Afraid of starting all over this fall? Don't recreate the wheel for distance learning! Convert worksheets you already have using Google Slides.
Hybrid learning is out and virtual learning is back, at least in my district. With one week left before school, there isn't a lot of time to recreate the wheel for distance learning. So now I'm looking at all of those worksheet resources that I use and trying to figure out which ones I can convert to Google Classroom resources. Although this sounds difficult, I have found a very simple way to prevent myself from reinventing the wheel. So I am spending this week turning assignments into things I can use in Google Classroom.
Choosing the Correct Format for Google Classroom
When I am creating assignments for my class using Google Drive, there is always a debate about whether to use Google Docs or Google Slides or Google Forms. Each format has it's own benefits and drawbacks.
Google Docs provide students with the option to type as long as they would like without "running out of space". They are also very easy for teachers to copy and paste pre-created prompts or assignments into. This is great for essays. However, Google Docs allows students to have complete control over formatting, which can be challenging, especially with younger users. Additionally, if students need to create a picture, they have to create that picture using the "insert picture" function that is slightly challenging for kids to use. I use Google Docs predominantly for writing assignments and long response reflection responses.
Google Slides allows you to put a picture as a "background" and use text boxes to complete a worksheet. Additionally, students can create pictures right on the slides, which is super helpful with math activities. However, due to the limited space of each slide, assignments need to be broken down into appropriate steps before handing them off to students. Also, because assignments are often broken down into one piece on each slide, students need to be trained on how to navigate the slides to find what they are looking for. I use Google Slides predominantly for math problem solving or for worksheets where the formatting helps guide students through the activity, like my math projects.
Google Forms grades quizzes for you, providing students with immediate feedback on their work. Additionally, Forms is an easy way for students to look at a large group of student work very quickly. It even gives you graphs of student responses! However, Forms will not grade written responses for you, unless it is a number answer or a single word, given in a specific format. This means that Forms are most effectively used for multiple choice activities. While you may add a picture to a form when you are creating it, respondents can't add pictures to a form. Additionally, if a student starts a form today, they cannot save their work and come back to it tomorrow. I use Google Forms predominantly for multiple choice quizzes and quick check exit tickets.
Turning Worksheets into Google Slides
As you can see, I use all formats: docs, slides and forms, when creating activities for my kiddos. However, recently my focus has been on Google Slides. To turn a worksheet into a Google Slide, I take a screenshot of the worksheet. Then I set that screenshot as the background of a slide in Google slides. Finally, I insert text boxes into all of the places where I want kiddos to write. Personally, I leave my text boxes "invisible" without borders or shading. Then, when students open the Google Slide, they see just the worksheet, but as they click where they would like to type, the text box will be there waiting for them.
It does take a little bit of training for students to remember to click on those text boxes, but they get the idea quickly. I also train my students on how to add their own text boxes, in case they accidentally erase the ones I have provided. This skill is just one of many Google Slides navigation skills I teach my kiddos, including how to draw, how to add shapes, how to highlight, etc. By the end of the year, the kiddos are often better at Google Slides than I am!
Save More Time, Use My Pre-made Google Slide Worksheets
Don't have time to create Google Slide Worksheets? I am working hard on updating my more popular items into Google Classroom assignable activities. Here are a few that are ready and waiting for you to download from my Teachers Pay Teachers store and assign right away:
Ice Cream Shop Project
Be an Architect Project
Holiday Shopping Project
Party Planner Project
Balanced Checkbook Project
Holiday Recipe Project
Field Trip Planning Project
Student Created Video Project
Graphic Organizer Sheets
As districts quickly turn back to distance learning, it is important for teachers to teach the technology vocabulary without being face to face.
"We'll be going back to school using the hybrid model." was the message from many districts as early as a week or two ago. Now, as the COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, many of them are saying "Actually, we'll teach from a distance for a little while first." As much as I understand and appreciate districts (including mine) following the science and making safe decisions, I have to admit that I am bummed. I was looking forward to having at least a little while to teach those basic skills and procedures in person.
One of the skills that I always start the year with is technology skills, especially vocabulary. Direct teaching words like upload, save, restart and double click from the beginning, makes it easier for my kiddos to get into complex technology tasks quicker. I can explain technology tasks to them easier if they already know the correct words. This is important every year, but with kiddos so reliant on technology for their education this year, it is more important this school year.
Most years I teach kiddos technology vocabulary using my technology vocabulary cards. After we talk about a word, I add it to the word wall, so that they can refer back to it regularly. Since kiddos won't have that word wall to refer back to this year, I created a technology terminology presentation in Google Slides. I can add this presentation to their Google Classroom, so that they can refer back to it in the same way they would refer back to a word wall.
So here is my plan to teach technology vocabulary during distance learning: I plan to pre-teach each vocabulary word to my students using the word wall cards, held up in Google Meet (3 - 5 a day). Then students will come up with example sentences for how we might use these words. They will also draw a picture that might represent these words - using Whiteboard.fi. Finally, we will look through the Google Slide Presentation to see where that word is when they need to refer back to it. After they have been introduced to the words, we will complete a technology activity that will ask them to use those words. For example, after learning the words download and upload, they may have a Google Classroom assignment that asks them to download a PDF and/or to upload a picture they have drawn. By having students USE the words regularly, they will internalize meanings much quicker.
Both of these resources are available for sale separately in my Teachers Pay Teacher store. I also have them bundled at a discount. How will you use them to make distance learning easier this school year?
Let kids explain their thoughts everyday! Student created videos document learning and prevent the risk of cheating during distance learning.
As we approach the 2020/2021 school year, more and more districts are choosing to stick with distance learning. So, we are especially focused on how we are going to teach from a distance. But how many of us have thought about how we are going to assess kiddos from a distance? So much of my informal assessments come from me observing how my students are doing in small group. Without being able to sit next to my students, how am I going to assess their current level? Without seeing them, how do I know that the work on the screen is actually theirs? One strategy I plan to use is video, specifically using the website FlipGrid.
FlipGrid in the Traditional Classroom
FlipGrid is a website I have used in my classroom since we got Chromebooks. It allows students to record short videos of themselves and share them with me and their classmates in a safe and secure way.
In my traditional classroom, I used FlipGrid in a few different ways. One great way was to allow students to explain their thinking for math word problems to the video camera. This practice allowed students to justify their thinking verbally before they tried to write it out. This helped them to gather their thoughts and think about their word choice. Additionally, it allowed me to go back and watch the kiddos who I was unable to work with in small group for whatever reason.
Additionally, I have used FlipGrid to help students work on reading fluency, as they recorded themselves reading the same book multiple times. This allowed them to see how they were growing as readers in a very visual way. And it was a great way to show growth to parents during conferences!
Using FlipGrid with Distance Learning
With the advent of distance learning, FlipGrid can become so much more. It can allow for you to see the individual thinking of each student. You as the teacher can create a mini lesson video and add it to an assignment. Additionally, students can create response videos to their classmates, so they can actually have a digitally delayed discourse on a topic. Here are some of the ways I can see FlipGrid being helpful for Virtual Education:
- Teachers might read a story or poem to the students and/or post a video in FlipGrid of this read aloud. Each student can then respond to the text with a video of their own. Either they can all respond to the same question, or you can do a "virtual jigsaw" and have each student answer a different question. Students can then go back and watch the videos of their classmates to gather additional information that they hadn't thought to include.
- Teachers might assign a math problem or post a math mini lesson video with a problem at the end of the video. Each student can then solve the math problem and create a video explaining their thinking. Again, differentiation can be put into play by assigning different groups of students different problems to answer.
- Before writing about a topic, students may create a video discussing what they know about a topic. This can serve as their pre-writing to help get their ideas into order. Additionally, when students complete their writing, they might share it with the class by reading it into a FlipGrid video.
- After completing research or lessons on a topic, students might create a presentation video to teach the rest of the class what they learned. In fact, my Student Created Tutorial Videos Planning Sheet works great for helping kiddos plan out videos like this.
These are just a few ways to use FlipGrid for both learning and assessment. How will you use this powerful website this school year?
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