Schoology – Requiring Assessment Mastery Before Moving on

In Sal Khan’s phenomenal TED Talk Let’s Teach for Mastery – Not Test Scores, he illustrates the lack of focus on mastery in most classrooms with this metaphor:

To appreciate how absurd [teaching based on a pacing guide, not mastery] is, imagine if we did other things in our life that way. Say, home-building.

So we bring in the contractor and say, “We were told we have two weeks to build a foundation. Do what you can.”

So they do what they can. Maybe it rains. Maybe some of the supplies don’t show up. And two weeks later, the inspector comes, looks around, says, “OK, the concrete is still wet right over there, that part’s not quite up to code … I’ll give it an 80 percent.”

You say, “Great! That’s a C. Let’s build the first floor.”

He continues with this great metaphor, but I’ll stop there because the point is clear: it’s silly to have students move to the next topic or skill before they’ve mastered the one they’re on.  With technology, we have tons of ways to ensure this mastery.

In Schoology, you can require students exceed a minimum assessment score prior to moving on to the upcoming content.  And, if they don’t do well enough?  Have them learn from their mistakes, get better, re-take the assessment and then move on.

Here’s how to do it, first in GIF form and then in step-by-step form.

Requiring Test Mastery in Schoology Animation

  1. Go to the Materials Page for your course.
  2. Click Add Materials > Assessment.
  3. Create your Assessment.
  4. Include in the instructions a note about the minimum score and their ability to retake the assessment.
  5. Go to “Settings” inside of the assessment.
  6. Change the Attempt Limit to Unlimited (or some other greater than 1 option)
  7. Decide how you’d like it to be graded.  I go with “highest score.”
  8. Turn on Submissions (if you’re ready)
  9. Go back to your materials page.
  10. Click on Options > Student Completion.
  11. Set up Student Completion for your pages and assignments.
  12. For the Assessment, Select “Member must score at least” and enter the minimum score you’d like students to obtain.

Embedding Google Docs in Schoology “Pages”

Pages are a nice Materials option in Schoology.  They give a teacher the ability to include more flexible learning content and are awesome in blended courses.

Sometimes you may want to add an already created Google Doc (or slides, sheet, etc.) along with some text content in a page.  Below is how you can do that (note that if you want just the doc without other content before or after it, you’d follow a different process).  First is an animated GIF, followed by the step-by-step instructions.

Add Doc into Schoology Page Animation

  1. Make sure you’ve connected the Google Drive App.
    1. (inside Resources > Apps)
  2. Create your Google Doc
  3. Go to Materials Page in your Schoology Course
  4. Click Add Materials
  5. Click Add Page
  6. Click the Insert Content Button
  7. Select the Google Drive Resource App
  8. Click the checkbox by the file you want to add
  9. Click Insert > Embed.
  10. Add text or other content before or after the doc if you’d like.

TodaysMeet

Never judge a book by its cover.  Because, if you did, TodaysMeet would seem like a boring, unimpressive tool from at least a decade ago.

But, “open the book” and you’ll realize that TodaysMeet is a super useful tool in the classroom.  It is very simple to use and, in less than 5 minutes you can have a chat-room like discussion setup for your class.  It may be a “bare bones” site with 0 flashiness, but it makes up for that in function.

Ideas for use:
  1. Backchannel chat during a movie, speaker or other situation where you want actively engaged quiet students.  This Edutopia article by Beth Hollanddefines a backchannel chat is a “a digital conversation that runs concurrently with a face-to-face activity
  2. Digital Office Hours – a teacher that I work with uses TodaysMeet in the evening before big projects are due to give students a chance to ask for help.
  3. Quick Questions – there are tons of great tools for asking students for their opinions to questions in class, but TodaysMeet is nice because it’s so quick, easy and simple.  When you have more than 1 question, you can either setup separate rooms or just ask the questions in succession.
  4. Got some others?  I’d love to hear about them.
How to use todaysMeet:

First a GIF, followed by the step-by-step instructions:

TodaysMeet Animation

  1. Go to todaysmeet.com
  2. Create an account.
  3. Under Open a new room pick a name for your room. This does become part of the URL, so it’s nice to pick something easy for your students to type (though there’s a shortened URL too).
  4. Decide how long to keep the room open for. (If there’s not the right time option for you, note that you can close the room manually)
  5. Decide if you want “anyone” access or “logged in” access.  I stick with anyone, but if you use TodaysMeet regularly, there may be benefits of the logged in option.
  6. Decide if you’d like to require a password for entry to your room.  If you’re worried about safety or about having kids only enter the room after completing a previous activity, this may be beneficial.
  7. Open your room.
  8. Give students either the URL from your address bar (todaysmeet.com/yourroomname) or the shortened URL that you can see by clicking on Room Tools.
  9. Click on Projector View if you’d like to have a better view of the chat to project on your screen.
  10. Save your transcript at the end, if needed.

Note that you can also embed the TodaysMeet chat onto a different site!  Pick “Live Stream” if you want the page’s visitors to participate in the chat and/or see it live.

Show All Comments in Google Sheets

The ability to comment on cells in Google Sheets is super useful.  The ability to find those comments, however . . . pretty stinkin’ difficult.  That little yellow triangle in the corner just ain’t cutting it.  In a big spreadsheet, it can be easy to miss some comments.

You can show all of the comments in the currently open spreadsheet tab by either hovering over or clicking on the comments icon on the sheet tab at the bottom.  Clicking keeps them open while you move your mouse around or scroll.  If you hover, the comments are hidden again as soon as you move your mouse.

Show All Comments in Google Sheets Animation

Emoji in Google Docs

They’re on your phone.  They’re in a movie.  They’re on clothes.  They’re on social media.  They’re probably tattooed on people.  And yes . . . they’re in Google Docs.

Here’s how to enter Emoji (and other symbols) in Google Docs, Slides or Drawings. Once you click Insert > Special Characters you have 3 options:

  1. Change the dropdown that initially says “Symbol” to say “Emoji” and navigate to the Emoji that you want.
  2. Search by keyword.
  3. Search by drawing the Emoji.

Tip: The emojis are text items, not pictures.  That means that their size is dependent on your selected font size.

Emoji in Docs Animation

We can’t take offense to them ignoring it before if they hear it NOW!

In a past school year, a colleague and I were trying hard to sell the teachers in our building on a certain technology tool.  The name of the tool doesn’t really matter.  All that mattered is, we considered it a top priority – a tool that could really benefit students.  So, we shared about it in emails, in team meetings, in staff meetings, in more casual conversations, anywhere that we could get an audience for it.

Later, one of the teachers attended a technology conference.  They came back and were super-excited about a fantastic, exciting, new technology tool.  They planned to use it the next day and couldn’t be prouder to have discovered it.

Yup, you guessed it: it was the same tool that we had been beating the drum for all year long.

My colleague was mad.

Colleague: “We’ve shared about this tool so many times and [this teacher] ignored us each time . . . and now she sees thinks she discovered it!?”

Me: “Who cares.

Colleague: “What!? How does this not make you mad?  You recorded videos, you wrote emails, you presented about it in meetings . . . “

Me: “But . . . what was our goal?”

Colleague: “To get teachers to use it.”

Me: “Then we’ve met our goal and the students will benefit.”

The truth is, it’s hard not to be frustrated and offended in this situation.  You pour yourself into your role as a tech coach (whether it’s official or unofficial) and work your tail off to try to expose teachers to the ideas that you believe in.  And when they ignore it, it hurts.  And when they discover it elsewhere and don’t even recall you sharing it, it hurts more.

But . . . it doesn’t matter.  As long as the improvement happens, as long as the students benefit, as long as they hear the message from someone – even if it’s not you – you’ve met your goal.  Take a deep breath and offer to support them in implementing that new tool!

We can’t take offense to them ignoring it before if they hear it NOW!

Emoji on Mac

Everyone loves emoji.  If you have a Mac computer, here’s how to access emoji (and other symbols) quickly.

  1. Click in a text box (it appears that this doesn’t work for Google Docs)
  2. At the same time, click control + command⌘ + space
  3. Double-click on the emoji (or symbol) that you’d like to add

Emoji on Mac Animation

4 Ways to Upload to Google Drive

There are 4 main ways to upload files to Google Drive. If you include syncing your computer to Drive, downloading Drive or the other ways to access the “New” menu (right-click, clicking on “My Drive” at the top) there are even more. But the 4 main ones are below, first as a list and then shown in a GIF:

  1. Click New > File Upload
  2. Click New > Folder Upload
  3. Click New > File Upload and use shift+click or ctrl+click to select multiple files
  4. Drag & Drop into the Google Drive window

Upload to Drive Animation

Embedding Google Forms in Schoology

Schoology offers a quality platform for classroom assessments, but no platform for collecting information that isn’t intended to be an assessment.  In that situation, Google Forms is a great option.  However, using a link and forcing students to go “out” of Schoology can be inconvenient and lead to some internet-wandering.  So, let’s embed the Google From right into Schoology!  Forms can be embedded in pages as well as assignments.

This is beneficial in a number of other situations:

  • Schoology assessments can’t differentiate based on answers (i.e., seeing remedial content after getting a question wrong), but Forms can.
  • If the data coming from the questions is actually going to someone else (i.e., your school guidance counselor), you’d be able to share the Google Forms results easily with them.
  • If you’re looking to trigger some action (i.e., mail merge) with the responses, the Add-Ons offered in Google Sheets would work.
  • If you’re looking to use the functionality offered by Google Forms Add-Ons like FormRanger and FormLimiter.
  • If you need to use formulas or create data representations, Google Sheets are ideal.

Option 1: Add as an External Tool

This option requires the least steps, but has one major drawback – you can’t include any other text or images on the Schoology “page” – just the content from the form.  (If you need to include other stuff, check out Option 2, below).

Check out the GIF below, followed by step-by-step instructions, to see how to do this:

Embed Form as External Tool in Schoology Animation

Option 2: Embed the Form into a Page, Assignment or Discussion

This option is preferable if you’d like to add some text or other content on the same “screen” as the form.

Check out the GIF below, followed by step-by-step instructions, to see how to do this:

Embed Form in Schoology Animation

  1. Create your Google Form.
  2. Click the Send (paper airplane) button.
  3. Select the <> Embed option.
  4. Modify the dimensions, if you’d like.  You can do that in Schoology later as well.
  5. Click on the embed code.
  6. Click Copy.
  7. Go to your class Materials page in Schoology.
  8. Click Add Materials.
  9. Click Add Page (or whatever option you’re choosing).
  10. Click the button on the right, above the text box, with the two dots.  It’s the Switch to HTML View button.  (If you’re in an Assignment, you may have to click a > button to get to the expanded view)
  11. Paste the embed code.
  12. Click Create and you’re done!
  13. If you switch back to the Standard View, you can also enter other content (text, pictures, etc.) above or below the Google Form.

Speeding Up YouTube Videos

Ben Franklin coined the phrase “Time is money.”  Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim invented YouTube.   It’s a match made in heaven.  Well, kinda.

There is so much content available for educators and their students to learn from on YouTube.  Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t have enough time to watch those videos.

Know of a 20 minute tutorial that you’d like to watch, but only have 15 minutes available?  I’ve got the solution for you!

Click the gear in the bottom-right corner of a YouTube video to access the speed settings.  I recommend 1.5x for most videos, 1.25x if it’s highly technical.  When I’m watching my own videos to “proof” them or look for a certain spot in the video, I go with 2x.

But the best advice I can give you – check out this video in 2x and 0.5x speed.  You’re welcome.

YouTube Speed Animation