Classflow: A Device-Agnostic Tool for Student Learning and Assessment

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Students are going to bring phones to class. I laugh as I pass teacher doors with posters that say phones aren’t allowed, or as I visit classrooms where teachers want more computers but aren’t using the mobile supercomputers that students carry in their very own pockets. I understand that teachers need to limit cheating or distractions, but what if there were a way to “hijack” students’ devices for the teacher’s own purposes?

Classflow is only one of many tools that promotes student engagement right from these mobile devices. Use of a mobile-based lesson delivery tool reduces the need to worry about lack of devices or distraction. We teachers are putting to work the devices our students already have and then can supplement with a few that we have. We are also taking command of their computers for academic purposes instead of just hoping those devices stay turned off and in their pockets–they won’t.

So let’s get down to business on what Classflow can do. In the video posted at the bottom of this page, I dive into just some of the features: instant whiteboard, quick polls, and the marketplace.

Classflow Image

Instant Whiteboard

There are times when only a marker and a big white page will do the trick. Because Classflow is built on a card system, each card you add is, by nature, just such a blank slate. Press the Instant Whiteboard button, and you will be immediately on a blank screen where you can write, draw, and add text in multiple colors. You can then send that page of notes to student devices, where they can screenshot it for later use.

Let me stop here and say why I think words like “instant” and the “quick” in Classflow quick polls are even more powerful. Let’s say that you’ve planned a lesson without engagement opportunities or you’ve run out of lesson before you’ve run out of time. Anytime a sudden inspiration strikes, Classflow provides a quick tool for you to engage your students without prior planning.

With that being said, it’s time for the next Classflow tool.

Quick Polls

Classflow offers eight types of Quick Polls, depending on what type of data you want to receive from students. I will highlight four of them here, and you can see them demonstrated in the video below as well:

Creative

Do you have those students in your class like I did who do better with drawing than writing? Or are you trying to have students tap into different learning modalities? The creative quick poll is the tool to use. It allows you to send a prompt to students and have them respond with a drawing. They can use multiple colors, shapes, and other tools to complete their drawings and return them to you.

Word Seed

As a former English teacher but still English nerd, I love connections among words. With the word seed quick poll, send out a text prompt to students. They are able to respond with one or many words that they feel relate to your prompt in some way. My favorite way to deepen the learning with this tool is to have students help take the general brainstorm and connect/categorize the elements. Instead of just focusing on their individual devices and personal contributions, students can now come to the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room and help sort and color-code what the others have sent in.

Scale

I love the scale quick poll for a ticket out the door. Need to know how confident students are with a lesson you delivered? Launch the scale and let them rate how they really feel. You can choose to show student names for flexible grouping the next day or simply take an anonymous poll to see what you might need to address again.

Yes/No

Finally, the two-option yes/no quick poll is just what it sounds like. Ask the students any question and have them respond with yes or no. They are able to vote again as needed, but each student is limited to one choice at a time. My idea for using this tool in class is as a digital version of an agree-disagree chart. My freshman students loved days when I would give them ten hot-button statements related to a text they were about to read. As they gave their opinions and made their cases, they were engaged with the text before we even read it. In the case of Classflow, it’s easy to discuss the agreements and disagreements, as the live poll pops up on the screen and you call on different students to make their cases.

Marketplace

The final piece of the Classflow puzzle I explore in the video below is the Marketplace, which offers a bank of free or paid ready-made lessons for you to launch to student devices. Each resource is composed of PowerPoint-like slides that Classflow calls cards. As you swipe to the next card, students now see that one on their own devices’ screens. You have great content and a captive audience, and you didn’t have to create a thing.

Are you ready to see Classflow in action? Check out the video below, which is embedded from the Facebook Live Tech Tuesday session I host every week at facebook.com/techlolley at 8PM EST.

Has this exposure to Classflow shown you something you’d like to try in class? Did you find a new feature I missed? Please share in the comments below.

Want to save this idea for later? How about pinning this article to one of your Pinterest boards?

I look forward to hearing from you either way!

With Tech and Twang,

Suzy Signature Pink

Tools for Digital Writing and Drawing with Students

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Remember the days of MS Paint? I mean, I know it still exists, but I remember watching my brothers draw these amazing creations on the computer. Photoshop wasn’t even a gleam in its mother’s eye yet…if computer programs have mothers…but I digress. Anyway, I have never possessed the hand-eye coordination to draw anything with a mouse…until now.

Until now that there are touchscreen devices! Even if you and your students don’t have touchscreens, I want to share with you three tools for amazing digital drawing and writing. Here are several reasons why that type of tool matters, and why paper and pen, though still important, are not the be-all-end all in the classroom anymore:

Reason 1: Tactile learning with the hand-to-pen-connection

Students may love looking at a screen all day, but we adults know that truly committing something to memory happens when we write the information. Why not combine what we know to be effective with what they enjoy doing? Writing and drawing on the screen synthesize those two skills and make them more engaging and effective.

Reason 2: Signing documents digitally

When I went to the doctor the other day, I was expected to print and scan a 22-page packet before I got there. Absolutely not! Instead, I converted the PDF to Word (easy trick shared in my video below!) and signed digitally with Word. You and your students can sign documents securely as well the same way.

Reason 3: Annotating and explaining

Part of what makes apps like Seesaw so great (I’m an ambassador!) is that students can explain their thinking. With digital drawing and writing, your students can show what they know, and you can create quick screencasts for parents and students giving them a tour of a resource or teaching a concept.

Reason 4: Joy

As I mentioned in my post about prettying up your online life, there’s something about color that brings joy. With all the pens available (I will show several in the video!) digitally, there’s no need to break the bank on Flair pens anymore. Students with an artistic bent will be excited to do their math work again…if they can do it in pink;)

Reason 5: Color-coding

More than just joy, colors bring structure. Students taking notes in class can use colors to categorize what they write, and along with emojis or symbols, they can set their focus on important elements for later review.

Reason 6: Organization

Speaking of organization, the best thing about using a digital drawing or note is that it’s less likely to get lost. I have SO many notebooks in my house and office that I don’t remember what’s written where, such as my original draft for this post, ha! By teaching students a file structure, you can help them ensure that the notes and drawings they create in a digital medium are safe. If nothing else, Windows has a great search feature:)

So now that you know the “why” of digital inking, how about me showing you the tools? Click play on the video below, and prepare to be amazed as I share ideas for drawing and writing with Word, OneNote, and Windows Ink Workspace!

Want more cool tools? This video was part of the Twelve Days of Tech-mas, originally hosted at my Facebook Fan Page. Go follow and like it now so you can be in the live audience every Tuesday when my newest tip goes live. But don’t worry if you missed a few. They’re all linked right here:

Day 1: Digital Writing and Drawing YOU ARE HERE! 🗺️ 🌍

Day 2: Creating Custom Breakout Edu Games

Day 3: New Ideas for Using QR Codes in the Classroom

Day 4: Pretty Up Your Online Life with Colors and Emojis

Day 5: Favorite Chrome Extensions for Teacher Productivity

Day 6: The Best Six Podcasts for Teachers and Teacherpreneurs

Day 7: Creating Your Own Free Embed Code

Day 8: Interactive Student Review with Better Flashcards: Pear Deck Flashcard Factory 

Day 9: Recognize Incremental Learning and Increase Motivation with Badging

Day 10: Create Recipe Lists and Auto-Populated Emails with Office Quick Parts

Day 11: Automate Your Life by Connecting Favorite Online Tools with IFTTT

Day 12: Organize URLs and Enhance Productivity using Excel Spreadsheets and OneDrive