Choice Boards aren't new, but they have become a life saver since education changed drastically last March due to Covid-19!
The current trend for a lot of the teachers I work with or follow through social media is to create digital Choice Boards so students can have some options in the activities they do from home based on a certain topic or subject area. Kasey Bell from Shake Up Learning calls them Interactive Learning Menus, which gives you a better idea of the purpose. Check out some of her free templates here!
Video Tutorial - Quick version!
There are many beautiful templates our there for teachers to download for free to create their own Choice Boards. My favorites are from Paula at Slidesmania! You have to check out her resources if you are in search of some educational Google Slides or Powerpoint templates.
I created the video below to share with my teachers as a quick-start guide, so Ithought I'd write a quick blog post to share it with you too! I didn't want to get too geeky, because that's when we start losing track of the time (which we don't have a lot of these days)!
So here's a 10 minute video on how you can use Google Slides to create a clickable Choice Board to help students choose what activities they work through each week.
Free Slides Templates
In the video above, I created a weekly choice Board on the go, so it isn't overly complicated or pretty. It's an easy place to start if you've never created one before though! The second template is to help teachers incorporate writing remotely. Both of these templates are just a starting point, so have fun!
Resources to make you own!
Besides my favorites mentioned above, here are some more helpful links.
It really just depends on your purpose and how much time you want to spend creating Choice Boards/ Learning Menus. Have fun and remember to not stress yourself out by trying to make it Teachers Pay Teachers or Pinterest perfect! Remember, the purpose is to give your students choice and be able to differentiate whenever possible.
Happy creating and please tag me on your favorite social media platform with your creations!
Planning for the 20-21 School Year
One thing we all have in common right now is that we have NO IDEA how to plan for this year. While chatting with some educator friends last week, we decided it's a no-checklist kind of year. Don't get me wrong, we'll have tons on our to-do list, but there isn't a checklist to follow to make back to school easy because no one has done it before!
So here's my attempt at making this year less painful...
As a coach, I'm trying my hardest to gather things that will help my teachers through an interesting mix of face-to-face and virual learning. They were just getting the hang of the virtual part, then we had to throw in the face-to-face part. That's out of our control, so we are going to try to make the best of it! My first thought was to help them create a workflow to their day so they aren't "live" all day, but they can include their virtual students during the most important times. Below are some guiding questions I found from NIET that might help with the planning process. In our school, we'll also be setting up a clickable schedule where teachers and students can click on the link they need at the right time to join a live meeting with their class. To start with, we'll be setting up a morning, mid-day, and afternoon time that's required. The rest of the live times (since you can't always plan the best teachable moments) will be linked in Google Classroom for easy acces. I'll be posting more after we officially start school to try it out.
✅ Helpful Resources:
Google has been sharing a ton of resources to help educators make the best of our current situation and new trends that have surfaced to meet the needs of our students. Here are a few that can be shared with families since they will be in this with us. I'm thinking these would be great to share in your first newsletter or virtual introduction for the year.
If you are a GSuite district, there are tons of tools you can use to help make your instruction easy to navigate whether or not you are face-to-face, virtual, or a mix of both. Here are the tools & Extentions I have found really useful since last March when all this started.
📅 Google Calendar
Google Calendar can be a life saver for you when you are working in a digital enviroment. Using calendar events with a Google Meet link can make it much easier to keep track of time. I have notifications settings for anywhere from 15 to 5 minutes before an event to make sure I stay on schedule. Here are a few posts and resources that might help you if this sounds like something that will help your workflow (including a link to my post on surviving remote learning).
🎥 Google Meet
There's a few different ways to use Google Meet. Right now, the safest way to use it with students is to either go to meet.google.com and create a nicknamed meet from there, or use the Google Meet link in Google Classroom (which also serves as a nicknamed meet where students can't join without the teacher). Below I've linked Eric Curts Google Meet series so you can choose what you need to know.
🖼️ Google Slides
Google Slides is one of my favorite Google tools! It's not just about making presentations pretty, but making them effective and engaging.
Some of the ways you can use Google Slides to help you teach right now can include:
👩💻 Google Classroom
I won't even try to create my own resources for Google Classroom tutorials when I have access to Kasey Bell's resources! Check out all that she has to offer here. Also, she has an amazing Google Classroom Master class (that I've taken myself) that includes EVERYTHING you would need to know, and then some. If you are new to Google Classroom, do yourself a favor and take this course (which is on sale right now, because she's awesome like that)!
Here's the link to the course if the free resources linked above isn't enough for you.
Another thing I'd recommend is to listen to her latest Podcast on "How to Create Google Classroom Blended Learning Lessons" (part 3 of a great back-to-school series).
Some of my favorite extensions to use with the apps mentions above are linked below.
🔗 Wakelet, Edpuzzle, SeeSaw, and Flipgrid
These aren't Google tools, but they are sites we will be using a lot this year! As I've mentioned before, I use Wakelet for my #PottyPD and our school newsletter. We also started using it as a "hub" for lesson plans. Here's a post on some of the many ways you can use Wakelet.
Flipgrid is an amazing tool to keep your kids engaged and seeing each other even if they aren't in the school building with you. One of my favorite app smashing ideas is to start your Wakelet off with a Flipgrid short (embeded in Wakelet alread) to add your personality into your Wakelet collections. Want to know more about Flipgrid? You can check out the tons of resources already created for educators here.
SeeSaw! I haven't used SeeSaw myself much, but I know our K-2 teachers LOVE it! We bought a subscription for our teachers to use this year and they are super excited! I'll be able to share more on how we use it soon. In the meantime, check out their resources for educators here.
💡It's about the instruction & pedagogy, not just the tool!
As with any technology integration, you have to think about the purpose before you pick the tool. Here's a Toolkit from Shake Up Learning that will help you plan engaging lessons regardless of the tools you choose to support "Dynamic Learning" in your classroom. Just make sure to not overwhelm yourself and keep self-care on your calendar. I'd also love to hear what you are doing to try to keep yourself same this year. Tag me on Twitter or comment below with you thoughts! ~Pam
2nd Annual #PD4uandme Blogging BINGO
Last year we started a Summer Blogging BINGO Challenge during our #PD4uandme chat (Saturdays 8:30-9:00 am EST) and had such a great response that we had to do it again this summer! We figured it would give us all something constructive to do during all this craziness.
How It Works...
1. Check out the topics to see what you might want to blog about.
2. Click on the link in the middle, which takes you to a Google Form to share your blog link.
3. The first time you fill out the form, make sure to copy the link from the response message so you can access the links to all the other blog posts for your reading pleasure.
4. Add to the Google Form each time you write a blog post that fits one of the topics (choose whatever fits best, even if it's not exactly the same).
If you want to participate, even if you've never joined our chat, please do! We'd love to meet new blogging friends!
I Want My Own!
I created the BINGO board with Google Drawings. If you want to make your own, here's a template for you. The Google Form is very simple to recreate (or you can copy ours here) then link to your own image in the middle of the BINGO board. Make sure to change your response message with the link to the Form responses Google Sheet.
That's it! It's super easy!
This would be a great thing to do for classroom blogs for students or for teachers in your building.
If you make your own, please share it with us (Me, Emily Francis, and Teresa Gross) on Twitter using the #PD4uandme hashtag anytime. We'd love to hear your ideas! Happy Blogging! ~Pam
Usually, I’m at least 5 summer bucket list items deep by now, but not this year. Not because I can’t… just because it doesn’t feel like summer.
In some ways, it feels like we’ve been on summer break since the middle of March. Being in the south, the weather has been amazing, and working from home with older kids hasn’t been so bad. In other ways, I feel like I’m still supposed to be at school since we didn’t have an official send-off. It’s just strange…
Between staying informed on all the crazy things happening in the world and our normal day-to-day family responsibilities, I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster.
One day, I feel like I really need to make sure I’m doing my part to understand what it means to be anti-racist (which I feel like I am, but my next read is How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi to make sure I’m doing my part), then the next day I’m dealing with putting my mother-in-law in an assisted living center in the near future as well as moving ourselves. Next thing I know, I’m doing a recording with some amazing EDU rockstars and I feel like I’m back in my normal world again. Now, we’re talking about what August will look like in our schools. It all makes me want to just drive myself out to our family property and stay there until our normal world returns.
All this is to say that I haven’t really felt it in my heart to write a blog post. I don’t know enough about the topics being discussed on social media to add my thoughts, so I haven’t. Actually, I tried once and it went south quickly. After deleting my (1) tweet and the (10+) responses and blocking a person who was basically threatening me, I realized why I was trying to stay out of it.
I do want you to know that I agree that we live in a world that isn’t always fair, but we all still live in the same world. I just keep praying that our world will learn to work together again soon and see each other as brothers and sisters with the same father (as a Christian, this is a belief I refuse to apologize for). #bettertogether
I’m hoping that writing this post will be a way to reflect on what’s going on in my head and in my heart so I can continue to support educators who need to move forward one way or another for our kids. We can’t lose educators now...If anything, they are the people who can really inspire our kids to be the future leaders we all need. Hang in there, educators! You can do this… we can’t lose you now.
I'm an Instructional Coach at Daniel Island School in Berkeley County South Carolina and a Google Certified Trainer.