As part of my Summer Professional Development series, I've got the third post for you, which is all about how to turn your vacation into a lesson. Learn how to use a choice board to help students use technology to get to know one another and share about their summer vacations. Click through to get the full tutorial!
This is the third post in my summer professional development series. So far, I've written about Infusing Tech One Lesson at a Time and Easy Tools to Techify Your Classroom.

This week, I want to consider how to turn summer vacation into a back to school lesson. But not just any back to school lesson--one that serves a dual purpose:

1. Allowing the students to get to know you and one another
2. Introducing technology tools that the students will be using all year long.

First, I have written about the back to school activity I have created. Then, I have offered a short guide for you to use in creating your own.

How I Turned My Vacation into a Lesson

One of the questions I challenged myself to consider this summer was, "How will I give an overview of some of the tech we'll be using this year without putting the kids to sleep?" And also without wasting a ton of time, which we never seem to have enough of.

An idea came to me when I was looking over some of the "getting to know you" activities that I've used in the past to help foster an environment of collaboration. Why not combine the two? Why not integrate the tech introduction into a "getting to know you" activity?
As part of my Summer Professional Development series, I've got the third post for you, which is all about how to turn your vacation into a lesson. Learn how to use a choice board to help students use technology to get to know one another and share about their summer vacations. Click through to get the full tutorial!
I teach a diverse set of students, so thinking of something that will apply to them all is no simple task.

I started by considering common ground that all students will have at the beginning of the year.
And I thought of one thing--they are all returning from summer vacation.

Summer vacation means different things to different students. For some, it will mean trips to Europe. For others, it will mean forty hours behind a cash register. Sadly, for still others, it will mean having to worry about where their next meal will come from.

But they are all returning from summer break.

So I centered this lesson around that theme. And because our students are so diverse, I centered it around choice. The assignment looks roughly like this:

-A choice board with nine tasks. Students select one task from each row to complete.
-Each task requires using a technology tool to complete.
-Each tool is demonstrated through a video tutorial.
-Students bring the tasks together into a Google Slides Presentation (so they can familiarize themselves with that particular tool).
-They share the presentation in Google Classroom.
-Students review one another's presentations and use them to complete a scavenger hunt.
If students took pictures over the break (which many of them will have), one of the video tutorials teaches them how to embed those pictures into Flippity Flash Cards and how to create those flash cards. 

If they watched a movie or read a book, one of the tasks shows them how to open a doc, write a short report on it, and then transform the report into a word cloud image.

One of the tasks introduces web research tools by requiring them to briefly research one of three topics about summer and use those web tools to organize their research and create a bibliography.

I feel like this is a solid back to school activity that accomplishes both goals of establishing a collaborative environment through getting to know one another and of introducing some of the tech tools students will be using all year long and allowing students to become familiar with it.

I've made the activity available, complete with video tutorials, examples, choice board, rubric, scavenger hunt, and customizable templates for your classroom. You can get it HERE.

If you want to start from scratch and make your own to perfectly fit your classroom needs, here's what you'll need to consider.

Making Your Own Tech Infused Back to School Activity

Start by considering your objectives. What do you hope to accomplish? Then think about add-ons, apps, extensions, and other tools that you plan on using throughout the course. What would it most benefit your students to understand right away? I've described a few useful ones HERE.

Consider making short video tutorials of each tool so that the activity is self-guided for the students and you don't find yourself answering the same questions repeatedly. You can link to the tutorials right in the project. Then you can add the tutorials to the "About" section of Google Classroom, or whatever classroom app you are using, so that students can refer to them throughout the course as the need arises.

An easy and free way to make the tutorials is with Screencastify, a free Google Extension. I have a tutorial for using it HERE.

Then consider the task or tasks you want the students to complete. Do you want the tasks to culminate into a final product or do you just want to leave it as a series of activities or even one activity that requires a few tech tools? How do you want the students to share their creations with the class. Will they present? Will they post them in Classroom? Will they create QR codes?

Consider Back to School Activities you have done in the past. Consider how they can be re-purposed with technology.
Will you score the activities? What will your guidelines be?

Be sure to download this planning sheet complete with useful links to help you get started on turning your vacation into a lesson.

And don't forget to check back next week to consider the brain benefits of gamifying. 

How will you be handling back to school activities in the blended classroom? Will you "kill two birds with one stone" and use them to introduce technology tools? Leave a comment below and let me know!





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I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!
I am busy this summer working to improve my classroom game for the coming school year (and to catch up on Netflix). I'm sharing the former here in my summer professional development series.

Last week, I wrote about Infusing Tech One Lesson at a Time. This week, I want to share some simple tools that will help techify your class.

I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!
There is so much out there, and I discussed some in my Spring Tech Tips series. Today, I want to look at a few Google apps, add-ons, and extensions that can techify your classroom while improving your own and your students' productivity.

To offer a quick run-down, apps are basically self-updating programs or websites that are the next generation CDRom (remember those?). Add-ons are tools you can get to add features to Google Docs. Extensions improve the functionality of your web browser. You can grab these tools by visiting the Chrome Web Store.

There are so many apps, add-ons, and extensions out there that it's difficult to know where to begin, so I thought I would just pick my two favorite in each category and explain why they're so fantastic.

Techify Your Class with Apps

The web's the limit here--literally. But two apps that I want to discuss today are Mind Mup and Gooru.

Mind Mup allows your students to create mind maps--visual content organizers--digitally and then publish them to the web or share them with you.
I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!

Teachers curate the content of the web into lessons in Gooru. Gooru allows you to create classes and give your students codes to join or to share lessons via links. Search Gooru for a topic that you're teaching and units other teachers have created will pop up.

The units will include lessons comprised of readings, videos, images, interactive activities, and/or questions. The questions can be formatted several different ways (including multiple choice and free response) and are great to use as formative assessment.
I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!

I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!

Techify Your Class with Add-Ons

Every time I'm working in Docs, Forms, or Sheets, I always think, "I wish there were an add-on that would allow me to do such and such." Then I go to add-ons in the tool bar at the top, do a quick search, and there generally is.

It's difficult to narrow add-ons down to just two, but I would have to say that my favorite for Sheets is Flippity and my favorite for Docs is Easy Bib.

I would cry bitter tears if Flippity ever disappeared. It's a series of templates designed for non-coding geniuses like me to use in Sheets. With Flippity, you can create flash cards with images and film embedded, quiz games, crossword puzzles, bingo, spinners, progress trackers, and much more.

All you do is fill in the template provided with your content, go to file and select "publish to the web," go back to Add-ons, select "Flippity.net," click on the link, and you will be directed to an awesome, interactive activity that you just created on a humble spreadsheet.
I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!

I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!

I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!
The bane of my existence in grad school was bibliographies (and my students never seem to get them right now). I hated lugging around the MLA or APA handbook and checking and double checking that I got the formatting and punctuation just right. Easy Bib now takes care of that headache for us.

While typing a paper in Docs, students simply open the add-on. Easy Bib comes up in the right hand pane. Students enter the website URL, book ISBN, or Title, etc. Easy Bib formats, alphabetizes, generates, and inserts your bibliography straight into your Doc.
I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!

Techify Your Class with Extensions

Extensions can increase your and your students' productivity. I have chosen to feature two that are perfect for conducting research--Liner and Sprint Reader.

Liner enables you to highlight important text in web articles. It then saves the articles and highlights to your account. I love it because you can then organize the articles into folders by topic. When you go to create your Easy Bib, just open up your Liner Account, and grab the links from there.
I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!

Sprint Reader is a speed-reading extension. It forces you to fly through the text. This is a huge time-saver if you (or your students) are researching a lot of material. You'll be surprised how much information you retain. Then scroll back through the article, and use Liner highlight important points.
I've got some really great, easy tools to recommend in this post that will help you techify your classroom next school year! I'm sharing with you two apps, two add-ons, and two extensions that you can use. This post is part of my Summer Professional Development series, so click through to read about these tech tools and keep up with the rest of the series!
A word of caution here--if you are teaching ESL and struggling learners, do not use Sprint Reader. It will frustrate them. Select an extension that will read the webpage aloud to them instead, such as Read Aloud. The text can even be read in different languages!

How do you techify your class? What are your favorite apps, add-ons, and extensions? Leave a comment below to let me know. And don't for get to check back in next week to learn how to turn your vacation into a lesson with tech!

Want more? Be sure to check out my blended classroom course!




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