WeVideo for We The People by Kay Davidson

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As the struggle continues to make it to the end of the school year, I thought I’d share something I recently (and proudly) learned how to do, forced me to think out of the box, and accomplished with my Chromebook.

I am/was a Mac person.  I *loved* iMovie and it made all my presentations look very professional and I knew how to use it.  Recently, my MacBook Pro has been acting up and I needed to find another video editor for a project.  WeVideo has been in my toolbox for quite a while, but I chose not to use it because iMovie was more familiar to me.

The day came where I had no choice and had to learn WeVideo.  It was awesome!

WeVideo is an online video editor, much like iMovie. WeVideo is cloud based which made it convenient to work on my project in different locations – supporting the idea of anytime, anywhere. The other great thing about WeVideo is that you can work collaboratively on the same project in the cloud!

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WeVideo Overview

Support for WeVideo is very helpful and can be found on their Academy page which includes tutorials, lessons, and tips.  You can upload media from your computer, Google Drive, or even Facebook and include images, documents, video, and audio.  Logging into WeVideo is easy as well.  Use your Google account to get you started!  WeVideo can be used at all levels and subject areas.

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1:Web Agreement Video (all recorded on iPhone)

I made a couple of videos (see one above) and I have 27,850 hours and 140,000 GB of storage remaining.  Let’s just say I am not worried about running out of cloud space.

If you’d like to find out more information about using WeVideo in your classroom with your students or for personal use, please don’t hesitate to let me know!  It’s worth the effort!

 

 

Literacy Resources to Help All Teachers by Nathan Spencer

As a teacher of students who are many times reluctant readers, I try to find new and different ways to get them to become better readers. I am constantly on the lookout for what’s new, what’s engaging, what contains as much variety as possible, what features texts for students who are at different reading abilities, and what’s web based. In my years of looking, here are the best options I have found so far. Some of these you may have heard of, some you may not have heard of, but hopefully, I can introduce you to at least one new resource:

 

Newsela – Great for all teachers. This site has many stories, on all different kinds of subjects, and new stories are added every day. When you first sign up you will be given a free trial to the full site which allows you to set up students and classes, and allows students to submit answers to questions within the site.

The bad: Once the free trial is over, the site will no longer accept electronic student submissions. They won’t let you buy it for your classes, not even your department, they will only let you purchase it for the school. (At least in my experience.)

The good: you will still have access to all of the amazing content! You and the students can still access the stories, the students just can’t answer any of the comprehension questions unless you print the stories off with the question included, which is really easy to do. The writing prompt won’t be included in what you print off. But what I do to get past this problem is just copy and paste the writing prompt into a Google Doc, print it off, and add it to the packet. The best part about Newsela, in my opinion, is that it offers different reading levels for every story! For example, this story about the California drought being over, offers a 12th, 8th, 6th, 5th, and 3rd-grade reading level! Your whole class, no matter what their reading level, will now be able to read the same article! (This is HUGE for special education teachers.)

 

CommonLit – Again, great for all teachers, just because of its extensive library. You might not find as many articles related to physical education related topics, for example, as you might find in Newsela, due to the fact that the number of articles in Newsela is seemingly never ending. I love CommonLit because everything’s free. It will allow you to set up students and classes, assign texts, allows students to read and submit responses electronically, allows you to grade those responses electronically, and they don’t take any of it away like Newsela does!

Another cool feature of CommonLit is that it will allow you to discover paired texts of like topics within the site. Let’s say you are doing a unit on poetry, you find a poem you like, you are looking for more poems like the one you found, click the ‘paired texts’ tab, and voila, there that are! My other favorite feature is the ‘related media’ tab. Talking about President Lyndon Johnson in social studies class? Well, his ‘We Shall Overcome’ speech is available to read. But if you want to watch the speech, click on the ‘related media’ tab, and there it is! Also, as a bonus, there’s a clip of Martin Luther King’s ‘We Shall Overcome’ speech too! Finally, if you love a good class discussion, every lesson has a lot of great discussion questions.

 

ReadTheory – In my opinion, this site is best for language arts teachers, special education teachers, literacy coaches, and the like. The best feature of ReadTheory is that it contains leveled texts from 1st through 12th grade. The worst feature of ReadTheory is that it will only let you have free access to one of those texts every week. You can always browse the full inventory, but they all cost money. The next best feature of is that each ‘assessment’ (that’s what they call each text) comes with the text, some comprehension questions, a writing prompt, and then answers and explanations at the bottom. The next worst feature is that you have to print each text out in order for students to be able to submit anything more than an oral answer.

NoRedInk – “NoRedInk is on a mission to build better writers,” which is their company slogan. Therefore, it is different from the previous three sites I have mentioned and is geared more toward language arts, and reading and writing intervention classes. The first aspect of NoRedInk I appreciate is the fact that they try to keep students engaged with their interest-based curriculum. When a student first ‘logs’ into NoRedInk they will tell the program what books, television shows, movies, and entertainers they are interested in. So when they take the diagnostic test next, all of the questions will contain names of characters from their favorite books, shows, and movies.

The just mentioned diagnostic test is created by the teacher after they set up their students and classes into the program. There are so many categories from the world of language arts that teachers can choose from to put into the diagnostic test. Do your kids struggle with SWABIs, FANBOYS, and THAMOs? (And, I mean, what good teacher doesn’t know what all of those are?) If so, throw them into the diagnostic. My personal favorites are the commonly confused words and identifying sentences and fragments. The program even features diagnosis and practice with MLA citation.

Once the diagnostic has concluded, it’s the teacher’s job to find out how their students did, and decide what content their students need to practice. Everyone ace active and passive voice? Then why practice it? The class didn’t do so well on vague pronouns? You’d better add it as an assignment. You can even set up quizzes after you feel they’ve practiced a topic long enough. Want to know what the student version of NoRedInk looks like? They’ll even let you do that too!

In my opinion, the best part about NoRedInk is the data. I really don’t want to go into it, because I might be writing for a long time, but when you get in and play around, you’ll discover some new data pieces you’ve never seen before, almost every time you log into the program. I know I did for the first few months or so! Almost everything is ‘clickable’ and interactive, individualized and customizable. I like this site a lot! Check out NoRedInk right now! (Shout out to one of my favorite people in the world, Tim Ferriss, for letting me know that a website like NoRedInk even exists. [He is an investor.] If you don’t know who Tim Ferriss is, check him out too! [Mr. Ferriss is not an educator, more like a ‘Jack of all trades’ who has one of the most read blogs, and most listened to podcasts in the world.] By the way, I do not endorse everything he promotes.)

*** BONUS ***

The Kids Should See This – I have no idea where I found this website, but they send me an email every week showing the five most-watched videos of the week. A lot of them are really cool, like my favorite one from this week, Immunity and Vaccines Explained. If you played on the teacher basketball team, I already sent you video from this site entitled How to practice effectively…for just about anything. Just add your email address at the top of the homepage, push subscribe, and you’re good to go!

Class Dojo adds Community and Accountability to Classrooms by Lena Carroll

Classroom management. Easily one of the most challenging parts of teaching. I found that now in my eleventh year, it still is something that I have to factor into my daily instruction. However, I have found that it now looks a bit different than it did when I first started teaching and the purpose has changed as well. To me, classroom management isn’t just about keeping kids from putting gum in another kids hair (true story), screaming inappropriate things across the room, not being quiet and not staying in their seat when asked. To me, classroom management is keeping the flow of the class go a way that meets my goals for the class and makes it the best possible learning environment as well hold the students accountable to be an active part of the classroom culture and their learning.

Enter, ClassDojo. I have used this classroom app this year and it has completely changed my Level 4 Spanish class. This class is made up of mostly Juniors with a sprinkling of Sophomores and Seniors. As you can imagine, Classroom Management for them isn’t about behavior. It’s about purpose. By Level 4, my expectation for the students is that they are actively participating in the class, present (not using their phones) and… using only Spanish with me and their classmates. This, at the beginning, was a challenge for them to say the least, but this app changed the feel of my class. I never lack participation, my students are mentally present and they are now an accountable community of learners. 


File_000 (3)The way the app works is you enter the kids names under a class. You then enter what are called skills, which are considered either negative or positive. You then assign a point value to the skills. Each week, my students have to earn 5 points.  They have lots of ways they can earn their points, from me hearing them just conversing in Spanish, answering a question voluntarily, writing me an email, responding to my Twitter posts, writing a movie review, anything that gets them using unprompted Spanish . There are only two ways they can lose points. Having their phone out and using English. They have to work really hard to earn those 5 points so they are left to decide if taking their phone out is worth losing a point. I now have nearly zero phone use in this class and nearly 100% Spanish spoken. 

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Skills

Yes, they are motivated by the grade. They work hard to get their points for the week but you now what? My goal for my classroom management, and how I want my classroom to feel is being met. They aren’t stuck on their phones, they encourage each other to stay in Spanish, participation is overwhelming and they are using Spanish in and outside the classroom. Since I offer lots of ways for them to earn points, they are often approaching me with ideas to earn points. They are now posting their Instagram captions in Spanish, texting each other in Spanish and finding as many ways as they can incorporate the language into their lives to get those puntos. They are creating their own learning experiences. 

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During class time, I use the free ClassDojo app on my phone to track the points. It can also be done online. The students also download the app or go online and they can see their points throughout the week. It will also show them how they earned the point or how they lost it. You can also add a note or a picture to points given or taken away. On my end, I can select kids and apply points in groups or to individuals.

I have mentioned how I have used this in my content area but it really can apply to any content and any skill or behavior you want to encourage or discourage.

Their website has lots of ideas and also showcases other features of the app.

I can see using this app for Classroom Management in the traditional sense: positive and negative behavior, staying on task… but also for encouraging content learning, participation in their own learning, creating a positive classroom environment or whatever management looks like for you. You can decide what your classroom goals are and how this can help support those. I have only used this with my Level 4 class but now that I am used to it, I will likely incorporate it into my other classes next year. The skills for a lower level class will be different but the goal is the same; for the class to run in a way that meets my expectations and creates an enriching classroom experience with accountability, encouragement and community.