Trapper Keepers. They answered the prayers of the ‘80s most disorganized students. Style. Organization. Velcro. Trapper Keepers had it all. Let’s be honest, there was a time not so long ago when you couldn’t walk down a school hallway without seeing these colorful three-ring binders and their super-stylish plastic flaps. Add to that the personal stylings of a pegasus, a Lamborghini, or a Care Bear. It was enough to make a kid stand up and shout, “Yea, see that Care Bear sliding down that rainbow? Yea, that’s my stuff.”
Never before was a school supply considered this cool.
Now a lot can be said about the advances of modern technology. Even more about the 1:1 initiative that’s taking most schools by storm. You can’t argue the benefits of technology in the classroom. You just can’t. And while we love (with devotion) all that Google Classroom has to offer, searching through Google Drive just leaves us wanting more. Color-coded folders? Sure, that’s a help… but still everything seems so… same. It’s hard to harness the excitement and hype of 1980’s school supplies when there is no individuality. No personality. No fun.
When we think about student achievement in the classroom, and compare it to what the digital generation students “get” to the students of years past, again, it leaves us wanting more. The content is the same. The kids’ desire to achieve, also the same. The things is, it’s become difficult for kids to stay organized, to easily locate important notes and documents. Here’s why: Google Classroom has allowed the teacher the control to organize their drives for them, to literally label every document for them, to push it into their drive for them. And that’s the problem: for them. They have little ownership. And when you don’t create it, everything just looks, well, the same.
Now, imagine the ability to take all that modern technology (eh-hem, Google) has to offer, but add to it individuality, ownership, and personality. Imagine taking the best of the Trapper Keeper and bringing it into 2017. Imagine adding fun.
Enter the DigiKeeper.
Using the power of Google Sites, DigiKeeper takes what made the Trapper Keeper great and...get this...brings the features into the digital world. The best part(s)?
DigiKeeper. The best of 1980’s school supplies. Without the velcro.
With every new January comes new hopes, new resolutions, and new cars in my gym parking lot. Seriously. One gym I belonged to actually had valet parking to accommodate the rush of eager exercisers after the new year hit.
This weekend, as I tried to stick with to my own fitness goals for 2017, I was struck with just how much the gym actually mirrors what we do in the classroom. Every day we walk through the door, we push ourselves to be the best that we can be in order to see results. But, in the classroom, gains are not measured on a scale or in a gym selfie. They’re measured in the smiles of our students.
So, here’s my thought. For the rest of the year, let’s all be like a gym in January. Let’s catch the excitement that a new year brings and generate the same enthusiasm in our students. Let’s harness the promise of possibility and apply it to our lessons. In other words... let’s take what we do in the weight room and make it work in the classroom.
10 Lessons from the Gym We Can Bring to Our Classrooms:
My First SketchNotE!
I’m an avid reader. In fact, I read so much that there are times when I pick up a book to read only to realize I’ve read it before. It’s like deja vu. Only with books. Deja book.
So earlier this year, I started a note in Google Keep and started adding the books that I finished. A couple of my teacher-friends were interested in the list, so I shared the note with them, and they started adding their own books. Now, we have a pretty big list of books we can refer to when it comes to choosing the next title or when recommending favorites to fellow readers.
I guess you could say that I am a fan of one-stop-shopping. (Amazon Prime--I’m looking at you.)
So, on Day 2 of the ISTE #ETCoaches Winter 2017 Book Study, it was easy to see why I became overwhelmed with the sheer number of blogs and websites that were shared by my fellow edtech coaches. I tried to keep up (come on, it was supposed to be a slow Twitter chat after all), but the posts were coming at me fast and I felt like I was missing out on some great resources by some great educators. (I should probably mention that, in addition to having a love of one-stop-shopping, I also have a major Fear of Missing Out. Yes, my name is Jennifer, and I have FOMO. More on that in a later post.)
With my FOMO in full gear, I decided to put together a Google Sheet as a way to collect all of the amazing blogs and websites that were being shared by my fellow edtech coaches. The result? A one-stop shop of #EdTech Awesomeness. And the best part? You can revisit it again and again. It’s like deja vu. Only better.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do you think a video is worth? I’m no math teacher, but I’m pretty sure that it would be a really big number.
But, honestly, the answer is even greater than numbers. Think about it. Imagine having the power to listen--really listen--to the thoughts and ideas of every student in your classroom. Imagine empowering even your shyest student to share his thinking without the fear of taking center stage. Imagine giving each and every student the chance to know that his or her voice really matters.
That’s the worth of Flipgrid.
Flipgrid allows teachers to create simple grids, post a prompt, and empower students to share their ideas with the power of VIDEO. But the magic doesn't stop there. Once a student posts a video, other students in the class can respond to the video reflections--get this--using video. Think about the virtual conversations that can be opened beyond the four walls of the classrooms. Flipgrid can give students a voice across grade levels, across buildings, heck, even across countries. (Check out Flipgrid’s Voices with Antarctica if you don’t believe me.)
With Flipgrid, we get to meet our students where they are. Hey, I have a twelve year old son. When he’s not on YouTube watching epic fail compilations, he is outside with his buddies recording videos of their trick shots, bottle flips (I cannot wait until this fad is over), and wipe-outs. Creating videos is just a natural part of what our kids and our students do. With Flipgrid, we get the chance to bring this same excitement into our classrooms by putting the power of video into their hands. And, we get to do it in a way that is fun, meaningful, and relevant.
Now you tell me. What is a video worth? Why not give your students the chance to show you.
You probably won’t believe me when I tell you this, but Public Enemy has guided many of the major decisions in my life. It’s true. Their mantra, “Don’t Believe the Hype,” is one of the main reasons that I have steered clear of embarrassing fashion trends and questionable choices throughout my adult life. All that I need to do is close my eyes, channel my inner Chuck D, and I know that I will make the right decision. Here’s how it works:
MySpace? Don’t believe the hype.
Crocs? Don’t believe the hype.
Hatchimals? Don’t believe the hype.
Hyperdocs? Don’t...well.. wait a minute.
Sorry, Mr. Flav. This is the exception to the rule. Believe the hype. And believe it now.
I first happened across Hyperdocs while reading Alice Keeler’s latest book, 50 Things to go Further with Google Classroom. From there, my eyes were opened to the work of the Hyperdoc Girls and...BOOM. I was hooked. (If you haven’t checked out their amazing resources, click HERE. You’re welcome.)
These hyperdocs have helped to change the way I approach learning and...ready for this? They have actually changed the way I approach professional development in my district. Rather than approaching PD as a one-size-fits-all session, Hyperdocs allow me to customize an experience that is right for everyone. Here’s why: by putting all of the resources needed in one place, I am able to get learners to investigate, connect, discover, and create at a pace that’s just right for them. With a Hyperdoc-driven professional development session, I am able to move beyond slideshows and truly become more of a facilitator of fun. That's because Hyperdocs allow me to:
And the best part? Hyperdocs allow me to do all of this and more, in a way that is fun, innovative, and pleasing to the eye. It’s like creating a perfect one-stop-shop for all of your learner’s needs. Want to see more about how I have used Hyperdocs to anchor my professional development sessions? Check out some of my latest resources (Thank you to the HyperDoc Girls for sharing the templates!)
Sorry, PE. This time is different.
Jennifer Fischer is a former middle school English teacher, full-time instructional coach, and part-time edtech nerd, who strives to help next JENeration educators transform learning for all students.