Start Your Year With Google Chrome Basics for Kids

Google Chrome Basics For Kids

According to the New York Times, a reported 7 million Chromebooks were delivered to schools across the United States in 2016. So hopefully, you were one of those fortunate teachers that now have this amazing device available to you to transform your teaching.

Chromebooks are more than just an easy way for kids to have internet access. They can be used as powerful tools for efficient learning and creativity. My 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders that are well-seasoned members of my “Chrome Squad” are now sharing and collaborating on Google Slides, conducting surveys on Forms, voice-typing stories in Google Docs, developing work portfolios in Keep, collecting and sharing their favorite extensions and apps with classmates and teachers, editing images and creating their own videos! Amazing what they can do with the right tools and time to “Sandbox” what we teach them. If you are interested in reading more about my Chrome Squad, please see my previous Chrome Squad posts- Part 1 through Part 5.

So, now what can we do to begin training students to use Chromebooks more effectively? We can start with the basics! As elementary teachers, this thought process is in our DNA, right?

The diagram above is what I use to teach my students the basic functions of Chrome to visit websites, Drive used to store files, Docs, and Slides to collaborate and share work content. This diagram shows how the apps work together and is one of the pages from my ebook – “Chromebooks For Kids- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad“. Available in July of 2017 on Amazon. Make sure that you sign up to your right – “BE NOTIFIED ABOUT MY NEW BOOK “CHROMEBOOKS FOR KIDS” if you are interested in receiving email notifications regarding my book. I start with Chrome basics on the second week of school with this lesson in the “Getting to know your Chromebook” Chapter. Most of our younger children come to us understanding how to “Swipe & Tap” on an iPad or their parents Android phone so building an understanding of a virtual, unseen workflow takes time, practice and patience. As an added barrier, we put a keyboard in front of them with very little training about using those keys. Nonetheless, they have all had experience being on the Internet in some capacity so, we start with using Chrome as their Internet portal and from there we begin talking about Digital Citizenship.

Most of our younger children come to us understanding how to “Swipe & Tap” on an iPad or their parents Android phone so building an understanding of a virtual, unseen workflow takes time, practice and patience. As an added barrier, we put a keyboard in front of them with very little training about using those keys. Nonetheless, they have all had experience being on the Internet in some capacity so, we start with using Chrome as their Internet portal and from there we begin talking about Digital Citizenship.

The first week of school is always filled with procedures and reminders to build upon the social skills they have already acquired. The second week of school is a great time to parallel good “Digital” decision making with those in-class procedures. We talk about “If it is not okay to do in class, it is not okay to do it online.”

Our sweet little “Digital Natives” understand more about navigating certain devices and sites than we do in many cases, that is for sure but they still need to be explicitly taught the proper use and expectations regarding their new devices, vocabulary necessary for effective communication and most importantly they need our ever-present moral guidance. According to Martine Oglethorpe, author of “Parenting in the Digital Age” and blog site The Modern Parent, it is critical that we help children build up a resilience to cope with the challenges that our 21st Century learners will face. Can they spot a scammer or a site that may be trying to gather personal information, known as “Phishing”? Can they identify false information, resist the temptation to post photos that they do not have permission to post or are not appropriate? These are just a few examples of the types of conversations we need to have with our kids and are addressed in my book.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the outstanding effort that Google is putting toward educating our students to be more resilient when it comes to interacting online. Google’s new- “Be Internet Awesome” was just recently released where students visit “Interland” using a highly “Gamefied” format to build online safety awareness. There are four lands to visit- Reality River, Mindful Mountain, Tower of Treasure and the Kind Kingdom. I am very impressed with the teacher lesson materials also included on this site. Check it out! My kids love it!

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3 Ways To Get Images Into Your Google Drive on a Chromebook

3 Ways to Save Images to Google Drive on a Chromebook

Often times, students find copyright safe images that they want to save to their Google Drive to use in a project but getting that image into their Drive can be a challenge. So, here are 3 ways to get those images into Drive. Read below or watch my husband’s (Paul) video HERE that he did for my “Chromebooks For Kids” Hyperdoc coming to Kindle in July. If you are interested in learning more, just look under “Categories” for the “Chrome Squad”.

  1. Two Finger Click on the image- “Save As”
  2. From a Screenshot- CTRL +  (Switch Window Key)

     

         * Where does the image go from screenshot?- It goes to the temporary downloads at the Right Bottom corner.

         * How do I get that screenshot into my Drive and out of the temporary downloads?

         Click that image from downloads and drag it to your Drive.

  1.    Upload image to PDF  from “Print” Window CTRL + P  then – “Change” – “Save to Google Drive”
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How to Safely Play YouTube Videos in Your Classroom

How many times have you found a great video resource on YouTube to match a lesson you were teaching only to find that the suggested videos along the right-hand column and comments below the video were either inappropriate or just downright distracting?

Well, I found a great way to remedy this problem! Viewpure.com ViewPure is free and basically, displays the video on a clean white background free of comments and suggested videos that typically appear next to the video you had selected. There have been instances that it has not worked with embedded videos but those times have been very rare in my experience. ViewPure is also a great workaround if your district blocks YouTube.

There are two easy ways to use ViewPure. You can either copy the URL of the Video you want to watch and paste it inside ViewPure or you can download a bookmark tab to use, which is quicker to access.

Here are three videos to show you how to use and install ViewPure:

ViewPure Video How To- Maria Kehres

ViewPure Example #1 by Brian Wise

ViewPure Example #2 by Brian Wise

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Chrome Squad- Elementary Edition (Part 5) Finally Coming Together- Using an Interactive Chromie Bootcamp Chart

Finally Coming Together- Using an Interactive Chromie Bootcamp Chart

My ebook/Hyperdoc– “Chromebooks for Kids- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad”  was created to better transition elementary students from iPads to the ever popular Chromebooks. It is a Step-By-Step comprehensive guide for teachers to share with their students learning to use Google tools on Chromebooks in a Personalized Environment. It was born out of my own need to have something to structure a “Google Apps Curriculum” of sorts to get my students more familiar with the new devices in our classrooms. For those of you that have been through the Google Educator Training, I modeled my book after that training process and hopefully, my material is a bit more simplistic for my younger students. 🙂 To best understand this process, go back and read posts #1-#4 about our Elementary Chrome Squad.

After months of revising and colleague input, I finally feel confident enough to post the final editions of the two main charts I used to get my “Chromies” to seamlessly work in their independent personalized Google lessons. Both charts are from my new eBook- “Chromebooks For Kids- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad” coming out on Kindle at the end of June. Make sure that you sign up to your right – “BE NOTIFIED ABOUT MY NEW BOOK “CHROMEBOOKS FOR KIDS” if you are interested in receiving email notifications regarding my book.

This interactive “Chromie Boot Camp Chart” you see above, is the heart of my book and most commonly used by my students to stay on track. Each numbered step is interactive, meaning that the kids click on the step that links them to the Google App Lesson page they are working on. Each page has a series of videos to watch, assignments to try and followed up with a Google Form to see if they were ready to move on to the next app. Also on this chart, you can see what a Chromie badge looks like including the coveted gems they earn when they help others with the tech skills they have learned, which the kids absolutely love!

My second chart titled – “Independent Work Stations” is not interactive, however, it was also very helpful, especially at the beginning so students would know where to find help if they needed it, knowing where others were working at that same level.

In my book you will receive:

*Directions on How To Use “Chromebooks For Kids- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad”

*6 Chrome Squad Goals To Guide Action Plans

*2 Charts to Help Manage Learning Paths for Ability Groups

*60 of my “Suggested Apps and Extensions” that link directly to The Chrome Web Store so no searching required.

*A Google Form for each of the 8 steps to assess student mastery before progressing to the next step.

*2 Pages of Printable Name Badge Styles for Students to wear, along with the actual links used to purchase what I found were the best plastic badges.

*Instructional Material to best use 6 of Google’s most basic Apps- Chrome, Drive, Docs, Slides, Keep & Draw to Create, Collaborate and Communicate Student Work

*Over 68 Links to Carefully selected Video Lessons and Websites to teach young children how to use Google Tools using a  language they can actually understand!

*How to Find, Edit & Save Images to Google Drive using 6 Different Resources to find Copyright Safe Images

*5 Suggested Video Tools to use and Share Video on Chromebooks

*Printable Storyboard for Students to Use when organizing Video Projects

*And a few creative EXTRAS!

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Chrome Squad- Elementary Edition (Part 4) Skills to Begin, Name Badges & Earning Gems

Skills and Resources Necessary to Begin

Now that my small group of 10 3rd grade Chromies understand our goals and expectations, it was time for the fun part to begin! We needed to focus on the details of what skills we should start working on together based on our own observations and classroom teacher input. It was at this stage of our process that I realized that there was a huge need for structured content resources that our elementary teachers and students could efficiently use to understand G Suite basics that were relevant for kids without overwhelming them too much.  So, I began putting together Google Slides that had a slow and methodical progression to teach my Chromies all about using a simplified version of G-Suite. After a few weeks, I discovered that the kids needed to start with personalizing their Chrome logins before anything else made sense to them. Then we went on to Google Drive, Docs then Slides since a few of their teachers were beginning to ask them to produce work using both Docs and Slides. I had no idea at this time what I had gotten myself into, that I would invest so much time and energy into the product that evolved as a result. I am very proud and excited to share with you the resources I actually curated to use for myself with you in mind in my new ebook- “Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad” coming out in June of 2017.

I am sure that we can all agree that transitioning young children from the easy touch interface of iPads they are used to using, to the virtual workflow of Chromebooks is a huge challenge but is certainly deserving of the time spent putting together material that is presented in a way they can understand. Then, to take those newly found skills one step further and allow opportunities for these students to use those new found skills on purposeful Common Core work they are doing in their classrooms. This was my mindset moving forward.

Skills Peers Needed:

Our friends needed help, Chrome Squad to the rescue!

Our “Help List” continued to grow for peers.

  1. Logging in and personalizing their Google Chrome account
  2. Introducing students to various uses of Dictation Technology (Speech-to-Text) for lower level readers and writers
  3. K-2- Common Core Skills- Resources for Reading, Writing and Math

Those Famous Chromie Badges!

We were also setting up our badging system for our Chromies to wear in their classrooms. Having Chromie badges to wear really incentivized our program and other students in our building were asking about how to become a Chromie. We were more than happy to answer- “Of Course you can!” Knowing that there would be summer sessions of my class offered soon.

 The access link to the actual PDF copy of the Chromie Badge for you to print will be included in my upcoming ebook- “Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad”.

Here is how I introduced our Chromie Badges~ “The Chromie name badge is awarded to you after you are trained in using the Chrome Browser and basic Google Drive skills.  Your name badge can then be worn to show others in your classroom, that you are able to help them on their Chromebooks.

Our goal is to help others with the skills we learn, so when you help someone to expand their tech skills, you will then come to our computer lab during Chrome Squad meetings and type out your “Chromie Act of Kindness” on our shared Google Doc. After that, you can proudly earn a Gem to stick on your badge, showing your accomplishments! As you continue to learn your “Chromie Ninja” skills, you will be able to help others even more!

In my next post, I will address how we stayed focused on our group & personal goals using two charts-

  1. Chromie Bootcamp Step Chart
  2. Independent Work Stations Chart.

Thank you so much for reading! This project has certainly been a labor of love for me.

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Chrome Squad- Elementary Edition (Part 3) Where to Begin With Students and Staff?

 

 Chrome Squad Selection Done, Now What?

As with any new initiative, there are many pieces to gather and then there’s finding the best working solution for each of those pieces. I knew I was on to something with this “Chrome Squad” idea when I saw the excitement on my students’ faces but overwhelmed expressions from the adults I worked with. The kids are fearless and totally unaware of the “Behind the Scenes” work that is necessary to get a new initiative up and running. I knew putting the fragmented pieces together would be a lot of work, but I also knew that it would be worth it! Now that the Chrome Squad selection was complete, I had to take care of a few other specific pieces: communication with my principal and staff, parents, students and then begin thinking about exactly what we needed to do in those first few meetings.

First, I needed to follow up with my principal and fellow teachers. I needed their support and for them to have a full understanding of my intentions since they were typically the ones fielding some of those awkward parent questions, like “Why isn’t this offered to my kid too?”. I also wanted a chance to make my purpose very clear. I not only wanted my staff to know that my purpose was to teach a small group of kids at first to use technology in purposeful ways, but I also wanted my students to develop an outward focus to help others with what they learn so that our Chrome Squad could continue to grow.

My principal had many other questions and concerns that often times we teachers are not aware of.

How would I select my Chromies? Student selection this year was easy, they were all my students from last year, so I knew which kids had the basic character traits I was looking for. I explained to my principal that next year I would ask teachers to help me by submitting recommendations after they are made aware of our goals and behaviors I was looking for. (In my last post, I listed those specific goals and character traits.)

How would I communicate with parents and kids?  I used my Gmail Contact list to communicate with parents. I was very careful to give the parents all the initial details necessary about our purpose, expectations and our schedule but I also let the parents know that I really wanted to push the content responsibility to the kids. I highly encouraged parents to help me hold my Little Chromies accountable for the content I put on Edmodo. Edmodo was the Learning Management System we were using. I ended up using Edmodo to post Chromie content to begin with because my kids already knew how to navigate through Edmodo since we used it in our classroom last year. Our building was just getting used to Google Classroom so we would transition to that later in the year as our learning management system.

Where to meet and scheduling? Initially, I had the kids meet me once a week, on Tuesdays in one of our two computer labs during their scheduled lunch and recess time. This block of time worked out best since no one reserved the labs during this time anyway and academic schedules would not be interrupted. We would clean off the tables and eat while we worked. Later on in the year, we met after school as well.

What tech resources would be used? My students either brought their own Chromebook or used one of the Chromebooks in the computer lab. We would use Google tools and basic keyboarding programs to get started.

The First Two Weeks- Goals & Skills to Build Upon

The basic plan for the first two weeks was to go over our “6 Chromie Goals” and to put together two lists, one list was a compilation of skills for us to work on as a group and the second list was of skills we noticed our friends needed help with. First, we went over expectations for our Chrome Squad and our “6 Chromie Goals” since we would refer to them frequently to justify our path and decisions to follow.

Goals and Focus

  1. Be kind, respectful and PRESENT (Be aware of what is going on around you!).  People First. Devices Second.
  1. Help others to learn more about using technology in meaningful ways.
  1. Have a “Growth Mindset” *Book by Carol Dweck
  1. Be diligent but understand when others have trouble.
  1. Be problem solvers and creators.
  1. Be awesome! 🙂

Secondly, since our main focus was to learn for ourselves so we could best teach others, we created one list of skills the Chromies wanted to work on for themselves and a second list of what peers were having difficulty with during the beginning of the year, which according to our observations, was a rather short and obvious list. It was mostly logging into devices and keyboarding skills.

In the weeks to follow, we took some time to review for ourselves, a few necessary basic skills, like logging into Edmodo, Digital Citizenship, Keyboarding & personalizing their Chrome browser for more efficient academic use. I posted the directions and links to videos that I wanted the kids to use for this assignment on our Chrome Squad Edmodo page so they could work on them at home and parents could see what we were doing. My ebook- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad coming out in June will have more specific charts, links and lists of resources, stating exactly what I found and used in my own teaching to be developmentally appropriate for our elementary students.

In my next post, I will share our next steps- setting up the procedures for “Chromie Acts of Kindness” earning Badges & Gems, revisit group & personal goals.

 

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Chrome Squad – Elementary Edition (Part 2) Selecting Your Team

What is a Chrome Squad?

Just to give you the big idea here, in my building, you will see random students called “Chromies” proudly wearing a colorful Chrome Squad name badge with sparkling gems showing their “Acts of Chromie Kindness” that are earned when helping others to increase their tech skills in any capacity.

So, what if each of us had a trained “Chromie” in our classrooms to support us using our new Chromebooks? In this post, I am excited to share with you, my new ebook resource coming out in June 2017, Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad that may help you get started with your own “Elementary Chrome Squad” and provide content that is appropriate when introducing Google to our younger students. I feel very strongly that our primary students need to see early on that tech can be a fun learning tool before they can only see it as a toy.

Among all of the wonderful Google resources out there, it has been a challenge to find primary material that is relevant and scaffolded correctly so that our elementary kids have a solid foundation to build on. We cannot teach kids to use Google Docs to write a story when they do not know what a paragraph is and are still learning to write a sentence. In my own journey, I have tried to not only learn how to use G Suite for myself but to have my “Primary Teacher Lenses” out in the process so I can transpose what I learn for myself into relevant material for my students.

Selecting My First Elementary Chrome Squad Team

For me, selecting our 3rd-grade team this first year was fairly easy. I hand-picked them myself and began with a small group of 10 kids from my own 2nd-grade classroom from our previous school year. I already knew these students very well and had developed a trusting rapport with their parents. My Chromies needed to show certain traits that I later wove into our goals listed below: Respectful, Trustworthy, a reasonable amount of Self-Control (Remember, these are 6-9-year-olds) and a higher level of technological prowess than typical peers.  Next year, we will go through a more formal process with more classroom teacher input through a nomination process.

I believe that when beginning a program that has the potential to benefit and affect so many others, it is important to begin with your “Why?”. I felt that spending 25 years with K-3 children in a public school setting gave me a unique perspective for my “Why?”. With my experience, I understood what we were expecting our 21st Century students to learn and seeing that gap widen between expectations and what the kids were actually learning, I had to ask myself, “Why is this happening and what can I do about it?” “What if I skipped over the training of our beloved, overwhelmed teachers and focused on training a small group of kids to support classrooms instead?” If we wait until all of our teachers are trained to use our Edtech resources, we will be wasting so much time and besides, are any of us truly experts when technology is always changing and evolving? Our time is better spent learning alongside our students, modeling our growth mindset.

So, why am I doing this?

The answer was three-fold:

1. To help expedite the Edtech learning process for my fellow teachers and our students.

2. To give students an opportunity to work hard as a team to develop life-long Edtech skills.

3. To teach students to have an “Outreach Mindset” by reaching out to others with the valuable skills they learn.

With these three leading goals in mind, I needed to put together specific goals that were clear and kid-friendly. Together, we recited these 6 goals every time we met those first few weeks together.

Goals and Focus:

  1. Have a growth mindset.
  2. Help others to learn more about using technology in meaningful ways.
  3. Be respectful and respected.  We are all learners!
  4. Be diligent but understand when others have trouble
  5. Be problem solvers and creators
  6. Be awesome! 🙂

*Any printables you see in my posts like badges, suggested emails, or templates will be available in my upcoming ebook in June. 🙂

In my next post, I will share how we got started, soliciting administrator’s support, informing classroom teachers about our purpose so they knew how to help me with upcoming referrals and communicating with parents. Hint- Learning Management System!

 

 

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“Chrome Squad”- Elementary Edition (Part 1 Intro.)

Ask Me, I Am a Chromie!

Are you teaching young children to use “G Suite”, formerly known as Google Apps For Education? With Chromebooks taking over as the device of choice for most districts, we as classroom teachers have an exciting yet challenging role to play in this transition to integrate technology into our classrooms. Most of us are in the process of learning how to use Google Suite ourselves, so teaching our young K-3 students what G Suite can do and how to use it in meaningful ways can appear to be a slow and daunting process. However, since no one can truly be a tech expert since technology changes so rapidly, we need to model a humble “Growth Mindset” and learn alongside our students or we will greatly inhibit the learning process for us all.  I am far from being an expert on Chromebook use in general, however, I am willing to share my insights and experiences as I am in the process of learning in hopes that my failures, successes and overall process will expedite yours. If you have read over any of my other posts, you will see that most of my G Suite experiences have been on iPads. That is about to change!

As I thought about how to best help my fellow teachers and students make confident gains toward learning Google Tools, I wondered if I should just start with teaching a few kids in each classroom to mentor others instead of training the teachers first like we have done so often in past professional development opportunities. It was then that I read an interesting post on Kasey Bell’s blog- “Shake Up Learning-Student Chrome Squad”. Her post was exactly what I needed! The post was actually written by a colleague of hers, Mr. Cody Holt from Royce City, Texas and was about how this former high school teacher, now a Digital Learning Specialist had developed a mentoring program to help manage his district’s 1:1 Chromebook program with a select group of high school students that he later called “The Chrome Squad”. My idea would take a more primary form of Cody’s Chrome Squad but I believed I was on to something!

Being a primary teacher, it is second nature to take a great learning opportunity that upper grades are participating in such as this and scale it down to a level that can benefit our younger students. I asked myself- “What if I took the same basic program that Cody began and made my own elementary version of it?” Student expectations would certainly look different but the overall goals would be the same. Students using what they learn to in turn help others.

I began my journey with 10 third grade students that I had in my class as second graders the year prior. I already knew the kids and the parents trusted me. (Scary thought, I know!) I selected my “Little Chromies” rather quickly as I kept in mind how Cody had selected his Chrome Squad.

In my next post, I will begin to walk you through my setup process, the attributes I looked for in our Little Chromies, our specific goals and how I began our first few sessions. As always, you can and should adjust your program given your own building variables.

 

 

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7 Digital Handwriting Resources

7-digital-handwriting-resources

Handwriting in Our Digital Age- Controversy or Compliance?

 The topic of teaching handwriting in our schools today finds almost as loyal of followers as a hot political issue. Some parents and teachers are adamant that it is highly necessary, while other relent to the notion that our students will not spend their academic careers writing with a pencil in hand but typing on or speaking into a device. I would argue that we need both.

  As a Tech Integration Specialist and classroom teacher, I would be remiss to take a hard stance that teachers need to spend hours of class time giving instruction on proper grasp and strokes of letters, which I have done in the past. However, we forget that there is still a need to be able to read a variety of content that is handwritten. Reading someone’s writing is just as critical whether it be an important historical document in cursive or the favorite recipe printed by a special relative. Without some formal writing instruction, these treasured forms of communication are lost.

What Can You Use?

 I have seven great digital resources to share with you that I have used in my own classroom. Hopefully, they will make teaching handwriting much more engaging, efficient and meaningful for your students as well, without taking up an unreasonable amount of class time.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-26-41-pm

  1. INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO- Proper grasp instruction  –  “Pinch & Flip Method” video from Sara McClure From Happy Brown House.com 

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-25-00-pm       screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-20-43-pm

2. INTERACTIVE HANDWRITING SITE –

Lowercase ManuscriptLowercase Cursive by HandwritingForKids.com I absolutely love this resource because I can open this page on the Smartboard, click on the letter I am instructing during a quick transition time, like a restroom break and it loops through the strokes like a GIF file, actually showing each stroke as I circulate the room for instruction. (A little hint, to make the image larger on your computer, use the keyboard shortcut- “COMMAND” and the “+” to enlarge and “COMMAND” and the “-” to reduce size.)

3. APPS-

iTrace –  itrace-app  ios $3.99 – Kid friendly interface and options to customize and track children’s progress.

Writing Wizardwriting-wizard-app ios  $4.99 – Students trace letters using stickers, animation and sound effects

Cursive Writing HD – cursive-hd-app ios $.99 – This cursive app teaches children upper and lowercase strokes and how to connect letters in words.

Letter School- letter-school-app ios $4.99 – This is my favorite app because the visual and audio effects are so cute!

4. SPELLING CITY PRINTOUTS-

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Vocabulary Spelling City is one of my all-time favorite classroom resources (Web Tools and App) and gets better every month! I could write multiple posts on this awesome online tool for language arts but for the purpose of this post, I want to share the option for you or parents to print out handwriting papers for whatever word lists the kids are working on in either manuscript or cursive! Isn’t that awesome? You go to the list that you have either imported or created yourself and click on the “Handwriting Worksheets” tab as illustrated above.

Do you have great handwriting resources to share? I would love to add yours to my collection. 🙂

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3 High-Tech Formative Assessments for Fact Fluency Data

3 Fact Fluency Resources

It is the time of year that we are trying to not only get to know our students personally, but to learn more about where they are in our assigned academic areas. To do this, we use an arsenal of varied formative assessments to gather the data we need but a big concern for teachers has always been the laborious task of finding, copying, administering, collecting, grading and reporting that information. We live in exciting times, my dear teachers! We have access to so many digital resources that have the ability to make this task easier and engaging for our students. We are hearing more and more about how we need to have a more personalized learning environment in our classrooms and that require more frequent formative assessments in order to group kids into their personalized leveled groups. In this post, I am focusing on three suggested resources to help you with one curricular area, Math Fact Fluency.

Below are three very valuable resources I have used and LOVED in my own classroom not only to give my kids skill and drill practice but to have them participate in high-tech activities that actually teach them new concepts and gather data at the same time. We can then use this data to track progress and share with support staff, parents and most importantly, the kids! Each of these resources give immediate feedback in some sort of “Gamified” format. As we know, our students take greater ownership in their learning outcomes if they are involved in the goal setting, feedback and tracking of their skills.

Many teachers and parents are so accustomed to paper-pencil timed tests that totally stress children out! The digital resources I have to share, alleviate most of that stress because of the privacy of their stats.

Of the three resources, one is an app and only available using an iPad but the other two are web tools and can be used on either an iPad server app like Chrome or Safari or using a Chromebook/laptop.

timed test arcade

#1. Timed Test Arcade– $1.99 iPad and iPhone versions. There is a free version that only tracks addition facts.

I love this app for so many reason but the biggest reason is that it is a way to fully customize students’ math fact fluency timed test from addition and subtraction to multiplication and division and grade them right away for immediate and private feedback on their score. These scores are saved in the app to track progress and can be emailed to parents.

Copy of File_000 File_001

Just select or add new student, set up the testing parameters, like operation, digits and time then click “Go!”.

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The app can collect data on multiple students, just remind them to make sure they have logged in as themselves.

#2. Mobymax.com is one of my absolute favorite go-to digital resources for all curricular areas! It is considered an “Adapted Learning Platform” or affectionately known as an ALP. In my opinion, it is a powerhouse for math instruction and data collection. This site has been around for years as “Moby Math” so math is certainly it’s strength. For fact fluency, Mobymax has a tab that gathers great data on the specific facts that students know. It does not have a time test element like the previous app but it does average how long each session took.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 2.39.14 PM Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 7.01.24 PM

There is a free version of Mobymax to try for as long as you like and for as many kids as you like but the true power is in the data collected as the kids go through each lesson. At the time of this post, a Teacher Pro license is $99 unlimited students and a School Pro Unlimited license is only $1300. Mobymax has more features than I can possibly go into due to the topic of this post but I HIGHLY recommend that you click on the link above and check out all of the other wonderful tools Mobymax has to offer! You will be so happy that you did. My coworkers and parents were so impressed when they saw all it can do and the developers are continually adding more usable features.

#3. Xtramath.org – A free web tool but $4.99 ios app.

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This is a great tool for quick and easy assessments that also track and report fact fluency progress to parents. I used this after recess everyday as the kids took a restroom break so as not to take up any instructional time. Parents really liked having it to use at home as well. The link above has a nice little 1 minute video overview for you.

I hope these resources are as helpful to you as they are to me and become a valued part of your fact fluency arsenal of formative assessments. 🙂

*BTW- If you are interested in a more extensive list of math apps, I have another blog post that breaks my favorite apps down into stages of number sense. Just click on the Math Category to your right.

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