Thursday, December 7, 2017

Tech Tip Thursday: Bitmojis

Have you ever thought about personalizing your class presentations, activities, or rules? Ever needed to express a feeling that may take too many words to express verbally? Do you want to grasp your students’ attention and make connections with them? Want to be the “cool” teacher on the team or hall? There’s a bitmoji for that!

Bitmojis are a fun, easy, visual tool for enhancing lessons and other aspects of your classroom. The best part is that it’s FREE! First, what exactly are bitmojis? Bitmojis are personal emojis created from a cartoon avatar that you design to look like you or your alter ego if you’d prefer going that route. This week’s #TechTipThursday features Bitmojis. I have the honor of collaborating with the amazing Angela Byrd, @thewokestemteacher, on this post. Check out more from Angela here.

  • FREE
  • Fun to Use
  • Relatable for the Students
  • Increase Engagement
  • They’re Personal and Expressive
  • Student Involvement
  • Can I say, FUN, again?

Go to or download the app.
a. You can select the option for “Get on Google Chrome” at the bottom of the bitmoji website. A light-box will appear for you to “add extension.”
b. Apple App Store - type Bitmoji into the search bar of the Apple App Store.

2. Create an account.
3. To use, add the extension to your Chrome browser. If you don’t use the chrome browser, you can email yourself the images from your phone app and download them individually.

15 Ways to Use Bitmojis

1. Grading: Bitmojis are a great tool for supplementing letter grades on assignments. If you are looking to give quick student feedback without giving students letter/percentage grades, Bitmoji are perfect.
2. Rules: Bitmojis can be used to post rules around the classroom. You can attach a Bitmoji to each rule you have listed in the classroom.
3. Instructions during presentations: Bitmojis are also a great way to give a continuous set of instructions to students without sounding repetitive. I love to put them on slideshow presentations to give students instructions on what they need to do for each slide.
4. Rewards/Certificates: Bitmoji can be printed out on certificates to use as rewards for students for various behavioral or academic successes.

5. Student Response Cards: Bitmoji can be printed onto cardstock and given to students to use as response cards. These cards help to perform a quick check for understanding. Each student can create their own Bitmoji and print a yes, no, and I am unsure response to use when doing formative assessment.

6. Procedures: Bitmoji can be used to list the procedures you want students to complete as they enter the classroom. This is an effective and fun way to handle classroom management.

7. Incorporate in independent practice: Bitmoji can be used in independent practice to encourage thinking in students. You can add small questions to encourage students to think further.

8. For students to describe concept/idea: Students can use Bitmoji to describe a concept or idea they are learning about in class. A great way to allow students to demonstrate this is through allowing them to make a short comic.

9. Encouragement: On test, quizzes, and special challenges include a “You Got This” bitmoji. The students love when I’ve used them and it gives that extra umph to know that I believe in them.

10. Exit Ticket/Self-Assess Learning: For this you could print traditional exit ticket with the your bitmoji, create a Google form or use a Learning Management System (LMS), use a digital discussion board tool such as padlet, or use Google Slides with each students having their own Slide to self-assess their learning or understanding. I understand how all bitmojis aren't school appropriate but if you get parent permission and train the students not to use bitmojis that aren't appropriate for school, students can use their own personal bitmoji to assess themselves.

I'm still lost...
I need more practice.
I got this!
Bring on the tougher stuff!

11. Professional Development Presentations: I use bitmojis during my professional development presentations to add humor and be expressive of how I feel about the information that I am sharing.
12. Hook: Use bitmojis for writing prompts. Give students a bitmoji and have them write based on the bitmoji provided instead of a topic. You could also use this as a preview of the learning or as a part of the essential question. This is sure to hook their attention and have your students on the edge of their seats.
13. Introductions: Use for student to introduce themselves at the beginning of the school year. You can make your own to share as an example, killing two birds with one stone.
14. Badge: Using them as badges when students level up is a perfect way to gamify your classroom. Students will enjoy building their collection of bitmoji badges.
15. Stickers/Stamps: My students are middle schoolers and they love stickers and stamps. You can print your bitmojis on to labels and use them as stickers or get a stamp made with your bitmoji. The easiest and probably cheapest idea is to print them as stickers. These stickers can offer affirmations/celebrations or feedback.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tech Tip Thursday: Youtube

We all know that our students are familiar with Youtube but they are fascinated with music videos, reviews of games, and makeup tutorials. Have you ever thought about using Youtube for your classroom? With or without a tech heavy classroom you can make youtube work for you.

Today's #TechTipThursday features Youtube. Youtube is a very useful tool for the classroom. First and foremost it's FREE. That is something that you just can't beat. Youtube has come a long way. Check out my list, in no particular order, on how to implement Youtube in your classroom.

Youtube for EDU
  1. You can upload videos for your students to review content. How often do you begin teaching a lesson that requires background knowledge but your students forgot the background knowledge? Create or find videos that give your students a refresher of previously learned information. Be prepared for lots of "Oh I remember that!"moments.
  2. Use youtube to flip your sub plans. Have the substitute teacher to play the video(s) for the whole class or share the link with your students to view on individual devices. You can do something as simple as an introduction for the day or be as extravagant as teaching a full lesson. This also gives you the opportunity to encourage students to be o their best behavior for the guest teacher. Try the live annotation feature that allows you to insert word bubbles or links directly in your videos.
  3. Create playlist of research or concepts to share with your students. You can create a playlist as large or as small as you would like. Create a playlist for each chapter/unit for the students to have access to along the way. If they ever need an additional example or need to see the concept taught in a different way, it'll be at their finger tips.
  4. Create a class channel to share the learning with students' parents and other family. Students can demonstrate learning as well as document successes.  Students may find it fun to create a "week in review" or "Friday Rewind." Students may be able to use the channel as a study guide to prepare for assessments. Make the videos unlisted for privacy purposes but share the link with those who should have access.

Until Next Time,

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tech Tip Thursday: QR Codes

Teaching in a technology rich environment affords you the opportunity to use many online resources. I have learned from experience that students struggle to type in web addresses correctly. I found myself walking around and typing in the same address numerous times. What if you are a teacher who has checked out the iPad cart and you need your students to complete a series of tasks that require them to go to several different websites? What if you are in a "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) and you want students to quickly get to a location on those devices? I have the answer for you! QR codes will solve your problems. QR stands for quick response and  these little scan codes are easy to create. There are tons of ways to use QR  Codes in the classroom but first lets see how easy they are to create.

Creating QR Codes
There are tons of QR Code generators available but my go to generator is There are many options for these handy little scan codes. As seen below you can create qr codes to follow urls, vcards with contact information, plain text, email messages, text messages, Facebook pages, open pdfs, listen to mp3s, App Store apps, images, or multiple urls.
1. Select the type of qr code you need to generate. I use url and plain text most often.

2. Enter the url or text you would like to be shown after scanned.

3. Select "Create QR code."

You have options when you save your code.

4. Either screenshot or screen grab the qr code from the web window.

5. Select "Download" or "Embed QR code." Downloading would add the image to your computer. If embed is chosen, there will be a code given.

25 Ways to Use QR Codes
There are many ways to use QR codes in the classroom. I have listed uses in not particular order.
  1. Give Parents Teacher Contact Information
  2. Scavenger Hunts
  3. Weekly Newsletter
  4. Self-Checking Activities
  5. Link to Forms for Tardy Students
  6. Links to Forms to Document Behaviors
  7. Link to Forms for Passes
  8. Give Students messages
    • Positive: Good job, Thank you for Staying on Task, Fantastic Behaviors, Rock Star Performance
    • Redirections: Get back on task, This is your warming, You have a missing assignment form to complete, Missing Homework Form
  9. Stations for Independent Task
  10. Instructions or Tutorials
  11. Interactive Word Wall
  12. Interactive Class Calendar
  13. Link to Additional Resources during activity
  14. Award Prizes
  15. To go paperless
  16. Provide early finisher activities
  17. Provide a vote
  18. Class Library Check in/out system
  19. To Display Student Products
  20. Give Students Access to Examples of Quality Work
  21. Codes for Student Who Receive Read Aloud Accommodations
  22. Provide an Assignment Extension
  23. Interactive Lab
  24. Allow Students to Create Interactive Displays
  25. Interactive Bulletin Board

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Five Things for this School Year

I was inspired by Kristy, @LoudenClearBlog, to reflect on last school year and think about what I'd like to focus on this year for 2017-2018. I've had a very restful summer. I chose to focus on family and professional growth this summer. I've since gone back to school and we just ended week 4 of 36. Although I had a hard time narrowing my list down to 5, I think I have it squared away and I'm ready to apply my list for a productive and successful school year.

Five Things I'd Like to Focus on this School Year

Student Choice: I personally believe that giving students choices is powerful. When students feel that they have a choice they begin to take ownership. For the past 9 years years I've been on a quest for this "magic pill" to make students care as much about their education as I do. I think choice will do that for me. When students are given choice there is a ripple affect. Students are given choice which in turn empowers them then they feel accountable for their learning because they made a choice in the beginning. I think this will be epic for learning and behavior management in my class this year.

Critical Thinking: "How do you get students to think for themselves?" is a questions that I've been asking for many years. I don't want to be the teacher that tells students what to think because I love it when they think outside of the box. I want students to analyze, evaluate, infer, and formulate on their own among other things. The idea of critical thinking got me to pondering about a poster that hung on the wall of my classroom for my first 3 to 5 years as a teacher. It was a poster made by my first building's content coach displaying the "12 Powerful Words."  Critical thinking by definition is the objective analysis and evaluation of an in issue in order to form a judgement. I plan to focus here by stressing Growth Mindset this year.

Small Groups: Students develop various gaps along the way. Some students need that small group/one on one attention to fill in those gaps. My entire reasoning for switching to a Flipped Learning Model was to be able to meet those kids where they are and fill in those gaps. I'd also like to use small groups to catch students before they fall when they are not understanding new concepts. Usually middle school does not come to mind when you think about small groups in the the classroom unless you are considering a Special Education setting. Small groups will be a safety net for my students this year.

Content Videos: I've struggled to consistently create my own content for my flipped lessons. I think my students will appreciate the information more if it all came directly from me. I attended a session during my 1st EdTechTeam Summit about blended learning and flipped classrooms. The one thing that stuck with me from that session was, "Your students want to see and hear you on the videos." I took that to heart and every year I've created more and more videos. My goal is to create 90% of the videos I use for my students.

Consistency: Earlier this year I did the #oneword2017 and consistency was my word. I plan to continue the journey of consistency across the board. I will be consistent in my classroom as well as in my personal life. I find that when I do get off track it is because of a lack of consistency. This also ties into my 2-5 things on my list. I must do the things that I plan to focus on consistently in order for those things to make a difference during my educational journey this year.

Have you thought about things that you'd like to focus on this school year? Have you had a chance to reflect on last school year? Let me know below.