Sunday, September 25, 2016

C-H-A-N-G-E It Up! Using Google Forms for Spelling Tests

Nathan McEntee
Learning Coach in Wolf Creek Public Schools
Ponoka, Alberta, Canada
Twitter: @mrmacteach
Google+: +NathanMcEnteeTeach

Before I go into detail on how to make your life easier using Google Forms for spelling tests, I have to say, I don’t like spelling tests! I do believe that spelling correctly is important, I believe that practicing spelling (word work) is important and I believe that good (better yet, great) spelling is imperative to effective communication. I’m just not sold that spelling tests are the way to do it. Spelling practice and spelling tests are two very different things and “Word Work” or “Working With Words” in Daily 5, or centers or a Writers Workshop are all great ways for students to practice spelling and in a lot of cases put the practice in context for students.

A colleague of mine who I taught with, used to give students the 100 most used words in the English language (yes, she did a test first), to find out which words the students struggled with. For each student she would take the first ten (if there were that many) and put them on a cue card and the student attached it in their binder. She gave them opportunity to practice spelling the words but also encouraged practice at home. Once every couple of weeks, students would pair up and exchange their binders (this was a collection of their writing from the past two weeks in all subjects) and their cue card with their lists. Students would go through their partner’s work with the list of words they had misspelled, if the word was spelled correctly every time it was used in their work, they crossed it off the list, if the word was misspelled, the word stayed on the list and the student was encouraged to continue practicing. Contextual spelling practice like that I can get on board with. That being said, there are still schools/divisions in the world that require spelling tests and now you can use Google Forms (and some other Google tools or Add-ons) to make writing and marking spelling test quick and easy. If you’re not a Spelling test person you can use some features in Google Forms to give students immediate feedback to practice spelling.  

Create a Google Form to Send to Your Students
The first and most important step, create a Google Form and add questions with a short answer option for responses. In the “Question” section you can put the word number so students will know which “question” in the form is associated with which word. This will help direct them when you get the “What number was that?!” that inevitably comes up.  

Send the Form To Your Students

This can be done by emailing a link to the form, sharing it in Google Classroom, Hapara Teacher Dashboard (this is a product my school division uses) or having the URL (web address for the form) on the board (I recommend creating a shortened URL) for your students to type into the address bar (Omnibox) in their Chrome browser.

But Autocorrect Will Underline Misspelled Words!

Fear not my friends!! You can have your students go and disable the underlining of the words ( Click here for instructions). You may want them to go back and enable this after you’ve completed the test...or not!

How Do I Mark The Test?

Flubaroo is an add-on that will mark the test for you and send students their results, this can be done automatically or you can manually send out their results with a click of the button. Here’s a video made by Kelly Fitzgerald on how to use Flubaroo with the “new” Google Forms.

Want To Use Forms to Help Students “practice” for Spelling Tests or Word Work Stations?

You can use the data validation in Google Forms to give students “instant” feedback on their spelling instantly. Data validation gives student an “error message” until they spell the word correctly. This video shows how to use the data validation feature for this.

BONUS: Differentiating and AppSmashing Your Spelling Test

If you would like your students to have less words than other students you can create sections in your form. Students who have less words will be able to submit their tests/quizzes without having to type the other words. In the message to the student when they hit submit you can add a link to word practice site (Spelling City, Flocabulary or any other site you want to use as practice for spelling). I made this video to show how to do it and what it looks like from a student view as well.

Let’s say you would like students to be able to write their spelling test on their own time. You can record yourself reading the words, upload it to youtube and then insert the video at the beginning of the Form. Students can then start/stop/rewind the video as they need to.

Jacqueline Legaspi gives an example of a similar idea where she adds an audio file of herself reading the words for her students along with the “test” in Google Classroom here.

This may seem intimidating or overwhelming to some, but here’s a piece advice for those just getting started, “Start small and do it well, but START!”

Friday, September 23, 2016

Want to Transform Learning? Innovate with iPad today!

Gary Darling
English Teacher
CrossPosted on August 26, 2016 by Gary Darling

Have you ever wanted a book about teaching with the iPad that is light on jargon, gentle on the brain, with tried and tested lesson plans, valuable didactic information, and clear advice all included?  Did you even know that such a book existed? Well, it does, and it’s called Innovate With iPad: Lessons to Transform Digital Learning if only all technology books for teachers were like this one. Innovate with iPad is an immensely practical, but at the same time considered work that is immediately accessible to all Primary School (K-3) teachers, whether they are beginners or experts in the world of iPads and digital classroom technology.

“Innovate with iPad: Lessons to Transform Learning in the Classroom is the book you and every educator with access to iPad needs to make a fast transition to using iPad for learning.”
/Users/genesiskohler/Desktop/ITWiPad/Final cover/ITWI cover w pi
Don’t skip the Foreword and Introduction because like the main body of the book, they are worth the time. The Foreword is only a few paragraphs and sets the tone nicely. In the Introduction, the creators of Innovate With iPad, experienced primary school teachers Karen Lirenman and Kristen Wideen, share their thoughts and explain the layout of the remainder of the book. So far, so good, that didn’t take long at all, and we really wanted to read more.
“This book declutters and demystifies the question about which apps to use so teachers and students can quickly become fluent on iPad.”
Chapter 1: Getting Started, introduces the vital tools required for iPad lessons –  apps. The authors introduce their readers to what they call the five central apps, which are used extensively, but by no means exclusively in the lessons that follow. The iPad beginner has the chance to learn about much-used classroom apps and what they can do, the more experienced user finds familiar territory: A comfortable and intelligent beginning.
The apps that are central to the lessons in Innovate with iPad are:
There are other apps suggested for use in the lessons contained in Innovate With iPad but this approach of focussing on certain apps, keeps it simple and leaves room for choice and adaptation for the more advanced user, but still provides a solid foundation for those starting out with apps.
After this gentle beginning, the book divides logically into subject matter – there’s something for everyone:
  • Numeracy Lessons
  • Literacy Lessons
  • Science Lessons
  • Social Studies Lessons
  • Self-Assessment
This logical separation makes Innovate With iPad a good friend when it comes to planning classes.  As for the rest, it’s all very much hands-on, which is just what we like at Popplet.
Each lesson has roughly the same easy to understand format:
  • The Task
  • The Student’s Learning Intentions
  • The How
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I addition to the main body of the lesson, there is an aqua colored panel containing essential didactic information:
  • Grade – Pre-K to Grade 3, most lessons can be adapted for more than one grade
  • Subject Area – Geometry, Reading Comprehension…
  • iPad Comfort Level Level – Beginner/Advanced
  • Suggested App
  • Quick Tip – very useful advice
  • Lesson Extensions – adapt, increase engagement
  • Student Task Card – digital instructions for students
With this information at their fingertips, teachers can make quick decisions about what activities they choose. Not only can lessons be planned by subject, they can also be planned by App, iPad Comfort Level, and Grade.
Most of the  lessons – like the Popplet lesson above – contain student examples, and when they don’t, examples can be accessed for free on the book’s webpage.  Student Task Cards for some lessons are also available on the website:
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Popplet is a very versatile tool that works well with other apps, and it is completely at home whatever the subject of the lesson. So, not surprisingly, Popplet features numerous times in Innovate With iPad. In common with all the other fine apps that appear, Popplet has earned its reputation as a central iPad classroom app, and is a popular favorite with teachers, and students of all age groups. Take a look at these Popplet examples from the pages of Innovate With iPad:
iPads, tablets, and digital technology are in the classroom, the workplace and in our homes – they are here to stay. The question for school teachers is not if, but when will I use this technology in my classroom. If you are a Primary school teacher and you have been asking yourself that question, then Innovate with iPad, with its logical layout, considered content and it’s varied range of subject matter, is a very good place to begin.
This book isn’t just for beginners. If you already have some experience of iPads, or even if you consider yourself an advanced user, you won’t have any problem finding a use for a resource as rich and accessible as Innovate With iPad.

This entry was posted in iPad App, Popplet, Popplet Examples, Popplets in Education and tagged apps in the classroom, book review, classroom activities, popplet examples by Gary Darling. Bookmark thepermalink.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Classroom Management in the Digital Age


Heather Dowd
Education Technology Coach

Nearly twenty years ago, when I walked into my classroom as a young, inexperienced teacher, a building old-timer chuckled at me. “Got your bag of tricks ready, kid?” That proverbial (or was it?) bag of tricks worried me. Was I expected to start juggling bean bags? Deliver knock-knock jokes? Spring backflips?  Thankfully, a mentor teacher stopped me from putting on a top hat and finding a magic wand and instead took me under her experienced wing. I learned her “bag of tricks” for managing my classroom, maximizing learning, and navigating a whole new terrain.  

Those same methods I used back then are still reliable, effective, and worth a try--but only if I was back in that same classroom with TVs on giant rolling carts and filmstrips that broke (or melted) in loud machines. Now, a lot of us are in one-to-one environments with iPads, laptops, and other devices transforming how we teach and how we build community. The devices are tools for learning, but sometimes in our transition to them, the tools feel more like a burden than a help. Transition years for device rich schools are unlike any school year for even the most veteran educator. Things as tiny as where the students eyes gravitate to enormous culture setters--like how you foster discussions--are transformed. Educators are a flexible crew; they know that the people that walk through their doors year to year will come with very different needs. But when the tools radically change, even the most adaptable of us can use a new bag of tricks.


We are excited to announce our latest collaborative project, Classroom Management in the Digital Age, a project fostered from four years working together and implementing a 1:1 program in the largest international middle school in the world. Singapore American School was not the first to go 1:1 (not by far!), nor will it be the last. In preparation, we researched in and learned from schools around the globe who pioneered best practices. Most importantly, we learned from teachers---the voices in the field who were bravely making changes to maximize learning and community. This book is a celebration of those voices and a primer for the other brave educators setting sail for the first time into the world of 1:1 or seeking a refresher in best practices for device rich classrooms.

After a successful launch, we brought our own experiences back to schools. While presenting our findings and our process, we were approached by teachers wanting the nuts and bolts. How do devices change routines? How do devices change classroom management? How do I keep the focus on the learning and not the screen? Both talented veteran and new teachers alike were seeking a guide.

Our book includes classroom procedures, rules, and expectations that you can implement in your classroom to minimize screen distraction and maximize learning potential. Technology offers us endless opportunities to get students communicating and creating in ways that weren’t possible before. Teaching tips and strategies that highlight efficient workflows and increasing productivity are included that make these opportunities a reality. Additionally, we’ve included strategies for partnering with parents to reinforce good digital citizenship and celebrate the learning happening in classrooms.  We’ve also included resources that you can freely download and use as tools within your classrooms and hallways.

classroom 1.png

While education leaders will glean valuable insights for organizing and rolling out a 1:1 program, the core messages are targeted at classroom teachers. We hope that teachers in the trenches find the concrete examples easy to understand and immediately apply. Our main goal is that when teachers finish this book they feel confident and prepared to tackle the challenges AND opportunities that come with putting powerful creative devices in the hands of students.


Meet the Co-Author!
Patrick Green
Education Technology Coordinator
Singapore American School




Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Google Expeditions - The Ultimate Window to the World

Ben Friesen
Director of Professional Development

Google Expeditions finally launched on iOS and now you can show students the world in ways you’ve never been able to before. In two easy steps, your students can join a Google Expedition from the iPhones in their pockets or class set of iPads. As the teacher, you have a guide with background info, leveled questions, and points of interests to focus on.  

Not only can you take students on Expeditions to the Moon, The Great Wall of China, or explore careers like veterinary medicine and aviation, you can also manage the students while you are there. Hit the pause button to focus your students, ask a question or add your expertise. Tap play and let them keep exploring with new insight. Teachers also have the ability to highlight points of interest with on-screen cues to focus the student and icons that show the teacher where each student is looking.    

Where is your classroom going to go?  Browse the hundreds of Expeditions available and make a plan to explore the world!

Protip: If you are using iPhones, add Google Cardboard for an enhanced experience. 

Protip: Have mixed devices in your class? You can run both iOS and Android devices at the same time!