RocketSpelling.com – A spelling practice website

Screenshot 2017-08-07 at 8.30.31 PMThis week’s new edtech tool is a website called Rocket Spelling. Rocket Spelling www.rocketspelling.com was designed to provide K-5 students with a different way to practice their spelling words in a digital format. I found this site on r/edtech on Reddit and was enticed by the concept of digital spelling practice.

Rocket Spelling provides digital practice of over 1200 words in a variety of vowel patterns including short and long vowel. The student’s game play involves practice of a specific skill with multiple choices given looking for the student to choose the best one. One feature that I really like is that the audio read aloud of the word which also includes the word in the sentence. This will be especially helpful for my ELL students in their literacy rotation blocks. The lessons are self guided and provide repeated feedback for words that students spell or choose incorrectly.

Rocket Spelling is currently providing a free one year trial for 2017-2018 school year for teachers who sign up on www.rocketspelling.com and use the promo code “rocketlaunch”. The benefits of an upgraded account will allow you to create a class of students with individual usernames and passwords in order to monitor individual student usage, progress, and trackable data to guide future small group or individual instruction. Rocket Spelling will allow you to differentiate spelling practice for students at different ELA levels.    Rocket Spelling also maintains student’s interest through their excellent graphics,  points, awards and badges system which provides incentives within the game play.

I am personally going to use it as a part of our ELA rotational blocks for students who want to work on their spelling or phonics skills rather than a worksheet or word sort. Also this site can be given out to students to use at home for “homework” practice.

Once again you can sign up for a free one year trial at www.rocketspelling.com and use the promo code “rocketlaunch”.

Screenshot 2017-08-07 at 8.30.36 PM

I think it has lots of potential in the classroom as well as at home use. How are you going to use it in your classroom? Do you have any ideas to improve engagement and mastery while using the site? Comment below.

ClassDojo Tool Kit

Today ClassDojo launched a new set of in-app features called the Tool Kit. The tool kit is multiple features that are designed to make your classroom run smoother The features can be controlled from your phone and displayed from your computer screen through DojoCast. Below are the screenshots from the updated app and the different tools in the tool kit.

Happy Dojo’ing!


I am very pleased with the new features to the app and it makes it so much more meaty than assigning points and updating our Class Story which I love doing btw. I feel like this Tool Kit allows teachers to really make a more meaningful use of their time when they pick up a cell phone in the classroom.

Let’s start the discussion. What features are you most excited for in the Tool Kit? Any tools you feel should be added to make this the ultimate app.

-Shawn

Native Printing in Chromebook

It appears with update 59 of ChromeOS for Chromebooks, you can now add printers manually to a Chromebook just like you would an network printer to Windows. No longer do you have invoke the ancient scrolls of CUPS extension and perform a ritual sacrifice in order print something from your HP 14 or Acer R11. Google Cloud Print just doesn’t work all the time and is a pain to deploy across a school or group of users.

To access the print features simply go Chromebook Settings-Printer-Add Printer. Presto! Connect your classroom printers through local network configuration or USB to your hearts desire.

https://chromereleases.googleblog.com/2017/06/stable-channel-update-for-chrome-os.html

Another great option if you wanna throw in your bag of tricks is a great Chrome extension IPPS/CUPS printer extension for Chrome which is a simple UI that allows you to connect to a wifi enabled printer. There is also a Google Admin version for mass deployment.

Forward to your CTO and you might even get an extra mouseball or RAM stick in your Christmas stocking.

How do you manage your printers in class or at your school?

Cheers

Chromebook Gestures

 

Today’s blog post is a request from Carol McLaughlin who asked if there was an easy list for Chromebook gestures. I am a huge fan of shortcuts, gestures, and hit keys that make using computers, laptops, and tech hardware easier to use with less clicks per task.

Chromebooks generally have a single touchpad which is different than Windows PCs who have a touchpad and two physical buttons that are synonymous with a physical mouse. One of the great things that Chromebooks have done is incorporated gestures into the ChromeOS to navigate native apps and Chrome browser. Google released a nice list of gestures for Chromebooks found here. Chromebook Gestures List

 

CB5-311_touch_gallery_02

Getting used to gestures and incorporating them into your work flow make tasks more efficient, less time consuming, and sometimes even seem like magic. One of my favorite gestures I discovered in accident as a secondary feature to the 3 finger tap. The three finger tap is magical when using it correctly. The primary feature of the 3 finger tap to open up a hyperlink in a new tab. As a teacher, every morning I open my Chrome browser on my Chromebook to access the 5-7 apps and websites that I need on a daily basis for my lessons. This was a time consuming task when so I had so many other things things to do in the morning before students walk through that door. I managed the bookmarks by keeping them in a Bookmark folder called “Daily” on the bookmark bar which I clicked each individual link with ctrl+click. This took time and was extremely annoying.

While listening to Google Teacher Tribe, Math Miller stated his favorite hack was a OSX feature that allow you to open up all bookmarks in a folder in one shortcut but there was no Chromebook gesture or shortcut. There had to be a better way for the sake of Chromebooks. One day I realized through an accident triple tap that all of my links opened in tabs and this became my new favorite gesture.

As I am teaching my students best practices with technology, I love to teach shortcuts and gestures that will make their workflow on a laptop or computer easy and efficient. My students find shortcuts with Chromebooks like a magical spells that I have bestowed upon them from Hogwarts. First graders and second graders are completely capable of using shortcuts and gestures on a Chromebook to navigate. This generation is a touchscreen generation so gestures are second nature when utilizing a Chromebook. Heck, my students love to show me new and faster ways to complete tasks on a Chromebook. In our classroom, we celebrate this new light bulb moments and make them the expert of that hack. This is all apart of our growth mindset classroom culture.

“Too easy Mr. Reed. Too EASY!”

For more info on Chromebook shortcuts, check out out one of my favorite blogs on Google Apps for Education, ChristinePinto.com who had an awesome guest post on this topic including teaching how to use a trackpad to littles.

Go #gafe4littles and #2ndchat

Let me know what is your favorite gesture on a Chromebook is and what useful ways do you use the 3 finger tap gesture to open up Bookmarks.

Thanks for reading..Shawn

Text Keyboard Shortcuts on Twitter and Social Media

If you have ever participated in a twitter chat like #gafe4littles#edchat or #2ndchat you know how much of an exhilarating PD experience it is. Yet, participating in a Twitter chat requires you to use the specific hashtags. In an hour long learning marathon, typing your answers, replying to others and always using the hashtag can get exhausting and make you miss valuable tweets in the chat. There once was an engineer who worked at Palm Pilot who whose job it was to figure out how do any task in just three clicks. His job was literally to find a better way to do things on the device. That’s always been my inspiration. There has to be a better way.

One of my favorite mobile Twitter hacks when participating on twitter is using the text replacement feature on my iPhone. I can assign a shortcut of sequenced characters to be replaced by a longer phrase or hashtag. I use the sequence “##” which is replaced with a tap of the space bar to become #gafe4littles. This is particularly convenient in the Twitter keyboard because the # symbol is located in the corner.

For iPhone:

Setting-General-Keyboard-Text Replacement

Set the Shortcut and the phrase

For Android- Setting- Language and Input-Personal Dictionary- + symbol to set up a shortcut.

I hope this saves you some time and makes Twitter chats a lot more enjoyable. How do you user text replacement shortcuts? What shortcuts do you have on your phone. Comment below what shortcuts you like to use on Twitter or Social Media on your phone. Is there any way to create shortcuts on PC or Chromebook.

-Shawn

IPEVO- A Beautifully inexpensive #Edtech solution


In the 21st century, a modern classroom that is connected with technology allows teachers, students, and families to engage in collaborative and creative educational experiences. Technology takes away barriers of learning that once existed allowing classrooms to connect with their peers in different classrooms all over the world. A modern classroom will have a teacher laptop or desktop, three to five student laptops or Chromebooks, a document camera, and/or interactive whiteboard. Unfortunately due to budget cuts, limited funding, and 5-7 year upgrade/renewal cycles for laptops and often longer for secondary technologies, teachers are often relying on their own creativity, ambitions, and fundraising for their own educational technology.  

A company that I really like is called IPEVO. IPEVO is an educational technology company provides low cost high quality educational hardware for the classroom including interactive whiteboards systems, small lightweight digital document cameras, and various accessories including USB chargers and tablet stands. 

My personal experience with IPEVO started when I was searching through Twitter when someone mentioned them @IPEVO and how they were loving their new digital document camera. I began to investigating their site and couldn’t believe the price of their document cameras.

After talking with some Tweeps who owned them and their testimonies, I was very excited about upgrading my document camera. I wrote a DonorsChoose grant and successfully funded the project for an IW2 interactive whiteboard system and an iZiggi-HD wireless document camera. 

My personal favorite is the iZiggi-HD wireless document camera for only $159. (They are about to launch a new version so it is currently off the site) The ability to take your document camera anywhere in the room and capture learning is like teaching magic. I love to provide my class with examples of amazing student work and learning by plopping down the iZiggi right on their desk. Being able to teach from anywhere in the room while still having access to projector create new opportunities for learning. We can captured screenshots, record with video capture tools, magnify a live specimen, and stream it all through a PC right to the projector. It’s truly magic. 

 

The hardware is extremely lightweight and well built. You would be able to toss an iZiggi HD into your teaching bag or backpack to take with you if you teach in multiple classrooms or do training at different sites. (Try doing that with an Avermedia or Elmo) I have used the document camera for several months in the classroom with little wear and tear. Everything has held up great and great connectivity including the wireless network.  

 

Besides the hardware, IPEVO has some wonderful software to support their technology including Presenter for the Ziggi camera series, and Annotator for the IW interactive whiteboard series devices. They also have compatible streaming and annotating apps for iOS and Android which allows to students to connect with what is being presented in new and exciting ways. Great way to app smash Seesaw, ClassDojo, or GsuiteEdu with classroom hardware. 

The ability to do more in a classroom with less money is truly a great blessing for teachers. I highly recommend if you are looking to upgrade any classroom technology especially instructional document cameras check out IPEVO. 

 
Teachers- If you like free edtech hardware, check out IPEVO Wishpool program. A part of their mission is to get educational technology into deserving classrooms. Each month, they offer a product in their lineup as a gift. All you have to do is sign up at http://www.ipevo.com/wishpool and fill out a Wish for the gift. IPEVO selects a few deserving teachers and that is all. If you share your story for others about how the gift impacts your classroom, you possibly have a chance for other rewards. It is a great program. Sign up today. 

 

Gamifying Your ClassDojo- Pokémon Gotta Catch Em All


I have been using Class Dojo since from the very beginning. From the teacher side, I love the collection of data you can gather from Class Dojo from behavior to academic tracking on the fly within a classroom. Gaining that formative assessment data on the fly can be very useful and more appropriate than trying to recount the individual performance of 25 students after the fact. But one thing that has caused me to ebb and flow with using ClassDojo has been engagement of my students.  

Many teachers often use a Class Dojo store with prizes that cost a certain number of points for each. This gets really costly over time. My wife who teachers 4th grade offers classroom vouchers like homework slips, drinks of water, lunch in the classroom and other incentives.


One of the secret’s sauces of my classroom is that I am always willing to dive deep into the interests of my students whether it is dinosaurs, baseball, or Pokemon. Pokemon cards were starting to creep into recess, Fun Friday, and during class time. This is when I had an idea to increase my ClassDojo engagement and take it to new heights. I set about how to incorporate ClassDojo and the Pokemon universe. 

I began by looking at sites like ClassCraft.com and my PLN on Twitter and Facebook ClassDojo Mentor Group along with other website to understand the mechanics of gamification. My students love having physical artifacts of their learning so why not create something to represent their achievements in the game. So I designed a system where students could earn actual Pokemon cards from Professor Reed’s Pokedex from the points that they earned in ClassDojo. 


I introduced the game to the students on a Monday with this Slides deck.(https://goo.gl/qq50Om

Students can earn a pokemon every thirty points or evolve into one of the pokemon’s forms. (There was debate was version we will evolve from.. why does Eevee have 7 forms) Students display their Pokemon proudly as badges of honor From here the students got fully immersed in the Pokemon environment. Students can earn through standard behavior agreements or special learning incentives. 

 
I find that when you gamify your classroom, there is an excitement, buzz, and really pulls in all students into the action. Every cheers and is excited when that students a new Pokemon or evolves every week. Also it keeps me consistent with the project and the classroom behavior management plan. 

 

How do you gamify your classroom?

 

Gotta Catch ‘Em All