Google has just released an update to Google Classroom where teachers can now assign tasks to individual students or groups of students.
I just saw the update on Twitter and within minutes was in a conversation with a colleague Justin Birckbichler and we were exploring the update. Google created a gif or animated picture showing the process where you create an assignment as usual, but then are able to assign it to the whole class or click on individual students. We wanted to know if you could assign tasks to small groups. The video at the bottom shows what we discovered.
The ability to differentiate for individual students, or groups of students has come. You could modify an assignment for individual students, create resources for groups of students either based on topic or reading levels, create documents, presentations that the group can work on and edit collboratively, and so much more.
Many elementary teachers already create reading groups, but sometimes find that students may migrate between groups as the year goes on. This feature would allow you to make those adjustments more fluidly. Individual assignments while applicable to reading groups might also be suited for small group projects where each group is studying a different topic and you are providing them with topic specific resources or leveled texts.
Another use for this could be for truly individualized instruction. We all know we have students who are absent at times, or others who struggle with concepts, and some students who need some extra or different opportunities to go beyond where their classmates are currently. With individualized assignments, you could provide extra resources, tutorial videos, guided practice or extension activities to meet the needs of students in a way that doesn't draw attention from all the other students. The individualized assignment isn't seen by the other students in the class.
The Directions and video are from Justin Birckbichler, the colleague I was collaborating with on the new feature release. He created the video as he was able to show the student view that I am currently unable. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Want to help students organize their ideas and thinking and get more use out of the technology available to students?
Looking for new ways for students to express their knowledge and understanding?
I have shared other posts about templates like the Facebook Slides presentation, the Time Magazine Cover, or one of my favorites, the Virtual Museum.
Today I discovered another resource for templates that you or your students can use to demonstrate their learning. This page has templates that are organized by grade level that could be used in a multitude of subject areas. One thing to note, is the author is Canadian, so some of the topics, especially historical references are not ones that would be common to American students. Beyond that, the multitude of choices and quality of many of these makes this a really great resource to help students present their learning in new and creative ways.
I really like the magazine covers that were created like National Geographic and Rolling Stones are well done. Also think about how you could use a template like the Boarding Pass to create a learning adventure for your students. Check out more examples from Darren Maltais at his site Engaging Students Google Resources.
One more resource for templates comes from Matt Miller who wrote Ditch That Text Book and more recently Ditch That Homework. He has a lot of great resources on his site. ditchthattextbook.com. He has created a number of Google Drawing Templates that could be used to help students organize their ideas, or help them plan for an activity. Check out his Google Drawing examples here.
QR Scavenger HuntI am currently teaching a graduate level course on technology through UWGB called Communicating and Collaborating with Google Tools. Each session I try to bring in an interactive lesson that typically includes technology and team work or relationship building.
Last week we I asked the students to go on an adventure around the building as they embarked on a QR code scavenger hunt. Students scanned the QR codes and were directed to a Google Form that had questions that had to be answered correctly before they would be provided the next clue. To set up the Google Form I used short answer questions with Data Validation where they had to type the answer in correctly in order to move to the next question. I also used multiple choice questions where they were directed to start the task over if they were incorrect or move to the next question if they were able to get it correct. In both cases I didn't have to check any student response and they were able to move to the next task at their own pace. At the end of the Google Form you are able to customize the message that students will see. While editing the Form you click the Presentation tab and are able to type a link to another resource, or directions or a clue that will guide them to their next location.
Some of this inspiration came from a conversation with a Phy-ed teacher who wanted to take the idea of Breakoutedu outside. We are working on creating an activity to create clues hidden around campus and connected via Google Forms.
Charades! Another amazing aspect of class was the use of Charades. This game has been around forever. Recently there has been the development of an app that you can use on your phone where the word appears on the screen which is held above the guessers head while others attempt to provide clues to help them guess. If they get it correct they move the phone forward, if they can't get it they pass by tilting it backward. I wanted to provide teachers with an editable example of this they could use with all age levels that wouldn't need to go through the MRSC - media resource checklist and wouldn't require the use of a device in the hands of the kids.
When we used this in class with a group of educators it was a truly spectacular experience. Everyone was engaged providing clues and attempting to help the guesser get as many clues correct as possible. What made this so enjoyable was the Act It Out category. The group started a little slow, but quickly got into the spirit. There was no better example of this than when the clue "Making a Snow Angel" came on the screen. A few teachers demonstrated the action which the guesser thought was jumping jacks to which a couple players changed their position quickly getting on the floor and mimicking the creation of a snow angel in the carpet. It was a fun activity that everyone in the group participated in and had fun doing.
I created a simple Google Slides template for Charades with a few topics and clues. I included hyperlinks within the document from the category page to the word slides for Act It Out, Animal Kingdom, and State Capitals. You are able to change the categories and the word slides to fit your needs. If you click the Charades link above you will be able to make a copy for your own use.
The author of the Article Lights, Camera...Engagement! Three Great Tools for Classroom Video, Ron Peck is a social studies teacher who I have been fortunate to get to know over the past few years.
Animoto - I looked into Animoto and found that you are able to sign up for an educator account that needs to be approved by Animoto. This can take several weeks. After you are approved you are able to enroll students using anonymized names.
The other two resources can be done with a multitude of tools. In each case these projects could be done with the camera on the iPad or the webcam on a laptop using WeVideo.
An additional idea for video projects is Paper flip Videos.
Paperflip Video is a simple project that uses your iPad or WeVideo and your webcam to create a product where students can demonstrate their understanding.
This week's tech tips come from a conversation with Middle School Social Studies Teachers. When visiting their CLT we were discussing the study of cultures, geography and mapping activities. As a result we started to explore different ways to have students demonstrate their knowledge than what the teachers had been using previously.
My intention is to provide a brief overview of tech infused lesson ideas to hopefully spark your interest and lead to more detailed conversations.
Idea 1- Use Thinglink You could provide students a map in Google Draw and have them edit the map to locate key points of interest. They could create a key to indicate what the symbols mean. Next they could take this to Thinglink and add tags that connect to information such as descriptions, videos, or links to a Google Doc they created explaining the specific area of the map or topic. Here is an example of Russia I put together in a few minutes.
Other Uses- Students can create an interactive display of information. If students create posters or brochures, this allows for a much more dynamic experience with the information presented. Students could create a Visual in Google Drawing layering images and text like they normally would and then add links in Thinglink to extend the sharing of information beyond a normal poster.
Since the final product in Thinglink creates a shareable link, you could turn the products into QR codes and create a Gallery Walk for your students. Students could scan the QR codes and see the work of others, learning from each other and students wouldn't be creating products just for you.
Idea 2- Google My Maps I attended a session at an Edcamp where a teacher created an Amazing Race activity using Google My Maps to have the participants get to know each other. There were tasks to be completed and the whole activity was centered around the maps he created. I took this idea and repurposed it to be used for creating maps. I have provided a pretty basic Amazing Race Example You are welcome to check it out and submit any text answer you want. This uses My Maps and Google Forms to create challenges for students to complete. Matt Miller shares ideas about how to use My Maps- 20 ideas and a tutorial video.
Alternative uses - The map serves as a backdrop for delivery of information. You could create maps where the tags were locations in a story or book students were reading. Each tag provides information or asks students content questions. Science could choose locations where important scientific innovations took place.
The tasks that students are expected to complete could be anything that connects to your content. You could create a formative assessment or a student project used as a summative assessment.
This site allows you to use Google Maps to label a map like Google My Maps, but this one gives you some some additional tools. You can use the drawing tool to measure distances from one place to another. A teacher used it to measure their school building when studying perimeter and area. You can add a variety of labels to the map to help students demonstrate concepts - these include weather symbols to identify where weather patterns like tornados are likely to take place. This tool is the one I am least familiar with, but thought it was worth a mention.
Writing is an important skill for students to develop. Writing doesn’t have to be reserved for Language Arts, we can introduce it into every subject area through brief writing activities. I used to use the writing prompt, “How does the story end, or what happens next” in my social studies classes, especially at a critical point in a video or historical story we were exploring. The exercise wasn’t about getting a historically correct response, but engaging their thinking in a short writing exercise. We have tools to assist in creating writing prompts with a little technological assistance.
Discovery Education: Discovery education is much more than a video library. One of the many great features is the Builder Tools Section. Here you have the option to create assignments, Quizzes, Boards and Writing Prompts. You are able to create your own, or select a premade one and adjust it to fit your needs.
What I like about the writing prompts I have explored is they provide a visual either an image or a video that connects to the writing task being assigned. When creating and assigning in Discovery Ed the students will be provided a window to record their responses. I don’t have classes in Discovery Ed so I can’t simulate that experience to show you examples.
Google Forms or Google Docs: Google Forms allows you to add images and videos above questions to provide visual context for the question or writing prompt. Google Docs allows only adding images so to use a video you would have to use a hyperlink. I like to insert a video clip from youtube such as the battle of fort wagner in the movie Glory and have students write what they think happens next, which side wins and why. There are so many possibilities for using visuals as inspiration for your writing prompts. When would I use forms instead of Discovery ED- when the video or image I wanted to use isn’t available in Discovery ED.
Additionally Google Forms has added Math Equations so you could insert charts, graphs, equations for students to solve.
Youtube Videos- for those who have students under 13 there is still an option for you. You can use safeshare.tv Copy the URL the web address of the youtube video into Sharesafe.TV and this site will remove any of the extra content that we would normally see in Youtube. Copy and paste the new link into your form or doc and students can access the video. Example: Quantum Leap in safeshare.tv. A quick example of a writing prompt using the Quantum Leap Video. Difference between safeshare.tv and youtube - safeshare is a hyperlink, and the youtube video I am able to embed it into the form and students could watch it right in the form.
Another video tool that might assist you is TubeChop - Chop YouTube VideosThis allows you to take a Youtube video and select just the section of the video you want to use. This can be very beneficial for directing students to just the aspect of the video that is most important for them to engage with.
Have you ever asked students to research a topic, or read a passage and find
them struggling to understand what they are reading? Do your students need assistance in defining terms or concepts they are reading?
Are you looking for ways to help your students explore information and simplify the process for them? Today I have a couple resources that are designed to assist in students in information processing.
The following tools I have found to be good resources that provide assistance for students engaging in textual materials.
Read and Write -
A Google Extension you are able to add through the Chrome Store that provides tools for many online resources. You open the page (webpage or Google Doc) and click the Read and Write Icon to access the tools. You are able to have Read and Write Read the passage to you. If you highlight the passage, it will read the selection. If not, it starts at the top of the page which isn't as user friendly on websites. I signed up for a teacher account and was given access to "Premium" features. Beyond having it read a passage, you can highlight words and click on the vocabulary tool and it will create a new page with descriptions of the word or words you highlighted.
I worked with a teacher in a bilingual class to assist her students especially with the vocabulary tools. We asked the students to highlight in pink words that were unfamiliar to them. They could also highlight parts of speech using other colors. When you click the multi-color circle icon in Read and Write, it tracks the highlights you have made so you can get a list of what students selected and quickly assess their understanding of the passage or parts of speech. I am sure there are many other applications to this and I hope others will share how they use it. I made a quick screencast video showing how to access Read and Write and some of the basic functions mentioned above.
This site allows users can copy and paste a passage into Rewordify and click Rewordify Text and the program analyzes the information and creates a simplified version-
Original: The list of known carcinogens now includes a chemical called ortho-toluidine, which is used to make rubber chemicals, pesticides and dyes. Recent research has linked the substance to bladder cancer in people.
Rewordified version: The list of known (cancer-causing things) now includes a chemical called orthotoluidine, which is used to make rubber chemicals, bug-killing chemicals and dyes. Recent research has linked the substance to (urine storage sac) cancer in people.
As you can see terms that could be difficult for students have been defined to assist in making the entire passage more understandable.
Classtools.net is an amazing site created by History teacher Russel Tarr. There are simple tools like Random Name Selectors to more advanced like a Fakebook page, or fake tweets or fake text messages. The "Fake" tools could be used to create conversations between characters in a book or historical figures.
Random Name Selectors
Ever find yourself selecting the same students when having class discussions, choosing groups, or assigning tasks? Well the three tools I have linked below all help with these issues. They are interactive and quick tools to help you select students for various activities.
Additional Application: We want all students to participate and demonstrate their level of understanding. We also have a finite amount of time for discussions and instruction. A method I used is to put the main questions on the board and then use the Random Name selector to choose 3 students per question. I tell them these 3 students are responsible for answering the question. Student 1 responds and 2 and 3 add details to help pull it together to make a complete answer. If they have an incomplete response, then the rest of the class will be called upon. This gives the students lead time to think about their assigned question. This is just one method of pulling students into discussions that can be utilized.
Random Name Wheel With this tool, you can edit the names on the wheel and save your finished product. It creates a unique URL that you should copy and paste into a Google Doc or Google Spreadsheet to have easy access. You could also add the URL to your bookmarks bar to be able to access right from Chrome without having to open a file.
Random Name Picker This is a quick name selector that you could copy and paste your class list into and it will select a random student. This does not create a saved version of your list, unlike the wheel example above. You would have to enter names each time you wanted to use this.
Random Name Selector - This version allows you to add your class list as the others, and like the first one allows you to save your updated class list with a url. You can also change the time the selector uses to choose the next name and determine if you want a choice removed during this session. It will not delete from the original list, but prevents repeat picks.
A colleague Justin Birckbichler shared an activity he did with his students. It is similar to a project I have done with Google Forms on creating a Choose Your Own Adventure story writing. I have shared this idea in the Google Tools section of the blog, but I wanted to share his version because he makes some great points and shares how this activity worked with his students who were younger than the ones that I worked with. It always amazes me what students are able to do when we provide the opportunity and step out of their way.
Check out his ideas here - Choose Their Own Adventure.
A.J. Juliani shared his post 5 Projects You Can Do in the First Month of School
in which he outlines a number of ideas for things that students can do to show what they know. What I really like about the post is that he suggested providing students choice in how they would present their learning. He also provides choice in what topics students would explore with many of the choices he provides being real world topics that students are likely to have some connection to.
These projects aren't necessarily technology projects, however there is the potential for technology connection with many of these. Another part that I really appreciate is to share student learning with the world. While we should always be cognizant of protecting student privacy, we can share out samples of student work that doesn't identify the individual students. If you have questions about appropriate sharing, please let me know and we can discuss this further.