Seven Wishes for Education This Holiday Season

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My latest BamRadio Network EdWords blog post, Seven Wishes for Education This Holiday Season, covers a wide range of things I would like to see in education from integrating schools to getting teachers on YouTube. Please read and share what you are wishing for education in comments or tweet me @edtechtom.

Comparing Digital Breakouts in New Google Sites and Classic Google Sites

comparing-digital-breakouts-in-classic-google-sites-and-new-google-sites

The New Google Sites is live in personal GMail accounts. It is vastly different from what is now known as “Classic Sites.” Here are my thoughts on using both tools to make digital breakouts.

Looks are important.

Students are more likely to engage with a breakout if it is visually appealing. The New Sites makes much nicer looking websites. Have a look at my digital breakout templates in Classic Sites and New Sites to see the vast difference. Speaking of design, use Canva to make beautiful header images. 280 pixels high and 767 pixels wide are the ideal dimensions.

It is so easy!

Classic Sites is difficult to work with. It is not intuitive. New Sites could not be any easier to use. Make one site with it and you’re a pro. I am thrilled to share New Sites with teachers because they can point, click, and make a beautiful website!

The one drawback.

Beautiful, easy sites! So what’s the catch? There is one, and it is big. Third-party sites that embed in Classic Sites, such as EdPuzzle, ThingLink, and Quizlet, don’t embed in New Sites. Instead, there is a preview that opens a new tab when clicked:

edpuzzle-in-new-sites

New Sites is still better.

New Sites’ beauty, ease, and fantastic G Suite integration make it well worth it. EdPuzzle doesn’t work? Find a short video and pair it with a Google Form! Google Slides, PDFs in Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and even My Maps embed flawlessly – with no code needed! Simply click and drag to move or change size.

I am perfectly willing to use only G Suite tools in New Sites while I wait for embeds to be added to the platform’s functionality.

Beware the navigation!

New Sites has two navigation settings:

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This means that all site pages are visible by default. However, you can hide pages individually:

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Here are some suggestions.

For what it’s worth, here are some suggestions from someone who made many digital breakouts in Classic Sites and can’t wait to get started in New Sites:

  • Figure out what you want your students to work with before making your digital breakout. What PDFs, Google Docs, Google Slides, YouTube videos, Google My Maps, etc. do you want your students interacting with during your digital breakout? Figure that out and your locks will flow from there.
  • Keep the elements on each page minimal. Do not overload students with too many things to view on any one page. Keep it simple and visually appealing. New Sites and Canva help those of us (like me!) who are not artistically inclined.
  • Make one lock super easy. Once students crack one lock, they are hooked. I don’t always follow my own advice on this one. I should.
  • Make digital breakouts in personal Google accounts. No one has a crystal ball. Making a Google Site in a school domain means it could go away if employment status changes. Use personal Google accounts to ensure sites do not disappear when changing jobs.
  • Beta test! Before students try a breakout, have your PLC beta test it to make sure everything is correct. Errors from incorrect links to grammar are common when making digital breakouts. Beta testing makes sure students work on a refined finished product.

Thank you for reading. Comment below or send me a tweet @edtechtom with questions.

Digital Breakouts in the New Google Sites

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The new Google Sites is live. This is a template website to give you ideas for making digital breakouts in the new Sites. Currently, there is no way to copy sites or publish them as templates. The good news is that the new Sites is so intuitive that making digital breakouts is easier than ever!

If you have never tried a digital breakout, please watch this video where I take you through the template to show you how it works:

Please make copies of the files in this Google Drive folder to help you make digital breakouts. This template site uses Google Forms, an embedded PDF, an embedded YouTube video, and Google Slides. Google My Maps and Google Sheets are other G Suite tools that are great for embedding in digital breakouts.

Comment below or send me a tweet @edtechtom with questions.

All Digital Breakouts I make are inspired by the innovators behind BreakoutEDU,  James Sanders and Mark Hammons, as well as by the creators of Digital BreakoutEDU,  Justin Birckbichler and Mari Venturino.

Use These Templates to Make Your Own Digital Breakouts!

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Author’s note: This post is intended to help teachers make Digital Breakouts in Classic Google Sites. The New Google Sites has gone live. Please read my blog post about making Digit Breakouts in New Google Sites. Additionally, please read my post comparing the classic and new versions of Google Sites.

Digital Breakouts, the entirely online offshoot of the BreakoutEDU movement, are a great way to help students fall in love with problem-solving. I make and use them, as do my colleagues who have found innovative ways to incorporate them into instruction.

Recently, I have had colleagues and educators on social media tell me they would like to make digital breakouts but the task seems daunting. One colleague asked me to build a template website to help him get started.

So here it is – a Digital Breakout template website, a replicable Google Site template, and a Google Folder with template files. Makes copies of them and have at it! The website is a Digital Breakout itself. Go through it to see how they work.

The site demonstrates some great tools for digital breakouts: Google Forms with Quiz Mode enabled for feedback, Quizlet, EdPuzzle, and Thinglink.

Comment below or send me a tweet @edtechtom with questions.

All Digital Breakouts I make are inspired by the innovators behind BreakoutEDU,  James Sanders and Mark Hammons, as well as by the creators of Digital BreakoutEDU,  Justin Birckbichler and Mari Venturino.

I Made a Jeopardy QR Code Board – You Can Too!

Jeopardy QR Codes

My colleagues Tara Hewitt and Ryan Miller developed the idea of a Jeopardy board to encourage participants at the Orange County Schools Summer Conference to tweet their learning. They wanted a physical Jeopardy board with QR codes participants could scan to access Twitter challenges. After the challenges – the answers in this Jeopardy – were written, it was up to me to use technology to make it happen.

Good thing I attend EdCamps! I met Jessica Schouweiler at EdcampWNC in Fall 2015. She shared a Google Sheet that automatically generates QR codes for websites. Make a copy for yourself. So now making QR codes is easy. But what should those QR codes point to?

I decided to use Google Slides to make the challenges. Using the Colorzilla Google Chrome extension, I matched the Jeopardy blue color and made it the background color. Each hint (fifteen in all) were separate Google Slides presentations. Each was exactly one slide. Making exact copies of each file is easy. Right click on the file in Drive and choose “make a copy.”

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Then simply change the text. Make a copy of one of these slides for yourself. Then publish each slide to the web.

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I then put each URL into the QR Google Sheet referenced above. I screen captured the individual QR codes and pasted each into a new Google Slides presentation with 8.5in x 11in dimensions.

I used Canva to design the category heading images. I set my image to 8.5in x 11in. I used Colorzilla to set the color to the Jeopardy blue and used the Roboto font which does not quite match the Jeopardy font but is good enough. I downloaded each as a PNG (not a JPG) to maintain quality when printing.

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Here is how the board looked after printing and stapling:

Jeopardy Board

And how each Twitter challenge looked when participants scanned them:

Jeopardy on Phone

Have a look at the tweets with the conference hashtag, #FirstChoice4PD.

Thank you for reading this post. If you have any questions, please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom.