Monday, February 29, 2016

Make a Jeopardy Template With Google Slides

I remember the first Jeopardy Power Point that I used with my geography students. They loved it, and I thought it was nothing short of modern wizardry.

Click here for link to make a copy of the Google Slides Jeopardy template.

My life now resides in Googleland where I have more chops these days, so I made a template for Jeopardy games. It's not fancy, but it will facilitate the fundamental flow and could easily be improved. 

Here's what I did.

1. Lay out a few slides.

I started with a title, table, and five topic 1 slides. Later, these topic slides will be copied and pasted to set up the next four topics.


2. Insert a table for topics.

This is the Jeopardy board. It's a 5 column by 6 row table. It contains the topics in columns and the dollar amounts are links to the question and answer slides.


3. Insert a link back to the topic table.

Before you copy the five topic slides and paste them to complete the topic slides, insert a link back to the table to facilitate the flow of the game.



4. Make slides for the the topics.

Use the shift or control key to select all five of the topic 1 slides, and paste them four times. 


5. Find and replace. 

Replace all of the topic with the appropriate numbers.


6. Link the table values to slides.

Link the table values to the slides by selecting the value and inserting a link to the corresponding slide.


7. Test your work.

Notice that the answer is animated. I forgot to mention that step – easy enough, though.



Click here for a copy you can edit.





Friday, February 26, 2016

ZipGrade Secrets Replace Scantron, Satisfies Data Addiction

Semester exams were approaching and a few teachers, who were the wiser, were concerned about the broken Scantron machine. I hadn't used a single bubble sheet for the first two terms, but it was approaching my time to participate in the collection of data via Scantron.


The campus expectation was to review data from the common semester exams to guide discussion about teaching and learning, which is great! The part that troubled me was the upset over a machine that costs a lot of money to fix and doesn't do anything more what a free (or really low-cost) app could provide. Yet, I said nothing.

The truth is that, at the time, I hadn't done my homework on apps that could replace Scantron. I had a few questions to toss around, but still needed to test a few to be able to say, "Here's what we can do."

I needed a tool that could:
  • Provide bubble sheets at cost of printing
  • Conduct an item analysis by class and student
  • Save valuable preparation time
ZipGrade was my choice, and I haven't looked back. It continues to provide access to assessment data with convenience. My favorite part about using ZipGrade is that, like Plickers, it allows me to use technology to improve teaching and learning. 

Bottomline: Paper works and loads fast. One device to collect the data is easy, too. Here are some of the features on the ZipGrade app that I now use regularly. 

1. Quizzes

The home screen of the app lists your most recent quizzes and allows you to search and organize them to suit your work routine. This screen also allows you to make a new quiz by touching the "New" text in the upper right.


2. Quiz Menu

When you touch a quiz, the Quiz Menu opens and provides information and links to edit the key, scan papers, review papers, and the item analysis. Within each of those links, you will find more access to crucial assessment data.


3. Edit Key

Editing the key is a piece of cake. Like all of the functions on ZipGrade, making and changing the key is intuitive. This screen also allows you to make multiple keys for different versions, as well. Be sure the students are indicating the version (A-D) on their answer sheet.


4. Scan Papers

Align the four corner boxes, and the app uses your camera to scan the answer document. I've been using quarter-page sized answer documents (20 items) because they save paper. Go to the ZipGrade website to print PDFs or PNGs of 20-, 50-, or 100-item sheets.


5. Review Papers

This is where the magic begins. The ability to access all answer sheets from a device that fits in my pocket is a game changer for a teacher who doesn't want to wait to solve problems yet refuses to carry around stacks of papers.



6. Item Analysis

And, for the moment our data-addicted schools have been waiting for ... The item analysis screens start with a class breakdown per question and allow you to dig deeper into choice data for each item. Additionally, touch any choice and a list of students will drop down. As of now, I think ZipGrade has thought of everything.





Thursday, February 18, 2016

5 Paperless Reading Comprehension Activities

The transition to more paperless learning activities is in the air. I'm not convinced that 100 percent paperless classrooms is right for every school, but we continue to move toward completing more tasks with connected devices.


As students advance to the next grade level with increasingly stronger typing and Web skills, classrooms in the upper levels have to plan on converting traditional activities into digital means. I started with writing activities and soon realized that many of the reading comprehension tasks could be completed with cloud apps, too.

Keep in mind that integrating technology is a process. It takes time for teachers and students to become comfortable with new tools. That's why I recommend keeping it simple by starting with online word processing apps like Google Docs. 

Here are a few comprehension activities and some tips for making them digital. 

1. List, Group, Label

As students read a selection, have them list details based on a guiding or essential question. This list can be typed in a column on a table or in a text box like in the example shown below. Whichever way you set up the digital work, the ability to later group the list items and label the groupings is key.

The example shows a perforated box for the list and two boxes to later organize. This is a reasonable template for the middle school levels. Elementary or primary levels may need more support. For primary grades, I would consider providing a word bank made of text boxes that they could click and drag into place like shown in some of these activities.   


2. Rule-Based Summarizing

The rule-based summarizing strategy asks students to follow a set of rules or steps to write a summary.
  • Take out material that is not important for your understanding. 
  • Take out words or passages that repeat information. 
  • Replace a list of things with a word that describes the things in the list (e.g. use trees for elm, oak, and maple). 
  • Find a topic sentence or write a new one if it is missing. 
Use the underline, bold, and strike-through tools to keep this activity paperless. Students who prefer more color can use the highlighting and font color options. 


3. First Lines

Before we know, we try to know. Making predictions is one of the most powerful critical thinking activities we do everyday. We do it so often that it's taken for granted. That's why it's important to have a talk with students about their awareness of their own thoughts.

This digital worksheet is simple and could take many forms. As long as students can write what they think a paragraph is about after reading the first line and reflect after reading the whole paragraph, the strategy will being to tune their concentration and ability to make connections.

For ELLs, I would put the selected text in a wide left column and leave typing cells in a narrower right column for the prediction and reflection.  


4. Question-Answer Relationship (QAR)

The question-answer relationship is another activity to increase metacognitive thinking. Students identify which type of question their thought process is using to understand a text and make a note of it using the comment tool.

It's important to include questions that allow students to reflect on the question types, the text, and their own knowledge.

  1. Right-There: Explicit in the text.
  2. Think and Search: Gathered from several parts of the text.
  3. Author and You: Must make inferences and personal connections.
  4. On my Own: Use prior knowledge (not the text).

5. Column Notes

I needed a way for my students to practice taking notes while reading and to include their analysis, as well. This activity needs to be scaffolded by the others because it's a combination of List, Group, Label and Question-Answer Relationship.

This is perhaps the most helpful in terms of preparing students to organize their notes for pre-writing.


Bonus: Note-Taking and Summarizing Jig Saw

This is fun because it's simple yet sophisticated. Split up a reading and assign students parts to make notes on the same document. With online word processing, this is a piece of cake.

It's powerful because of the peer modeling that occurs. The students can see the work of their peers and learn from it.


Friday, February 12, 2016

5 Secrets for Teachers Going Google

Not to sound naive, but it's been easy not worrying about Google and how much it knows about me. Maybe I'm not the type to demonize things, or maybe the benefits of using Google Chrome and the suite apps outweigh the risks.


I can't say that I understand why some people refuse to make the shift from clunky software like Microsoft Office to Google Drive. I'm trying, but the alternatives to Google are too inefficient for me to consider that the risks may one day outweigh the benefits.

Here are some "secrets" that I hope the anti-Googlers will consider. It's also a list that I made in an attempt to understand why I use Google and why some refuse it.

1. Google knows what you're looking for.

At first, I didn't like that Google would suggest results before I even finished typing the word. Now that I know how to use the Omnibox, it often knows what I'm looking for better than I would. 

2. It's more than Gmail.

If you have a Gmail account, you have YouTube, Drive, Sites, Calendar, and so much more.


3. YouTube is the second largest search engine, second to Google.

With a billion users and 6 billion hours watched per month, YouTube uploads are estimated at 300 hours per minute. Facebook has no problem consuming those numbers. Its users watch almost a year's worth of YouTube videos every minute.


4. Kids are already Google.

Google Apps for Education is taking hold in many schools, and the Chromebook is becoming the device of choice for classrooms. Kids love Google – not because it gives them the answers. Well ... Maybe that's why we all love it. But seriously ... Kids use YouTube for everything. Everything!

I'm also guilty of saving hundreds of dollars on repairs around the house by watching YouTube videos, which is a routine I've picked up from my students.

5. Files will automatically reformat.

Try dropping one Word doc into your Drive. You can set it to convert it to a Google format automatically or keep it as a Word format. This can easily be done later, too. 

Here's the secret. Google formats take up zero space on your drive. Why would anyone keep the Microsoft format? Google is quicker to load and easier to create.


One day, Google – Alphabet, or whatever you call it – could control the world, as the conspiracy theory goes. Fortunately, for my outlook, the sky is not falling and Google will not control my world. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

5 Steps for a Google Images Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts do so much for keeping kids engaged. They provide movement, choice, problem solving, sharing, communication of ideas, and justification of choices.


As a history teacher, I have my students do scavenger hunts to learn about interpretation of evidence, looking for the past in the present, and different research prompts to practice answering questions, evidence selection, and Internet responsible use.

Here are the steps we usually follow to integrate mobile technology. 

1. Topic

Choose a topic or give your students a list of options. The topic of this scavenger hunt is innovations in U.S. history. It's important that if you consider themes when determining the best topics.

Also, think about the potential keywords that students will likely use to search Google Images. This activity is an example of vocabulary application.


2. Specific Sites

It's about more than the images. Students need to gain some background on the source of the image. This is a great opportunity to practice evaluation of websites.

I have students write one-sentence summaries like a caption for the images they choose. This means they have something to present and contribute when we look at the images as a class (step 5).


3. Save to Device

Believe it or not, this is one of those steps that make me miss 1:1 Chromebooks. It's amazing to me how many people do not know how to save images to their device. Most mobile devices only require you to touch and hold an image to open a list of options.

TIP: Find students who know how to use certain devices and put them to work helping their peers. Students love to help.


4. Share

We use Google Drive, but there are other options if you'd prefer. 

The nice thing about Drive is the slideshow that opens when you click on an image. We project it on the front board and discuss the findings.


5. Present

The powerful thing about the scavenger hunt format is the engagement students experience from explaining their choices. This really is the most important step in the activity because it provides students the opportunity to articulate a rationale.


Activity Ideas

Math of Objects -- Students find certain shaped objects, relative sizes, estimated costs, age, etc.

Something that reminds you of ....

Technology before and after the Industrial Revolution (around the school, at home, online)

Thermal, chemical, and mechanical changes

Research prompts (open ended allow students to come up with more variety)

If you have an activity idea or suggestion, please tell us about it in the comments below.