Ask yourself…are you working way harder than you should be? Distance learning is hard enough without trying to sift through a million new digital tools you’ve never tried before, and trying to find ones that work well for your classroom. So as a millennial teacher, I am here to do my duty and tell you what digital resources I have been using for years to work smarter and not harder in my classroom.
1. Google Classroom
Putting this first may make you think…girl I already know this. You’re not doing anything new. But honestly, I would be doing everyone a disservice if I didn’t include this on the list, because honestly it’s amazing, and where all of the other tools come together as one. Google Classroom has made a bunch of updates within the last couple of years to make all of our lives easier. Not only is the format more sleek and easy to organize, but there are new features that allow you distribute and assign tasks to your students with the click of your mouse. Without diving too deeply into something you probably already know a lot about, I will say that I didn’t use Google Classroom for the first couple years of my career, and I regret it so much. I would say the most valuable features that are in the newest edition of google classroom are 1.) quiz assignments, 2.) make a copy for each student, and 3.) google rubrics. I used to do a ton of extra work with quiz assignments / digital HW that GC eliminated (I’ll come back to this topic later). Make a copy is a great way to make sure that all students have a template/copy of any project or document that you would like them to complete in class that is already shared with you and open for you to comment on. I can’t tell you how many headaches of “you need to share that with me!” this has saved. And lastly, google rubrics is a newer feature that allows you to make a super fast rubric to easily grade rubrics digitally and attach them to your assignments. I used to be big into Doctopus Goobric, but this blew it out of the water and is *chef’s kiss*
2. Google Forms
*Insert hallelujah chorus here* Y’all I SWEAR I do not now how I taught before I used google forms in my classroom. Actually, I do. I did it poorly lol. I used to use a different website called Quia, which I thought was fantastic. It was not. Although it was super helpful at the time, being a separate site was just an extra step, and therefore an extra hassle for both me, and my students. There was a big learning curve for students, and it was so tough to organize it all. Google Forms has eliminated all of that and all of my concerns with Homework. Of course, I have the luxury of working in a district that does not have issues with tech availability, so this may not be helpful for all of you. However, for those of you that can use this, it is LIFE. For me it took away a huge concern of mine in regards to HW and what was fair. For more details on this conundrum for me, see this rant on my blog on why I switched to Google Forms in the first place. But the bottom line is when paired with Google Classroom as a quiz assignment, you allow all of your HW to be posted in the same place, you can import the grades, and see a student summary in one location that parents, co-teachers, support staff, etc. can all access as well. It’s a Godsend and I love it. If you’ve never assigned a quiz assignment and you’re interested in how to do so, check out this step by step tutorial on my youtube page!
I’m honestly mad at myself for not using edpuzzle earlier. In normal circumstances this website is a fantastic resource for anyone who is interested in doing flipped classroom activities, or more personalized paced learning. For right now with distance learning it’s amazing because flipped classroom is all we’ve got. If you’ve never used it before, it’s a site where you can upload your own videos, or use videos from other websites like Youtube. With those videos you can track how much of the video students watched, you can prevent them from skipping through it, and insert comprehension questions throughout. And since we obviously want to work smarter, not harder, I think you should know that the multiple choice questions grade themselves! You can upload videos of you teaching your own material or steal a video from a resource you love, like Señor Jordan for Spanish teachers like me, or even Kahn Academy for you math teachers! If you’re thinking that you don’t want to teach your students how to log into another account on another website, you don’t have to! I would never lead you astray like that! Edpuzzle lets you post (and even schedule) right into google classroom! You can import your roster so you know exactly who did and didn’t do the assignment, and what scores they received. The link posts right into GC, and all your students need to do is log in with the same email they use for google classroom, and they’re in! If you’ve never used edpuzzle before, you can check out my step by step tutorial here as well to set up your account and get going.
An oldie but a goodie. As a Spanish teacher, Quizlet is my bread and butter. Not only is it one of the the only fun ways for students to actively engage with new vocabulary, but it is super easy to use for both student and teacher. I have really loved seeing Quizlet’s progress during the last few years with their new features such as…
- Diagrams – Now you can upload images to Quizlet and label the diagram with the different vocabulary terms. I’ve used this in my classroom for a unit on parts of the body and it’s was awesome
- Quizlet live – this is the best warmup for class ever. Students work in groups to find matches to vocabulary terms in a race style game. In my class you get a dulce (candy), but online it’s just for the bragging rights. They have recently updated this for the digital learning situation, so that you can have students play individually instead of with groups. This is great, because the groups feature is best in person so they can talk out the answer and help one another.
- The image/voice options when uploading a term. As a Spanish teacher I am routinely impressed by how good the pronunciation is of the computer in quizlet for terms in Spanish, however it’s awesome that you can upload your own audios as well. The image feature is fantastic not only because students remember better when there is an image attached to vocabulary, but they even suggest images you might like based off of other teachers entries! It makes new vocabulary a snap!
- Teacher account. If you have a teacher account on quizlet (this is not necessary, just a nice bonus) you can track student progress and assign quizlet practice as homework. I love this feature, because it’s an easy assignment before a quiz or just to spruce up on past topics. If you don’t have a paid account, you can create an assignment on Google Classroom, and just ask students to upload a screenshot of their completion of an activity (an easy free loophole)!
If you have never used screencastify.com before, it is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to record your screen and upload the video to multiple platforms. You can record your entire screen, just one browser tab, and/or you can even record yourself (as in your face). I have gotten a lot of feedback from students through the first few weeks of digital learning, that not only do they miss us, but they miss having a person they know teaching them things. Multiple students have told me that they far prefer videos of ME teaching the material in the way that they are used to, rather than a stranger with a youtube channel. I have been using screencastify to do that and have found great success. To work smarter rather than harder, all you need to do is take a powerpoint that you normally would use in class, and then record yourself moving through the powerpoint and talking about it just as you would in the classroom. Therefore, taking the lesson you would have already done, and transplanting it to an online platform with a few simple clicks. You can easily download the videos you create or simply click one button to upload them directly to google classroom for your students to watch. (Or if you want to get really smart, upload it to edpuzzle like I talked about above to ensure comprehension and to know whether or not your students watched it!) Right now screencastify is offering full premium memberships for teachers to help during these tough times, which is awesome! However, you can still use screencastify when your membership expires, you just can’t do videos over 10 minutes, so if your video is over that you would just need to chop it up.
And that’s it! I hope you use these tools to make your life easier during this tough time! For more tips and tricks throughout the school year, follow my instagram and youtube channel! Click the icon below to go to my pages!