Category Archives: General

Keeping a Digital Journal to Prevent Students from Falling behind

Hey, dear readers! I am back! Who is up for the 12th season of the blog?

Normally I resume posting when classes start rolling, but this year  I  have decided to start posting earlier before my classes begin. I have missed you!  I will be returning to classes on October 7th and man, what a different class I will be returning to. Will it be teaching in-person, hybrid or online? That’s the one-million question.

I am a notorious hoarder of free edtech tools and it seems that the stress of going hybrid this year only drove this hobby of mine into high gear. I know technology is a sticking point for some teachers but, seriously, this year we need to make a special effort and start flirting with tech.

Anyway,  the pandemic, the possibility of doing hybrid or online teaching and an overwhelming curriculum got me thinking and I came up with the idea of sharing a  digital class journal with my students. The reason?  I might be wrong but I think that we are going to spend the year shifting from in-person classes and online classes. On and off, on and off -repeat. Moreover, even though we manage to teach in the classroom, I  predict our students will be undergoing confinement for one reason or another. Therefore, it is essential that they don’t fall behind and give up. One way to make sure this does not happen and to make things easier for us as teachers is to share our class journal with our students.

When I talk about Class Journal, I don’t mean my real class journal; not the one where I write warm-ups, follow-ups… etc. No. That would be a nightmare. I mean a very simple version; one that tells students in a very simple way what we have covered that day,

Advantages of sharing a Digital Class Journal
  • Information is updated (forget about sending endless emails to students who have missed your class. Yay!!!)
  • You can insert videos from youtube, audios from your Drive and links to anything that is online.

  • Everything is in the same place. No need to share links for extra activities; as long as it is online, it can be shared; they just have to click.
  • You can link to anything that is on your Google Drive: exam calendar, photocopies…etc.

It sounds good, doesn’t it? Right, now…

What do you need?
  1. A virtual class to share your class journal. I use Google Classroom, but you might prefer Teams or Moodle or any other. As I use Google Classroom, I am going to show you how I do it on this platform but I am sure you will find a way to do it in your virtual classroom of preference.
  2. The Class Journal. Don’t worry!!! You don’t have to do anything. SlidesMania.com has you covered. There are many websites that offer free templates for Google slides or PowerPoints but I worship at the altar of Slides Mania. ( btw, this is not a sponsored post) , Click here to get to the free Class Journal, and then find the button that reads  Open in Google Slides. Again, if you are not using Google Classroom, you might want to choose the button Download Powerpoint.
  3. I like to keep my Google Drive organized so once in my Drive, I will move this template to a Folder (previously created called School Year 20-21).
  4. On Google Classroom, on the Classwork Tab, I create a  Topic called Class Journal and then attach the class journal. See how I do it.

Bear in mind that every time you update the class journal on your Google Drive, it will automatically be updated on Google Classroom.

Hope this has been helpful and none of your students gives up this year.

 

Summer Break is Here. My Top Posts: Best of this Season

Is there anything better than taking a summer break? I think not. Problem is that there must be something wrong with me. I need to keep active and this year is going to be a tad complicated with all the restrictions we are facing right now.

As every year, I am going to take a break from publishing new posts. My classes have finished and we won’t resume them until October and this is when I will start publishing again. I really hope to see you all.  I must confess your comments and feedback is essential to me.

I am also working on a catalogue of  10 webinars to help teachers make the most of their online or blended teaching using online free tools to:

  • promote interaction in online lessons. Yes, we can do it and it is easy.
  • using whiteboards for effective learning
  • create original content. Why use what others have done when you can create your own?
  • create portfolios. Visual and collaborative.
  • assess skills. Really effective for formative or summative assessment.
  • create your own animated videos and tutorial. After all, this is what most students watch all day, isn’t it? Besides, it is easy and fun and quick.

Now, here is my top ten. Hope you enjoy them!!! See you  in a few months

My Top Posts- Best of this Season (2019/20)

How to use the Interactive WhiteBoard “Jamboard” for an Online Vocabulary Bingo

Interactive, engaging, effective and if possible, fun are the ingredients I want in every lesson. Even if it is online.

This low-tech activity is a marriage between any video conferencing platform and a whiteboard. t can be used as an end-of-term vocabulary revision or to revise the vocabulary of a single unit.

We are going to use two techs here:

  1. A video conference platform. As I have explained in previous posts, I am using the super-easy 8×8.vc video platform – I think they need to start paying me for all the free publicity- but any platform will do as long as it has a chatbox.
  2. A very easy to use interactive whiteboard: the famous Google whiteboard, JamBoard: easy, free and collaborative and….. with sticky notes. Yay!!!

Now that we have the perfect wedding, let’s start:

How to go about it:

Using the chat box in the video conference platform of your choice.

Step 1.  Ask students to type vocabulary they have learned in this unit (this course) into the chatbox. Allow several minutes for this step. Remind them to check their spelling before clicking the Send button.

Step 2.  Revise the meanings of the vocabulary they have written pointing out, at the same time, any spelling mistakes or typos they might have made.

Using the white interactive board Jamboard

Tell students you are going to play a bingo game and to do this, they are going to use a very cool tool called Jamboard.

Tell them you are going to assign each of them a different frame(slide) containing a bingo card. They should write their name on the frame in the space provided and this frame will become only theirs. They will need to choose 9 words from the chatbox and write them in the bingo squares of their bingo card.

Have a look at my Bingo Jamboard and make a copy if you want to use it. The instructions for the students to play this bingo game are on the second frame. This is a gif to show you an easy option to mark off squares

Watch this easy tutorial explaining how to use Jamboard and how to set up a bingo card game. Hope you and your students enjoy the activity!!!

Giving Students a Fun Challenging Written Assignment

So there’s mediation written assignments, then there’s creative mediation written assignments and then, there’s ANIMATED mediation written assignments.

Naturally I am a huge supporter of anything that involves using digital tools, and this activity is packed with digital tools; not only on my end, to create and present the assignment to my students but also on their end, to animate and share their creative animated task.

Here’s what we’re working with:

  • I have used: Google slides, Genial.ly, the Google chrome extension Bitmoji
  • Students will have to use: Render Forest and then share their animate videos on a Padlet.

The activity is explained in the Genial.ly below.

Note: click on the arrows, on the bottom right corner of the Genial.ly, for a better experience. 🙂

 

Teaching Online? An Engaging Little Tool you and your Students are Gonna Love

Are you teaching remotely? You are gonna love this tool!!!!

Guess what. I have the most incredible job in the world. I love teaching. It might seem boring from the outside. Even some people might say it is repetitive; you know, always teaching the same things … but believe me when I tell you that if you are willing and committed to teaching, you can explore ways to make teaching always new for you. And this is what has kept me hooked to this job all my life. Having fun trying new things. Some work, some don’t. What I am going to share with you today, definitely works.

So, this morning I woke up well-rested and thinking about my next online lesson and racking my brains about how to make my next class memorable and effective for my students. And then, I had an aha moment and pictured a tool I had on my virtual ever-growing shelf named “Things to Try”.

The tool is called Classroom Q and below, you will get a sneak peek of what the tool can do. This is a recording of one of my classes doing different tasks. (00:10)

Why do I like it?

This tool has some ingredients that are my absolute favourites:

  • Simple
  • Free
  • Engaging
  • Interactive
  • and to top it all, students don’t have to register
What is ClassroomQ?

ClassroomQ was designed as a  virtual hand-raising tool that lets students ask questions and wait in a queue for their teacher’s assistance. But, I have not used it for this.

ClassroomQ has an online buzzer which can be used to play games or to turn a boring exercise into a game. However, the great thing about this tool is not its buzzer, it is its Box for Comments. This is where students can write whatever assignment you have given them. It allows a maximum of 200 characters/ about 35 words)

Imagine the possibilities: from very quick answers, like “what is the past of “take?” to more complex written assignments, like writing a small paragraph containing XXX

What gets students really engaged and motivated is the possibility to interact in real-time and the added challenge of being the first to answer correctly.

Instructions for the teacher
  • Go to https://classroomq/ and sign up.
  • You will be given a class code you will need to share with your students.
  • For more detailed instructions, watch these short video tutorials below
How have I used Classroom Q with my students?

Before the class: 

As we are revising Sports,  I created a hangman hiding vocabulary related to, obviously, sports. To get the chance to say a letter and guess the hidden word, I posed a question they needed to answer using ClassroomQ. I asked a mix of very short answers and some sentences to translate using the vocabulary in context. Classroom Q displays the answers of the first 5 fastest students. You can make room for another student to move up the queue by clicking on the name of one student and deleting them from the queue. They can also remove themselves from the queue by clicking their Cancel Button.

For more details, I have recorded these short video tutorials where I explain in detail how the tool works.

Part 1: The Teacher’s interface1:45)

Part 2: The student’s interface. (1:50)

Part 3: Viewing the students’ interactions (1:149

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