Room 313

adventures in teaching creative writing

Archive for the tag “technology”

What’s App, Teach?

I’m hosting a little breakout session tomorrow at the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English fall conference. Our theme for the conference is technology integration, so my 45-minute presentation is entitled “What’s App, Teach?”. We have around 80 teachers registered, and around six or seven sessions to choose from, so I’m curious to see how many teachers I will have attend my session. I’m up against some of my teaching heroes and colleagues like Claudia Swisher, Brook Meiller, Bonner Slayton,and Kimberly J. Stormer during Session A from 1:00 to 1:45.

I’m going to address the following apps and give time for exploration and discussion of how to use them in our English classrooms:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Classroom Organizer
  • Remind
  • tumblr
  • Pick a Student

Here’s my handout [Google upload] for my participants.


Self Assessment with Google Forms

On the third of class in Pre-AP English 2, I had my students assess their English skills. I had created a Google form to do this, and I knew the vast majority of my students would have smart phones. They took the survey in class in just a few minutes. I was hoping to display the link to the survey in large text on my SmartBoard, but I had technical difficulties, so I just wrote the survey link on my marker board. Thankfully, I had thought ahead to create a tiny url out of the long Google form website. If you aren’t familiar with tinyurl, it’s a free, helpful website that converts long, bulky web addresses into much smaller ones. I had also thought of converting the website into a QR code, but most of my students don’t have QR code apps on their phones. Anyway, I’ll include the survey below, so you can see it, followed by some of the results and my thoughts on this activity.

I’ve done an activity like this before on paper, but using a Google form allows me to see and compare the results so much faster. I get a quick snap shot of where my students think they are at in their English skills.


When I looked at my students’ responses, I wasn’t too surprised. These Pre-AP classes are filled with many high-achieving students, and many of them rated themselves as 4 or 5 in most categories. I did notice, however, that some students were either very honest or very hard on themselves by ranking some of their skills as 1. I know now in advance to give them extra help and support. I can also use this data to form writing groups for my students comprised of students are strong, medium, and weak in their skills.

How will use Google forms in the classroom?

Emailing Parents in PowerSchool

Have I told you lately that I love Twitter? Where else can you network with phenomenal teachers from around the world?

Recently on Twitter, Jim Burke suggested to email parents before the school year even started, welcoming their students to class. I loved this idea, but I didn’t know how to do this. Our school has been using PowerSchool / PowerTeacher for at least four years now, and I wasn’t aware of a mass email feature. I decided to research this feature, and I happened across this website, which explained in detail how to do it. I was so excited! I shared the news with my colleagues, who also began emailing their students’ parents.

If you don’t need the visual steps, here’s what I emailed to my colleagues:

  1. Set up your Signature. Open up the grade book and click on the Tools menu and select Preferences at the bottom. Then click the Mail tab and type in what you want to appear in your signature. I included my name, classes taught, my Twitter name, and a link to my TeacherWeb page.
  2. Now select the class you want to email and click on Tools again. Now select Email Students and Parents. (Only parent emails are available.)
  3. A screen will pop up, allowing you to select multiple classes if you wish. Then click Next.
  4. Click the button next to Parents/Guardians to select all the parents.
  5. Type in your subject and message and click Send Now.
  6. ***There’s also another way to email parents. Click the class you want to email in the gradebook. Below, in the Student Groups window, right-click the Active students and select Email. The parents will automatically be selected. However, you cannot select multiple classes this way.

I heard back from 15 parents of my 148 students. I learned that one of my students would be absent on the first, taking a driving test. I learned one parent was very skilled in puns. And I learned that parents are very appreciative of teachers who communicate.

I hope to take advantage of this feature throughout this school year. It’s so helpful and easy, how could I not?

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