Saturday, March 31, 2018

TextingStory App (FREE)

I recently got tagged in a funny Facebook post about a cat texting his owner. While the post made me laugh (I am a cat owner) I really liked the idea of showing texts back and forth in a non-traditional manner (i.e. cat and human owner). After a quick Google search I found the app TextingStories. It is free (there are some in app purchases if one wanted to upgrade but I did just fine with the free version).

I thought it could be used in a middle or high school class to show dialogue or understanding of the plot and characterization in a story. Here is my attempt at create a texting story between Romeo and Juliet:

It was pretty easy to use and the video of your text gets saved to your camera roll. My camera roll is linked to my Google Drive so I was able to easily transfer it to my laptop (students or teachers could also use a free wifi transfer app). My only complaint is that there isn't a Windows version of the app. It has to be used on an iOS device. 

The iOS limitation is why I was suggesting a middle or high school application. Students would need to download the app to their personal phones if you don't use Apple devices in your school. I was thinking that this could be part of a choice board of activities that students could use to demonstrate understanding of a topic in a creative way. 

If you decide to try it with your students I would love to see a project or find out how you used it! Please post in the comments. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Easter Sale and ELA Idea

I saw this cute Easter display at a school this week (the week before Easter). The Media Specialist was also running a ‘Reading with my Peeps’ challenge leading up to Good Friday. 

She started the challenge nine days prior. She and her awesome assistant pulled groups of nine books for each grade level (it is a small school with only two classrooms per grade level). They numbered the books and gave each classroom a basket with nine plastic Easter eggs. Inside each egg was a folded piece of paper with a number on it (1-9). The idea is that teachers would randomly let a student pull an egg and whatever number they got in the egg the teacher read the corresponding numbered book out loud to the class. They had the day before Good Friday to finish the challenge. Each class that completed it got marshmallow Peeps for the class (1 each).

I thought it was a fun idea. The intent was to encourage read aloud time with classes. 

While I saw it too late to really duplicate in a school I thought I would still share the idea for use next year with the supplies being purchased on sale this year. 

If you wind up running a similar challenge please let me know in the comments. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Free for Educators - Flipgrid (math ideas)

Flipgrid is one of my new favorite tech tools for collecting responses from students. It allows the user to set up a question or topic that students then answer using video. Think of it as a video messaging board.

There is a free (limited) educators account but it has enough features that one can easily use it with students without having to upgrade to a paid account (for a step-by-step guide to setting up your account and creating your first topic you can flip through my Google Slideshow above or click directly on this link).

I've seen our teachers using it in a variety of different ways:
- Asking students an "exit" slip type question
- Asking students to record their response to a literary prompt.
- Having students respond to a prompt about how to keep schools safe (this was on the "walk out" day)
- One teacher had students draw political cartoons and hold them up to the camera and explain their drawing.

Flipgrid offers a variety of suggestions in their "topic discovery library" if you need ideas.

Most students I have worked with don't mind videoing their response. From time to time I get a hold out (who doesn't want their face on the screen). When that happens I just allow them to hold something up to cover their face or reverse their camera. The folks at Flipgrid posted a good blog post of alternatives for the camera shy student.

Currently my two favorite uses are to post "Would you Rather" questions related to math. I read about the idea on a blog post highlighting 10 ways to use Flipgrid in the math classroom. He even links to a "Would you Rather?" site of math questions so you don't have to come up with something yourself. Since you can post a picture within a topic I usually just take a snip of something on the site and then attach it to the question. So in the case below I would write: Which option would your rather have? Explain or justify your answer using math.

I posted the idea to a group I belong to on Facebook and someone posted that I could also use "Which One Doesn't Belong" questions and linked their response to a wodb website. So in the example below I snipped a picture of a number set and posted the following topic: Which one of these doesn't belong? Use math to justify your answer. 

There is no "right" answer. I had students noting that the 9 doesn't belong because it is the only single digit number. I had other students state that the 16 doesn't below because it is the only even number. I am sure other classes would come up with different responses as well. The idea is to get them thinking and using math to explain themselves.

There are literally hundreds of ways you can use Flipgrid as an alternative type of formative assessment in the classroom. I would love to hear how you are using it! Feel free to leave a comment to let me know what kinds of topics are your favorite. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Clever Billboard Idea (February and March)

I love this hallway display I ran across at one of our schools (to be honest it is the hair on Nina Simone). After looking at it several times I actually thought it was pretty clever. 

Here is a hallway display that can be left up for literally two months. It can be left up for February (which was when it was made) for Black History Month and then for March for Women's History Month. I might just change out the title of the board to keep it current. 

If you have friends (like I do) that dislike having to change out their bulletin board (not me...I like a good arts and crafts project) this one would be a perfect one to borrow for a month (or two).