Brenham Tech Daily

Fab Find Friday: Read2Me Website

Whether for students that are struggling with reading or just to have the ability to have an article read to them, Read2Me offers a way to have online articles, Google Docs, or other uploaded documents converted for free into an audio file.  You or your students can then play and listen as it reads those documents or websites out load. 
It's simple to use. Upload the web address of the article you want to be read, click play, and Read2Me will do the rest. 
You are given sixty seconds of free narration, but if you create an account you will be given five minutes each day.  I played a full article and it was barely three minutes, so most articles will not use up your daily allotment of time if you sign in. 
Users can login in via their Google accounts, so the process is easy. 

Tech Tip Thursday: "Create Question" in Google Classroom

Create Question in Google Classroom

Are you utilizing the "Create Question" option in Google Classroom? If you are not, then it is time to start using it. 
Remember, that this option is under the plus sign (second from the top). In the Create Question, you can assign instructions, add a due date, add a topic, schedule it to come out, attach an attachment or link, ask a multiple choice or short answer question, and you have options to let students comment to each other.
What can you do with the "Create Question" part? Get creative! One English teacher I talked to was using it as their journal entry. The teacher would post the topic/question in "Create Question" section, and then the students would respond.

Another idea was a government teacher had students write amendments, had students post their amendments under "Create Question" section, and then students had to comment on each other's amendments.

Other ideas for using "Create Question" in your classroom--
reading an article, responding to the article, and responding to each other's comments
multiple choice or short answer exit ticket
warm up with review question
book study questions
debate topics

*Asking the students to comment on each other's comments is a skill that they will utilize in college. Lots of times in college courses, students will have to respond to their readings and comment on each other's comments. Why not prepare our students to be successful in analyzing and responding to each other in college?

Looking for some more ways to use "Create Question" in your classroom? Click this link here to check out another post on using this feature.

Do you have other ideas for using the "Create Question" in Google Classroom? If so, let us know!

Web Tool Wednesday: Marco Polo App

Marco Polo
Video Communication App
I'm incredibly visual when it comes to communication.  I can never read expressions and/or emotion very well from just text messages or email.  Just ask my wife… LOL.  It's much easier for me to communicate face-to-face or by video messaging on my laptop using such websites as Google Hangouts, Skype, or  
Currently, I have tons of communication apps on my smartphone.  I use the regular, built-in, Samsung Messages app for most of my text messaging.  I use the Remind app for communication with staff members and folks that follow our BISDwired Team.  I also use Voxer, Facebook Messenger, Band, Google’s Duo, Hangouts, and Allo, Periscope, Twitter Direct Messages, and a couple other communication apps.

Honestly, the strangest thing is that I actually use all these communication apps for various reasons…

  • I use Voxer to communicate with various colleagues throughout my PLN.  I LOVE how I can quickly use the button to record my voice for others to hear my messages (hence being a type of walkie-talkie app).  Actually, I enjoy any app where you don’t have to type out your messages, and I don’t have read every message I receive.  Again, I’m an audio/visual type of person.  Voxer is great for this reason, but I wanted to be able to video chat much easier than this.

  • For communication with my wife and BISDwired Team, I use the Google Hangouts app.  I don’t really use the video portion of this app on my phone, I use the app mostly for texting.  Compared to the generic Samsung Messages app, the Google Hangouts app makes it much easier to add/send photos, videos, and GIFs.  Thus, Google Hangouts is basically becoming my default texting app.  My favorite aspect of the Hangouts app is that I can carry the conversation over to laptop since it’s the same app.

  • The other apps listed above are great for communicating with specific people.  Duo is great as a live video communication app, basically taking the Google Hangouts app to the next level with fast two-way video communication with great speed, sound, and resolution (Probably the closest comparison to Marco-Polo, whereas Marco-Polo doesn’t have to be a live conversation).  Allo is great for communication with my 3 friends that actually use the app.  Facebook Messenger and Direct Messages on Twitter are fine for communicating with folks that use those messaging options… especially DM’s on Twitter, basically folks that don’t have my phone number but want to communicate.  I use Band for communicating with friends that play in Clash of Clans, also, same reason I use Discord.
With all these communication apps listed above, why get the Marco Polo app?
Marco Polo is a walkie-talkie video communication app.  Much like Snapchat’s video function.  What’s awesome about the app is that you can either have a live video conversation or just send a video and have the recipient watch it when they are ready.  As a visual person, this app works great for me!
I don’t have to write, or type anything.  Every message is a video saved on Marco Polo’s server.  The videos don’t even save to your phone, which is a great way to save storage.  Also, the app links to your contacts so your kids can’t just randomly have video conversations with strangers.  The other feature I really like about it is the ability to have either a one-on-one conversation or a group conversation.  

Check out the features below, and how you can integrate Marco Polo for educational purposes along with a quick tutorial on how to use Marco Polo.
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Educational Purposes
  • Create a group chat with your co-workers and/or PLN.  Highlight great things you’re doing in your classroom.
  • Create a team chat with your team members and communicate throughout the day.
  • Record yourself teaching and share with staff or colleagues on your team.
  • As an admin, use it to highlight great things happening on your campus.  Or, use it with your admin team to highlight great things happening around the campus.  
  • Use it to team teach lessons.
  • Etc.

Teaching Tip Tuesday: Using Tech to Empower Students W/ Special Needs

By, Katie Nieves @Ms_KatieNieves

This article connected with me in so many ways.  As a father of two amazing school-age daughters, one with special needs, I enjoyed reading this article that helps shed light on the problems educators encounter with special education students having self-esteem issues:

It's wonderful to read about how Kathryn brings student interests into her resource rooms.  She includes ALL her students in all things G-Suite/Technology without placing limitations on them.  She also gives her students the two most important things you can have in a classroom:

Allowing her students the freedom to work on "Passion Projects", letting them have individual pacing, and using proper tools to aid in discussion and collaboration, are just some of the many reasons Kathryn Nieves is so awesome in her classroom!  Please read the whole article HERE via Edutopia!

For more info on Kathryn Nieves... go HERE.
Twitter: @Ms_KatieNieves

My daughter, Ava, would love having you as an upper level teacher, Katie!  Keep rocking in your resource rooms!  And thank you for allowing special education students, who are already self-conscious of many aspects of their lives, the ability to have a voice in your classroom, and feel completely comfortable with using technology in your classroom!  You are awesome!  

Monday Reflections: Educator, Colyncia Powell, @ColynciaPowell

Monday Reflections with 4th Grade Educator,
Colyncia Powell, @ColynciaPowell

What do you enjoy most right now about your campus?
Everyone works so well together, we are all a team.  It's nice knowing that you can depend on multiple people around the school.  We have great communication amongst the staff and complete appreciation of each other and our roles.  The leadership is awesome here at Alton Elementary School, the positive leadership truly sets the tone on this campus.

Describe a recent lesson that you have enjoyed?
I really enjoyed teaching my students multiples of ten.  Once they saw the pattern it was like they discovered gold!  They grew in confidence and truly saw the connections.  They knew they could do so much more in mathematics with that one strategy.

What technology tool do you like using most in class right now?
I LOVE using Google Classroom.  It makes it so much easier to get the assignments to the students.  A break from paper and pencil.  Much easier to give feedback to each individual student.  Helps build confidence in the students that struggle with technology.  Easy tool to use and learn for all students in my classroom.

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What is something that your admin does that you appreciate?
Wow, there's a lot of things... I can't really just give one.  My principal (Mr. Ogg, @PrincipalOgg) helps me see my potential.  He's incredibly encouraging and makes coming to work fun.  He treats us all as an equal.  Mr. Ogg makes you feel comfortable about your mistakes and continues to help you improve upon them.  Also, our AP, Rachel Peterson (@AES_AP_Peterson) is so efficient!  She gets stuff DONE!  She's always willing to lend a hand and assist in the classroom.

In the past month, what is a new teaching philosophy, idea, strategy, or pedagogy you have tried to adapt in your classroom?
I'm trying to reward good behavior more instead of focusing just on the bad behavior.  I'm also trying to get more student-centered in my classroom.  I want them to collaborate more, talk more, and be more successful individually.  I'm trying to build autonomy into my students.  I also use Class Dojo for immediate feedback and behavior management.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?
I'm excited about being able to integrate technology a lot more into my lessons.  I want my students to use it more.  Instead of just throwing them on a game or website, I want them to be more creative.  I'd also like to try to integrate Skype and/or Google Hangouts into my lessons.  I'd like to conduct joint virtual lessons with other 4th grade classrooms and also vertical lessons with both 5th and 3rd-grade classrooms.
Suggestion for new educators:
Forming relationships is very important to have with your students.  Once they realize that everything comes from a place of love and respect it makes the classroom environment much more manageable.  Everything just flows. 

Fab Find Friday - ClassClimate (updated)

Ever wish you had a way to really see what mood your students are in.  Sure somedays it's easy to tell if they are ready to climb the walls or look like they want to fall asleep.  But with ClassClimate you
let the students tell you themselves confidentially online.

As a teacher you create a class and then students can join via a code (easy to push out through Google Classroom).  Then you can see how they are feeling for that day or week.

Great way to keep track of over a long period of time as well.

New Feature: SPEED READ - lets students show how they feel from teachers URL for their class. 

Twitter Thursday: Tweets Around BISD This Week

Tweets Acround BISD This Week

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Are you following us on Twitter?
Follow us for blog posts and more- @BISDwiredTeam