Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Multiple Stories - Put the Sentences in Order - Google Slides Manipulatives

I am continuing to experiment with Google Slides manipulatives, and here is another activity which i was able to adapt to a digital environment. It is Multiple Stories - Put the Sentences in Order but now converted to an individual virtual assignment (see my blog post about how to create Google Slide manipulatives). 

Due to teaching hybrid classes in this weird digital environment, I have being going deliberately slow and almost painfully overdoing the amount of repetitions of stories in different ways to increase vocabulary and language structure exposure for students. An activity like this allowed for me to consolidate the stories into one assignment as a review. Below is a picture of what the assignment looked like for students - it is based on two Movie Talks and an ongoing story about Augustus (can you tell that I have to introduce war-related, imperial vocabulary this year?):


  1. I love that in Google Classroom, I can assign this as a copy for every student and that when students submit it, I can immediately correct the assignment and then return it with comments.
  2. Again, this is a great higher-order thinking activity, because it forces students to distinguish which sentence is for each story and then to determine the correct order of the sentences.
  3. The "draggable" nature of the assignment lends to its novelty and definitely appeals to tactile learners.
  4. Students did quite well on this, so from a formative perspective, this let me know that they were ready to move onto new vocabulary.
  5. This is a great assignment for an asynchronous learning day (if you are able to do those)!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Using Whiteboard.fi to Deliver CI

Since I have a degree in Instructional Technology and am furthering my graduate studies in this field, many times I get asked by other teachers, "So what are some web app tools which I can use in my classroom?" Especially now in this time of digital teaching, teachers are searching for new novel ways of delivering instruction. Quite honestly, so am I, but I am actually very selective in what new web app tools which I want to introduce into my classroom. 

When reviewing web app tools for student use in the classroom, here is my primary test: Does it require that my students create an account for them to log in for use? If it does, then I most likely will pass it over. I know for many that sounds like a flimsy reason not to use a particular web app tool for instruction, but hear me out for my reasons:

  1. Practical reasons - I do not need students having to keep track of what log-in IDs and passwords which they are using for all of the various web app tools in all of their classes, because there will always be those few students who cannot remember their information and then cannot take part in the online activity. Even though students in my classroom have a district email account, I am amazed at how many still do not know what it is. 
  2. Student privacy information issues - As teachers in this digital age (and as required by federal laws COPPA and CIPA), we must do everything we can to protect student privacy and any online information which students may knowingly and unknowingly transmit when using digital tools for classroom purposes. The less information which students can provide web app tool companies, the better in my opinion. My district has a list of 3rd-party online vendors which we are allowed to use for classroom purposes, because those companies' student data collection procedures align with my district's guidelines. 
Currently, the only web app tools which I use that require student log-in are Google Classroom, Remind, and GimKit (and I am not happy that GimKit now requires student log-in!). I applaud web app tools such as EdPuzzle and Nearpod which allow for open classroom usage and do not require students to create an account.

With that in mind, last week Meredith White (who is also a teacher in my district) shared a great resource with a number of us: Whiteboard.fiIt is a free web app tool which turns a user's device screen into a digital whiteboard! Best of all, it does NOT require students to create an account or to log-in to use. Yesterday and today, my colleague John Foulk and I have been using it for a drawing dictation, which is how Meredith told us she used Whiteboard.fi.

  1. I love how, like the Draw This function in Nearpod, I can see in real time what students are putting down on their whiteboards on my screen! This is a great formative tool for me as a teacher. 
  2. I like how easy it is to set up a "class" and that I can do it at that moment!
  3. This tool works great for a hybrid class (in-person and digital simultaneously), because the focus is on individual device screens and does not require me as the teacher to share a screen/divide my attention. 
  4. After students completed a drawing, I "pushed" some of their drawings onto the class's device screens so that others could see them. 
  5. Whiteboard.fi does not save what students draw/write on their device screens, but you can download everyone's whiteboard screens to a PDF prior to clearing them if you wish to have a record. If you are wanting a whiteboard web app tool which will store images, then consider using Jamboard
  6. The URL for Whiteboard is Whiteboard.fi - if you are curious, the fi stands for Finland.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Using Nearpod to Deliver CI and Higher-Order Technology Use

If you are like me, you are teaching hybrid classrooms - a group of students who are physically in your classrom and those who are in a digital Zoom environment all SIMULTANEOUSLY! Recently, I have begun to implement Nearpod again in my curriculum, and it is really making a difference. I had used it before many years ago and had even demonstrated its use at conferences. Once PearDeck came around, I began to use that (in my opinion, PearDeck is the next generation of Nearpod), but for some reason, i stopped using either of these web app tool in my classroom. Fast forward to this new normal (and the fact that my district has a Nearpod account), I am now using Nearpod again. And I am wondering, "Why did I ever stop using this tool (or PearDeck)?!" 

If you are not familiar with Nearpod or PearDeck, they both are web app tools which allow participants to engage in live interaction with a presentation in real time (you can also have it set for "student-paced" mode). As the presenter, you can pause throughout your presentation and take "time-outs" for comprehension checks through shorts quizzes, ask participants to predict what they think will happen next, take opinion polls, ask participants for comments, ask participants to draw something in particular, etc. And the best part is that you as the presenter control what participants see on their device screens!  

Recently I used Nearpod as an introduction to an expanded, embedded Latin reading, where the base version I had introduced earlier the week before. Although this was an embedded, expanded reading, I still treated as if it were a sight passage, so my goal for students was comprehension. Below is the Nearpod which I created - it is a passage on Augustus which I wrote, and it is patterned after the sentence structures found in Emma Vanderpool's novella Kandake Amanirenas: Regina Nubia, which I will be introducing later, as well as influenced by my district's mandated vocabulary list. You can view it below in the Student-Pace mode, but I played it as live mode in class digitally via Zoom. NOTE - because this Nearpod was the first day of viewing this fuller reading, my goal was comprehension, therefore, my questions and answers were in English.

1) Go to join.nearpod.com
2) Join Code: 5FYZ9

The last page of this particular Nearpod is a Collaboration Board, which I have turned off in Student Pace. I posited the statement: According to Augustus in the passage, he brought peace to many lands. Do you agree/disagree? Why/why not?

  1. When used with a live audience (whether it be live or digital), Nearpod rates on the highest level of the SAMR technology model, which evaluates the level of critical and higher-order thinking involved in a particular implementation of technology. It ranks at the Redefinition level, because it is allowing for an outcome which is INCONCEIVABLE without the use of technology, so in this instance, live real-time interaction and feedback from participants during a presentation which can immediately inform the presenter how to proceed.
  2. Students were quite engaged in this activity, and the many breaks in-between passages with different types of questions and activities broke up the monotony and contributed to the novelty of Nearpod. We actually went for a whole period doing this in a hybrid class, and a number of students commented afterwards "Wow, that was fun!"
  3. I liked the Collaboration Board at the end as a discussion board. I hid student names to keep the comments anonymous, but it gave students an opportunity to voice an opinion in a safe environment and for them to read others' opinions. 
  4. I showed all of the drawings which students did during the "Draw This" portion of the Nearpod, and this is where students were the most engaged.
  5. Because this was an embedded, fuller reading of an earlier version of the story, students were still receiving understandable messages, along with a recycling of the former vocabulary now used in new sentences. With 2/3 of my classes doing digital, I erred on the side of caution by overdoing the amount of limiting vocabulary and getting in vocabulary repetitions, since I really have no idea what students are acquiring when they are not in-person.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Comments - Whoops!

For the past two years, I have not received any reader comments on this blog. Although getting any type of feedback as a blogger is helpful, I just figured that no one had anything to say, wanted to leave a comment, or had questions. Quite honestly, I was okay with that and from the page view statistics, I could tell at least that people were reading my blog. 

Cut to last night. While going through my blog settings, I came upon the Comments section, and to my surprise, I found over 125 comments there from the past two years awaiting moderation approval - my moderation, that is! Apparently I had not included a forwarding email address for comment approval so these comments have just been waiting for me who has been clueless that they were even there. Granted about 50 of these comments were from spambots, but oh my gosh, what a treasure these other 75 comments are! 

So to those of you have left comments and never heard back from me - I heartily apologize for this! I cannot thank you enough for the kind words and encouragement which many of you left as comments over these past two years. I feel so validated! Many of you left questions about certain activities, and considering that they are from 1.5 years ago, I hope you figured it out. I was not ignoring you at all - I was not even aware that you had left a comment! Feel free to ask again, and I will address it.

Anyhow, I have changed the comments settings so that although it will still remain as an "awaiting moderator approval" section, I will now receive notifications that there are comments waiting for me. Feel free to leave comments now!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Digital Pictionary Dictionary

Here is another use of a manipulative using Google Slides which I have learned about recently: the Digital Pictionary Dictionary. Pre-Covid, I would have students hand-illustrate 15-20 vocabulary words as an intrapersonal review of words which we had been targeting. Students liked it because it was an easy classroom activity which they could do in-class on their own at their own pace, and I certainly enjoyed the break from teaching on those days. Now that we are teaching in a digital format (even if in-person, I am refraining from using traditional pen/paper methods as much as possible), this activity can easily be adapted to an electronic setting. It does take a bit of preparation on your end.

Creation of Template
  1. Pick twelve vocabulary words which you wish to target or to review. 
  2. Create a manipulative Google Slides template like below (see post here about creating manipulatives). I overlay the "Insert a picture, GIF, bitmoji, or drawing here" and not as part of the background template so that students can delete this. Below is an example of a template which I created based on words which students informed me that they "kind of knew/did not know" from last year

  1. Students are to find digital images of TEN of twelve vocabulary words, whether it be pictures, GIFs, bitmojis, memes, or drawings, and to insert them on the template.
  2. I assign this on Google Classroom so that each student has a copy of the template to manipulate. As a result of using Google Classroom, they can also turn it in electronically.
  1. Although there is some time spent on creating the template on my end, I love the creativity of students in their choice of digital images. While many are just doing a Google image search of vocabulary words and then just cutting/pasting the first image they find, many are actually taking their time to personalize their images. From an instructional technology standpoint, personalization is a very high-level demonstration of critical thinking and creativity! Below are some examples where students created themes of images as a demonstration of personalization:

2.    Allowing students to use digital images such as GIFs, memes, emojis, bitmojis, etc., 
       gives students the opportunity to use tools with which they are familiar and to apply in 
       different ways.