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Class Badges is a free online tool designed to help teachers use digital badges as rewards for accomplishing learning goals. The badges can be a useful tool for teachers to keep track of individual student accomplishments as they help learners focus on making progress.
Teachers can request a free account to generate a class code for students. Just add your students and choose from the many available badges. If you are in need of a unique badge of your own you can work with the folks at Class Badges to have them create it for you.
Uses in the Classroom:
- Work with individual students and their parents to identify their own specific attainable goals and create a Google Doc for reflection and progress monitoring. Use comments to provide students with feedback.
- Attach badges to your grading rubrics and hold regular mini-conferences with students at checkpoints as they work towards completion of the assignment to increase their motivation to take their learning to the next level.
- Reinforce positive behavior and increase students’ self-awareness by focusing on badges designed to reward students for demonstrating specific behaviors that might be useful to increase instructional time. For example: Reward time on task or organizational skills.
- Make sure the badges are designed to encourage self-improvement rather than competition among students in the class.
I really like Class Badges because the badges serve as a useful reminder for teachers to work with students on an individual level to set goals and assess progress. If used appropriately, they can improve students’ self-esteem as they work towards attainable goals. I believe this tool that can help teachers get a little closer to a 1-1 learning environment.
If you’re looking for innovative ways to use free and user friendly digital tools to help students acquire vocabulary, please check out my session, Digital Tools for Differentiating Vocabulary Instruction at the K12OnlineConference. While you’re there you are sure to discover more terrific 20 minute sessions, available for viewing at your convenience.
I used MentorMob to create a playlist of resources for using ThingLink in the classroom. Be sure to check out the final step in the playlist to view Donna Bambach’s collaborative slideshow, Interesting Ways to Use ThingLink in the Classroom, for a growing collection of great ideas contributed by ThingLink users.
- A wiki provides teachers with a platform to design learning experiences that provide students with flexible learning paths to meet unique learning styles
- Wiki’s can support student-driven project based learning experiences to help students develop super skills for the 21st century: creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking.
- Wikis are a simple yet efficient online tool for the 24/7 classroom
I used Thinglink to create this interactive graphic which illustrates my favorite features available in Wikispaces. Please scroll your mouse over the graphic to access the resources.
Google Docs is making the transition to Google Drive and with that they have recently announce some improved features for Docs users. Most notably is the addition of 60 new templates and 450 new fonts.
- Open a New Document.
- Click on the name of the font.
- Scroll to the bottom of the list of fonts and choose Add Fonts.
- Choose the fonts you want to add.
If you’re looking for an easy and efficient way to provide students with a starting point for a digital project, Google Docs Templates can help. You can save time and guide the learning by providing students with a consistent page format by using and creating your own templates. A Google Docs template is like a virtual copy machine. There are plenty of user-submitted templates already created and available for public use and there is even a category for Students and Teachers. Here are some of the new templates created by Google of particular interest to educators:
- Student Report
- Grade Report
- Lesson Plan
- Project Tracker
- Class Notes
- Essay Grading Rubric
Searching for information and making sense of it is a process that involves critical thinking. Google has many tools to help students sift through the overwhelming abundance of web content, but those tools are often not utilized by students and teachers.
Google recently announced the launch of Search Education. With it comes the promise of bringing educators the tools they need to help students become savvy searchers and independent learners. The site for educators includes lesson plans that are tied to A Google a Day, a daily puzzle designed to develop complex search skills. The lessons are aligned with NETS and Common Core Standards, connected to content area subjects and differentiated on 3 levels. In addition to lesson plans, Google offers live trainings and archived videos of past trainings to provided educators with the background knowledge
Providing students with strategies that makes it easier to find relevant information more efficiently is a skill we need to teach our students. Check out this video to learn more about Google Search Education.
Content curation is one way to find and share useful knowledge efficiently. There are plenty of user friendly push-button digital tools to help you collect, organize and store web content in flexible ways to allow for shared resources that are accessible online.
Educators can use content curation tools to streamline instruction by providing students with easy online access to a variety of resources to meet the needs of diverse learners.
- Use handy bookmarklet tools to quickly create collections of content-related resources for students, parents or coworkers.
- Embed collections of resources into a webpage, blog or wiki for easy access.
- Create packages of content for student research, inquiry and project-based learning.
- Design guided-learning activities that include digital text at a variety of reading levels and multimedia resources to meet the diverse learning needs of all students.
- Create collections of published student work that are easily available for sharing and reflection.
I created a collection of Cool Tools to Curate Content using Mentor Mob, one of the featured tools. Use it to quickly browse through the tools that interest you and enjoy the opportunity to interact with live webpages right within the playlist. Consider how you can use Mentor Mob or one of the featured tools to create a collection of resources for your own use.
One of my favorite tools to share with students and teachers is Readability. This handy bookmarklet tool scrubs webpages clean of distractions by eliminating the ads and creating a more readable version of digital text. By itself, it’s a really useful tool for students, but when combined with Google Docs, it can be part of an effective and efficient method for taking digital notes.
It’s important to note that the strategy offered here is not meant to replace traditional methods of note-taking. Rather, it is meant to be one of many note-taking strategies that can be introduced to students throughout the year as they engage in frequent everyday research experiences. If the goal of research is to find information, use it and properly cite sources, then introducing students to multiple strategies and allowing them to take flexible learning paths will help them become independent researchers and life long learners.
Risk Free Ways to Try Digital Notes:
- Content related article reviews
- Sharing current events
- Preparing a script for a podcast or narrated slideshow
The slideshow below provides step-by-step directions for combining Readability with Google Docs to take Digital Notes.
How To Combine Google Docs and Readability for Digital Note-Taking