An app for keeping students off phones during class – that gives reward$!

og_imagePocket Points started as an app that encouraged college students to stay off their phones while on campus by offering incentives that grew in value the longer they stay phone-free. Now it’s available for anyone – and it even has an entire team devoted to helping teachers use the app in their classroom, where the incentives are either monetary or teacher-selected (free homework pass, etc.)  I downloaded the app and joined, but don’t have a class to test it out with this semester. If you’re interested in trying it out, please let me know! I can guide you (so far, then we’ll guide each other!).


How to add folders or documents that have been shared with you to your Google Drive


A lot of times, I create folders for my journalism students where they can submit miscellaneous documents that I don’t want to collect through Google Classroom. I share the folder with these students by providing a link to it, and they are able to access it when they click the link, but when I ask them to return to the folder a week later…they have no idea how they got there.

If someone shares a document or folder with you that you’re pretty sure you’re going to need to reference again, add it to your Google Drive! It won’t make you the owner, unless the person doing the sharing set the permissions that way, but it will make it accessible whenever you need it.

This quick handout tells you how!

A challenger to Quizlet Live!

downloadOne of the (many) new websites I learned about at ICE this week is a game created by a high school student called Gimkit. It’s very similar to Quizlet Live in that students compete on a leader board as they progress through the game, but it differs in that they can use strategies to place bets and earn rewards as they get answers correct. It’s kind of like the part of Jeopardy! where the contestants have to decide how much to wager on themselves (and I would lose all of my money if I were playing because that part is beyond me). But students will love the thrill of accumulating points by taking chances! The video below is from a Spanish teacher who takes you through both the teacher set up (very easy) and the student screen as he plays. If you’re giving it a try, please invite me in! Maybe someone can teach me how to bet!

Give a locked-browser quiz through Google forms without using Hapara!


If you’d like students to take a quiz in Google forms, but would like to remove any temptations they may have to click away, use the new setting that Google just rolled out. No need to get Hapara involved for this – it’s built right into the form creation! Read about it in this post from Teaching Forward.

Hook your class with a video


Teachers from all disciplines will probably find an engaging movie or TV show clip to spark interest in new lessons from ClassHook. I just learned more about symmetry than I did in high school geometry by watching their clip from “Isle of Dogs.” (Apologies to Mr. Callahan. It was me, not you.) Browse by grade level, content type, or playlist. Maybe it’s not 100% educational, but all the clips are current, short, and videos of any sort are definitely up your students’ alley.

Engage your students on snow days

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After observing my junior daughter’s activities all day, I can say with great certainty that our students have a lot of time on their hands during these magical snow days. Here are some ways that you can keep them learning and interacting and not rolling around on the living room floor in a prolonged state of ennui. (Just mine? Oh.)

After an assignment, ask students to share reactions, questions, or what they’ve learned on Flipgrid. It’s easy to set up, and the students I’ve used it with have always liked it. Create a “Grid” or class name, and then add “Topics” or questions. I like to video myself asking the question, since I will expect them to video their response! You can adjust the length of time they can talk, and by adjusting privacy settings, they can view and respond to other students’ answers. This Educator’s Guide to Flipgrid is packed with info, but all you really need to check out is “Section 1: Getting Started.” If you’d like to see two Flipgrids from my classes, click here or here!

EdPuzzle lets you paste in a video URL (or choose one from their library) and then embed questions that students must answer before proceeding. They can be open-ended questions or quiz-type questions. The teacher can also narrate the package as a whole, crop parts of the video out, and…here’s the glowing Common Sense Education review that will give you all sorts of teacher tips. This page takes you through set up step by step. is a website where students can paste the URL of the video you assign them to watch on one side of the screen, and take notes on the other. Every time they write down notes, it automatically records the timestamp of the video, so you can keep track of what part of the video they’re commenting on. The cool thing is that it’s integrated with Google Drive, so they can share and collaborate on notes – students can work on projects together, quiz one another, etc. And it’s for free! Here’s a video tutorial.

I am loyal to Screencast-O-Matic for creating screencasts (their tutorials are great!), but there are other tools out there as well. If you are interested in creating tutorials for your students, though, this is a great option, as is WeVideo. Email me if you’d like the premium version of these tools.

Google Hangouts Meet – host a video chat for up to 25 people at a time. Share screens, documents, and use the chat function on the side. I have used this for my Crossroads staff on days where we had meetings scheduled but not everyone could make them – it works great!

Google Hangouts on Air (using YouTube Live) – similar to a Google Hangouts Meet, you’d host a group of students through Google Hangouts, but you’d be streaming the meeting on YouTube so you can save it for later. Don’t worry – you can set up privacy controls so that only your students have the YouTube link! Here’s an article that takes you through the whole thing step by step.