Category Archives: K-12

Random Generator Add-On

I’m sure you never do this – spend hours looking for a digital solution for something that would take about 15 minutes manually ;)

But on the off, off, off-chance you have, maybe I can save you some time.

You see, I use a lot of Google Forms.  We are using them for a few club applications this year.  Both clubs are extremely popular, so we have to choose participants with a random drawing.

My need is simple – a tool that will automatically “draw” names from my Google Response sheet without me physically writing them down and putting them in a hat.

There are actually many tools for doing this.  Richard Byrne, for example, recently posted about how to make a random name selector with Google Sheets and Flippity.net.  Alice Keeler has got a great Random Student Chooser Template.

But I don’t really need anything that looks good for the drawings I’m doing; no one will be watching except the club sponsors.

I hit the jackpot when I looked in the “Add-Ons” on my spreadsheet. For those of you who don’t know, some of the Google products offer “Add-Ons” that automate all kinds of things, like making a sudoku puzzle for you.  (Yes, I know it’s sad that Sudoku was my first Add-On for this account.)

Sudoku Add-On

You will find Add-Ons in the menu on the top of Google Sheets next to Tools.  Once you click on it, you can choose, “Get Add-ons,” which will take you to the ones that are offered for Sheets.

Random Generator

Random Generator is free.  At first I didn’t think it would suit my purpose but figured I would try it anyway.  When I realized it would do what I needed, I nearly hugged my computer.

Here are the steps:

Open the Sheet that has information.  (In my case, it was the Responses to my club application.)  After you get the Random Generator Add-On, select a blank column.  Then, go back to Add-Ons and choose Random Generator and start it.  Random Generator will appear on the side.  In the Integer windows, put “1” to “whatever number of applicants you have.”  Then click on “Generate.”  Random numbers will appear in the column and you will instantly know where each person falls in the draw.  You can even select all the columns and sort your spreadsheet by the numbers.

Integers

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 8.56.33 PM

But.

That’s.

Not.

All!

Maybe you find the numbers confusing or you don’t even want to bother with sorting them afterward.  Instead, you can use “Custom List” in the Random Generator.  Choose “New List” and select the cells that have the first names in them.  After you’ve got your list, select a new blank column and click on “Generate.” You will have the first names randomly ordered in your column.  And boom, there’s your drawing!

 

Random Generator from List

The potential applications of this are enormous – random job assignments, random dates for bringing a class snack, etc…

Yes, I’m well aware that I could have written the names on pieces of paper and pulled them out one by one in less time than it took me to write this post.

But, what’s the fun in that? ;)

A Growth Mindset Alphabet

I saw this set of posters on Twitter the other day and really liked it.  “Dear Teacher” (@DearTeacherLT) has created the “Motivational ABC’s – Success Mindset Posters,” and sells them for $1.99 on Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you prefer to keep your money in your pocket, there are some free Growth Mindset resources on TPT as well.  Also, check out my Growth Mindset Pinterest Board for even more resources!

Alphabetical Mindset Posters from "Dear Teacher" available on TPT
Alphabetical Mindset Posters from “Dear Teacher” available on TPT

The Serious Business of Play

At the intersection of art and science, you will find 3M’s recent Rube Goldberg Machine video.

It is a masterpiece that proves that logic and creativity are not mutually exclusive.

Play-is-serious-business

 

Crowd Mics

Raise your hand if you teach in a portable.

Why aren’t you raising your hand?

Oh, you can’t hear me.  

WHY CAN’T YOU HEAR ME?

Oh yes, because of the deafening roar of the air conditioner, which will sooner or later be replaced by the deafening roar of the heater.

No problem.  I can talk louder.

CAN YOU TALK LOUDER? 

Various versions of the above conversation happen daily in my classroom.  I was spoiled by having a sound system in my last school and I have been looking for a low-cost alternative ever since I moved into my portable classroom 4 years ago.

I think I may have found a solution – at least for those of you who have a couple of mobile devices you would be willing to dedicate to the cause.

Crowd Mics is a free app available on iTunes and Google Play.  The concept is simple.  Download the app on two different devices.  One device will be the receiver, and you will need to plug a good speaker into the headphone jack.  The other device will be the microphone.

Open the app connected to your speaker and create an event as a presenter.  You don’t have to log in, although that is an option. Make a 3-digit password that microphone users will enter when they join your event.  Choose if you want people to use the microphone whenever they want (Open Mic) or if you want to give them permission first (Select Mic).

The microphone device needs to be using the same wi-fi network as the receiver.  Open Crowd Mics on the microphone device and choose the event you created and enter  the 3-digit password.

Press down on the indicated area of your screen and speak.

Crowd Mics

If you have the same good fortune that shined on me, the microphone voice will be amplified so everyone in the room can hear it.

The free version of Crowd Mics will work with up to 5 “microphone” devices. If you are a frequent presenter at large conferences, you might want to look at the paid version for larger crowds.

Some caveats: this won’t work through bluetooth (the speaker must be plugged into the headphone jack) and both microphone and receiver must be on the same wi-fi network.  Also, this will only sound as good as your speakers.  I tried it with one of my small, portable speakers and could barely hear a thing at top volume. When I plugged the receiver iPad into my classroom speakers, however, the magic happened.

This solution is only low-cost if you have the equipment already.  My plan is to have an iPad/microphone at each table so it doesn’t have to be passed around, and other apps can still be used during class. Since construction is about to start right outside my window, I hope this plan works!

Zen Pencils Teacher’s Guide

It’s Phun Phriday.  Technically I do a post on something that is not very related to education on these days.  But I was so excited to see this new resource from Zen Pencils that I had to share it with you right away!

The artist behind Zen Pencils, Gavin Than, creates amazing, inspirational posters based on quotes from men and women who have made an impact on our world.  He is one of my favorite artists and I was thrilled when a book of his work was published.

Teachers can now use this free Teacher’s Guide along with Gavin’s posters.  It includes discussion questions, activities, and cartooning advice.

Not every poster’s subject will be appropriate for your class, so choose the ones that work for your age group and academic area. Watch how these posters capture the imagination for your students!

zenpencilslogo

Mindset Book Study Update to the Update

As some of you know, our school has been doing a Parent/Teacher book study on the book Mindset, by Carol Dweck.  I am reading the book for the third time, and I am still finding parts that strike me differently depending on “who I am” when I read it.  As a teacher, a parent, a wife, and a sometimes leader, I recognize different pieces of myself, my husband, my daughter, and other people I interact with on a regular basis.

There is so much to gain from reading this book.  However, I know not all of you have the time to do this.  You can get a sense of its message by looking at our Smore Book Study posters.  These include links, quotes, videos, and more.  You can also access more resources on my Pinterest Board.

These are the main things I have learned from the book that have impacted the way I teach and how I raise my child:

  • Telling children they are “smart” is ultimately detrimental as they attribute all of their successes to an innate ability instead of hard work.  This results in children who are unwilling to try new things or take on challenges.  Praising them isn’t wrong; we just need to word our praises carefully.  Here are some suggestions.
  • We need to model how to react to setbacks (sometimes known as “failures”!) by taking responsibility, not giving up, and showing children how we learn from our mistakes.  Most importantly, we need to not blame others when something doesn’t go our way.  When we don’t reach a goal, think of it as not reaching it yet – not as having failed.  Check out Dweck’s TED talk on the Power of Yet.
  • Instead of making a big deal about grades, we need to emphasize learning.  A’s are nothing to be proud of if they require little effort to achieve.  I’ve already told my daughter that I would rather she make a B in a class where she learned a lot, then an A in a class that she coasts through.  This may result in less college options – but it will make her a lifelong learner who is a problem-solver.
  • I know I said this before, but model, model, MODEL!  I tell my students stories of setbacks and ways I dealt with them (some of them not so well).  I reflect out loud.  I try to let them see me or hear about me stepping outside my comfort zone.  When my computer doesn’t work in class, I try not to say, “I hate technology!” Instead, I show the students how I troubleshoot. The same goes for my daughter.  She sees and hears about my struggles and knows I’m not perfect. (Since she’s at the age where kids figure that out anyway, I’m pretty sure trying to hid my imperfections would just teach her to deal with her own similarly.) If you want to show your children another great role model, try this video.

I’ve seen true differences in my students and my daughter since I began to apply the principles I learned from Mindset a few years ago. I encourage you to read the book and put it into practice, too.

My students referred to this bulletin board on a regular basis last year - knowing that I admire people who embrace a challenge.
My students referred to this bulletin board on a regular basis last year – knowing that I admire people who embrace a challenge and a Growth Mindset.

 

How to Hack 5 Education Trends

If you’re like me, you might have set some professional goals for the summer – books you have been meaning to read, technology you wanted to learn, etc…  If you’re also like me, you may be in a bit of a panic right now because none of those things got accomplished.  You foolishly frittered your break away spending time with your family binging on Netflix and making videos for a global scavenger hunt that your daughter convinced you would be fun and not too embarrassing.

labor-day-ecard-someecards

So, now the beginning of the school rushes toward you and you are well aware that the professional goal that will take precedence over all the others will be, “to survive.”

I’m here to tell you that there are still ways to weave those professional goals into the new school year without becoming overwhelmed.  Below, I’ve listed a few trends in education that you can learn more about while doing some on-the-job-training:

Trend

Full Immersion

Hack

Growth Mindset Read Mindset, by Carol Dweck, and/or try resources from this Pinterest Board. Print out these alternative ways to praise from Angela Stockman and use them in your classroom regularly.
Makerspaces Read Worlds of Making by Laura Fleming and/or Invent to Learn by Martinez and Stager, check out this Pinterest Board, and create a dedicated space for making. Use “Challenge Boxes” in a center in your classroom.  You could also participate in the Global Cardboard Challenge.
Genius Hour Read Pure Genius by Don Wettrick, check out Joy Kirr’s LiveBinder for Genius Hour, and comb my Genius Hour blog page for resources and ideas. Give students more choices on how to be assessed on their learning.
Programming Learn how to use Scratch, Scratch Jr., and/or Hopscotch.  Explore the resources on this Pinterest Board. Participate in this year’s Hour of Code in December; all materials and tutorials are supplied for you free!
Augmented Reality Learn how to use Aurasma and/or Daqri 4D Studio to create Augmented Reality Experiences.  Check out my Augmented Reality page for tons of apps, lesson plans, and tutorials.  Katie Ann Wilson also has a great page of resources. Try the Quiver Vision free Educator pack that allows students to create and integrate Augmented Reality in the classroom.  Also, for an easy trial run, use their page (also at the above link) that celebrates Dot Day.

 

The “Hacks” listed above will not make you experts on any topic, but they will allow you to learn more about each trend. Then, you can decide for yourself if you want to try out some of the “Full Immersion” suggestions!