Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Liven Up Your Class with Quizlet Live!

French II Students Engaged in Quizlet Live

By this point in the semester my students were becoming tired of my typical games and activities. I needed an activity that would engage all my students and add a new level of energy and excitement into the classroom. I had recently read that Quizlet  had created a new activity -  Quizlet Live. After watching the introduction video and demo, I decided that I had to try this activity with my students.
French I Students Collaborating on Quizlet Live

With Quizlet Live, the students work together to find the term that matches the definition since none of the students have all of the answers. The activity forces the students to communicate and collaborate with their classmates. Each class member must participate in order to help the team.  In addition to learning to work in teams through collaboration and communication, the students also learn the vocabulary and grammar by focusing on accuracy, rather than speed. If a student answers incorrectly, the team is forced to start from the very beginning of the activity.

Join Code for the Students to Access Quizlet Live

When I introduced the activity to the students, I was surprised to see how engaged they were in the learning. They were truly collaborating and communicating with their teammates. In addition, they were learning French vocabulary and grammar. The students found the activity to be fun and competitive. They loved the team aspect, especially the fact the I continually switched the teams. Quizlet randomly selects the teams, thus creating groups of students who may not typically work together. The students were open to this and those who were stronger students stepped up to help those who were not as strong. The teamwork and collaboration among the students was awesome and inspiring. I loved when my 4th block students walked into class asking if they were going to get to do the same activity (referring to Quizlet) that my French 1 students had completed. This excitement continued as the students participated in Quizlet Live. Using Quizlet Live has definitely improved the communication, collaboration, and engagement among my students.
Students react to Quizlet Live

I would definitely encourage all teachers who are looking for ways to make the learning come alive to create a Quizlet Live set. It will totally change the energy level in the classroom for the better. If you are unsure of where to start with Quizlet Live, check out the following tutorial.

After such a positive experience with Quizlet Live, I will continue to use it in my classroom as a way to review vocabulary and grammar in a fun and engaging manner.

By using Quizlet Live, I know that not only are my students learning French, but they are also learning to collaborate with each other in order to achieve a common goal. Even though the students are having a lot of fun while competing in Quizlet Live, there is definitely learning taking place. At the end of each game, Quizlet Live shows the students what they missed and need to work on, as well as what they learned/mastered. This type of feedback is great for the students, as well as the teacher. Overall, Quizlet Live has brought a positive change to my classroom. I am already working on creating more sets of Quizlet Live for my upcoming chapters.
Students work together using Quizlet Live

These videos show how engaged the students are while engaging in Quizlet Live.

Definitely try out Quizlet Live and liven up your classroom! You won't regret it! I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with Quizlet Live. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

EdTech Team Virginia Summit

This weekend I am fortunate to have the opportunity to present at the EdTech Team Virginia Summit featuring Google Apps for Education. This is one of the best Google conferences in the state. Last March, I attended my first summit and was amazed by the presenters and the wealth of knowledge they possessed about Google Apps for Education and the innovative ideas they had for classroom integration. It was at that summit that I decided I wanted to be like these individuals.

I continued to hone my GAFE skills, earning Google Educator certifications, as well as becoming a Google for Education Certified Trainer. In addition, I had the chance to present at VSTE 2015, FLAVA, and several local conferences. Through these presentations, I gained confidence and knew I was ready to submit a proposal for the Virginia Summit. I decided to submit several proposals, all on various topics since I was not sure what EdTech Team would be looking for. In early February, I learned that I would be presenting not one session, but four sessions at the Virginia Summit. I was completely humbled. I thought I would be lucky if one of my sessions would be accepted, but to have all four sessions accepted is unreal.

This weekend will be filled with lots of learning, teaching, and networking. I look forward to meeting new people and expanding my personal learning network. The members of the EdTech Team are my mentors and idols. To get to present with them this weekend is so awesome. I still cannot believe that I will be participating in the Demo Slam with them. I'll share my Slam after the summit. But for now, I'll say that I think I have a pretty good one. This Sweet Briar Vixen has her gloves off and pearls on - I'm ready for the competition.

If you are attending the Virginia Summit, please join me in my sessions. I promise you'll learn a thing or two and have a lot of fun!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Dreaded Sick Day

Those dreaded words, you have to take a sick day. Those are words that many teachers don't like to hear, myself included. You realize that the students will not be able to complete the same work as if you were there and that in most cases the substitute won't be familiar with your subject area. In my 8 years of teaching, I have rarely taken sick days for those reasons. However this week, I had no choice after being diagnosed with a kidney stone and dealing with the severe pain associated with the stone.

Thankfully, my sick days did not turn into lost instructional days for my students. Why you ask? With my classroom set of Chromebooks, I could easily create assignments for my students to complete in class knowing that I could collaborate with them on the assignments. In addition, I created a discussion board on Google Classroom where the students could ask me questions about the material and I could respond to their questions during class. Even though I was not in the classroom with the students, they knew that I was a click away from them. 

The students responded very well to this system and my substitute was very appreciative of my availability to the students. I think this system may be a game changer for me in terms of taking days off. No more days of movies and video notes. Knowing that my students and I can be connected through Google Apps for Education no matter where I am is awesome. I know that my students are learning and the students know that I am available to help them. 

Days off and substitute lesson plans no longer need to be dreaded. Just think of it as an online learning day for the students and yourself. While it might take some time to adjust to, I think you will find that leaving your students with a collaborative assignment and knowing you are available to help is much more effective than a movie. 

So what are your thoughts on sick days and lesson plans? I'd love to keep the conversation going. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

One Step Closer

It was so great to return to school this week following Snowzilla (aka blizzard 2016). The students and I were clearly ready to continue learning and progressing on our journey to a completely paperless classroom. This week we made big steps forward and are almost completely paperless at this point. I am so proud of my students and how willing they are to try new things. 

Prior to acquiring the Chromebooks, my students took notes using pencil and paper. Now, the students are starting to complete notes using Google Classroom and Google Docs. Prior to class, I uploaded a Google Doc into Google Classroom for the students to use as notes. During the lesson, the students took their notes using the Google Doc. The students even made sure to include the French accents using the Easy Accents add-on . This add-on opens a separate window in Google Docs and the students can easily insert the French accents that they need. While the students were taking their notes, they mentioned that they really liked doing notes this way. The beauty of doing the notes as a Google Doc is that the students have access to them at anytime from anywhere without having to worry about losing them or leaving them at home. 

In addition to taking notes on the Chromebooks, my students also created their own Google Sites this week. We will be using these sites to showcase their projects that will be shared with our partner school, the Lycee Bazin in Charleville-Mezieres, France. To see our progress in our projects, check out our partnership website.

As I approach the end of the first month of the new semester, I feel that I have made positive strides towards transitioning to a paperless classroom. While there have been some challenges, the successes have outweighed the challenges. I continue to be impressed by my students' level of motivation and their willingness to try new things. The level of collaboration in my room is reaching new levels - the students are working together, creating projects, and using the target language more and more each day. To see all these things happening is amazing. I could not be prouder of my students. I never thought that I would see changes like this so soon. I cannot wait to see what will happen by the end of this month. 

I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about going paperless. Feel free to leave a comment and let's keep the discussion going. 

French students collaborating on an assignment using the Chromebooks

Going paperless and taking notes on the Chromebooks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

No Paper, No Problem!

Today was my students' first unit exam and to their surprise, there was no paper involved! Some students expressed concern, but for the most part they were open to this new form of assessment in my classroom. To make a completely paperless test, I simply created a Google form for the students to record their responses in and uploaded that form to Google Classroom. Then I uploaded the exam as a view only document on Google classroom. The students could easily have both windows open side-by-side for easy access and viewing. 

After the students completed the exams, I opened the students' responses in the corresponding Google Sheet. Using the Flubaroo add-on, I was to quickly grade the exams and give the students immediate feedback. I cannot say enough good things about Flubaroo - it's easy to use and eliminates all the papers teachers used to carry home to grade. In addition, I can send the students their score via their email or Google Drive. My students loved getting the immediate feedback on their exams. By the end of the class period, all of my students knew their grade on the exam and I had no papers to bring home to grade! A win win for everyone!

Following the exam, the students began working on their new vocabulary words. Again, I went paperless for this assignment. I posted the vocabulary list as a Google Doc in Google Classroom and made a copy for each student. Prior to this semester, I had given each student a paper copy of the vocabulary list, which the students frequently lost before the end of the unit. With the change to paperless, my students can now access their vocabulary from their Google Drive at any time from anywhere. I definitely feel this is going to be a positive change in my classroom and am looking forward to continuing the paperless journey. 

The moral of today's lesson, no paper, no problem! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Come to the Edge

Come to the edge.
We can't. We're afraid.
Come to the edge. 
We can't We will fall.
Come to the edge. 
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

~ Guillaume Apollinaire 

Today marks the first day of transforming my class to a paperless classroom. After receiving a grant for a classroom set of Chromebooks from the Warren County Educational Endowment, I decided to take a leap of faith and leave the paper behind. I am definitely coming to the edge and am ready to fly.

As I begin this journey, I am filled with many emotions from excitement to fear. I shared these feelings with my students and realized that they are experiencing the same emotions. I know throughout this journey that there will be many successes, but there will also be mistakes. I will not look at the mistakes as failures but rather learning experiences. In order to truly transform, you have to be willing to take risks.

Throughout the course of the semester, I will continue to share our successes, failures, and experiences on the journey to a paperless classroom.

Chromebooks in Class (1).png

This word cloud represents my students thoughts about using technology, especially Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education in class. I know that the increased use of technology will allow my students to be communicators, collaborators, critical thinkers and creators who are ready to be change agents.

By allowing my students to come to the edge, I want to inspire them, to help them find a purpose in their learning, to recognize the power of a beautiful oops, and to let them realize that they are capable of more than we can imagine (or even they can imagine). As my amazing Hawks begin this journey, I hope to not only give them the wings to fly, but to soar as they come to the edge with me.

So, will you come to the edge with us?