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 you will thank yourself for it later.

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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If you’re like me, you find articles and primary sources all the time that you want to share with your students. Insert Learning is a free Chrome extension that helps you do this and turn it into a quality assignment. Click through to see how it works!

This week is a super quick tip about a free Chrome Extension that will change your life. Literally.

Remember back in the day, when we would clip an article from the newspaper, make copies, and write questions on the board for students to answer?

Well, you can do it all digitally now with insertlearning.com. It's so simple.

1. Find your article.
2. Click on the "IL" extension.
3. Pick a template if you want (all this does is give you questions and directions to copy and paste, which I love because it makes life easier).
4. Highlight, insert questions and sticky notes, and even insert videos!
5. Grab the link to share with your students or share it directly to Google Classroom.
6. Student responses will go to your dashboard.

If you’re like me, you find articles and primary sources all the time that you want to share with your students. Insert Learning is a free Chrome extension that helps you do this and turn it into a quality assignment. Click through to see how it works!

***A couple of things to keep in mind first--your students must have the extension and they must join your IL class (you can create as many as you want). They will join with a pin just like they do in Google Classroom.***

It's so easy and such a great tool to get our students reading and analyzing more current events and primary sources. And, since the internet is at your disposal, it's perfect for any subject.

Check out this video that shows you what it does:


Have you used Insert Learning in your classroom? Leave a comment and let me know!

If you’re like me, you find articles and primary sources all the time that you want to share with your students. Insert Learning is a free Chrome extension that helps you do this and turn it into a quality assignment. Click through to see how it works!

And don't forget to check out last week's Tech of The Week: Easily Keep Parents Updated.


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Teachers are insanely busy. One of the purposes of technology in the classroom should be to make our lives easier. In this post, I’ll tell you how I simplify my life by fulfilling administrative obligations and keeping parents in the loop all at the same time with Google Slides. Click through to find out what I do!

Our students aren't the only ones bombarded by information--their parents are swamped, too. And for high school students, it's likely that we as teachers spend more time with them on a week day than their parents do (between clubs, sports, and other extra-curricular activities, family face-to-face time can be sparse).

So parents are busy and students don't always communicate with them about what's going on in class. Many teachers communicate with parents through email blasts and weekly newsletters. But teachers, we're busy, too, and those newsletters can take time we don't have.

If you're like me, you have to turn in weekly lesson plans, anyway, so I simplify my life and keep parents in the loop by creating my lesson plans in Google Slides. Keep in mind that my weekly lesson plans don't have to be insanely detailed because I'm also required to hand in very detailed unit plans. Every system is different.

Here's what you need to do:
1. Save your lesson plan template as an image. 
2. Resize a Google Slide Presentation to whatever size you want.
3. Insert the image into the background of your Slide. Don't forget to select a blank layout.
4. Insert text boxes into the appropriate places on the slide and type your plans.

Teachers are insanely busy. One of the purposes of technology in the classroom should be to make our lives easier. In this post, I’ll tell you how I simplify my life by fulfilling administrative obligations and keeping parents in the loop all at the same time with Google Slides. Click through to find out what I do!
Grab The Cheat Sheet for Free HERE!

5. Publish your slide show to the web.
6. Share the presentation link with the appropriate admin (I set it so the slides do not advance--then they are only looking at the current week's plans). 
7. Every week, copy a new slide to the top and type your plans. Since it's published to the web, it will automatically update--no new link required.
8. Every week, send an email blast to parents (I do this through Infinite Campus, but there are many ways--even creating an old-fashioned email list). I type a short greeting, upcoming due dates, and a link to the plans (the same one every week) so that parents have immediate access to it.

Teachers are insanely busy. One of the purposes of technology in the classroom should be to make our lives easier. In this post, I’ll tell you how I simplify my life by fulfilling administrative obligations and keeping parents in the loop all at the same time with Google Slides. Click through to find out what I do!
Grab The Cheat Sheet for Free HERE!

Tips:
- Place a link at the top of the slide to your class calendar.
- Create an email blast template for each class you teach so you don't have to retype everything (including the link).
- Make cards with a QR Code to this presentation and hand them out on parent/teacher night.

Here's what mine looks like:
Teachers are insanely busy. One of the purposes of technology in the classroom should be to make our lives easier. In this post, I’ll tell you how I simplify my life by fulfilling administrative obligations and keeping parents in the loop all at the same time with Google Slides. Click through to find out what I do!

How do you keep parents updated? Leave a comment and let me know.

Teachers are insanely busy. One of the purposes of technology in the classroom should be to make our lives easier. In this post, I’ll tell you how I simplify my life by fulfilling administrative obligations and keeping parents in the loop all at the same time with Google Slides. Click through to find out what I do!

And don't forget to check out last week's Tech of The Week: Use Learning Apps to Impress.


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This week's Tech of The Week discusses how to use the site learningapps.org to create free and effortless digital puzzles that are bound to impress your students and admin!

Here is a puzzle in one of my digital escape rooms:

This week's Tech of The Week discusses how to use the site learningapps.org to create free and effortless digital puzzles that are bound to impress your students and admin!
Preview The Escape Room HERE.
It looks complicated to make, right? Nope. Puzzles like these are crazy easy to make, thanks to learningapps.org. You can check out this post for a cheat sheet and video tutorial about how to create puzzles and activities using Learning Apps.

Learning Apps is absolutely free and you can create puzzles or search and use one of the many already created by other teachers.

Here are some of the ways I use Learning Apps:

1. In Digital Escape Rooms 

2. On Choice Boards

- As Games for Students to Play

- For Students to Create Their Own Games

This week's Tech of The Week discusses how to use the site learningapps.org to create free and effortless digital puzzles that are bound to impress your students and admin!
I discuss creating these in my Blended Classroom Course.

I reuse these for my gamified classroom. For every unit, I link to puzzles for early finishers to complete to earn extra XP (experience points).

This week's Tech of The Week discusses how to use the site learningapps.org to create free and effortless digital puzzles that are bound to impress your students and admin!


3. As a Partner Challenge to Break Up Lectures

The first pair to solve the puzzle that reinforces a concept wins.

How do/will you use learningapps.org in your classroom? Leave a comment to let me know!

This week's Tech of The Week discusses how to use the site learningapps.org to create free and effortless digital puzzles that are bound to impress your students and admin!

And don't forget to check out last week's Tech of The Week Tip: Making Gifs for Classroom Instruction!


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Every week this summer, I'm giving a quick tech tip for you to use in your classroom. This week, I show you how to make gifs for classroom instruction--they are an easy way to give students visual instructions!

I hope your vacation has begun and you are having a happy summer. If not--it will be here soon! As always, I'm relaxing and spending time with family and friends this summer, but I'm also taking time for a little professional learning.

Every week between now and the end of summer break, I'm going to share one classroom tech tip. It's my goal to make these small bits and easy to implement.

This week I want to talk about using Gifs in the classroom. If you follow my blog, then you know I use them all the time, but for some reason, I've never used them in class. Next year, I plan to use them for short instructions. They are perfect for making short visual demos for students.

I'm going to show you three easy ways to make them:

1. Slide Image Demos:

- In PowerPoint, make a series of slides with your instructions.
- Save them as PNG images.
- Upload the images to a free gif-maker site. My favorite is ezgif.com.
- Follow the prompts and download your gif!

Every week this summer, I'm giving a quick tech tip for you to use in your classroom. This week, I show you how to make gifs for classroom instruction--they are an easy way to give students visual instructions!

2. Video Demos:

- Upload a video (or screen cast) you've made to ezgif.com.
- Select up to a 30 second portion of it.
- Turn it into a gif and download.


Every week this summer, I'm giving a quick tech tip for you to use in your classroom. This week, I show you how to make gifs for classroom instruction--they are an easy way to give students visual instructions!


Every week this summer, I'm giving a quick tech tip for you to use in your classroom. This week, I show you how to make gifs for classroom instruction--they are an easy way to give students visual instructions!

3. Screencastify:

- I pay $24 a year for premium screencastify. It's a Google extension that you can get in the Chrome Store.
- You can record your screen and download directly as a gif with the premium version.

Every week this summer, I'm giving a quick tech tip for you to use in your classroom. This week, I show you how to make gifs for classroom instruction--they are an easy way to give students visual instructions!

Insert your Gifs into PowerPoints or Google Slides as directions and demos for your students. These make excellent visuals!

How do you use Gifs in your classroom? Leave a comment and let me know! And don't forget to check back in next week for the next quick Tech of The Week tip.

Every week this summer, I'm giving a quick tech tip for you to use in your classroom. This week, I show you how to make gifs for classroom instruction--they are an easy way to give students visual instructions!


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