Read & Write for Chrome saves my life..

ReadWrite-logoThe extension that saves the day in many cases just happens to be read&write for Chrome. You might be thinking, cool Kendra it highlights, anything can highlight, and we have to PAY for it!?

Well.. it comes with a free trial for students.. which I’ve used up. I haven’t bought it for students yet, but let me just tell you how much I love it for the FREE stuff that stays on your computer past the free trial.

What does it even do and how do I download it?

Once you’ve downloaded by clicking on that link, and added it up top you need to agree to run by clicking that blue agree button when the box pops up. Now, whenever you want to use read&write in any Google application, website, or more, just click that purple puzzle piece and it will begin.

RRAddressBar(Only place I have found it doesn’t always work are pdfs) Once you have clicked that puzzle piece, it should open up the menu. The menu will have all features for the first 30 days with an .edu email, and after 30 days you will still have access to the audio portion.

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Read & Write has become basically an aid in my classroom.

All that I have left because I don’t pay for r&w for my students is the pause and play, but can I tell you how important that is for my students with IEP’s? I have over 5 kids in each one of my periods that are supposed to have each test read to them. How am I supposed to do that all at once?! Oh wait, put the test in Google Forms, and have them press play. The test is read to them, not by me, by the COMPUTER! It’s not a regular robot who just reads the whole page and kids have to keep up. Students can highlight with their cursor what they want read and then press play. One question at a time! Or, maybe they do the whole page but use that handy stop button to stop at each question. Maybe they need the questions re-read to them but are too afraid to ask me to do it because I’m a human. They aren’t afraid to ask a computer to re read the questions, not embarrassing!

I love it for tests, but it is also helpful for articles and difficult primary source readings. My English Learners benefit from hearing how words are said, and sometimes a first read on their own when they are four to five grade levels before reading level is just impossible. My students are at a place where they don’t need to be told to use it, if they need it, they just open it up.

Yes, yes, I know Google Docs has voice feature now.. but if you want EVERY site, every thing to be read, just use this! Plus for 30 days your students have  four sweet colored highlighters, a dictionary, picture dictionary, fact finder, and collector of highlights. Teachers, you get all of these things for FREE for LIFE. Register HERE!

and then once your students run out of their free trial: Just download Clearly to highlight. Let me know if you found anything else that saves your life like read&write does for me! 🙂

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5 Ways to Make Group Work More Successful (using TECH)

Sorry it’s been forever and a day since I have blogged last. I have been working extra hard on getting my website up and running and creating tutorials for you! (If you haven’t seen all of this stuff go back to home and check it out ASAP) Give me feedback on what you have seen, what you need help with, and keep introducing me to new applications to use in the classroom with my kids. Anyway, on to the point of today.. 5 ways to make group work more successful! Our district is PUSHING group work as it is a HUGE part of the Common Core Standards and just makes our students more thoughtful learners, so here’s a few tricks I have found that just plain work (hint: they all involve tech!)

1. Give students an individual task that must be completed before they get into groups.

For my class I almost always require students complete a simply Hyperdoc on a lesson before they are able to get into their groups. Why do I do this? Students must bring in some knowledge to actually assist the group in whatever they are doing that day. If students have yet to complete any work on their own, they have nothing to contribute to the group. In order to ensure everyone can actually have a conversation on the content and have FACTS (not just opinions!) to back something up, they’ve got to complete a Hyperdoc. For example, before students were able to get into their Mexican American War groups to create a lesson to teach other students about the Mexican American War, they were required to complete this hyperdoc:

2. Give students incentive by letting them pick what program they will use to create in groups.

Now I always give my students some ideas of what they could do. Let’s go back to the Mexican American War project, I gave ideas like you could create a comic on the Mexican American War, you could create a Prezi timeline, or a podcast telling the story of the war. Students want and need the options to see what you expect, so don’t just leave out options. I’m just saying let one of the options be you come up with something better than I could even come up for you. Make it a challenge. You will see students come alive in trying to make something better than you would have expected. Take this Youtube video for example that students wrote a script for and filmed in less than 45 minutes.

3. Provide a place for students to record ideas and group conversations.

Students need to be able to reference back to what was said in their groups. This is why students should be using Google Docs/Slides/whatever and opening up the chat box in order to write down some of the things that are said to each other. If a student wants to share a resource with everyone else they can do that in the chat.

caution.gif Google Chats will disappear when students log off for the day or exit out of their document or slides. Make sure you let students know they need to save any resources or important things said in the chat somewhere else. Google fix this please?

Another place you can go as a blank wall for groups is Padlet. Students do not need to login, and can access what they post on that blank wall anywhere as it creates a link for anyone to access. Videos, links, text, and pictures can all be posted EASILY and seen between all group members (and YOU teacher!)

4. Check in during and at the end the project on how all students feel as group members.

As you all know students can get a bit touchy during group projects if they don’t feel their opinions are being valued or if they are doing too much work. There are plenty of ways to check in on how a certain group member is doing privately without awkwardly pulling them aside away from their group so they do not feel as if they are tattling. You could privately message them on Google Classroom or send them a simple email. Or, send them a Google Form at the end of their group project to assess how they worked together and get feedback on the project.

5. Have students turn in their project on Google Classroom and grade as quickly as possible.

Wait, this doesn’t have to do with students this has to do with us! Sort of. Students need to hear feedback on group work in a manner of time where they will remember how well they worked with their group members. Sometimes we get behind and push grading those group projects back because we think it takes longer (which it may!) but create a rubric early and get it done as soon as possible. Provide some time in class to point out the positives (maybe even video recording positive group examples) so that the next time you do group work your students will have high expectations for themselves!