This is the second part of my series, Baby Steps to Personalized Learning. I'm using this series to discuss small ways to bring personalized learning into our standardized classrooms. This week is all about assessment.

This is the second part of my series, Baby Steps to Personalized Learning. I'm using this series to discuss small ways to bring personalized learning into our standardized classrooms. Last week, we discussed An Easy Way to Personalize Learning with Student Choice. This week is all about assessment.

And that's a bit more tricky.

Assessment in public schools has become increasingly standardized. My ideal classroom would be completely personalized--from learning to assessment. But as a public school teacher, I am obligated to prepare my students for standardized end of course tests. However, one necessity of personalized learning is that students should be reflective and take ownership of their own learning. This method requires them to do that.

Steps to Assessment and Personalized Learning in a Standardized Classroom:

1. The students take the test as they normally would.

2. Then they fill out a unit reflection sheet that asks them to:
-Summarize the Unit
-Describe the effectiveness of their notes and explain how they used them to study.
-Reflect on the assessment by
         -noting their score
         -explaining whether or not it's an accurate reflection of their learning.
         -stating whether or not they need a retest.

3. If they need a retest, they go to the next slide and list the topics they missed.

4. Then they visit a linked site that lists study methods and select two methods they will use to study further.

5. They then select a method for retesting from a list of choices. Choices include a traditional test, an essay, a project, a DBQ (document based question), an interview with the teacher, or their suggestion (with teacher approval).

6. Each student must select a target date for the retest. The onus is on them to arrange it with the teacher.

Tips for Implementing:

1. Keep it as simple as possible. Make it a part of your classroom routine. I have topic in Google Classroom called "Unit Reflections." The reflections go here at the end of each unit and require students to fill out the first slide after every unit whether they need to retest or not. This encourages reflection over and ownership of their learning. It also gives me a digital record of their thought
This is the second part of my series, Baby Steps to Personalized Learning. I'm using this series to discuss small ways to bring personalized learning into our standardized classrooms. This week is all about assessment.
process and how often students are taking the retest option.

2. Provide options for retesting, but only list retest options that won't be difficult for you as the teacher. If you have access to a test bank, make the retest different, or at least scramble everything up so that it's a bit different. If you suspect students are using the initial test to fail intentionally so that they can see what's on it for the retest, take the traditional test off the table. I find that students generally choose a different method, anyway.

I put the DBQ on there because my school subscribes to DBQ online, so I already have one for most units. For projects, I have a choice board that I use. I alter the rubric so that instead of having a category for using class time productively, it includes a category that rates their exploration of standards they didn't test well on.

3. Teach students to avoid magical thinking by stressing the importance of the reflection and purposeful study. Many of my students begin this process by hoping they will magically do better if they take the test again without studying. This is because they generally don't know how to study. This method gives students tools for studying.

At mid year, your students may be ready to use this reflection before their summative assessment and then choose the assessment on the first go-around. If you use test prep questions with formative assessments, students will be getting enough practice with those. They'll also need a rough timeline of when they should complete each unit.

How do you personalize assessment in your classroom? Leave a comment to let me know.

This is the second post in my series Baby Steps to Personalized Learning. I'm not talking about the completely automated methods that research has shown are not effective, but a blend of teacher, learner, and auto-driven personalization. My goal is for us to feel empowered as classroom teachers to engage in best practices despite a system that treats us like cogs in a machine. By doing this, I believe we can empower our students to reach their full potential.

With each post, I'm sending my email list a resource for their toolbox to help in the journey. Here's what they received this week:

This is the second part of my series, Baby Steps to Personalized Learning. I'm using this series to discuss small ways to bring personalized learning into our standardized classrooms. This week is all about assessment.


You can sign up for my Notes HERE.

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Do you struggle to implement personalized learning in your "standardized" classroom? I know I do. That's why I've started a new series on my blog, "Baby Steps to Personalized Learning." In the first post, I discuss what personalized learning is and how we can SLOWLY implement it using finite student choice.

Personalized Learning is the phrase of the day in education. And for a good reason. ISTE defines personalized learning as pedagogy that "tailors instruction, expression of learning and assessment to each student’s unique needs and preferences."

That's amazing--and exactly what we as teachers want to offer for our students. But it's also daunting. We live in a society entangled in the paradox of innovation and cultural lag. We have the technology for electric vehicles, but we still cruise the interstates in gas guzzlers. We have the technology to implement green energy, but we still burn coal. Robotics can make surgery more efficient and lessen recovery time, but we still go in for traditional surgery.

And that leads us to this--we have the understanding that students learn at different rates and in different ways, but we still teach in systems that implement high-stakes testing, which lends itself to a one-size-fits-all instruction model.

The research tells us to personalize and the policy tells us to industrialize--to make our students cogs in a mechanism that works from August to May, from bell to bell. Everyone is supposed to learn everything at the same pace.
Do you struggle to implement personalized learning in your "standardized" classroom? I know I do. That's why I've started a new series on my blog, "Baby Steps to Personalized Learning." In the first post, I discuss what personalized learning is and how we can SLOWLY implement it using finite student choice.

That worked in the 20th century, but our economy has evolved. Innovation, creativity, collaboration, flexibility, and problem-solving have replaced memorization, formatting, repetitiveness, maintenance, and maintaining as desired marketplace skills.

But as public school teachers, we are suffering from cultural lag. We are current on the research. We understand that personalized learning that's NOT completely automated will better prepare our students to succeed in the current and emerging economy. But there are a few obstacles preventing us from implementing it:

1. Time. Secondary teachers can have upwards of 150 students at a time. Personalizing learning for each of them is not realistic for a single teacher.

2. High-stakes testing. While the research says we should personalize, our states mandate that we standardize. Everyone needs to be ready to take a test that WE will be evaluated on at the same time.

3. Our communities. When we step outside of what the parents of our students experienced in school, we become more vulnerable to their criticism. The reason that parents, politicians, and community members believe they know better than educators is that they all went to school. From that, they developed ideas of how school should work. (This is an understandable phenomenon--all of us have spent a large portion of our lives in the classroom. Effective teachers make everything look effortless, and ineffective teachers make what is lacking superficially apparent.)

In spite of this, I am optimistic that we can bring personalized learning to our classrooms in two ways:

By Keeping it Simple

As far as personalized learning goes, for my own sanity (I admit), I look at my classroom as a restaurant. A family can go there, and there's something for everyone, but the choices are not infinite. That's where what I like to call "mini-modules" come in.

I had a student who told me that he knew more about World War II than I ever could when we were starting a WWII unit in my world history class. I told him, "great." And invited him to take the test in the morning. He made a 98. During class that day (while the students were doing an assignment) he and I sat down and mapped out an extension research project for him. He's listed in my standardized grade book, so we decided on checking points along the way that would replace the assignments I intended to count. I now open this option up to everybody. I will write about how I do that in a later post during this series.

But what of the less precocious? Or (gasp!) those who just aren't that interested?

Maybe personalization is still the answer. But still within the confines of a menu. Unlimited choices are a burden to us and disservice to our students. We would spend all of our time searching for things for them to do and they would spend all of their time trying to decide what to do.

So I'm using a three part menu that allows for choice in how they learn and practice and then offers formative assessment followed by remediation or enrichment. The first part is not a menu and is the same for everyone. Since students are working from a menu, assignments are clear, already available ahead of time, and so chances for chaos and misbehavior are no more likely than if everyone were listening to a lecture or doing book work.

Do you struggle to implement personalized learning in your "standardized" classroom? I know I do. That's why I've started a new series on my blog, "Baby Steps to Personalized Learning." In the first post, I discuss what personalized learning is and how we can SLOWLY implement it using finite student choice.


Here's How It Works:

1. They Read The Learning Target.
So that students are clear about what they are to be learning, begin with the learning target clearly stated. They then use the target to fill out the first two columns of a KWL chart.

Do you struggle to implement personalized learning in your "standardized" classroom? I know I do. That's why I've started a new series on my blog, "Baby Steps to Personalized Learning." In the first post, I discuss what personalized learning is and how we can SLOWLY implement it using finite student choice.


2. They Select How They Will Learn The Topic.
The three choices I give them are read, research, or watch. It's finite, but it gives them an option for the content delivery. On a Google Slides template, I link to a reading, a curated research document, and a film. Students choose one of these methods for learning the topic.

For each of these, I think it's best to think smarter. Don't try to create everything yourself--there's so much available out there.

-The Reading--Link to:
* A free online textbook.
* Your own textbook (if you have it digitally).
* Scan (or take pictures of) a PDF you already have to post digitally (for your students only, of course).

-The Research--Link to:
* A search over the topic in a database your school already subscribes to.
* A list of links you've curated. I either use a doc or Symbaloo.
* A webquest you've already created or purchased.

-The Film--Link to:
* A Youtube film, such as Khan Academy, Crash Course, or any number of films available for your content.
* A screencast of you presenting the topic (I love screencastify for this).
* A film clip inside Edpuzzle.

3. They Select a Practice Activity from a Choice Menu.
I have a bunch of templates for various, short activities. I use the same choice menu and links every time. It take some time on the front end to create these, but then you have them. Also, think in terms of what you already have. If you have worksheets that would work, scan them to PDFs and have students use DocHub or Kami to complete them.

Do you struggle to implement personalized learning in your "standardized" classroom? I know I do. That's why I've started a new series on my blog, "Baby Steps to Personalized Learning." In the first post, I discuss what personalized learning is and how we can SLOWLY implement it using finite student choice.

I sent the examples I've shown you to my email list (I call my email list "My Notes") this week so that they can use them if they'd like.

4. They Take a Formative Assessment.
I link to a Google Form for this. They are quick and easy to create, but if your school uses USA Test Prep, you can link to an assessment there. They offer automated remediation.

Here are the ways I use Forms to automate this:
-Create a self-grading quiz and use the free automastery add-on to automate remediation/extension. Note that remediation can be as simple as sending the menu back out and requiring them to learn it a different way (If they used the film, try the reading....), doing a different practice activity, and retaking the assessment). Extension can be a short project from a choice board you already have. I created this one that I use all the time--I change one project from each row to one project total. If you're pushed for time, skip the extension and just have them move on to the next topic. But never skip the remediation.
-Create an adaptive Google Form. Students go to a specific section on the form based on their answer. If they get the answer wrong, they go to a section for immediate remediation. If they get it right, they go to a section that has the next question. Here's how to make an adaptive form.

By Doing What We Can within the Current Standardized Guidelines

The reality for most of us is that all of our students are assessed at the same time in the same way. We are powerless to change this--fair or not, teachers' voices are the most quickly to be dismissed concerning educational policy. Under standing this, we have two options: we can throw our hands in the air and keep doing things the way we've always done them, or we can work on the fringes of the box we've been put into.

Here's How We Can Work from the Fringes:

1. Unpack the standards and develop learning targets. See if your state department of education or colleagues have already done this. If you have a good department or team, try to divide and conquer.

2. Accumulate as many resources as we can without marrying ourselves to any one of them.
-See something useful online? Save it in Google Keep or Evernote and organize into topics.
-Have old worksheets? Scan and digitize them.
-Create YouTube channels for your topics.
-See something on TeachersPayTeachers you can put in your toolbox? Grab it if you can.
-Curate your test questions into learning targets and always be on the look out for new questions (from released milestones, from other teachers...).
-Follow teachers who teach your content on social media. Take advantage of what they offer, even if you don't need it right now, put it in your toolbox.

There's a lot of junk out there, but there's also a lot of really useful information--have it on hand.

3. Have organized and flexible ways to present the content.
-Find or create templates you can use and reuse.
-Use Symbaloo Boards and Paths.
-If your school has an LMS (Learning Management System), such as Schoology, Canvas, or Blackboard, create learning modules within them that you can use again and again.

This is the first post in my series Baby Steps to Personalized Learning. I'm not talking about the completely automated methods that research has shown are not effective, but a blend of teacher, learner, and auto-driven personalization. My goal is for us to feel empowered as classroom teachers to engage in best practices despite a system that treats us like cogs in a machine. By doing this, I believe we can empower our students to reach their full potential.

With each post, I'm sending my email list a resource for their toolbox to help in the journey. Here's what they received this week:



You can sign up for my Notes HERE.

How do you personalize learning in your classroom? Leave a comment and let me know.

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We teach it, but do our students learn it? Probably not without our assistance. “Go forth and study” means very little to students. Click through to see five quick and easy strategies I use to foster learning in my classroom.

We've all had this conversation:

"You didn't teach that," says the student.

"I taught that last Tuesday," says the teacher.

This happens to me with every unit. I did teach it. The problem is, the student didn't learn it.

And it's frustrating. It's frustrating because I teach content-heavy courses and there is so little time. If the students don't study the material, they won't learn it.

But the problem is, they don't know how to study, so the cycle repeats. I teach. They forget. They blame me. I get frustrated.

I'm tired of being frustrated. I'm tired of them not learning. So I've been on a mission to find as many simple strategies as I can that will encourage learning by forcing students to work with presented material in a meaningful way.

In other words, I'm forcing them to actively study everyday in brief spurts in the classroom. I've written about active learning strategies before, but here are

Five Quick and Easy Teaching Strategies to Foster Learning

1. Relationships
This is one that I used to do all the time. Then I forgot about it. I went to a PL last week that reminded me of this simple, zero-prep, brilliant strategy. Give students a list of words and ask them to connect them by writing as few sentences as possible using the words in context.

We teach it, but do our students learn it? Probably not without our assistance. “Go forth and study” means very little to students. Click through to see five quick and easy strategies I use to foster learning in my classroom.
My world history students just completed stations on medieval Russia, the Mongols, and African kingdoms. As a wrap-up activity, I gave my students this list of words: Russia, Mansa Musa, Mongol Empire, Byzantine Empire, Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Empire of Mali, Cyrillic Alphabet, China, Hajj, India.

Here is an example of what one ambitious group wrote: The Mongol Empire conquered Russia, which would be greatly influenced by the Byzantine Empire, also, who gave them Orthodox Christianity and the Cyrillic Alphabet; the Mongols also conquered China and India, building the world's largest contiguous empire, but they didn't conquer the Empire of Mali, which was ruled by Emperor Mansa Musa who embraced Islam and became famous for his hajj.

You will get some lengthy sentences, but this is an exercise in reviewing and making connections, not writing style, so I think that's okay. You will also get "Mansa Musa, the Mongol Empire, the Byzantine Empire, Islam, Orthodox Christianity, the Empire of Mali, the Cyrillic Alphabet, China, the hajj, and India are all topics we learned about." And I think that's okay. We can meet our students where they are and steer them to a higher level. One thing I love about this activity is that it is naturally differentiated.

2. Categories
Categorizing also gets students to make connections, but by listing and sorting. Give students a list of words and ask them to place the words into different categories--one to four. Using the words above, it could look something like this:

We teach it, but do our students learn it? Probably not without our assistance. “Go forth and study” means very little to students. Click through to see five quick and easy strategies I use to foster learning in my classroom.

To control the categories and allow for a hands-on experience, card sorts are a great option. I use card sorts for a wide variety of topics--vocabulary, historical events and figures, grammar. I use this template from my friend Math Giraffe to create my card sorts.

We teach it, but do our students learn it? Probably not without our assistance. “Go forth and study” means very little to students. Click through to see five quick and easy strategies I use to foster learning in my classroom.
I use Math Giraffe's templates to make my card sorts.

We teach it, but do our students learn it? Probably not without our assistance. “Go forth and study” means very little to students. Click through to see five quick and easy strategies I use to foster learning in my classroom.
3. Discussion
Create cards with discussion starters. Try to write questions that are broad enough to fit with most topics but that will force students to really think about the material and that stick to the higher levels of Bloom's. An example of one of my questions is "What would happen if someone made a different decision?" This question gets students to extend the material, hypothesize, and really consider cause and effect.



Think-Pair-Share is another discussion strategy that allows students to take a minute to respond to a prompt by thinking. I give them a minute to write their response on a mini whiteboard. Then
they share their responses aloud with a partner.

4. Order
We teach it, but do our students learn it? Probably not without our assistance. “Go forth and study” means very little to students. Click through to see five quick and easy strategies I use to foster learning in my classroom.
Give students a series of events out of order and have them place them in chronological order. This can be a list or on slips of paper or digital pieces that they have to move around. For visual students, it can even be images that they have to place in order.



You can amp up the rigor of this activity by asking students to explain patterns of cause and effect in the particular order. Have them take out a pivotal event and consider alternate outcomes.

5. Images
Give students a series of images that relate to your content and have them manipulate them somehow. Students can manipulate the images by turning them into:

-memes.
-social media posts with hashtags.
-a storyboard.
-a comic strip.

What are some of your quick and easy teaching strategies to foster learning? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Bellringers, warm-ups, do-nows…whatever you call them, they’re not just a classroom management tactic. Click through to find out three ways I make the most of these five-minute gems in my classroom.

Bellringers, Do-Nows, Warm-Ups...whatever you call them, don't skip them.

Used correctly, they can set the tone for your entire class. These five minute intro activities are traditionally used to get students focused and to give us time to take attendance, check homework, and various other administrative tasks.

When I first started teaching, I scrambled each morning to make sure I had one for each of my classes. They were an afterthought. A classroom management strategy to give us routine. Now, when I design a unit, I build them in. I consider each one carefully. They have become an integral part of each of my lessons.

I create a PowerPoint Presentation for each of my units that is specifically for the warm-up. I select a layout that divides the slide into two parts. On one side, I type the daily agenda, and on the other, I type the bellringer.

There are three distinct ways that I use the lowly warm-up to get the biggest impact.

Three Ways to Make the Most of Your Bellringers

1. Bellringer as a Hook

This is my favorite way to use the warm-up. I like it because I teach history, and in a standards-based classroom, there are so many amazing things that we simply don't have time to discuss. I might bring in a bizarre fact or an unusual image or a "what if" scenario. I love to follow these with a short video.

An example is when we are studying The Enlightenment and Revolutions. We are discussing major political changes in Europe and the Americas, but I want the students to understand that there were cultural changes that they can directly relate to, as well. Here is a sample bellringer that does that succinctly and fosters engagement in the lesson that follows:
Bellringers, warm-ups, do-nows…whatever you call them, they’re not just a classroom management tactic. Click through to find out three ways I make the most of these five-minute gems in my classroom.

Bellringers, warm-ups, do-nows…whatever you call them, they’re not just a classroom management tactic. Click through to find out three ways I make the most of these five-minute gems in my classroom.


In a very short amount of time, students have read and discussed a primary source, viewed a minuet, viewed a waltz, looked at changing fashion, and related it back to their lives. They have also seen that social change extends beyond politics and that there will always be opponents.

2. Bellringer as a Review

Sometimes I'll bring in a test-prep question for this followed by a video explainer. But some of the most effective reviews come from asking students to recall what they know, make lists, and categorize.

For an initial vocabulary review, I might ask students to list all of their vocabulary words that they can recall without looking at the word wall. The next time we do it, I might have them retrieve the words again from memory, but this time, place them in categories. This type of retrieval practice is a simple, yet highly effective way to study. Cult of Pedagogy has an excellent podcast about the power of retrieval practice

Another effective form of quick review is to have students generate three questions about the previous day's lesson. To encourage higher-level questioning, I start them out with question stems. This is a list of question stems for the six levels of questioning. Then I have students answer the questions they generated with their group.

3. Bellringer as a Separate Curriculum

Bellringers, warm-ups, do-nows…whatever you call them, they’re not just a classroom management tactic. Click through to find out three ways I make the most of these five-minute gems in my classroom.By "Separate Curriculum," I mean a time to teach those things that students need to know, like writing, grammar, or geography, but that don't quite fit into your curriculum. 

A great way to practice writing is by doing it. Journaling can involve one question a day and a timer. Students have five minutes to write. Then discuss answers as a class. Here is a list of prompts from The New York Times.

A pet project of mine is teaching writing through deliberate practice (I call it Writing Blocks). For that, I use sentence imitation (mentor sentences). This method works really well. I will eventually finish the entire year, but I keep getting new preps thrown my way....

Daily Grammar has a ton of free resources you can use to open a class with grammar practice.

For Geography, I like to tackle the world by region. When I've done this, it's looked something like this:

Monday: Label a blank map of that region.
Tuesday: Cultural facts from that region.
Wednesday: Current events from that region.
Thursday: Defining historical events from that region.
Friday: Music from that region.

National Geographic has some good resources for incorporating geography into your classroom.

How do you use warm-ups in your classroom? Leave a comment and let me know!


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Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.

Back to School stations have been all the rage for the past couple of years, and they are a great way to introduce classroom procedures and to get to know your students in smaller groups. But I've got one problem with them, and it's a very practical one.

I've been back at school for two weeks now with the students and the schedule still isn't settled. I'm still gaining and losing students. And let's be realistic--this will happen all year as students move in and out of the district.

Throwing stations at a new student can be overwhelming for them and for us--I know I will definitely forget something. With this in mind, I tried something new this year. I used Symbaloo Learning Paths to introduce classroom procedures to my students.

For those of you who have never used symbaloo paths before, they're the magic word--free--and they look like this:
Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.
Grab the Cheat Sheet and learn how to get started with Symbaloo Paths from THIS POST.
Students move their pieces along the path and complete each task on each space. I show you how to set up symbaloo paths here (there's a free cheat sheet there that you can download).

Any time you get a new student, send them the link and instruct them to complete each step in each space. Here is what I have students do on each space on the back to school path:
Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.

Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.

Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.
Check out how I do Classroom Avatars HERE.
Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.

Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.
Find out more about Gamification HERE.

Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.
Download the free Cheat Sheet to learn how to do it!

Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.

Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.

Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.
I'm keeping the Symbaloo Link active all year and housing it in my "Class Information" folder in Blackboard. When I get a new student, I've been instructing them to complete their path first. Then they have reviewed the syllabus, joined Google Classroom, Flipgrid, and Remind, created their Avatar, read about our game, and given me insight into how they learn. And, best of all, I don't have to worry about forgetting to give them anything.

What do you think about this? Leave a comment and let me know!
Changing class populations and year-round student transience forced me to think outside the usual beginning of the year classroom activities. Click through to see how I make introductions to beginning of the year procedures work all year in my classroom and to download cheat sheets.

And while you're here, be sure to check out these back to school blog posts:



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Take your students to far-off places without ever leaving your classroom with Google Tour Builder. It’s a free, user-friendly app that brings presentations to life with Google Maps. Click through to grab the free cheat sheet and get started!

I first encountered Google Tour Builder a couple of years ago at a tech conference and it recently came to my attention that I've never mentioned it on my blog.

What an oversight--it's such a useful tool!

If you never have, Google Tour Builder is something you should try in your classroom. You can create presentations within the application or you can have students create them. Since it integrates with Google Earth, students can get a bird's eye view of the the place(s) you're discussing or a walking tour view.

It brings stories home to students in a tangible way--not only are students able to view a location on a Google map, but they can also insert videos, text, and pictures.

Here's what a tour looks like:

Take your students to far-off places without ever leaving your classroom with Google Tour Builder. It’s a free, user-friendly app that brings presentations to life with Google Maps. Click through to grab the free cheat sheet and get started!

Google Tours are free and easy to create. You can create (or have your students create) one in five simple steps (grab this free cheat sheet that shows you how):

1. Visit https://tourbuilder.withgoogle.com/ and select “build a tour.” You will be prompted to log in with your Google Account.

2. Name your tour, and get started.

3. Use the left side to add new locations. The search bar will help you locate what you are looking for and add it to your map.

4. Once your location is added, add text, images, and video without leaving Google Tours.

5. To present, click on the three lines in the upper right of the screen. Either “play full screen” or  “open in Earth” (most people prefer this option because it makes the presentation extra dynamic).

Take your students to far-off places without ever leaving your classroom with Google Tour Builder. It’s a free, user-friendly app that brings presentations to life with Google Maps. Click through to grab the free cheat sheet and get started!
Take your students to far-off places without ever leaving your classroom with Google Tour Builder. It’s a free, user-friendly app that brings presentations to life with Google Maps. Click through to grab the free cheat sheet and get started!
Download the free cheat sheet HERE.

How do/will you use Google Tour Builder in your classroom? Leave a comment and let me know.

Take your students to far-off places without ever leaving your classroom with Google Tour Builder. It’s a free, user-friendly app that brings presentations to life with Google Maps. Click through to grab the free cheat sheet and get started!

And don't forget to check out last week's Tech of The Week: Save Time by Linking Data.

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Data entry can be tedious, so my goal is to only have to enter it once. That’s why I link my Google Sheets together. Click through to find out how I do it and to grab the free cheat sheet!
I use Google Sheets to keep track of a lot of data in my classes. This data has a tendency to become tedious because I gamify my classroom. This means that I have sheets that I use to keep up with XP (experience points students earn each day), another sheet that communicates that information to a Leaderboard, and another that communicates the information to a badge tracker. (Want to learn about gamification? Check out this post!)

To clarify, each time you create a Google Sheet Doc, it's called a Workbook. You can create different Sheets within a single Workbook, and it's simple to have them communicate with each other.

I could just use one Workbook and have separate sheets within that workbook. It's easy to link data that way and you don't have to worry about linking separate workbooks. The problem is, I use Flippity Templates for the Leaderboard and Badge Tracker, so they have to be in separate Workbooks. I show you how to use Flippity HERE.

Here's what the workbook looks like:
Data entry can be tedious, so my goal is to only have to enter it once. That’s why I link my Google Sheets together. Click through to find out how I do it and to grab the free cheat sheet!

Here's how Flippity makes it look online:
Data entry can be tedious, so my goal is to only have to enter it once. That’s why I link my Google Sheets together. Click through to find out how I do it and to grab the free cheat sheet!

My goal is to only have to put the points into the XP Tracking Workbook every week, have it add up the total for me, and then automatically communicate that information to the Leaderboard Workbook so that I don't even have to open that one.

Here's what I do (be sure to grab the free cheat sheet for reference):

1. Open the Workbooks I want to link.
2. Be sure the final column on the XP Tracker is set to auto add the total of each of the weekly rows.
3. Grab the URL from the top of the XP Tracker Workbook.
4. Go to the Leaderboard Workbook. Click on the desired cell (in this case, I'll be doing it for each cell in column C).

Type:
=IMPORTRANGE("paste URL delete back to edit" , "Sheet1!column letter row number")

Sample:
=IMPORTRANGE("https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1XkDkH86zahrmy3tpuXMIP9SkCuECyl3v2gXElMPPqoQ/edit", "Sheet1!AL2")


Data entry can be tedious, so my goal is to only have to enter it once. That’s why I link my Google Sheets together. Click through to find out how I do it and to grab the free cheat sheet!

5. Copy that information from the first cell and paste it into every other cell you will be using in that column.
6. Go back through and edit each cell to reflect the column letter and row number you want it linked to. (You will probably only be changing row numbers and probably in numerical order straight down.) This part is tedious, but there is a SHORTCUT:
-Click the first cell you entered the information into.
-Place the cursor on the lower right corner of the cell.
-Drag it down to all of the other cells you want to populate.
-Go back and check--sheets should have auto updated for you AND changed the linked cells in order (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...).

You can even use these sheets again next year—just delete the points and change the student names!

Now when you enter your weekly data, your Leaderboard will automatically update!

Data entry can be tedious, so my goal is to only have to enter it once. That’s why I link my Google Sheets together. Click through to find out how I do it and to grab the free cheat sheet!
Print This for Reference When You Try It!
How do you deal with all of your data? Do you have any hacks to share? Let me know in the comments!
Data entry can be tedious, so my goal is to only have to enter it once. That’s why I link my Google Sheets together. Click through to find out how I do it and to grab the free cheat sheet!

And don't forget to check out last week's Tech of The Week: Make The Internet Your Classroom with Insert Learning.


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