Friday, January 29, 2016

Connect Four Spanish Verbs Game with Google Drawings

This game is a connect four game using the Spanish past tense of preterite and imperfect. The game includes irregular verbs and some stem changing verbs. Use it to review and practice the past tense verb conjugations.

Copyright notice: This game was created by Dr. Barbara Sweet @bsweet321. You are free to use it, copy it, and share it for educational purposes. Any changes done to the game must be approved by the creator.


  1. Students need to make a copy of the game board for each round they play. Click on File-Make a copy. Students share the game board with their partner with “can edit” capabilities. Students play together on the same game board.
  2. Students choose a color as their game marker; green or red.
  3. Students take turns picking a square and conjugating it correctly.
  4. I have abbreviated pretérito as {pre} and imperfecto as {imp}.
  5. Unlike the original Connect Four, you don’t need to start from the bottom up. Students can place their X on any of the available boxes after conjugating the verb correctly.
  6. Students move their colored X to the box once they have conjugated the verb correctly. Encourage students to complete the sentence.
  7. If a student gets the conjugation wrong, encourage the partner to help him/her to understand why it is wrong.
  8. If students need more X’s, they can right-click on one of their X’s by selecting copy and then paste to create more.
  9. Once all the boxes are covered, students tally how many 4 squares in a row in their color they have.
  10. The student with the most 4 connected squares, wins.
  11. Remind students that even if they lose the game, they are still practicing their conjugations and learning.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

What Our Body Language Tells Our Students

Have you stopped to think about how students perceive not only what and how we say things in the classroom, but also our body language? There are cultural expectations and misunderstandings that can occur. Additionally, our body language can misinterpret our intentions and create obstacles to their success in our classes. 
I recently spoke with a student who was upset that one of his teacher’s was very rude to him. Of course, I asked him what had happened. He said that his teacher snaps his fingers at him to get him to focus and do his work. He found the teacher’s behavior to be unacceptable. As we talked, he told me that at home he had been taught that you only snap your fingers when you call a dog. It is not used with people. If you snap your fingers at a person, that is seen as being highly disrespectful.
This made me think. I wonder how many other nonverbal cues we give students that are misinterpreted. If you point to a student, will he feel disrespected? If you stand too close to a student in order to talk, will that student feel uncomfortable? Of course, this varies by student and situation, but it’s a good reminder. As teachers we are being observed and judged by our students every day. We need to ensure that our students are getting the correct messages from us and that we quickly address any misunderstandings.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How To Use The New Google Forms

Google Forms gets an update. Every time there is an update we wonder what’s new and where to find the old functions we liked.

For starters, Google Forms didn’t automatically update, you have to enable the change by clicking on “Try the New Google Forms”. I didn't even the notice the change until someone pointed it out.


Now there is a new toolbar on the right. form3.jpg

Once you click on the answer, a menu will appear. Choose from the drop down menu the type of response you want. form7.jpg

There’s a new top toolbar. forms3.jpg

Use the change color palette option to change the theme. Press the button on the lower right corner. Screenshot 2016-01-26 at 7.57.05 PM.png  
Then, select the type of background theme you are looking for. There are a lot more theme options than before. Screenshot 2016-01-26 at 8.01.12 PM.png

Settings- has the only can submit one response option and the edit responses.

There’s a new Send button. When you press it you get another sub-menu. Screenshot 2016-01-26 at 7.34.56 PM.png

Notice that it gives you three options for sending the form via email, as a link, or has an embedded html. The send via link now lets you shorten the url with one click. No more going to separately to create the shorten url. form 4.jpg

Use the embed html option to embed the form to your website or blog. Screenshot 2016-01-26 at 7.42.23 PM.png

The responses are in the second tab next to questions. Screenshot 2016-01-26 at 7.46.35 PM.png

Click on the accepting responses option to disable it. You can turn this off when you are done administering the quiz. This is especially important if you are using the same Google Form for more than one group or when you don’t want the students to spend more time on it then what you’ve allotted. form6.jpg

Clicking on the green cross will allow you to see your responses in Google Sheets. forms5.jpg

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Value of Student Rapport

Rapport refers to the connection we create with other human beings. In education, developing rapport with our students is one of the most important parts of our job. Some of our students walk into the classroom not understanding themselves or believing in themselves. While they might not verbally say so, all of them want to be acknowledged and feel that they are special to us.
We have all have busy schedules. The expectations of a teacher are now higher than ever. How do we develop rapport with our students?

Here's a few suggestions:
1. Learn their names. This can be challenging if you have a lot of students, but no one likes to be called "hey, kid".
2. Find something the student is interested in and talk to them about it. If a football player walks into your classroom with his uniform, ask him what position does he play and how long has he been playing. Students love talking about the things they are passionate about. Don't know anything about football? That's fine. Use that as an opportunity for the student to teach you something new.
3. Talk to all students the same way. Talk to them as they are important. Albert Einstein once said,“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”
4. Use every opportunity you have to make connections with students. If you have after school duty at the bus stop, find opportunities to talk to students and connect with them. Walking down the wall and see a student wearing a new style of shirt? Use that as a conversation starter.
5. Smile. It's amazing the power of a simple smile.

Students that have rapport with their teachers are more likely to share when they are in trouble or need help. They will do anything for their teacher, whether that means supporting him/her to others or staying after school and lending a helping hand. Students that have solid connections with a teacher are more likely to be successful.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Chat within Google Docs


When you are within a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slides, and you have more than one person viewing it, you will see the chat icon indicated above. If you click on it, you will see a window pop-up on the screen.

You can get sound notifications every time someone posts a new message. To un-select this option, click on the gear and then un-click the setting.

Students can use this chat feature to extend their collaboration on an assignment. Teachers can use it as a backchannel, in order to understand what students are thinking as they are discussing the lesson.

Of course, this could also be used as a way for students to send notes to one another that are off topic. I don’t teach students that this chat feature is there. My students often find it on their own. Once they do, I tell them that they can use it, as long as they use it appropriately, and that’s often enough to keep them on track.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Google Tone

 Google Tone is a Chrome extension that allows you to share urls with the click of one button. It uses the computer's microphone to transmit a sound. Other computers in the room that have Google Tone installed and are in proximity of the sound can then hear the sound. 

I've used Google Tone as a way to collaborate with a colleague that is sitting next to me. Instead of emailing links back and forth or pasting them into a Google Doc, I can click on the Google Tone icon and the person instantly has the link. It makes sharing information more efficient. 

In the classroom, it would be more complicated to use. Since it depends on sound, a classroom full of students that are talking would mean the Google Tone might not hear the sound. Also, anyone with the extension can share links. Keeping students from playing with it would be distracting and hard to do. It would however, work for students working together in a small study session, but not for a full class. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Is Li-Fi the Future of the Internet?

Li-fi was invented in 2011 by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh. He proved that light could transmit data faster than wi-fi.

Unlike wi-fi which relies on radio waves, li-fi relies on light. So, in a classroom that has plenty of light, there would be a fast internet connection available to all students. With advances in technology current school wifi solutions are not enough to meet the internet demands of students and staff. Li-fi has the potential of being a lot faster than traditional wi-fi connections. 

Does li-fi represent the future of the internet? 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Twitter Critical Thinking Activity: One Wheeled Hoverboard

This week my students read an article on the creation of a one wheeled hoverboard. Many of my students had already at least heard of the concept of a hoverboard. Some of them had already tried a normal two wheeled hoverboard. Picking discussion topics that students already have an interest in helps them connect their previous knowledge to the discussion. We compared the potential advantage of a one wheeled versus a two wheeled hoverboard. Some students thought that it was a great advancement in technology, while others thought it was just an excuse to be lazy. The cost and potential dangers were also brought up. Students used their Spanish skills to respond directly to @CNNEE on Twitter and give their opinions. Students were given a voice on a topic and were able to share those thoughts directly with CNN en Espanol.

Screenshot 2016-01-15 at 11.19.16 AM.png

Virtual Valentine Class Project

Virtual Valentines "melting the miles between classrooms" provides a unique 21st century learning experience for students. Classes are paired up. Classes connect to complete a series of learning activities aimed at teaching cultural exchange.

Go to their weebly page and fill out a registration form for each class group that you will want to have participate. If you teach 3 different groups of students, then you probably would need to fill it out 3 times. The deadline for registering is Friday, January 29th. Classes will be paired by February 2nd. 

Classes are asked to complete some activities with their partnered class as a way to getting to know them and where they are from. This is a great opportunity to learn about different perspectives, countries, and traditions. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Screen Monitoring Software, Is it a good solution?

Schools are increasing the amount of devices they have in the classroom. Monitoring student activities and holding them accountable for safe practices can be challenging when working with a class full of students. Some seasoned teachers are finding it ever more challenging to control student misconduct with the use of technology, to the point that some are choosing to not use the devices in their classrooms. Administrators are tired of the complaints of teachers and look at screen monitoring software options to view the on screen activities of all students at all times. This solution can be costly, as much as $7 per student.

Personally, I am not a fan of this type of software. I trust my students until they give me a reason not to. I believe that the solution should be in the relationship the teacher has with his/her students. Students that respect and value their teachers are less likely to want to cause mischief. Teachers teaching with technology need clear expectations and consequences for their students.

Schools often have filters in place that prohibit students from accessing inappropriate content. Therefore, is it really necessary to add screen monitoring software? Does it really solve the problem or make it worse? What are we saying to the students by monitoring their every on screen action?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tech in Math Badge

tech in math badge.png
Gone are the days where calculators were the only technology available to students in the classroom. Unfortunately, Math is one of the subjects I often see teachers struggle to integrate technology into their curriculum. The tendency is to continue to explain problems on the board, assign even numbered problems as classwork, and odd as homework.

If you are an edtech loving teacher that is using technology in Math, submit evidence to earn your Tech in Math Badge. Click on the image above and follow the instructions to submit your photo, link, video, etc.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Students view themselves from a teacher's perspective

It’s easy for a person to see the world through their own eyes, but to be able to evaluate the world from a different perspective, allows them to better understand the world.

We watched a YouTube video titled: If teachers acted like students. In this video, as the title suggests, teachers act as students recreating the behaviors they find most annoying from students.

My students were asked to analyze the video from the teachers’ perspectives, not their own or that of the students and post a tweet using the class hashtag #SweetBP1. We then had an in class discussion.

Some students defended the perspective of the students, without really considering that of the teachers. Some said that the actions of the students were exaggerated. Of course, in their eyes, the teachers had to be wrong. Those that allowed themselves to evaluate the situations critically were able to see that students aren’t always respectful or understanding. It was great to see some of the students truly get it, and appreciate seeing their actions reflected back to them as if they were looking into a mirror.
girl looking in the mirror.jpg

Screenshot 2016-01-04 at 10.47.32 AM.png

3D View of the Human Body for Bio or Anatomy Class

BioDigital Human allows you to explore the human body in 3D. This is a great tool for students in Biology or Anatomy class. Select from a variety of systems: skeletal, ligamental, digestive, urinary, etc. Pull and move the image to see various sides and angles of the body. Works on Chromebooks with single sign-on.


There are various visualization modes available: standard, transparency, and isolate. Standard mode includes everything under the skin from muscles, veins, and tendons. Transparency mode makes everything transparent and highlights the specific area that you want to look at. Isolate mode separates a specific region.

BioDigital Human has a conditions section. Simply click on the system, for example, urinary, and then click on conditions it will give you a list of conditions associated with that part of the body. Click on any specific condition to see how it affects the body.


Students can share the 3D image they’ve created with the teacher via Google Classroom using a simple link.