used correctly, feedback has an effect size of 0.73. That means making more than one year’s progress in a school year. Wow!

One of the most effective forms of feedback is a feedback cue. A teacher can get feedback on student learning and give students immediate feedback is to use technology for formative assessments.

Simply using a digitized formative assessment in and of itself is not going to produce the effect size Hattie explains in his meta-analysis research. But what can get you those results is using a digitized formative assessment that cues the students to their misconceptions and successes immediately by exploring the visual representation of the data the form creates.

Google Forms will automatically create graphs from the questions that you create. Google Forms Quizzes will automatically score the quiz and project the correct answers. What discussions can you have with your students around a graph like the one shown to the left?

There are many products that digitize assessments quickly and easily for teachers. Some are game-based, like Kahoot! and others, like Plickers, only require one web-enabled device which is utilized by the teacher to ‘read’ the unique answer cards students hold up to present their answer.

The quick, on-the-spot feedback on performance, along with the deeper thinking and discussion that can be spurred by digital assessment is not the only benefit. Many of these products also have data available for PLC discussions and teachers to utilize later to inform instruction and prepare students for a unit summative assessment.

For a more in-depth tutorial and information about digitzing feedback, see the LTL 21 Challenge: Digital Assessments. Log in with your district username and password.

For further reading about feedback:

What other resources do you use for feedback? Comment below!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Accessing Canvas for Learn, Teach, Lead 21 Challenges

Learn, Teach, Lead 21 technology integration professional development challenges are available at any time through the Canvas learning management system. There are a few ways to access the challenges. You need to navigate to Canvas via the Staff Portal, the Popular Staff Links page or by typing chipfalls.instructure.com in your browser's address bar. The video below will help you navigate the challenges in Canvas if you need support.

Each challenge includes for parts: Introduction, Tools, Plan and Evidence Submission. Teachers are asked to choose a challenge and explore the Introduction and Tools sections in order to build background knowledge about the challenge and learn about some of the tools available to support the challenge.

Once you are ready, you can submit your plan in the Plan section. Your plan can be very simple as long as it provides enough details that coaches are able to support your needs and understand what you are working on. You can contact Cara (x2587) or Sarah (x2216) at any time in the process for assistance with training, coaching, in-class support or other questions. You can submit a plan at any time, even if you won't be completing the challenge in your classroom right away. You are able (and encouraged) to work with your PLC, team or grade-level partners to complete a challenge, however, each individual teacher must submit his or her plan for support and documentation purposes. Teachers may copy/paste the same plan and/or create a shared Google Document for a plan and submit the same link in Canvas.

After your plan is submitted, but sure to let us know what level and type of support you may need. If you do not need support, continue on with your plan as that unit plays out in your classroom.

If your challenge has a conclusion, you can submit evidence of the challenge once your class has completed the projects and activities associated with it. To do this, go to the Evidence Submission section in Canvas and submit an artifact and/or reflection of the challenge experience. If your challenge is on-going, you may choose the time to submit evidence when it feels like an appropriate point to do so.

Sarah Radcliffe will continue to make rounds at the schools around the district to provide support or training and to answer questions. Many teachers have already begun challenges or submitted plans for their challenges through Canvas. Look for information in your weekly school bulletins from the principal about available when I will be in your building. If there are other times that work for you, please see my Free/Busy calendar and send me and invite (linked below) or reach out via email or phone to connect.

Sarah Radcliffe, Instructional Technology Coach - Free/Busy Calendar

Friday, December 16, 2016

Gone Google Story Builder

The Gone Google Story Builder is an easy way for students to animate their writing by choosing characters and typing story dialogue. Some ideas to utilize this in your classroom:

  • Re-write the dialogue from a recent story to change the outcome or ending
  • A fun way to explain the steps in solving a math problem
  • Explaining a science concept to review for a test (each student could write and submit for different concepts to build a 'library' of the concepts needed to study for the test)
  • Take on the personality/personalities of famous people from history to discuss ideas and feelings around historical events
  • Create dialogue for a mock interview of a famous artist, scientist or inventor; discuss his/her creation or discovery
Here is an example: https://goo.gl/jDl7IB

There is no need to create an account, however, that means that the students must complete the story in one sitting. I would recommend that students write out their script in another Google Doc and copy/paste it into Story Builder when they are ready to render the video. Google Story Builder creates a unique URL to share the video/story. Students can submit these links in a Google Form Dropbox, via email, or in your learning management system.

This is a great way to stretch your use of Google Docs, Sharing and Collaborating. It would fit in to demonstrate part of the evidence for that Learn, Teach, Lead 21 (LTL 21) Challenge.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Google Calendar Reminders Coming to a Calendar Near You


Coming to a Google Calendar Near You

Over the last few years of helping staff dive into Google for EDU tools, I have heard this sentiment over and over; "I wish the Google Task list had date/time reminders." A reminder feature had been added for the device apps, but was still lacking in the web version.

Yearn no more, those wishes have come true. You can now tap a time slot and select "Reminder".   The new reminders are persistent and carry forward on your calendar until you mark them as done. Check out this post from Google for more details and tips for switching from Tasks to Reminders.  Click here for instructions from Google Help.

The Reminder feature will be rolling out to our domain this week. Give it a try.  It works great with Google Keep too.  More info on that coming soon.

If you have questions about using Reminders or Keep, feel free to contact your Tech Coaches, Cara or Sarah.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Breakout EDU - Can you crack the code and open the box?

There is no doubt that gaming is a hobby sweeping the nation. Places like Tactical Escape 101 in Eau Claire have built a business around locking people in a room loaded with the clues and puzzles to solve to earn the key to escape.

Intriguing to adults and children alike, principals from Tactical Escape 101 can be applied to classrooms as well. Breakout EDU sells ready-made kits and games for teachers to use in the classroom. They also post open-source instructions to create your own kit from a few common items you can get from a local store.  There are ready-made games and templates to create your own.

Students work together to find a variety of hidden clues and puzzles. The puzzles need to be solved in order to find another clue or unlock a lock. Students need to communicate and problem-solve together because the clues are interconnected and often depend on one another.

Collaboration, communication and problem-solving skills are essential for students to continue to be successful in school and beyond school. Using collaborative games, like breakouts, can foster these skills in the classroom.

Teachers have also created their own puzzles or adapted the idea. Students must solve math problems or logic puzzles to earn a key; students must demonstrate practice of a skill recently learned in order to earn the combination to a lock. You could even stretch this out over a unit by using one lock for each concept, skill or standard and having students work together to unlock the box across an entire unit! Think of how curious they will be!

If you want to give this a try, contact Cara or Sarah to get started!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016



If you have a SMART board in your classroom or access one during the course of your day, read on. SMART Notebook 15 brought several updated features that you should check out. To find the version of Notebook you are using, choose Help, About SMART Notebook from the menu, then click on the Technical Support tab.

The floating toolbar has been replaced with the new SMART Ink.  I call it the ink bubble. Tapping this new bubble will give you access to most of the tools you were accustomed to on the floating toolbar, except the Screen Shade and Spotlight.  Those are still available with a couple of taps by accessing the SMART Tools menu on the System Tray (Windows). For more detailed instructions, check out the SMART Ink UserGuide.

Some of the toolbar items have new options:

Accessing shapes and polygons
  • Regular polygons are on the toolbar, irregular polygons are on the Tools menu.  
  • You can now divide shapes (circles, rectangles and squares). Right click the shape or choose Divide shape from the command drop down menu. Drag out divided pieces if needed.
  • Show/Hide vertices, interior angles and side lengths.  Find the options on the command drop down or right click menu.

Concept Mapping
  • Tap the puzzle piece on the toolbar
  • Choose concept mapping 
  • Tap + to add a node
  • Double-click inside a node to add details.

  • There is a new Add On that makes it easy to add a YouTube video.
  • Click the Add-On Tab on the side bar to access the YouTube tool as well as SMART Blocks, Lesson Recorder, GeoGebra..
  • From the Insert Menu or the LAB button on the toolbar you can insert an activity from Lesson Activity Builder.  There are sorting, fill in the blank and matching activity templates where you fill in the content and even add game components to make it more fun.
  • Take advantage of mobile devices in your classroom with Shout It Out. With this LAB tool students can use any web enabled device to contribute text or images to your Notebook lesson, great for quickly assessing student progress or enhancing your discussion.

  • In version 15.2 the LAB includes two new activities: Label Reveal and Speedup.

Explore these items on your own, or check out this video reviewing Lesson Activity Builder apps that came with 15.1 and demonstrating the new ones that came with 15.2.  This video highlights a few of the new features in 15.2, including quickly inserting YouTube videos without ads, a fun lesson activity builder and some new themes.  If you would rather read more about these tools, take a look at this quick summary from Teq.com.

As always, if you are a staff member at CFSD, you can contact your Tech Coaches for more information.