As the 2020/2021 school year approaches, teachers have a lot of questions about what it will look like. When we ask this question, it seems like all we hear is “We don’t know yet.” Since governors, district leaders and administrators don’t know what schools will look like next year, teachers are struggling to figure out how to prepare. In this blog series, we are looking at 10 ways that we can prepare this summer without wasting our time. Each way will prove beneficial to you, whether your district ends up using distance learning, traditional classrooms, or a hybrid education approach. Included in each blog post in this series will be tech tool suggestions, free resources, and a giveaway entry form.
Today we will begin with the first thing all teachers should do to prepare for next school year:
You can prepare a digital classroom.
My current school uses Google Classroom for our digital classrooms. However, digital classrooms can also be created using Edmodo, Schoology, Seesaw, Otus, Kiddom, Canvas, and many other platforms. Technically, you could build a digital classroom out of any website with forums, if you had enough coding experience. Personally, I like using a program like Google Classroom or Edmodo, where someone else has done the heavy lifting and all I have to do is create assignments.
The essence of a digital classroom is that it provides you with an online place to: give students access to website links, videos, digital documents, etc. Then the students have a place to complete assignments, ask and answer questions and post what they have completed. This can look very different from class to to class depending on the age of the students and the subject area(s) being studied. Personally, I spend time each year organizing my digital classroom similarly to how I organize my bricks and mortar classroom. In my Google Classroom, I create "topics" with each subject area so that kiddos can go and find everything they need for that topic. To me this is the same as putting all of the math manipulatives in one cabinet and the ELA materials in another. It helps me, AND THE KIDS, know where to get the learning materials needed.
Digital Classrooms work in Traditional Classrooms Too
Digital classrooms are not only helpful when you are doing distance learning. Having a digital classroom when you are in a brick and mortar school gives you a way to give students website links, videos and activities in an organized and easy to access way. This is much easier than having students type in links, often incorrectly, wasting learning time with technology issues. Within the classroom, students can use the digital classroom when they are at a computer center, in the computer lab, or any other time they are working on a device (Chromebook, iPad, laptop, etc.) in your classroom.
Digital classrooms also allow students to continue working on these assignments at home, which is a good feature for distance learning, but is also helpful when we are in a brick and mortar school and students want or need extension and remediation activities at home. I have used digital classrooms to post videos that help students through homework assignments and family projects. I have used digital classroom to help students remember links and passwords to websites we use in class - like Zearn, Freckle, Duolingo, etc. My students also have access to all of the videos we use in class (skip counting videos, background knowledge videos, teaching videos etc.) at home. So if they miss a day or they need to review what we did, they have access to everything everywhere.
If we are back to "normal" come fall, having a digital classroom will be beneficial. If we are doing "distance learning" or any kind of "hybrid learning" situation, having a digital classroom will be a necessity. So basically, working on a digital classroom will be a win/win activity for all teachers to work on this summer.
FREE Resources for Your Classroom
As you take some time to build your digital classroom this summer, here are three free resources which may help you out:
Technology Integration Plan for Writing - This plan has a variety of project ideas to use technology while teaching writing. I developed it while I was a computer lab teacher.
Technology Integration Plan for Math - This plan has a variety of project ideas to use technology while teaching math. I developed it while I was a computer lab teacher.
Websites to Use in the Classroom - This is an e-book I published back in 2012 with websites and technology ideas to be used in any type of elementary classroom.
June Digital Learning Resource Bundle Giveaway
Now time for our giveaway!!! With today's giveaway entry form, you will be entering to win my Technology Integration Bundle. This bundle includes: technology vocabulary cards, online portfolio planning sheets, guidelines for students to create videos, an internet safety presentation and an internet research presentation. Enter to win this Technology Integration Bundle, by completing the June Giveaway Entry Form #1.
All winners will be chosen on July 1st. Winners will receive the bundle directly to the provided email. All those who enter will also receive my monthly Raki's Rad Resources News Releases.
Interested in more tips on how to prepare for the unpreparable 2020/2021 school year? Come back tomorrow for tip #2!
Missed a day? This blog post contains the entire list of 10 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Next School year.
Most third grade teacher and students are familiar with Google Slides. My students LOVE creating slide shows about their research or about other topics that interest them. (I can't tell you how many slide shows I've read about dogs!) However, this year I stumbled on a cool upgrade to Google Slides - the collaborative slide show!
In order to create a collaborative slide show, you create a slide show that has at least one slide for each student and you share the slide show, on edit mode, with the entire class. This way the kids can each work on their slide seperate of their friends, but they can see the work their friends are doing. This works great with a one-to-one device situation like having Chromebooks in the classroom, but I have used it in a classroom of just 3 computers. Students do not all have to be working at the same time, they can simply go to the slide show when they go to the computer center.
A few management tips:
- Students need to know in advance which slide is their slide. In my classroom the students have numbers, so I often just have them work on the slide that coordinates with their number. However, students can choose a number from a hat or be assigned which number slide to work on, depending on the needs of your project. Some projects they may even need 2 slides.
- Students will lose the link, so make sure that you post the link to the editable version in some place accessible to them - in your Google Classroom or Edmodo or even on your class blog, just some place they can access easily.
- If someone's work "disappears", try going to File - Version History. You can then make a copy of the old version and copy and paste the deleted work back into the slide show. (This happens more than you think with 24 students all working in one document!)
- When you are done working, it is possible to change the share settings so that students can no longer edit. This comes in handy if you want a finished product!
Collaborative slide shows have a lot of uses, here are just a few:
1.) Create a class book or "online magazine" where each student's slide is their writing on a specific topic. For example, my students each researched a different rock using my rock project. Then we used their informational writing to create a rock magazine.
2.) Create a problem of the day (math word problem) slide show where each student's slide has the same problem (or different if you want to differentiate). Students can work on their problem, showing their work with sentences and drawings (insert drawing or insert shape). Then students can compare their own thinking with the thinking of their classmates.
3.) Create a slide show to completely explain and explore a story you are reading in class. Each slide can have a prompt or question about the story like characters or connections. Students can each complete one slide, and then as a class you have a full slide show explaining and describing the story.
4.) Create a vocabulary slide show for any subject. Type one vocabulary word in the title section of each slide. Each student explains their vocabulary word using sentences and images. You may give them a list of what needs to be on each slide (definition, examples, non-examples, etc.) or you may allow them more leway to describe the word in any way they see fit. Once all of the words are described, the class can review the slide show and add or subtract if necessary.
5.) At the beginning of the school year (or any other time your students need reminding) have your students create an expectations slide show. In the title section of each slide, type an area of the classroom or school, or a material they will use. On their slide, the students define what the expectations are for using that area or material. Then as a class you can review the slide show and add or subtract if necessary.
How else could you use collaborative slide shows in your classroom?
Sign Up for Monthly News Releases