Fast, efficient, functional and user-friendly are not commonly used words when describing teaching tools. Can a gadget actually give an educator some extra time? The Rocketbook app can do all of that and more.
I first learned of @Rocketbook two years ago, after being a Kickstarter project. The ability to have a reusable tablet by placing in a microwave with a cup of water was extremely cool and intriguing. Fast forward a few months, I purchased one for my wife. It is part of her routine for notes and quilting designs.
I got my first Rocketbook at an Edtech Summit last year. That same tablet is my daily driver for all school meetings and any noteworthy information. I feel I am a better listener and participant at those meetings instead of bringing my laptop. Paper and pen still have their place.
How does it work? All Rocketbook pages have a black border with seven destination icons and a QR code at the bottom. Download the Rocketbook app in Android or IOS. After creating an account it is time to select destinations for digital scans. There are 10 destinations like Google Drive, OneNote, Dropbox, Evernote and even sending to any email address.
This company partners with educators well with the word FREE. They offer 7 different pdf formats to download. Dot grid, graph, and even music pdf format. Now that is really cool.
Here's how I use the magic in my classroom. I teach design robotics and each student has their engineering notebook. Every couple weeks I do a notebook check. There never seemed to be an efficient way to get through 30 students. Rocketbook free download fixed that.
I printed the dot grid, then enlarged it on 11 x 17 inch piece of paper. Creating one sheet for each of my design robotic classes. After downloading the Rocketbook app on an old Nexus 7 tablet, I assign the icons from the bottom of the page to class-specific folders created in Google Drive.
Now when checking a specific engineering notebook assignment, each student brings their entry to a table with the 11 x 17 inch Rocketbook grid paper for that class. There is always a few students that like to be my teacher aid and they love doing the scanning on the Nexus 7 tablet. Students know their name has to be clearly written in the upper right-hand corner to get credit.
I work with small group seminar instruction while the scanning takes place. The process creates a nice workload flow while freeing up some much needed instruction time. The entire process runs incredibly smooth.
The last piece of the puzzle is when I look through their notebook entries in Google Drive. Each entry has the date and time stamp of the scan. I thumb through student work with ease, opening the Google Drive folder and arrow right or left to check their progress. Again, the student needs to have their name posted clearly on their entry.
I shared this tool and process with our math teachers. They love the efficient functionality for checking formative practice assignments. Especially review equations to prepare for summative tests. Rocketbook is an educator.
Using Google Hyperdocs isn't a new or cutting-edge classroom tool, but they are extremely useful. In addition, very user-friendly for students. There are so many amazing options and functions for this technology tool, that meets students where they are at.
I've used a shared Google doc in my classroom for many years. Students and families really appreciate seeing the content of each day as well as the ability to scroll back to look at a previous days agenda. I just put the date, learning target, assignments due and our plan for the day at the top of this shared document. This process works nicely and an easy part of my teaching routine.
The problem I ran into was sharing multimedia links or other relevant content to support learning each day. Initially, I tried to have such links on my classroom web page. However, it got very cumbersome cataloging and organizing the links in a way that they could be found as needed. I even tried adding to my Schoology course page, creating many layers of folders organized per curriculum schedule. There had to be a better place to put the links for the current lessons as well as to Archive and make future lessons better.
Which brings us to Google HyperDocs ability to embed all of my webpage support materials in a meaningful, timely manner. Now students can have access to all of my classroom daily plan resources in one spot. They can see exactly everything that happened in class from schedule, learning targets, presentations and all of those links. The links that can take a good lesson and give it a personalized learning touch. One student told me “It just makes sense to have them there” in the ongoing daily schedule hyperdoc.
This process just works for me, my students and their families. There are so many more uses, just check out Matt Miller, “9 reasons why HyperDocs can transform your class”. So many great ways to create more clarity in your classroom and students get it. Oh yes, it helps everyone in the learning triangle more efficient and to share the learning.
Remind, formerly Remind101, has been around for years. I found the tool to be easy to use and effective from the beginning. It is reliable, meeting students and family with timely information via mobile text. Since the majority of parents have their phones within reach, Remind is meeting families where they are at in their busy day.
I’m taking on a different advisory role this school year as a WEB leader. WEB stands for “Where Everybody Belongs”. WEB is made up of 8th graders who assist and mentor 6th graders as needed. Teachers certainly have their academic perspective of helping these 11/12 year-olds transition into middle school life. WEB leaders can give a “boots on the ground” angle that speaks from their experiences.
I’ve seen WEB from the 6th grade advisory side and I’ve always been impressed. All the leaders assigned to my room have been good and some great. My attempts to speak with kids, which I think I do well for an old guy, pale to that of WEB leaders making a meaningful connection.
There’s two days of training for the new crop of WEB leaders. This must happen before school begins, to be ready to meet their 6th grade advisory assigned class. The training is vital to a successful school year but cuts into their summer vacation and last minute family events.
Communication in the summer is challenging, but Remind has made this process so much better. It all started last spring with the new WEB leaders attending our spring celebration. Using Remind is a easy to sign-up process, every student leader would get timely planning updates as needed. Starting up was easy for both teachers, students and families.
Remind has “Co-Teacher Support”, to add other owners to our advisory class. There are three teacher leads including myself, so this feature was a perfect fit. From there we have created numerous updates for the upcoming training. Remind also has “Read Receipts” to see who’s received the message sent.
The feature I most appreciate is the ability to “Schedule Announcements”. I can set reminders in advance and Remind will send it on that date and time. In addition, I can do “File Attachments” for our training agenda and other support documents needed. Both of these features are so easy to use.
There are many more Remind tools for your classroom. Text reminders are valuable to enhance effective communication as families are as busy as ever. The free version totally meets my needs. Timely digital communication is important, building a strong triangle of learning for students, families, and teacher. Remind will “Share the Learning” in any classroom.
Flipgrid Live and Edcamp Flipgrid are done, so it's time to reflect. Both events were Tuesday, July 31 and Wednesday, August 1. Each day was filled with a ton of fun education energy by Flipgrid and educators full of sharing the excitement. My PLN grew from this vibrant learning community.
I have less than a year of experience with Flipgrid, starting my grids back in December. Within a month I had moved most of my video projects to Flipgrid with ease and no hiccups. I wrote about it in March, “Flipping Out With Flipgrid”. Educators I present to love Flipgrid and it's easy for anyone to use.
Flipgrid Live was Wednesday night after two days of great learning. I was pumped to attend this event, to see what was new with my favorite video tool. Here’s a list of the cutting-edge features and product enhancements. Below I grabbed all the features from their Flipgrid Blog.
There are so many great tool choices within Flipgrid. My mind is zinging with excitement and the anticipation of what my students will create. Flipgrid is a GREAT product that got even better.
It's that time of the year when my mind is in my classroom quite often and I'm at my computer preparing for the upcoming school year. I'm in the midst of learning a new curriculum for a new position, which I'm really excited for. In saying that I need to reevaluate how I "share the learning" with families as to what's happening in our classroom.
In the past, I've used a variety of tools and techniques to attempt opening a window into my classroom, from the traditional newsletter, too blogging, to my YouTube channel. Each year modifying, dropping or adding a tool to meet the students and families where they're at as they consume the information I'm sharing. It's very unrealistic to keep doing it the same way as I've done it for the past five and ten years.
What I've learned is parents love to hear and see what's happening in my classroom with their child. It doesn't matter what the tool is as much as the experience. Giving parents a window into our classrooms opens the communication lines at home to an otherwise answer to “school was just fine today”, by their child.
My informal poll from last year started at our spring parent-teacher conference. I had families representing over 30 students come to speak with me. Three-quarters of those families went out of their way to thank me for creating my YouTube channel and sharing what we were doing in my classroom. Fast forward we had two more field trips with parent volunteers after those spring conferences. 100% of those parent volunteers knew my school YouTube channel and also thanked me for doing that.
Teachers are doing some really amazing things in the classroom. So many effective teachers feel like they're boasting if they share these experiences beyond the four walls of learning. That was the way it used to be but things have changed. Teachers need to market the student growth that is happening and build a stronger triangle of learning, students, families and teachers.
With that in mind, I plan on being much more proactive in how I share with families because I’ve seen how important such communications are. Especially this year with over 225 students each semester coming into my classroom. That does seem a bit overwhelming yet worth every minute of energy put into sharing our classroom journey.
I plan on sharing the tools as I use them during the course of the year and hopefully some feedback as to how families are consuming them. From one way posts to interactive tools and of course video. Before selecting the tool, it's time to think about how my audience is going to be consuming my updates.