Looking at charts and graphs for most students is tedious and boring. There is nothing for the student to engage with the visuals just require students to make an observation and draw a conclusion on it. These two skills are things we want students to be able to do on their own but in the instance of just looking at data it fails to engage students. Some see no challenge in drawing a conclusion and others may not see a connection because they don't feel invested in the question. Flourish offers a solution for both of these issues.
Flourish is a tool used by corporations to visually display data at conferences or to preform data analysis. I was introduced to this amazing website by a friend of mine that works at Facebook. There are many different forms of graphs and charts you are able to create and all of them can be shared with a public link. Creating a graph is as simple as importing an Excel spreadsheet which you can export from Google Sheets or Excel. Once the data is in the teacher can define the columns as three types of data:
Meta Data: Data that will appear when a line or bubble is clicked on
Categorical Columns: Data that is analog or choice based
Continuous Columns: Data such as test scores or number based data
After the data is defined there are many customizations to personalize the data like changing the background image, the colors used in sorting, how meta data is displayed, and the animations.
This amazing site could be used to direct students to look at data uploaded by the teacher with a prompt about finding a connection between anything from location of a school and student scores or states won by each party and the minority populations. The map overlays make geographical data possible as well.
The site is also easy enough to use I could see it being used by student in their own projects that require them to survey their classmates or families.
Flourish wasn't designed with classrooms in mind but the potential it has with eye catching graphics and ability to engage the individual looking at the data shows the potential it has with students. I look forward to using it in my classroom some day!
Click on the image below for an example that I was able to create with only a few clicks.
Bitmoji, a simple cartoon representation of a person, the idea of using this social media craze was one of the best things I did in my high school classroom. Using my Bitmoji in classroom materials such as lectures and activities gave me one more way to interact with students. Collecting Bitmoji from my students to use on review material and feedback opportunities gave them a more personal experience in the classroom.
The first time a cartoon version of my redhead showed up on a slide my students were taken aback, their teacher had a Bitmoji! Images are always more interesting than text to look at so it is important to remember that where you place Bitmoji's on content will draw students attention to that information. There are many different poses and props to display a bitmoji with for pretty much any occasion; reviewing, magnifying, starting discussions or quizzing students!
Besides using my own Bitmoji I had a open invitation for students to email me their Bitmoji and have the chance their's would be used in class. When I did use students Bitmoji I did tend to keep it to review sheets, tests and feedback. This was done to make a distinction in how students saw those forms of communication with me as the teacher. Seeing their classmates faces on worksheets did enable some students to open up more to me. The process of sifting through their submissions also gave me a chance to learn more about them. I asked students to send me Bitmoji's of their characters doing activities they enjoyed; through this I learned about a few that were in sports and others that enjoyed reading. These were introverted students that I had been having difficulty connecting with but I was able to form better relationships with them and seeing their Bitmoji on the materials made them feel more a part of the class because finding out who's Bitmoji was used was always a topic for a quick class conversation!
To get started I would recommend installing the Bitmoji Extension for Chrome and Android or Apple. Once you have created your snapchat account you can log on to these Bitmoji apps and download the Bitmoji as images. The best part with the Bitmoji images is they all have clear backgrounds which means they will easily fit in whatever resource you are creating. One thing to keep in mind is make sure when you are looking for a Bitmoji you need to type the emotion or verb you are trying to find a representation for. For example if you want to find one of you holding a magnifying glass you cannot just type in "Magnifying Glass" you need to type something like "Hmmm". So consider what expression you are looking for if you cannot find the specific pose you want.
History classes have a stigma of teachers lecturing at students for hours on end about historical details and dates mostly about dead white guys. History teachers especially those in Urban environments are working to change that but the class as a lecture is something that even I found myself leaning toward. It's just so easy to talk and have students take notes; it is also the fastest way to loose their attention and make them hate the class. With Peardeck I have not taught a lecture in my class since.
Peardeck has the power to turn a one sided lecture into a two sided conversation no matter the content and here's how. Peardeck turns lectures into a discussion time or an assignment that the teacher can watch as students work. Both images below are links to example presentations I used in my classroom.
First a peardeck enhanced lecture takes each slide or as many as you would like to turn into a checkpoint for students to see if they are following around or break a topic to them. I've used this in the classroom when starting new content to see what students already know and give then a chance to show me what we just learned during the lecture and using this tool I can show all student responses on the screen completely anonymously. The first time I used the Pear in the class we used it as a game looking at what farmers went through during the great depression out West. Students where paired up, one was responsible for answering the questions on the presentation the other kept track of the points that they were gaining or loosing based on their decisions. I was able to add in little instructional moments as student looked at the benefits of say taking out a loan or deciding where the best farm land was.
Another way of using Peardeck is as a in class or homework assignment. In this example I used a Peardeck to explore Mexican repatriation with students. I gathered a bunch of different resources for the students and tasked them with exploring some of the slides in the presentation. We walked through the first couple together but then using student paced mode I was able to give students control over the google slides presentation and I could then watch the progress each student was making and respond to students that I noticed were struggling or missing a concept.
These are just two examples of how I've used Peardeck to transform instruction in my classroom and I continue to look for new and engaging ways for me to place learning in the hands of my student and give them chances to use their voice in the classroom because that is what is important in learning. Students will learn the best when they are active in their learning and instruction instead of passive bystanders and Peardeck is an amazing tool to provide all educators with that opportunity.
To learn more about peardeck and how to use it check out their website or the google slides add-on to kill your classroom lectures and engage students in a new way!
I've just wrapped up my college experience and I totally understand how stressful it can be to have three papers due, a project and have to teach at a placement every day. It's easy to get overwhelmed with everything going on from work, school, family and every other pressure life is throwing at you. Here are five different activities I use to help destress that are also educational or brain teasers so I'm learning something new while giving my brain a chance to calm down. Some are free others cost a little bit but all of these are worth your time and sanity it in my opinion.
3 Minute TED Talks
TED Talks are short only 20 minutes but hey you don't have that long well these TED talks are for you. TED started this new series of talks specifically designed to only last 3 minutes. The topics range from how to properly tie a shoe, a short story told through emoticons and how saying thank you can change your life.
This second option is a game about building a metro system. As it expands and grows you need to rework routes to ensure everyone gets to their destinations before time runs out. The simplistic art style and relaxing autogenerating music allows you to become absorbed in the game. If you're up for a challenge daily objectives with new rules like no moving track once it's placed are added to a special mode. On the other end of the spectrum there is an endurance mode that simply pits you against your own delivery rate. This gives a more laid back experience and time to walk away or tab out and come back to the game later.
Cost: 9.99 on Steam
Chrome Music Lab
Music is the universal language and google chrome music lab has many different experiments allowing anyone to create a song. Each lab has a different way to craft a song, one takes a drawing and makes it into a song, another gives you a cast of musicians and you tailor each individuals music. The most recent addition allows you to select squares and pick how the beat is played. No matter which one you pick to use I found it easy to get wrapped up for a few minutes in crafting my own master piece.
Do Nothing For Two Minutes
A website that starts a timer when you don't move your mouse or tap your keyboard. Sit still for two minutes and listen to the waves. If you move the timer starts over, so don't let your stress get to you, be still and relax. I use this as an excuse to pick up a book or my sketch pad and just not touch my computer for a couple minutes.
Emoji Scavenger Hunt