January 14, 2018

Teachers, Help MrOwl Help YOU!

Wouldn't it be awesome to find a free tech tool for creating  collections of online resources, photos, and documents all in one place? Look no further! Welcome to MrOwl, a new platform that makes it easy for teachers to search for online resources and save them, upload photos and documents, organize resources by topic, share them with others, and so much more!

I discovered MrOwl last year when the founders, Becky and Arvind Raichur, asked me to review MrOwl and share my feedback about how to make the platform more useful for educators. After reviewing the site, I was so impressed that I wrote a blog review and developed a webinar to introduce MrOwl to educators.

To be clear, MrOwl is a public platform, and it wasn’t specifically designed for educational use. However, it does have loads of unique features that make it especially appealing to teachers. Here are a few of the things you can do with MrOwl: 

  • Create topic-based collections of resources called "branches"
  • Make your branches public or private
  • Search for, save, and organize online resources
  • Upload photos and documents to your topic branches
  • Share collections of resources with others
  • Connect and collaborate with others who share your interests

Discover MrOwl Webinar 
One of the best ways to explore the unique features of MrOwl is to watch my webinar for teachers, Discover MrOwl: A Free Tech Tool for Organizing, Sharing, and Collaborating. During the webinar, I explained how to set up your profile and how to use the basic features of the MrOwl platform. But the most important part of the webinar was demonstrating how to use MrOwl in your role as an educational professional and how to use it in your classroom with students.

Teachers, Help MrOwl Help YOU!
One thing that has impressed me about Becky and Arvind is their sincere desire to make MrOwl even more useful for teachers and more appropriate for students. They're excited about MrOwl's potential for classroom use, and they're seeking feedback from educators about how to improve the platform so that it meets YOUR needs. They'd like to add a special MrOwl for Educators FAQ section to their Help menu, but they need help from teachers to make this happen. Here's how you can help:
  1. Watch the replay of the Discover MrOwl webinar. Before you watch it, print out the Discover MrOwl webinar handouts so you'll have a place to take notes.

  2. Create a free account on MrOwl. When you register, keep in mind that your user name will be visible on the site, so choose one that you won't mind others seeing.

  3. Log on to the MrOwl from a computer and explore the platform. Create a few topic branches and subtopics within those branches. Search for online resources and save them. Upload photos or documents to one of your topic branches. Download the MrOwl smart phone app from Apple iTunes or Google Play, and test out the mobile version of the platform. Find Laura Candler on MrOwl and follow me!

  4. If you have questions or need help with MrOwl, click on the Help menu in the navigation bar to access the help pages. Were you able to find the answers there? If not, make a note of your questions so that you can ask them during the webinar.

  5. How do you envision using MrOwl both professionally and in the classroom with your students? What additional features would make MrOwl even better for educators? What information should be included in the MrOwl for Educators FAQ help menu?   
If this is the first you've heard about MrOwl, read my original blog review to learn a more about this new technology. Then watch the Discover MrOwl webinar and share your feedback with Becky and Arvind. They really do want to hear from you, because they need YOUR help to make MrOwl an even more amazing resource for educators!

January 4, 2018

Plickers Made Easy with Task Cards

Have you tapped into the power of Plickers yet? Plickers is a free, interactive tech tool that uses printable “paper clickers” instead of clicker devices. Each student is assigned a unique Plickers card that has a black and white image similar to a QR code. The letters A, B, C, and D are written in small print around the edge of the image, with one letter on each side of the card. During the lesson, the teacher displays a multiple-choice or true-false question. Then students hold up their Plickers cards and rotate them to indicate which answer they think is correct. The teacher scans all of the response cards at once, using the Plickers app installed on a mobile device. He or she can instantly see the student responses and assessment data for that question including who has the correct answer and who does not.

Plickers is a terrific formative assessment tool, but it can be used for much more than assessment. In fact, teachers are using it for everything from digital exit tickets to checking attendance or even taking the morning lunch count! The more I learn about the creative ways teachers are  using Plickers, the more I want to spread the word about this amazing free resource!

If you're new to Plickers, I have a suggestion that will save you time and might prevent some of the initial frustration that comes with learning a new program. First, visit the Plickers.com website and sign up for a free account. Take a peek around the site, but before you do anything else, watch my free webinar, Interactive Teaching with Plickers. During that webinar, I explained exactly how to set up your account and how to use Plickers to actively engage your students in the learning process. Teachers who attended the webinar really enjoyed it and said it helped them feel more confident about using the program with their students. Another way to learn about Plickers is to join my free Plickers K-5 Facebook group which is a place for teachers to share ideas, ask questions, and support each other.

Create Plickers Questions with Task Cards 
Plickers is an amazing tech tool for the classroom, but it does have one drawback. The program doesn’t have a database of prepared questions, so users have to enter their own. Most teachers type their questions and answer options manually, but fortunately there’s an easier method. Plickers allows users to import images, so you can upload images of questions instead of typing them. If you’re wondering why this would be helpful, think TASK CARDS! Multiple-choice task cards are like mini quizzes, each having a single question and several answer choices. If you create images from task cards and upload them to Plickers, you won’t have to type the questions OR the answers manually!

Where to Find Task Card Images 
Task cards have been popular for years, so there’s a good chance you already have a collection of them in your classroom. You can easily create images from those task cards using a screen capture tool, but there's another option that might interest you. I love creating resources that save teachers time, so I've started adding ready-to-use task card images to my multiple-choice task card products. I've also been creating brand-new task card sets with images for Plickers.

To test out the process of using task card images with Plickers, download the Basic Units of Customary Measurement Task Cards shown below. This freebie includes 10 printable task cards, 10  task card images, and my Plickers Made Easy with Task Cards tutorial.

If you like this freebie, be sure to check out my other measurement task cards, Customary Measurement Task Cards - Level 1 and Customary Measurement Task Cards - Level 2.     

Free Plickers Made Easy with Task Cards Tutorial
If you don't teach measurement, but you'd like to try using task cards with Plickers, download my free Plickers Made Easy with Task Cards tutorial from TpT and follow my step-by-step directions. This freebie includes 10 task card images to use with the tutorial, and if they're appropriate for your grade level, you can use them to test out the Plickers program with your students.

Plickers Webinar and Task Cards Bundle
After creating several task card products with images for Plickers, I decided to bundle all of them together with the professional development version of my Plickers webinar. Click here to check out the entire Plickers Webinar and Task Cards Growing Bundle on TpT. You can purchase each product in the bundle individually, but you save 30% when you buy the whole bundle. Click here to open a clickable PDF preview that displays all 12 products in the bundle.

By the way, the Plickers Webinar Bundle is a "growing bundle," because I'm still adding new task cards to it. Each time I add another product, the bundle price increases, but anyone who has already purchased it will get the new task cards for free! My next product is a set of Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition task cards that will have written descriptions and visual examples of these processes. I expect to finish them within the next few weeks.

Ready to get started? 
Plickers is a tech tool worth exploring, so jump in and give it a try! But don’t be discouraged if you find the program to be a little tricky at first. Yes, there's a bit of a learning curve when you get started, but after you get comfortable with Plickers, you and your students will love it!