Want to see how easy it is to add images to a Google Form? Watch the video below, and you'll be spicing up your forms with images in no time!
As if Google Forms weren't awesome enough already, Google has just introduced a brand new feature that takes this already-amazing tool to the next level -- the ability to add images to a form. In my opinion, this is a game changer. Teachers now have the ability to create online quizzes for their students that aren't limited to text only, allowing educators to create richer, more visual online assessments. For example, by including pictures in a form, a science teacher can now create a quiz asking students to identify the different parts of a cell, or an art history teacher can have his/her students identify famous works of art.
Want to see how easy it is to add images to a Google Form? Watch the video below, and you'll be spicing up your forms with images in no time!
While at the 2013 CUE Conference, I learned about an awesome search tool provided by Google. Ever had your students do a research project where you wanted them to use primary sources as part of their research? Well, Google makes that a snap.
Over the years, Google has archived tons and tons of newspaper articles. By visiting news.google.com and using the advanced search feature, you can search for articles from a specific time period. For example, if your students were doing a research project on Pearl Harbor and you wanted them to find articles written around the time of the 1941 bombing by Japan, Google can easily put primary sources at your students' fingertips.
Watch the short video below to see this amazing tool in action. Happy searching!
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the annual Computer-Using Educators (CUE) Conference in Palm Springs. While at the conference, I was able to present a short, 20-minute session on Google Forms and how school administrators can use them to increase their efficiency and productivity. I showed how these forms can be used for things like classroom walkthroughs, discipline reporting, student/teacher/parent feedback, and much more.
If you're interested in learning how to use Google forms, I've posted my presentation slides as well as a set of tutorial videos on how to use this amazingly simple yet powerful tool. I hope these resources are helpful to you!
Ever have one of those moments when someone says or does something, and you think to yourself, Did that just happen? Did he really just say/do that? If so, you'll be able to relate to this new video in my "What I've Learned" series, where I share a couple of my experiences and the good lesson/reminder associated with them.
If you haven't yet watched the first two videos in the series, you can do so by visiting the "What I've Learned" page. If you've already seen them, I'd welcome your feedback.
Last week, I received an email from one of my website hosts reminding me that it was almost time to renew the domain name for my former classroom website (mrcoley.com). As I was going through the online checkout process, I noticed the date that I had first purchased the right to use mrcoley.com -- January 24, 2003. While I first published my classroom site back in 1999 as the culminating project for my master's degree, it didn't go by the name mrcoley.com until 2003 -- 10 years ago today.
I'll admit, I got a little emotional when I looked at that date. What began as a simple site containing only basic subject matter pages, student artwork, and an "About the Teacher" page became, over the course of the decade, so much more. It was my passion. As a youth, I wanted to be a computer programmer. In college, upon realizing I couldn't do calculus, I changed my major and studied to become a teacher. With my classroom website, I was able to combine two of my loves -- teaching and technology. I loved working on my website. People would often ask me, "Doesn't that take you a ton of time? Isn't it a lot of work?" The answer was yes. I did invest a lot of time and energy in my website. But to me it wasn't work. It was fun. In their free time, some people knit. Some garden. Some watch TV. I built my website. And I loved it.
If you are one who visited my website over the past 10 years, this post is my way of saying "Thank You." Thank you for taking the time to view the things my students and I were learning and wanted to share with the world. You don't know how much it meant to my students to know that their artwork, blog posts, and podcasts were being seen (and heard) by people around the world. Talk about authentic learning and a global audience! There was nothing better than showing my students a "website visitors" map showing them their work was being seen by people all over the world. My pupils always wanted to put forth their best effort on their artwork, writing, and ColeyCasts, because they knew I wasn't the only one who was going to see and hear their creations. And if you're one who took the time to email me regarding the site, I cannot adequately express the gratitude I have for your messages. Your words of encouragement and feedback were so appreciated, especially on those discouraging days when I asked myself if it was all worth the effort.
10 years. It's been a fun ride. And if you're wondering, even though I'm no longer updating it, I plan to continue keeping the site online. Thanks for following me on my journey!
Here's the second story in my new series "What I've Learned...Lessons from the Classroom (and Office)." In this video, I share an experience from my very first year of teaching. While it was definitely not one of my prouder moments (as you'll see in the video), I learned an extremely valuable lesson about the kind of teacher I want to be. I hope you find my story to be helpful.
If you haven't yet watched the first video in the series, you can do so by visiting the "What I've Learned..." page.
Sharing. It’s something we’ve all been taught to do from the earliest years of our lives. Share your toys with your friends. Share the crayons at preschool. Share the backseat of the car with your brother. But then we move into adulthood and things change. Too often we get tunnel vision, consumed with our own day-to-day tasks, forgetting the power of sharing.
Last March at the annual CUE conference, I attended an excellent session on LiveBinders. At the conclusion of the session, I felt compelled to do a better job of sharing resources with the educators with whom I work. So, when I returned to school the following Monday, I resolved to begin sending to my staff a series of emails I called Tuesday’s Tech Tips. Since March, I have been sending short emails to teachers containing brief technology tips or suggestions. The tips are typically basic in nature and have included things like keyboard shortcuts, how to take a screenshot, and app/resource suggestions like Jing, Dropbox, and Remind101. I realize many of those who receive these tips are already aware of what I’m sharing, but I also know that not every teacher possesses the same level of proficiency in the use of technology. Bottom line, just because I know how to do something with technology doesn’t mean everybody else does. The response from teachers has been very positive, and sending out these tips has given teachers an opportunity to share back some tips of they’re own. It hasn’t been a one-way street, as I’ve learned a bunch from my staff in the process of sending out my tips.
I've previously written about the importance of collaboration (see my post "Paying It Forward"), but I believe this is a topic worthy of repeated discussion. My challenge to readers is this – if you’re not already doing so, start sharing with your staff. No matter who you are or what your position, you have something to share. It may be a lesson plan with a grade-level colleague. It may be an instructional strategy you’ve found to be particularly effective. It may be a tech tip of your own. Whatever you’ve found to work well for you, share it, for as a poster in my classroom used to read, "TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More."
Just about everyone loves a good story. Storytelling is a powerful way to illustrate a point or convey an idea. Not convinced? Jesus Christ, in my opinion the greatest teacher ever to walk the earth, frequently chose to teach through parables. Because I believe storytelling can be an inspiring and effective way to teach, I’ve put together a presentation I’ve titled "What I’ve Learned...Lessons from the Classroom (and Office)." After 17 years as an educator (15 as classroom teacher and two as an assistant principal), I have many of stories to tell. And what’s better than a good story? A story with a message. My hope is that I can inspire other educators by transparently sharing some of my experiences (both successes and failures) in the classroom and front office, along with the invaluable lessons I’ve learned from these experiences.
Here’s one of my stories, and because most would rather watch and listen, I’ve told it on video. In this story, I share an experience that took place during my school's Literature Appreciation Day. As you'll see and hear, this story reminds us of how, as teachers, we're always being watched by our students, and therefore need to be careful of the example we're setting. Enjoy!
I recently watched, for the umpteenth time, The Princess Bride, one of my all-time favorite movies. This movie has it all – action, adventure, humor, romance, and upon my most recent viewing of this classic, a teaching reminder. “A teaching reminder?” you say. Inconceivable! Yes, the movie teaches one how to navigate the Fire Swamps and why you should never trust a six-fingered man, but I was reminded of an important instructional strategy in the three-second clip below.
Vizzini’s comment reminded me of the importance of waiting, something typically viewed in our society as a negative, but in education is imperative in certain situations. Let me explain. In our teaching credential programs, we all learned about wait time, the research-based teacher practice of pausing several seconds after posing a question, allowing students more time to formulate thoughtful and detailed answers (as well as giving more students the opportunity to answer the question). But there is another kind of wait time, one that seems obvious, yet in my opinion, is often overlooked. I’m talking about waiting until every student is paying attention before delivering instruction or giving a direction.
Sounds simple, right? But do we actually do it? Do we have the attention of all our students before giving a direction? Sure, those students seated in the front couple of rows or at the front of the line are focused on what we’re saying, but what about those in the back? Are they listening? Are they looking at us? Are they even facing the front? Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed too many instances, with students inside and lined up outside the classroom, where the answer to these questions was no.
Unless we demand the attention of all our students, chances are we’re not going to get it. And it’s okay to demand students’ attention, because this can be done in a respectful way. I’m not saying we should mimic an impatient Vizzini and say to our students, “I’m waiting!” in a rude tone of voice. What I am saying is that it’s okay to wait until you have everyone’s attention. And you may have to wait several moments. That’s okay. No, it’s not just okay; it’s a cornerstone of effective teaching. Because if you don’t do this, some of your students will miss out on what you’re saying, whether it’s a simple direction or something more important. If they’re not listening, it doesn’t matter what you’re saying.
Vizzini could have walked away, frustrated with the delay. But he waited, knowing he needed Inigo Montoya and Fezzik to accomplish his task. We too must learn to wait, for we need all our students, just as they need us. So the next time you’re about to give a direction or deliver a lesson, think of Vizzini. Just try and wait a little more patiently than he did.
Ever felt like you're the only one or one of only a few trying to enforce a rule? You've been told students need to behave a certain way, you do your best to be consistent in holding them accountable, but those around you seem to "let things go?" It's frustrating. That feeling of "I can't do this alone" sets in. You think it’s impossible, like standing knee-deep in the ocean, hands stretched toward the horizon, trying to stop the tide.
I've asked myself why this happens. Why do teachers "let things go?" Why is there often a lack of consistency in enforcing rules? I think there are several reasons, but one can be summed up in the comment I've often heard -- "It's not worth the fight. I'm not going to die on that hill."
Here's my take on that mindset. First of all, it is worth the fight. Anything in the best interest of the kids we serve is always worth the effort.
Secondly, who said you have to die? If you're the only soldier fighting on the hill, yeah, chances are, you're going to die. But if everyone fights on the hill, no one has to die. If you're the only one trying to enforce a rule, the only one trying to change the culture of your work place, you're in for a tough fight. But what if others came alongside and fought with you? What if you had an army? Imagine what you could accomplish by working together.
Finally, some things are worth fighting for, and if necessary, metaphorically dying for. There are times in life, in your career, when you may feel like you're the only one who is fighting. There may be times when you feel alone, like you're the only one enforcing the rule. If this is the case, I encourage you -- don't give up! When my students had a difficult time following directions, being responsible, or behaving appropriately, and I had to constantly remind and redirect them, I would often say, "Class, it would be much easier for me to stop holding you accountable. But that wouldn't be what's best for you."
Sometimes you have to fight, because that fight is what's best for kids. But you don't have to fight alone.