Are you looking for another fun way to open up class or review material? Kahoot is the way to do it! You will need internet access and at least 1 device for every 4 students. Kahoot is especially easy for schools who are one to one or bring your own device allowing all students to be involved individually but it is still effective if you can rent a school computer lab!
Kahoot is most often used as an interactive and competitive online game offering multiple choice or “put it in the correct order” timed questions though there are options for survey type questions as well. There are thousands of pre-made kahoots you can use! Start by logging in to createkahoot.it. You can search by using general keywords or by just browsing through popular kahoots. Can’t find one you like? Make your own! Kahoot is well organized for new users but you can look for a step by step tutorial coming soon!
Once you have either created or chosen a Kahoot you’d like to play, choose “play kahoot”. The screen will then display a pin number for students to use to enter the game at kahoot.it. You have the option to kick students out if they enter a “bad nickname” before starting the game. When you have everyone in the game, begin the Kahoot!
You’ll see bright colors and hear intense music that your students will learn to know and love. Students will try to answer by choosing the correct answer as quickly as possible in order to earn the most points. After each question there is a 5 person leaderboard on the screen everyone can see while each individual student or competing group can see their placement on their own screens. When the Kahoot is complete, there is a podium with the top three students as well as an option for students to give feedback on whether they liked the Kahoot and/or learned from it.
Something Kahoot added this past year was “Ghost Mode”! You can play the same Kahoot (all the same questions) but you are playing against your previous entries. Throw in some retro arcade music and twice as many users answering and you have a great way to review the material one more time!
Use Kahoot to review with your students, conduct PD, or even as a pre/post assessment. With a competitive setup, editable content, and engaging screen design and music Kahoot is an easy and fun tech tool to implement!
CLASSROOM PICK ME UP: TEXTBOOKS FOR AFRICA1/14/2017
Have you ever had that class that just seemed longer(or crazier!) than all the others? It becomes a continuous downer which means you and your class need a pick-me-up! Something new to try out that may or may not change how that class works. In the parts of our blog labeled “Classroom Pick Me Up”, we’ll share about one of those types of classes and a strategy we used to turn it around.
We were in a unique situation in Joplin after the tornado my first year teaching. Our high school was split into two separate buildings: the 9/10 building and the 11/12 building. I taught Pre-Algebra and Geometry in the 9/10 building and while my Geometry class was full of either advanced freshmen or “on-track” sophomores, my Pre-Algebra class culture was very different. When conferencing with these students, many of them identified themselves as “bad at math” or “in the dumb class”. It was heartbreaking.
I struggled throughout my first semester to get buy-in and effort from many of these students who had accepted that they were just never going to succeed in math. Many would do their practice problems and get them right and then fail tests with the explanation that they were the dumb kids and I just needed to accept that. Having spent time in schools in 3rd world countries where kids sat three to a desk and had very limited resources but still worked so hard to do well in school, it honestly made me a little angry that these students in a 1:1 school with internet and all kinds of resources were giving up so easily. There was no way I was going to have a repeat of this overwhelming discouraging semester.
I tried to break down the issue over Christmas break. These kids were continuously telling themselves that they were stupid and incapable of doing well in math, that they were in the dumb class. If I could reframe that mindset, maybe these kids might start to feel success. I tried to think of a day when I had seen this class be motivated or focused. If I could determine what it was that motivated them and give them that feeling every day, class may be different.
Then I remembered a guest speaker I had brought into class. She was from a local non-profit and she told of her experience using art therapy in Thailand to aid children rescued from slavery. The kids were so into it! They had asked questions and showed more enthusiasm that day than I had seen during any other guest speaker or math activity. These kids cared about helping others, so I needed to make math about helping others.
When the students came back to school in January they were no longer going to be traditionally learning Pre-Algebra. They were going to be using the class time to create textbooks for kids in Africa who didn’t have any resources. I showed off a new area in my classroom decorated with pictures and souvenirs from my trips to Africa to be used ONLY in my Pre-Algebra classes. I bought a composition notebook for each student to use.
We would start all the way back at the beginning of the school year with the content in order to be sure what we delivered to the classes in Africa had a complete text. It would be up to each student to make sure their textbook was complete with instructions (notes we would take in class), practice problems with solutions (I provided examples of practice problems while they provided the worked out solutions), and tests (made completely by students). They would also need to add their own flair to the notebooks - drawings, hints or general studying tips, encouraging notes, and more.
I didn’t know if they would really buy into the idea or not until I posted the first section of notes to copy into the “textbook”. The class was silent. They were all intent on copying everything and making sure it was legible. They asked questions so that they could make sure they put everything possible into the book to help the kids in Africa.
After each lesson I took a picture of one notebook. It had to be neat and include all the notes and practice problems and contain correct solutions. I posted these pictures online so that students who were absent could catch up.
I used a rubric to grade each section in the notebook and then the students were tested with the same unit tests that all the other Pre-Algebra classes in the building gave. Their test scores went up and I believe it is largely due to their new mindset. They weren’t in the dumb class anymore. They were in the class that was creating textbooks for kids who didn’t have them. We still had to take tests but those were just one day that they had to take off from making the textbooks. It was a necessary thing required by the school and they were fine with it so long as they could get back to doing work that would impact others.
The whole process made class so much better both for my students and myself! And it got about a million times better when we received pictures from the textbook recipients!
Maybe something like this works for you! Maybe it doesn’t…(sorry!) Regardless, remember that you are not alone with your classroom struggles! Keep pushing through and trying something new!
I'm teaching a new class this semester - one that I've never taught before. The school I teach at places all freshmen together in their core courses and tracks them. If they are below a certain map score when entering high school, they can also be placed in a "Reading and Writing Strategies" course or a "Math Strategies" course. While a long term sub taught the first semester of Math Strategies, I am taking over this semester and I am pretty excited.
I get a whole class period every single day to help freshmen work on strategies for math! I can finally do all of the activities that I don't have time to do in my Algebra or Geometry courses. And I can go sloooooow.
I have loved this week so much and I want to share a couple of the activities that we did in class that could be adapted for time or grade level pretty easily!
THE 8 MATHEMATICAL PRACTICESMy goal for this class is for students to know and understand the 8 mathematical practices. I asked students on the first day, "what makes someone good or bad at math?". Many of them said focus or not giving up. After we had shared out what they thought, I introduced the 8 Mathematical Practices. I downloaded this freebie from TPT and hung them up in my room. Most importantly, after each activity we do, I ask them to each write down and share out which mathematical practice(s) we used and how.
COUCH GAMEThis one takes a round or two for students to really catch on to the goal. Just ask them to bear with you and make sure you understand and can prompt students through the first couple of times. It also helps if you can divide your class evenly by something visual. I usually do boys v girls but I have 13 boys and 2 girls in my first Math Strat class so that wasn't going to work. I numbered them teams 1 and 2 counting off around the circle and gave a bright sticky note to all of my team 2 players so they could be easily identified.
1. Get in a circle with each person in between two people from the other team.
2. Declare the location of THE COUCH! 4 spaces in the circle become the sacred couch. The goal is to get your team on the couch in all 4 spots. At the beginning of the game, it should always two people from each team.
3. Create an open seat or spot in the circle not on the couch.
4. If you have an open spot to your left, then you can call someone's name and they must move to that location. The one person who's name is called is the only one to move.
5. After the person moves, there will be a new open spot in the circle. Repeat step 4. You cannot move the same person twice in a row.
6. The game ends when one team has all four spots on the couch.
PSYCHIATRISTAn oldie but a goodie!
1. Choose one person to leave the room so they cannot hear discussion.
2. The remaining people get into a circle and decide on a rule. The rule could be that every person is now the person to their left or it could be that everyone is Suzie. Whatever the rule is, everyone in the circle should answer all questions following the rule.
3. The person who was outside comes back into the room and stands in the middle of the circle. They have 3 chances to guess the rule but can ask an unlimited number of questions.
4. The person in the middle asks questions like, "What color is your shirt?", "Are you a boy or a girl?", "What color shoes are you wearing?", etc. The students in the circle answer the questions according to the rule. If they do not know the answer without somehow giving it away or if they answer a question incorrectly, someone can call out "Psychiatrist" and everyone in the circle gets up and moves to a different spot in the circle. The game continues until the person in the middle either guesses the rule or uses all 3 tries.
LOGIC PUZZLES & SUDOKUIf I teach my students how to complete logic puzzles and sudoku squares then I am giving them another option for an activity to use when they need a brain break. Beyond the perseverance and critical thinking needed to solve these puzzles, I want students to be able to work independently or in small groups on something that doesn't require a lot of noise or movement. Much like English teachers can start class with some independent reading time, teaching students to solve these puzzles could add a great spot for some math practices to be done quietly at the beginning or end of a class period. I used Puzzle Baron's Logic Puzzles to teach them how to complete them. The only issue with this site is that some of the problems include alcoholic drinks. Just keep an eye out for that!
THE SEMESTER IN PIXELS - FREE TPT DOWNLOADI saw someone post on Facebook about doing something like this in a journal personally and I loved the idea! I created a Google Sheet and added it to my Google Classroom for my math strategies students to use. Many students (and adults) struggle with interpreting graphs and may think only of the coordinate plane when hearing the word graph.
I started by having students tell me something they knew based off of the example chart on the right. Students were able to summarize that the example represented a generally happy person who had a couple of rough days. I responded that it was my personal pixel chart and that I was generally happy but I had a pipe burst (in 3 spots!) and got my basement ripped up on January 5th. They filled out the days they could remember leading up to this week and will now fill it in each day when they come to class.
I am excited because I can pull a lot of things from this.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD SEMESTER IN PIXELS ON YOUR GOOGLE DRIVE FOR FREE!THE COLOR CODEWith another focus on interpreting graphs, I had my freshmen students take the color code test. When they got the results, they looked at the pie chart (which shows only the most dominant color) and tried to guess about how much of the pie the other colors took up.
This was great for self reflection, for learning about how they are motivated, and for learning that others are motivated differently. It was also great data for me to see so that I can use it in future lesson plans.
I bought the jumbo pack of popsicle sticks so that I could create multiple Kaboom! games but I decided to use them in Math Strat as well.
I put students into teams of 2 and gave them 20 popsicle sticks, 4 feet of yarn, and 1 foot of ductape. They had 30 minutes to make the most money.
The money aspect definitely took it up a notch from just challenging them to build the tallest tower.
WEEK ONE DONE!We did all of this in a 4 day week back from Christmas break and I absolutely loved watching my students who feel like they are not great at math be so confident and enjoy themselves with each of these activities. I'm looking forward to week 2 and more
Spring break is either happening or coming up soon for most of us. What are you doing with your time off? Hopefully you are doing at least one of these things.
1. A fun craft or recipe
Do something that is totally you! Make one of those pinterest recipes or crafts you saved back in August and haven't had time to do. You have time for this week and then probably not any more until May. Use this time to accomplish something just for you- and it doesn't need to be something for your classroom, feel free to save those for June!
2. Binge watch that show you've heard so much about.
I love hearing from others about shows they've found on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. that are binge-worthy. Now is the time to try one out! Find a comfy spot and relax!
3. Read a book.
There are plenty of great educational books you can read if you're looking for some ideas to try when you head back to school but you could also spend some time reading something completely unrelated to your job. It's Spring BREAK! I plan on reading a few books and only ONE of them is school related. I know, such a #Rebel.
4. Spend time with friends or family.
Teaching takes a lot out of you and sometimes our friends and family don't get the attention we'd like to give them. We have a few days off this week to not think about school. Take that time and give at least some of it to your friends and family. Invite a friend over for that binge-watch session or take them/your spouse lunch if they don't have spring break. Do a craft with your kids or plan a date night. You have time this week, use it on the people you love!
Some of use won't be able to resist the urge to use Spring Break to go work on our classroom and break goes by way too fast. If you have the opportunity, get out of the area! Out of sight, out of mind! I have a couple of friends who started planning a Florida trip back in November and I am so glad they did! We will only be gone for a couple of days out of Spring Break but I know that those days are already dedicated to friends and relaxation. It forces the much needed break on those of us who may not use it otherwise.
6. Stay up late!
Teaching is EXHAUSTING. My husband if always making fun of how early I go to bed but almost all of the teachers I know are heading to bed around the same time. We're tired from the day and we know we have to be up and on for the kids tomorrow...not the case on Spring Break! This is the week to stay up with your friends, kids, or spouse and live it up! You can sleep in tomorrow!
7. Sleep in!
Get some extra rest this week. Sleep in or take a nap - we don't get to do this normally. This is the week to stock up on sleep before we hit that crazy 4th quarter!
8. Get some alone time.
We are around people a lot. Whether you teach Kindergarten or Seniors, it can sometimes feel like we are at the beck and call of 30-180 students. Even if you are a mom with little ones to play with over break, take some time for just you. Spring Break marks the 3/4 mark in the school year for most of us and sometimes that last quarter is the craziest. Take some time for yourself before you head back into the chaos.
9. Do something you can't do during the school year.
Yes, we have the summer but that is still 2-3 months away! And that is a long freaking time when you are trying to teach 20-180 students who are itching for summer break themselves. Find something you're looking forward to for summer and have a little taste of it this week.
10. Get outside and get active!
Hopefully the weather is nice for break...regardless, find something active to do for at least one day of the break. Enjoy some sun if possible and get moving no matter what! Even a 5 minute dance party would work! Just move. Don't let your break fly by without DOING something or you'll go back to school more tired than you were before!
For teachers, conferences are both something to look forward to and something that we dread. They are necessary so that we can talk to parents about their students progress in class. They are difficult because those conversations can be hard, awkward, and sometimes confrontational. At the secondary level it is also a struggle to get parents to come to parent-teacher conferences at all. It can start to feel like a waste of time when there can be so much preparation involved.
Both of us (Danielle and Becca) have conferences this week and we assume that they are fast approaching for others as well. Maybe you are a first time teacher or maybe you just continue to be on the struggle bus with conferences. Either way, here are our thoughts and ideas about have successful parent teacher conferences.
To start, many schools are different in their opinion of how to structure conferences. Some schools want students to be there and have student-led conferences and some would say it should be just parents and teachers present for conferences. Is it open house style or do you need to schedule times with specific parents? What materials do you need to have ready for parents who do attend?
The best conferences I (Danielle) have ever participated in were the conferences my building did when I taught middle school. I taught at a true middle school where we had two 6th grade teams. Every teacher had a homeroom/advisory class. When it came to conferences we would schedule conferences with the parents of our homeroom class. The school scheduled one day after school for conferences and then on the next day the students did not have school and we were there until 4 but we were open all day for conferencing appointments. We scheduled an appointment with those 20-25 parents of students in our homeroom. Then my 6th grade team would meet and discuss which conferences we wanted to have as a team. If there was a student that really struggled or had specific behavior issues, we would all block out that time slot to have a team conference with that parent and student which was student-led.
In the weeks leading up to conferences, we would take time in homeroom to organize a portfolio of work from each class and the students would write reflections on their work that they would go over with their parents during the conference. I would discuss any issues that had been brought to my attention by the other teachers and answer any questions I could. If the parent wanted to talk to a specific teacher, then they could also schedule time for that during conferences as well but the main responsibility was for the homeroom teachers and meeting a different teacher was more of a special case. When we did it this way, I felt really supported since I had my team and a lot of preparation ahead of time. The responsibility was really on the students because they were leading the conference and they knew what issues they were going to have to talk about with their parents.
I (Becca) have not had experience with scheduling conferences, though that sounds like it may make it more worth the time! I try to have some candy available as well as a folder for each student containing student work and some student reflection. As parents arrive, I offer candy, ask them to sign in, and show them student work along with their grade. Most of the time the student is not with them. I explain how the grade is calculated, how their student behaves and performs in class, and how they could get better. I express any concerns I may have and check for questions. With any time left (many times the parent is trying to get around the building to see 6 other teachers and may be in a hurry), I make sure they understand our LMS so that they can have as much information about their student’s grades and attendance as possible!
The few times that the student is with them, I always include the student in the conversation. I have found that students are much more likely to say what they may need to be successful while sitting one on one with a parent present. While many would not pull you aside in class and tell you then need help being reminded what to do or would like more examples, they might in a conference setting! I have seen many students take some responsibility when I can tell both them and their parents what I think their strengths are. If their grades are not correlating well with their ability, they more often than not will take responsibility for their part. I would much rather have that conversation than just talk to a parent about what their student communicates to them versus what they communicate to me. Again, those are rare occasions for me, to have students present.
When it comes to conferences and if your district is considering any changes to your conference procedure, I would suggest the following:
If you don’t have control over your structure of conferences, try to find ways to work within your system.
We all know that technology is a huge piece of the classroom today, but the big question that looms is are we using the technology for the sake of technology or is there some purpose behind it? It can be a hard transition from little to no technology to a 1:1 environment.
At our school, Joplin High School, we made the transition very suddenly six years ago after the tornado destroyed our school. The computers were a donation and the decision was made that we would not buy replacement textbooks. It was a very stressful situation for everyone involved.
Teachers and students now had to learn how to do school differently than they had ever before. There was not much in the way of training for our staff in how to manage a 1:1 classroom and there was this perception that the teachers had to change everything about their teaching style. Students struggled because they were not used to learning in a technology heavy environment.
What we learned in those first few years in the 1:1 environment, is that you have to have really solid classroom management and that you have to base your technology on good teaching pedagogy. We have been learning that using technology for the sake of technology does not help our students learn, but actually hinders learning and can do a number on our classroom management.
When deciding on what technology tools to use in the classroom, the first question I ask is how can this help the students meet our learning intentions? The technology needs to serve a purpose. If it doesn’t help the students, it could end up distracting them from actually learning what you want them to learn.
The second question I ask is how does this tool inform me about student learning? There are so many technology tools out there that are there to help teachers collect data on student learning.
I also recommend using the SAMR model for evaluating technology use in the classroom. Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. This is a great way to check the reasons and plan for how you use your educational technology.
The point is for us to really evaluate the technology we use in the classroom and make sure that it serves a purpose and supports or extends the learning for our students.
As many you probably know though, all the questions in the world about use of technology, do not help if you do not have proper professional development to help you understand the technology and how to make the best use of it in the classroom. I have found that learning from your fellow teachers is one of the best ways and if you school is lucky enough to have technology learning coaches, they are a great resource to help. We also have a cohort at our school that gets together to learn about and work with educational technology and then we present at professional development days. It has been really helpful in encouraging teachers to explore educational technology, but also work on evaluating educational technology and how to use it in the classroom.
If you have any ideas for evaluating technology or ways for teachers to get together and learning about implementing technology in the classroom, let us know!
What did they do wrong? Most problem sets in a math textbook have at least one problem where they look at a student’s work and they have to figure out what the student did wrong and how to fix it so that the problem is solved correctly.
I love problems like this because it really challenges the students to look for mistakes, a great practice to learn for checking answers! Considering how great these types of questions are, we don’t ask them enough.
Training our students to evaluate work and find mistakes can be one of the most useful things we teach them in math (and other subjects!). This is why when I noticed my co-taught Algebra students making common mistakes consistently while learning to solve one step equations, I wanted to give them some training on catching their own mistakes without simply telling them to check their work. The best way to do that, I’ve found, is by turning it into a game! Here's how to do it:
Find the mistake:
I love playing this game and hearing the students explain their answers as well as “someone else’s” mistake out loud. It is great to see those a-ha moments and class just flies by!
Try it out and let me know how it works in your class!
A back channel is a program/tool that a teacher can use in the background of a lesson. Typically they are chat windows that are used to allow students and the teacher to communicate together while they are working on notes, projects, or any class activity. Many teachers use these to allow students to ask questions without having to speak in a whole class setting. It benefits the students that are quiet and do not like to talk out in class. It also gives students that know the content well to answer student questions and allows them to become leaders.
1. GoSoapBox - GoSoapBox creates events for students to join. There are multiple functions within each event. Students can participate in discussions, polls, and quizzes. For the teacher there is a profanity filter, confusion barometer, and name requirements. You can also download quiz results. Students do not have to sign up for an account. Teachers give students an accent code to enter when it is time use it.
Uses - I have used this when I given my students reading assignments. I love that students can ask questions, let me know if they are confused, and have different modes of interaction. I can give them a quiz to check for understanding and then have students engage in a discussion and poll them on their thoughts about the content.
2. TodaysMeet - This is the basic chat room. Students can use their phone or computer and have no account to sign up for. You can close out rooms whenever you want. This is great for in the background chatroom. Students can ask questions and respond to student questions while the class activity is happening. You can download a transcript of the discussion before you close it. There really isn’t much control for the teacher unless you pay for an upgrade on the free account.
Uses - I have used this as an exit ticket activity or progress check. I like that this is quick. Student can do a quick response about whatever question I ask. I’m not a big fan of the lack of controls in the free version.
3. CoverItLive - They call it a live blog. It is a chat window, but the teacher can act as a moderator in the conversation. A teacher can deny posts that are inappropriate. Another great function is that it can be embedded in a website or LMS page. The chat can also be replayed at any time. It is marketed to corporations, but I emailed them about a teacher account and was given one for free.
Uses - This is my favorite chat window. I love that you can embed it in a website. I love that it has moderator functions to limit students that choose to make irresponsible decisions. I have used this one as a background chat during lecture and days when I am meeting with small groups and cannot immediately answer every question. It allows students to answer each other's questions without disrupting the rest of the class. I have also seen this used at pd conferences so attendees can discuss what is going on as it is happening!
I read an article this morning from Edutopia Visualizing 21st-Century Classroom Design and it really made me think about my desire for change in my classroom. In my desire to change my class to a more self-paced environment, I feel myself working towards the principals talked about in this article.
In the article the author, Mary Wade, describes five elements of a 21st-century classroom and gives some really great ideas of how to implement them in a teacher’s room. I loved her ideas, but it got me thinking about change and how hard it can be when we know where want to get to, but don’t know how to get there or how fast to move in that direction.
In my teaching career, I have gone from teaching with an overhead projector to teaching in a 1:1 district. That was a massive change for me even with my masters degree in Educational Technology. I love the technology that I get to work with and I don’t want to go back to not having it, but over the past 5 years I have been trying to figure out the best environment for students to work and learn with technology and create meaningful learning opportunities for students.
I have been moving towards a self-paced classroom for a while now in small trials and units and have only now 5 years into my 1:1 classroom experience have made the full jump to trying it for an entire semester. I was scared of failing and letting students down, of having a high F rate, and not feel like a teacher anymore if I wasn’t in the center pushing students along. I finally found the courage to change, because I was so unhappy with they way things were going that I couldn’t argue against it anymore and someone I respect and trust was trying as well.
Change is hard, but making small, slow changes is better than making no changes at all. I encourage all teachers out there to read the article on visualizing 21st-century classroom and find a partner that would be willing to experiment with you. I have found that finding someone that you trust and work well with that can go through the experience with you or at least support you in change can go a long way in making those positive changes happen in your classroom. Maybe you will find some inspiration from this practical article and we can all move toward a more positive and productive atmosphere for all students.
Even if you pick one thing to change, you will be making a positive change and moving towards creating a learning experience meant for ALL students. Isn't that what all teachers want?
WE CAN DO THIS!
If you are looking for a way to incorporate current events into your class or just share resources with students or faculty, scoop.it is a great tool to use! Scoop.it is somewhat like a professional Pinterest page.
With scoop.it, you create a profile with topics. In each topic, you collect articles or videos that relate to the topic and you can curate them by adding your own thoughts about the content. Then you publish to your page/topic. Your account is usually connected to a social media account which will post your material as well, but there is an option to create an account not connected to social media.
The website is geared towards businesses with a marketing angle, but if you search users you will find a lot of college professors and teachers that are using the website to collect resources for their classes.
There is a free account option which is great but the downside is you are only allowed to curate one topic on that account and you don’t really have any personalization options. There is also a pro account and a business account. That give you more topics and personalization options.
Once you are signed up, you can set up your topic and begin curating content (basically publishing articles and videos to your topic). It also allows you to add a bookmarklet so when you are browsing the Internet and you find an article or video you want, you can click on the bookmarklet to “scoop it” and curate content on the spot (just like Pinterest). Your topic can be embedded in a website and/or LMS and can be shared as a link.
Uses in the Classroom/School as an Educator:
Uses in the Classroom as a Student: