Sunday, August 23, 2020

The importance of meeting students social and emotional needs while distance learning


It was 2:45 pm on March 13 when I received the news that I would be immediately transitioning to distance learning starting Monday.  There was no time to say goodbye to my students or prepare them for the next few months.  I spent the weekend scrambling to figure out how to modify my instruction and, for me, how to keep teaching SEL.


SEL stands for social and emotional learning. It’s the process through which students learn to understand and manage their thoughts and emotions, set and create action steps to achieve goals, learn to show empathy for others and self-compassion for themselves, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.  These days, students are dealing with so many things that it is difficult for them to concentrate and perform at school.  Teaching students SEL helps them calm and quiet their brains so that they can take in new information and access their learning.



Before moving to distance learning, I took 40 minutes out of my week of teaching science to teach SEL through mindfulness and principles of success.   My students learned how to acknowledge their thoughts and emotions and keep them from taking over their lives.  They were also learning success skills such as perseverance, embracing feedback, goal setting, and visualizing what they wanted.  I felt that these skills were extremely important, more important than the science topics I was teaching them.


When we had to transition to remote learning suddenly, my main concern was my students’ technology and emotional needs.  Many of my students have high anxiety, and some of their home lives are not that great.  School was a safety ground for them.  I was concerned about their abilities to access their assignments and even more concerned about how they would be dealing with the added stress of being at home and the uncertainty of Covid-19.


I turned every Friday into a wellness check.  Asking them how they were doing? Having them fill out a Google Form to tell me about the emotions they were feeling and why they chose those emotions.  I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.


I knew I had to bring mindfulness and the principles of success back. Students were asking for them and saying that it was what they missed the most about being in my classroom. But how to do it online?


I did a few things to accomplish this.


  1. I created an Instagram account for my school to post inspirational messages and do some live mindfulness breathing exercises.
  2. I created some guided mindfulness audios and shared them with my students to access them whenever they felt the need.
  3. I created slide presentations, digital journals, and videos to cover the topics that allowed me to teach the information to my students and reflect on the information and do some exercises.

Now that we are starting a new school year and will once again be starting the year entirely online, I plan on continuing to bring SEL into my science classroom.  I have witnessed the changes in teaching mindfulness and principles of success have made for my students.  I will be doing a block schedule with synchronous and asynchronous teaching.  I plan on spending every Wednesday teaching mindfulness and principles of success to help the students have a positive start to their week. I'm calling it Wellness Wednesday.


        You can access the videos I created on my Youtube channel to help you meet your students’ social and emotional needs this year.  Whether you are entirely in the classroom, doing a hybrid model, or fully online, these videos will help students with their social and emotional needs.



Sunday, April 19, 2020

Using Digital Notebooks and Digital Readings in the Classroom FAQ

         More teachers are having to incorporate technology into their classrooms.  Digital notebooks and Digital readings are a great way to introduce the topic and have students review but they can present some challenges.  Here are the five most frequently asked question I receive from teachers using these lessons.



#1: Moving the pieces and writing on the slides

    The main question I get asked is how to drag the pieces and write in the text boxes.  In order to do this you need to be in edit mode.   If you are in presentation mode you will not be able to move the pieces or type in the text boxes.  The presentation mode is to view your work when it is done.   You will know you are in edit mode if you can see one main slide and all of the other slides in the presentation are on the left side. 

#2: I can't write in the box and I'm in edit mode

      Sometimes students accidentally delete the text boxes.  I usually have at least one student every other time I use these in my classes do this.   If a text box is deleted they will need to go the the text box icon at the top left and click on it.  Then they will click on the space they want to add the text box to. From there they can change the size of the box, font size, and font style.

#3: Adding pictures to the slides

      To add pictures you have a few options.  If you have a picture that you took or that is in your google drive you will need to go to insert at the top and choose picture or choose the picture icon. From there you can choose to upload your picture or go to your drive and click on the picture you want.  If you want a picture from the web the easiest way is to go to tools at the top.  From tools choose the explore tool.  Type in the type of picture you want and choose image.  Once you see a picture you would like you can click on it and drag in onto your slide.  You can then modify the size and place it where you would like it to be.

#4: Fixing major mistakes

      Sometimes students will accidentally delete a slide. Or perhaps they are working with a partner on the google slide and someone deleted something by mistake and the undo function is not solving the problem.  When this happens you will need to go to file, then click on version history, and click see version history.  The history of all the moves made will pop up on the right.  To get a more detailed history you can click on the triangles.  You can then restore it to the version before the mistake happened.

#5: Marking the text when it is part of the background

      With the guided readings, the text is part of the background so students can't just highlight the reading and choose underline.  Students are still able to mark the text with underlines, circles, and highlighting if they follow these simple directions.

    - Circling key words:  To circle key words you have two options.   

Option 1: Go to the shape icon and choose circle.  Then go to the fill color icon which looks like a paint bucket and click transparent.  Students can change the color of the circles outline by clicking the border color icon (looks like a pencil). They can also change the thickness of the circle by choosing the border weight icon.

Option 2: Go to the line icon and choose scribble at the bottom.  This gives them a free hand to make their own circles. Students can then change the color of the circles outline by clicking the border color icon (looks like a pencil). They can also change the thickness of the circle by choosing the border weight icon.

    - Underlining key points:  To underline parts of the passage there are again two options.

Option 1: Go to the line icon and choose the line, which is the first one.  Use the line tool to underline the sections you want to underline. Students can then change the color of the line by clicking the border color icon (again it looks like a pencil). They can also change the thickness of the line by choosing the border weight icon.

Option 2: Go to the line icon and choose scribble at the bottom.  This gives them a free hand to make their own lines. Students can then change the color of the scribble line by clicking the border color icon. They can also change the thickness of the scribble line by choosing the border weight icon.

    - Highlighting words: To highlight a word or words you will need to go to the shape tool.  Choose the square and place a square over the word or words.  This will block the words.  From there you need to go to the fill color icon which looks like a paint bucket.  Choose custom and then pick the color you want and change the transparency so that it is in the middle.  This will give the square a color and allow the text to show through.


Click Here for a video tutorial


          My students love using digital notebooks and digital readings in the classroom.  I hope these tips help you to successfully use them in your classroom also.  You can find digital lessons for the science classroom here: https://bit.ly/digitallessons 

Monday, March 30, 2020

How to move from your Google Drive to your LMS




         Google is a huge name in education for many reasons.  While many schools are using Google Apps for Education and having their LMS be Google Classroom, it is not the only LMS out there.  LMS stands for learning management system.  It's the way you assign tasks to your students. I will take you through the steps of sharing your digital lessons from your Google Drive to some of the top LMS sites out there.


* Google Drive to Google Classroom

- Although these both start with the word Google, they are not the same thing.  Google Drive is like your giant folder.  It is where you hold all of your Google app resources. Your Google slides, Google docs, Google Sheets, and so on.  Google Classroom is an LMS.  It is where you post the specific lessons you want the students to complete.

- To share your lessons to Google classroom Follow the simple steps below.

1. Go to Google Classroom and open the class you want to create an assignment for. 
2. Go to classwork and choose create. From there you can choose to post an assignment, quiz assignment, question, material, and more.
3. Title the assignment, add a description, and then at the bottom you will see the add button where you can go into your drive and attach your assignment from there.
4. You can choose whether you want the students to view the assignment, edit the assignment, or make a copy for each student.


* Google Drive to Schoology

- Although I am in a GAFE school, I prefer to use Schoology as opposed to Google Classroom.  To share your Google Drive resources is easy but does require you do complete a simple step.

1. Go to the Resources tab at the top--> open the apps--> choose install apps and select Google Drive.
2. Students can also go to the Resources tab and follow the same directions to attach their own Google Drive assignments if they are also using Google Drive.
3. To share your Google app lessons you will want to create an assignment.
4. In the assignment you will want to click on the resource tab.
5. Choose apps and then search for the resource you want and choose import and then one of two ways.
          - Choose import file if your students do not have a Google Drive.  This will convert it into the Microsoft equivalent.
         - Choose import link if your students have Google Drive.  When students click the link it will open in their Google Drive.  Students can then make a copy of the assignment and work on it.
         - After students have modified the assignment they can then reattach it to turn it in.



* Google Drive to Microsoft OneDrive


- Microsoft OneDrive is Microsofts version of Google Drive offering their Microsoft apps like Powerpoint, Excel, and Word in place of Slides, Docs, and Sheets. Moving your Google app lessons to OneDrive is very simple.

1. Open the lesson that you would like to transfer whether its Slides, Docs, or Sheets.
2. Click File and then download as to find the Microsoft equivalent.
3. This will download the file onto your desktop.
4. Once on your desktop you can just upload the file to your Microsoft OneDrive.




* Google Drive to Edmodo


-Using Google apps in Edmodo is very simple.

1. Use your Google account to sign up. 
2. Go to your class and add an assignment.
3. At the bottom go to add attachments and choose add from library.
4. There you should see the Google drive icon.  Choose your assignment and then you can set it so that students can view it or you can make a copy for every student.




* Google Drive to Nearpod

- To use Google apps in Nearpod you will need to sign up with Google so you can link the account. Then follow these steps.

1. Go to my library.
2. Click the create lesson in google slides.
3. Follow the steps to add the add ons extension for Nearpod.
4. Once you have added it you can go to any of your google slides, go to add ons, and open the Nearpod add on.
5. Choose how you want the students to work with the slides and then click save and go to Nearpod to add it to your library.




* Google Drive to Seesaw

- To use Google apps and allow students to manipulate them instead of just turning them into a PDF, you will need to follow a few steps.

1. Both you and your students should have Google accounts.
2. Click on add and choose assign activity.
3. Create a new activity and then choose add multimedia instructions or example.
4. Click link, NOT file with the Google Drive icon.
5. In your Google Drive open the resource you want to share with your students and set the share to view by anyone.
6. Copy the link onto the link box in seesaw.
7. Give directions for students to open the link, make a copy, work on the resource, and to set their own version to be viewed by anyone and then attach it to turn it in.  (Note: if you change the ending of your resource from /edit... to /copy it will force the students to make their own copy making it easier on your students)




It really is easy to use your amazing resources that you have created, been given, or purchased with your students.  Head to my Youtube channel for more ways to integrate technology into your classroom.