Monthly Archives: July 2018

Students Accessing Resources

This upcoming year our school announced that we had the option of switching to Schoology. The main advantage of this was the idea that “now everything would be in one place: grades, home communication, and students’ work.” However, as I sit down to look at what I do in a class throughout a week, I’m worried it will become “just one more site to visit”. Here’s my quick list of what tasks students do in my class where they need to access the internet.

Task Program/Website
Warm-ups Google Drive
Online Class Activity (Desmos, for example) Can use link
Quizizz Can use link
PlayPosit link & video Can use link
Grades Schoology
Guided Notes Handout in person, Weebly
Page Numbers (Precalculus) On Guided Notes, Weebly
Khan Academy, other Practice Weebly
Class discussions (typed) Schoology
Individual Comments for Ss Schoology (?) or Remind (?)
Photos of Whiteboard activity Freshgrade or Schoology (how?)
Google Form (Surveys) Can use link

 

I like Schoology because it combines grades and an LMS, which I’ve never had synced before.

However, it’s not optimal for my warm-ups which I have students type into a Google Doc. The quickest way to distribute that is to use Google Classroom and use the “create a copy for each student” feature. So Google Classroom is the best for this daily access. Google Classroom also wins when it comes to projects in Google Slides where I want students to work from a template so they’re not spending excess time trying to figure out which pages they need to include in their project. I could include the Google classroom assignment link in Schoology, but that would be time consuming for me and is it necessary?

But I’ve spent quite some time putting resources on my personal Weebly website: http://mrnewmanswebsite.weebly.com/. Here Precalculus students can access every video for the year, the specific page numbers from the textbook, every Khan Academy exercise link that I think appropriate, and even some “going beyond” resources. It’s also very well organized (I think) and cleaner than Schoology could be, at least when it comes to presenting resources.

Lastly, I got excited when I discovered Freshgrade near the end of the year last year. I didn’t use it, but because students use the whiteboards on the walls of my room so frequently, I want to capture the work they have and save it somewhere, even if I don’t always “count it” for a grade. I think Schoology might be able to do this, but if not, it adds to the number of places students are going to “look for things from my classroom”.

Then there’s the list of 3rd party websites that I want to use, include Desmos activites, Quizizz problem sets, Google Forms, and then individual questions for students where I want class discussion to happen. All of these I can link in Google Classroom or Schoology, but I need to choose one at the start of the year and decide what to use.

My hope is that if I can narrow it down to 2 or 3 locations students are going for work, it can be manageable. I don’t want students to be overwhelmed and I don’t want the technology to be a barrier. I’m trying to use technology only when it makes a class activity faster or helps the class go more in depth than I otherwise could.  Having said that, I think my classroom is nearly to the point where everything except for some assessments are on whiteboards or on the computer.

How many different places do students go to access things in your class?

 

 

 

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Apps in my Teaching Day

Jon Orr posted a podcast/blogpost on 10 Tools in my Teaching Day and I thought it was a fascinating way to reflect on “What apps/websites/tools do I use in my day?” So here goes!

Image result for pebble time

Alarms on Pebble Time

Even though Pebble is out of business, you can still purchase them online. I use my smartwatch to wake up with a vibration alarm so I don’t wake up my wife, but I also have alarms set throughout the day and week to remind me of things that I otherwise wouldn’t: 10 minutes left in each class, reminder to go to my hall duty once a day, remember to call “Grandpa Fred” on Sundays. Even when my phone is off or not accessible, these silent alarms are always on me, and the watch’s battery still lasts about 3 days before needing a charge (I’ve had it for 2 years!).

Image result for if this then that

IFTTT

I don’t check the weather every day, but I do bike to school, so I need to know whether it’s going to rain later in the day (on my bike ride home!), so I can take a car instead. If This Then that is a versatile app, so it’s hard to describe all the features it can do, but I use it to alert me when it’s going to rain.

Strava

I like to keep track of how long it takes me to bike the 1.5 miles to school and back. Strava is part run/bike tracker, part social media, so I can keep up with the other teachers who use it from my last school in New Mexico, where I used to teach.

Google Keep

Without checklists, I would forget tons of things. I use Google Keep at 3 main times: when I get to school, after school, and after school on Friday (end of week stuff). Once I finish the checklist, I select the “uncheck all items” button and I’m good to go for the next time!

Google Drive/Google Classroom

This is where I create all the presentations for each day, student warm-ups, quizzes, tests, and classwork that I don’t steal from somewhere else.

1-Click Timer

This handy Chrome extension is exactly what it says. I can quickly start warm-ups and since it’s a pop-up in the corner, it doesn’t obscure the presentation if I have a website shown.

Image result for desmos logo

Desmos

The free online graphing calculator that revolutionized the way I teach math. It is a graphing calculator but it’s also so much more than a graphing calculator.

PrayerMate

This app can be set up to remind you to pray throughout the day. Then, it can give you a list of topics to pray for. Have decided that 4 topics can be done in a few minutes, and it’s a good reminder to stop whatever I’m doing and pray. Often I think “I don’t have time to pray” but I need to be reminded that God’s in charge of it all, and so the real thing is that I don’t have time not to pray. I put my students in there at the start of the year and it helps remind me what’s most important in teaching along with helping me learn the students’ names early on.

Scripture Typer

An app that my brother showed me that helps when memorizing scripture. It has 3 “stages”: typing out the memory verse, typing it out with every other word missing, and then typing it from scratch. I find the three stages helps me when initially learning the verses. Then, when you have “mastered” a verse, it will pop up at intervals so you keep it mastered. If you get it right on the first try, it increases the interval slightly. I wish I could find research for my math students as to what the optimal interval and increase in interval is so that I could plan spiral reviews for my students, but the app does a great job helping me memorize scripture.

Habits

This handy Android app functions as a check-list of things that I want done each day: habits that I want to build. Things like exercise 3 times a week, read my Bible daily, blog on this website, or spend time with each of my children each night before they go to bed. I’m able to see how well I’m doing at each of these things over the course of time.

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