Thursday, August 31, 2017

Differentiation with Google Digital Task Cards

Digital task cards can be an effective differentiation tool in your classroom. Explore different ways of creating them in G Suite.
All of the latest research points toward the effectiveness of differentiation for learning. But figuring out how to differentiated can sometimes be tricky. If you are trying to differentiate the learning environment in your classroom, why not try task cards? We all know that not every student learns the same way; therefore, we need to design lessons and tasks that are based on our student’s learning styles.

Task Cards

Task cards are just what they sound like. They are cards that have tasks on them for the students to complete. Task cards can be made to target any learning objective you want studied. They can be used for grammar, math practice, word problems, parts of speech, historic events, science principles, and more.
Task cards are a wonderful alternative to worksheets, and the students love them because each card focuses on only one task. Imagine that you are a struggling student being given an entire worksheet to complete. You would probably feel very overwhelmed. However, if the tasks on that worksheet were given to you one at a time, you might feel a sense of accomplishment when one task is completed before moving to the next one.

Digital Task Cards with Google

Digital task cards are basically the same thing as a paper task card except they are, of course digital. Students can access and complete the task cards from any computer or device.
A task card will usually include a title and a number and perhaps instructions, definitions, or examples. A border and clip art can be included to jazz up the task card. Let’s take a look at two sample digital task cards I created in G Suite. You will see how easy it is to differentiate and scaffold instruction with these task cards.

Part of Speech Google Task Cards

This set of task cards was created in Google Slides. Students select the part of speech by highlighting the correct choice option. They can complete any or all of the task cards. Give them some choice.
Along with your task cards, you can include Challenge Cards that might include open-ended questions or require longer responses. The last card in this example is a challenge card that requires the student to actually type out the part of speech that appears in the sentence.
If students need to answer questions verbally, these cards can easily be replicated in Google Docs. That way, students can use the voice typing tool to speak their answer choices.
Get your own copy of the Google Slides Task Cards template here – Google Slide link.

Drawing Conclusions Google Drawing Task Cards

Give your visual learners a few task cards to complete that enable them to draw their answers. Drawing helps students visualize their learning. For some students, a picture really is worth a thousand words. This set of task cards was created in Google Drawings. Students read the scenario, come to a conclusion, and then draw their answer utilizing the drawing tools. There are two different task cards in this example; however, you can create them with fewer or more cards.
Get your own copy of the Google Drawings Task Cards template here – Google Drawings link.

Using Digital Task Cards in the Classroom

There are many different ways you can use digital task cards in the classroom. Below are just a few:
  • Introduce a new topic by sharing digital task cards with groups of students. Have them work on the task cards as a whole group activity and then have one person in the group “share” the completed task cards with you.
  • Assess student learning by using digital task cards as exit tickets that you can share with individual students. Again, once completed, the students can then “share” them with you.
  • Set up one or two technology stations in your classroom as a center where your students could complete the task cards. This could even be an activity for those students who finish work early.

So Many Possibilities

Digital task cards open up so many possibilities for differentiating and scaffolding in your classroom all year long. They provide students with alternative ways of exploring and expressing key ideas and using key skills. With task cards, students can work independently at their own pace. Different students with different needs and abilities can be given different task cards.  Task cards give opportunity for choice and provide a challenge that is just beyond what your students can already do. In addition, they enable students to progress toward stronger understanding and, ultimately, greater independence in the learning process.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Even More Classroom Icebreakers for Back to School

Try these fun back-to-school icebreakers with your new students and be amazed at how quickly you learn who they are and what they like.
Last year, I wrote a blog about classroom icebreakers that could help students and teachers break the ice the first day or the first week of school. Find even more icebreaker activities below to try with your students in order to start the year off right.

Two Truths and a Lie Flipgrid

If you haven’t caught the Flipgrid Fever (#FlipgridFever), you should! Flipgrid is a video discussion board service that will allow your students to respond to a question you ask. Teachers can create a grid for free just by signing up for an account. It’s a great way to capture your student’s voices and ideas.
A fantastic icebreaker would be to create a Two Truths and a Lie Flipgrid. Give students the URL to your Flipgrid or they can scan the QR code to access it. Your students would then click on the green plus sign and record themselves telling two truths and one lie about themselves. You could even pair students up and have them record each other. After all the students have finished, you can pull the Flipgrid up on the screen and the class can take turns guessing which statement is a lie. It’s a great way for the class to get to know one another. Want to try it? Test it out on this sample Flipgrid I created.

Create Your Own Emoji

Emojis are so popular these days that students are using them all the time. So why not have your students create their own Emoji and then write a paragraph about themselves as an icebreaker activity? Try it out for yourself by following the steps below:
Step 1:
Step 2:icebreakers
  • Read the directions on Slide #1 and pick a slide that doesn’t already have an emoji created on it.
  • Create your emoji by dragging and dropping the images on the side of the slide or by inserting new images.
Step 3:
  • Write a paragraph about yourself and/or why you created your emoji the way you did.
Once again, after all your students have created their emoji, you could display them on the projector and let the students talk about their emoji. Get your own copy of the About Me Emoji template here: “About Me Emoji Google Slide” Template – Google Slide link.

Green Screen LEGO Puppets

Another idea for an icebreaker is to have students use green screen technology while recording a video introduction of themselves.
First, have your students design a LEGO mini figure of themselves. You can give your students this template to use as a starting point.
Next, purchase a green tablecloth at the Dollar store, which you will then tape up on the wall. Then download a green screen app, such as the Doink app. It only costs $2.99 and is very easy to use. For a free option, you can try Touchcast (iPad) or Free Photo Green Screen Tool (iOS). Use your iPad to take a picture that you will use as a background for the green screen. You could take pictures of the front of the school, the playground, or a spot in your classroom. Upload the picture to the app.
Then attach the LEGO puppet to either a green ruler or a green straw (usually available at Starbucks) and place it in front of the green tablecloth. Use the app to record a short video introduction with groups of students. See the example video below:

Animated Fidget Spinner

Fidget spinners are especially popular with our students today. Therefore, why not try using them as an instructional tool in the classroom?
For the icebreaker below, I used animations in Microsoft PowerPoint to allow the spinner to spin and land on different parts of the color wheel. For this particular icebreaker, you can pull the spinner up on the screen and group students into teams in order for them to discuss the topic the spinner lands on. This is great way to connect with students while allowing them to get to know one another.
Get your own copy of the Fidget Spinner Icebreaker template here: “Fidget Spinner Icebreaker” Template – Microsoft PowerPoint Template.
Try one of these icebreakers during the first week of school and give your students and you a chance to get to know one another. Leave a comment below with some of the icebreakers that have worked well for your students.