Let Students Experience the Wonder of First Events- Falcon Heavy Test Launch

As a teacher, one of my favorite subjects is the Sciences. From astronomy to biology to physics to rocket sciences the awe and wonder of experiencing that first phenomenon just make students come alive, asking questions and opening their eyes to a bigger larger more undiscovered world.

I teach second grade in California and we are primarily focused on studying Earth systems including geology, landforms, and habitats currently but I love to bring upcoming scientific events that make me excited personally into the classroom. My past students say I get so excited when talking and sharing new and exciting discoveries and technology, they sometimes don’t know what I am really talking about but they are really excited to know more.

On Thursday, February 6 after years of trial and error, Space X was set to launch its maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy Rocket. My classes for years have been tracking the failures and successes of the Falcon 9 even tweeting words of encouragement when his rocket crash landed on the drone landing ship. I love modern day technology because of the opportunity to experience events live as they are happening.

At 1245pm during my student’s lunch recess, a dozen intrepid explorers came in to watch the test flight. They had watched replays on YouTube of Falcon 9 rockets and the landings. Due to technical difficulties and some odd filtering, we were unable to watch on our large television display.

With less than 30 seconds to launch, I pulled out my iPhone 7 Plus and a Bluetooth speaker. I turned on the stream where we crowded around the tiny screen to countdown.

10 9 8 7… 3…2..1!! LIFTOFF

My dozen explorers cheered louder than the Super Bowl as the Falcon Heavy launched into space! High fives were shared and questions were asked. It was awesome! Way cooler than any math worksheet. I likened it back to when my parents and grandparents generation gathered around the television to watch the first days of the space program including Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. If I could bottle that wonder and sell it to fund education…

My favorite part was the synchronized landing of the side rocket boosters which again erupted in cheers! My students were experiencing and witnessing history that will ultimately shape the world they are growing up in and I get to be apart of it.

I write this to say teach to the world that your students will inherit not how it used to be. Get them excited about wonders of the sciences, an enthusiasm for discovery, and a passion for learning and they will absolutely be ok! Give them permission to build a rocket and launch their sports car into space!!

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars-Norman Vincent Peale

If you would like to learn more about the Space X and the rewatch the Falcon Heavy launch check out this site Falcon Heavy Test Flight

A really cool YouTube channel that captures the awesomeness of the launch is Sound Traveler. Falcon Heavy Launch- Sound Traveler

PS: Make a verbal contract that if any of your students becomes an astronaut, they have to call in from space! A deal is a deal.

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Novel Effect- A novel way to enhance picture books

I first saw the Novel Effect app on Shark Tank (which is one of my favorite shows). I love seeing Edtech companies promoting on the show and they usually do really well. The thing that caught my eye was how user friendly and accessible the technology was for using in a classroom.

Novel Effect is an iOS application that is designed to enhance your picture book read aloud experience. The app captures your spoken voice and adds sound effects and ambient music as the story progresses. The UI is incredibly easy to use.

  • choose book from the Novel Effect library
  • Click Read Book on the app
  • Read the book aloud to your students or yourself. It’s that simple

The Novel Effect app uses the iPhone’s microphone to capture the reader’s voice and adds engaging sound effects and music from keywords in the story as you read. I really like to stream my phone to a classroom Bluetooth speaker and play the Novel Effects while I read.

My favorite books so far that I have read with Novel Effect has been If You Give A Moose a Muffin and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Nothing like a moose munching on a muffin make a book come alive.

If you haven’t checked it, you can download it here. Novel Effect iOS App

Novel Effect is also launching a subscription book box service that sends a box of picture books that are Novel Effect enabled. Check it out.

https://www.noveleffect.com/subscriptions

Generating Easy GSuiteEdu Login Cards

One of the biggest fears that teachers often have to overcome is teaching students how to log into their Google GSuiteEdu account. There upper case letters, lowercase letters, shift key presses, funny characters, and let’s not forget about the infamous @ symbol. It strikes terror in their hearts and they can not get pass that point. Yet logging into their Chromebooks with time and practice will literally become second nature. I know it is painful but so listening to Dr. Seuss being read by a 15 first grader in blending mode. Loved my firsties.

One of the easiest ways that I have found to help students learn to login and be consistent at it is to provide a clear login card that is visually simple and easy to read. Using Google Docs a template, a simple add-on  and a Sheets database, you can easy whip out colorful login cards for all of your students.

To get started, you need to create a Google Sheets database with the following column headers: First Name, Last Name, Google Email, and Google PasswordScreenshot 2017-09-02 at 9.06.16 AM

Once you populate your students’ information into the Google Sheet,  you will need to go download the Avery Label Merge Google Docs Add-on

 

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To get started Click Add-Ons, Avery Label Merge, New Merge.

Select your size of label that you would prefer. I really like using the Name Badges, 8395 Series with the 8 labels per sheet with separation because it makes it easier to cut out and you can more cards on a page.

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You will select your desired Spreadsheet from Drive and then it will return to Avery label merge. Make sure that you have the correct Spreadsheet listed. If you are working in a large database, you can select amongst Sheets and also decide which rows need to be generated in case you have that new student.

To get started, simply place your cursor where you want a field to be inserted and then click on the column headers on the right side. Once you have placement, you can customize with fonts, sizing, and spacing. Be mindful about long username and passwords.

I’ve included my Google Login Card template for easy login card creation but fill free to make your own. With playing with the template that is provided, try not to make the text box bigger than is provided or formatting when the cards are generating will not turn out like you want. It does take some trial and error especially with font size and inserted artwork. (I really wish you could overlay images in Google Docs). Screenshot 2017-09-02 at 9.19.02 AM

Once you are satisfied with your template, click the blue Merge button on the bottom and Avery Label Merge will run it’s magic. It isn’t the fastest Add-On so it takes a few moments but once it is ready, it will popup a link to the new Google Doc with your beautiful new Google login Cards.

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Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions on how you generate login cards for your students. How do your students manage them in their desk for safe keeping.

If you are interested in learning more about getting your students logged in easily and without tears, go check out my friend Christine Pinto’s blog at Christine Pinto- Colored Tape She uses some neat conditional formatting and colored tape to really make Chromebooks accessible for littles.

Next week, I will show how to generate a single page sign on sheet for all of your student’s logins. One page to rule them all!

Cheers

-Shawn

TheClassroomQ- Asking For Help Has Never Been Easier

When teachers incorporate technology into their classroom using 1:1 Chromebooks, iPads, or a computer lab, often times the greatest challenge is provide assistance and help to each student without the cacophony of student’s chirping your name “MR REED MR REED MR REED!” asking for help at the exact same time. TheClassroomQ helps solves that problem by providing a virtual handraising tool where students can line up online and wait patiently while you are helping other students all from their own desk.

Screenshot 2017-08-27 at 3.47.55 PMScreenshot 2017-08-27 at 4.01.20 PMClassroomq.com  was founded by a pair of teachers who experienced a problem and decided to solve it which is AWESOME! They decided to create a website where you can create a virtual help queue where students will be able to ask for help with a click of a BIG RED button,

The teacher will have an updated list on their computer or smart phone of students who need help in the order that they clicked the Big Red BUTTON! Students can also add a “comment” note which can be read by the teacher when helping each ticket.

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Once the teacher assists the student, they can click off their name on the teacher portal and move on to the next student in the list. Oftentimes, it is the simplest digital tools that can make the biggest impact in the classroom.

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TheClassroomQ is a free service with a Pro upgrade available.

In the free version, number of students able to join a queue is 10 (Pro version is unlimited queue)

  • Pro version can be upgraded for $19.99 for one year and offers the following:
    •  The ability to see who has joined your class session in a list to the right as participants.
    • Provides how many times a student has asked for help
    • At end of the session, you can download a csv file of the data from the session.
  • School Version also offers the ability to set up multiple teachers on one account.

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Kyle, one of the cofounders offered a special 50% promo code for a year upgrade to the PRO account. This reduces the price down to $9.99 for the year. Once you sign into your free account, click on Account tab and upgrade your account. Enter the promo code “mrreedteach” for a 50% discount for the year PRO membership.

Let me know how you use TheClassroomQ in your classroom, computer lab, or workplace. I think this website has a lot of the potential for future updates, development, and would making an outstanding Apple Watch app for teachers (Something that is completely missing as of right now)

Student Password Generator With Google Forms- GSuiteEdu Made Easy

 

As teachers get settled into the beginning of their school year, there are many different things that are stacked onto a teachers plate. Assessments, baselines, behaviors, procedures, and even instruction. One thing that gets over looked is how we teach technology specifically the process of signing inuser name and password management. One of the most important edtech skills we can teach students is password management but often times we are ordained from on high a password scheme that is either exactly the same for each student or quite difficult to memorize, it also doesn’t give any relevance to the student.

With many other trends in education, student choice is becoming key to an engaging all of our students.  I believe that giving students choice in their learning including the use of educational technology promotes personal ownership in the process. While getting ready for bed, I got a brilliant idea to help make student;s passwords personalized. (Mrs. Reed didn’t appreciate this excitement at 11:15pm at night) To provide students with a personal choice password, I set up a Google Form that is simply two questions for them to fill out.

Gsuite Password Generator-Blog

(There is no way to share a Google Form that I know of so I attached the Google Form which you can recreate easily. Let me know if there is a nifty hack to share a copy of a Google Form)

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  1. Choose an animal name with a choice of 6 different animals with pictures. (I included a picture as well to allow students of all levels to access.
  2. Type in a four digit number (You can set Response Validation to Length-Minimum Character Count-4 to make sure that they have at least four digits.

You can gather the student’s emails in the Google Forms settings which listed in the response form. From the two cells from the two answers of the animal name and the number, you can combine the two cells using the following formula

=CONCATENATE(C2,D2) for example C2= Elephant D2=8831 E2 would combine to equal Elephant8831.

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From here you can collect your student’s password and paste them into the Google Sheet you use to maintain user names/passwords and reset your student’s password on admin.google.com if you have access to this. You can adjust the animals to whatever options you want including PBIS vocabulary, scientific terms, or High Frequency Words. Let me know how you set up passwords for your students including best practices for digital citizenship.

I hope this helps and makes your Google Apps experience with the littles an experience full of creation, collaboration, and creativity.

Up next for this series on getting started with Google Apps in the new year is a post how to easily create Login cards for Google Apps with a simple extension and a Google Sheet. 

Update: Thanks to the awesome reference by Christine Pinto who pointed at an Alice Keeler article on how to share Google Forms 5 Steps to Share a Copy of a Google Form

Update 2: If you are just starting with your class on Google before initial login onto Chromebook, have a open Google Form on a laptop open for students to fill out. I would add a short form input field to collect student names which will let you update their passwords before first login.

Be mindful if your Gsuite Edu domain have a default password for first login and a setting enabled to change password after first login. This will negate customizing your student’s password on first login. I manually logged in any new Gsuite users to customize their password with this method.

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”.

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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