Posted in brilliant ideas, Cell Phone Apps, church, coping, Getting Organized, Teaching

5 ways to not go crazy with teenagers, cell phones and Sunday school

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I was sitting in a “teacher council” meeting this last week

And we were discussing cell phones…and how they drive everyone insane.

There you are teaching a lesson and suddenly the two girls in the back are giggling over the video they are watching on their phones.
Or the kid who sits there through the whole lesson playing on his phone and being sulky and sullen if you ask him to participate.
Or just trying to get their attention AT ALL, get them to LOOK UP from their phones and act like humans and give educated, interesting, thought provoking responses

(I mean is that even possible??? Even without phones???)

Many in the group offered this solution: Take their phones away.

And that’s not a bad call in some cases really.

And as a high school teacher, I used to do much that same thing.
At the beginning of class, I made all my kids turn off their phones (OFF, not just vibrate)
And I went around and checked them and gave them points for doing it even.
And they were supposed to keep them ON their desk (not under the desk or on their lap)
And keep them off for the whole period.

It worked great.
My lower level kids had a harder time with it sometimes, 
But let’s be honest, they had a hard time following directions period. So hey…

This last year though, my attitude changed.
I still miss the days of “turn off your phone when you come to class”
But my attitude now is: Let’s teach you to USE that phone instead of just PLAY with it.
If ANYONE is going to do that, it should be ME, your teacher, the school
This should be part of your education.
Because phones are not going away
And if anything they are getting better and better

And we can use them in more ways to make our lives better

But I’m sorry, if all they know is how to work Snapchat, Instagram and FB
I don’t see their lives being enriched at all.

In fact most kids only use their phones as very expensive toys 

So where will they learn to be better?

They will just magically wake up one day and be so?
Ya no…. welcome to YOUR calling 🙂

So these are some ideas of how you could USE phones in your Sunday School/YW/YM class to teach them to be GOOD with their phones. Hope it helps 🙂

1. Have them put a quote into their “Scriptures” as the class is starting or as their “ticket” out

Let’s say hypothetically that you weren’t teaching lesson 3 and you chose to discuss the topic of the godhead



Included in these materials are several scriptures and also some references to some talks by General Authorities about the subject

To start off the class one thing that could be useful for them is to give them something to keep in their “scriptures”

It used to be that everyone had physical scriptures and so to give them something to keep in their scriptures all you had to do was print out a quote on some cute paper and hand it out to them. Now though if you do that chances are that those little pieces of paper will not be saved by anything other than the trash can because now everything is digital.

But there’s no reason you can’t do the same thing with the same intention in the digital age. You want them to put something in their scriptures that later in life they might find and be inspired or motivated or comforted by.

So you go to one of these articles that the lesson provided and you find a quote for them. I trust one from the article “Godhead” in True to the Faith.


Copy and paste that onto a paper with some instructions. For example I would put something like this, either that I wrote on the board or that I printed together with the quote to just hang up like a sign on the board:
Go to Matthew 3:13

Highlight the first phrase “Jesus, when he was baptized”

Now at the top of your screen click on what looks like a paper and pencil.
This opens up a note (what would be a sticky note if you were using physical scriptures)

Title this note “the nature of the godhead”

Type the following quotes in as a note:

At least for once their little fingers moving fast on the keys will not be irritating 🙂

Now the next time they read this verse (which is a pretty good example of the time in the scriptures when all three of the godhead were present together and also scripture that often misinterpreted) they will have this part of the first highlighted and also have this quote there either for their own enrichment or to share with others, just like the cute little bookmarks and inserts that we used to get in our scriptures.

Below this quotes you could also have them write a response (including the date) of how they feel about this or an experience with it or a comment about it or a question any type of thing that could go along with this.

Also when you want people to respond well and with some kind of thought to their words it’s often helpful to have them write down their responses first and this would also be a good place to do that as well if you wanted to have them discuss it later in class.

2. Have them memorize and pass off “scripture mastery” verses or choose verses that go with the lesson for that week for them to memorize.

This app is super GOOD and it’s one they would also use in Seminary 

(And no complaints from your kids’ seminary teacher I’m sure, they can use all the reinforcement and help they can get.)

It helps them to memorize the word by progressively taking words or letters away as you memorize it

See the scroll thing at the bottom? That is how you make more or less words appear as you are memorizing it

You can also have them take a quiz or take a quiz on the Scripture Mastery tags or references

Overall a pretty good app for memorizing the scriptures and you can also change it from Book of Mormon to Old Testament or new testament or whatever

3. Have them watch the corresponding video that goes with the lesson that week

It used to be that in order to watch a clip for your lesson you had to look in a huge TV and also check out a DVD or a cassette tape or a VHS tape

Now you still might have to do that if you want…

or you could actually have the students watch it themselves on their phones

One very quick and very easy option are the scripture stories these are in an easily downloaded app and they don’t take a lot of space a very common complaint from from my students these days: memory is a hot commodity) They don’t need a really good connection very simple also and to the point so they won’t take up a lot of time.

They might think this is a little childish but they do have a very basic summary of whatever it is that you’re talking about that week so at least when you say “Who is Enos?” For example you won’t just get blank stares. Well you might still get blank stares but at least you know that it’s because that’s just the way their face is…LOL

4. Make a KaHoot! Game 


You can do a quiz, a discussion,  a survey and they are really easy to make. It’s something that you could do the night before and then do during class without too much effort

All you need is a “base” computer for the game–probably easier with a tablet or laptop but phone works too. In order for it to work the kids have to enter a code that you give them to be part of the game so it helps to be able to just show them the screen but you could just write it on the board it’s not that complicated.

All you have to do is log on to your account and make your quiz ( you type in the questions and the answers then click to do the next question. Easy.

Once you go to start the game their phones now become their buzzers and as soon as they answer the program will show that they did and it will show the results of who answered what but it won’t say specifically which answer was whose so as not to embarrass anyone (It shows how many people have answered not who has answered). The program will tell them the correct answer was after a certain time. Usually 10 to 15 seconds and then it will move on to the next question.

5. Have them Define some words:

 I am always shocked at how many words my students don’t know the definition to. Words that I think “Of course they know because they’ve heard them a million times” and so I assume that they know what they mean! …and they don’t.

In my English class sometimes I have them go through an article before we read it and highlight words that they don’t understand and I am always floored at the words that they highlight. Now maybe they’re picking random words but in most cases I don’t think they are.

Like the other day we are reading an article and it use the word “bigot”I would say 99% of my students did not know what it meant and the one kid who guessed said that it meant a b**** and I guess that’s close to the definition? At least it’s getting to the general connotation of it but the fact that it had a female Association to it Disturbed me a little frankly. Do you see what I mean though? They kind of know what certain words mean but then at the same time they really don’t at all.

So if you want them to do something to help on the lesson have them choose some words to look up the definition for…

Maybe they have heard them a million times but it doesn’t mean that they understand them…at all…

On some words maybe just dictionary.com ( which most of my students use at school on their phones on a pretty regular basis) would work well for just like the Webster’s Dictionary type of a definition. For example, this is what the word “Meek” means:

It’s not a bad definition and it even gives you where it’s from? That’s kind of interesting but as far as the gospel I don’t know about you but I’m still not entirely clear about what it means.

Other times you could encourage them to use things like the Bible dictionary or a new feature in the digital scriptures called “Guide to the scriptures.”

This is a new addition and it’s kind of a combination between the topical guide and the Bible dictionary. For example if you look in the topical guide under “Meek, meekness,” you get this:

And if you look in the Bible dictionary? It’s not there.

But then if you look in the guide to the scriptures you get this:

This gives you an actual definition and it also gives you the references that the topical guide does as well.

Here’s to a Happy Sunday!  Good Luck!

Posted in brilliant ideas, Getting Started, High School, Teaching

12 basic abilities I use every day as a teacher

To anyone going to school to be a teacher: this is for you.

I have a friend my age who recently went back to school and is doing her student teaching to be an English teacher (like me) and I thought, “Wow to be a first-year teacher again… Wait I would never go back to that…”

Being a first-year teacher is kind of like being a teenager: it’s awkward and difficult and it’s a lot of trying to prove that you have it together when you really have no idea what’s going on.

So I’ve been thinking lately about my friend and about learning how to be a teacher and the things that I do everyday that I probably do without thinking now I have been teaching  for 14 years and it really doesn’t seem like it’s been that long at all…

There was my first year  teaching 7th grade in Utah

And then there were the three years after that at another school while also trying to be the head coach of the debate team.

And then there was the year before I got married where I didn’t coach at all and realized that I had gotten used to prepping my entire day in 15 minutes.

And then the years ever since that have included four pregnancies and going from full time to part time where I learned that I was very grateful that I can prep my whole day in 15 minutes because my life was a whole lot busier.

And somehow during that time, and those years, and those different schools, I have learned to leave it all at work. Where I used to think about my classes all the time and where I used to be constantly planning units and doing lesson plans in my head as I woke up in the morning and during every spare moment…..

Now I forget sometimes that I am a teacher at all. Monday rolls around and I think “oh yeah I have to go to work…”. Not joking! 

Part of that I attribute to going from being single and fresh out of college to being married with four children under the age of 8. My brain is occupied with many other things besides school but still I think even without the kids and the lack of brain cells, I have learned to take care of work at work and have things handling  themselves. 

So how did I do that? That’s what I’ve been asking myself because not to say that I’m some perfect teacher but I feel like of all the areas of my life, teaching is something that I have figured out. Again not that I’m perfect but for the most part teaching is not something that I stress about or worry about or wonder if I’m good at anymore

I got this. I have it figured out and it’s not that I’ve taught the same thing for years necessarily either but there are some things that I have taught many times before and constantly improve so I’m not making up things from scratch but then again I am, I do do new units all the time and add new stuff to the stuff I already have done so it’s not like I’m just leaning on past years either, but yet I am…

So I’ve been thinking about what things I do that make it so that my job flows easily and this is what I’ve come up with and this is what I wanted to share to my friend who was starting out teaching and to anyone who starting out teaching that hopefully in the busy craziness of those first couple years of teaching, you can figure out some kind of order and a way to stay sane in what normally is a pretty crazy time.

1. Learn to type crazy fast

I don’t know how many times I have had to come up with things at the last minute or type up a quiz or enter grades or type an email or write a note super fast and being able to do it super-fast has made such a difference it has saved my lessons my life and my sanity 

However fast you type right now? double it because that will be your salvation.

2. Develop cycle systems

School involves paper.

No matter how much we are going digital it still involves paper and the transfer of information from teacher to student so you need to develop Cycle Systems 

The kids need to have a constant way to turn something in 

You need a constant way to keep the work cycling through and being corrected (Yaya for TAs!)

You need a cycle to manage the paperwork and then from there you need a way to enter it into the computer so that the kids can know what their grade is and what they’re missing.

and then from there you need a way to hand it back to them and do it without losing things 

and then  hand it back to them again  after the kids who were absent are back 

You also need a system for keeping track  of what people missed while they were absent.

There needs to be a way to cycle paper, tons and tons of it everyday every class. Every second you need to organize the paper that will be flowing in and out constantly.

I have 4 different sets (one for each class period) of bins that I fill and empty and fill and empty on a regular basis. 

I also have a file cabinet, two file drawers, a cabinet full of binders and two bookcases that hold all of my copies for the year, not to mention the table for the TAs to correct work and two different sets of file boxes to hold the kids work:one that they use and one that I use.

The kids have a daily folder that they use to organize their work and that they hand in to me once a week.

I have a folder for each unit that we are doing up front, plus a main file back at my desk.

And that doesn’t include all the papers that I get from the office about upcoming events or themes or rallies or fundraisers or news or even advertisements.

Paper in school is no joke. Come up with a system or you will drown in it.

3. Learn to Shake It Off

No matter how crazy one class is and no matter how awful your lesson was: it doesn’t matter.

Learn to be able to shake it off and to become new when your next class of totally innocent kids walk in the room and have no idea that you wanted to kill all the kids that were just sitting in those seats haha

That next class deserves your full energy and your whole attitude and they don’t deserve to be yelled at or to have a grumpy teacher and besides you being a grumpy cheer for them will make them worse because you set the weather so if you want your life to get harder then be grumpy! (And that’s not always a bad thing your kids need to know that Mom has her limits)

but if you want your kids to be happy until work harder for you you have to be happy which means you have to Shake It Off and you have to learn to not let one thing lead to another 

you have to be able to smile and fake it and not be in a bad mood over one kid or one experience or 1 lesson going bad

4. Learn to read super fast

I don’t know how people do it when they read at a normal speed I read between 1000 and 1500 words per minute which is like 10 times as fast as most people just because I don’t know how to not do it

I have to read essays

I have to check papers as they leave the door

I have to read emails 

I have to read assignments 

I have to read so many things and I don’t have all day to do it 

I have a lot of students and I don’t have a lot of time. 50 minutes! That’s it!

I read Crazy Fast all the time and not because it’s uncomfortable and not because I’m stressed out because I don’t want to take all day doing it! I just don’t and it saves me so much time to not have to take all day to correct essays or to grade papers or two great assignments. I can read it fast know that they did it or not and get on about my day.

5. Follow basic lesson plan structures

When you first become a teacher they always make you type your lesson plans and plan them out and I always thought it was the biggest pain because I hated typing everything out and I hated planning because for the most part I do things well in my head 

But it was good to always be practicing doing that structure because it really is effective 

You always need an introduction to the class: if the kids just walk in and you’re like so today we’re going to talk about…. that’s stupid. Everyone’s going to be like that is going to be horrible lesson you have to have an introduction 

You need to have a activity for all of you to do together to show them how 

you need to have specific structure an independent study and partner work all of that needs to be something that’s included in every lesson and even though maybe it’s a lot of work sometimes and maybe it’s something that you don’t think of when you first become a teacher 

As an older teacher that’s how I plan all my lessons just naturally. That’s how they all are and even though I don’t write them anymore they still have that structure and its better

Things go better if I consistently have all the pieces that way they’re supposed to and if I slack off and forget and think I won’t do a conclusion today that’s when I become more irritated and more bugged with my students and with their performance when really in the end it’s actually more my fault than theirs.

6. Keep them busy and keep them challenged

The worse the students the busier they need to be and the more specific you need to be in your goals and expectations.

 Higher level kids will work well on their own and basically set their own goals for getting things done. 

Lower level students will not in fact they will do what seems to be like the opposite of Common Sense 

You need to set goals for them and set specific expectations of when the work needs to be done and how they will give it to you

If you want them to write a paper you can’t just say it’s due next week and same thing if you want them to write a rough draft you can’t just say it’s due at the end of the period because for a lot of kids that means that they’ll waste the entire time and then try to write it in the last 2 minutes 

There’s all kinds of ways to motivate them to get a little part of it done at a time: games you can play, competitions you can run, things that aren’t wild and crazy and running around that are in their seats but still motivating and ways to keep them on track 

but keep them after, threaten them, bribe them, any way to get them to get more work done in one class.

But whatever you do, dont let them just sit there. 

7. Be Human

Be the person you are teaching them to be.

I heard one time that you as a teacher may be the only person your kids know that has a college degree.

I’m not saying be their best friend, but they should LIKE you, they should want to be someone who is like you, who has what you have. They should like how you are.

And if all you are is a stuck up jerk who yells at them all the time and after 10 months together still acts like a stranger, why would they want a college degree? So they can grow up to be an jerk like you? Probably not.

I’ve found that the more I tell stories, the better things go. The more the class knows about me as a real person, the more we can all relax and get to work. As a person, I share less with strangers than I do with friends. So if I get so concentrated on the work that I don’t ever stop and tell them about how I  (the teacher) work into all this info, they don’t really care about me or the work in the end. 

8. Show More Movies

When I was in college I worked at a middle school as an “Advocate” is what it was called, but basically like a teacher’s assistant? or an instructional aide? but instead of assisting the teacher, I assisted the students so I went in and out of classrooms depending on where my students were that I was helping, not based on the teachers if that makes sense. So one day I could be in math and the next in Science for that class period. In a 4 hour time period I was in and out of probably 10 different classes.

One of the teachers that I went in and out quite a bit was a science class for 7th graders. I always liked going and helping in her class because she did the funnest lessons ever.  As an adult I always wished that I could just attend her class because it was always so interesting and fun. They watch video clips, they cut and pasted, thet colored, they put things together, they did labs, they did all kinds of fun things. 

For one of my classes in college, I was supposed to talk to a few teachers and ask for advice and so I asked her what she would advise new teachers to do and her response was: “show more movies.” 

I thought that was the oddest response knowing what I did about her class and how amazing it was but she went on to explain:

When I was a beginning teacher I thought that every lesson had to be perfect and that I should be attending to my students every second of every class. And I finally came to realize that it’s ok to show a movie so that I can get things ready for the next event or it’s ok to show a movie so that I can get my grades done or a unit put together for them.

It’s not cheating to do work at work and I don’t need to be up here doing a circus performance every second of every class. It’s ok to show a movie, it’s okay to have some down time where the show is not all about me. Plan to have time to plan and get things ready for them: show more movies.  

From one overachiever to the other, I thought that was pretty good advice.

9. Keep shoes under your desk 

You laugh but this has saved me over and over.

Lessons can be faked, classes can watch a movie, things can be made up at the last minute but no matter what, at some point, you are gonna need to stand up in front of class with SHOES on. 🙂

High School doesn’t have the highest standards as far as dress code this is certain but no matter where you are and no matter what day it is that’s still the basic rule: you have to wear shoes and there have been several times in my career where the shoes I was wearing broke and of course they broke about 2 minutes before my class was about to start.

Keep spare shoes under your desk or in a drawer. Just trust me. You’ll be grateful for this advice one day.

10. Make a decision already

I’ve heard also lots of times that teaching is about making decisions constantly. Every second of every day someone is asking you a question and you need to come up with an answer:

Do you want this in pen or pencil? Do you want their class period underneath their name? Can we write on both sides of the paper? Do we need to write in full sentences? Do you want us to write the question? When is this due? Can I turn it in tomorrow? What happens if I don’t finish? Do you get points if it’s late? Do you have another copy? Can I go to the office? What are we doing today? What are we doing tomorrow? What are we doing all next week? I’m going to be gone. What’s the homework? Do you have a pen I can borrow?  Do you have any extra paper ? 

Most of these questions are easy to answer…the first time.

The key here is to answer them the same way every time even though in one day you will be asked these questions a dozen times. Just because it’s the 50th time that someone has asked you if they should put their name on their paper doesn’t mean that it’s ok to snap at them even though it is obnoxious.

The kids are going to ask you questions and a lot of them are going to be really stupid ones. I know they say there’s no such thing as a stupid question but believe me there are a lot of stupid questions

But in order for you to keep the environment and the mood that you want in your class, you have to be able to smile and answer the same question again in the same patient wonderful manner that you did the first time.

Make the decision to be in a good mood and to be nice even when you want to wring their little necks 🙂

11. Stop acting like this is High School 

Anyone can be a teacher, that’s true. A college education helps and it helps to prepare you so that you have more of an idea of what to do.But when it comes down to it, anyone can be a teacher at any age and a college degree really doesn’t matter. 

The good teachers are the ones that can manage relationships and can manage different types of students. 

Growing up you had a certain type of friend. I’m sure you were maybe in a certain type of group of people in high school but now that you’re a teacher. You’re supposed to be a part of every group. You’re supposed to be able to relate to every type of person not just the ones that you liked in high school.

You need to be able to have a relationship with the Geeks, the Stoners, the jocks, the pretty girls, the shy girls, the band members, the overachievers, The Slackers and the people who have no group. Because the thing that all of these kids have in common is you and you have a unique opportunity for them to listen to you and to learn from you and if they think that you are one of “them” they’re not going to even give you the time of day

12. No one cares.

One afternoon after a shoe  incident right before class, I was in the copy room with some other teachers telling them about how terrible my experience had been and how I was wearing flip-flops that day and a couple of them of course laughed and commented to make me feel better and consoled me I guess. I wasn’t that upset but it was a funny story

As the story ended, one of the teachers came and stood right next to me and told me very quietly: “Can I tell you something? nobody gives a s***”

I was kind of shocked at that response but she went on to explain:

“Chances are that no one noticed your shoes at all today. The students don’t care what you’re wearing. You could be wearing anything up there. High school students are not observant and they don’t care. 

When it comes down to it it doesn’t matter what you look like and it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. What’s important here is the students and their education and getting them to learn and to understand better.”

Throughout my career as a teacher I’ve had several times when my skirt was on backwards, my shoes were my slippers that I only wore at home that I forgot to take off, I had one hair sticking straight up all day or I only did my makeup on one eye. 

There was a time once when I was pregnant and for some reason I couldn’t walk because I had this piercing pain in my side and so I sat ob my stool up front  all day and just ordered my students to bring things to me.

I have been so nauseous from morning sickness that I felt green to my toes. 

I’ve hung things from the ceiling as decorations for holidays and had no one even look up or notice them for days and days at a time.

One day I developed an ear infection and by 3rd period, (about 10:30am), I was completely deaf. I went all that period And the rest of the next not being able to hear at all. In fact I heard a really loud feedback everytime I spoke.

And you know what? In every single instance I don’t think that anyone noticed at all. I had a kid look at me funny the one time I was Deaf from the ear infection but he didn’t say anything. No one noticed that I’m aware of and I don’t think anyone cared either.

So stop worrying about what you look like, stop worrying if your outfit is perfect or if your shoes match your dress. 

No one cares. 

What they care about is your relationship and they care about whether or not you care about them; that’s all.

Posted in Cell Phone Apps, Getting Organized, Getting Started, High School, Teaching

8 “Educational” Game Apps for High Schoolers

Part III:
See here for the Intro
See here for the Serious Apps

So here is a list of the Games we played this year
The basic philosophy of playing Games was this:
1. They are going to play SOMETHING
Why not have them playing something educational?
2. Going along with this “training for adulthood” idea that I talked about before, kids need to be introduced to games that are both educational and popular and even beneficial.
I mean just because we are adults doesn’t mean we have to be serious all the time right???
Making them play games gives them some exposure into Other games out there besides the kill-zombies and battle/homesteading games or race car games that I see them play so often.
Not that those aren’t fun but… exposure here is the idea.
Give them an introduction to other things out there

So here is a list of games we played and how they went:
words with friends
#1: Words With Friends

Excellent connection to English, don’t you think?
This game went fantastic
and overall I think this was the favorite for the year
Only a few kids had actually played this game
But most had heard of it?
The rule was they HAD to play someone from class
(That way everyone got to play)
I required them to play 10 games TOTAL
Over a 3 week period

Problems we had:
1.  games can go on for days and days and days…
So don’t expect them to do “a game a day”
But rather be finished by the time the 3 weeks were up
2. I think the 3 week time period was too long.
By the end of week 2 everyone was sick of it
I think they really enjoyed playing it for the two weeks

alphabetty saga
#2: Alphabetty Saga
This game is like Candy Crush and Boggle put together
The goal is to get a certain number of candies to the bottom
And you spell words to eliminate tiles
Again, good English game I thought
And there are an infinite number of levels
And it’s super cute and actually pretty difficult
I had them set a goal to get to level 15 or 20 I think
For the most part everyone did, a few got stuck
Overall good game

Problems we had:
1. Overall it was enjoyable, but overall it wasn’t as “educational” as I would have liked. You don’t really have to come up with big words, you can spell “can” and “be” and “me” and still win. But still, at least it got them thinking a bit?
2. I wasn’t really sure what a realistic goal was.  In the end I said 15 figuring that would be one level a day if we played every weekday for three weeks? Some people had a hard time but overall, it was a low goal. I think next time I will have more of a competition or something so that they try harder to get to higher levels?
3. Same problem as Words with Friends, I think next time two weeks would be fine, the third week everyone is sick of it

.4_Pics_1_Word
#3: 4 Pics, 1 Word
Another favorite of the year!
I think it would be a tie between this one and Words with Friends
This was both challenging and educational
I was very pleased at the new words that kids learned
(like I helped a kid with the word “sliver” and he couldn’t get it because he only knew that word in Spanish! ha! Funny what we learn and don’t learn, huh?)
Basic idea in case you don’t know:
You get 4 pictures and you have to guess what word they ALL show
Seems simple enough but actually kinda hard because they can be tricky
Advice I gave my classes was this: Stop overthinking it!
These are not obscure vocab words, there are common words!
Relax and don’t complicate it!
It was super fun

Problems we had:
1. I set a goal for them to reach 100 or 200, I can’t remember and they BLASTED past it like in a second. I had a kid at like level 300 on the first day we played it! Finally just did a competition for who could get the highest and that went a lot better. The kid who won got to level 900!!
2. Many kids were already playing this: which is fine, but it made it hard to tell them “Get to level 200” when they were already there 🙂

trivia crack#4: Trivia Crack
Another favorite!
This was the first “Trivia” game we played
This game has four categories and it asks you questions from each
So it applies to English
But also History, Geography, Sports and Science
You can play a Random person
Or you can play friends
And most kids had a good time playing each other
And I got to play a few students as well
Questions are kinda random but some are actually hard
To win you have to win all the little icons
Very entertaining to spin the dial and answer questions
I quite enjoyed this one

Problems we had:
1. It is possible to only have one person and then lose.  (this happened to me several times lol) You keep playing until you miss a question so if you miss a question, there is no guarantee that you will ever get another one. haha When it is finally our turn again, your partner might have already gotten all their icons or close to it. You can challenge them and upset them but really you don’t play AGAINST them so much as WITH them.

mindgameslumosity#5: Mind War and Lumonosity
I started out with Mind Wars thinking this would give them a wide variety to choose from
But it didn’t really work at all
Most of the kids were too overwhelmed at the beginning
There are a list of games
And many of them are free
But then of course they want you to buy it to play the rest
I just think this is a game they would have liked later
For the most part, they didn’t play these

th (4)#6: Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
This is another trivia game
Very similar to Trivia Crack
Modeled after the show if you’ve seen that
They enjoyed this one also
But I think that we played this one a little too soon after Trivia Crack
Everyone loved that one
And this one was just okay
Not quite as cute
And not quite as entertaining
Mostly an ordering problem I think?

Ideas for MORE:
unnamed (1)7. Fish Grammar!
I thought this was the CUTEST game ever
You are the scuba diver
And the fish/sharks/whales swimming by are parts of speech 🙂
To get points you have to “catch” the right words
And if you catch the wrong ones, you get docked points
Super cute, actually very fun to play
I thought this would be a good starter game at the beginning of the year?
Good review on Parts of Speech, easy to play
But we never got to play it
But biggest problem:
It’s only made for Androids 😦
So if they ever make an iPhone version
We will totally be playing this game!

th (1)
8. Word Ox
I found this game towards the end of the year
And it looks pretty good
It is very similar to Words With Friends
Only you can move and use any tiles on the board
Seems a little more cutesy and geared to younger age
But it could still work 🙂
word ox screenshot
It might be one we will play this next year?

I would love to hear any suggestions for more!!

Posted in Cell Phone Apps, Getting Organized, Getting Started, High School, Teaching

10 High School Apps your student needs to be using

th (3)#1: Google classroom:
My district bought access to this program this year
so we used it because that was the big push.
(I also really searched a program called OneNote
that I also really liked but the  decision was made for me in this case)
Google Classroom is a nice way to organize assignments,
post HW for kids who were absent
(especially for things we do in class like watch clips or have a handout or even a quiz) because it can just all be “on Classroom” and it’s all easy to access.
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You can attach documents, links, or post it right there as text
Kids can take pictures of their work and attach them to the assignment
or take screenshots of their work
or just simply write a note that says  “turned this in physically” and turn it in.

image
On their end, the program tells them what they have turned in,
what’s missing
and what has been graded already once I “return” it to them.

I LOVE THIS: At the first of the year it didn’t do this but as the year has progressed, they have done some cool things: the best thing so far is that they linked Google Classroom with Google Calendar so now when I open up my calendar, it says what is due that day (which I don’t need to know technically since I’m the teacher not the student haha) so no need to Enter the assignment, it’s all synced together. Helps to keep everything organized and together

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Other Options: The Counseling dept has their own “classroom” that they post links to scholarships and such and remind kids of workshops and things.
So far I’ve seen kids have 3 or 4 “classes” on their programs (most of this all being done on their cell phones)

1st Problem:
The gradebook is my biggest complaint I would say.
I’ve heard there is a way to sync it with your gradebook
but so far no progress on that.
So I can “grade” their stuff on Classroom
On my cell phone even
but then I still have to write down their scores
and enter them on my other program to go on their actual grade.
It makes for a lot of in between  time that is irritating.
And I get a lot of “I turned this in on Classroom” claims:
some legit, (this is where the sync problem comes in)
Others not legit from kids who turn in an assignment a month later
and tell me “oh I turned that in on classroom

My idea: I wish there was a way to set a timer on the assignment
Like if they try to turn it in after a certain time it will just be like,
“oh sorry, you have to talk to your teacher about this”
or the window would pop up and say
“thanks for turning this in, but it’s two weeks late so you’ve been docked points”
whatever those points are.
And then if that was synced to enter on my gradebook automatically?
That would be sweet

image
2nd Problem: The program will show you
how many people have turned in the homework
but doesn’t show you how many are already graded
So unless you remember that you already graded 16
and now it says 18
so you have two more? Or did you already grade those?
then you get a lot of kids telling you “oh I turned that in already”
see what I mean?

Lately it has started showing a “returned” amount
image
Which would solve the problem
IF
It worked all the time 🙂
It says the “returned” numbers on some assignments
But then it doesn’t

The other solution is to just go through and delete them altogether
but frankly we get busy and I forget to
and then I regret it later when I’m checking back over stuff
that I “forgot” to enter supposedly.

Google-Calendar-icon-1024x1024
#2: Google Calendar

We use this in our business like CRAZY
Don’t know what we ever did without it
And now Google Classroom will link all the assignments Calendar
And send you reminders for your HW (in red):
screenshot_20160518-145823.png
Different colors for different classes?
You can make as many “calendars” as you need
(one for each class!)
Or show them all at once
At home I use this on the computer LOTS
And it will look up addresses for you
And link it to MapQuest when you get ready to go places
(saved my life many times)
I used many different systems in the course of
High School
College
And my Masters
And I WISH this would have existed
I don’t know how many hours I wasted
Just getting everything organized
And this does it for you!

mzl_cywklifn

#3: CRAM!!!
This is my favorite app that we use
We use it every week to study for their vocab test
It lets you create your own flashcards
And then helps you study them:
VB#12 Word practice (Friday May 13, 2016 7-59 AM, PDT)
And then there are two different games you can play
That the program plugs in the info from your cards
And puts them in a matching game
Screenshot_20160513-082622
I love this program overall

Only Complaints:
1. The program signs them out: the kids complain about this all the time,
But to me, that answer is pretty simple: sign in again 🙂
2. I had a few kids get their stuff erased, but I would say there was like 2 kids all year that happened to.  We do 6 Vocabulary units per quarter so by the end they have 24 sets of cards but really only need 6 at a time so most of the time it was fine.
2. There are only two games: and they are great, don’t get me wrong,
But after using it all year, I think the kids would love another option 🙂

google-drive#4: Google Drive
It used to be for many years
That at every school the kids were always encouraged to
“save on Their Drive”
Each kid had their own network account
And that was great…
Except once they went home
There was really no way to transfer info
That was where disks, flashdrives, CDs, etc
came into play
And then there were all these rules about what they could use
Because of viruses and things that the kids would come
And now the WHOLE network had some crazy virus
And it was a HUGE hassle all the time
Just trying to get a COPY of their work
File didn’t save right… computer wouldn’t read the file
All a bunch of nonsense really
And this fixes it all
They can type on their phones,
They can type on a computer
And when they finish, they can save it the Drive
And access it from home, their phone or a computer
At school or at home
No need for a flashdrive anything, they just have to log on
The doc opens us, they print
Or they share it with me
And it can all be digital!
No printers, no viruses, no hassle
LOVE

google-docs-02-535x535
#5: Google Docs
I would say this is the other most important app we use
This lets the kids type on their phones 🙂
No more computer lab time
No more computers at all
They can type their paper on their phones
During class, waiting for the bus, traveling, wherever
We had to do a few lessons to learn this program,
But it’s really not a difficult program to learn at all
In the beginning I projected my phone on the screen
And we “typed” a paper together
And showed them how to save and send and such
And most importantly, how to send to Classroom
So that they could turn in their homework
At the beginning they had several “assignments”
And I use quotes because they were kinda fake and kinda real 🙂
Mostly they were to help them practice and use the program
I had them do things like download a doc
Edit it
Share it with a friend
Edit it again
And save it
And finally turn it in.
I would say this program is mostly second nature now

Only problem:
It’s hard to tell where the “pages” are with this program
So I started learning to say not “Write a 2 page essay”
But write a 500 word essay
Which maybe some of you already do?
I didn’t. But I do now because of this program

 

Reading Online:
#6:Kindle
#7: Nook
#8: Kobo books
#9: Goodreads (for book recommendations)
#10: Watt books

Any of the above apps
Are ones I encouraged them to use
Plus giving them links to online books
(Like when we read 1984 I found online links to the book)
If we are doing this whole “digital” revolution
Might as well include reading in that bag as well!
This way they can read their “independant reading” on their phone
And there are no excuses 🙂

There are TONS of books available for free
And then there are other programs
Where you can get SOME for free
And then buy a subscription for more
th
There is a subscription you can sign up for at BookBub.com
That will send you email alerts every day
And tell you when there are FREE or almost free digital books available
And I have gotten TONS of free books that way

BIGGEST Problem:
You have to have a credit card on file
Which is fine for normal adults
And it doesn’t mean you have to buy anything
But try telling that to a parent of a teen
Who “swears they won’t buy anything
Ya… it doesn’t work
So I have an Amazon account
Which means that even downloading FREE books
They treat it like a purchase
Even though you aren’t actually buying anything
Which is fine for me
But not for a teenager
I would say that is our biggest obstacle

Posted in Cell Phone Apps, Getting Organized, Getting Started, High School, Teaching

Tools Not Toys: Getting started on educational cell phone use

The beginning of this year school year
I set out to find some apps that I could use in my classroom
And I don’t teach Elementary
I teach High School
And I don’t teach the sweet little freshmen
I teach Seniors 🙂
(cringe, right? It’s actually really fun)
The biggest problem I found is this:
There is almost no such thing as a”High School app”
(go ahead, trying searching for that, few to none exist in any official form)
There are TONS and TONS and then TONS again
Of “Elementary School level apps”
There are games and sites and things galore
And all super super cutesy!
(Big hearts and smiley faces and emoticons here)
But really, Seniors don’t do cute
I mean they kinda do? Sometimes?
(they won’t it admit it but they will)
But really, after researching pages and pages of Cute Cute Apps
I came to the conclusion that High School doesn’t need High School Apps
They need Grown-Up Apps that they should start learning how to use already
The goal is not to teach them about surviving High School
(Although that will be part of it)
The goal is to teach them how to survive college, a job and LIFE

I came up with two types of Apps:
Serious Educational Tools Apps and
Fun Games with Hidden Educational Goals Apps 🙂

High school kids I decided, needed three things:
1. Ways to use their phones in the Adult world to work and to study better
2. Games and fun things to do on their phone that will make them smarter and more prepared instead of well…the opposite effect that most social media has.
3. Ways to use their phone well in a way that will BENEFIT them in the end and they need to learn to make it do that, not just use it waste time and get into trouble
Those were my basic goals when I chose what we would use

Once I had this in hand, my basic problem was this:
What now?
How do you teach kids to use their cell phones in class without it being a disaster?
How do you teach kids to WORK and now just PLAY with their phones?
Where do you even start?

So below are the problems I ran into and mostly how I fixed them:

1. We have to Download what???
Hand out A list of “Things to Download” from Day 1!
Lots of kids in and out, lots of craziness at the beginning of the year
And lots of questions
So make a list and tell them: please have this downloaded by tomorrow!
There were lots of raised eyebrows, lots of surprise even
And a lot of hesitation and responses like “okay…I guess?”
Games can be downloaded as they go and uninstalled when we are done
But the stuff we use constantly, they need all those ASAP
At the end of the list of “Apps to Download”
The last thing to do was to make a Folder on their phone and put all these things in the same folder so they had easy access.
They did it, but I think most of them probably thought I was nuts 🙂
Now at the end of the year, kids use their phones constantly to hand in work
And now it’s all more instinctual than anything

2. A Wifi Connection:
We were promised this at our school this year
YAY!
But ya…didn’t really happen completely
It kinda did in some areas of school
But not in mine 😦 Would have been nice…
This caused some problems as the year went on (see C and E below)

3. Data Usage Negotiating: What do we need???
A. For some kids it doesn’t matter: they have unlimited data, they use it however much they want, and whatever
B.  Some kids have limited Data, so they can’t do the assignment there but they can do it at home later (which has Wifi) and turn it in that afternoon (something to warn about and plan for)
C. Some kids have a phone that could log on to WiFi and work fine if such a thing existed… but alas…
D. Some kids don’t have phones or data: I had ONE kid in my CP class and ONE kid in my General that didn’t have a phone and now at the end of the year, I have one kid that has never gotten a phone.(out of about 100 kids) To me the whole “But what if they don’t have a phone?!?!” argument is pretty much void these days as most kids own the best phone money can buy.
BUT, even if they don’t, most apps are accessible from a normal computer (one of my kids had to do this for awhile because his phone got ruined and didn’t get replaced for about a month) but now the question is whether they have a computer with internet at home? Maybe, maybe not. I would say in general this is not a problem and I just worked out the work on an individual basis
E. Data Overload: I would say that number one “complaint” I have had this year about my class is the amount of Data the kids use (mostly by parents who call to whine that THEY cannot use any Data because their kid is using it all for “educational purposes.”LOL) I think much of this would be solved by the Wifi actually working, but other than that, YES, using Apps uses more Data than…doing nothing. Again, I would say nothing to really be done about it other than try to provide WiFi? I don’t have a solution to this one, guilty as charged 😦 🙂

4. Space on their Phone: I think one of the other “First” conversations we have to have is “what you should delete to make room” talk.  Most kids have tons of pictures, videos and etc etc on their phone and are like “I can’t download that, I don’t have room” to which I answer, “Well, go ahead and just delete Snapchat and I’m sure you’ll have room!” They roll their eyes and smile because the message came through: you have room, you just have a  bunch of crap on there and I need you to download something educational, get your priorities straight!” 🙂 It’s a hard thing and I even had a kid tell me he deleted Google Classroom because he was “making room” for all his Snapchat storage (Ya, guess what his grade is, haha)

5. Backing Up your Info Already!!! This conversation topic inevitably follows next and includes a talk about things like Google Drive and Dropbox where MAYBE (I dunno, you know, you could think about it) you should be backing up all those pics and videos instead of just keeping them on your phone waiting to get ruined when you ruin yet another phone…???
I dunno, think about it….
And if you did, which would be SMART of you….
you would have room for what you can really use on your phone :)|

6. HOW-TO: You’d be surprised what kids really DON’T know how to do with their phones.  They know all the social media stuff, sure. But outside of that? It can be scary.  So a few basic lessons that they will need to do all that needs to be done with their phones:
*how to take screenshots,
*attaching files (docs, pics, screenshots),
*FINDING where their documents are :),
*Taking GOOD (readable) pictures of documents,
*using apps to type assignments (on their phones vs. a computer),
*How to edit/make comments on a document on their phone
*How to share documents with each other (peer reviews, turning in work)

7. iPhone vs. Android: When I was choosing Apps I realized that despite that it makes sense, and despite that you would think they always would, there are Apps that are only for one type of phone.  Major Apps will have both “versions” but smaller ones will not.  Mostly this was frustrating when choosing Game Apps because I’d find a KILLER AMAZING game and ya…only for Android or only for iPhones. Why would you only make ONE VeRsIoN??? I don’t get it but it’s true. Make sure you TEST and CHECK that your Apps work for both types of phones.

8. TOOLS NOT TOYS!!!! Inevitably, I give a speech about this and even have a handout if I remember right: Use your high tech computer for your BENEFIT not just as a very expensive TOY! All of these things we learn are supposed to HELP you—help with homework, help with doing things faster, doing things easier, becoming better, learning, growing and being a better student! That is what I want them to learn about—their “education” in how to use technology to waste time and pass on meaningless non-stop information is fully complete!! Let’s use phones as TOOLS, the Toy portion is when you get home! haha

Stay Tuned for Part 2:
Educational Apps we can’t live without

and Part 3: Educational Game Apps for High School