Tech Tuesday #5: Ten Tips for Blended Learning Done Right

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Blended learning is a relatively new concept to me. I certainly was implementing some online or technology-driven learning in my classroom a few years ago. However, the concept of blended learning was just really a phrase in the back of my mind. Thus, with my district implementing a Learning Management System (LMS) which allows for blended learning for the first time on a widespread basis, I thought it would be important for me to learn more about it.

I just got back from the TCEA Conference in Austin, Texas. At that conference, I decided to change my normal pursuit of gamification strategies to a two prong attack on a different subject line. I followed the track of blended learning, and then also within that subgenre, using an LMS with little children. I hope to share some of those second ideas more in a further post. Today’s post, though, is all about the logistics of blended learning, specifically my top ten tips for those who want to start it off right.

Ten Tips for Blended Learning Done Right

Number one. Use your learning management system as a one-stop-shop. Again, I want to go further into LMS for Littles in a further post, but suffice it to say here that you need your students to believe that everything they need to be successful in your class is found in one place, and that’s the LMS. Now, blended learning means that students have face-to-face and online learning. Thus the blend. However, the learning management system is certainly an integral part of the operation. If you don’t send your students there frequently, they don’t have a habit, and they don’t know how to login. They need to know that you are putting all of your best resources there for them to use. Forming a habit with students and parents will strengthen your ability to blend in one of the four situations I’m about to discuss.

Blended learning involves student control, at least part of the time, in each of the four areas which I will specify as blended learning tips 2 through 5.

Time, Place, Path, and Pace

Number 2. Students need control over their path. Maybe some students need to navigate through video content while other students need an article or a worksheet. The bottom line is that students have different needs and thus, they need different opportunities to learn. We call that paths in blended learning. Some teachers get as detailed as making personalized playlists for students. Maybe you’re not ready there yet,  but it’s important that students are at least beginning to exercise choice over the path of their learning.

Tip three. Students also should have some control over their pace. Give me a literature passage, and I can dissect it in no time. I can give you brilliant insights on the metaphors and the symbols and the characterization. But give me a calculus problem, and you will definitely see my pace become different. It should be all right for students to master content when they’re ready, whether that be faster than everybody else or slower. Pace is a huge component of a successful blended learning.

Number 4: students should also have control over time. Now I’m going to go ahead and discuss the big elephant in the room. I don’t mean that your students should be doing all their work at home and then coming to your class and acting like maniacs in their free time. What I do mean, though, is that if they work better in the morning or in the evening, we should account for that preference at least part of the time. I definitely work best in the early morning hours. As a matter of fact, I’ve often thought I would be just as productive if I only worked half the day 🙂 Training students to prioritize their most important tasks at their most productive times is also valuable life skill and one that is perfect for blended learning. If they have a playlist or a hyperdoc or a module in a learning management system that they can attack in their preferred order, that prioritization really will go a long way in their success.

Tip number five. The last area in which students should have control in blended learning is over place. This concept can range from flexible seating in the classroom to being able to do some work in the media center or at home or in a blended learning period. Blended learning makes possible this flexibility and place that is crucial to success.

Three Benefits of Blended Learning

My 6th tip is that blended learning done well should allow you to buy back time. Imagine all the processes that you explain over and over or the concepts that are something that students need to study in review. If you’re able to turn those into your online modules and then work with students who still don’t get them after repeated exposures, you are buying back both students’ time and your own time. The video content is doing the work that you might have had to do in twice as much time.

In the same vein, tip number 7 is it blended learning allows you to clone yourself. You may have students on multiple learning paths, but there may only be one teacher in the room. I know when I taught high school that was usually the case. Even students who were on special ed consultation didn’t necessarily have a caseworker or co-teacher in the room. Blended learning allows you to create content for most of the students most of the time so that you can pull small groups of students that you need to either enrich or remediate to your desk while the others are getting high-quality instruction.

I hope that those of you who are teachers and parents will appreciate tip number 8. It is to make blended learning, in both its explanation and its execution, simple enough that parents can help. We can pretend that parents won’t access the learning management system from home on behalf of their students, but instead, let’s find meaningful ways for them to participate. Let’s create videos that show how to navigate our system. Let’s eliminate options that are unclear in our menus or on our settings. Let’s make sure that parents who want to help their students to be successful can find what they need, and thus that students will truly be more empowered in their quest for time, place, path, and pace.

Number nine is crucial for every type of learning, not just blended. In addition to strong content, engagement has to be a priority. Just slapping some resources up in a module is creating a $1,000 pencil or another boring digital textbook. It’s not going to further the learning like blended learning is meant to do. It’s important to put interactive resources and formative assessments throughout the content.

Finally, tip ten is that blended learning is a perfect opportunity to build in differentiation with high-quality resources. One workshop I went to in Texas suggested that for every standard, the teacher has at least two learning options available. You could create those by learning style or by readability or whatever method you choose, but building in two options is auto-differentiating and also increasing the quality of the content we’re putting out there.

 

The Best Six Podcasts for Teachers and Teacherpreneurs

I took a podcasting class maybe eight or nine years ago. I don’t remember exactly when, but I know it’s been a while. I hadn’t thought about podcasts in years, and unitl my husband and I started listening to one of a faraway church we like, they were just a distant memory. Who knew they were still alive and well?
Since I’ve rediscovered them, I haven’t been the same. I really enjoy my commute because I always can listen to something in the car. Why would you want to listen to podcasts if you haven’t already? I think can think of three reasons.
Number one: you can learn while you drive. If you’re a teacher, it’s because you like to learn first. Obviously you can’t read books and take notes in the car, so podcasts provide a great way to learn and listen, and good podcasters also provide show notes that you can refer back to after your drive is done.
Number two: Twitter is also a great Professional Learning Network (PLN) for me. But I can’t tweet while I’m in the car. Podcasting allows me to participate in that great PLN in the car. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been listening, and I’ve been referred to another great educator with whom I can connect. Or have heard someone I already knew being interviewed on the podcast. There was even the one time I got to be on Vicki Davis’ show. Very cool 🙂
Number three: Finally, podcasts are great because if you make one in your classroom featuring your students, you’re giving your students an authentic audience. We all know that, beyond elementary school, students don’t really want to write for their teacher. Or they don’t write authentically for their teacher. But if they know someone else is listening to their work, they will be more likely to write and produce good content.
I hope the reasons are convincing enough, but if you want to hear what gets me excited about the particular podcasts I follow, watch the video below, where I feature these six favorites:

If you’re looking to get into the podcast game for the first time or the first time in a while, push play on the video below now:

Favorite Chrome Extensions for Teacher Productivity

People have all different kinds of favorites. Some have favorite shoe brands or favorite jeans or favorite stores. You know I’m a technology nerd, because I have favorite… browsers 🙂 if you’ve been a teacher for a long time, you might have been totally addicted to Internet Explorer for years. The problem is that it hasn’t been updated in at least four years. Even Microsoft, who created the browser, has changed over to Edge. I’m getting my feet wet with Edge and there’s a lot to like about it that I can show on another day, but Chrome is still my favorite.

One reason I love the Google Chrome browser is that it’s customizable. Not only do you  have a great modern browser, but you can also tweak it to make it enhance functions that you do on a daily basis. I thought it might be worth our while for me to show you some of my favorite Chrome extensions, how to find them, and how to make sure that your extensions travel with you from machine to machine.

The extensions I love and share in the video are:

  • Colorzilla
  • Crafty Text
  • OneTab
  • The QR Code Extension
  • Bitmoji
  • Emoji for Google Chrome

Ready to get started? Watch the video below. P.S. The quality of this video is terrible–I was trying something new and it was a fail:( However, the info is good…my apologies.

ADD LINKS TO OTHER POSTS HERE!

Pretty Up Your Online Life with Colors and Emojis

Can I get a shout out if you’re one of my fellow Pinterest addicts? If so, see the article I wrote before about that. But seriously, what draws us to Pinterest is the beauty of it. If we’re girls especially, we like pretty things…even if we can’t necessarily replicate them ourselves. Anybody else out there a member of the Crappy Craft Society?

Anyhow, prettying up our online life fulfills the same drive as looking at Pinterest. As a matter of fact, it also makes things better for a student’s life. How? I’ll give you four reasons.

Number one. There’s the fun factor. Teachers and students could all use a little bit more fun, right? Taking the time to make our OneDrive, our Google Drive, or our LMS look attractive holds the students’ attention just a little bit longer.

Number two. Color coding helps everyone find what they’re looking for faster. In the video below, I’m going to show you some tips on using color-coding to ensure that your organizational structure is obvious to you and your students. And that makes for more classroom efficiency.

Reason number three is that colors and emojis, which we’re definitely going to hit in this video, are great for young readers, struggling readers, and English Language Learners. If they can’t exactly read what they’re looking for, seeing it will help them access the material just like everyone else.

Number four: Lastly, symbols and colors also give a preview of what’s in the folder for everybody. That includes you, the teacher. I don’t know about you, but at the end of any given workday, my brain is fried. If I’m looking for something, and I can quickly recognize it by its color or its symbol, I will be more likely to find it so that I can go home :-).

See what I mean about the benefits of prettying up your online life?

So without further ado, let’s dive into how you can make your OneDrive, your Google Drive, and your learning management system more beautiful and more actionable for you and your students. Click on the video below.

Tech Tuesday #5: How to Choose the Best Content Delivery Tools for Your Classroom

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Content delivery is not what it used to be. I think of the teachers in both Ferris Bueller and Charlie Brown’s classrooms–monotone, dull, and definitely not engaging anyone. It would certainly be easier if we could be like those teachers. In this modern age, we still want our students to learn, and it just simply takes more to engage them. In today’s episode, for which you can see the video at the bottom of this post, I want to share my favorite strategies and tools for content delivery. We are continuing our series on connecting pedagogy with technology. Remember that it’s not just any tool you’re choosing for your students. It has to be a tool that’s a good fit for both what you’re wanting to accomplish academically and what your particular students need.
What features should you find in a content delivery tool? I have four of them I’d like to share with you.

Features to Find

Number one. As I mentioned in my post on assessment tools last week, you want a content delivery tool that is device-agnostic or unnecessary. Even if you’re in a one-to-one school, there will be many days when a student’s device is in the shop for repair. That means that they either have no device or they have a phone in their pocket to substitute for the original. You have to have a tool that can deal with all of that.

Number two. As I mentioned before, you need content delivery that is engaging for students. What we used to think was engaging is no longer the case. I remember when I first started student teaching that foldables were all the rage. And the mentor teacher that I taught with had kids glue everything in their notebooks. She was interactive notebook before that was cool 🙂 With the tools I’m going to discuss below, you will find that engagement element. But let me also say that what engages today may not work tomorrow. We should not make our students feel like they’re at a dog-and-pony show, certainly–that we have to have a new tool to entertain them with each lesson. But it does help to have several good and reliable tools in our toolboxes, so I’m going to show you four favorites in the video below.

Number three. Remember the 10 and 2 rule. In my former life, I was the Learning Focused Schools trainer for my middle school. One of the best things I got out of that training was this rule. You should always teach for 10 minutes and then have students apply or respond for 2 minutes. Lecturing for a 45-minute period with no time for student response just is not going to be functional.

Finally, when looking for a content delivery tech tool, make sure that it looks good and is big enough on any screen where it might need to be seen. I’m talking about responsive design. Tools like Sway that I’m going to show you tonight are made to look great on any screen from handheld phones all the way up to a giant interactive whiteboard. They maintain their perspective and aspect ratios, and kids aren’t distracted by something that looks wonky on the screen.

Tools I Recommend

In the video below, tune in to an episode of Facebook Live where I share four of my favorite tools:

  • OneNote,
  • Office Mix,
  • Sway, and
  • Nearpod.

I’m going to give you a tour of each and tell you about the best features that make them fabulous for Content Delivery. PowerPoint might have been cool when it first came out, but it’s even cooler now. Check out the video to see what I mean.

A Final Word

Finally, remember that strong content delivery is not just about using technology all the time. Everyone, including the teacher, needs a break from screen time. It’s finding that perfect blend between phone-or-laptop-focused and hands-on interactive. People are still the key, and that means the teacher is the hub of the classroom. That’s why it’s so important for you, the teacher, to have your content delivery arsenal armed with the right tools to pull out when your students need them most.

Which of the tools is your favorite? Which would you add to my list? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below, and if this post helped you to engage students in your classroom, I’d love to hear that for sure.

With tech and twang,

Suzy Signature Pink

Using QR Codes in the Classroom

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Links have been around for how long, now? At least in popularity since the 90s. And barcode scanners have been around much longer than that. But there’s something about a special type of barcode that makes students get excited. It’s called a QR code, and it’s a square code that corresponds to a certain web address. There are so many ways to use these codes creatively in the classroom that I want to share with you.

Looking for a good QR scanner for students? I like Inigma. It is free and ad-free. Some of the others have annoying games that pop up at the bottom and are fodder for already-distracted students to accidentally click on.

Here’s one I’ve used recently and that you might want to scan for a special treat from me!

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Below you will find a slide deck with my best ideas, but if there’s something  you can’t figure out, or if you want to know more, please feel free to leave a comment below. I would also love to hear your innovative ideas for using QR codes, so share those too!

QR Code Ideas for the Classroom

With Tech and Twang,

Suzy Signature Pink

Tech Tuesday #4: Using Good Pedagogy to Choose Effective Assessment Tools

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I want to begin a series on the pedagogy behind the tools. I work with a lot of teachers who go to conferences and return excited about great tools. As a matter of fact, when I work with them in their classrooms, they love anything I can show them that’s practical. However, and we’ve all done it, they often miss the most important thing, which is student learning. Pedagogy and best practice are how we do what we do. As much as we think certain tools are fun, the engagement factor will never be for students what it is for us, because we come from the digital immigrant generation. That’s why our assessment tools can’t only be chosen based on what’s newest and shiniest. So with this series, I want to delve into different categories of technology tools and how you can make a good choice for which ones will be incorporated into your classroom.

Assessment Tools: Seven Features to Find

Let’s start by talking about assessment tools. As much as we often think we hate assessment, it is what gives us that cold, hard data that we can use to make informed decisions about future teaching plans. In an assessment tool, these are the features you should try to find:
  1. Auto grading. You want something that is going to take some of the grading load off your plate. Trust me, I was an English teacher. I often rewarded myself with cleaning or working out, both of which I hate, as a result of accomplishing the grading of just two essays. Thus, if I’m going to look for a tool, I want it to do some of my grading for me.
  2. Multiple types of questions. There are some things I machine just can’t grade. For those, I want to make sure that I have robust choices for what data comes back to me. In addition to auto-graded features such as true/false, multiple choice, or drag-and-drop, I want a feature that allows students to respond to a prompt of my choice and that I can grade, preferably with a rubric.
  3. Exportable assessments and data. Thirdly, I want data that I can take anywhere I want it to go, even after I move on from a certain product. As much as I used to love Quia, the only thing that is exportable is their data. Quizzes I built there I can’t load anywhere else. I’m forced to start over. Plus, I want data, preferably in Excel form, that I can take and manipulate and load into other systems. Many modern tools provide that, and it’s definitely a feature I would look for before making a commitment to a tool.
  4. With that data should come easy reports. One of the tools I discuss in the video below is a favorite for assessment because of the beautiful pie charts it creates. I love to read. That’s why I taught English. However, when it comes to data, I want visual, differentiated reports. So that’s another item you should look for when you are trying to find an assessment tool.
  5. Included Survey Tool. Next, with assessment comes surveying as well. I like a tool that will allow me to do formative feedback in the form of surveys, not just graded or summative quizzes. I don’t want kids to think my “cool tools” are really just a mask for punitive, serious grading, at least not all the time, and as any education grad student knows, much of our data is qualitative.
  6. Price Plus Privacy. Next comes a conundrum. I like free tools. After all, I’m a teacher with a limited paycheck. However, I also care if the tool mines student data. I’m linking here to Common Sense Education’s new initiative on vetting different educational technology companies for privacy. As you’re considering a tool, consider the cost, but not just in monetary reasons: also consider the cost to your students’ privacy. Never use a tool that gives away so much you wouldn’t want your own children to use it.
  7. Finally, and I will use this factor for a lot of the tools I share, make sure the tool you pick is device-agnostic or device-unnecessary. You have some students with smartphones or the latest affordable tablet from Walmart. You might be in a one-to-one Chromebook or Surface school or have iPads. Whatever the device the student has, you want to make sure the assessment tool works on all of those student technologies. Especially if you’re going to invest money or have your school do the same, please do a thorough trial with different devices that your students may bring to school, to ensure that they work with your integral tools.

Suzy’s Favorite Assessment Tools

The video at the bottom of this page comes from a Facebook live session that I do every Tuesday. I call it Tech Tuesday and it happens at 8 p.m. on my Facebook page, linked here. The tools I’m covering in this video for assessment include some of my favorites, which are:
  • Microsoft Forms
  • Kahoot
  • Quizizz
  • Socrative
  • Plickers
  • the Canvas Quiz builder 
I’m not going to repeat all that I say in the video about each one, so you’ll have to tune in;) Click Play to watch.
Here’s how the tools in the video stack up on the features I mentioned:
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More To Think About

Let me leave you with these final thoughts when it comes to choosing an assessment tool. Although many of us were raised in a generation when the teacher didn’t even know what formative assessment was, we definitely do. As you’re choosing a tool, make sure that it’s casual enough to allow students not to feel stressed out when you’re doing an informal assessment but then robust enough to give great data when you’re doing a summative.
Also, to curb the cheating concern on devices, here’s a little trick I used to use. I bought lots of resources for my 11th grade classroom from Laura Randazzo. One of her ideas that I thought was very helpful was the one-question quizzer. I’d love to hear how you adapt this for your classroom, but in the literature classroom, I would ask one assessment question from the chapter students read the night before. Students had an according number of minutes to answer it…usually two or three. They knew it or they didn’t, and they didn’t have time to cheat. It worked really well, and if my students were cheating, they were doing a terrible job of it 🙂 I definitely knew who the readers were.
Also, if you are going to be quizzing on school provided devices, have students put their phones face down on their desks or in phone jail. It’s not that phones aren’t amazing tools. As a matter of fact, I tell you several ways they are used in this post.  But allowing students to use two devices during a test or quiz is just asking for trouble.
Finally, if you’re going to do some of the short answer grading that I mentioned in the first section, make sure to show students the rubric. In tools such as Canvas Quiz Builder, you can attach the rubric right there. If you don’t use such an LMS, maybe you want to provide a paper copy of the rubric or a link to it. Letting students see the grading criteria is a great idea if you want better answers.
 
I hope these tips help you choose a better assessment tool. After all, there are so many flashy tools out there that I I’m sure have not even named half of them. As a matter of fact, here’s what I’d like you to do in the comments below:
  1. Please share your favorite tool. It could be one I listed or not. Tell why you like it.
  2. Also, share an idea with our readers about how you choose assessment tools or manage them in your classroom.

I would love to hear from you!

With tech and twang, 

Missed the other episodes?

Check them out here:

Tech Tuesday #1: Visual Goal-Setting with Sway

Tech Tuesday #2: Creating an Excel Habit Tracker

Tech Tuesday #3: Classflow, a Device-Agnostic Tool for Lesson Delivery

Creating Custom Breakout Edu Games

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My husband and his friends paid to get locked in a room a couple years ago…and they didn’t escape…and well, look below:

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I still call Twitter the ultimate PLN, and you know why? It’s because of things like Breakout Edu that I discovered there. I always explain the game this way: we can’t lock students in a room, so instead, they break into a box. Classroom content is key, and with so many games available, it’s highly likely that the game you’re looking for is already available.

Custom Breakout Games

With that being said, I like to give creative gifts, and I also like to help teachers to be creative in their classrooms, especially with gamified lessons. So, I have had a need several times to build my own game. I’ve built at least three for friends’ birthdays and hangouts, and there couldn’t be a more exciting gift, in my opinion. With the advent of the new Breakout Edu Platform Digital Game creation tool, I’m not going to get too technical on how to build the games themselves, but I would like to share a couple games with you. When you push play on the video below, you’ll hear about the Clue-themed game I made for my brother’s birthday and a couple other fun ideas.

Here are the resources I mention in the video as well:

Happy watching!

One more thing! I would love to send you my tipsheet for my top ten favorite Breakout Edu puzzle ideas. Want to grab it? Click here!

Tech Tuesday #3 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