Teacher Hack: Mail Merge for a Personal Touch

How much do you love labeling all the things? I mean, if you’re anything like me you label, cut, laminate, label, plan, and repeat. Well, I teach at a departmentalized elementary school and I love that I can just master teaching math and really focus on being successful at it, however labeling the things personally for three different classes can be daunting! So, being the problem solver that I am, I found a way to label things with all my students names on it, without having to type 60+ names on a template every time.

What is Mail Merge?

I never knew what mail merge was until about two years ago, when I taught middle school and learned of the game changer that it is! Basically, it’s a way that you can take an excel spreadsheet, and put it on a template in Microsoft Word. The possibilities are endless! You can mail merge labels, letters, envelopes, basically anything you create in Microsoft Word, you can input the information from an Excel spreadsheet into it!

1: Where to begin?

The first thing you want to do, is create a spreadsheet in Excel. I used to be scared of Excel, but it really isn’t so bad! I have a master class list saved that I have the students first and last name, separated into two different columns. I have 4 different sheets in my Excel workbook – 3 separated by class, and one with all three classes combined on it. This is the most time consuming part of mail-merging, because you need to have all the information typed on there. It might save you time if you asked your school secretary to email you a spreadsheet with your classes, but I type fast so I just take 20 minutes to type in the information, and then I have it for the rest of the year.

2: Create a Template

After you finish typing in your information that you want on labels, you have to open Microsoft Word. Click on that “Mailings” tab that no one actually knows what to do with to create the template you want to have filled with the data from Excel. For my example, I am going to create labels for my students binders, so I’ll click “Labels.” You can click letters to create a progress report, envelopes, and email messages.

3: Now what?

You go to that Mailings tab that no one actually knows what it is for, click the drop down menu that says, “Start Mail Merge,” and it will ask you to choose a new or existing recipient list for mail merge. Remember that excel file you created earlier? Here is where it comes into play. Click “Select Recipients,” and then, “Use an Existing List.” Search for the list that you just saved in your drive and click the sheet that has the data that you want to merge.

From here, you can create anything. I’m creating labels for my students folders, so I have the template in word, so I am just going to select “First Name.” To do that, you click, “Insert Merge Field,” where you will see a drop down of the titles of the columns of the excel spreadsheet that you created.

4: Formatting the Information

You can format the inserted field the same way you would format any document on Microsoft Word, from the home tab. Something to keep in mind is make sure the next box says, “Next Record,” to ensure that the merge completes all the data on the excel spreadsheet that you created.

5: Preview & Merge

When you are finished inserting the merge fields and formatting the information the way you want it to look, you can click, “Preview” and see what it will look like. If you’re happy with the way it looks, click “Finish & Merge.” I always click “Print Documents..” and then save them as a PDF in the printing window.

I hope that this gives you more time to do fun things and spend less time typing, re-typing & typing again for cute labels! I have a YouTube channel where I will be posting a detailed tutorial complete with the steps for mail-merging , so look out for it coming soon! Happy labeling!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

☆Alexandra☆

Google Sheets: Beyond the Formulas!

A quick read on 3 ways to use Google Sheets, besides calculating with formulas, in the classroom!

A quick read on 3 ways to use Google Sheets, besides calculating with formulas, in the classroom!

As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of Google Apps. I use Google Slides to create all of my lessons, Google Classroom to give my students assignments and Google Docs to create documents to share with my team. One application that I wasn’t using too often was Google Sheets. I took a course and it was so informative! I learned all about formulas, add-ons, and tips and tricks for students to use Google Sheets as well. Today I am going to share with you some ways I use Google Sheets to help me ease the time consuming to-do lists of teaching.

Conditional Formatting

Even if you’re not using Google Sheets for formulas, you can use it to type in students grades and you’ll have a neat and organized list of how your kids are doing. Conditional formatting is the greatest tool you will use to make your life 100x easier! Basically, you can set it so the lower grades are one color and the higher grades are a different color. I usually create a color scale to let me see the different grades, and I can easily see the students I need to conference with at a glance. I set up my Google Sheet like this:

Planning for Grouping

I created a grouping spreadsheet to help me when I make my center-time groups. Last year, I used paper and I left out kids more often than not and it was so frustrating for me and them to figure out where to put them. I no longer worry about that because of Google Sheets! I created a sheet for each of my classes and I have a master copy of the students names pre-populated in the first column. Then, as I put them into a group I change the fill color of the cell of their name to the color of the group I am putting them in. Check it out here:

As I am creating the groups, I can quickly see which students are going where and who I still have to put in a group. This is such an amazing time saver – I no longer take hours to plan for center time and small group!

Checklists for Planning

How frustrating is it when you’re planning this awesome lesson and in your mind it’s going to be the most jaw-dropping lesson of the week and then you get to work and realized theres a major component missing? Fear not – Google Sheets FTW! You can insert check boxes into a cell to check off as you complete the tasks! I created a master copy that I make a copy of and fill in for each chapter. This helps me so much when I’m planning for the unit and I can see what I need for each lesson and check it off as I create each piece.

Another use for the checkboxes is to check off as students had in assignments, trip slips, or anything really! This will save yourself from asking, “Where did I put that paper with the kids names that brought in the permission slip?” Such a simple solution to a very real problem!

Beyond Teaching

Google Sheets is such an important tool for me – I use it beyond teaching. I have a budget spreadsheet that helps me manage my money, a blog post tracker, and I track my TpT sales goals! Email me at letstechaboutmath@gmail.com if you have any questions or want some tips and tricks on Google Sheets beyond teaching!

I hope this helps with becoming more efficient in the classroom! Thank you for stopping by, don’t forget to subscribe for exclusive access to my Google Drive with FREEBIES just for subscribers! One of the freebies is a detailed explanation of how to do these three things, so be sure to subscribe for it!

Enjoy!

☆Alexandra☆

How To CONSISTENTLY Manage Student Behavior in 3 Easy Strategies!

This post contains affiliate links through the Amazon Associate program, however the views and opinions are my own.

Let’s talk about something that can make or break a lesson – student behavior. There are so many strategies and resources that a teacher can implement, but honestly it all can be overwhelming. I am going to share with you three different systems I use in my classroom to put more accountability on the students and make it less work for me.

Let me preface this by saying – when I am going over routines and expectations, students know that they have to be supportive of one another and not yell at someone who isn’t making good choices. We go over that it’s okay to feel frustrated when someone around you isn’t making a good choice, but how to express that frustration in a respectful way. I remind students of these skills regularly in order to maintain the peace, so to say!

I also do my best to instill a Growth Mindset in my students, which helps tremendously with behavior management. Students that see that you believe in them will believe in themselves, and in turn will behavior for you and respect you as their teacher because they see that you are only there to support them. It’s tough at times, but I am always as positive as possible and have many things around the room to remind me to stay positive, including my Shout Out wall. I post a Student of the Week on the Shout Out Wall, which is one of my individual reward systems.

Small Group

I’m not going to lie – I struggled to come up with an idea for small group behavior management in the beginning. For my small group system, I use a table tallies. I have the tallies on the board, clearly labeled and I have award each table a tally for perseverance, respect, and going above and beyond for each other. I’ll even give a tally to the table who packs up the quickest & quietest – nothing wrong with some friendly competition. The table with the most tallies each day gets the VIP Table Bucket, that I put special pencils, pens, and Expo markers for them to use!

The tally system has been a complete game changer for my classroom. Students who are usually chatty and off task want to earn tallies for their table, so they make better choices. And because we go over expressing frustrations appropriately, students are supportive and help each other to be their best self.

Whole Class

One of my goals as a teacher is to build relationships with my students and have them build relationships with each other. To do this, I emphasize that our class is one family unit.

The whole class system that I use is a tally system. I have table tallies, and theres a spot for whole class tally too. This means the whole class was on task, doing the right thing, and being respectful to one another.

Individual

For individual student motivation, I use a ticket system. When a student goes above and beyond, adds to the conversation, uses a great math vocabulary word, demonstrates excellent citizenship, or anything I think warrants a reward, I give them a ticket. I used the double roll of tickets and when they earn the tickets, they get both sides of the ticket. One ticket, I collect with their name on it and one they hold on to. The one that I collect that day with their name on it goes in the weekly raffle and the one they hold on to I let them redeem for prizes once a month.

Another form of individual student motivation is Class Dojo. I use this to give students points for perseverance, remaining on task, doing the right thing, and basically anything that they would also earn a ticket for. This also helps tremendously with parent communication. This year, I am emphasizing the importance of students being proud of their effort and work, so they ask me daily to take a picture of them with their work to upload to their Class Dojo portfolio. Parents love seeing how their child is doing in class. See my post on Class Dojo for more information on that!


I know there are so many other strategies to manage classroom behavior, and let me tell you I’ve tried so many of them! These are the major ways I use in my room, mainly because it’s easier for me to wrap a layer of tickets around me and hand them out as I see fit. I hope you find this post helpful & as always, contact me if you have any questions!

Enjoy!

☆Alexandra☆

QUICK READ: 3 Reasons to Use Flocabulary in your Math Class.. or any class really!

So my last post talked about engaging students in six easy websites, and Flocabulary was at the top of the list! Let me tell you – it’s one of the best websites I was told about. My students love it & I’m not going to lie to you – I find myself humming along while it’s on! I’m sharing with you today 3 reasons why I love using Flocabulary in my classroom!

Reason 1: Students Love it

That is an understatement. Every day students as me to put on a song. So far their favorite one is the Long Division song. It’s super catchy and although it doesn’t address the conceptual understanding, it’s so helpful for them to remember the standard algorithm and promotes fluency for math facts!

Reason 2: Google Classroom Compatible

The ability to assign videos and aligned activities on Google Classroom is such a great way to keep students practicing skills that they are struggling with in an engaging way. During center time, I group students by level, so I assign one whole group a video of a skill that they need to work on with one of the activities Flocabulary provides. There are 5 activities you can assign students: the video, vocabulary cards, vocabulary game, read and respond, quiz, and lyric lab. My students favorite is the lyric lab they love any opportunity that they can be creative and I love reading their rhymes!

Reason 3: Great for English Language Learners

Music connects us all, and having Flocabulary for ELLs helps to promote fluency in English as they are learning it. When I taught AIS with ELLs, I used Flocabulary all the time to help them to remember steps to solve problems, promote fluency in reading, and even for parts of speech. You can change the speed of the video to give ELLs time to listen and comprehend what they are listening to. Flocabulary has videos in all subject areas, not just math, so students who are learning to speak English can start by learning a few songs to help them!

So basically, this website is another gem to help keep up that student engagement. And of course, videos are CCLS aligned, so we can be sure we are showing the right video for the right standard! Try it out with your class today and see their faces light up when they hear the beats!

As always, don’t forget to subscribe to get exclusive access to my resources in Google Drive, for FREE! I will be sharing more specific videos for Flocabulary on there!

Enjoy!

☆Alexandra☆

How To Boost Student Engagement in 6 Easy Websites

1: Flocabulary

My students absolutely love Flocabulary and so do I! It’s a great way to boost engagement through hip hop music. Videos are aligned to CCLS standards for ELA and Math AND they have activities for students to do with the topics. Did I mention you can assign these videos and activities to kids on Google Classroom? One more reason to lovelovelove this website!

My students favorite video is the Long Division song and ask me to play it on a daily basis – even when division isn’t the topic we’re focusing on! They also have a Lyric Lab for students to become creators and make their own raps. It’s one of my students (and mine!) favorite activities to do and it really helps to boost their understanding of the material, which is an added bonus. I love reading and listening to their songs and raps of the topic we are working on!

2: Code.org

So I am new to the coding world, but my students seem to be pros already! I started using code.org in Saturday School and my students are absolutely loving it! The best thing about code.org is that all the lessons are there for you! All you have to do is set up the roster for your class and it’s completely self-paced, which helps for differentiation. There are courses based on each grade and there are even non-tech lessons that just help students with the basics of coding and what coding essentially is.

I only just started it with my students, but I am already loving it! Lessons are aligned the CCLS for ELA and Math, and I have been noticing significant improvement in teamwork. Students are helping each other out when they get stuck, and sharing their work with each other, which is amazing!

3: Quizizz

Quizizz is one of my favorite interactive ways to gather data on students. There are three ways to play a live game – classic, team, or test. I have a lot of experience with the classic version. Students compete to answer questions the quickest and most accurate, and the report is generated and you can save it. I love this because it gives me easy data to read and students are having fun while practicing topics. You can find assignments already made, or create your own. The possibilities are endless!

Oh and did I mention the memes? Students love seeing the memes that are in between each question! You can even add some of your own custom memes! This will definitely boost engagement in your classroom for sure!

4: Kahoot

Kahoot is very similar to Quizizz in that it’s like a game show way to review. The major difference is that it’s not self-paced and all the questions are timed, which can make or break the game. Some of my students shut down when they have to move quickly, while others rise to the challenge. You really need to know your students and what will really engage them. I love how excited students get when they see we are using Kahoot because they want to get to the top of the leaderboard. There is a paid option for Kahoot, but I stick to the free version because we all know us teachers are on a budget!

5: Quizlet

The last website that I love using in my classroom is Quizlet. Quizlet also has a paid option, but again I stick to the free one. What I love about Quizlet is the focus on vocabulary. I can create decks of cards with our vocabulary words, or find pre-made ones. I post the link of the sets that I create to Class Dojo so that parents can see and help their child with the vocabulary. Kids love playing the games and practicing vocabulary.

6: Prodigy Game

Last, but definitely not least, there is Prodigy. This is 100% my students favorite game to play. I did a complete write up of this website here, but I will give you the basics now. It’s a role playing game where students are a wizard and they have to battle to get pets and gems. Their battles consist of math problems that they have to answer and teachers get a full report of what each student is working on. It is a favorite center of my students and they even play at home for 20 minutes each night! That’s another report you get as a teacher – the time each student is spending on Prodigy and how many questions they’re answer in that time. It’s a great tool for teachers and it really is a fun game for students. I created my own student account to see what the hype was, and I can see why students love it!

I’ve only skimmed the surface with these websites – and I will be doing a complete write up of most of them (if I didn’t do so already). There are so many opportunities to keep students engaged, while giving you the data you need to plan your curriculum. I love these websites because they are a great way to check for understanding, or give as an anticipatory set to see what students already know. Personally, I use them for a centers and mid-chapter checks. Kids are so excited when it’s time to review and cheer when they’re assigned the digital center for the day!

Something about most of these websites that I love is the fact that they can all be assigned through Google Classroom. This gives the opportunity for teachers to differentiate instruction without having to worry about creating different material for each student. The websites definitely will boost engagement for students, which in turn will enhance their understanding. Students love to play video games, why not use that to our benefit when teaching?

What other websites do you use to boost engagement? Comment below to let me know!

☆Alexandra☆

Bulletin Board Letters – 3 Ways!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been so excited for decorating my classroom for this upcoming year! I chose to do a travel theme in the room, so everything has to do with airplanes, passports, and maps! I love to travel, so it was easily something I could get excited about.

When I started teaching (in my pre-cricut days), I would buy the die-cut letters and usually spend a ton of money trying to gather all of the letters I needed for my room. And then – Cricut happened. I’m not going to lie, up until last November, I had no clue what a Cricut even was until my amazing co-teacher introduced me to this amazing crafting essential.

Let me tell you, this thing is amazing! I’m a big fan of creating custom birthday cards, t-shirts, and totes! But that is not why I am writing today. I had an epiphany that if I could do all of this with my Cricut, why not use it for work too? Okay, maybe it was more of a Pin than an epiphany that inspired me, LOL! Without further ado, here are the three ways I created my bulletin board letters in my classroom.

Way 1 – Cricut Print & Cut Option

Fonts used: I Love Glitter (dafont.com) and Boys will be Boys Arrow (Cricut Access Font)

I wanted to create bulletin board letters that went along with my theme – learning is a journey. A map background would be perfect to represent traveling, but I wasn’t sure how I would do it. I did some research, and the did you know that you can insert a picture as a pattern to the background of letters? It comes out so cool when it’s done! Here are the steps to create beautiful bulletin board letters using the print & cut option:

  1. Go to google and find a pattern you want the letters to have in them.
  2. In Cricut Design Space, go to Upload – Pattern Fill.
    • You won’t see these in your images when you upload.
  3. Search and upload the pattern that you saved from Google (or created yourself, I’m just not that talented!)
  4. Add text and type what you want. Duplicate your text. Make sure one is bold and one is regular.
  5. For the regular text, click to make it a print and cut, and then change the print type to pattern. You can choose the pattern you uploaded, or you can choose from the patterns Cricut provides.
  6. Align your patterned text over the bold black text, this will give you a nice outline around your pattern to make the words easier to read. This is optional, you could just leave the text as the pattern if you prefer.
  7. When you go to print and cut the letters, make sure you flatten the two layers of text so that your Cricut only makes one cut of the letter and not two.

way 2 – Cricut Cut 2 Layers

The second Cricut way is a way that I prefer, solely because I don’t like wasting ink, is just cutting two layers of letters. I follow the same steps as above, except I don’t choose Print and Cut. I create two layers of the text, I line up the letters to make sure they fit and look nice, and then the Cricut cuts the two different colors of card stock. I usually do black in the back and a color in the front. I use a glue stick to line up the letters, and then laminate them.

Fonts used: Babette (Cricut Access Font) and Boys will be Boys Block (Cricut Access Font)

Way 3 – Print and Cut from PowerPoint

Okay, so a Cricut is quite an expense for a teacher salary, so here is an alternative to using the Cricut to make beautiful letters for your bulletin board. For this way, you’re going to want to use PowerPoint to create your letters.

  1. The first thing you’re going to want to do when you open PowerPoint is change your page size to letter because that’s what is going to print nicely. Go to File – Page Set Up – Click the dropdown menu and find Letter Size.
  2. Create a text box that is the whole size of the page and type what you want your bulletin board to say.
  3. Make the font big, I’m talking 300+! Depending on the size of your bulletin board, I like to keep bulletin board letters to about 3.5-4.5 inches. Letter size paper is 11 inches tall (if you have it in portrait mode), so I like to make my letters about half the size of the paper.
    • You may have to duplicate your slide until you can fit all of the letters you want.
  4. When you have the letters you want and the size you want, you can duplicate the slides and make the letters slightly smaller than the main letters so that when you cut them you can layer them.
  5. Print your letters, cut them out & glue the layers together. I laminate my letters, so I don’t use too much glue, just enough to position the letters together for the laminating pouch.

To save your color ink with PowerPoint, find a font that has a nice outline, such as Clementine Sketch, Action Jackson, or KG PDX Blocks. I usually find my fonts from dafont.com or 1001fonts.com. If you have a nice font with a thick outline, you can just print black ink on colored card stock to save your color ink and you won’t have to cut and glue two layers!

I hope you find these strategies to create beautiful bulletin board letters helpful! Let me know if you have any questions!

☆Alexandra☆

Tech-less Tuesday: Resource Roundup!

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Hello everyone!

Happy Tech-less Tuesday! Today, I am sharing with you Resource Roundup, an activity that I spoke about briefly in a previous post. I created this to help students become aware of all the tools and resources around the room to help them become successful independent learners!

If you’re like me, you’re prepping your back to school lessons, decorations, and organizing everything to get ready for September! Seriously – we don’t get all summer off, we take at least all of August to plan, right? I’m going to share with you this Resource Roundup activity to help students recognize the scaffolds around the room to support them.

Resource Roundup will allow students to explore the room, manipulatives, and any tools you may have to help them be independently successful throughout the year. This is a great way to discuss the various topics that will be covered and will give you an insight as to what the students already know of the resources.

This is a Jig-Saw activity that I will use within the first few days of school. Students will have a “Home” group and an “Master” group. In their master groups, they will explore the resource they are assigned. They will discuss and take notes on the graphic organizer I created answering a few questions about the resource. When they return to their home group, they will share their findings.

The activity can be altered to fit your students of course! The worksheet can be a center time activity, a whole class activity, or an independent activity. Just be sure to give students 15-20 minutes to browse the room and see what they can find to help them be successful. Again, the way you use this activity is up to you!

Some of the resources I am having students examine are fraction manipulatives, base ten blocks, the rubrics we use and success criteria, math dictionaries and word wall, measurement tools, unit cubes, and counters. I will also allow them to walk around and look at the posters and anchor charts that may help them understand more.

An extension for this activity I am planning to do is to have each home group create a poster or advertisement of the resources. You can have them all choose one, you can assign each group a different resource, or you can have them advertise for all five resources – the possibilities are endless!

When I do this activity, I will have each group advertise one resource (assigned by me) on a poster and hang them around the room for the year so students can be reminded that they have plenty of resources to utilize before me. This is a great way to have student work up and to remind you to use the manipulatives in your lessons!

In my TpT store, you’ll find Resource Roundup, which comes with the following:

  • Lesson Plan
  • Resource Roundup Graphic Organizer
  • Assignment Checklist
  • Teacher Assessment Checklist
  • Extension Activity

How do you introduce the resources of your classroom to your students? Drop a comment below & let me know! 🙂

☆Alexandra☆

Digital Small Group Solutions

Hello Techie Teachers!

As we enter August, I have been in full on planning mode for September! One area that I struggled with the most last year was planning small group work and center time. This year, that is going to be one of my main focuses! I’ve been trying to research efficient ways to create my groups and plan which center each group will get, but I found nothing that will suite me, so I decided to make something!

In my school, we begin our day with Center Time for about twenty minutes. During this time, I have four things happening in the room – I am working with one small group, another group is on technology, a third group is doing a collaborative problem solving activity, and a fourth group is working on fluency. This can get crazy because center time isn’t necessarily for what I’m teaching the whole class that day, it’s to bridge the gaps of previously taught standards. I try to keep it to a standard a week and rotate the same groups throughout each of the different centers.

The Problem: Grouping

The issue I was having last year was that when I created my groups for each week, I was looking at a list and crossing out names as I put them in a group. This posed as an issue for me because I would STILL leave students out! The day would come for them to be in a group and I wouldn’t have anywhere for them to go. I wanted to create a digital way of grouping for this year where the students are pre-populated and I can just rearrange them.

The Solution

I created a Google Sheet with my students names on a class list and on the side are the four groups, color coded. I can cut and past the students names in each group, and when their name is cut I know they’re already in a group! I also plan to color code the students names for my high-medium-low groups when I meet them and get a chance to review the EOY data from fourth grade. This will help me to ensure all students have a group each day in the week. I also plan to keep students in the same group all week because, let’s be honest, changing them daily is way too time consuming and the standard to work on is the same all week anyway!

The Problem: Planning Activities

Last year when I was planning activities for centers, I would have my bin separated by skill/standard and just give them to the kids if we were working on the standard. This became an issue because I wasn’t entirely organized about giving out the center and some students got stuck doing the same center more than once, which isn’t exactly meaningful work. I mean, some centers can be repeated throughout the year, but not in the same week. This was where I was really struggling last year, so again, I did some research for ways to plan and was inspired by a few blogs, but nothing worked directly for me. We do center time, but it isn’t exactly Guided Math or Math Workshop, because we still have a whole group mini lesson, independent practice, and math journal every day after centers.

The Solution

The solution to this was to add another sheet to my workbook on Google Sheets. The second sheet was to plan my activities and which group will be doing them and what day of the week. I can copy my groups right into the boxes on this sheet to know which kids are doing what and when. This will help me to see what centers I need for the week and I will keep making copies each week. I may even add a yearly plan to this, but I haven’t thought about that yet.

What do you think? How can you use this for your classroom?

☆Alexandra☆

Purchase this Small Group Planning Solution at my TpT store by clicking here!

Five Ways to Use the Promethean – Right Now!

Read about these five tools on the Promethean board that I cannot live without! Keep students engaged!

Hello Friends!

After a long wait, today I bring to you – Promethean Part 2: Five Apps to Download on it Right Now! After taking a couple of workshops about the Promethean board, I have decided that there are five specific apps to download through the Google Play Store that you need. These apps will keep the kids engaged while you’re teaching and your life so much easier. Isn’t that what this blog is about? Simplifying teaching through technology.

I’m going to be honest with you – I was not a huge fan of the Promethean board in my classroom when I first started working with it. My former school had SMART Boards and SMART Technologies were all I knew. After taking some workshops on the Promethean board, I learned that it is basically a giant tablet & I now love it and all the things you can do with it!

Google Chrome

Starting with the most used app on my board, Google Chrome. I like it because I can sign in to my school gmail account and have my bookmarks already there for me. I put a password on the administrator account on the board so that no one can access my personal google account. This makes for smooth teaching and not having to worry to pull up websites ahead of time.

Google Drive

Naturally, Google Drive is a staple on the Promethean board. I plan all of my lesson with Google Slides or Google Docs. Having them all in one place is great and I don’t have to worry about signing in every time. Because I created an administrator account with the board, there is a password on it so that only I can use my account on the Promethean. This way I’m not worried about my Google account being logged in on the board when I’m absent or if someone else has to teach in my room.

Google Slides

Google Slides is what I put my lessons on to present to the kids. I prefer this because it saves onto my account and once I am signed into Google Drive on the board, it’s so easy to pull up. I use the magic pen button (on the pink home button) to write on top of the Google Slides as I am teaching. If I want students to write, I take a quick screen shot and put it on the Infinite White Board (see my post on this amazing tool also!) to split the screen and have students write. This makes it easier to save their work to Google Drive or a flash drive.

Kahoot!

My students absolutely love Kahoot! Any reason for them to use a computer keeps them engaged. Having the app installed on the Promethean is the greatest time saver! No more logging in, searching for what you’re looking for, and waiting for it to load. It’s all there on the board for you already!

Quizizz

Quizizz is a similar concept as Kahoot – students join a live game, or you can assign a game on Google Classroom. I prefer Quizizz to Kahoot only because I’m more familiar with it, but students love both! Quizizz is self-paced, so students can answer questions in as much time as they need. The program does time the students and lets me know which questions took longer than others. I love that I also can export the data from the Quizizz. Like I said, any time students get a chance to use a computer, they love it!

PDF Viewer

The last app is a Google PDF viewer. This might sound obvious to you, but I didn’t realize it was something I would need until I didn’t have it. This makes life easier if you want to pull up a part of the textbook you’re using (we use Go Math at my school) or Engage NY pdf files if you choose to use those worksheets.

I hope these apps help you as much as they help me! Any way I can save time in the classroom with trivial things (like logging in) leaves more time for students to be actually working!

What apps do you like to use on your Promethean board? Let me know what I missed that you must use regularly!

PS – have you checked out Feedspot lately? Tech About Math made the list of fifth grade teacher bloggers to follow! 🙂

☆Alexandra☆

Tech-less Tuesday: Worksheets Can Be Fun

So I’m a day late with Tech-less Tuesday, we’ll call today, “Without Tech Wednesday :P”

I am writing today with education.com to show you guys how I used their worksheets in my classroom this year. I’m not going to lie, I strongly dislike giving my students worksheets to complete independently, and the collecting them and grading them are even worse! However, I recently have been using worksheets to my advantage by making them into a basketball game. I purchased a little nerf basketball hoop for my classroom and when my kids see it hanging up, they come in very excited and ready to play and learn!

What do you need to play?

To set up, here is what you need:

  • Basketball hoop (or trash can with some paper basketballs)
  • Worksheet of your choice (visit education.com for a variety of great worksheets to choose from!)
  • Dry erase boards & markers
  • Duct tape (for the floor to mark 2- and 3-point shots)

Setting up the Game

To set up the game, you divide the students into teams. I usually do 5 groups of 4-5 students, grouped heterogeneously to make the game fair. Each team can come up with a team name for the score board. Students start by completing the worksheet independently for about 7-10 minutes, depending on the length of the worksheet. After they work on it independently, I give them time to work as a group. If the worksheet has several skills, I’ll assign questions I want each group to work on so that I know they are working on the specific skill I want them to practice. Of course as they are working, I am walking around and taking notes on my checklist to formatively assess the class.

The Game

Since I have a Promethean board, I use the spinner labeled with each students name on it. I have it set so that each child is only chosen one time. I use the spinner to determine the order that students answer. You can use popsicle sticks or roll a dice to determine the student order if you don’t have a digital spinner. The first student who lands on the spinner will answer the first question.

Since the students had a chance to discuss the answers and how to solve it with their group, random selection is a great way to make the game fair.

I give the class 1-2 minutes to write their answer/work on their whiteboards and say, “3-2-1- boards up!” If the person who’s name is chosen from the spinner got it correct, they get one point for their team and to take a basketball shot for their team. They can choose 2- or 3-point shot and they earn that many points for making it.

The team that has the most points when the worksheet is complete (or time runs out) wins! I usually give them a prize like a jolly rancher, homework pass, or extra computer time during centers. Rewards can be discussed before the game, however students are just excited to play basketball in math class!

Variations

There can be some variations to this game. You can make it individual, or have the class in 2 teams, or even let other teams steal from the students who got their question incorrect. I kept it simple in my class this year and it worked. I used this game for task cards during test prep and it made state exam review exciting. You can also use it for vocabulary practice.

Dive into multiplication practice with this under-the-sea themed math worksheet! Check out our full collection of math games and printables at Education.com.

How do you use worksheets in your classroom? Drop a comment below!

☆Alexandra☆