Thursday, September 27, 2018

Teacher to student feedback with Google Sheets and Orange Slice Rubric add on

We know that providing feedback to students during their learning process is one of the most effective ways to help kids reach their learning goals (John Hattie, 2011).  Figuring out how to provide each student with specific, actionable feedback within the constraints of a single class period is quite a challenge for teachers.  Technology tools can be used by the teacher to shorten the feedback loop so that students know more quickly where they are on the learning continuum and how to reach their goal.  

This blog post will provide you with a few technology-based suggestions to help teachers give feedback more quickly.  The tech tools included are conditional formatting in Google Sheets and Orange Slice rubric add-on for docs.

Google Sheets conditional formatting is great for giving students feedback regarding whether or not the answer is correct.  A teacher sets up a spreadsheet so that it contains questions in one column A and students place answers B.  With a little preplanning on the teacher’s part, the spreadsheet can be formatted so that the color of each answer cell changes when the student inputs the correct answer.

This strategy could be a great bellringer to check student’s understanding of a previously learned concept, preassess for future learning, or loop back in material from units long ago. Conditionally formatted Google Sheets could also be deployed as a station strategy so that students can learn new content Individually, check their understanding using the Google Sheet, and then seek assistance from the teacher if needed. This strategy does require some teacher set up on the back end. See below.

Task level feedback is certainly a valid conversation to have with students in the classroom but often times students need more support than simply knowing if their answer is correct or incorrect.  This is where rubrics can come into play.  Grading assessments with rubrics can become a paperwork nightmare, however, and shuffling all these different sets of papers around for all the students we teach can leave a teacher to want to abandon rubrics all together.  This next tool, Orange Slice, combines student work and rubrics in a single document and adds functionality of color coding progress on the rubric and auto-calculating points to make the entire process much more manageable.  Check it out.

In an upcoming post,  we will cover how you can do some planning in advance to automate some feedback processes using two Google Apps: Google Classroom and Google Forms.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Understanding Cyberbullying

We recently wrote a blog discussing the importance of creating digital learning spaces with our students. These relevant and meaningful ways of communicating online assist our students in learning to be responsible and effective communicators no matter the tech tool used. We want students to understand that the internet provides opportunities for connecting with like-minded people and collaboratively learning with others. We always hope that our students and children use good judgment when they are online, however, there are times when comments are posted that are hurtful and meant to humiliate another person.

Image result for cyberbullying

What is cyberbullying? 
As defined by Common Sense Media, the use of digital media tools to deliberately humiliate and harass others often and deliberately. Cyberbullying is similar to face to face bullying. It can be harassing someone, pretending to be someone, or spreading rumors. The use of online tools enhances the embarrassment because it becomes more public in the online social world. Online tools can also make it easier for the offenders to send hurtful messages, spread the rumors or write painful comments on the internet as they are not face-to-face with their target. On the other hand, anything written and posted on the web is permanent and ultimately impacts the reputation of both the target and offender.     

Did You Know?
“Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once.” So, think about the number of students you see in a day. Could be 24, could be 124. It’s impacting many people you know, but you may not be aware of it. We hope that this blog post will allow you to Take a moment to learn about it and what you can do to help a targeted person.  For more statistical facts about cyberbullying visit 

Where does Cyberbullying happen?
The internet provides many avenues for cyberbullying. The most common websites or apps are
  • Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter 
  • Text Message sent through devices
  • Instant Message, whether it is on devices, email social media services
  • Email     
This creates easy opportunities for the targeted person to save the evidence for documentation of the incidences because it can be traced and found on the internet later.                          

What can you do about it?
Statistics show that bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide. Don’t let a person you know become one of those statistics. 
  • Ultimately when someone comes to confide in you about being bullied, show him or her empathy. 
  • Do something about it such as contacting the school counselor or another school leader who can help the student and the situation.
  • Talk to your students about cyberbullying and being an “upstander” and not a bystander. *Stand up to the offender. 

As educators, we all have the responsibility to address it. Just as we would take an in-person bullying event seriously, when a student or even your own child comes to you and admits they have been a victim of cyberbullying, listen to that student and give them the support they need.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Implementing digital communication in the classroom

Recently we blogged about some considerations for teachers who are considering implementing digital communication learning activities in their classrooms.  We talked about why providing a digital space for communication was important and how this could be achieved using various tools. 

Google Slides Q&A Presentation Mode Presenters can start a live Q&A session with an audience during a presentation with Google Slides. You can present questions at any time, and people can ask questions from any device.
FlipGrid video discussion platform.
TriCider crowdsource and backchannel discussion
VoiceThread allows students to use images, files, and video for collaboration and discussion. *Paid subscription, free to employees in our district.
Lino is a digital corkboard where students can leave “sticky notes”, images, or video.
Tozzl  is a digital easy-to-use pinboard that enables people to collaborate with others
Google Classroom has a question feature in the classwork page to get a discussion going.  Discussions can also occur in the stream page as a regular post

But when we get down to the details of thinking about the implementation of a digital discussion in the classroom, it can sometimes be hard to picture why you’d have students discuss online rather than face to face.  Below we’ll outline some benefits of digital discussions:

Teachers can capture responses from students more easily
Sometimes brilliant student responses occur in face to face discussions but before we know it, another student has jumped in or we teachers missed the opportunity to capitalize on the comment and it becomes a missed opportunity for student learning.  Digital discussions slow down the entire process and can allow teachers to deepen and develop certain areas of learning.  Particularly meaningful comments or threads can be saved and shared with other classes, other teachers and administrators, or even parents to inform the wider community of the students’ learning. 

Teachers can incorporate learners from various classes and schools. 
Teachers who teach multiple sections of a class can easily provide additional points of view by using a discussion board to allow for student responses from various sections of a class.  Even more interesting, teachers from the same school or even other schools can collaborate and share a discussion board to bring the conversation broader than a single teacher’s class. 

Some students may feel more at ease in a digital discussion.
Students who are learning English or students are shy during class discussions may find specific value in digital discussions.  They are able to think through their responses at their own rate rather than respond on the spot and teachers will have the opportunity to hear from students they may not hear from during face to face discussions.  All students have the opportunity to be on an equal plane.

So when does the class discussion happen?  The beauty of it is that it can happen at various points throughout a unit of learning.  Teachers can use responding to discussion prompts as a method to warm up the learning during bell work.  Similarly, discussing can provide a closure opportunity to a lesson and allow the students to reframe ideas and display their own personal understanding.  Discussion boards can also be used as a station during a station rotation lesson where students make a post and respond to various other students before completing the station.  

Asking the right question of your students is a critical component of ensuring an effective digital discussion.  Be sure to pose a question that is open ended and leaves room for discussion.  Returning to the essential question of a unit, for example, as each lesson is completed is a great use for a discussion board.  Asking opinion questions or asking students to take a stand with evidence is a great use of the tool and beautifully combines the pedagogical reasons for discussion with opportunities to practice digital citizenship.

So, ready, set, discuss!   

Monday, September 10, 2018

2019 Film Festival Begins

Each year, Richland Two provides a unique opportunity for students and district staff to share their story through video creation. We are excited to be in our 6th year and know it will be a bigger event this year. Our window of opportunity begins on September 10th, where students can complete the interest form and turn in permission slips

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Empower Your Students to Responsibly Communicate Online

The beginning of the school year can be overwhelming. From learning new students’ names, establishing norms and classroom rules that students must follow in the classroom to then developing a classroom culture that is safe and conducive to learning, it's no wonder that teachers are unusually exhausted in those first few weeks.  As educators, it is the same “beginning of the year” lecture every time and it is the same presentation for the students every year. Teachers want to ensure students understand what is expected and what a good citizen does in class and school each day. Students practice being a good citizen each day and learn from the mistakes made. When an unacceptable action occurs in the classroom, at lunch or during recess teachers take that moment as a learning opportunity to correct it for the future in hopes it won’t happen again. So as I ask you, can we empower our students to learn to be responsible citizens in the digital space by giving them frequent opportunities and experiences? Absolutely!

Before you say, “Well, I’ve tried it before but my students were not able to handle writing online. OR A few students made inappropriate comments so we just stopped using the tool.” OR “Many  students became off task doing other things so we just went back to paper/pencil.” That was before… I want you to think back to how you approached the process of communicating online with your students? 
  • How did you, as the teacher, model the process of posting? 
  • How did the class reflect on the contributing to an online platform? 
  • Did you demonstrate how to collectively take notes or gather information as a small group and then mentor these groups on how to disseminate the material their peers added to the learning space? 

Just because students have technology at home or maybe in previous grades does not mean they know how to be effective participatory digital citizens. This is a new year, with new students so you have a new chance to start it out right this year. Here are some tips on getting started on the right “click” for getting your students “participatory digital citizens”. 

1. Create a digital space
Creating a digital learning space allows your students an opportunity to contribute and collaborate with one another. Ask around in your school to learn which colleagues are already using digital tools to have students communicating about their learning. Here are a couple of suggested ways to get started. 
  • Google Slides Q&A Presentation Mode - Presenters can start a live Q&A session with an audience during a presentation with Google Slides. You can present questions at any time, and people can ask questions from any device.
  • FlipGrid - video discussion platform.
  • TriCider - crowdsource and backchannel discussion
  • VoiceThread - allows students to use images, files, and video for collaboration and discussion. *Paid subscription, free to employees in our district.
  • Lino -  a digital corkboard where students can leave “sticky notes”, images, or video. 
  • Tozzl -a digital easy-to-use pinboard that enables people to collaborate with others

2. Communicate to parents
When you are investigating digital learning spaces, look at the terms of service and determine what rules and guidelines they have in place. If you teach students who are under the age of 13, you may need to get the consent of the parent to create an account. t is a great opportunity for you, as the teacher, to inform parents and students about the life skills students gain in a digital learning community. As the teacher, you are providing opportunities for our students to understand the rights and responsibilities of working in a connected environment. 

3. Set learning targets
Creating opportunities for our students to communicate online offers authentic and meaningful experiences to build on those life skills in online social interactions. In the classroom, students become a part of a positive, safe and collaborative learning sessions. They learn how to respectfully work with others who may have a different viewpoint which can be transferred into their own personal online social interactions.

4. Start slow
If there is any hesitation in getting your students to communicate online, use an online learning space that is password protected. Give your students an opportunity to learn your expectations, the guidelines, process and from their own mistakes. Then move into a collaborative learning space with another classroom in your school, district and then to a larger more open community.  

5. Model, Monitor, Mentor, Redirect 
Just as it says, model what your expectations and guidelines are for social interaction on a digital learning community. Monitor the students as they practice and work in the online space. If a student makes a mistake, mentor the students through what happened and redirect the behavior to what is expected. Just as we discuss proper lunchroom procedures and redirect when something goes awry, discuss and redirect broken rules or guidelines and get them back on to show you they are respectful and responsible digital citizens.

Image result for online communication
In an attempt to get you to try new things this year with your students and promoting digital citizenship each and every day, give your students the opportunity to communicate online. Empower your students to be effective communicators in the digital world.

The Influential Parent - Episode 9

  The Influential Parent - Episode 9, Summer Care Tips   With devices going home for the summer in our district, we wanted to take some ti...