Ten Things You Can Do This Summer To Prepare For Teaching In A 1:1 Classroom With Chromebooks

Has your district told you your students will bring Chromebooks with them to class in the fall? Are you eager to integrate this technology into instruction but unsure how? Here are ten things you can do this summer to hit the ground running in the fall, brought to you by a teacher who has been in your shoes.

1. Ask your administration for a Chromebook to use this summer.

You want to know the Chromebook user experience before school starts. What better way to learn than by doing? This teacher loves Chromebooks in the classroom for many reasons. You will too, especially if you understand the platform your students use. See if your administrators are willing to loan you the same model students will use in the fall. Use it for everything this summer and you will be prepared.

2. Become a Google Educator.

If you want to successfully use Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in classroom instruction, you need to be proficient in them. Go through Google for Education’s process to earn Google Educator certification. The process involves online modules and five $15 (as of Summer 2014) tests. Author’s Note (6/28/15): This process has just changed. Please have a look at Google’s new options and see what works for you. Going through the modules will make you more than proficient in Google Apps. Taking and passing the exams will earn you a Google Educator certificate, a nice asset for your CV.

 3. Upload your files to Google Drive.

This is essential for you to work with your students in a 1:1 classroom. After the Google Educator modules, you should be able to easily upload folders to Google Drive. Or, you can watch this video about doing it with a Windows computer:

Or this one about doing it with a Mac:

 

4. Get to know Google Classroom.

First, watch this video introducing Google Classroom. Imagine the possibilities. Get excited!

Then, read up about Google Classroom and how to use it to do transformative things such as seamlessly include absent and home-bound students in your class.

5. Learn from the experts.

There is so much great content about integrating technology into the classroom. It can be overwhelming. Start small by following these eight experts on Twitter and reading their blogs regularly. If starting a Twitter account seems overwhelming, read Alice Keeler’s blog post about signing up for Twitter. Here are my favorite education technology experts. Their names hyperlink to their blogs.

6. Digitize your print documents.

Do this during the summer to save time during the school year. Once a print document is digitized, it can be altered and, hence, improved.

7. Convert your multiple choice assessments to paperless Google Forms your students can answer on their Chromebooks.

My visual tutorial will guide you through this process. Doing this during the summer will save you untold time at the photocopier and ScanTron machine during the school year. If you are curious about grading, read my grading tutorial, but it will not be necessary until you give your first multiple choice assessment.

8. Use TEDEd to change the way video is used in instruction.

Rather than have the whole class watch a projected video, you can add short-answer and multiple choice assessment questions, discussion prompts and links to further resources to any YouTube video. Make a list of your favorite YouTube videos used in instruction, and make them into powerful instructional tools with YouTube this summer. Students can work with videos at their own pace on their Chromebooks and you can use TEDEd’s tools to assess understanding.

9. Use PDFSplit to break up large curricular PDFs into smaller documents.

Instead of printing the pages of the PDF you want your students to read and scanning them, use PDFSplit to make original quality PDFs of the exact pages you want students to read. PDFSplit connects to your Google Drive to access your PDF. It makes a new file with only the pages you specify. Students then read beautiful PDFs on their Chromebooks, not scans of photocopies.

10. Join Google Plus education technology communities.

This will serve as another great source for education technology information. Just like with education technology experts on Twitter, start small. Here are four great communities to join:

Teaching in a 1:1 classroom with Chromebooks reignited my passion for education. I hope it does for you too! If you would like to talk more about successful technology integration in the 1:1 classroom, please comment below or send me a tweet at @tmullaney23.

Google Classroom Experts Name My Absent Student Strategy a Best Practice

I am honored Google Classroom Experts named my strategy for including absent students a best practice:

#005 - GC Best Practices #2

Google Classroom Experts are posting a new best practice to their Google Plus page weekly. To read more about how I use Google Classroom to fully include absent and home-bound students, please have a look at my blog post about it.

If you would like to discuss ideas for using Google Classroom to include absent students, please comment below or send me a tweet.

Make Paperless Assessment with Google Forms – Part 2 of 2: Grading with Flubaroo

In part 1 of this post, I showed you how to create a Google Form, import questions from a Google Doc or Word Doc and collect answers. Now it is time to grade your Google Form and give students quick, helpful feedback.

Start by going to the Google Form assessment you shared with your students:

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Then return to the Google Form’s answers spreadsheet:

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Now it is time to install the Flubaroo add-on for Google Sheets. This is what makes grading the Google Form so easy:

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Now that it is installed, use it to grade the answers by taking these steps:

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Flubaroo is very valuable to teachers. It highlights students who struggled and questions many students answered incorrectly. It has one other great feature: the ability to quickly give students detailed feedback. To e-mail students their results:

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Some teachers might not be comfortable e-mailing the answer key. I prefer total transparency when assessing students. The nice thing about Flubaroo is that it gives you options for how much you share with students.

If you would like to know more about creating assessments in Google Forms, take a loot at part 1 of this post. If you would like to ask me any questions about making paperless assessment in Google Forms, comment below or send me a Tweet at @tmullaney23.

Make Paperless Assessment with Google Forms – Part 1 of 2

Are you teaching in a school that recently went 1:1 or is about to go 1:1? Do you hate stacks of paper burying your desk after you give students a test? Do you want students to take tests on their devices? Do you hate it when your school’s photocopier jams? Do you want to reduce cheating on assessments?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, read on. This is a visual tutorial for making an assessment with Google Forms. By the end of this post, you should be able to create an assessment and add questions from assessments you have in Microsoft Word and Google Doc formats. In part 2, I show you how to automatically grade paperless assessments in Google Forms.

To get started creating a Google Form, go to the Google Drive folder where you want to store the form and:

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Checking “Shuffle question order” means the questions will appear in a different order for each student taking the test. This makes cheating during the test very difficult.

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My students use HP Chromebooks. The touchpads are sensitive. This causes students to accidentally submit forms before they have answered all questions. Making each question required prevents forms from being submitted until all questions have been answered.

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Now that you have started entering questions into your form, here’s a suggestion: get rid of all numbers for the questions and letters for the answer choices. Those are relics of the Scantron era. In part 2, I will show you how to automatically grade your assessment. You won’t need numbers or letters. The absence of letters and numbers makes cheating harder. Additionally, to tell another student an answer, a cheater would have to state the question and the answer. Instead of saying “2 is b,” a cheating student is re-teaching content!

Once you have entered your questions, get your form ready for students’ eyes:

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Your form will open in a new tab.

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After students have taken the assessment:

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The answers, on a Google Sheet, appear in a new tab:

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This is where I will end this post. Now you should be able to create a form and view answers. In the second post, I demonstrate how to use Flubaroo to easily grade the assessment and give students fast feedback. If you have any questions about Google Forms for assessment, please comment below or send me a tweet at @tmullaney23.

Making Lesson Recap Videos with Screencastify

Making video recaps of my lessons has revolutionized my teaching. I am so grateful to Chris Aviles for suggesting it at EdCamp New Jersey. A parent told me she wishes every teacher made video recaps. A learning support teacher uses them to help my students study in her instructional support classes. Students who need multiple opportunities to learn and absent students benefit the most from video lesson recaps.

I have documented how I use SnagIt to make recaps on my Chromebook. SnagIt met my needs until it had a problem with static in March 2015. I researched and found that Screencastify does essentially the same thing. Screencastify is an extension for the Google Chrome browser so it works an any computer with the browser.

Watch this video where I discuss how I use Screencastify:

After installing the extension…

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Before starting the recording be sure “Desktop” is selected and “Embed webcam” is not.

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“Desktop” makes sure Screencastify captures the entire screen. “Embed wecam” puts a small webcam in the lower right corner of the screen when you screencast. I prefer to open the computer’s webcam and size the window to my liking.

When you stop recording, Screencastify puts the video file in a Google Drive folder.

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Overall, I have been thrilled with Screencastify. Its file sizes are roughly 10-20MB per minute. That is much lower than SnagIt-made video files. This saves me time when uploading videos to YouTube. If you do not want to be on YouTube, share the video in Google Drive with your students. The small file sizes mean less bandwith used when multiple students view it in your classroom.

Video lesson recaps have tremendously benefited my students. I am happy to share this strategy far and wide. Please be in touch if you want to discuss further!

Use the Impossible to Fail Quiz to Give Students Instant Remediation

Does your gut (and your assessment) tell you some students didn’t get it the first time you taught it? Would you like to give students remediation exclusively for concepts they don’t understand? Isn’t it impossible to deliver precise remediation to each student in your classroom?

The solution to these challenges is the Impossible to Fail Quiz. I had the opportunity to learn about this tool from Chris Aviles at EdCamp New Jersey. The Impossible to Fail Quiz uses two components of Google Forms that had previously been unexplored frontiers for me: “Go to page based on answer” and inserting page breaks. This tutorial takes you step-by-step through the process of designing an Impossible to Fail Quiz. If you are curious about the student experience, take an Impossible to Fail Quiz before we get started. Two quick points before we start:

  • The quiz is impossible to fail because it directs students to a review video when they incorrectly answer a question. Students then re-try the question. Every time they answer incorrectly, they are directed to the video. When students answer correctly, they move on to the next question.
  • The quiz is meant as a opportunity for students to practice and receive remediation when needed. It is not meant to be an assessment tool. Each student will eventually choose the right answer to the questions.

Start by opening Google Drive and creating a new Google Form:

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Follow the pattern of adding a page break and a question for as many questions as you want. I recommend keeping it short. I like five questions.

Now it is time to add the magic of the Impossible to Fail Quiz: videos! Wrong answers will direct students a video that reviews the concept addressed by the question. I use videos I make using SnagIt on my Chromebook. However, you can use any video on YouTube. My suggestion is to keep the video short so students watch and quickly return to the question. To add videos to the quiz:

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Now return to your multiple choice questions. You have to tinker with them so that correct answers advance to the next question and incorrect answers advance to the videos.

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This is what students will see after they correctly answer the final question:

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Take care of one last detail on each of the video pages and you have an Impossible to Fail Quiz ready to go!

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With that your Impossible to Fail Quiz is ready to go. Take the quiz designed in this tutorial to acquaint yourself with the student user experience.

Use This Website to Have Your Students Read Like Historians

Do you want your students to read primary source documents, engage in close reading activities, debate and cite evidence to support arguments? If so, you have to use The Stanford History Education Group’s Reading Like a Historian website. I have to thank my colleague Mr. Washam for showing it to me. Take a tour of the site with me in this video:

Links from the Video:

The Stanford History Education Group’s Reading Like a Historian website

Using Google Drive to Digitize Print Documents (including PDFs)

Reading Like a Historian US History Lessons

Reading Like a Historian World History Lessons

Reading Like a Historian Reconstruction Structured Academic Controversy Lesson

Register for a FREE account with the Reading Like a Historian website

Making Lesson Recap Videos with SnagIt and a Chromebook

I went to to EdCamp New Jersey at the end of November where I heard Chris Aviles suggest teachers should make video recaps. He argued that in a 1:1 classroom, video lesson recaps are a powerful tool to fight learned helplessness. A student doesn’t know the answer to a question? Have them watch the video recap. Chris also made the point that video recaps give students multiple opportunities to learn and help absent students catch up.

Intrigued, I set about using December to incorporate video recaps into my practice. I made this video about what I have done so far:

After you create your account (I used my school Google e-mail), SnagIt creates a folder in your Google Drive. It is called “TechSmith” after the company that makes SnagIt.

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When you record using SnagIt, the app will capture your screen and the Chromebook’s microphone. I use the Chromebook camera so students can see my face rather than listen to a disembodied voice. When you stop a recording, it will appear as ” unfinished video” in the TechSmith folder.

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You can rename your video in the SnagIt video player and push it directly to your GAFE connected YouTube account.

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When SnagIt is finished processing you can access the video file in the TechSmith Google Drive folder.

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From Google Drive, you can download the video. I take this extra step because I post videos to my personal YouTube channel.  I want the videos to still exist should my job change. It is very easy with only upload and download time as minor inconveniences. Login to your personal GMail account and go to YouTube. From there:

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Then simply click on upload and you’re good to go.

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Pixiclip is another tool with great potential for video recaps. As I explained in the video above, I stopped using Pixiclip because when my students play it back on their Chromebooks they cannot rewind and fast forward.

Video lesson recaps are one way educational technology transforms educational practice. I am only one month into using them and am thrilled with the opportunities they create for my students!

 

 

Google Classroom, Educational Technology and the Absent Student

I recently received an e-mail from a student who missed a week with the flu asking how she could catch up. This student’s class is not 1:1 so we don’t use Google Classroom daily like we do on my 1:1 classes. I replied to the student listing the ways she could use the resources I had posted to Classroom to catch up. It was a long e-mail. When I was finished, I was impressed with how much easier it is to meet the needs of absent students than it was a few short years ago. The student had missed lessons in our Civil War unit. I was able to point her to the following resources:

  • The homework for the unit was all on Google Classroom. This previously was print-based but I used Google Drive to digitize the print material, making it accessible to anyone with an internet connection and eliminating the problems of students losing it, absence and homework-eating dogs.

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  • I had a video recap on Classroom for each lesson she missed. I need to thank Chris Aviles, who made the suggestion of taping lesson recaps while speaking at EdCampNJ. For students in 1:1 classrooms, strategies like this transform learning and eliminate the “$1000 pencil” problem I heard Joshua Koen speak about, also at EdCampNJ. I have been making recaps of all my lessons since EdCamp. Even though this student’s class cannot access the recaps in the classroom, they can at home to review or catch up in the event of absence. I have been using SnagIt to make my video recaps on my Chromebook. I write more about this in another blog post.

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Technology integration in education should not be bells and whistles. It should be about simple strategies that make a big difference for students. This absent student was able to catch up in ways unheard of when she started her time as a student. These are just a few ways teachers can use technology to keep absent students on track.

Math Teachers: Add g(Math) to Google Forms!

g(Math) is a great add-on for Google Docs. If you do not have it, go get it! g(Math) is now available as an add-on for Google Forms too.

To get g(Math) for Forms, open Google Drive and create a new Google Form. While editing the new form, follow these steps:

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The form you are editing will now looks like this:

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To take advantage of g(Math)’s capabilities:

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Now your form will look like this:

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Have fun using Google Forms to assess math!