Teach Like a Pirate: A Book for All Teachers

WHO: New teachers, teachers in the later stages of their career, and those feeling the grind.

HOW: Discussing books is not something I normally do on this blog, but this book is something special.  I have never been one for reading, but after picking up a copy of “Teach Like a Pirate” by Dave Burgess, I found a spark to innovate again and developed a passion for reading books by teachers.  I would recommend this book to new teachers to learn ways to develop amazing lessons.  Teachers that may be feeling the grind over their career will walk away from the book refreshed and remember why they got into the passion to start.  The main focus of the book is developing “hooks” to grab students attention and engage them in the lesson.  The biggest take away for me is the adage: “Do students run TO your classroom, or AWAY from it”?

WHEN: This book makes a great gift for any teacher.  It is small enough to read in a weekend but it could also make for a great book-study program for an entire school.

Order a copy online!

Gimkit – Classroom Review with a Strategic Twist

WHO: Teachers looking for an engaging review activity or formative assessment opportunity.

HOW: Sign up for an account at https://www.gimkit.com/.  Users can create their own “kits” or question sets, choose from sets that others have created.  Question sets can also be exported from Quizlet to create sets.  When you are ready to play as a class, there are a wide variety of gameplay options to choose from. While answering questions, students are awarded “cash” or lose it depending on correct/incorrect responses.  As they build up a cash value, students can utilize power-ups to earn/lose more cash on each question or other bonus items.

When setting up a game, there are quite a few options to choose from.  Under the Game Goal category, users can select Time (time limit), Target (each player hits a target score), Race (first one to the target amount wins), or All-In (all students combine to a total score goal).  Teachers can also give a starting cash amount, which can help them unlock bonuses faster.  Other gameplay options include allowing students to see correct answers following incorrect responses, settings a handicap limit, background music, clapping, and displaying a Leaderboard during the game.

After completing a game, teachers have the option to look at statistics for individual and the class as a whole.

WHEN: Gimkit is a great option for formative assessment and classroom review.  Question sets can also be assigned for homework. As we finish up the school year, this is an option to do something different in your review sessions with students.

At first, I thought Gimkit would just be another Kahoot! or Quizizz.  After trying one out, I found myself fully engaged on a set of questions regarding surface area and volume (mind you my background is social studies).  Depending on what your students prefer, any of these three options are great.  As Gimkit is using question sets, allowing a timed game will allow students to benefit from question repetition that they would typically get from flash cards.

The Most Dangerous Writing App – Disappearing Writing Exercise

WHO: Teachers that are looking for a tool that will allow students to focus on writing rather than editing.

HOW: The Most Dangerous Writing App is simple to use!  Direct students to http://www.themostdangerouswritingapp.com/  and tell them to select a time length or word count.  The frightening part of this application is that when the writer stops typing for five seconds, their work starts to disappear!  The only way to save their work is to accomplish the goal set forth before the exercise begins.

WHEN: This option for the class could be very useful for students to practice while the teacher completes administrative tasks such as attendance.  Teachers may also find it useful to prepare students for projects that require creative thinking or even just practicing home row typing.

Metaverse – Create AR Experiences in the Classroom

WHO: Teachers looking for an engaging activity for students to demonstrate knowledge and/or creativity.

HOW: Create an account at https://gometa.io/ and start creating a new experience.  Here is a video I created to demonstrate Metaverse in action and how to get started creating.

Direct Link to video: https://youtu.be/1Qp3O0atXQ0

WHEN: Metaverse is a great activity to use for team-building or to allow your students to create on their own.

GooseChase: Digital Scavenger Hunts for the Classroom!

WHO: Teachers looking for engaging opportunities increase teamwork in the classroom while demonstrating content comprehension.

HOW: Teachers create a “GooseChase” full of activities and content from their class (or choose a pre-made set). These activities can be solving a text-based question, taking a picture of a teammate completing a challenge, or recording a video of the team working together to demonstrate their knowledge and/or skills.  There are activities that are already built-in to the GooseChase platform, but it is very easy to create your own.  After creating the game, teachers will then launch the game and invite students to join using the iOS or Android app.  Once the GooseChase is set into motion, participants are able to see the missions to be completed, view the leaderboard, and see what the other teams have submitted in the Activity Feed.  After the game has been completed, submissions can be reviewed as a class or individually.  The leaderboard keeps score so that the teacher can recognize the winners at the end if they choose to.

WHEN:  GooseChase is useful as an icebreaker activity to begin the school year, teamwork exercise for content review, or as a reward for exceptional classroom behavior.

 

What is GooseChase by the fine folks at GooseChase:

Five Tools for Engaging Classroom Review

WHO: Teachers that are looking for interactive ways to bring excitement to review lessons.
 
HOW: These tools will focus on classrooms with web-connected devices for student use.
 
WHEN: Heading into the end of the school year, many teachers will be looking for ways to review content. These options engage students while refreshing their knowledge of classroom material.
 
1. Kahoot! – This tool is great for creating a competitive environment with knowledge at the center. Teachers will create a series of questions, launch the quiz, then invite students to join via a code. Kahoot will show a question on the board with answers. Students will then pick a shape/color on their device that corresponds with an answer. Correct answers result in points, with extra points going to speed of selection.
 
2. Quizizz – This tool is very similar to Kahoot!. Quizizz features questions made by the teacher, launched, then joined via unique code. Questions and answers options show up on the student device. This allows the teacher to host a quiz across many classrooms at once. This is useful if the administration would like to run a school-wide quiz.
 
3. Quizlet Live – This tool allows the teacher to create vocabulary quizzes (minimum of 12 terms). Then teachers invite students to join via code and compete. Quizlet Live will create and name teams at random. These teams race to match terms and definitions. An incorrect answer takes the team back to zero. The goal is to be the first team to answer all correctly.
 
4. FlipQuiz – This tool is your classic primetime quiz gameshow. The teacher creates categories, adds questions and answers, and play in front of the class. A question is selected and after a student responds, the teacher can reveal the answer. There is a button to award points on each question. 
 
5. Classtools.net – This site features many great tools for the classroom. Arcade Game Generator is great for review. This option allows teachers to enter multiple-choice or true/false questions. The students can then choose which game they will like to play using the set of questions. Game choices include: PacMan, Manic Miner, Asteroids, Pong, Wordshoot, and Flashcards.

Qball – The Throwable Microphone

Qball - The Throwable Microphone

WHO: Teachers that are looking for an exciting way to engage their students in the classroom.

HOW: Set up on the Qball is very easy.

First, plug in the receiver to a power outlet.

Plug receiver into speakers

Turn on the receiver (hold button for three seconds)

Turn on microphone (hold button for three seconds)

Microphone will flash while it syncs with receiver, when the light goes solid, you are all set.

Insert the microphone into the Qball.

Make sure the volume on the speakers is up, and start the fun!

WHEN: The Qball is great for question and answer sessions, reading aloud, review games, and much more!

I have featured the Qball on this site before, but now that I actually have one, I can tell you that students love to use it!  I walked into one classroom with it and overheard a student say “Oh, it’s the magic ball!”. The Qball captures students’ attention and engages pupils that want to answer and participate in the classroom.  It is durable, easy to use, and eye catching. Students not only benefit from being able to hear the teacher better, but they can also hear their classmates responses loud and clear through the classroom speakers.  The Qball has a sensor in it that shuts off the microphone while it is flying in the air, to prevent a loud whoosh sound every time it is tossed (and not blow out your speakers).  If you will be at OETC, be sure to stop by their booth to learn more! To order one, head over to http://peeq.us/

Bloomz: Fantastic App to Communicate with Parents

WHO: Teachers looking for an engaging way to interact and communicate with parents, while sharing information in a private and secure setting.

HOW: Teachers create an account and set up a classroom. Next step is to invite the parents.  This can be done via e-mail or printing invitations to be sent home.  Parents can create an account online, or download the app on their phone to get started.

Once in Bloomz, teachers have a plethora of options to update their parents.  Some useful examples include adding pictures to share from the class, adding calendar events, sending reminders, creating a volunteer sign-up, and scheduling parent-teacher conferences.

WHEN: Bloomz is a great addition to a classroom at all times.  Teachers can capture special moments in class and upload for the parents to see.  It is great when teachers need help with purchasing materials or bringing supplies in for an event.

 

Here is what one Grade 2 enjoys about using Bloomz in her class:

EASY to add a post, reminder, calendar event, picture, etc
QUICK just a couple clicks
PRIVATE because it is Secure for just your group, and private messaging is also available if you want to talk with an individual parent
FUN because I want to add and share pics and the parents love it too
FAMILIAR because it reminds you of “facebook” with the layout, and you can even “like” and “comment” like FB
KEEPING TRACK is easy because you can see exactly who viewed your post.  Parents can’t say they didn’t get the message!
Parents have really enjoyed it for a lot of these same reasons.  I even have a grandparent that is on because she wants to help and volunteer and wants to be able to see when events are coming up.

Wheel Decide: Spin the Wheel to Pick a Random Topic

Wheel Decide - Spin the Wheel to Pick a Student, Topic, or group
Wheel Decide – Spin the wheel to pick a random answer, person, or topic

WHO: Teachers looking for a fun and fair way to let students pick topics at random for class work.

HOW: Visit  http://wheeldecide.com/, click to modify the wheel, add topics, give the wheel a title, and pick advanced options. Choices can removed after they have been landed on, color scheme can be changed, seconds to spin, and more.

WHEN: Wheel Decide is great to have student pick topics for presentations and projects. Teachers could also use it to pick topics for review games in class.  Another option would be to randomly call on students during class time. Wheel Decide is also very useful to studying vocabulary or even assigning teams. After creating a wheel, teachers can copy the embed code to their classroom LMS or website.

Below is a wheel for countries involved in World War II.

 

BreakoutEdu Digital – Engaging Digital Activities

WHO: Teachers looking for an engaging activity to build skills including critical thinking, problem solving, team work, persistence, patience, internet research and more!

HOW:  I tried activities with grades 7-8 on laptops, and grades 5-6 on iPads.  While we were in a 1:1 environment utilizing small groups, these could be done in groups of 3-5 students with one device or as an entire class together.

Visit http://www.breakoutedu.com/digital, I suggest starting with “Og’s Great Adventure” for yourself.  This will help you understand what the students will be looking for.  In both of the events I helped with, the students worked on “San Diego Vacation“.

During these events, locks will be listed on the left hand side. These locks could be words, numbers, directions, colors, etc..  Students need to search on the screen for links.  Many will be hidden and users need to pick up on subtle clues to find where to click.  These will take you to clues, hints, puzzles, or riddles. These answers could be the locks, or could give you something to search for in order to unlock the code.

WHEN: Breakouts are great activities for team building and can be used to leave lasting memories with your students here at the end of the day. The students I worked with were deeply engaged, focused for the entire time, and had huge smiles on their faces, even when they were frustrated.  The best part is being around the students when they have the “a-ha” moment of solving a lock on their own.