Teachers- Here is your (digital) back to school survival tool kit for a fantastic year.


back to school conceptual creativity cube
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I know several kindergarten teachers who give parents a back-to-school survival kit. It’s got those big pencil grips the kids need but often lose, important dates and phone numbers for the school year, and of course it has a packet of tissues.  As they are busy packing up these kits it got me thinking about what would be in my own kit.  While I do have a box of tissues in my office, most of my survival tools are digital. As teachers, we often talk about how challenging it is to keep up with the pace of the school year while maintaining a sense of balance in our lives. We need to be mindful of taking care of ourselves in order to be the best for our students. There is a reason why you need to put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others!

Gear up with these digital tools and you’re sure to survive (and even thrive) this school year.

  1. Mindfulness/Meditation Apps. Mindfulness and meditation have been around forever, so why is it that we are just now realizing the benefits? I don’t know. I do know that I can’t do it by myself and there are lots of fantastic apps that will guide you so you can be your calmest, most centered self in your classroom, at home, on the phone with parents, at faculty meetings, etc.  My two favorites are Calm and Omvana.  I’m currently using the free versions of both of these apps. They both offer guided meditation and mindfulness tracks of varying lengths and for a wide variety of purposes. I have even been using them for sleep. School hasn’t started yet and I’m already having those crazy classroom dreams!
  2. Exercise. A great compliment to mindfulness and meditation is exercise. I love my gym but sometimes my crazy schedule just doesn’t allow for me to make it in. Work off those extra calories from the snacks in the teacher’s lounge with these easy to use fitness apps. Seven  is a high intensity interval training app that requires no equipment, besides a stair to step up and a chair for dips. It is a seven minute workout and you can decide how many cycles you want to do. I didn’t believe it until I tried it but it is legit. I love to sweat but I also know the value of yoga and I often struggle to make it to class. The Daily Yoga app is remarkably good. The instructions are easy to follow and you are watching a video of an actual person demonstrating the poses. There are lots of “classes” to choose from and they very by length so you can decide how long you can handle.
  3. Organize and Prioritize. Long ago I lost the ability to keep track of my to-do lists in my head. I love a good sticky note but I don’t keep them with me and they don’t jump out and bite me when a task is suddenly time sensitive. I am a fan of GSuite tools in general but Google Keep is an often underutilized and underestimated tool that every teacher should know about. Think about a sticky note that can remind you on a certain day and time or even at a specific place. Imagine a sticky note that you can share with multiple people and they can add items without needing to be in the same place at the same time. Google Keep is a collection of digital sticky notes that can be color coded. Images, links, voice notes, to-do lists with checkboxes, and even drawings can all be added and connected with your google account so you can access them from anywhere.
  4. Communicate and Collaborate. Teaching can sometimes feel isolating. Sure, you’re in a classroom full of kids, but you might not actually have an adult conversation all day unless you happen to find time to run to the bathroom and you also run into a colleague at the same time. Spend 10 minutes a day on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and follow the educational hashtags and leaders of your choice. I am partial to Twitter and have an account that I use only for education. Stay away from the other social media noise and focus only on one or two hashtags that get you excited. If you’re new, confused, or overwhelmed by this idea, take a look at this post by teachthought.com on the complete guide to Twitter hashtags for education.  Feel free to follow me, @LisaBerghoff, and I can help guide you through it. Making these connections outside of your building is important because it can help you gain perspective and also give you insight and ideas that you have not thought of. Spend ten minutes a day and see what happens.

With these digital tools, I’m ready to start the new school year and not lose my sanity.

What’s in your back-to-school survival kit?


*I was not financially or otherwise compensated for this post.

Teachers Meet Quizizz! You’re Welcome:)


Quizizz: Fun, Engaging, Multiplayer Classroom Quiz Games and Yes, Students Can Play From Anywhere!

I’ll admit that I can be a sucker for bells and whistles.  I love toys and games and fun in the classroom if they are used in a purposeful way.  When students come back and visit years after graduation, it’s the funny, silly activities that they remember and connect with most.  Do any students come back and say “Remember that time when we sat in rows quietly and took notes?” I recently led a workshop and asked teachers from various schools to describe what their classroom looks like when their students are truly engaged.  Words like “active”, “participation”, “loud”, and “excited” came up as the teachers thought about a time in their classroom when students were engaged. Of course, the topic of Kahoot often comes up during these types of discussions.  Remember the first time you did a Kahoot?  You will absolutely not get that kind of response when you assign a worksheet.  That’s because tools like Kahoot are engaging and fun by design.  They allow students to participate in a way that does not require them to push too far out of their comfort zone, but still makes you feel like you are playing a game and taking a risk.  One of the most common questions that comes up with Kahoot is whether or not students can participate in these fun quiz games on their own or from home.

That is why I am thrilled to share Quizizz with you.

Quizizz is  a free, online tool that allows you to create classroom game show-like quizzes.  Similar to  Kahoot, the students have questions and  up to 4 options for responses.  You can create your own or use one that has already been created.  You can even create your own quiz but then steal collaboratively take advantage of individual questions that other teachers have made and put them into your own quiz. There are several key features that make Quizizz different from Kahoot.  First, you can adjust the timer from 5 seconds to 15 minutes of time allowed to answer a question, or you can adjust the settings so the question timer is off completely. You can play the games live during class but allow students to play at their own pace because the entire question shows up on the students’ screens.  The way Quizizz works is such that you can play at your own pace but still feel like you’re playing against your classmates.  Quizizz also has a feature that allows you to assign the quiz for homework. There is a  calendar feature to set the days that the quiz is open and give your students the Quizizz code to join your quiz. It also has a meme generator that will give the students instant feedback by way of funny kittens and silly graphics. Another feature of Quizizz is that when students finish playing, they get valuable data showing how they did on each question.

When your students first log in at join.quizizz.com, they will enter the game code and their name.  In order to effectively grade the quiz, I suggest mandating a naming convention so that students must enter their first name and last initial or some other standard format so you will know who is participating.  The students are then assigned an avatar (mine was an adorable sheep with glasses) and then are prompted to proceed.  As students are answering the questions, they are given immediate feedback on how they did on each question.  Once they are done, they can see how they did on all of the questions and they can go back and review the questions.


As the teacher, you can pull up a “report” that shows the percentage of students who answered each question correctly.  You can also click on individual students to see how they did.  The reports page gives a very easy to read graphic so you can quickly see which of your students need more instruction. This type of formative assessment is quick and easy to put together, fun for the students, and very helpful you teachers as we make instructional decisions.

Quizizz can be used at any point during instruction.  You can then show the questions in slide show mode so you can explain and walk through the most missed questions.
Want to see more?  Here is a one minute video walk through of Quizizz.

You’re Welcome!

What are some of your favorite tips and tools for classroom engagement?  Share in the comments section below.

Split Personality? Managing Multiple Accounts In Google Chrome

Posted by “verndewd”
Managing Multiple Google Accounts in Chrome


Cross posted on the Giant Ed Tech Blog:  Giant EdTech

Welcome back to another year of learning! I’m excited to announce that my Free Tech Tool Tuesday blogs will be co-written by my friend and partner, Joe Taylor, Director of Instructional Technology at Deerfield High School. Hopefully together we will be able to bring you some good ideas for enhancing your classroom. HOWEVER, we wanted to start the year with a solution to make the lives of teachers easier!

Many of us have gotten “googly” in the past few years and there is a very good chance that you have more than one google account. We all have our Google education accounts through District 113 but you may also have a personal account or multiple other google accounts. Managing these accounts can get frustrating and confusing because as you switch back and forth, you will need to constantly be checking to make sure the correct account is the one that is active.  Since I don’t need any more frustration or confusion in my life, I have learned a simple solution that will keep all of your various things Google in their proper place.

First, here is the wrong way:

You might be tempted to click in the corner of your screen and click the “Add account” button. You might already have added your accounts and you might see that you can toggle back and forth between those accounts. Please resist the urge to do this! If you haven’t run into problems yet, you will.  You might click a link and the wrong account will come up. Or, you might be prompted to re-sign in multiple times. The lines become very blurry between your accounts and before you know it, your vacation itinerary will end up in your school account and your students will be booking their spring break trip just so they can join you on the beach.
How to manage multiple google accounts.
Step 1: Use google chrome. Go figure, google works best when you are using their chrome browser.
Step 2: Sign out of all of your accounts except for the account you use the most.
Here’s how you do that…
Click your account in the upper right hand corner of the browser window and click “sign out”. The page will say: Choose an account. Click remove: X out of all except your primary account.
Step 3: Select your primary account, and re-sign in.Step 4: Go to Account Settings

You may be required to sign into chrome again. (I know!)
You will now only see 1 account in the upper right hand corner.
Step 5: Set up google profiles in chrome. (This is where the magic happens!) Click on settings and make sure you are signed in. If you are not signed in, go ahead and do that and link the data. Then click top right. It shows you which account you are using.
To add another account, click on “add person:”
When you click “add person” a new chrome window opens. prompting you to log into chrome.
This time, log in with your secondary account and go ahead and link the data.

Each of your chrome profiles will be slightly different depending on the extensions and apps that you use with each account. You will now have 2 different browser windows with 2 different accounts. You can easily switch between the windows and your google profiles can stay safely apart from one another. (On a PC, Chrome will actually add an additional shortcut to your desktop or taskbar. On a Mac, you’ll need to “toggle” between people – which is explained below.)

You can toggle between accounts in the upper right corner.
This takes a little extra time to set it up but this will help you manage multiple accounts effectively moving forward.
Here is a short video that walks you through the same process:


Are You Flipping Kidding Me? Why Would I Flip?

Are You Flippin’ Kidding Me?

Why Would I Flip?

@joe_edtech & @LisaBerghoff

This article is co-written and cross posted by Joe & Lisa. You can also find it on Joe’s Blog: WarriorEdTech


It isn’t about using technology because it is flashy, and it definitely isn’t about more industrial age efficiency. Integrating instructional technology is about being able to do something that you’ve never been able to do before. It is about re-imagining the classroom, and everything else about school.

 Last Saturday, we had an opportunity to host a Google Education On Air Hangout on the “Flipped Classroom” during which we provided our participants with a description and history of the Flipped Classroom teaching model, clear reasons why each of us tried it with our students, and some evidence of it’s effectiveness. If you are interested in reading more about that as well as accessing some tools to help you get started, you are welcome to visit the “Flipped Classroom Resources” webpage we created.

 However, we don’t want to take up our blog space and inundate our loyal readers (a.k.a. – Joe’s Mom) with a lot of information about what and how. We think it is really important to start with why. Why would you take the time to flip your class? Probably the best way to explain it is through the eyes of a few students. First, we want you to see class through the eyes of Lisa’s Special Ed US History students.



 My US History students all have IEPs.  Reading and writing is challenging for them and US History is dense with written information. Our textbook, while adapted for reluctant readers, is very long and intimidating. I wanted my students to be able to access the information but then do something with that information. I wanted them to apply their learning, make connections and predictions for the future based on what they are learning about the past. I wanted them to participate in activities that require them to think critically, make a claim, and support it with evidence. However, most of our class time was being used to read the material, talk about the content, and reach for a basic level of understanding. I was assigning homework activities that required them to extend their learning but I quickly became frustrated because many of my students were not completing the homework. The students who were completing it often missed the mark and the quality was nowhere near what I thought they could do.


 I decided to take a risk and assign a video for homework. The students would watch the video to get the information and then we could use our class time to work in small groups to apply what they learned. I was amazed when all of my students watched the 5 minute video. I gave them a short survey and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  Watching a video for homework was a low-stakes activity.  Everyone could access the video and it was much easier for them to get the information in this manner.  I was so encouraged I tried several other approaches.  For one assignment, I read the lesson from the text and recorded myself while highlighting the important information.  I then took it one step further and created a Zaption “tour” with this video by embedding questions. I could check the analytics to see who had watched the video and their answers were recorded and even graded for me! I could see how long the students spent on the videos.  One student clearly forwarded the video and just answered the questions.  Another student watched it more than once. This was exactly the kind of differentiation I was looking for.  The students had some control, everyone was able to get what they needed, and our class time was spent doing the kinds of activities that push their thinking and maintain the high standards that I have for my students.


That’s the success story. On the flip side – pun intended – my daughter spends hours and hours struggling with her math homework. It is no fun, and I fear that the constant frustration will lead her to dislike math, or worse, school. When she is in class, the teacher explains the concepts and the skills, and it all makes perfect sense. But by the time she gets home, she has forgotten much of the teacher’s instruction. It is just one of many classes and activities she participates in every day. More than once Katherine has said, “Ugh, I just wish I could see her work this problem again.” And that kind of thinking shouldn’t surprise us. She is used to looking up instruction on YouTube. When she wants to learn how to fix her hair a certain way, or create something new with her Rainbow Loom, or generate ideas for building in Mine Craft, she turns FIRST to YouTube and other digital resources available to her. Imagine how empowered she would be if she could review her math, or science, or music lessons in the same way.

 From a Technology Director’s perspective, I love the Flipped Classroom idea because it can act as a “Gateway Drug” to the integration of much more instructional technology, and can help facilitate the shift from teaching-centered classrooms to learning-centered classrooms. And as Lisa mentioned before, you don’t have to invest hundreds of hours to try it. All you have to do is “Flip” one lesson, one time.

You can still be a part of the conversation. Our Google Hangout Webinar “Flipped & Blended Learning for the Chromebook Classroom” is embedded below. If you have any questions, please contact us via Twitter or leave a comment in the box below.



For The Love Of Reading. A #TBookC Story


I discovered as an adult that I love reading.  I was not the kind of kid who always had a book in my hand, like my 5th grader who will one day fall down the stairs because he refuses to take his eyes off of the page.  Suddenly, after college, I was no longer being told what and how much to read.  I realized that reading is enjoyable, informative, and brings people together.  I’ve been active in the same book group for 9 years. We read, discuss, ask questions, challenge opinions in the best possible way, and being part of this group has led me to read books I never would have chosen on my own.    While the focus is on reading, we’ve been through a lot and this group provides unlimited support to one another.  They are like sisters to me.  Right now we are reading Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie, which I am loving!

As a teacher, I often found educational materials to be dry and somewhat tedious.  However, this past December I became involved as a co-moderator of a Twitter chat called. #TBookC.  If you are an educator and are not on Twitter, stop reading this blog post and open a new tab on your browser to create an account right this minute.   After doing that you can follow me, @LisaBerghoff.  If you are an educator on Twitter and have not participated in a Twitter chat, consider this your official invitation to join #TBookC.  Also, you can follow me:)  You won’t regret it.

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