I will have to admit, I was one of those teachers who created worksheet templates on Google Docs and had my students answer their questions on the computer. It felt amazing not having to waste paper, let alone carrying the worksheets back and forth from work to home. Finally, I realized that I was doing the same thing with paper, but instead, giving the worksheet on the computer. Don’t get me wrong, worksheets aren’t bad. There are days when I need worksheets, but how can I utilize computers in a more effective way? This year I got “the group”, you know “the group”. I had to figure out creative ways to keep them constantly engaged as I’m putting out rapid fires. I started following teachers on Instagram and did what teachers do best. I “borrowed” ideas from them to make it work for my class. Quickly, I created weekly Google Slides with my priority standards, expectations, warm-ups with a visual timer and 2-3 minute math videos that aligned with my lessons. This helped, but did it help enough?
This past Saturday, I gathered with about 40+ SUSD teachers to laugh and listen to Alice Keeler (#Threedotsandatriangle) speak about engaging strategies and time-saving tips and tricks when using G Suite.
Tip 1: Title your Google Classroom Assignments or Documents with a hashtag, number, and a catchy title. (ex. #002 Kool-Aid)
There are times where it will take a while to find a document because I assigned my students using the same title as a previous assignment. When students, or even myself, search for an assignment there will be multiple results, there could even be old assignments from previous years!
Tip 2: Ever post something on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter waiting for someone to like or comment on it? Students want that instant feedback/comment, also!
Utilize the private comments in Google Classroom to provide instant feedback. Think of it as instant messaging.
Tip 3: How long does it take you to open 30+ assignments your students turned in on Google Classroom?
Download Alice Keeler’s Chrome Extension “Alice Keeler Drive20”. This Chrome Extension is magical. It opens the first 20 files in a folder all at once, saving lots of time. Give it a try!
Tip 4: for my tech-savvy people:
Give students your question and give them one slide deck for the whole class to work on. Students put their name in the speaker notes and BAM! (One student per slide) All student responses/work all on one slide deck. Yes, there will be some hiccups, but Alice reminded us that kids will be kids and slides are free, so they can easily make another one!
Tip 5: How can we get our students engaged?
Add the Google Extension “Bitmoji” to personalize feedback, comments, Slides, or add it to the background of the Google Classroom header. Students start listening and paying attention when they can relate to you. Editors note: Do NOT give students access to this app as there are some very inappropriate images (language) in the app. For more on this, go here.
I felt differently after I listened to Alice Keeler. Look her up, buy her books, or if you’re frugal like me, the least you can do is follow her on Twitter. She has an overabundance of great tips up her sleeve. Even for the primary teachers!
(Editors note: Alice was the third of a four-part Saturday Speaker Series held at the P.D.C. The final installment will be featuring Jon Corippo on Saturday, May 19, 2018. Go Sign Me Up #371301.)