Protocols for Effective Student Feedback in @GoogleDocs

During Plan Smarter, Not Harder with Edu-Protocols, Jon Corippo (@jcorippo) shared lesson design advice as part of #DitchSummit, a free digital conference from Matt Miller (@jmattmiller) author of Ditch That Textbook. One of the things Matt and Jon discussed was protocols for helping students become stronger writers. Having been an English teacher before I became a librarian, this is a topic near to my heart, and I believe using Google Docs effectively is one of the best ways to grow writers. In fact, it’s something I often present at conferences, so I thought I would turn my presentation into an infographic to describe what I think are the best workflows. Enjoy!


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I’m recommitting to my #gratitude180 #happinesshabit thanks to #DitchSummit Day 2

I started this school year with a simple idea. Inspired by a TED Talk from Shawn Achor (), The Happy Secret to Better Work, I worked to retrain my brain to scan for the positive by tweeting out 3 things every work day for which I was grateful. I used the hashtag #gratitude180 because there are roughly 180 days in a school year, and I liked the connotation that one could do a 180 degree turnaround in attitude by focusing on the positive.

I tweeted faithfully for 21 days. And, I will say, it was the most positive start to a school year I can remember. But, then I quit. And, I’d been feeling bad about it ever since.

That is, until I watched the Day 2 video for #DitchSummit, a free, online conference.  Matt Miller (@jmattmiller) author of Ditch That Textbook interviewed Kim Strobel (@strobeled), education consultant and happiness coach about The Science of Happiness for Teachers and Students.

As I watched Kim talk about the science behind happiness, it felt like I had been on the right track. So, where did I go wrong? Then, as Kim was talking about perfection, it hit me. I realized that tweeting everyday had become more about keeping up a perfect record of gratitude tweets than the gratitude itself. As Kim pointed out in her #DitchSummit talk, “social media magnifies the pressure of being everything to everyone.” I needed to give myself permission to be imperfect. Kim suggested a technique from Brene Brown (@BreneBrown), author of The Gifts of Imperfection. Brene says you should write yourself a permission slip on a post-it, giving yourself permission to be imperfect in whatever way you need.

So, here’s mine.

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I also realized that I might need to take my gratitude journal a little more private. This was part of why I had been feeling bad. I had run into a former colleague who made a comment about how much I tweet, and I had started to worry that I was clogging up my followers’ Twitter feeds with gratitude tweets that were probably only meaningful to me.

According to Kim, “The human brain has 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day and on average 80% are negative. 95% of the negative thoughts are on repeat throughout the day. We
need to find ways to break this cycle.”

I had let a negative comment about my tweeting play on repeat in my head and suddenly #gratitude180 was backfiring. I was letting cynical win.

So, I’m recommitting today to my #happinesshabit.

To Achor’s original suggestions–

  • Make a list of three positive things from your workday
  • Journal about one of those things in order to relive the memory
  • Start your day off the next day by writing a thank you email or note expressing your gratitude to someone

I’m adding some of Kim’s ideas–

  • Write yourself imperfection permission slips on post-its
  • Have a phrase or mantra that affirms your values (could also be on a post-it) that you go back to throughout the day
  • Take 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted time in your day that is just for you
  • Be mindful to keep your cup overflowing and only give away “the excess” so you don’t deplete yourself
  • Scale back and play more

I’m also going to start using the hashtag #gratitude180 again, but this time I will use it a little more selectively.  I’ll share my progress in my journey toward a #happinesshabit and share great ideas I hear to extend the gratitude. I invite you to join me! And, I encourage you to checkout #DitchSummit for more info about this topic and the rest of the great PJ PD you’ll find!


10 Questions to Ask to Evaluate a Tech Tool #DitchSummit Day1

Today is day one of #DitchSummit, a free digital conference from Matt Miller (@jmattmiller) author of Ditch That Textbook. Today’s guests, Tanya Avrith (@TanyaAvrith) & Holly Clark (@HollyClarkEdu)are talking Technology and Pedagogy. We want to have strong pedagogy behind our edtech choices.

So, in response, I thought I would share 10 questions I ask when I am evaluating a new tech tool to decide if I want to integrate it.

Questions to Evaluate tech

What student outcome will this tool help you accomplish? If you aren’t starting with this question in mind, then don’t bother to read on! We never want to use tech for tech’s sake. Evaluating any ed tech tool should always start and end with this question.

Is it well designed and intuitive for the user? If Steve Jobs were still alive, would he approve of the way the tool is designed? We never want the Learning Curve > the Payoff of using it. As Holly said today in the #DitchSummit, it’s about simplicity. You want to use tech tools that are simple and easy to use, so your students can quickly go to a tool and use it.

Does it have guides, tutorials, help sections or tech support for you to contact? Even if a tool is pretty intuitive, we still may questions when learning to use it. How helpful have the makers made it to find answers to those questions?

Does it work well or the same on multiple devices? Even if you are a one-to-one school, this can still be an important question. Having a good mobile version really makes a tool versatile in terms of when, where and how users access it. If an app is only available on Apple or Android, it shrinks the user base.

Does it allow for collaboration between users? Collaboration is a key 21st century skill. If my students cannot collaborate with each other or me when using the tool, then it’s usually a deal-breaker for me!

Does it integrate well with other tools? As a GAFE school, I love when students can use a tool by signing in with their Google account, so they don’t have to remember a bunch of log ins. More than that, it’s also great to be able to easily “app smash,” to use two tools together. Matt mentioned an example of this today from Tanya and Holly’s book, The Google Infused Classroom, where students use Bitmoji and the Google Chrome extension Talk and Comment to make their Bitmoji “talk” and explain their thinking on a project.

Does it allow the user to do something “more” than they could without it? Speaking of Bitmoji, if you can’t draw much beyond stick figures, like me, it’s a great tool to allow one to make professional-looking cartoon drawings. With every tech tool we integrate, we always want to keep the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model in mind, to be sure that we aren’t merely substituting with tech but making something possible that we couldn’t have done without the tech. This also goes back to what our speakers on #DitchSummit were saying today about making sure that the tech we use is giving students a way to make thinking visible, to hear from every student in the class and have them share their learning. As Matt said, these are the “Superpowers” of edtech in the classroom that allow us to take learning to the next level.

Does it offer advantages over a similar product you are already using? I love Schoology, but many teachers at my Academy were already using Edmodo when I came to the school six years ago, so I really had to weigh the benefits of introducing a new platform. Now, both of those learning management systems have been supplanted with Google Classroom for us as we became a GAFE school. It’s not to say that you have to be using the same tech tools as everyone else, but I also think you don’t always want to jump on the bandwagon of the newest tool just because it is new.

Is it free, low cost, or at the least, offer a free trial? If it’s not free is it worth the expense? I don’t know about you, but we don’t have a huge tech budget, so if I can find a tool that is free or “freemium” (free version with paid premium version available), I am usually going to pick that over a tool that costs money. A tool really has to be offering something I can’t get anywhere else before I am going to shell out $$$.

What can students create with this tool? If the answer is “nothing,” then this is probably not the tech tool for me and my students. I want my students to be creators not just consumers of technology. So, I will always favor the tools that allow students to actively create something rather than just being passive users. It’s important for educators to prioritize these higher level uses of tech if we want to prepare them to be future ready graduates.

A final thought from Matt Miller about choosing the right ed tech tools: “There’s so much out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but only grab hold of the things you think can really move the needle for learning in your classroom.”