Monday, October 3, 2016

Digitally Diving In With Four Back To School Ideas For Classrooms!

In August, as teachers were in their final weeks of summer, I wanted to share some ideas to get their creative juices flowing about ways to digitize their "Back to School" classroom activities this year. Teachers use these activities to create a "responsive classroom" designed to help the class come together, validate each student, set expectations and prepare a positive learning environment. These traditional activities provide a vital springboard for student success, but there is no reason that they have to be delivered in a traditional way! So....I sent teachers just a few ideas for them to mull over!

Digitizing back to school activities can also provide students with an opportunity to revisit principles of digital citizenship, establish device expectations, practice logging in with new passwords and help student get acquainted and share their voice.

1.  A Video Introduction with Adobe Spark iPad App (or any video app) - Students will share their name, selfie, a favorite thing or a favorite book, and one thing they are looking forward to this school year!  They can turn it into Schoology or save it to their Google Drive! It would be fun to revisit these at the end of the year!

Here was my example:

2.  Let's Get To Know Each Other! Discussion with Schoology - Students will take a selfie and share a favorite summer memory.  Using the discussion option when setting up the Schoology lesson gives students the opportunity to comment on each other's posts so students feel like they are on social media! It is a great opportunity to teach appropriate commenting skills!


3.  Share one thing about yourself that your classmates don't know! with Padlet - This is one of the easiest options as Padlet doesn't require individual student logins and gives students the ability to collaborate in real time!  The Padlet page is essentially a bulletin board webpage that allows students to post simultaneously.  Teachers can use any prompt that they want, including brainstorming classroom rules!  Padlet can be used to get students writing while also sharing with one another! Sutdents can add their selfie to their post if they wish.  This activity is also easy to share the URL with parents after students have finished!


4. Video Time Capsule with device camera - Have students create self-interviews using reality TV "confessional" style.  Ask them to turn on their device video camera and create a video message to their future end-of-year selves.  Ask them to talk about their goals, their hopes and dreams for the school year, or share a concern.  Then "archive" these videos in Google Drive and take them out at the the end of the year to help students see how they've grown!  (Thanks to Education Week Teacher, Back to School article by Jennie Magiera for this idea!!)

YIPPEEEE!!  Results!!  

I really didn't know how teachers would feel about me sharing these ideas with them while they were still on their summer vacation. There was always the possibility that they would greet them as most of us do the abundant back-to-school advertisements that start right after the 4th of July! Collective SIGH!!  Happily, because I teach with the best teachers ever, I received immediate feedback from staff expressing their enthusiasm for these ideas. The real proof that my suggestions had actually served to prime to pump was born out in the first two weeks of school. Teachers took the ideas that I shared and edited them to make them even better! Many of our 3rd-5th grade teachers used Padlet and Schoology to have students share something about themselves or collaborate on classroom rules! Fabulous first grade teacher, Cindy Johnson, combined Padlet and the Video Time Capsule idea to have students video tape their "Hopes and Dreams" for the school year using Padlet!  She also used Padlet to communicate and share photos with parents about the first day of school!  How fun that will be for students to see these at the end of the year!