Even at the end of the school year, sometimes a lecture can't be avoided in the secondary classroom. However, you can make that lecture more interesting and engaging by using Poll Everywhere. I give a quick tutorial about how to use Poll Everywhere in this blog post.
The irony of spring is that while it's the time of year that arguably matters most (photo finish with the curriculum, not to mention testing season), it's also the time of year that is the most difficult to engage our students.The seniors have their caps and gowns and the underclassmen have their summer daydreams.

But we still have to teach them. And more often than not, we have a lot to teach them. Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the classroom knows that's no easy task once the flowers are blooming.

So I'm counting down to summer break with Spring Tech Tips that are guaranteed(ish) to engage your most reluctant spring-time learners (uh-hem...everyone). Last week I wrote about learningapps.com, a super awesome, free platform that allows you to create fun activities for your classroom. If you missed it, don't worry, you can check it out HERE.

This week, I'm going to talk about something that I try to avoid. It's a thing that I don't like and that students HATE. I've written about avoiding it HERE. It's none other than the the dreaded lecture....

But sometimes it just can't be avoided. And we all know that finishing a content-heavy course can be like stuffing your entire wardrobe into a carry-on. You want to do engaging activities for everything, but it just won't all fit in. When this happens, you have to crumple topics up into the tiniest possible bits and just hand them to your students. The trouble is, they don't want to take them.

So that leads us to Spring Tech Tip # 6

Even at the end of the school year, sometimes a lecture can't be avoided in the secondary classroom. However, you can make that lecture more interesting and engaging by using Poll Everywhere. I give a quick tutorial about how to use Poll Everywhere in this blog post.Wake Up Presentations with Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is nothing new. It's an app/website that enables you to create polls or even interactive word clouds. Your students text a code or visit a special web address, and they can respond to the poll and see the results in real time.

That alone is pretty cool, but you can add the app to PowerPoint Presentations and Google Slides in order to make your presentations interactive. Below is a How-To for PowerPoint and Google Slides (it works the same in both). 
Even at the end of the school year, sometimes a lecture can't be avoided in the secondary classroom. However, you can make that lecture more interesting and engaging by using Poll Everywhere. I give a quick tutorial about how to use Poll Everywhere in this blog post.
Download the Cheat Sheet!
If you opt for the free version, then you can only poll 40 people at a time, but I find that is fine for most classrooms. The word cloud option (and the tax write-off) is the main reason I'd shell out the $50 a year. 

With the word cloud, students type in words from your prompt. I've always started topics with these on the whiteboard. So if we're discussing the Industrial Revolution, I might write, "Consumer," and students would create a word cloud with ideas that came to mind when they thought of that word (shopping, buying, taking, money...). With Poll Everywhere, students can type the words on their devices, and they appear in your presentation as a nice word cloud graphic.

Now, the word cloud does come with the free option, but the paid version allows the presenter to, uh-hem, make an undesirable word disappear with a click--quite often a necessity with secondary students.

Whether you use the free or the paid version, Poll Everywhere is super useful for encouraging your students to be more than passive viewers at your lecture--it enables them to become participants.

What are your best spring tech tips? leave a comment below to let me know. Oh, and don't forget to check back next week for Spring Tech Tip 5.

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LearningApps is a free website that teachers can use to engage their students in interactive reviews, games, and quizzes. I'm sharing more about how LearningApps works and how you can get the most of out of it in my new Spring Tech Tip series post!
The school year is winding down, the natives (teachers and students) are getting restless, and it’s time for my annual countdown to summer vacation. In the past, I’ve written about Spring Survival Tips and Google Classroom Hacks to help us all survive the heady springtime. 

This year, I’m moving in a different direction. I want to discuss technology, but I want to branch out from only Google Classroom (although one Classroom tip has made the cut, and I am an avid Google Classroom user), and discuss technology in general that will help you hold your students’ interest right until the bitter, bitter end. There is so much available out there for technology that is truly innovative and engaging. 

My goal with this series is to bring you the seven most innovative and engaging (oh, yes, and easy to use) technology tools out there to keep your students' minds off the beach and on their class work as we count down to the holy grail of holidays--summer break. 

I’ll be bringing you seven weeks of Spring Technology Tips. Some are technological marvels that I’ve used in my own classroom and some are technology that my colleagues swear by. 
LearningApps is a free website that teachers can use to engage their students in interactive reviews, games, and quizzes. I'm sharing more about how LearningApps works and how you can get the most of out of it in my new Spring Tech Tip series post!

So here is Spring Tech Tip #7: 

Add Variety with LearningApps

LearningApps is a free website that allows you to create interactive reviews, games, and quizzes to share with your students by link, or you can create a classroom within learning apps for your students to join via a special link (once they have created a free account for themselves). 

The site itself is German, but there are TONS of resources in English. You can search the site by grade range and subject for already created activities or easily generate activities of your own. It is very simple to create these apps--you decide the format you want to use, click the app template, and fill in the information.

Here's How to Get Started with LearningAppsLearningApps is a free website that teachers can use to engage their students in interactive reviews, games, and quizzes. I'm sharing more about how LearningApps works and how you can get the most of out of it in my new Spring Tech Tip series post!


LearningApps is a free website that teachers can use to engage their students in interactive reviews, games, and quizzes. I'm sharing more about how LearningApps works and how you can get the most of out of it in my new Spring Tech Tip series post!

LearningApps is a free website that teachers can use to engage their students in interactive reviews, games, and quizzes. I'm sharing more about how LearningApps works and how you can get the most of out of it in my new Spring Tech Tip series post!
Click HERE to Download the Free Cheat Sheet

Watch Me Make An App with LearningApps

Tomorrow, I'm giving notes over the Industrial Revolution in my world history class. The tenth graders are freshly back from spring break, it's a full moon, and this can be a dry topic, but it's an extremely important one. I'm creating this app to share in Google Classroom. Students will play in pairs as an alternative to a note quiz for a review. I'll also embed it right here for you to try.



Try It Out!


What is your favorite classroom technology? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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Do you struggle with cell phones in the classroom? They can be excellent tools for learning, but more often than not, they are a huge distraction. Check out this post about some of the ways students can use their portable devices for nefarious purposes and how the 1:1 classroom can offer a solution.Back in the late 90s, I drove an 86 Cavalier that had a bad habit of breaking down in the most inopportune of places--the middle of the interstate when I was cruising in the center lane (fortunately in light traffic), at a traffic light on a major road during rush hour, exiting a parking garage downtown with a line of cars behind me.

It was the late 90s, so there was always a payphone a short walk away (well, except for in the middle of the interstate).

Then there was the time I had a late exam at Georgia State. I decided to take a short cut through a less than desirable neighborhood filled with dilapidated buildings and dark alleys. The street lights were sparse and so were the signs of people.

I stopped at a red light, double checked to make sure my doors were locked, and took my foot off the brakes when the light turned green. I tapped the gas, and nothing happened. I turned the key, and the engine hiccuped, but nothing. I waited a minute, and tried again. Nothing.

Now a smart person would have sat there with the doors locked and waited for a police car. But I was not smart. I was 19. So I got out of the car and ran across the street to a liquor store. It was dark--closed. I looked around, and nothing seemed to be open. But there was a solitary payphone in the parking lot.

I ran to the payphone, dropped in my quarter (remember always keeping quarters on hand?), and dialed my dad. When I told him the street I was on, he instructed me to get back in the car, lock the doors, and wait for him.

The next day he bought me my first cell phone.

Cell phones are an amazing invention. They are a portable safety precaution. I don't want to go back to the days of crossing traffic or dark, empty streets searching for pay phones. Cell phones are infinitely useful--much more so than they were in the late 90s.

But cell phones are a distraction at school.

Don't get me wrong--I know they have their uses. Before we went 1:1, they were helpful for scanning QR codes and finding information. I had a Bring Your Own Technology class, and we needed them for some of our activities.
Do you struggle with cell phones in the classroom? They can be excellent tools for learning, but more often than not, they are a huge distraction. Check out this post about some of the ways students can use their portable devices for nefarious purposes and how the 1:1 classroom can offer a solution.
But there are many problems with having them in the classroom. First and foremost, they are nearly impossible to monitor. No matter how great you are at classroom management, those screens are small. Those apps close fast. There's one of you and 25 to 32 of them.

Here are a few ways that cellphones can make learning incredibly difficult:

1. Kids use them to cheat.
They take pictures of their assignments and text them to each other. They google answers surreptitiously while testing. They search online for answer keys to assignments.

2. Kids steam video during class.
There's Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, to name a few. The school may have these sites blocked, but students can always switch to their own data. I overheard a student saying that she always watches Grey's Anatomy during math class. Think that teacher's falling down on the job? Wireless earbuds and overcrowded classrooms make it much easier to be sneaky than you might think. I busted a student binging on Fuller House in my own classroom, and I'm "involved." I'm sure there are many I haven't busted.

3. Kids are distracted by texting and social media.
Middle and high school are already hotbeds of drama. Try engaging a student in chemistry or world history amid a Snapchat drama--it's a fantasy.

4. Those games are addictive.
They especially love those short games they can play with each other on Message, such as pool or tic-tac-toe. That is way more engaging to most of them than To Kill a Mockingbird.

5. They like to video us and each other.
This is nothing new, but it can create quite the stir when these videos get around. And if they film something in your classroom that goes viral, that's not a good place to find yourself.

6. They use them to sabotage class games.
Do you struggle with cell phones in the classroom? They can be excellent tools for learning, but more often than not, they are a huge distraction. Check out this post about some of the ways students can use their portable devices for nefarious purposes and how the 1:1 classroom can offer a solution.I've heard of cases of students texting pin codes to their friends during games like Kahoot! so that students who aren't even in the classroom enter the game with inappropriate names and other such nonsense to waste class time.

There are many other nefarious ways students use those phones at school. They can be valuable tools,
but allowing them in the classroom has opened Pandora's Box.

So now that we are 1:1 with Chromebooks, I don't allow them. Students check them into a shoe bag when they enter the classroom. If they don't check them and I see them out, I take them.

This doesn't solve every issue--students are way savvier than we are about technology, but it cuts down on a lot of mischief and distraction.

And as for the Chromebooks? I can monitor those much more easily. Our district uses Goguardian, a program that allows teachers to display each student's screen on the teacher's screen. If students are off task on their Chromebooks, I can close the offending tab. If they persist, I can lock their Chromebook. At least I have some control with those.

1:1 classrooms open the students up to so many wonderful learning experiences, but technology also opens them up to so many more opportunities for distraction. Teacher control of the technology in use is vital to creating an effective learning environment in the blended classroom.

How do you "control" the technology in your classroom in order to make it a learning tool and not a distraction? Leave a comment below, and let me know. And be sure to stick around and check out the other posts in my Blended Classroom Tips and Tricks series.


Blended Classroom Tips and Tricks: Submit Pen and Paper Work with a Chromebook
Blended Classroom Tips and Tricks: Poll Students with Google Classroom
Blended Classroom Tips and Tricks: Stay Organized with the Google Classroom Stream
Blended Classroom Tips and Tricks: 3 Tips for Managing Your Blended Class
Blended Classroom Tips and Tricks: Using Google Forms to Create Self-Grading Quizzes
Blended Classroom Tips and Tricks: Enabling Adobe Flash on Google Chromebooks


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My students were working on a simple activity in class last week--at least I thought it was simple.

They were to take a virtual tour of a medieval manor.
They were to answer questions regarding that tour.
They were to drag and drop pieces to label the parts of a manor.

I assigned this activity to save time. I had to be out with my sick son last Tuesday, and we were a day behind. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but a huge deal when you are trying to teach the history of the world in 18 weeks. There is no time to spare.

I have this manor pop-up activity that I like to do with the middle ages, but it takes an entire block, and we just didn’t have that much time to spare.

So I went with the quick way to teach medieval manors that I mentioned above. And it should have been perfect. Quick. Easy. It hit the high points.

No sooner did the students begin working on the activity than hands began shooting up. With impatient sophomores, that in and of itself is a recipe for disaster. Add to the mix any free time, and forget about it. You’re outnumbered. You might as well go ahead and raise the white flag.

They could access the website for the virtual tour, but they could not view the tour because Adobe Flash was not enabled on their Chromebooks.
I had to think fast. I took one student’s Chromebook and tried to install Flash. No go. The natives were getting restless, so I did what anybody would do in 2017. I googled the problem. It turns out it was an easy fix:

Go the the URL address bar in Chrome.
Type “Chrome://plugin” (no quotation marks).
Check the box “always enable” for Adobe Flash.

Problem solved for the Chromebook.

Check out the (now) quick and simple activity HERE.
As for getting it to work on an IPad--you have to go through the Apple Store for that. Apple has its own version of Flash, so it doesn’t let Adobe run. Unfortunately, that will cost you. You'll have to get an Apple approved app.

Apple does support HTML5, though, which is starting to replace Flash around the web, so this will all be moot in a couple of years (probably).

Be sure to stick around and check out the other posts in my Blended Classroom Tips and Tricks series.


And be sure to let us know about your tips and tricks in the comments below!



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Digital task cards are great, but just like more traditional teaching methods, they can become stale and old when used too frequently. In this post I describe how I switch up my digital task cards to make them more interesting for students. Be sure to read the post and chime in with how you update your content mid-year to keep it fresh for students!I was talking to a group of my social studies friends not too long ago about how easy it is to fall into a rut--even with the fun stuff. Kahoot!, Jeopardy, Quizlet Live, Quizziz, Gallery Walks, Cutting and Folding, Stations--these are all fun, for us and the students, but once you're halfway through the year and you've done all of this, it's time for a change.

My school went 1:1 in August of 2016, and I've been blending my interactive notebooks (paper/digital hybrid) since January of 2016, so there's a lot of variety in my classroom. Here's a free guide about how to do it.

We color, we fold, we paste, we drag and we drop, we flip, we type, we use task cards as games and for we use them for review.

But assign the same thing over and over, and it becomes as stale as lecture and notes (which are great, used sparingly).

So I've decided to mix it up a bit with digital task cards. Have you ever noticed that changing the format and medium of something makes it more interesting?

Digital task cards are great, but just like more traditional teaching methods, they can become stale and old when used too frequently. In this post I describe how I switch up my digital task cards to make them more interesting for students. Be sure to read the post and chime in with how you update your content mid-year to keep it fresh for students!
Here it is!
That's what I've done with these digital Civil Rights Task Cards, and I'm very pleased with the results.

I assign these to my students in Google Classroom, so there's no prep on my part. It's basically a web quest, but don't tell them that.

This format allows me to have them do comprehensive research over the American Civil Rights Movement in small bites, so they don't realize they are doing comprehensive research.

The tasks on each card are more varied than simply asking and answering questions, so the students are engaged. Here are some examples:

Digital task cards are great, but just like more traditional teaching methods, they can become stale and old when used too frequently. In this post I describe how I switch up my digital task cards to make them more interesting for students. Be sure to read the post and chime in with how you update your content mid-year to keep it fresh for students!
Preview it here!
When they finish all 24 cards, there are four additional cards with mini-projects. I have them choose one to complete as an extension activity.

This way, when February and the Black History Program arrive, my students already have a good understanding of key events and the progression of the Civil Rights movement.

What strategies are you using to "freshen" up your content halfway through? Leave a comment below to let me know. And be sure to check out the links below to find out what new things other social studies teachers are doing this year in their classrooms!


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On January 20th, 2017, a new president, who was freely elected, was inaugurated into his new office. While concerns abound about his political stances and his rhetoric, the fact remains that he is inheriting a stable country. We can be hopeful for what lies ahead, and we can teach our students that hope, too. I, along with many other TpT sellers, have contributed a free resource for the movements of #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths. Learn about my freebie, and see what others have created.The 2016 election season was divisive. Disagreement is healthy in a democracy--it keeps us on our toes. But demonizing people whose opinions differ from our own is counter-productive. We should attempt to understand and learn from each other. I wrote about discussing the election results with our students HERE.

To loosely quote President Obama in his farewell address, compromise is vital to our democracy.

In his farewell address, President Washington famously warned against the divisiveness political parties would bring.

The younger President Bush was hopeful for the future in his farewell address.

I want to discuss three reasons that we should be hopeful going forward. At the end of this post, I want to tell you about a TON of free resources that will help you communicate that hopefulness to your students.

Three Reasons We Should Be Hopeful Going Forward:

1. We Are Diverse

What do Albert Einstein, Natalie Portman, Ayn Rand, Andrew Carnegie, Van Morrison, Bob Marley, Joseph Pulitzer, Madeleine Albright, Irving Berlin, Eddie Van Halen, Isabelle Allende, Liz Claiborne, Bob Hope, Henry Kissinger, Sammy Sosa, Frank Capra, Charlie Chaplin, Iman, and Maria Sharapova all have in common?

They have all enriched American culture and politics.

And they are all immigrants.

Fresh perspectives and diversity are part of what makes this nation great. We should never forget that, because to lose it would be a great tragedy.

On January 20th, 2017, a new president, who was freely elected, was inaugurated into his new office. While concerns abound about his political stances and his rhetoric, the fact remains that he is inheriting a stable country. We can be hopeful for what lies ahead, and we can teach our students that hope, too. I, along with many other TpT sellers, have contributed a free resource for the movements of #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths. Learn about my freebie, and see what others have created.

2. We Are Fair

Or we try to be. Part of being fair is to try to understand different perspectives. Like it or not, we will have a new president on January 20, 2017, and he was fairly and freely elected. 

Yes, he didn't win the popular vote, but the Electoral College is not new. We the people are (or should be) familiar with its function. We can't do away with it legally after the fact and expect a post hoc change. 

It is our obligation as citizens to allow for the peaceful transition of power, hope for the best, and if we don't like the outcome, to protest with our vote.

On January 20th, 2017, a new president, who was freely elected, was inaugurated into his new office. While concerns abound about his political stances and his rhetoric, the fact remains that he is inheriting a stable country. We can be hopeful for what lies ahead, and we can teach our students that hope, too. I, along with many other TpT sellers, have contributed a free resource for the movements of #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths. Learn about my freebie, and see what others have created.

3. We, The People, Are The Government

If we are kind, if we are strong, if we are creative, if we are citizens, then we need not fear for the state of our Union. I've heard hyperbolic comparisons of Donald Trump to fascist dictators of the past. And, yes, his own hyperbole and divisiveness lends credence to that argument.

But the past doesn't ever repeat itself (ask Mark Twain if you don't believe me--it just rhymes). SO we may hear echos of Hitler's promise to make Germany a great nation again or to blame a particular group for all our country's woes in Trump's rhetoric. 

But the situation of the United States that Trump has inherited is far different from the the unstable situation of Weimar Germany. The Weimar Republic was new, shaky, weak, and untested. Our Constitution has stood the test of time. Our system is stable.

That's not to say that we shouldn't guard it. We should. And if we participate in the political process, we do.

On January 20th, 2017, a new president, who was freely elected, was inaugurated into his new office. While concerns abound about his political stances and his rhetoric, the fact remains that he is inheriting a stable country. We can be hopeful for what lies ahead, and we can teach our students that hope, too. I, along with many other TpT sellers, have contributed a free resource for the movements of #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths. Learn about my freebie, and see what others have created.


I believe that the majority of us hold these truths near and dear to our hearts. I believe in the power of the people and our ultimate desire for kindness and fairness.

I believe, not in telling my students what to believe, but in educating them about their responsibilities as citizens of this nation that I am proud to call my own.

Many other teachers share these values, and we have posted free products all across Teachers Pay Teachers that will help teachers educate students on principles of citizenship and kindness. Go to Teachers Pay Teachers and enter the hashtags #weholdthesetruths and/or #kindnessnation in the search engine. You will find many free resources ready to use in your classroom.

On January 20th, 2017, a new president, who was freely elected, was inaugurated into his new office. While concerns abound about his political stances and his rhetoric, the fact remains that he is inheriting a stable country. We can be hopeful for what lies ahead, and we can teach our students that hope, too. I, along with many other TpT sellers, have contributed a free resource for the movements of #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths. Learn about my freebie, and see what others have created.On January 20th, 2017, a new president, who was freely elected, was inaugurated into his new office. While concerns abound about his political stances and his rhetoric, the fact remains that he is inheriting a stable country. We can be hopeful for what lies ahead, and we can teach our students that hope, too. I, along with many other TpT sellers, have contributed a free resource for the movements of #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths. Learn about my freebie, and see what others have created.My free resource is a Color-Fill Film Guide for President Obama's Farewell Address. It asks students to view and consider important points of President Obama's farewell address and then to look at the history of the presidential farewell address. This will demonstrate to students that the presidency is an enduring office and that the end of our democratic-republic is surely not imminent because of one man or one event.


On January 20th, 2017, a new president, who was freely elected, was inaugurated into his new office. While concerns abound about his political stances and his rhetoric, the fact remains that he is inheriting a stable country. We can be hopeful for what lies ahead, and we can teach our students that hope, too. I, along with many other TpT sellers, have contributed a free resource for the movements of #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths. Learn about my freebie, and see what others have created.
Grab it HERE!

On January 20th, 2017, a new president, who was freely elected, was inaugurated into his new office. While concerns abound about his political stances and his rhetoric, the fact remains that he is inheriting a stable country. We can be hopeful for what lies ahead, and we can teach our students that hope, too. I, along with many other TpT sellers, have contributed a free resource for the movements of #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths. Learn about my freebie, and see what others have created.


And be sure to click on all of the links below to grab other secondary teachers' free resources and to read their posts.

Thanks so much to Desktop Learning Adventures and ELA Buffet for organizing this blog hop.









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Google Forms now has a self-grading quiz feature! When I wrote about Google Forms in the past, you needed to have an add-on in order to make your quizzes in Google Classroom self-grading. However, Google Forms has updated since then, and now you can make your quizzes self-grading. In this blog post, I walk you through a step-by-step tutorial of how to set this up in your own Google Classroom!I've discussed ways to use Google Forms in the classroom in these blog posts: Inserting Images and Films and Formative Assessment. The video post sums it all up! But when I discussed Forms last, you needed an add-on to make them self-grading.

I LOVE forms because there are so many things you can do with them beyond just tests. Here are two suggestions:

1. Exit Quizzes: Create an exit quiz with a few very important concepts from the day's lesson. Then you will know immediately what you need to review the next day or how to flex group.

2. Games: Create a simple review. Pair or group students off. The first group that finishes first with the most correct answers wins! Add video and images to make it more engaging.

Google has since made things much simpler with it's "quiz" setting. Here's how it works:
Google Forms now has a self-grading quiz feature! When I wrote about Google Forms in the past, you needed to have an add-on in order to make your quizzes in Google Classroom self-grading. However, Google Forms has updated since then, and now you can make your quizzes self-grading. In this blog post, I walk you through a step-by-step tutorial of how to set this up in your own Google Classroom!

Google Forms now has a self-grading quiz feature! When I wrote about Google Forms in the past, you needed to have an add-on in order to make your quizzes in Google Classroom self-grading. However, Google Forms has updated since then, and now you can make your quizzes self-grading. In this blog post, I walk you through a step-by-step tutorial of how to set this up in your own Google Classroom!
Print the cheat sheet HERE.

What are some unique ways you use Forms in your classroom? Leave a comment below, and let me know!

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