I want to show you five websites or tools that I plan to use for distance learning in the fall!
NUMBER ONE – Google Classroom
This is one that I have to use, but I don’t necessarily want to use but since the whole school is using it I have to Google Classroom. Now don’t get mad at me if you are LOVE Google Classroom. I’m not sold on it yet. We have used Schoology (which I don’t really like much in either) But Google Classroom has one great feature.
It is connected to everything, It’s GOOGLE. It’s connected to Google Drive, Goolge Slides, Google Docs, Google Hangouts etc. All these things and all these tools that our kids are learning are easily accessible within Google Classroom.
Where I have an issue is the organization piece of it. In the video above I show you my Google Classroom from this past April – May, 2020. I had to make a specials classroom for each grade. Then I made just a Spanish classroom for my middle schoolers. And since I am department head-ish I also do the non-Spanish Specials specifically for middle school. (If that doesn’t make sense then no worries. It barely made sense to me.)
I ended up having like 12 classrooms on Google Classroom that I had to set up and manage. It was mind blogging. When I posted it here, I had to post it there and then when I posted here posted there. It was so much work just to post one thing and so I’ve got to get better at that.
Second, I was not impressed with the notifications. I wanted to know when my students did certain things, but if you’re a co-teacher on the same classroom you get all the notifications on your phone (from the Google classroom app) So my phone is blowing up with P.E., art, music and Spanish notifications. Meanwhile, I’m on my laptop, and I don’t know anything’s going on because there are no notifications. Somebody said “Oh well you can do notifications from your email.” Well, the email that I have to use is through my school. I don’t actually use that email except to sign up for Google Classroom. So, I don’t watch it or monitor it. I didn’t really turn on notifications either. So, I’m gonna have to figure that part out.
NUMBER TWO – SEESAW
This is a website I love. Seesaw is a digital portfolio website. It is very user friendly for my students. Kindergartners can use it even after one or two lessons. I love Seesaw. Students create videos. They can take a picture. They can draw. They can type a note. They can record themselves or other. They can do so many things in different ways. It’s a great tool for differentiation. In the video you can see examples from third grade from last year. They are talking about a chapter that we read from Brandon Brown dice la verdad. There’s a video of a student filming a review of the book. It is really really easy to send student work, announcements, links and other information to parents. In the video you can see an example of an announcement. It connects straight to parents. Teachers are going to love this because I have to approve every single thing my students do on this website. If they write a comment, if they like something, or upload work it is sent to parents only when I approve it. I have full control over it all. I love this website so much, and I can’t wait to use it for distance learning.
This is all Spanish content, so if you’re not a Spanish teacher these two may not be for you however both have and are adding French materials. Garbanzo which is was created to support Somos by Martina Bex’s Comprehensible Classroom. Garbanzo is a fairly new website so they’re still rolling out some features. Some features I’m am excited about is the placement test, and audio. There is many options for finding leveled readings based on a Somos unit, tense, content and country. Many of my students really liked it. I was surprised at their enthusiasm. I can’t wait to use garbanzo a little bit more and then
Of course, I’m a big proponent of Señor Wooly. It is content in Spanish. However, he started to add French resources. I’m definitely going to use Señor Wooly with my middle school students. There are many features if you want to assign things and be very specific about what you want them to do. Or if you want to make it a free choice, students can chose what stories they want to use. It’s a great free choice for providing comprehensible input and is very compelling for many students.
NUMBER FOUR – Fluency Matters
Fluency Matters is a major supplier for all kinds of comprehensible input teaching resources. So I love it for that reason. Fluency matters has a lot of leveled reader novels. Most of the novels in my classroom come from Fluency Matters but they’ve also started providing E-courses, E-books and E-activities. They started this a few years back but this past spring they opened it up for special prices for distance learning when everybody went on quarantine which was so incredibly kind because all of us were scrambling about what we were going to do. They have different kinds of levels to the resources. The basic level is the E-book. It is a digital copy of the book. It is very easy to navigate and it includes the audio which I love it when it includes audio especially for my younger students, my lower readers and my dyslexic students. They provide E-courses which also include activities and quizzes. E-courses include the e-books and the e-activities. The e-book is by itself and the e-activities are by itself. I highly recommend Fluency Matters. They have so many novels that and they have all these options for those novels. I highly recommend these features if you teach a full class novel which I do in my third fourth and fifth grade.
NUMBER FIVE – Loom
I use this tool in the video above. It’s called Loom. L-O-O-M. It allows me to videotape myself, my screen and my face or just my screen which is what I’ve used in the video. I like to use this for how-to videos so when I need my students to sign into Señor Wooly and they forget how to do it. Since I’m not right there to help them which is the worst part about distance learning they can go to this video. I can walk them through the exact steps of how you do whatever it is they need to do to complete an assignment. Loom videos can stay on the Loom website or you can download them to put on youtube. It’s free! If you get the pro version, you just get more features, and you get more storage. However, you get a lot for the free account and then you can also do presentations. Is you have a powerpoint, you can record your voice and your face as you’re doing the powerpoint. I’ve used Loom so much since starting distance learning to help kids know how to sign into things, how to get to things and then on presentations. It’s a great tool.
Those are the five websites/tools that I know I’m going to be using come fall.
Leave a comment below because I would love to know all of your ideas. And I might put them in a different video/blog post because we all need some help with this distance learning thing.