Tag: summer

15 Skills To Learn this Summer and Use Next Year

It’s summer, that time of rest and rejuvenation, ice cream and bonhomie. Like the American plains or the African savannas, it stretches endlessly to a far horizon that is the Next School Year. It represents so much time, you can do anything, accomplish the impossible, and prepare yourself quintessentially for upcoming students.

So what are the absolute basics you should learn this summer that will make a difference in your Fall class? Here are fifteen ideas that will still leave you time to enjoy sunsets and hang out with friends:

Learn basic tech problems

You probably know the most common tech problems faced last year like hooking digital devices to the school WiFi, running a tech-infused lesson, or what students face with technology. Good idea: Next year, collect a list of the problems students, parents, and other teachers struggle with and teach students how to solve them. There are about 25 (click for a list or click here for a more detailed explanation),  Know how to solve them. If you need help, add a comment at the bottom. I’ll give you ideas.

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Looking for Summer Activities? Try These

Earlier this week, we posted activities for a summer school student program. Now, we’ll focus on you–what do you want to accomplish with your summer? I’ve collected the most popular AATT articles on how to spend your education time this summer. Pick the ones that suit your purposes:

6 Must-reads for This Summer–2020 edition

Summer for me is nonstop reading — in an easy chair, under a tree, lying on the lawn, petting my dog. Nothing distracts me when I’m in the reading zone. What I do worry about is running out of books so this year, I spent the last few months stalking efriends to find out what they recommend to kickstart the 2020-21 school year. And it paid off. I got a list of books that promise to help teachers do their job better, faster, and more effectively but there are too many. Since I covered a mixture of books in a past article, many on pedagogy, this time, I decided to concentrate on content that could facilely move from my reading chair into the classroom.

I came up with six. See what you think:

10 Books You’ll Want to Read This Summer–2019 edition

Summer is a great time to reset your personal pedagogy to an education-friendly mindset and catch up on what’s been changing in the ed world while you were teaching eight ten hours a day. My Twitter friends, folks like @mrhowardedu and @Coachadamspe, gave me great suggestions on books to read that I want to share with you…

5 Apps to learn this summer

Summer has a reputation for being nonstop relaxation, never-ending play, and a time when students stay as far from “learning” as they can get. For educators, those long empty weeks result in a phenomenon known as “Summer Slide” — where students start the next academic year behind where they ended the last.

“…on average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning…” (Brookings)

This doesn’t have to happen. Think about what students don’t like about school. Often, it revolves around repetitive schedules, assigned grades, and/or being forced to take subjects they don’t enjoy. In summer, we can meet students where they want to learn with topics they like by offering a menu of ungraded activities that are self-paced, exciting, energizing, and nothing like school learning. We talk about life-long learners (see my article on life-long learners). This summer, model it by offering educational activities students will choose over watching TV, playing video games, or whatever else they fall into when there’s nothing to do.

Here are favorites that my students love…

Help Students Select the Right Summer School

Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Alex Briggs, has an interesting take on summer school, why you should start thinking about it now–in the Fall–and how to do that. I think you’ll find this interesting.

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6 Tech Activities for Your Summer School Program

With the growing interest in tech comes a call for summer school programs that supersize student enthusiasm for technology. If you’ve been tasked (or voluntold) to run this activity, here are six activities that will tech-infuse participants:

Debate

Working in groups, students research opposite sides of an issue, then debate it in front of class. They tie arguments to class reading, general knowledge as well as evidence from research. They take evidence-based questions and look for information that will convince them which side is right. This is an exercise as much for presenters as audience, and is graded on reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

Debates help students grasp critical thinking and presentation skills, including:

  • abstract thinkingsummer school
  • analytical thinking
  • citizenship/ethics/etiquette
  • clarity
  • critical thinking
  • distinguishing fact from opinion
  • establishing/defending point of view
  • identifying bias
  • language usage
  • organization
  • perspective-taking
  • persuasion
  • public speaking
  • teamwork
  • thinking on their feet—if evidence is refuted, students must ‘get back into game’
  • using research authentically

Basics

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How to Clean Up Google Classroom for the Summer

As you end your school year, there are lots of details that must be taken care of . If you use Google Classroom, here’s a list, created by Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Scott Winstead:

How to Clean Up Google Classroom for the Summer

As the school year comes to an end, teachers everywhere are getting ready for summer break. For many, this means cleaning out classrooms and organizing materials for the next year. However, it’s not just your physical classroom that needs to be cleaned and organized at the end of the year.

If you’re a teacher who uses Google Classroom, there’s one more task to add to your list: cleaning up your virtual classroom. 

I know, it sounds like a pain. One more thing to add to the list. But not to worry, it’s nowhere near as hard as it sounds. You’re just tying up loose ends and creating a blank state for the following school year. Just a little work now will help you to stay organized over summer break and make it easier to get started again in the fall. 

In this article, I’ll share the four simple steps you can take to close up your Google Classroom for the year in a neat, organized fashion. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Make sure all work is graded and returned.

The first step to close out your year in Google Classroom is make sure all student work has been graded and returned to them. You can do this on an individual assignment basis, but that might prove to be a huge job, with loads of assignments. Luckily, there’s an easy way to handle it all at once.

One in your Google Classroom, click the hamburger menu in the top right of your dashboard. From there, you’ll see a menu item that says “To-do” or “To Review.” You’ll then see your classes with assignments that have either been assigned, turned in, or graded. The turned in column is what you need to pay attention to. You still need to process these and get them back to your students.

To do so, just click “Turned In” assignments, then grade the assignments if necessary, and click “Return” to give them back to your students.

Not only will this clean things up for you, but it will also return ownership of individual assignments to the students. This allows them to keep the assignment even if you delete it all on your end.

Once finished, you can click the three vertical dots next to each assignment you returned and mark them as reviewed to finish cleaning up your list.

Step 2: Clean up your Classroom folder.

First and foremost, notice I didn’t say to delete your Classroom folder. In fact, let me say this as plainly as I can… do NOT delete your Classroom folder. This folder is created when you first set up your Google Classroom account. Deleting it can cause a lot of problems.

What you want to do is clean up the sub folders within the main folder. When you create individual classes, Google Classroom will create a subfolder for each class in your Classroom folder. Each of these folders will contain folders such as assignments.

If you want, you can delete all of this. But a lot of it is probably worth saving, and it’s likely you have plenty of drive space to do so. In that case, you could do something like create a subfolder for the school year in your Google Drive, and move all of the individual classes into it. Simple, easy, clean, and you lose nothing.

Step 3: Clean up Google Classroom calendars.

Just as Google Classroom automatically creates subfolders for each class you create, it also creates individual calendars that include due dates for everything you assign. And similar to your Classroom folder, I say “clean up” because you don’t want to just go in and delete everything right off the bat.

It’s important to note that if you delete all your calendars without saving anything, you might regret it. Referencing back to old assignments, due dates etc. can be helpful when planning for a new year, so I recommend saving your Google Classroom calendars before you delete them.

You can do this by saving as PDFs, printing them out if you want paper copies, or taking screenshots.

Once you’ve saved what you want, it’s time to hide or delete your old Google Classroom Calendars. It’s pretty easy. Just go to Google Apps next to your icon at the top right of the screen. Click on “Google Calendar.” Then scroll down and on the left, you’ll see the list of all your calendars.

Each calendar can either be hidden or deleted. To hide, click the three vertical dots and select “hide from list.” To delete, click “Settings and sharing.” Then scroll to the very bottom of the page and click “Delete.” You’ll be asked to confirm. If you’re sure, click “Permanently Delete.” Repeat for each calendar you want to get rid of.

Step 4: Archive your classes.

Almost done! This is probably the most important step when it comes to cleaning up your Google Classroom for summer break. Archiving your classroom does the following:

1) It freezes everything so students can’t make any changes.

2) It hides the class from your current view.

3) It makes your integrated meet link inactive.

To archive a class, go to the main page where you see all your classes. Click on the three vertical dots of the class you want to archive, and then click “Archive” from the dropdown. You’ll get a message asking you to confirm. Click “Archive” again and your class will disappear from the main screen. Quick and easy.

Note, you can get a class back after archiving by restoring. It’s not the same as deleting.

There you have it. Four simple steps and your Google Classroom is now ready for Summer Break. Enjoy your time off and rest easy knowing your Google Classroom will be nice and tidy at the start of next school year!

Bio

Scott Winstead is the founder of MyElearningWorld.com where he has shared his expertise in eLearning and instructional design for the past decade. 

–Images credit to Deposit Photos


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

end of school year

12 Tech Tasks To End the School Year

I posted this a few years ago, skipped the topic with all the craziness of the pandemic, and am updating it this year in articles about how to wrap up your school year.:

Wrapping up your school technology for the summer is as complicated as setting it up in September. There are endless backups, shares, cleanings, changed settings, and vacation messages that — if not done right — can mean big problems when you return from summer vacation. If you have a school device, a lot of the shutdown steps will be done by the IT folks as they backup, clean, reformat, and maybe re-image your device. If you have a personal device assigned by the school but yours to take home, the steps may be more numerous but really, not more complicated.

Here’s a list. Skip those that don’t apply to you and complete the rest. I won’t take time in this article (I’m over 800 words right now) for a how-to on each activity so if you don’t know how to complete one, check with your IT folks or Google it:

Make sure your firewall and antivirus programs are working.

Many computers come with a built-in one to keep viruses and malware out that slow your computer. Sometimes, they seem to turn off by themselves (I have no idea why). Check to be sure yours is active. If you have a Chromebook or an iPad, don’t even worry about this.

Clean out your documents.

Sort through the documents you collected this year and get rid of those you don’t need anymore. It’s intimidating, like a file cabinet that hasn’t been opened in months –- or years — and is covered with spider webs. If you don’t do this regularly, the computer must finger through these unused files every time you search. If you hate throwing anything away, create an ‘Old’ folder, toss them all in it, and save that to a flash drive or in the cloud.

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4 ways to use Tract in the classroom

If you haven’t heard of Tract, it’s a new way to inspire students to become lifelong learners. The platform focuses on student growth and learning rather than state or international standards (it does meet them–just don’t look for that in the detail). The purpose of its videos, hands-on projects, and more is to spark student creativity, empower them to explore their own passions at their own pace. Lessons are given by high school and college-age peers who clearly show their love of the subject. Students engage through tasks, projects, and peer interaction. Content is vetted, curated, and reviewed by teachers to ensure its educational rigor.

Click for a more detailed review of Tract or visit Tract’s website here.

When I dug into Tract, one (of many) pieces that appealed to me was how well it fit into so many parts of a student’s education journey. Here are a few of my favorites:

Afterschool program

It’s challenging to persuade students to think deeply, especially after a long day of learning. Using Tract as an afterschool program changes that. This can be a one-day activity or longer.

Here’s how it works:

  • Students pick a subject from the many offered by Tract, watch a peer-presented video on the subject (like how to make mac and cheese or what are some careers with animals), and complete a project which is shared with classmates.
  • If students are inspired to dig deeper than what is shown in the Tract learning path, you can have them research in the ways used in your school–online, classroom books, or something else.
  • When the project is finished, students present it to classmates, maybe parents, as an evening event, a virtual event, or during the program time.

Summer program

I often use student-choice activities in summer programs. They are student-directed, student-driven, and provide a plethora of differentiation for varied student interests. The problem is, too often, they become complicated to administer and confusing to follow. That won’t be the case with Tract. It offers plenty of choices to students, presented as an easy-to-understand step-by-step process that is intuitive and clear, and fulfills the platform’s promise to be inspiring and engaging.

Here’s what you do:

  • After students sign up for your summer class, ask them to pick either among Tract’s many learning paths or from a group suggest by you that fits the summer school theme.
  • Students can work individually or in groups as they dig into the topic and complete the project(s).
  • If students require it, offer training in video production for youngers or those not comfortable creating their own learning path.
  • Students present their completed missions to the group or parents.

Depending upon the length of the summer program, you can offer one or more learning path opportunities. This option is easily adapted to remote or hybrid learning because everything can be done online, including the presentations (using a platform like Google Meet or Zoom).

Enrichment program for high achievers

Enriched learning for high-achieving students, like GATE (Gifted and Talented), Honors, AP (Advanced Placement), and IB (International Baccalaureate), often requires teachers augment daily class activities with additional lesson plans and resources. Tract simplifies that process to where it barely takes any additional teacher time. Students who finish regular work select and pursue topics offered through the Tract platform that build student creativity, critical thinking, and independence.  Because these learning paths are intuitive and peer-to-peer, they require minimal adult guidance and give students considerable independence in their work.

Here’s how it works:

  • Students finish the regular curriculum requirements and then access the Tract Learning Paths to select one that appeals to them or one from a group suggested by the teacher.
  • Because these projects are designed to be student-driven, teachers can expect students to work independently at their own pace.

Tract is available online which means inside and outside the classroom, anywhere the student is. High-achieving students appreciate that learning isn’t confined to the four walls of the school building.

A nice side benefit: These projects are enticing enough that other students will want to try them. Of course they can, once they, too, finish the assigned work.

Develop SEL 

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. The importance of SEL has made it a sought-after add-on to a school’s curriculum. Unfortunately, too often when I talk to colleagues, SEL has become another layer on top of an already bursting education day. There are SEL curricula, rubrics, toolkits, videos, parent guidelines, and more. You’ll be happy to know if you’re enrolled in Tract, you don’t need any of those:

“Using Tract can help to promote the development of social-emotional learning skills as students become self-aware as they design their own project and track growth, build social awareness as they learn from their peers, and build relationships during the learning process.” – Rachelle Denè Poth, Getting Smart

The most effective way to develop social-emotional learning in students is to make it integral to their education. That’s what Tract does.

***

If you want to put project-based, peer-to-peer learning into practice, you’ve found the right platform with Tract. Be one of the first 1,000 to request access at teach.tract.app. Use the access code ASKATECHTEACHER to get your free Tract teacher account.

–This post is sponsored by Tract. All opinions are my own.

#tractapp


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Here’s How to Motivate Summer School Students

When you have to compete with a warm sun, sandy beaches, and playful friends, motivating students in summer school can be a daunting challenge. The best first step, right after introducing yourself, is to understand why students are with you rather than with friends or playing online games. Their reasons could be to try something new, make up for a class they failed, get ahead of classes they must take, or something else. Their answers to this question will guide you in how you teach the class. Once you know their reasons, be honest with them on how you will help them meet their goals. In general terms, you want them to know you’ll do your best to make their summer experience worthwhile, get them through the material, and help them pass the required exams with the grades they need. I’ve talked about best practices for teaching. Let’s today cover how to get students through the summer learning experience:

Make the class interesting

There are a lot of ways to teach a topic that satisfies curriculum demands. For example, you can fill in worksheets, watch videos, complete group projects, or work independently. Pick an approach that is 1) different from how you teach during the school year, and 2) fits your student group.

While you’re changing the approach, also change the setting. Teach class in a park, in a museum’s group learning room, at a restaurant over a meal, in someone’s home, or in the school auditorium. Here’s the logic behind that: Students react well to change. Do you remember the Hawthorne Effect Study? Done in the 1930’s (and redone in different ways many times afterwards), researchers examined how different aspects of the work environment (i.e., lighting, the timing of breaks, and the length of the workday) affected employee productivity. What they found wasn’t what they expected. The biggest impact on productivity came from simply paying attention to the workers and their environment. Let your summer school students experience this motivator. Change their learning ecosystem and watch how much harder they work simply because you care enough to pay attention.

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end of school year

12 Tech Tasks To End the School Year

Wrapping up your school technology for the summer is as complicated as setting it up in September. There are endless backups, shares, cleanings, changed settings, and vacation messages that — if not done right — can mean big problems when you return from summer vacation. If you have a school device, a lot of the shutdown steps will be done by the IT folks as they backup, clean, reformat, and maybe re-image your device. If you have a personal device assigned by the school but yours to take home, the steps may be more numerous but really, not more complicated.

Here’s a list. Skip those that don’t apply to you and complete the rest. I won’t take time in this article (I’m at about 1000 words right now) for a how-to on each activity so if you don’t know how to complete one, check with your IT folks or Google it:

Make sure your firewall and antivirus programs are working.

Many computers come with a built-in one to keep viruses and malware out that slow your computer. Sometimes, they seem to turn off by themselves (I have no idea why). Check to be sure yours is active. If you have a Chromebook or an iPad, don’t even worry about this.

Clean out your documents.

Sort through the documents you collected this year and get rid of those you don’t need anymore. It’s intimidating, like a file cabinet that hasn’t been opened in months –- or years — and is covered with spider webs. If you don’t do this regularly, the computer must finger through these unused files every time you search. If you hate throwing anything away, create an ‘Old’ folder, toss them all in it, and save that to a flash drive or in the cloud.

(more…)

summer learning

Looking for Summer Activities? Try These

This summer will be different than other summers. COVID has changed how we address summer PD so I’ve collected the most popular AATT articles on how to spend your education time this summer. Pick the ones that suit your purposes:

6 Must-reads for This Summer–2020 edition

Summer for me is nonstop reading — in an easy chair, under a tree, lying on the lawn, petting my dog. Nothing distracts me when I’m in the reading zone. What I do worry about is running out of books so this year, I spent the last few months stalking efriends to find out what they recommend to kickstart the 2020-21 school year. And it paid off. I got a list of books that promise to help teachers do their job better, faster, and more effectively but there are too many. Since I covered a mixture of books in a past article, many on pedagogy, this time, I decided to concentrate on content that could facilely move from my reading chair into the classroom.

I came up with six. See what you think:

10 Books You’ll Want to Read This Summer–2019 edition

Summer is a great time to reset your personal pedagogy to an education-friendly mindset and catch up on what’s been changing in the ed world while you were teaching eight ten hours a day. My Twitter friends, folks like @mrhowardedu and @Coachadamspe, gave me great suggestions on books to read that I want to share with you…

5 Favorite Apps for Summer Learning

Summer has a reputation for being nonstop relaxation, never-ending play, and a time when students stay as far from “learning” as they can get. For educators, those long empty weeks result in a phenomenon known as “Summer Slide” — where students start the next academic year behind where they ended the last.

“…on average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning…” (Brookings)

This doesn’t have to happen. Think about what students don’t like about school. Often, it revolves around repetitive schedules, assigned grades, and/or being forced to take subjects they don’t enjoy. In summer, we can meet students where they want to learn with topics they like by offering a menu of ungraded activities that are self-paced, exciting, energizing, and nothing like school learning. We talk about life-long learners (see my article on life-long learners). This summer, model it by offering educational activities students will choose over watching TV, playing video games, or whatever else they fall into when there’s nothing to do.

Here are favorites that my students love…

(more…)

6 Must-reads for This Summer

Summer for me is nonstop reading — in an easy chair, under a tree, lying on the lawn, petting my dog. Nothing distracts me when I’m in the reading zone. What I do worry about is running out of books so this year, I spent the last few months stalking efriends to find out what they recommend to kickstart the 2020-21 school year. And it paid off. I got a list of books that promise to help teachers do their job better, faster, and more effectively but there are too many. Since I covered a mixture of books in a past article, many on pedagogy, this time, I decided to concentrate on content that could facilely move from my reading chair into the classroom.

I came up with six. See what you think:

Bold School: Old School Wisdom + New School Technologies = Blended Learning That Works

by Weston Kieschnick

In Bold School, Kieschnick lays out an effective, workable education framework that blends common sense with technology while reminding teachers that tech is a useful tool for achieving pedagogic goals, not the opposite.

Why did I pick this book: I’m a longtime teacher who’s sold on technology as a tool but I don’t want it to be the goal. I like how Kieschnick walks teachers through a blend of traditional education wisdom that is kicked up a notch with tech. To me, that’s the best way to use technology to enrich lessons while we meet students where they want to learn. It doesn’t hurt that John Hattie — one of my idols — endorses this approach, calling it “…an essential part of every educator’s toolbox.”

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