Common Curriculum

The Common Curriculum Project sought to make planning more flexible. It is an extensive lesson and unit planning tool which includes templates you can customize to your liking. I implemented the core areas of VIU’s lesson planning template to test out the program for myself, and will add the rest in for use in my practicum. For other students that want to keep everything in one place, all lesson plans can be downloaded as a PDF – easy to send to your supervisor 😉

Parts of a lesson can be quickly rearranged, activities you didn’t finish can be dragged into tomorrow’s lesson, and lessons can be moved forward or back days. It’s a relatively simple tool to use to keep lesson and schedule planning all in one place. Here’s a quick preview of some of the features mentioned.

You can add and edit all classes for which you want to include lessons:

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You can customize your lesson planning templates according to each lesson. I played around with this feature a little bit and designed a few templates to assign to different subject areas as seen below:

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Once you’ve added your classes in, you can view your schedule in day, week or month view. Here’s a sample of a day menu:

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You can expand each of these subject headings and plan and edit your lessons right on the day’s schedule. It looks like this:

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The best part about this program, although designed to align to the American Common Core curriculum, is that it is completely integrated with the new BC Curriculum! Within each lesson plan, there is an option to “Search & Add Standards.” Under BC, each subject is laid out with its’ big ideas, content and competencies. You simply need to select the ones you are teaching to in your lesson. Here’s what the PE 2 one looked like when putting in my Balance lesson:

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There are even more features that I have not covered here, but most are available to premium members. If schools wanted to implement the program, they can set up servers containing the virtual classes for every teacher, allowing teachers to collaborate within the program and borrow lesson plans from each other.

I would consider this program relatively user-friendly, though it does take a bit to get used to. The best part is each feature has a built-in help video as seen in most of the screenshots above. To sign up for an account or to learn more about the program, you can visit their website at www.commoncurriculum.com.

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Flippity

flippity

Flippity is one I have been waiting to write about because it has SO many features, I couldn’t choose which ones to include. It’s a Google Chrome add on which embeds itself in Google Sheets and turns pre-made templates into games, flashcards and other tools.

In my opinion, the coolest Flippity feature is Flippity Spelling Words, a program highlighted to us by the Google team that came to our Pro-D. It is used to differentiate your spelling tests and give you more valuable instructional time to work with students who need more one-on-one support. Out of all the features Flippity has, I’ll take the time to go over this one because I think it’s the most important one for teachers to be able to implement.

The first step is installing the Flippity add on for Google Chrome, available in the Chrome Store here. Then, go to www.flippity.net and go to the spelling words template. From there, you can copy the template to create/edit spelling lists for each of your students. This is what it looks like in editing mode:

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The sentences you see in quotation marks are the example sentences you would like the program to read to the student. This feature is optional. After editing the lists for each student, you need to publish your spreadsheet so the Flippity Spelling site can access the data inside. Start by going to File > Publish to the web…

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Then, make sure it is set to publish the entire document (you don’t want only some of your students’ lists to transfer over, do you?)

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Once the document is published, click on “Get the Link Here”

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Voila! Your spelling list is all set up!

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Click on your link to test it out. This is the link your students would go to in order to do their test. This is what they would see:

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From there, they would simply select their name to get their word list. As seen below in Elmo’s list, students can see their words, practice them with corrections given, then do the test when they are ready. No exclusion whatsoever, no embarrassment about being in the lower spelling group or having “too easy” of words – it’s all individualized right on their own screen!

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In our workshop, one teacher raised the possibility of students just being able to click on somebody else’s name to see their words, but the presenters had never found that encounter in all of their time using it. Student’s have enough work to do on their own – they don’t have time to waste looking at their peer’s lists 🙂

So there you have it- Flippity Spelling. The only other template I have played around with so far is Flippity Quiz Show (their version of Jeopardy) which worked very well. As mentioned previously, all templates are pre-made so you simply go to the link of your desired program and adjust the wording to suit the needs of your lesson. I imagine you would have to go through the Publish step for the other templates as well, but it would be the same process as outlined above.

The full range of Flippity templates is available on their website, www.flippity.net.

If you’d like to play around with Flippity from a student’s perspective, you are welcome to use my sample class here, borrowed directly from the Flippity Spelling template.

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FreshGrade

FreshGrade implements similar communication tools to ClassDojo, so having familiarity with one tool can give you a head start in using the other. FreshGrade is becoming increasingly popular in our local school district as a student portfolio used for assessment and reporting.

Assessment

Student portfolios are such a great feature of FreshGrade as they allow teachers to keep all student information in one place. The program is available on mobile and tablet devices, allowing teachers to record student work through picture, audio and video. Assessment is then made streamlined as teachers can make “quick notes” to give brief, formative comments to students to which parents have access. This aligns with SD68’s priority to give parents ongoing communication of their child’s learning, as well as gives students an opportunity to self-reflect, an assessment tool highlighted in BC’s new curriculum.

Reporting

FreshGrade also makes reporting alongside BC’s new curriculum simpler, as it has region-specific learning standards listed on the program to which you can assess your students. A teacher can create their own assessment tool to comment on, or they can choose from different methods already set up in FreshGrade. All assessment types are kept in the online Gradebook, which individually attaches all feedback to each student’s portfolio. Imagine the paperwork you would save!

In addition to parents being able to see their child’s work, they can also view the feedback you give, and are able to comment on any item they wish. An in-app chat feature is included, allowing you to respond to questions or concerns they may have right there.

One of my colleagues is doing her inquiry project on FreshGrade, so if you are interested in setting up an account or learning more about it, you can visit her blog here.


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ClassDojo

ClassDojo is an interactive classroom management tool which aims to “create a positive culture, give students a voice and share moments with parents.” You can view a brief preview of the app in use here.

I have heard first-hand from teachers who use this tool in the classroom that it streamlines a lot of practices they already implement. Some of these practices include grouping (ClassDojo can do it for you), displaying directions, a noise level meter, random student generator (for picking a helper or volunteer), class timer, and shape of the day. As seen in the video above, all of these tools are available either on the website or through the ClassDojo app, where your phone would take the place of a class remote that controls the Dojo through casting. (It’s less complicated than it sounds – the computer does 90% of the work for you!) Caitlin from ClassDojo gives an introduction to these features and more in this video.

One of the most popular features of this tool is the points system, where students are rewarded and deducted points based on their behaviour throughout the day. If parents like, they can be connected to the student’s account and get notifications for different behaviours. This acts as an amazing communication tool between parents and teachers, where parents can feel fully involved in their child’s education. Teachers also love that they can streamline their parent communication through the in-app messenger system.

For more information or to sign up for an account, you can visit their website here.


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