[Repost] Alternatives to Padlet

Padlet is an effective tool for online interactive learning. However, we are not able to use it because of you-know-what-that-is. Trish (@TrishMerewether) discovered this blog post on 6 possible alternatives to Padlet by Richard Brayne.

In short, the 6 alternatives tools are:

  1. Dotstorming
  2. Lino
  3. Wakelet
  4. Scrumblr
  5. Pinside
  6. Fligrid

Each tool has its features and focus. Experiment and see which fits your class better!

Co-planning Meeting with Teams 101

Why using Teams but not Wechat, Skype, etc?

As a built-in function of the Microsoft Office software package, Teams is ready to be used by all NCPA staff. Rather than switching between a phone and a laptop when using Wechat, or registering and adding a Skype account just for the meeting, Teams provides the fastest solution to our current meeting needs.

What is the quickest way to set up an online meeting with Teams?

First of all, you don’t have to download the Teams app for its functions. To set up a meeting, you will only need to use the Outlook Calendar invite.

Here are two ways of doing it, one through web and another through the Outlook app.

Continue reading “Co-planning Meeting with Teams 101”

Tech in the Toilet: Tech for Co-Teaching (Andrea Honigsfeld Edition)

In this edition of Tech in the Toilet we celebrate Andrea Honigsfeld’s visit to campus with a rundown of tools that support co-teaching.

After objectives, materials, roles, and responsibilities have been established, each teacher completes various lesson planning tasks such as scaffolding activities, differentiating materials and assessments, finding alternative resources, creating learning centers/stations, and so on.

To support this framework, co-teaching teams must first establish how they are going to communicate and how they are going to secure and organize the materials and resources needed for the co-planning process. (Dove & Honigsfeld, 2018, p. 39)

 

Use your Microsoft Team’s Sharepoint Site to Secure & Organize Materials

Sharepoint Site is a powerful function of Office 365 that provides a web-based collaboration and sharing platform. Every staff member is able to access it through the school email account. Setting it up to work takes almost no effort at all – you can simply create a folder and then share it with the recipient’s email.

How does it work? 

  • Centralizes collaborative work
  • Provides a record of collaboration
  • Easily share and save resources
  • Useful location for storing lesson plans for future, sharing or in case of sub
  • An efficient method of collecting, saving and sharing student work/projects
  • Ensures continuity of materials – files are not lost when a team member moves on

How do you access it?

Office 365 Waffle > Sharepoint > choose your site

   

OR Office 365 Waffle > Teams > Choose your team > Files

  

OR Office 365 > OneDrive > select your team in the left nav bar menu

      

Use Microsoft Teams’ Chat Feature to Communicate

As part of Office 365, Teams’ Chat is an instant-messaging platform that also integrates with Outlook Calendar, Planner, and Sharepoint/OneDrive. It’s the “one ring to rule them all.” 

How does it work?

You can use CHANNELS within the team to chat about topics. For example, most conversations might be in the “General” channel. You can create channels for specific events. For instance, a channel for the course fair you are planning. The Grade 9 team might also have its own channel to talk about lesson planning and reflection. Each channel has a folder where you can store files.

How does it help?

If  your team agrees to use Teams for online communication:

-Three key advantages over e-mail: it’s informal, it’s threaded, and it’s easy to see the conversation history.

-Easy to share images and documents – you don’t run into attachment limits

-Includes voice and video chat features for those rainy days when you don’t want to go across campus for a meeting

How do you access it?

Office 365 Waffle > Teams > Choose your team

   

Use Microsoft Planner to Track Various Lesson Planning Tasks

Microsoft Planner is a to-do list function for your team in Office 365. Each team has a planner board where you can add cards for different tasks that need to be completed. Each card can be assigned to a team member and include a due date, checklists, links, attachments, and comments. 

How does it help?

  • After collaboration meetings, add the action items to Planner so you get reminders of when they’re due.
  • Use the “Group by Progress” view to see what your team members are currently working on and what hasn’t been started
  • Helps prevent “I need an update on this task RIGHT NOW” syndrome – it should be in planner once your team is in the habit of using it.

How do you access it?

Office 365 Waffle > Planner 

Use SeeSaw as a Portfolio to Manage Student Work Arising from the Co-Planning Process

Seesaw is a web / App-based online portfolio. Teachers can create assignments and students can reply using a variety of methods, including video, drawing, photo upload, and typing. Students can see their peers’ work and provide feedback. Parents can also be added so they can view student work.

How does it help?

When using SeeSaw or other websites to collect student work, make sure to give access to all co-teachers. This allows all members of a collaborative team to see student work and give feedback in real-time.  Especially with language, it is helpful to get teachers with different expertise to give feedback to students. 

How do you access it?

Go to App.seesaw.me to sign up!  

Use Microsoft OneNote as a Shared Team Notebook to Record Team Norms, Objectives, Materials, Roles, and Responsibilities

Microsoft OneNote is the collaborative notebook function of Office 365. It can be used on web pages or with an app; also it can be used personally or collaboratively as a notebook sharing platform. Create a new notebook or share an existing one. The user can create new sections for different subjects or tasks. This is shareable within working groups, student groups, peer review, and more.

How does it help?

  • Collaboratively share work, ideas, and up to date information.
  • Dictate ideas without typing, no need to write notes.
  • Set group norms and easily have a reference for them.
  • Record keeping in one unified location.
  • Add file links, photos, or instructions to your notes easily

How do you access it?

Office 365 Waffle > One Note 

  

Read Aloud Any Text in Mac!

Have you ever wonder what is the use of the “Speech” function in Preview? Well, literally, it can read you the selected text of the document.

 

Why should I listen to a text?

It may because you are tired of reading after a whole day’s work or you just want to try something new. Listen to a text activates a different part of your brain for decoding and comprehension. Listening to something also requires you to be focused in a different way than reading.

Why should my students listen to a text?

Although the computer-generated voice may not be the ideal choice for mimicking, students can adjust the speed, volume, gender and many more features of the sound so that they can follow along.  Also, if you ever have encountered a situation that after a whole unit of study on a certain topic, students still can’t say the key vocabulary out loud – it is reminding you to create more listening and speaking practice opportunities. The Speech function is easy and quick – when switched on from the system setting, the computer can read any selected text in Word, Preview, Browser, etc. It allows students to figure out the pronunciation by themselves in a very short time. Not even necessary to copy, open a dictionary app, paste, click for reading aloud. The keyboard shortcut can make it possible in a second.

How can I enable Speech function?

Step 1: In System Preferences, search Speech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Click on Speech, then enable the function by selecting the box. The default shortcut is Option+Esc, which I personally feel very easy to use. You can change to your preferred combination by clicking on the Change Key button.

Step 3: Select your preferred voice feature. Gender, region, speaking speed are all changeable.

Now, select any text on this page and try it out! Once you press the shortcut to speaking, you can switch to a different app/page and the text does not need to remain selected.

Endnote: If you have a student who struggles to speak any English, show him/her this feature and encourage him/her to use it outside the class. Language production requires a massive amount of input.

Happy reading/listening!

Teach with Real-time Captions in Powerpoint!

If you use Microsoft Powerpoint Online to teach, you NEED to try this feature. What you say in class will be automatically captured and shown on the screen. A good tool to use if you know some students are struggling to understand English instructions.

To use this function,  you have to save your Powerpoint slides in your OneDrive or Sharepoint.

You will then need to change the settings for the slide show:

 

Choose English for both the Spoken language and the Subtitle Language.

You can choose Chinese as well! Just remember to select Chinese for both Spoken and Subtitle language.

Then choose where you want the subtitle to be – below slides works perfectly.

 

 

 

When you present the slides, click the subtitle button down in the left corner:

A confirmation page will show up the first time you use this function. Now anything you say will be transcribed on the screen!

 

Pros:

Scaffold Listening

If you have students who may shut-down for verbal instructions but do just fine with readings, this function may help them to process and decode spoken English.

Student Engagement

The time when Palacios and I accidentally switched it on, the students were amazed by being able to “see” what they hear. They paid close attention to what we said and were definitely cross-referencing that with the captions on the screen.

Easy Set-up

Since every teacher at NCPA has an Office 365 account, this function is ready to use. No need of registering /authorizing/linking your account with another website!

Go Wherever You Need

You may think you will have to stand right next to the computer so that it can pick up your words. However, real-use in the classroom has shown that the computer is able to detect utterance from the other side of the classroom (AQ1). Depending on your own setting, the situation may be slightly different – be flexible.

Cons:

Possible Longer Processing Time

Bilingual students process language in different ways – seeing English words may trigger Chinese translation on their minds. It is possible to cause some students a longer time to fully understand the whole situation because of the bi-sensory circumstance.

Only on Office 365

If you are not a fan of Microsoft Office, or if you prefer to use the app version of Powerpoint, you can’t use this function.

One Mic

You need to make sure you are the only person talking otherwise the subtitle will not make sense. Your computer is very sensitive to noise. It also means that if a student answers a question in English, Powerpoint can help to transcribe it.

 

Give it a try to see if it works for your class!

 

Acknowledge:

Thanks to @Palacios to notice this Powerpoint feature!

Resources:

Present with real-time, automatic captions or subtitles in PowerPoint

 

Optimize Your Use of the Whiteboard Tables Now!

At NCPA, we are facilitated with the wonderful whiteboard tables but – how can students use it meaningfully? You must have noticed that students are generally engaged when you tell them they can write things down on the tables. Use their excitement as the starting point to create some different learning experiences!

  • Input Stage – Notetaking and Question-answering 
    • Whenever there is a 10 minutes-ish input time – either it’s you talking or a video – ask your students to grab a marker and take notes. You can easily differentiate the notes depending on students’ language proficiency:
      • only copy words from subtitle (video)
      • write in phrases
      • write down content-specific words only
      • allow drawing as notes
      • allow writing in Chinese

 

(Students writing down what they see and what they notice from summative samples)

    • A tabletop is a perfect place for students to write down answers quickly:
      • Do Now – questions to review the previous lesson
      • 10-2 – a perfect follow up of input activity: ask students to use the notes to answer a question about the information they just hear
      • Preparation for discussion – having a few words written helps ELLs to have oral output

(Students writing down what they can say to practice persuasive strategies)

 

  • Intake Stage – Information Organizing
    • Mindmaps

Whenever you want students to summarize or synthesizing a piece of information, mindmap is always a good tool. Allowing students to create mindmaps on their tables gives them a third-space to storage their ideas; it also allows them to quickly share their design or generate conversation around it.

(Students creating mindmap with a list of translate content vocabulary)

  • Sorting and Matching

Consider the table to be a giant piece of blank paper – many of the charts you have to print before may not be needed now. If you want students to put words or any information into different categories, they can simply draw the charts, lines, and write the words on their tables.

(Students sorting examples of living in the Neolithic and Paleolithic Age into different categories)

  • Comparing and Contrasting

Drawing and filling a T-chart is much easier to be done on a bigger surface. You can also ask students to draw the chart over on two tables. Even more exciting!

(Example chart to compare different water problems)

  • Output Stage – Presenting 
    • If you think gallery walk is too much preparation, the tables can be easily turned into the materials you need. Ask students to draw, write and design on their tables; then, you write down the numbers of the stations on the tables; when they are ready to present, everything is clear and in order.

 

  • Grouping/Classroom management 
    • You can number off students by writing it down on their desks. No student has the excuse that they forget the number!
    • When you need to introduce a new seating arrangement, write down their names on the desk.

 

BONUS: Office Lens

A drawback of using the whiteboard table is that students may not be able to save the work they produced. Of course, you can allow them to take a picture of any needed information. To further organize it, using Office Lens can be helpful. The mobile app is free to download and use. Basically, Lens can scan to create documents or pictures. As part of the Office family, Lens is connected with OneDrive, Outlook and many other apps – which allows you to easily export and save your scanned image at a specific online location, or share with another person.

There are three modes: 1. Whiteboard 2. Document 3. Business Card

Whiteboard mode works the best with our tables or any other white/light color background surface.

Document mode is good to use to scan any print materials.

Business Card mode is good for business cards, I suppose.

 

 

 

 

A picture is generated after taking a picture of the material. If you are in the Whiteboard mode, the background of the material will be altered to be white. The scanning area will also be larger than in the Document mode.

You can edit, add notes or add another page at this step.

 

 

 

 

 

When you press the Done button, Lens will ask you what you want to do with the material. You will need to connect your Microsoft 365 account when it’s the first time you come to this screen. After setting it up, you can choose to either just add it as a picture, or export as a PDF file, or simply send it out with an email.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the files you created can be found on the welcome screen – tap on the three-dot button and then “My Files.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgment: 

Special thanks to my co-teaching team @Palacios and @Elsen for always being so creative and flexible to allow the best content + language learning experience to happen in social studies classroom!

Another thank you to @Kelsey for bringing up the useful Office Lens.

 

Cellphone Games for English Learning

The traditional Cross-and-down has envolved to the next level – check out the following three English related games which provide a unique perspective of learning the language and having fun at the same time.

 

1. Alphabear I & II

Fun, easy game to start noticing spelling techniques and the rules make up a word. Simply put the letters in the field to form a word and collect the bears.

 

2. Typeshift

Powered by the whole dictionary of Merrian-Webster, this game requires its player a good knowledge of morphemes. It may be difficult to identify all the possible combinations of the listed letters, but that is why it is addictive!

 

3. Dear Reader

Read a classic novel by putting the keywords in the appropriate place to form correct sentences. Long text is chunked into short, manageable paragraphs for easy access. Recommended!

 

 

The Best Mapping App for China

Google Maps isn’t accurate in China – it’s hard to search for places of interest, it doesn’t offer accurate GPS location, it needs a VPN, and public transport and walking directions are outdated or broken (for example, it doesn’t show the new metro extension to the school). Lucky, we have Lost Laowai to help us find our way! Lost Laowai is a “Bilingual Map App for Foreigners in China” that works on iOS and Android. It uses Amap, an accurate Chinese mapping service, and translates the interface so that you can search for places in English, Pinyin or Chinese – and then get public transport or walking directions.

This really is a game-changer – now you’ll know which buses in Nansha will take you to the new Starbucks or Vietnamese restaurant, or how to get to the Ikea in Panyu, AND you’ll be able to navigate from your true current location.

Navigating by public transportation:

Navigating by walking:

What’s up with the digital signage?

To continue improving school communications and culture and the tidiness of our hallways, we now have designated announcement corkboards and digital signage at the main stairwells of AQ1 and AQ4. ​Additional corkboards and signage will be installed in the back stairwells of AQ1 and AQ4 in the coming weeks.

The digital signage shows a loop of the daily bulletin headlines, social media posts tagged #pulaoproud, and the school calendar by default. It’s also possible to display graphical posters and videos when requested by teachers and student organizations.

Please followed the guidelines posted on the corkboards if you would like to affix a printed poster or add a graphical poster or video to the digital signage. Avoid posting announcements willy-nilly on windows, doors, floors, lockers, etc; these may be taken down by ayis beginning next week.

Email Matt K if you have questions!