Worried about what your students might do while you’re away at #TCEA17? Learn some easy ways to stay connected with them while you’re gone.
In the popular children’s book Miss Nelson Is Missing, the kids in Room 207 aren’t on their best behavior when their teacher is gone for a day. Luckily, the substitute is able to gain control and get them back on track. As you prepare to head off for the TCEA 2017 Convention & Exposition, are you fearing a “Miss Nelson” catastrophe from your students? You don’t need to. With all of the great technology out there, you can stay connected to your class and still enjoy the wonderful things the convention has to offer. Here are a few of our favorite ways to stay connected with your kiddos.
Schedule announcements, questions, or assignments on Google Classroom ahead of time. You may have the best of intentions on posting things on your Google Classroom while at the conference, but trust us – you will be busier than you think. There is so much great stuff to see and do that you might forget to post something important. Plan ahead and use the “Schedule” feature when posting so you’re sure not to forget.
Add a video, photograph, or drawing to your Seesaw blog. Are you using Seesaw in your classroom? If so, you can use your Seesaw blog to share things that you are doing at TCEA. Anything that you can create or upload into Seesaw can be shared in the blog. For example, you can post a video or picture of you and Moby in the exhibit hall and ask your students to write about their favorite BrainPop video. You could also post flipped lessons for them. Create a drawing or video teaching a topic and then ask students to submit some type of product to you on Seesaw. If you haven’t used Seesaw blogs yet, you can find directions by clicking here.
Pre-record video greetings or instructions. Students may pretend to like it when you’re out, but deep down inside, they’ll miss you! Let them see your happy face while you’re gone. You could leave a morning greeting for your elementary kiddos, or record detailed instructions on assignments for your older students. All your sub needs is the URL of your post.
If you have a YouTube channel, the easiest way to do it is with the YouTube app. Simply open the app, click on your account icon in the upper right, then select My Channel. Once there, click the red camera icon and hit record. For best results, turn your phone sideways into landscape mode. Record, upload, and send the sub the link. If you don’t have a YouTube channel or if YouTube is blocked on your campus, then try using Loom, an online screencasting tool that you can use from any browser. Loom allows you to record what’s on your screen, but also has a “Camera Only” mode so you can just record yourself. Like YouTube, you’ll get a unique URL for your uploaded video.
Communicate in real time with your students. Stay connected with your students by engaging them in a real-time dialogue. You can do this in writing or with voice. Today’s Meet allows you to create a chat room for you and your students. Go to www.todaysmeet.com, name your room, and decide how long you want your chat open. Then Today’s Meet will create a unique URL. Copy the URL from the address bar and share with your substitute and students. You can ask questions, students can respond, and the conversation can go on for as long as you have the chat open. Please note that you cannot moderate Today’s Meet. Students can put in nicknames that you may not know and you cannot remove posts that are made. You can get more privacy settings if you sign up and pay for Teacher Tools.
Voxer is a “walkie-talkie” app that allows you to have conversations with a group using audio and/or text. Your first step is to create a Voxer account. You can do this in a web browser or through the Voxer app. Next, get your students to create accounts. While they can create an account using the mobile app, it’s best if they do it online at web.voxer.com so they won’t have to enter their cell phone number. Once they have accounts, create a Voxer group adding them to the group, and you’re off and running (or Voxing)!
Use Twitter or Facebook live to bring your students to the Austin Convention Center. Twitter and Facebook both have live options where you can record what you are doing and live stream it. This is a great way to have a quick conference with your students, show them the exhibit hall, or let them experience what you are learning. Our recommendation is to only use Facebook and Twitter Live if you have a classroom account. The substitute will need to be following your class. They can watch live or watch the recording later, but live allows the class to interact as you are streaming.
To get on Facebook Live, simply sign into Facebook, click on the What’s on Your Mind box, click live video, and then the next button. To get on Twitter Live, go to the Twitter app on your phone or tablet, tap the feather to write a new tweet, and tap the live button. Now you can record yourself, and anyone who is following you on Twitter or your Facebook will be able to see the video.
Make a game of it! Students love playing games, so turn your trip into one. Don’t tell them where you’re going and then conduct a mystery “video chat” with them. If you’ve not heard of this before, the idea is simple. Your students are allowed to ask you “yes” or “no” questions only to figure out where you are. They’re allowed to use any resources at their disposal. If they guess the city quickly, challenge them to pinpoint your location within the city. If they guess the convention center, ask them where in the convention center you are!
A lot of people use Skype or Google Hangouts for this. The difficulty with those tools is that the sub will need an account. Appear.in offers a really simple solution with a one-click video conference that’s easy and free. You don’t even need an account to start the chat. A detailed blog about the service can be found here.
So, plan ahead and stay connected. And most importantly, enjoy your well-deserved learning trip to Austin. We’ll see you there! #TCEA17
This is a blog by Dr. Roland Rios, Director of Technology, and Ms. Jeannine Freeman, District Instructional Technology Coordinator, at Ft. Sam Houston ISD. You can stay connected with Roland and Jeannine @drrios and @TechTimeWithJ9.