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6 Student Options for Making a Digital Avatar Character


So your students want to make a Bitmoji or Facebook Avatar but they're too young or it isn't school appropriate? This list of alternative options for building digital characters is the solution, and some of them are even educational!
So your students want to make a Bitmoji or Facebook Avatar but they're too young or it isn't school appropriate? This list of alternative options for building digital characters is the solution, and some of them are even educational!

In no particular order, here are the digital character builders you can use to have students make their own avatar:

Mini-Mizer (requires flash)

This one is so much fun for kids because the end result looks like a lego mini figure!

Create Your Avatar

Great option for students with an email address (that is how they save the final image).

Avatar Builder Digital Glyph

This option combines digital literacy and the fun of making a character. Students have to copy and paste across slides (In Google Slides or PowerPoint) and then resize the pieces to layer together to build the Avatar. They can make as many variations as they want!

Made with Code Avatar Project (hopefully still available for a while)


The Made with Code project teaches students about coding concepts while they build a character. There are only "girl" options but it is versatile enough for most elementary age kids to be able to use it. This activity is part of a Coding Lesson I have for 3rd graders on k5tech.net and you can try it for free - Code an Avatar Lesson Page

Build a Character Digital Glyph

The build a character digital glyph is perfect for primary grades students and it is educational! Students build their tech skills by needing to copy and paste across slides and resize the pieces to fit.

Portrait Avatar Maker

The portrait avatar maker is so simple yet gets the job done. Students will love seeing how theirs turns out!

How are you using these digital characters in the classroom? Students love to have an avatar that looks like them as their profile picture and it is a safer alternative to a real photo. I think it is important to have a conversation with students about their digital reputations before they make their avatars so that they can think through which private information about their physical appearance they want to share. We also chat about how when we are looking at a profile picture online, we have no way of knowing if that is really the way the person looks. All important topics of discussion! 

There you have it! 6 Alternatives to Bitmojis and Facebook Avatars for Students to use to build their own characters. Pin this post to get back to later and share it with your teacher and parent friends! 
So your students want to make a Bitmoji or Facebook Avatar but they're too young or it isn't school appropriate? This list of alternative options for building digital characters is the solution, and some of them are even educational!



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Brittany Washburn
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Tips for Using Google Forms in the Classroom


Google has so many amazing ways that teachers and students can use it, and Google Forms is one of the best ways to collect research, survey the students, or have them submit assignments. It is so simple to use, it saves you time, and you can get all the data in a spreadsheet when you’re done.

Google has so many amazing ways that teachers and students can use it, and Google Forms is one of the best ways to collect research, survey the students, or have them submit assignments. It is so simple to use, it saves you time, and you can get all the data in a spreadsheet when you’re done.

If you’re not familiar with Google Drive, this is where you can begin to build your Google Forms. When you go to create a new file, click on Forms, and you are on your way!

Quick Tips For Google Forms

1. Make the instructions clear.
When you set up your form remember to give instructions for the form. If the form is not an anonymous survey or research project, then make sure to have a section for the student’s name at the beginning. 

2. Make sure to ask for the student’s name at the beginning of the survey.
I’ve made the mistake before where I didn’t have the name of the students who submitted forms. Unless you ask for a name, it might be difficult to know who completed the assignment or survey.

3. Explore the different question options.
What’s this research project all about? Should the answers be long or short answer. Should they be check boxes, a Likert Scale, multiple choice. Think through the best ways to organize and simplify the research.

4. Use Section Headings When Necessary
Depending on the intensity of your research, you might need to have multiple sections. If your using forms for assignments, you might have multiple choice questions first, and then loger paragraph or short answers sections next. If only Google Forms could do all the grading for you too. 

5. Connect your forms to Google Classroom!
If you need your class to do a form or a survey or a quiz or a short story, just add it to an assignment and post it in the stream of your Google Classroom. You can even put a due date, and return assignments, just like paper--but no paper!


Ways To Use Google Forms:

Now that you have fully explored how incredible Google Forms is, and all the different ways you can set it up, here’s ways you can use it! 

1. Quick polling, surveys, or voting.
What is your favorite ice cream? How tall are you? Dogs or cats? Instagram or TikTok? Who will represent our classroom in the Student Council? With Google Forms you can quickly set up a survey and see a live pie chart of what people choose. 

2. Research for a project.
Whether you are doing research as a teacher, or your students are doing research for an assignment, Google Forms are a great way to collect raw data anonymously. You can collect data in the classroom, from teachers, parents, administrators, or anyone in the community. 

3. Social Emotional Check-ins
How are you feeling today? What is one tough thing that happened this week? What is one good thing that happened this week? Is there anything that you want your teacher to know? Google Forms is a GREAT way to check in with students who might not always be open to tell you exactly how they are feeling. It also gives you a chance to encourage and compliment students that are having a tough time at home.

4. Assignments or Quizzes
If you create a Google Form in your Drive, you can actually connect that to an assignment in Google classroom. Students may even be able to submit questions for an upcoming test or quiz.


How have you used Google Forms in your classroom? It’s so amazing how easy and useful it is!

Google has so many amazing ways that teachers and students can use it, and Google Forms is one of the best ways to collect research, survey the students, or have them submit assignments. It is so simple to use, it saves you time, and you can get all the data in a spreadsheet when you’re done.

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3 Types Of Internet Scavenger Hunts To Use During Distance Learning


If you haven’t done it yet, there are a lot of ways to spice up your classroom facetime zoom skype google video chats! Believe it or not, there are plenty of games that you can play via the video classroom. One of the most popular types of games is the Internet Scavenger Hunt.
If you haven’t done it yet, there are a lot of ways to spice up your classroom facetime zoom skype google video chats! Believe it or not, there are plenty of games that you can play via the video classroom. One of the most popular types of games is the Internet Scavenger Hunt.

So, there are a lot of ways that you can plan this hunt.

1. “Find It In Your House” Scavenger Hunt


Your scavenger hunt could be that the students have to run around their house and find something to show on the screen. This could be an animal, pencil, cup, food item, whatever it might be. It’s a race!

2. “Research Assignment” Internet Scavenger Hunt


Another way that you can create a scavenger hunt is to assign a list of questions that the students have to find answers to and submit as an assignment. In this case they could have answers that are recorded, videos, memes, pictures, or music. The problem with this type of hunt is the issue of grading and going through all the answers--it could take a lot of time.

But, it makes for a more interesting and reframed way to do a research assignment. It could be a lot of fun with the right theme. Any teacher in any class could have a themed assignment called a scavenger hunt that is also research for a topic in history, math, music, art, religion, whatever it might be. It’s a fun way to reframe what students might consider otherwise boring work.

3. “Whoever Can Google It Fastest” Internet Scavenger Hunt


Lastly, my favorite type of scavenger hunt is the “whoever can find it the fastest” internet scavenger hunt. In your Video Chat window, you ask a question that the students have to find an answer to online, and then they can type it in the chat box with a link or an answer. Whoever has the best answer first, gets the point. These types of searches can also be integrated into the first two types of scavenger hunts.

It doesn’t just have to be a google-able question. You can also make it a contest like, “Whoever has the best dance moves in the video chat,” and then get the students to vote.

Here are some Internet Scavenger Hunt Questions:

If you haven’t done it yet, there are a lot of ways to spice up your classroom facetime zoom skype google video chats! Believe it or not, there are plenty of games that you can play via the video classroom. One of the most popular types of games is the Internet Scavenger Hunt.

     What’s the weather in Tokyo?
     What is a history fact today?
     What’s the number one billboard song today?
     Top 3 endangered species?
     What famous person has a birthday today?
     How long is the longest sandwich?
     Who is the oldest person in the world right now?
     What saint day is it today?
     What is the top local news story?
     What country has the most picasso paintings?
     What is the most popular dance on tik tok?
     Do the most popular dance on tik tok...
     What is the funniest taco meme?
     What is the next marvel movie coming out?
     What is the most popular teen novel right now?
     What was the most popular country to travel to before coronavirus?


Have you done any fun games or scavenger hunts with your classes before? Let me know in the comments! 
Pin this post to get back to later:
If you haven’t done it yet, there are a lot of ways to spice up your classroom facetime zoom skype google video chats! Believe it or not, there are plenty of games that you can play via the video classroom. One of the most popular types of games is the Internet Scavenger Hunt.

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May Activities for the Computer Lab and Distance Learning


Digital Activities for grades k-5 for May that can be used in the computer lab or at home during distance learning.
Normally these monthly blog posts are a round up of the activities that can be used for the month in the computer lab. Since schools are closed right now, we have to pivot a bit. Luckily, almost everything that makes a great computer lab lesson also makes a great distance learning activity! Check out these recommended digital resources for May. 

How to use this blog post: find the grade level you're interested in and then read about the activities. Click on any images to go to the product description to learn more about it. You'll see some activities in multiple grade levels. This either means that differentiation is provided to make the lesson appropriate for multiple grade levels, or it includes multiple grade levels of activities for the tech lab.

Kindergarten Digital Activities for May

Timely Tech can be the main activity for the month of May. Kindergarten students can do the activities for Shades of meaning, synonyms, and word families. 
We can bring some math instruction into tech lessons with digital hundreds charts with a Cinco de Mayo theme. 
A favorite every month is digital pixel art. The level 1 option for these is perfect for Kindergarten because it works on their mouse or trackpad skills with all drag and drop practice. 

First Grade Digital Activities for May 

For the main activity for 1st grade for May, students can complete the software lessons with a keyboard theme. If you're assigning these during distance learning, you'll want to make your own instructional videos based on the devices your students have at home. 
First grade students get to pick between level 1 and 2 of the digital pixel art. They have so much fun completing the designs that they don't realize all of the mouse practice they're getting. 
Then first graders can finish up the slides that Kindergarten didn't do in the Timely Tech set for May. These activities work in Google Slides or PowerPoint. 

Second Grade Digital Activities for May

These digital puzzles are harder than they look, which makes them a great warm up activity for any grade level. Second grade students can handle the first level that is included in this set. 
The main activity for May for second grade can be Timely Tech. The slides on Number words, Decorate an apple for teacher appreciation, Make new words, Sort by Syllables, Sight words mystery picture, May prompts, Shapes flowers should keep them busy across several sessions. 
A great early finisher activity that ties together tech and math is spreadsheet mystery pictures. These activities require students to follow directions to fill in each cell in the chart. The level 1 option is great for 2nd grade. 

Third Grade Digital Activities for May

Digital Pixel Art makes a great warm up activity for any grade level. 3rd grade usually does well with level 2 or 3, depending on the skills they have. 
Depending on when the end of your school year is, 3rd graders can start the End of Year Memory eBook and work on it over several sessions. There are 17 digital activity slides, so you can pick and choose which you want your students to fill out. Most years I split the slides between 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades so that each year they complete one that is different. 
Students can practice a bunch of skills at once while completing a Mother's Day Digital Card with this digital glyph card. Younger students could probably do this activity with help but might get frustrated working with the tiny shape pieces. 

Fourth Grade Digital Activities for May

A great warm up activity during the month of May for 4th grade is digital multiplication and division review. I like to use this with 5th grade students too since they can always use the practice. 
4th grade students love to complete these digital end of year slides. I pick 5 or 6 slides for each grade level (3-5th) to complete. 
For an early finisher activity for the month of May, 4th grade students can do the first half of this Timely Tech set. This includes the slides for decoding, make a chart, search practice, vocabulary scramble, and fact or opinion. Sometimes I also duplicate a few of the coding slides for 4th graders to complete too. 

Fifth Grade Digital Activities for May

Level 4 of the digital pixel art makes for great keyboard shortcut practice for 5th grade students. This set makes a great warm up activity for the month. 
5th grade students can do the rest of the slides from Timely Tech for May as the main activity. This includes crossword puzzle typing, digital math, coding, and creating an infographic and diagram. 
The digital End of Year Memory Book is a big hit with all of the grade levels. I let 5th grade students choose their slides since they "graduate" from elementary school. 
There you have it. Digital Activities for grades k-5 for May that can be used in the computer lab or at home during distance learning. Pin this blog post to get back to later:
Digital Activities for grades k-5 for May that can be used in the computer lab or at home during distance learning.



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5 Tips on Assessing Google Slides Presentations


Google Slides is free, easy to use, and a great place to start for your students to showcase their research, learning, and creativity. Even if you use another slide presentation application, use these 5 tips to cement your rubric!
With the new normal relating to coronavirus, we as teachers are doing our very best to get creative in our communication, assignments, and assessment. Google Slides is free, easy to use, and a great place to start for your students to showcase their research, learning, and creativity. Even if you use another slide presentation application, use these 5 tips to cement your rubric!

1) It’s All About The Content

Just like any work your students do, you are going to be assessing the content of the presentation. That content is going to let you know how well the student understands the content of the class. Whether their content is a ton of words in the presentation, or they give a speech with little enhancement with the slides, that’s where the bulk of their grade is going from.

For example, if they are doing a math presentation, some students may struggle making the presentation look pretty, but they know the content and what they are talking about in the presentation. An exception to this rule might be if the presentation is about Google Slide presentations...That would need both a good content and demonstration of their knowledge of Google Slides.

2) Give Points For Creativity!

Maybe this student is weak on content and understanding, but they are amazing in the beautification of a presentation. As a teacher, you can tell that the student put a lot of effort into building their Google Slides. They picked a nice theme, they added in effective transitions and sounds, they have pictures and videos that explain the theme of the presentation. They may not totally understand, but they nailed it with their Google Slides.

3) Creativity Should Enhance The Presentation (Not Distract!)

If the audience can’t read it, or are distracted with silliness, then the content doesn’t matter. Students don’t always understand that they can’t just choose the colors of their favorite basketball team, but they need to think about their audience. You might be able to read black on red, but your audience can’t read back on red. If the background and the text aren’t TOTALLY CLEAR, then it doesn’t work.

Let’s your students know that it’s okay to simply pick a theme and color scheme from the Google Slide templates. The themes and color schemes exist because they are readable and not distractions. Then they can get to work on the meat of the presentation.
This can be kind of a difficult thing for a younger student to understand, but just because you got a big laugh with a crazy transition sound, doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for your presentation on the Holocaust or Climate Change. My personal opinion is that it’s fine to know how to add sounds to Powerpoint, but more often than not, sounds in the background or for transitions are super distracting. Use them sparingly!

4) Connecting Voice To The Presentation

Maybe you have a very clever student presenter and all they have on their Google Slides are relevant memes or pictures. Any good slide presentation is really an enhancement of the presenter’s voice. The voice of the student and how they use the Google Slides to help and make the content memorable is super important.

A presentation challenge for the students: have them do a presentation that is ONLY pictures or memes. This type of Google Slide presentation is really impressive way to demonstrate their knowledge, organizational skills, and presenting ability.

5) Be Open To Something Off The Wall

In general, less is probably more in a Google Slide presentation, but there are still so many ways for students to express their creativity in Google Slides to make a great presentation.

Maybe you have a student who is usually nervous giving live presentations. Give them the opportunity to record their presentation instead of be live. They could even make a slide with a video recording for each section of their presentation.

Ask yourself:

Did they have effective media and pictures in the slides?
Did they use transitions and animations appropriately?
Did they embed a video or music to enhance the presentation?
Did they make a graph or pie chart?
Did they add boxes or bullet points or shapes for emphasis?

Google Slides is a simple easy to use tool, and if students have a grasp on the variety they can create within it, then they’ll be able to transition to other presentation applications with greater ease.

To help students understand all the ways to make a presentation presentable, you can do a presentation on what makes a good (or bad) Google Slide Presentation. Have fun with it!

How do you assess presentations in your classroom? Are you mostly looking for content, or do you also grade the actual slide presentation?  Let me know in the comments!


Google Slides is free, easy to use, and a great place to start for your students to showcase their research, learning, and creativity. Even if you use another slide presentation application, use these 5 tips to cement your rubric!

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Web Based Digital Activities for Any Device and How To Make Your Own


Are you so sick of hearing students or parents say that an activity you sent them won't work on their device? The struggle is real when we are asking them to download apps, log in to platforms, and open browsers across different device types. The only thing that currently works on any type of device and in any browser is HTML5.
Are you so sick of hearing students or parents say that an activity you sent them won't work on their device? The struggle is real when we are asking them to download apps, log in to platforms, and open browsers across different device types. The only thing that currently works on any type of device and in any browser is HTML5.

We spend so much time looking for and testing out digital activities for our students. There is almost nothing worse than finding the perfect activity for a standard and then finding out half of your students don't have the right program, app, or device to be able to use it!

Even worse, students needing accounts to be able to use a platform means that we have to get their information to them and hope they keep track of it or remember it.

Wouldn't it be so much easier to find (or create) activities that you know will work on any device and just need to share the URL with students? I'd love to teach you how! Fair warning - my tutorials aren't free. Keep reading if you're still interested.

For the tools I'm about to share, the official tutorials are in my Premium Member's Library - The Technology Toolbox for Teachers. If you're a teacher or a homeschooling parent wanting to learn about edtech tools, the Tech Toolbox membership is for you!

Do you want to be able to make activities like:
  • Drag and Drop
  • Find the Hotspot
  • Memory Match
  • Flashcards
  • Image Sequencing
  • Image Pairing (matching)
  • Word Search
  • Drag the Words
  • Fill in the Blanks
  • And more!
Are you so sick of hearing students or parents say that an activity you sent them won't work on their device? The struggle is real when we are asking them to download apps, log in to platforms, and open browsers across different device types. The only thing that currently works on any type of device and in any browser is HTML5.

Drum-roll please! The 2 digital tools I use to make HTML5 activities are:
Educaplay and H5P

Educaplay is great for beginners because everything is hosted right on their site with a free account.
Are you so sick of hearing students or parents say that an activity you sent them won't work on their device? The struggle is real when we are asking them to download apps, log in to platforms, and open browsers across different device types. The only thing that currently works on any type of device and in any browser is HTML5.
Click here to try an Educaplay activity I made.

H5P is for more experienced users and is great because having the activities on your own platform gives you full control over site speed and student access. You can practice building activities on the H5P site, but there are limited plays if you share the link with students. You'll need a website to host these activities on if you want to get serious about making your own. I go over this in detail in the tutorial.

Click here to try some H5P activities that I built for my elementary technology curriculum.

To learn how to use each of these tools, register for the Technology Toolbox for Teachers.

Help me spread the word about HTML5 activities!

Instead of spending your weekends making these digital activities for your students, why not ask your favorite TpT sellers to start making them? You can send them to this blog post or give them the information below ( I have a course for sellers on making these digital activities to sell).

I've been making activities in HTML5 for years and it is time consuming. I have added over 100 H5P activities into my elementary technology curriculum and I also have a few separate units available with smaller sets of skills. I realized that I can't make them fast enough to keep up with the ideas that teachers are sharing with me. There is a real need for HTML5 activities for all subject areas!

If you're a teacher then the Tech Toolbox membership is how to learn about these tools.
If you're interested in making these activities to sell, I have a separate course for that. Click to learn more about my Digital Resources Course.
Are you so sick of hearing students or parents say that an activity you sent them won't work on their device? The struggle is real when we are asking them to download apps, log in to platforms, and open browsers across different device types. The only thing that currently works on any type of device and in any browser is HTML5.

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Starting a Classroom Newsletter Students Get Excited About


Classroom newsletters don't have to be dry and boring. Classroom newsletters can be super fun and enjoyable. The Newsletter is the most classic way to engage and keep engaging your audience. The same goes for the Classroom Newsletter. It is a great way to give updates, remind of upcoming events, and have fun with kids and parents.
Classroom newsletters don't have to be dry and boring. Classroom newsletters can be super fun and enjoyable. The Newsletter is the most classic way to engage and keep engaging your audience. The same goes for the Classroom Newsletter. It is a great way to give updates, remind of upcoming events, and have fun with kids and parents.

Here, I’ll show you how to get started with your newsletter and make it something students look forward to as much as they look forward to recess! The first thing you’ll need to do is choose a template to build your newsletter and a way to send your newsletter. .

Choosing Your Template Or Newsletter Platform

There are a few different options to make your template. Mailchimp and TinyLetter are a good place to start. The basic price plans are free, and they are super easy to use. You can put in links, videos, and pictures to keep your audience engaged. These platforms are also mobile friendly, meaning that when your students and parents check their email on their phone, they are easier to read.

Smore.com is another awesome Newsletter Building platform that gives all the templates away for free for educators! There you can choose from tons of possible templates to keep things beautiful in the letter you send.

Getting to choose the template of the newsletter for the week could even be a reward for students, or it could be picked on a rotation in the class.

If you’re not interested in another platform or application, you can also use whatever mail client you normally use to make a template. Most mail platforms have the basic word processing and allow you to add in pictures, embed videos, and change colors and size of font.

Next, What Goes In Your Newsletter?

The key to a good Newsletter is eye catching simplicity. Too much to read, or difficulty navigating, is quickly going to end up in the trash. Those long, repetitive, too much emails are why Newsletters of all kinds get such a terrible reputation. But you know what your students want, you know what keeps their attention, keep it fun and interesting and they will look forward to your amazing email!

Here are some ideas on how to organize and sections of your newsletter.

Welcome Section.

This is a short and sweet hello, what has class been up to, and what is in this newsletter that matters to YOU. It might be quick update of upcoming events and links to what the students/parents need to do to prepare.

The Welcome Section could even be a quick video that you or a student puts together like quick announcements. Each week a different student could make the welcome video for the newsletter.

The Meat In The Middle

There are so many ways you can build the meat in the middle of your newsletter. Ask the students to vote on what goes into it. Here is a list of ideas where students can submit work and creative media:
-       Jokes
-       Memes
-       Riddles
-       Student of the week
-       Sports section
-       Comic section
-       Special featuring student work--writing, poetry, art, music.
-       A short story that is “to be continued” each week
-       Pictures from past presentations, field trips, or events.
-       Recommended reading, videos, or math extras

Closing

Since you made a rockin’ newsletter, I’m sure the kids have made it all the way to the bottom. Which leads to another idea: have a riddle or joke at the beginning and then answer it at the end!

Anyway, at the end of the newsletter, it’s important to reiterate important upcoming deadlines or events. The newsletter may be fun, but it is also business.


While the possibilities are truly endless with what you can do, still try and keep it short and sweet. Give your students something to show off and new ways to connect with each other creatively. 
Classroom newsletters don't have to be dry and boring. Classroom newsletters can be super fun and enjoyable. The Newsletter is the most classic way to engage and keep engaging your audience. The same goes for the Classroom Newsletter. It is a great way to give updates, remind of upcoming events, and have fun with kids and parents.

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9 Quick Tips for Google Classroom


In no particular order, here are my 9 tips and tricks that you can use to be more efficient when using Google Classroom.

9 Quick Tips for Google Classroom

In no particular order, here are my 9 tips and tricks that you can use to be more efficient when using Google Classroom. 

1. Reuse assignments across multiple classes.

After you schedule an assignment for one class, go to the other class you want to schedule it for and click the + sign and hit the reuse button. Select the class you posted the other assignment in and choose the assignment you want to post.

2. Use Google Slides to Link Assignments

Make one master Google Slides file for the week to share with students. Then within the Google Slides file, link to each day’s assignment(s). That way students only need to find one assignment in Classroom.

3. Use Topics to Stay Organized

When students click on the Class Work Tab they can see each file organized by Topic if you take the time to organize your units into Topics. 

4. Use The Comment Bank to Speed Up Feedback

Copy and paste comments from the Comment Bank to speed up your process of giving students feedback.

5. Use the Slip-in-Slide Extension for Changes

If you change your document in google you have to reattach it to Classroom or the kids won’t get the new copy. OR, save yourself a ton of effort and use the browser extension to add a slide to all of the student copies!

6. Turn Off the Google Meets Icon in Classroom

Otherwise students can access the meet when you’re not there to present.

7. Turn Off Assignments Posting to the Stream

That way the Stream is used for announcements and is more likely students will actually see your important information.

8. Use Digital Stickers to Give Feedback

After students have turned in an assignment, add a private comment to give them feedback. Use Bitmojis or other digital stickers to add some color and positive reinforcement!

9. Use the Question Feature as an Exit Ticket

See what your students are learning with a quick exit ticket. Use the Question feature to have the answers all in one place.
Love tech tutorials and want more of them? Subscribe to the Technology Toolbox for Teachers. A one-stop library of technology tools tutorials for teachers. Click the image for more information and to see sample tutorials. 

Is there anything else you would add? Let me know in the comments! Otherwise, pin this post to get back to later. 
In no particular order, here are my 9 tips and tricks that you can use to be more efficient when using Google Classroom.
If you need your upper elementary students to know how to navigate a Google Classroom Assignment, check out this resource:

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Class Website 101


Do you have a class website yet? If you do, is it aimed mostly at parents or students? I would like to challenge you to change the way you think of class websites and move toward using yours like a Learning Management System.     The benefits are numerous, but the most important one is all of the time it will save you. Let me show you!
Do you have a class website yet? If you do, is it aimed mostly at parents or students? I would like to challenge you to change the way you think of class websites and move toward using yours like a Learning Management System.

The benefits are numerous, but the most important one is all of the time it will save you. Let me show you!

Reasons Why You Need a Class Website

In no particular order, these are 6 reasons why you need a class website:
1. Have everything in one place
2. Easy access to information for students and parents
3. Can replace a Learning Management System
4. Full control over your content
5. Set up each lesson once and then benefit from that effort for years!
6. Students develop digital literacy with regular use
This GIF is you after you've build your class website!

Picking a Website Builder Platform

There are some great website building platforms out there and you can use any one you like. I build mine in Weebly because I like the ease of the click and drag interface. Each lesson I build has some basic components that are the same, so using the features in weebly I am able to copy a page and then just change out a few elements for each lesson. 
If you need help with building a weebly website, I have a set of tutorials for teachers:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Class-Website-with-Weebly-Tutorials-3277862
Other platforms to consider include Google Sites, Wix, and Wordpress. There isn't a wrong choice here, it just depends on your comfort level with getting started. Weebly is by far the most user friendly website builder I've ever used.  

Things to Include in Your Class Website

Here are some things every class website needs:
1. Pages. Lots and lots of pages makes it more organized and accessible. Scrolling for days to find today's content is not student-friendly. You'll need a page for each lesson, a page for early finisher links, a page for your contact info, a page for announcements, etc.
Do you have a class website yet? If you do, is it aimed mostly at parents or students? I would like to challenge you to change the way you think of class websites and move toward using yours like a Learning Management System.     The benefits are numerous, but the most important one is all of the time it will save you. Let me show you!

2. Lesson Pages (see more on this in the next section)
3. Early Finisher links. This example  is what I use for grades 3-5 in the computer lab:
Do you have a class website yet? If you do, is it aimed mostly at parents or students? I would like to challenge you to change the way you think of class websites and move toward using yours like a Learning Management System.     The benefits are numerous, but the most important one is all of the time it will save you. Let me show you!

4. Your contact information possibly with an embedded form so that parents can submit it without needing to open their email app. 
5. Syllabus or information about your class like schedules and expectations. Consider making this page password protected so that the info couldn't get into the wrong hands.

How to Use Your Class Website Like a Learning Management System

Possibly my favorite part of having a class website for the past 7+ years is that I don't need a separate learning management system. I use a modified flipped classroom approach, which means that students watch instructional videos I made from their own computers instead of me standing in front of the class to give instruction. Check out this blog post if you need guidance for making instructional videos.

Here are the steps for creating a class website that can be used like a learning management system:
1. Set up each lesson on its own page. You'll thank yourself later if you take the time to do this. My class website has over 200 pages accessible from the main menu (teaching technology to grades k-5 means 40 weeks of lessons per grade level).

2. On each lesson page, include the instructions with text and video, link to the files for the students to use, and a way for them to turn it back in. Depending on the website builder you choose, there are options to have students upload a file. You can also use a tool like Padlet or a Google Form for students to upload assignments.
Do you have a class website yet? If you do, is it aimed mostly at parents or students? I would like to challenge you to change the way you think of class websites and move toward using yours like a Learning Management System.     The benefits are numerous, but the most important one is all of the time it will save you. Let me show you!

Do you have a class website yet? If you do, is it aimed mostly at parents or students? I would like to challenge you to change the way you think of class websites and move toward using yours like a Learning Management System.     The benefits are numerous, but the most important one is all of the time it will save you. Let me show you!

Do you have a class website yet? If you do, is it aimed mostly at parents or students? I would like to challenge you to change the way you think of class websites and move toward using yours like a Learning Management System.     The benefits are numerous, but the most important one is all of the time it will save you. Let me show you!
You can password protect the lesson pages if you have any files you've purchased from TpT that you want to pass to your students. Passwords keeps the files secure and keeps you out of DMCA trouble.
3. Create a space for announcements. Usually on the homepage. This is the area you'll plan to update regularly. The rest of the pages need to be built and then only maintained if plans change. Otherwise they are kind of like set it and forget it.

How to Use Your Class Website During School

One of the best parts of having a class website is using it!

Set up assignments that students access during the school day. It could be at centers or as an individual assignment. With everything set up on the lesson page, students can get right to work and then you can facilitate the lesson.

Walk around and help students individually as needed instead of lecturing from the front of the classroom! It is a game changer for your energy level and for student engagement.

Next year when you get to the same assignment, the work is already done! If you were using a learning management system you'd have to copy and paste the info for the assignment over again the next time. With a class website you can just double check that the links and files still work and you're good to go.

So, what do you think? Could you see yourself using a class website in this way? I'd love to see your site when you build it!

Do you have a class website yet? If you do, is it aimed mostly at parents or students? I would like to challenge you to change the way you think of class websites and move toward using yours like a Learning Management System.     The benefits are numerous, but the most important one is all of the time it will save you. Let me show you!


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Brittany Washburn
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