Classroom Management

Shortcut on iPads for Long Email Addresses

If you have ever sat with younger children (Pre-K through first or second grade), watching them type a full email address into a field on the iPad can be a lengthy process.  They do their best, but especially in cases where they have a long address that they do not type regularly, instructing a classroom of students to type the address can be painful.

Learn to use the Text Replacement feature on their iPad and you can speed up this process immensely.

Here's how:

  1. On the iPad, click on "Settings" and then "General" and scroll to the "Keyboard" menu.
  2. Click on "Text Replacement"
  3. In the upper right, click the "+" button
  4. Have the child enter their full email address into the "Phrase" field
  5. Have the child enter the secret shortcut text into the "Shortcut" field

See It In Action:  

Once this is set, it will save time in your classroom or when you work with young children. 

*Teaching Tip: Be sure to check the student's/child's spelling before finishing this process. While it can be changed later, if the goal is to "set it and forget it" you will want to be SURE to get it right the first time.




Setting a Good Example for Students Related to Internet Use

t is easy to forget the irritating little pains of the past.  Most of us have LONG forgotten the dreadfully slow Internet access that was experienced district wide near the conclusion of the 2012-13 school year. Painstakingly slow connections that made viewing instructional videos nearly impossible, halted some of our virtual academy students school work in its tracks, and wasted precious instructional minutes.  With our robust new Internet connection in the School District of Waukesha, we seem to have MORE THAN ENOUGH bandwidth to go around this year.  Right?


This is just a reminder that your actions as a classroom teacher, as a supervising staff member, as a member of our professional community, matter.  We model for kids.  Kids watch us closely.  Just as we teach them with our words, we teach them with our actions, as well as our inability to act when we should.  With that said, the example below is just one example of a way in which we can all set a better example for students.


We all know that the college basketball event known as "March Madness" can be a lot of fun.  This year's March Madness was even more special with Marquette and UW-Madison making it to the tournament.  As seems to be the case every March, a dedicated few sports fans seem to find ways to keep tabs on the game in a wide variety of ways.   While it is ultimately harmless fun (that can seem almost necessary by that point in the school year), what we often fail to see is the impact that Internet use has on those around us (across the entire school district).


The graph below demonstrates the bandwidth consumed in the School District of Waukesha during the time the first round of the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament was being played.  The red arrows and vertical red lines on the graph indicate the beginning and end of the basketball game played on that day.



Points worthy of noting:


  • The bandwidth consumed in the final moments of the game is more than 10x the TOTAL bandwidth AVAILABLE in the district during the last school year
  • Though our bandwidth use in general is about 4x higher this year than last year (a sign that our educational use of the Internet is far greater than what was even available last year), during the game our bandwidth use jumped substantially, and then returned to normal levels following the conclusion of the game (indicating an excessive amount of viewership for some event that happened within that time period...see if you can determine what it might be)
  • Almost all of the traffic reported came from two sources, both of which were broadcasting the NCAA tournament at that time.
  • 2 - 3 times the normal Internet traffic consumed during this period was streamed to about 130 users across the district -- that is approximately only 1-2% of our total number of users across the district
  • Despite our incredible 1 Gig connection (an incredibly robust infrastructure in any school district), we topped out our usage.  This is same situation that took place near the mid to end of last year that caused the haltingly slow Internet speeds across the district.

While it is easy to track these stats on a day when we can predict additional bandwidth usage, such as during March Madness, the reality is that many of us have daily Internet use habits that chew away at the bandwidth intended for meaningful teaching and learning.  Whether that is having Pandora or iHeartRadio streaming all day in the background, watching Netflix or YouTube, maintaining constantly open windows with Tumblr, Facebook, and other services, or using the network for a wide variety of other uses not focused on education, the reality is the same -- your actions on our network impact others directly.  


As we gear up for Waukesha One, which will see a major influx of devices hitting our Internet connection, it becomes even more important for us to set a good example for students.  Asking a student to turn off a gaming site or a streaming radio station is much easier when we avoid using similar services ourself.  Instructing a student to turn off his/her sporting or gaming event of choice is a more clear cut conversation when we have resisted the temptation to turn on that March Madness game while at school.  This conversation will become even more relevant as we see our regular use of the Internet grow significantly as we make a change to more digitally focused teaching and learning.


All Internet use contributes to our overall bandwidth consumption! Overusing our Internet resources for non-educational purposes ultimately slows down the access for all -- including for teaching and learning.  Set a good example.  Help your kids see why educationally relevant use of the Internet matters at school.  Protect one of our most valuable resources!  


The e-Submission Insanity: Taking Control of Digitally Submitted Work -- Part 2

In our last article, we talked about the importance of crafting (and insisting upon) a naming strategy for digitally submitted work.  This alone can be a valuable management strategy, but staff can put other measures in place to maintain a sense of sanity as more student work is turned in online.


This post focuses on a Folder Sharing/structure solution within Google Drive.


The Folder Sharing Concept in Google Drive

One of the core truths in Google Drive is that when a folder is created in Drive, the "properties" set for that folder are transferred to any documents or files within that folder (unless otherwise specified).


"Properties" refers to a few key elements when a user clicks the "Share" button on a folder or document in Google Drive:


  • Whether that document is "Private," available to people within the domain, or open and available to the world, and
  • Who specifically is being invited to view, edit, and comment on the document

The Folder Sharing Concept, then, focuses on using this principle to eliminate later confusion/frustration as students create one folder, set the sharing and viewing properties properly once for that folder, and then simply place all course related work in that folder for the rest of the year.  This keeps an open line of communication between the student's course folder, and the teacher's access to that folder.


Setting Up Folder Sharing with Students

It is recommended that a teacher launch the Folder Sharing system with all of his/her students at a time when it makes sense to change fundamental operating procedures within the classroom.  Moving all students at once to this system will make the transition cleaner and more manageable for the instructor.  It also allows the classroom culture/expectations to shift at once.

Step 1:  Develop a clear folder naming practice and general sharing guidelines to achieve consistency

  • How do you want student folders to be labeled? (For student's organization, do more than just their name!  Especially if they have more than one teacher.)
    •  Last Name, First Name - Subject
    •  Last Name - Teacher Name
    • Last Name, First Name - Subject - Semester
  • Do you want folders inside of that folder (nested or sub folders)?
  • What level of sharing would you like students to give you?  Viewing?  Commenting?  Editing?
    • Editing is gives you fullest access to the folders and files

Step 2:  Create a "Class Folder" for your class(es) in your Google Drive

  • Once students share a folder with you, it will benefit your efficiency to place those folders into a collective folder.  Name the folder with clear identifiers, though.  "American Lit - 2012 - Sem1"

Step 3:  Reserve a lab/cart/computers and have students create the folder as a class

  • While students can create this independently, it is worth the time and effort to be present to answer questions and to make sure the folder is set up properly the FIRST Time.

Step 4:  As students share the folder with you, check the properties and drag into your "Class Folder"

  • When the file arrives in your inbox, or in your Google Drive folder (look in "Shared with Me"), take a look at the properties to be certain they are set properly.  Then, simply drag the folder up into the proper "Class Folder" in your Google Drive.
    • You will not delete student access to the folder in dragging this into the "My Drive" section of Google Drive.  It simply makes it easier for the instructor to find like student folders.

Step 5:  Instruct students to place all work that is to be digitally submitted into that folder

  • Remember that all files within that folder will take on the "properties" of the folder, unless otherwise specified by the student.
  • Developing a file naming structure/code for the files in each folder will further assist instructors in efficiently assessing the work within that folder.


Tips to Teachers

While the system is fairly simple and easy to use, there are some strategies that will make this work more seamless.

  • Clear initial expectations will ease the student transition to a new turn-in model.  Avoid accepting paper versions of the work when possible if the expectation is primarily electronic submission.
  • Prior to using Google with students, determine if they have an active Google account with the district.  The easiest method is to have students attempt to log in.  
  • Encourage students to share their folders with a parent/guardian as well.  
    • Even without a Google account, parents can view (and even comment/edit) the work.  Here's a link to an article explaining options for sharing with non-Google users.
  • Use commenting on docs shared with you to provide feedback.  Printing assignments and placing feedback on the printed copy defeats the purpose of e-submissions (and creates another step for you -- so much for efficiency gained).
  • Engage students in a discussion about the work using the discussion tool in Google Docs.
  • Check in often.  You'll be amazed at how quickly work piles up.  Even when it isn't due!

Episode 3: Have you had your wiki today?

In this episode of Getting Tech Into Ed, Brian talks about one of his favorite Web 2.0 innovations: The WIKI.  Trained to use these tools properly, educators have some of the most transformational, innovative tools they can imagine in their hands (and most often for completely free).  The wiki can totally liberate educators and can provide opportunities for students to share their thoughts/ideas/learning with an authentic audience.  In this show, Brian gives several ideas to listeners.