ClassroomQ: Streamline Questions & Provide Personalized Support

Blended learning models afford teachers the time and space in class to work side-by-side with students. As a teacher works with a single student or a small group, other students will inevitably hit bumps and have questions that require the teacher’s attention. To avoid interruptions and distractions, teachers need a quick and easy way for students to ask for help or additional support. has designed a simple solution to solve this problem for teachers. Teachers create an account (free version available). They can start a “session” anytime they plan to lead small group instruction, conference with individual students, or move around the room during a self-paced lesson. Students can access the session with a class code and enter their names and comments to the queue.

Once the student has entered her name, written a brief comment, and pressed the “Assistance needed” button, the teacher will receive an alert and the student’s name will appear in the queue. The student can also see what number they are in line, so they can decide whether to wait for help or move onto something else until the teacher gets to them.

The free version allows up to five students to join the queue at any one time. Once a teacher has finished helping a student, he can simply click on their name and they are removed from the queue.

For those of us using blended learning models, this simple tool makes fielding questions and identifying students who need support more manageable.

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Internet Archive: Go Back in Time with the Wayback Machine

Students rely on Google searches for a lot of their information. Much of the information they find online is from tertiary sources that have digested and distilled information from primary and secondary sources. This tertiary information is often bland. Instead of reading first-hand accounts, watching video clips of an event, or listening to impassioned speeches, students read a laundry list of information when they encounter tertiary sources.

It does not surprise me that most students dislike research. The information they find online when they visit sites like Wikipedia is dry and lacks a narrative quality. Although tertiary sources provide an overview of historical events, I encourage teachers to use the Wayback Machine, an internet archive. The Wayback Machine makes it possible for students to see news on the day an event took place.

I designed a station activity to encourage students to explore the Wayback Machine. I asked them to select a moment in history from the last 17 years and conduct a Google search to learn about that event. Then I had them use the Wayback Machine to revisit the news on the day that the event took place. I asked them to compare and contrast the information from both their searches and reflect on the differences between the two. Most of my students commented on how compelling the news reports were on the day of the actual event as compared to the information they found in their Google searches. One student remarked, “It was so different hearing people describe what it was like to live through the events of 9/11 and actually watch the airplanes crash into the towers.”

I wanted to share my station activity with other teachers who might be interested in using it. Feel free to make a copy of the Google document below if you want to edit it and use it with your students.

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Do What Lights You Up This Year!

The new year inspires reflection and resolutions. We take stock of the last twelve months noting the highs and the lows. We may have regrets about opportunities we did not pursue, projects we didn’t get to, students we could not reach, and activities we wish we had dedicated more time to in the last year. Often these feelings about the year inspire lofty new year resolutions.

A few of us may stay committed to these resolutions, while others quickly fall into the habits of the previous year. Perhaps our resolutions are too extreme and demanding which makes them unsustainable. Perhaps the pull of our old habits and routines is too strong, and we return to what feels comfortable, if not entirely fulfilling.

I have rarely made dramatic new year resolutions that pertain to my personal life. I know I’d like to be more present with my children when I am home. I need to get to the gym more days a week to stay physically and mentally healthy. I would love to read more. I want to carve out time for me in the craziness of my life. These are goals I am always working on and making progress toward in my personal life.

When it comes to my professional life, I like to identify something specific that I want to achieve or work toward. This year, my resolution is simple. It was inspired by a comment my friend, Colt Briner, made during a conversation we had about education. He said it is important to “do what lights you up.” His comment resonated with me on a deep level. When we do what lights us up, we are pursuing our passions, we are blissfully immersed in our tasks, and we feel deep satisfaction and joy in our work. This is what I wish for myself, my children, my students, and the teachers I work with.

Do what lights you up this year! Invest your time and energy in the aspects of your job that you are passionate about. When faced with the aspects of your job that are challenging or draining, reimagine how those tasks might be tackled differently.

For example, two years ago I decided that my new year resolution would be to move all assessment into the classroom. I was exhausted by the massive amounts of grading I was taking home each week. I realized that this aspect of my job was draining me of energy, so I decided to rethink grading. I knew I could use blended learning models to create more time and space in the classroom to provide real-time feedback and conduct side-by-side assessments, but it was going to require me to think outside of the box. It was the best decision I have ever made as a teacher. Not only did I stop taking grading home and used my creative energy outside of class to design learning experiences, but my students were more invested in learning.

So, I challenge other educators to spend 2019 doing what lights you up! What aspects of your job do you LOVE? How can you spend more time and energy doing that? How will investing in the aspects of your job that you are truly passionate about impact your students? Feel free to post a comment and share your thoughts to help other educators get excited about their work in 2019!

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