Monday, January 7, 2019

World Sketchnote Day (January 11th)

Friday is World Sketchnote Day (January 11th). I recently fell in love with Sketchnoting after attending Matt Miller's session at GaETC. Sketchnoting is a type of visual notetaking that allows people to better recall concepts and ideas. It combines structure, text, and pictures to convey thinking in a creative way.

To be clear I am not an artist and my first attempt during the session, where we were given challenges to complete, wasn't very good. I am glad that we were told that it wasn't about the ART but about the IDEAS.

In the session someone said I should find Wanda Terral, and see if she was doing a Sketchnote session. As it turned out she was sitting three rows ahead of me and she told me that I should check out Sylvia Duckworth's new book (which was coming out that week) about Sketchnotes. 

Purchase Link

I pre-ordered it and read it cover to cover over Thanksgiving break. It is a fabulous easy to read resource!

I loved it so much I left a glowing review on Amazon.

The author was so nice and contacted me and sent me an autographed copy (how nice was that?!?!).

I was telling one of our media specialist about it and we teamed up to teach Sketchnoting to 5th graders over four weeks (the four weeks before the winter break). 

She only saw them once a week...hence the four week time period. Not knowing what we were doing we broke it down as follows:

Week 1 - Doodle warm up (from Sylvia Duckworth's book), Introduction (with Sketchnote challenges throughout the lesson similar to what I experienced at the conference with Matt Miller). Below are some of the completed "challenge" sheets students did during this first lesson. 

Week 2 - Doodle warm up (from Sylvia Duckworth's book), Creating our Doodle Dictionary. Students learned how to draw various frequently used icons...all of the ones I selected were from the Sylvia Duckworth book). I bought these file folders from Amazon and each student got one with 10 sheets of blank paper on the inside (five sheets on one side and five on the other). We didn't have time to get them to decorate the outside...but in my fantasy world I wanted them to (see my example below). I wish I had called it a Doodle Dictionary...which has a better ring to it. The idea is that they would continue to add "doodles" to their "dictionary" for reference when they needed it. As the teacher, I would given them a few new doodles a week to add that related to content (for example in week three I knew they might need to draw a moose so we added a moose to their Doodle Dictionary). 

Week 3 - Doodle Warm Up (from Sylvia Duckworth's book), Review and Create Our First Sketchnote (we used Hanukkah in Alaska on StoryLine Online). This was my example I showed students (I used a different book so they wouldn't copy...but we found they copied the layout):

Note: We had students add a thinking person sketch in the corner with a thought bubble so they could write down any questions they had while they were watching the video. The school is going for STEM certification and questioning is a competent. If we had time we could have let them research their questions. Since we didn't we let them share out and discuss. 

 Week 4 - (This was the plan) Doodle Warm Up (from Sylvia Duckworth's book), Sketchnoting Digitally with academic content (the idea was to show students how they could use their tablets built in Sketchpad and Kami to create Sketchnotes)

We realized at the end of week three that we had to adjust. Students didn't do well on their own. When we showed the Storyline Online book they didn't know where to start or what to do (one class finished the other class didn't). We learned that they needed some structure. We also found out that we couldn't get them in the fourth week due to performance practice. We talked their teachers into letting us teach a content based lesson in their classroom the last week, which actually turned out to be really good. Since it was in a regular classroom block, not a related arts block, the teachers stayed with the class so we were able to show how Sketchnotes could be incorporated into a lesson and they could see what the students were capable of. In the classroom lesson we gave students a template (STRUCTURE) with resources and specific instructions and they did much better!

We did some digital sketching in the warm ups in weeks two, three and four using Kami and the built in tablet Sketchpad but we never created a digital version from start to finish, which was my goal. Perhaps if we had them longer we might have been able to get to it. 

It was a fun four weeks regardless and it is possible that Kim, the media specialist, and I learned more than the students but we now have a better idea of how we would do projects like this one in the future. 

Fortunately I get another chance with a fifth grade class in a few weeks. I was showing some of the student work to a teacher in another school and she is having me come in Monday-Friday in her AM block one week to teach a similar "sketchnote unit" with her students. I am super excited to apply the lessons I learned from doing it the first time. I'll definitely post updates!

In the meantime you, and your students, can participate in World Sketchnote Day by having them creating a Sketchnote on any topic and then posting it to social media with any, or all, of the following hashtags.


Friday, January 4, 2019

Goal Setting with Students

Our students go back to school from the holiday break this Monday (January 7th). I suspect that most teachers talk about setting goals throughout the year (MAP goals, reading goals, etc.) but coming back in the New Year is a great time to reiterate the importance of goal setting and talk about why we should do it. Teaching students now how to set goals helps them to develop a growth mindset and gives them skills they will need as they get jobs later in life. 

For myself setting goals (big and small) helps me to stay focused as well as encourages continued learning. I can't image having a day, month, or year without some goals list! Some of my goals are organize my closets and drawers and others are fun like try and match one pinned outfit a month.

January's Pinned Outfit Match Goal Achieved

When I was younger I made it a goal to be able to do a handstand. I practiced outside for HOURS until I could do it. My son wanted to learn a flip skateboard trick and I watched as he spent an entire holiday break with his friends in the driveway trying to nail it (and watching YouTube videos that helped him learn it).

I recently read this article on We Are Teachers about goal setting with students and loved some of the ideas. My favorite is having students complete "WOW" goals (goals that can be done "within one week"). Students need to understand that small goals can add up to complete a big goal (and to be realistic most children need immediate gratification and success in order to see goal setting is worth it).

The article mentions some books that would be good for students in relation to goal setting but I also put together a list of videos that could be used as well. They aren't necessary about setting goals but rather kids who had to set goals in order to achieve what they wanted. 

Achievement -…/148-hall-of-fame
Mo’s Bows -
Ballet -…/152-ballet
Rube Goldberg –
Double Dutch -
Darci Lynn Ventriloquist -
Singing -…/154-grace-vanderwaal

You can show a few of the videos and have student pair up and come up with a personal goal they would like to achieve...complete a handstand, get to the next level of a video game, learn how to draw a horse. Keep it away from school goals to begin with...that wouldn't be nearly as fun to discuss.

Give students this Newsela article Celebrating Kids Who Did Amazing Things in 2018 and have them pick one of the children and have them make a list of three goals that child probably had to set in order to reach their BIG goal. The article can be accessed with a free account. They also offer another article about Setting Goals, and Keeping them, for the New Year .

Then have students come up with three goals: one personal, one home, and one school and have them list the small goals they need to achieve them.

I liked these goal displays I came across on Pinterest. I always feel that if a goal is "public" you are more likely to complete it.

Blog Post

Blog Link

Blog Post - Reading Goals

If you have any other great videos, books, or ideas for goal setting please share them in the comments section or share on Twitter tagging @atechcoachlife.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Google Classroom Headers (and Bitmojis)

I recently taught a class on how to use Bitmojis in the classroom to increase student engagement and help with classroom organization and management.

One fun idea was to use them to make custom Google Classroom headers. The idea came from Alice Keeler's blog and she even provided a template for her header.

My computer settings weren't the same as hers so I had to tweak my version.

Template Link -

This got me thinking about how the headers could be changed out frequently, as something new for students to look forward to, when they opened up Google Classroom. In my head I was thinking they could be changed out weekly (38 total headers needed) if time permitted. 

Happy New Year
Template Link

Birthday Headers
Template Link

Valentines Day
Template Link

I have several other ideas, templates, and instructions linked in this presentation.

I would love to see other custom Google Classroom Header ideas! Please feel free to post a comment or tag me on Twitter at @techcoachlife.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2019 Goals - Low Tech

I posted a Google Drawings version of this activity and realized that it might not be feasible for everyone. It would be easy to change it to a low tech project.

Have students draw out their goals using paper and pencil. They can use the "9" as either a "q" or a "g". I showed two different ways you can lay out the year in the pictures above. 

Once they have a sketched out version give students clean paper and colored pencils to do the final copy. Finished versions could easily be hung in the hallway. 

Our student HP Tablets come equipped with Microsoft Windows Ink Workspace, if you have that students could use it to digitize their sketch. We also have a Kami subscription but students could use the free version to digitally draw their goals as well. 

I used these requirements when filling out my goals sheet:

- List 2 things you would like to do (think about things that might make you a better student/person, healthier, or more organized).
- Use the 0 as an "O" and make up a goal that starts with that letter (one thing, organize, over, may need to brainstorm this one with students who might be struggling)
- Name something you would like to 1earn (school or personal...think about something you might watch on YouTube you might learn from). 
- Use the 9 as either a "g" or a"q" and set a goal that starts with either one of those letters. For a "g" you can use "get", "give", "go". For a "q" I used "quit" but I could have also used "quiet".

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2019 Goals Template

Looking for a fun back-to-school activity to kick off the New Year? Try this digital Google Drawings goals template.

The idea is to take the numbers in 2019 and use them as both numbers AND letters to create four goals for the new year. 

Students would identify:

2 things they would like to do, try, or read
0ne thing they would like to accomplish or stop doing
something they would like to 1earn (personal or school)
and someplace they would like to 9o, get or give this coming year

You may want to have students sketch out their ideas on scratch paper before they open up the template in Google Drawings.

I had a couple of my friends try out the template and here is what they came up with:

This is great activity to introduce students to some Google Drawing tools that could be used later in the year to create content posters.

Layers of the Atmosphere Poster
Google Drawings

I made a video explaining the project in greater detail if anyone wanted to try it before introducing it to students (which I highly recommend).

I would love to see any finished projects! I can be tagged on Twitter at @techcoachlife.

Any questions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Creative Bookmarks - Part I

This past summer I worked a reading program and I put together a week of creative bookmarks crafts for participants to complete.

My favorite were these very easy Star Wars themed ones. I ran across them randomly from a library blog (which I am sad I did not bookmark to give credit 😢).

The library site directed me to the YouTube Video for instructions and the templates. The instructional video for these bookmarks is in Portuguese but since we were following what the child was doing versus what he was saying it was fine. 

I downloaded the templates to my Google Drive so I could keep them even if the video or related site went down. Here are the links to each:

The were a lot of fun to put together. I thought they would make a good back-to-school activity, or project for a Star Wars themed school night, or to complete the week of May the 4th (as in May the 4th be with you...#scifinerd 🤣). 

I will post some of the other bookmarks in a later post. Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2018

ReadWorks - Article-A-Day and Book of Knowledge (FREE)

I have done a series of training's on how to utilize ReadWorks Article-A-Day and Book of Knowledge in the classroom.

I love this resource. In fact I love everything about ReadWorks! (huge FAN here)

The general gist of an Article-A-Day is that it is a short 10-12 minute routine you do in the classroom during a transition time (not as part of your ELA block) that exposes students to more ideas, vocabulary, and reading. I work with 15 Title 1 schools and I know how important it is to expose students to more of everything...we just simply don't have enough time and the Article-A-Day idea is a brilliant way to sneak in more literacy (thus more ideas).

As a teacher you would pick your dedicated classroom time for the routine. My recommendation is to be religious about it. If you don't take it seriously neither will your students. FYI - I feel the same way about notebooking in the classroom as well.

For K-2 students you pick your grade and topic and simply pull up the articles on the board. You are given six short articles within the topic and you use one each day (one article isn't read or you can do two in one day). After you read the article out loud to the younger students ask them to tell you two or three things they learned. You write it down on chart paper (see picture above). I added tabs to the side so we can start building our Book of Knowledge to see how far we have come during the year. Once we have done Monday-Friday we pick a different article set the next week and repeat the routine for the entire school year.

I had a friend make the chart paper cover for me. I figured if it looked cute teachers might be inclined to try it out. A few teachers took pictures of it so I am hoping to see them in classes (maybe after the holidays).

There are several options for grades 3-5 (possibly 2nd grade...but remember this activity is supposed to be quick..done in 10-12 minutes):

- You can put the article up on the board (or print them out...but think of the trees), students read it and then write two or three things in their own Book of Knowledge (half a composition notebook or it could be loose leaf paper inside a 3 prong folder...anything will work).
or Amazon Link

- If you are 1:1 on computers you can have students join your ReadWorks class and assign them the article set for the week and they can write in the digital Book of Knowledge provided. Students can view their building digital "Book of Knowledge" under their account and teachers can monitor what students have written in their account.

I would probably start grades 3-5 out with chart paper until they got the routine down and then move them to a digital platform.

I'm hoping this post inspires teachers to try it out. To find out more visit the Article-A-Day page in ReadWorks or check out one of their pre-recorded webinars on Vimeo.