Saturday, October 15, 2016

Baby Steps to Paperless

When I was in the classroom about the first of the year we would all get an email from the principal letting us know that we were making too many copies and using up too much paper. 

This message appears universal as most of my teacher friends from other schools would get the same email from their administrators. 

Some schools, at that point, would put a limitation on the amount of copies you can make per month on the fancy programmable copier machines....and then you would have to ask other teachers on your team with lower copier counts to make copies for you until the first of the month kicked in (I always felt it was really unfair that your unused copies don't roll over to the next month!).

Now that each student has a device in our district there has been a greater push for teachers to go paperless (as much as possible) but a lot of teachers don't know where to start. 

I met with one of those teachers a few weeks ago and recommended she put together a list of everything she makes copies of and then mark if it was non-negotiable or not (in the paperless realm). She did a pretty good job. It was clear anything math related was a non-negotiable for her. She liked the students to have room to work out their answers. She couldn't have cared less about the Words their Way papers...but needed some help moving them to a paperless format (which I helped her using Google Classroom). 

We talked about her science curriculum and one thing she gives her students is a weekly quiz (ten questions just to make sure they were understanding the weekly lessons and were prepared for the end of unit test). I showed her how to make those quizzes in ClassFlow using their stand alone assessment feature (one of my favorites). She liked the variety of assessment types (not just multiple choice).


My favorite question types are:

Cloze - You write a short couple of sentences and then remove some key words (using the [P] in the picture below) and then students can drag and drop the right answer in the missing space.




Creative Response - I gave students a picture of the solar system and asked them to circle certain plants



You can also have them label an image, sort things in order, and match items.

I gave her students a pre-test on planet identification to show her how easy it was for the students to take on their iPad (or any device) and for the teacher to grade (items like circle the right planet and short answer questions have to be independently graded by the teacher). I have the Planet Identification assessment uploaded to the ClassFlow marketplace for free if anyone wants to use it with their students.

ClassFlow has lots of help videos and here are the ones I felt were useful when making assessments

- Creating an Assessment
- Delivering an Assessment
- Reports

Even before our 1:1 days of iPads and tablets I could get creative becoming paperless, We had a set of four classroom computers that I could have rotated students through taking the quiz. The media center had a bank of computers students could use and our computer lab had some open slots that I could book if I needed to.

Becoming paperless doesn't have to be overwhelming. Look at what you currently make copies of, see what resources you have, and find ways you can make your first baby steps!



Sunday, October 2, 2016

My First Mystery Skype - Review and Resources






This week I tried a Mystery Skype for the first time with at 2nd grade class.They have a serious amount of mapping skills in their standards...and the teacher asked for a tech project tie in. I first wrote about Mystery Skype in this post.

In preparation for the activity I had my super nice boss order these place mat maps on Amazon (we ordered 12 based on a class size of 24 so that students could pair up).

This was a two day lesson (the class has a 40 minute Social Studies block and I took two days of it). The first day was reviewing what the class had learned and then (focusing solely on the United States) we taught them the four regions of the U.S. (NW, SW, NE, SE). We had them draw it out multiple times on their map. Once we did that we played a mystery state game. I left the classroom and the students came up with a state I had to guess when I came back in. This was done so that I could model questions a couple of times (crossing out states that I had projected on the interactive white board - Promethean for us). Then I flipped it so the kids had to guess my state a couple of times.

Some of the questions:

- Does your state border Canada?
- Does your state border an ocean?
- Does your state border Mexico?
- Is your state in the South East region?

The second day I had arranged for my mom to Skype in and and they had to ask her questions to find out where she lived (Utah). They did a really good job with the questions and crossing out the states on their map (and they got it).

The students really enjoyed it, and my mom did a great job with the kids.

Next time I would choose another class, that way the students can ask questions back and forth.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Parent Teacher Conference Resources



With parent/teacher conferences coming up, you can use https://calendly.com/ to manage your conference schedule (and it is FREE!!!). Using Calendly will allow you to create a calendar where parents can view and sign up for available time slots online (none of that dreaded paper and shuffling of time slots).  Parents receive email confirmations and have the option to add the appointment to their personal calendar. For an overview of how to set up a calendar in Calendly for parent conferences, please watch this short, step-by-step video (please note that I used the dates of Oct. 20 and 21st as a reference point since those are the dates for our district) -




Looking for a quick parent/teacher conference checklist? Check out this form on Google Docs. The list is a reminder of what might be covered during a conference; please feel free to change the form to meet your needs.
  


Have student’s evaluate themselves and use the information to share with parents at your conference with this Student Self Assessment Form.