Thursday, November 9, 2017

Flipgrid for giving every student a voice

While graphic organizers, exit tickets, and worksheets are a standard in every classroom, it is not the only way to get input from kids.  Google Classroom, Kahoot, Quizizz, and other tech tools can collect discussion answers, documents, or quick answers from students.  A tool I recently learned about, Flipgrid, is set up to accept picture, text or video responses to a prompt.  Students can see and comment on the posts of others as well.  Here’s how it might work:

  1. Teacher creates a “grid” related to a specific subject or grade level such as social studies, 3rd grade, or HS art.
  2. Teacher creates a topic related to their grid subject, such as volcanoes, narratives, or solving two step equations.  This should ask a question or require input from students.  For example, it could be, “Tell me a story using time order words,” or “How do you solve this equation?”
  3. Teacher shares the topic to the students and students give their input as a picture, text, and/or video.  That way they can talk through their learning, speaking out loud about how to complete a task, or they can show and talk about their results.
  4. Students can view and comment on their classmates’ submissions using emojis similar to Facebook.

There is an iPad app, but you can also record from the chromebook.  When you click the + to add a response, it will prompt you to use your camera and microphone.

Once they allow these, then students will click the camera to record.

It will prompt the students to give their names and emails.  I would recommend you just have them put their first name and last initial.  Or just initials.  Once they post, they can view the posts from others.

You can contribute to my example here.

This could be a great first step to making great digital citizens who know how to use the tech resources for their learning.  If you have questions or need help, let me know and I’d be happy to stop by!

Monday, November 6, 2017


As a parent of two who recently put passcodes on her children’s iPads, I am aware of the pull that technology offers to children.  As a person who has tried to put most of the content I need on a day-to-day basis on my phone so it’s always accessible, I understand how for some of us the device has become a constant distraction.

With that in mind, I offer some ways to gain, keep, or re-focus, whether you are trying to do this with your students or for yourself. This means using a device AND staying on task!

For students, secondary teachers can make use of Hapara to focus a student’s browsing by only allowing them to visit certain sites for a determined period of time.  Teachers using iPads can turn on guided access to limit the areas on the screen with which students can interact.  Having your students use their computers with their backs to you (and their screens facing you) can also help to make sure they are on task.  Ultimately, though, it’s acceptable and healthy to put away the devices and have a face-to-face conversation.

For teachers, there are several apps that will remind you to take a brain break: StandApp, Stand Up!, and Move It.  If you and your students are spending all period sitting at your desk, working on research, a presentation, or otherwise focusing on a task, it will be beneficial to you to get up and move, even if only for a stretch.  A Stanford study finds that walking is good for creativity, so it may be a good idea to work this into the lesson.  

Another aspect related to this are desk styles.  We have traditional table and chair, but now there are standing desks, fidget bands, yoga balls, node chairs, and the list goes on.  As someone who works with Greg, I can definitely see how these might be helpful!  :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Vocaroo for Voices

Vocaroo is a simple online tool for recording and sharing audio files across the internet.  After allowing your microphone, it literally takes two clicks to create a recording.  After that, the file is easily shared with an auto-generated link, or can be downloaded as an MP3, or get a QR code.  Since it is a web-based services, it's a natural friend to Chromebook users.  And, since it is web-based, students and teachers can use Vocaroo anywhere!

Ways for Students to Use Vocaroo

  • Students at all levels can practice their reading and speaking skills.  Beginning readers might find it helpful to hear what they sound like reading a book and following along.  Older students could read drafts of essays aloud to catch mistakes.
  • Practice presentations before giving them.
  • Music students can share songs they sing or play with teachers and other students.
  • Foreign language students can practice their fluency.
  • Peer-to-peer feedback.  Students could even paste the link in a comment on a Google Doc or Slides.
Ways for Teachers to Use Vocaroo
  • Leave instructions for your students when you have a substitute.
  • Record a summary of what you did during the day and post the link of your website or Sapphire page.  (You could have a student do this too!)
  • Give feedback to individual students.  (I know my hand cramps up after writing a lot, this might be a new way to give students feedback on a paper or larger assignment.)

How to Use Vocaroo

  • Go to
  • Click the red button to record
  • Click the green check mark to allow the service to use microphone
  • Click to tell the browser to allow the microphone
  • Click to stop recording
  • Now you have the option to retry, listen, or save.  "Retry" will delete and start over, "listen" will allow you to listen to your recording, and "click to save" will give you options.
  • This is what you see when you "click to save:"
  • You can simply copy the link and send that wherever you want.  Or you can download as an MP3 to be used later, email it directly from the site, or create a QR code.
A quick tip: If you decide to have your students create recordings and share them with you, it would help to organize them with a Google Form.  You can create a simple form with a place to put their name and a place to paste the link, and then Google Form creates a spreadsheet with that information.  That way it's all in one place for you to access at your convenience.  Click here to get started with Google Forms.