Sunday, January 29, 2017

Try Something New--Digital Task Cards

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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Thursday, January 19, 2017

We Hold These Truths: Three Reasons We Can Be Hopeful

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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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Using Google Forms to Create Self-Grading Quizzes

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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