This post was originally published on the official Otus Blog.
Writing is essential in our classrooms, providing a window into what our students are thinking and learning.
One of the most transformative tools for writing in our classrooms is G Suite for Education, specifically Google Docs.
Through an integration between Otus and G Suite for Education, teachers are able to harness the power of Google Docs, providing students with targeted feedback as they work while also allowing teachers to record and track student growth throughout the year.
Immediate, Individualized Feedback
Traditionally, students write a paper, submit their work for feedback, and then make edits before submitting again.
The student doesn’t know if he or she is making mistakes until the teacher looks at their work and provides them feedback after the fact. So, while he or she is working, they might continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, wasting a great deal of effort on a single correctable error.
Students making mistakes is important, but turnaround has been so slow students forget what mistakes they made and why they made them by the time the teacher provides feedback.
With Google Docs, however, the teacher is able to work with students throughout their draft to target a student’s strengths and areas of potential growth through the collaborative online document shared between student and teacher. This is different from the traditional word processing platform where documents are traded back and forth and teachers take a “reactive” approach, telling students what needs to be changed after the fact.
Using the tools in Google Docs, educators are able to immediately provide students with more impactful feedback.
This feedback can be provided in a number of ways.
1. Suggesting Mode
With Suggesting Mode, a teacher or peer editor is able to make changes to the doc that aren’t permanent. As the name suggests, they’re just suggestions. The student can read the suggestions and decide to accept them in whole or make their own changes based upon the feedback.
Another option is to initiate a real-time chat with your student. This can help the teacher provide scaffolding and ask questions about the student’s writing and thought process.
Google Docs can be used for many other types of formative assessment, too. Be creative. Think bell ringers, exit tickets, quick writes, or any idea you have!
Give Google Docs a try and fundamentally change the way you give students feedback and encourage student growth in your classroom.
Each and every lesson in my classroom had a Google Slides presentation. This included my "Do Now" activity, agenda, objectives, directions for activities etc. even if I wasn't going to be doing any lecturing that day.
I would often times have students record their thoughts on a Google Doc or in a notebook to checks for understanding throughout the lesson. Directions like "Take 2-3 minutes to discuss the following question" were followed up by pair shares to try to ensure every student was participating. Sometimes I'd use a Polleverywhere or Socrative question to try and collect some data.
Enter Pear Deck. Pear Deck is an amazing tool that combines presentation with real-time assessment. Students log in with their GAFE accounts and the teacher controls the pace. Teachers share their interactive lessons and students respond to “checks for understanding” through any device. They can track student results on an individual and group basis. Feedback is instantaneous and can inform instruction, highlighting if a topic needs to be covered again.
There are many question types, including your basic text and multiple choice questions all the way up to my favorite, a "drawing" question. Students can mark up text or draw the route taken by a famous explorer around the world.
The ability to "focus" the students on a particular slide, including a website, is an amazing classroom management tool, too.
Pear Deck lives in the cloud and is deeply integrated with Google Apps for Education, so you spend less time administering and more time engaging your learners!
Watch the video below to learn how Pear Deck works and then check it out by clicking on the logo above.
If you've read my post on the "Paperless Classroom," you know my transition wasn't driven by any high and mighty ideals, but rather out of necessity. That and the fact that I can think of no fate worse than spending time at the half-busted copier while teachers frantically run in to print off 40 page packets. But I digress.
One thing I struggled with as a classroom teacher was distributing readings for my students. I hate, hate, hate PDF annotation and find it to be cruel and unusual punishment no matter the platform. So I used Google Docs for my students to annotate their readings and show their thinking. The problem with this was at the end I'd have somewhere around 150 separate docs to look at. If I wanted students to see each others thinking, they'd have to share the Doc with each classmate.
Then one day I asked a friend and fellow technology integration specialist @MagistraMarien if she had any ideas. She suggested Actively Learn and my mind was blown.
Actively Learn is a digital platform where teachers engage their students in reading. Scaffolding, peer learning, and assessment come together inside a text, exactly when students want help and need motivation.
In a nutshell, you pick or create a reading for your students. You then can embed questions and notes, including multimedia files. Teachers create assignments using one of thousands of texts available to them, or by pulling in your own PDFs, Google Docs, and web articles you can teach exactly the content you want. Students answer the questions presented to them and receive feedback in real time.
I really love the fact that you can find a web article at night and push it out to your students for the next day with ease. The best part is it even strips away all the "noise," such as links to other content and, even better, ads!
One of the coolest features is that students can read socially. If you choose, you can allow students to see the notes and thoughts of fellow classmates. Students can decide if their notes are private or shared with the class. Students think more, write more, and collaborate when reading, which to me is a total game changer.
Actively Learn integrates with your favorite Google tools, allowing you to import content directly from Drive, Import rosters from Classroom, and Sign in with Google Apps for Education accounts.
This is absolutely one you need to have in your toolkit, kiddos. Check out the video below and then visit ActivelyLearn.com to get started.
Check out my presentation for the Niles Township Institute Day! I'm presenting on two great Real-Time Assessment tools, Peardeck and Nearpod. Here is the Nearpod presentation in self-paced "Homework" mode. (Peardeck PDF coming when feature is available).
This...this is what I've been waiting for! The SnagIt Chrome extension works flawlessly across OS's, and what's more, it saves straight to your Google Drive! It even makes animated GIFs! Perfect for the quick tutorial that doesn't need audio! I've been sharing them via email and on Schoology for simple tasks like submitting work or changing settings.
Check out this tutorial (video style) that I made introducing the extension to my teachers.
You can add the extension for yourself and take it for a spin here.
My students recently used Adobe Voice to create book trailers for future generations of students! It has been a great tool for students to demonstrate their learning and put their own creative touches on a final product.
Check out this Adobe Voice tutorial I created for my teachers!
Tech Integration Specialist, Tech Coach, 21st Century Learning Specialist, etc. The list of titles go on and on, but a rose by any other name... The question I frequently am asked is, "what does a tech integration specialist do?" So, I've pulled together some resources from various sources to try and answer that question.
Check out the post here.
I know I'm about a month late to the party here, but I wanted to wait until I had a little bit of time working with the tool before I shared. "What tool," you ask? Why, Screencastify, of course!
I've been using Chrome OS since the Acer AC700 came out (I wasn't "worthy" of the Cr-48...grumble grumble...) and I have used it for pretty much everything. My mantra has been that if a tool isn't browser agnostic, then it wasn't worth the hassle of using.
This philosophy has worked out pretty well, but there was one major drawback: screencasting. For those of you who aren't familiar, a screencast lets you record all screen activity, including audio. This is great for "how to" videos or flipped lessons. Most of these tools use java, flash, or other plug ins, so they wouldn't work on Chrome OS. I was able to use Hangouts On Air, but this seemed unnecessarily complicated.
Finally, last moth Screencastify hit the Chrome Web Store. I've used it a few times with great success, but more importantly, so have my students. We are a 1:1 school with Samsung Chromebooks, so all of my students have the necessary tools.
So far, students have used the tool to record screencasts of in-class presentations that they would have been absent for. Their group members simply inserted the YouTube videos into their Google Slides presentations and it was just like the students were there! Very cool. I'm planning on having students utilize the tool as a whole class to demonstrate their learning of upcoming concepts. I'll let you know how it goes!
This year's NICE MiniCon was a fantastic experience. Not only did I get to see three other educators share some wonderful ideas for improving student's learning experiences, but it also marked the first time that I've ever done a workshop outside of my own school. Now that I've got a taste of it, I can't wait to do it again. Too bad I didn't sign up for this year's ICE conference.
Everything went well and I received some very positive feedback. I guess that whole M.S.Ed. in Instructional Technology thing wasn't a bad idea after all. :)
My lovely wife Catherine, who presented at last year's MiniCon, gave me the great idea to create screencasts of what I was going to cover. That way everyone can go back and re-watch the videos.
What's even cooler is a Schoology Community Manager saw my videos and she liked them so much, shes's sharing them with their social networks. I'm basically famous now, guys.
If you want to see the presentation and the videos, they're all available here: mrwickham.com/nice.
Jeremy is a Google for Education Certified Trainer with eight years of experience integrating technology into the classroom. He enjoys helping students from all backgrounds learn the 21st Century skills to make them successful in school and beyond. Jeremy currently works as a Technology Coach helping teachers utilize the Otus Student Performance Platform to understand and improve student performance and engagement. He has previous experience working with teachers to utilize Google Apps for Education and 1:1 programs using both iPads and Chromebooks.