Monday, December 10, 2018

Google Slides: A One-Stop Resource for Authentic Assessment

With so many edTech tools available to you, it can be easy to overlook some of the features and potential of your G-Suite applications.  In a recent podcast, The Google Tribe appropriately titled G Suite's - Google Slides the "Swish Army knife" tool for the classroom.  And this could not be more true.  Notice three ways to use this FREE and intuitive tool to raise the level of engagement in your classroom.

#1 - Interactive Table of Contents

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a student group discussion centered around how information has been lost or removed from the group presentation? Assigning interactive tables of contents with internal linking in Google Slides could be the answer.  
  • What is it? A designated slide within a Google Slides assignment listing the titles of each requirement and internally linked to the slide representing the information. 
  • What is the benefit? Interactive Table of Contents helps when grading group assignments as teachers will clearly be able to distinguish one student's work from another.  Nor will there be a need for student conferences about group members who refuse to complete their parts of the project. 
  • Assignment Ideas: Novel Studies - Chapter Summaries / Characterization / Iconography / Figurative Language, Math Study Guide, Interactive Vocabulary, Research Project
  • Link to NEPF Standards: (I.S. 3, Indicator 4), (I.S. 5, Indicator 3), (4 C's - Collaboration, Critical Thinking)

#2 - Stop Animation 

Want to add a little creativity to your classroom?  Consider assigning your students to demonstrate a learning concept by creating a stop animation with Google Slides. 
  • What is it? The use of images, graphics, and text on multiple Google Slides that when "played" creates a mini video presentation of a learning topic/concept.  
  • What is the benefit? Provides an authentic assessment opportunity for students which requires both critical thinking and creativity to demonstrate mastery.  Allows for student voice and choice in the assessment process.  Finally, when sharing student creations, classrooms are able to experience learning topics in multiple ways.
  • Assignment Ideas: Visualize - Chemical Reactions, Steps of Math Problem, Battle Reenactments, Visual Chapter Summaries, Interactive Vocabulary 
  • Link to NEPF Standards: (I.S. 2, Indicator 1), (I.S. 3, Indicator 2), (I.S. 5, Indicator 3), (4 C's - Creativity and Critical Thinking) 

#3 - Moveable Digital Activities 

  • What is it? Interactive assignments which allow students to move and manipulate objects (i.e. sorting) to demonstrate mastery of topic(s)/standard(s).
  • What is the benefit? An engaging way for students to demonstrate working knowledge of a topic/objective.  Can be easily submitted as a form of formative assessment.  Could be used in place of manipulative activities and minimize "clean-up".  Appeals to visual and kinesthetic learning styles. 
  • Assignment Ideas:  Categorize Figures of Speech or Types of Energy Exchange, Demonstrate Volume, Calculate Addition/Subtraction of Integers, Sort Historical Events on a Timeline
  • Link to NEPF Standards: (I.S. 2, Indicator 1), (I.S. 2, Indicator 3), (I.S. 5, Indicator 3), (4 C's - Critical Thinking) 

Looking for more inventive ways to utilize G-Suite applications?  Be sure to tune in to The Google Teacher Tribe podcast featuring creative ideas from Kasey Bell and Matt Miller.


(Material adapted from The Google Teacher Tribe Podcast ep. 60)

Monday, December 3, 2018

BYTE-SIZED BLOG: What is Computational Thinking?

A guest blog by Cindi Chang in celebration of Computer Science Education Week 2018
What is Computational Thinking?

Computational thinking is using special thinking patterns and processes to pose and solve problems or prepare programs for computation.

There are four pillars that comprise computational thinking:

·         Decomposition

·         Pattern matching

·         Abstraction, and

·         Algorithms (sometimes referred to as automation)

Decomposition is breaking a problem down into smaller, more manageable parts. Multiplication is an example of decomposition. Take 436 x 12. This can be a bit challenging to solve. We can break it into (436 x 2) + (436 x 10), which is 872 + 4360, which equals 5232.

Pattern matching is finding similarities between items as a way of gaining extra information. “Pattern recognition can be associated with common acts like knowing how to open a new book or even being able to seamlessly hop from using one brand of phone to another.”

Abstraction is ignoring certain details in order to come up with a solution that works for a more general problem.  In other words, removing details that are too specific so that one instruction can work for multiple problems. An example is making a bed. You don’t need to know the exact pattern of sheets in order to tell someone how to make a bed, or the color of the blankets, or how many pillows there would be. Those details can be abstracted out when giving instructions on how to make a bed.

Automation (algorithms) is the act of controlling a process (by automatic means) and reducing human intervention to a minimum. For example: we could create a computer program that asks us for n number of sides and returns a polygon for us.


(Material adapted from Computational Thinking and Coding for Every Student by Krauss and Prottsman)

Nevada Academic Content Standards for Computer Science:


Cindi L. Chang, M.Ed. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Power of the Anticipatory Set

The anticipatory set is an activity that creates focus and sparks the attention of the class for the lesson that will follow. It is the hook, lead, or set induction. It is utilized at the beginning of a unit or lesson, where students complete a short activity to pique their interest and build prior knowledge.

For your anticipatory set to have maximum impact, provide ways that it can directly relate to the lesson topic, make points of connection throughout the lesson being taught and bridge to previous skills, strategies or lessons. To save time and yet always have the impact of the anticipatory set present, create your own top five list of anticipatory set strategies to reuse in future lessons. Also, consider implementing strategies from For instance, try Affinity Mapping.

Affinity mapping gives us a sense of where most people’s thinking is focused. Use an affinity diagram when you want to find categories within a cluster of ideas and when you want to see which ideas are most common within the group.”

Chromebook integration and the anticipatory set; create a connection with your lesson.

  • Select a key video or audio clip, photo, comic, article, or website related to the topic and upload to Google Classroom, Canvas, Padlet, etc.for students to respond to.
  • Present a connected discussion question on your Google Classroom homepage or in your class Canvas Discussion forum.
  • Digitally poll your students. Provide an analogy, story, or scenario that relates to your topic.
  • Provide T/F statements for your students to predict answers to.
  • Make a screencast where you tell a story. Having a screencast clip makes sure all learners have access to the lesson hook, even those who are absent.
  • Have students design something digitally.

NEPF connection suggestion: Standard 1: 

New learning is connected to prior learning and experience. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Are you trying Canvas? Try these help documents

Congratulations on trying to develop courses in Canvas! Below are some links to help documents that you might try. Remember that your Professional Development Strategists are available to help you.

Canvas Help Documents

Copying a course from another WebCampus course
How to copy a course from one semester to the next

Importing content into your course from a course export .zip file
How to upload files and materials from a .zip file
Modules as an organizational structure
An introduction to the main organizational structure for Canvas. Modules create the structure through which students interact with your pages, discussion boards, quizzes, assignments and more.
Populating your module structure with content
How to add files, pages, assignments, quizzes, discussion boards and more to your course within the module structure.
Uploading files in your course
How to upload and maintain a list of files in your course for access by you or your students
Creating a new content page
Content pages represent the core of many courses in WebCampus and can be used to create instructional content and even an attractive landing page for your course.
Creating an announcement
Announcements are an important way to get critical information communicated to students within your course.

Creating discussions
How to create and maintain student discussion boards in your course.
Creating an online assignment
How to create and configure assignment drop-boxes for online graded student submissions.

Creating a graded column for offline assignments
How to create a column for manually entering grades for in-class student submissions.
Creating Accessible Content in Canvas (PDF)
Learn how to ensure your WebCampus content meets the mandatory accessibility guidelines with universal design that benefits all students.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Thinking Routines

Pairing classroom thinking strategies with tech integration

Harvard's Project Zero-Headlines Strategy:

This routine uses newspaper headlines to capture the essence of an event, idea, concept or topic. It works especially well at the end of a class discussion in which students have explored a topic and gathered new information and opinions.
Ask students,
If you were to write a headline for this topic or issue right now that has captured the most important aspect to remember, what would the headline be? If you ask the first question at the beginning of the discussion, follow up with these questions:
How would your headline change after today’s discussion? How does it differ from what you would have said yesterday?

Thinking Routines: A Tool for Making Thinking Visible
Developed by Project Zero researchers. See for more information.

Chromebook Integration Ideas:

  • Use Google Docs at the end of the discussion to write-up thoughts and ideas.
  • The teacher provides a class Padlet link, or similar application, for students to publically post follow up thoughts.
  • Teacher share’s a common Google Doc for all students to collaborate on in real time.
  • The teacher’s Google Classroom could be used as an open forum for final thoughts after the class discussion.
  • If Canvas is used, the teacher could post a class discussion thread to extend productive discourse after the classroom discussion has occurred. 
  • Students create and share out a WeVideo or FlipGrid.
  • Students use Google draw or generate a digital comic to relay opinions. 

Making NEPF Connections:

This strategy aligns with the Nevada Educator Performance Framework (NEPF); consider connections to standards one, three and four.
Standard One: New learning is connected to prior learning and experience. Indicator 4: Teacher provides students opportunities to build on or challenge initial understandings.
Standard Three: Students engage in meaning-making through discourse and other strategies. As the teacher provides opportunities for students to make connections and recognize relationships through productive discourse, (Indicator 1) students could also be engaging in Standard Four; Metacognitive Activity increases the understanding of and responsibility for their own learning.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Simple Screencasting with Screencastify

I have to admit that one of my favorite screencasting tools is the Screencastify Chrome Extension! I have been using this for over a year and have found so many different applications. Screencastify is one of the easiest ways to record your entire desktop, browser tab, or webcam with no complicated screencasting software required. The best part is that Screencastify integrates with Google Drive.

I often use Screencastify to record myself when offering blended or online learning, to explain difficult concepts, and as a way to explain how to do something when I receive an email from a teacher or student.

The Screencastify team has spent over a year talking to teachers and scouring the internet to find some of the best classroom screencasting ideas. They have recently created and shared this ebook, 50 Ways to Use Screencastify in the Classroom, with their favorite Screencastify classroom activities that can be implemented by any teacher.

The uses for Screencastify are countless. What will you do with Screencastify?