Using Padlet as a Discussion Board

Back in January, I discussed Padlet on a Fluco Toolbox post. I’ve had some teachers work to integrate it since then, and have received feedback from them. I have also observed some of the integration and thought I’d put together a quick post for teachers who would like to use Padlet for discussion boards. Padlet has many other uses, and this is just one way. It can also be used across the curriculum and isn’t restricted to just one area.

 

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This is a discussion created for a Minecraft-based Ideal School Project.

 

Using Padlet as a discussion board means that the teacher is posting a question that requires in-depth discussion, and requires students to provide text evidence or other evidence of their claims. In theory, teachers would prefer that students provide a quality answer of decent length, and also that students would respond to each other’s answers.

Students can create accounts on Padlet, and this is made easier when they sign up with their Google account. Districts who do not use Google may choose not to have students create accounts. Creating an account lets posts be attributed to a student, and allows comments made to be listed with the student name and not “Anonymous”. Accounts do not have to be created to post or comment, so this is entirely up to the teacher’s discretion.

Using Padlet with students also means incorporating a discussion on how to post to an online discussion forum. This is a great way to bring in digital citizenship. Unless students have had prior teachers who taught this skill, they do not innately know how to respond to an online discussion. “What’s up?” and “Hi homie!” are more likely to be posted than an enlightening answer to that Shakespeare question. Without a discussion on how to post, students will drive their teacher crazy, and perhaps force them to give up using the tool altogether.

Teachers should model how to post in the online forum. If students have created an account, their name will appear as an author. If not, teachers should instruct students to put their first and last name in the Title of their Padlet post. Students should also have a title for their post. In the body of the post, teacher models answering the discussion question, and provides text-based or other evidence to support any claims. Padlet allows the attaching of files or links, and students can use these tools to their advantage to add to their response.

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An example of part of a teacher modeled answer.

Students can then practice answering on the topic that has been provided for the current class. The teacher can observe as students post, and make suggestions. If students have accounts, they will be able to edit their work and make changes.

After students have had a chance to create their responses to the provided question, the teacher can then model how to reply in an online forum. Often, this can be difficult for students. The teacher should model how a reply can add more information to the original post, disagree with an explanation, and encourage more back and forth discussion. If students have accounts, then every reply will show a student’s name, instead of just anonymous.

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A sample teacher response to a student’s posted answer.

After the teacher has modeled how to respond to another student’s post, students should pick one post to respond to. The teacher can see all responses as they are posted, and can make suggestions for students along the way. If the teacher determines that students are doing well with their responses, then they can continue to respond to others, or reply back and forth. The teacher should encourage students to have a conversation about the post, rather than simply saying “Good job”.

As students become more confident in their work with Padlet, teachers will see the depth of responses increase, as well as the discussions. Teachers can then use the completed discussion boards to assess students or to aide in future classroom discussions. Using Padlet as a discussion board is just one way to use this tool. How do you use it in your classroom?

 

Fluco Toolbox: Screencastify

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever needed to record what you’re doing on your device, such as if you’re trying to demonstrate learning or create a tutorial video for others?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Screencastify

First, the basics:

Name: Screencastify
URL: Chrome Webstore Link
Cost: FREE with paid options
Problem this tool solves: Use this Chrome extension to record your entire screen, tab, or webcam, and save the videos to your Google Drive or local machine.

Sometimes we need to make a quick video of what’s going on on our screens. It could be to demonstrate something, to create a tutorial, or something else. There are many robust, paid options out there, but often, free versions will do. In today’s case, we’re going to look at the free side of Screencastify.

The free version of Screencastify allows users to record videos up to 10 minutes in length, with a maximum of 50 videos recorded per month. Videos will also include Screencastify’s watermark. For the majority of educators, this is all they will ever need. For those who want more, like cropping and trimming and no watermark, a $24 annual fee is charged.

First, download Screencastify from the Chrome Web Store. Add Screencastify to Chrome, and watch the extension install. Once installed, it will always be a black strip of film. Click this to begin using the program.

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When first beginning to use Screencastify, users will need to create an account. Clicking the black film strip icon will walk one through the process. Once done, an account will be set up, and recordings will be saved in Google Drive. Chances are, the user will need to click the black film strip again. Once clicked, this box will now appear:

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Screencastify offers three options for recording- tab, desktop, and cam. Tab recording records only the open tab. Users cannot switch back and forth between tabs to record. Desktop records the entire screen, so switching between tabs is feasible. Finally, cam simply uses the webcam to record video of the user. Users will need to select which of these options they would like to use, as well as any of the other options available under each tab. Then click the orange “Record” button.

Screencastify will do a 3-2-1 countdown, and the recording will begin. Users can pause or end the recording at any time within the time limit.

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If recording a tab or screen, users have a gray toolbar at the bottom of the screen that allows them to use a focused mouse pointer, a pen tool to draw on the screen, and an eraser. There are also options to wipe the screen clean or to embed the webcam in the recording.

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As soon as the recording is ended, a new screen will load. This screen will play the recorded video, and on the far right side will show the information for the recording as it is saved in Drive. Videos can be deleted from this screen, downloaded, or shared. The option to crop/trim is shown, but can only be done with a paid account. The right side of the screen will update as soon as the recording is saved in Drive. Users will be able to copy the link.

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Speaking of Drive, videos taken with Screencastify are saved to a folder in Drive called Screencastify. Videos stored in this folder will need to be renamed once they have uploaded to the user’s Drive, as they are saved with the date and time stamp for a file name. Always make sure to change the name after the file has been uploaded to avoid confusion down the road.

With the recording stored in Drive and renamed, the user is free to share the video as seen fit. Videos are easily uploaded to Google Classroom or shared with other sites. Always check the share settings for the recording first to make sure that the necessary audience can see the video!

Resources

Rocking Kindness

It all started with an idea on a stick in a date night jar at my bridal shower last June. Now it’s evolved into something much larger involving many rocks, sealants, paints, and tools. Oh, and now it’s also moving into the high school where I work. What is it? Painting rocks to spread random acts of kindness.

I began painting rocks as part of a date night idea with my wife. We bought a few rocks from Michael’s, and some paint pens. Bethany found that she didn’t have the patience for painting rocks, but I found a new hobby.

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Cue the buying of many, many pounds of rocks, acrylic paints, brushes, paint pens, and more. I tried out new ideas, listened to others, and joined the RVA Rocks! group on Facebook. I began exploring parks in the Richmond, Virginia area and finding rocks along the way.

Painting rocks is part of a spreading random kindness movement. When someone paints a rock, they seal it up with a sealant and then release into the wild. The wild could be in random parks, outside of stores, or simply just handing off a rock to a random stranger on daily errands. There are, of course, places rocks cannot be placed, but as long as simple rules are followed, everyone benefits.

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Online groups on social media have popped up to share the rock love. When rocks are found, they often ask the finder to post online to a group or hashtag to share with others. I am part of the RVA Rocks! group, so any rocks I paint have instructions to post to this particular Facebook page if found. Rock groups are also used to share the progress of rock projects of members before these treasures are released into the wild. Different groups may do other activities, such as host painting nights or trading meetups. They help to build the rock community in an area.

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There are a few key things to remember about rocking and spreading random kindness. First, and foremost, is that it is about spreading random acts kindness and brightening up another person’s day. Anyone participating should remember that rocks won’t always be posted online to give notice that they were found. Participants should also remember that the goal is not to “hunt” rocks. The goal is to enjoy the local community and explore. If a rock is found, great. If not, then folks still had a chance to get out and explore. Finally, be kind and take only a little. Sometimes, a lot of rocks may be found. Most should end up rehidden, and only favorites kept. This keeps rocks in the wild spreading around and around. Often, I will rehide most in the location where I found them, take a few to keep, and a few to rehid in other locations. If you can’t remember these key points as you participate, spreading rock kindness may not be the right hobby for you.

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Do you want to get started spreading rock kindness? Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Find some rocks. You can purchase rocks from Home Depot, Lowes, or landscaping places. Some folks use rocks they find in the wild or their backyards. Make sure your rocks are cleaned off!
  2. Buy acrylic paint & brushes. If you’re just getting started, you just need a few bottles of acrylic paint. Walmart sells Apple Barrel brand for 50 cents a bottle. Your brushes don’t have to be expensive either. You can buy a package of random sizes.
  3. Don’t forget the sealant! You’ll need to seal the rocks after they have had time to dry. You can use a spray sealant (I like Krylon Triple Thick Clear Glaze for the shine), or something like mod podge. Follow the directions, but make sure the paint on your rock has had time to dry!
  4. Paint your rocks. Have fun, and paint to your heart’s content. If you want to sketch a design, it helps to paint a thin base of white paint on the rock first, let dry, and then sketch.
  5. Label the back of the rock. After the front of the rock dries, don’t forget to tag the back of the rock. If you’re part of a rock group on social media, use their tag. Not part of one? Search to find one in your area. I usually write “Post to RVA Rocks on FB”. I also tag with my artist name, TheChespinKid, and add the year. Write whatever you like.
  6. Share your work with your rock group. This is optional, but if you’re part of a group, it’s fun to share the hard work you put into making that rock before releasing it into the wild. It also helps others to learn to recognize your work and style when rocks are posted as found.
  7. Release into the wild! Time to let that rock go. I find local parks to be my favorite place, but rocks can also be dropped while on errands. Be careful dropping rocks inside of stores. Most stores do not allow this, especially near food. State parks also do not allow rocks to be placed inside. If you’re not sure, ask someone in your rock group.
  8. Keep an eye out for shared rocks. If you asked for your rock to be posted to your rock group, keep an eye out for posted photos after you release the rock. However, keep in mind that 3 out of 4 times, your rock will not be posted as found to the group. That’s okay! Painting and hiding rocks are not about you or getting recognized by others. Remember, it’s always about kindness first.

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If you get started with painting rocks, respond to this post and let me know. If you’d like to see more of my rock work, check me out on Instagram: TheChespinKid. If you have questions about rocking with kindness, just let me know!

Fluco Toolbox: Remind

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever wanted to be able to keep in touch with parents about their student, all without revealing your personal contact information? Have you wanted to share reminders about trip dates, homework, tests, and more?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Remind

First, the basics:

Name: Remind (Formerly Remind101)
URL: http://www.remind.com
Cost: FREE (with options for paid school & district plans)
Problem this tool solves: Lets you keep in touch with parents and students via email, app, or text message without giving away any personal contact information.

Many times teachers, coaches, club advisors, and more want to keep in touch with parents or students. They might want to share deadlines, upcoming events, or important information. However, they want to do this without giving away any personal contact information. Do you find yourself wanting to do this as well? Then read on!

Remind is a text messaging application that is completely free, and allows teachers to communicate with students and parents, without any need for personal information. Teachers can message individual people, send announcements to the whole class, or start a group discussion (if settings are enabled to allow this). Messages can be received via the website, email, or text message, making it easier to connect with your community where they are.

The first step is to go the Remind website and create an account. If you are part of a Google school, you can easily connect your Google account to the service. Once you’ve created an account, you’ll be taken to your dashboard. Of course, if nothing is there, it will be empty. Once you have classes set up, the first class will show by default, and you can select the other classes as you need them:

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In this example, you can see my default class is a Fluco Game Designers course. I can see any all messages sent to the class, as well as the members. To the left of the screen are further tools for me to utilize.

It’s time to get rid of that empty dashboard. First, click on “Create a Class” on the left side of the screen. A window will pop up, and ask you to provide some basic details about the class. Give the class a name, create a class code (or use the default one provided), and connect the class to a school. If the class is not part of any school, simply select the “Not affiliated” option in the menu. Agree to the terms, and then create the class.

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On the next screen, you can go ahead and add people to your class. You can enter email addresses or phone numbers. If you don’t yet have contact information, or you would rather give your class a code, then explore the other options presented, such as printing a PDF file, telling parents to text the class code to a number, or emailing the code to a group of people. If you prefer not to do anything at this time, simply close the window.

 

Congratulations! You’ve created your first class, and perhaps added some people to it. Now it’s time to take a look at how to change message settings and send messages to your group.

First, we’ll need to customize your message settings. To access the settings, you can either click the circle with your last name initial in the upper left corner, or check the initial welcome message for the class. There’s a link to message settings there.

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Change the types of notifications you receive, and the numbers/email addresses used. If you don’t people to reply to your messages, you can activate this option here, as well as choose to receive copies of class announcements. Please note that whatever you change on this screen applies to ALL classes you have created.

 

Now let’s modify the settings for the class you just created. Return to the dashboard for the class, and click the gear icon in the upper right corner. You can edit the information about a class at any time, and even add more owners to the class. You’ll now notice an option for people in the class to be able to message each other. You’ll want to uncheck this box if you do not want this feature enabled.

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You can send a message directly to everyone in the class from the dashboard of the class by clicking in the message box at the bottom of the screen. You can also send a message by clicking the blue pencil icon by messages. If you click the pencil icon, you’ll see options to send a class announcement, start a group conversation, or send an individual message.

 

Once an option is selected, a new box will appear on the screen. You can create a message, and even translate it into over 70 different languages. There are also options to add files, images, and video to the message. Messages can be sent right away, or scheduled to be sent at a future date. Very handy for scheduling important dates in advance!

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Finally, you’re set! Enjoy Remind, and connecting with all of your parents and students, without the hassle of dealing with personal information.

Worried about how Remind complies with various guidelines and regulations? Check out this link. Remind has provided information to help put one’s mind at ease!

Not in the classroom? You may still find Remind to be a useful tool. I am part of the Remind group for #wvedchat on Twitter. I’ve signed up via text, so whenever there is an upcoming edchat, I’ll get a reminder to my phone about the date, time, and topic.

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: AwesomeDrive and UFO

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever wished that you could easily open Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) directly from your Drive, and have any changes sync back to your Drive? Have you hated having to download and then reupload changed files?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: AwesomeDrive and Universal File Opener

First, the basics:

Name: AwesomeDrive / Universal File Opener
URL: AwesomeDrive / UFO
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Use both of these extensions hand in hand, and you’ll be able to create new Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files from within your Drive. You’ll also be able to edit the files on your computer’s version of Office, and then sync changes back to your Google Drive.

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There’s a wedding set, and you’re invited! Well, it’s like a wedding, in a weird, techy way. I’ve always had people ask if there was a way to get Drive to play well with Office, and thanks to these two extensions by AODocs, there is most definitely a way! I do caution that these extensions are not meant to be used on a Chromebook. However, these extensions will up your PC game, especially if you find yourself working with both Google and Microsoft files on a regular basis.

First, visit the Chrome web store by using the links provided above. Add both Awesome Drive and Universal File Opener to your Chrome browser. Make sure you provide all permissions. Once Universal File Opener is added, you’ll find an alert that says you need to install a sync client to your computer. Don’t worry. This program will allow your Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file to sync changes to your Drive once the file has been saved. It’s a quick install, and once you’ve done that, you’re set.

Now that everything is added and installed, let’s see what kinds of cool tricks we can now do with Drive and Office!

First go to your Drive. With AwesomeDrive, you now have some new features. Try clicking the blue “New” button to create a new file. Before, you were only able to create new Docs, Forms, Sheets, etc. Now, you’ll also see options for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. When you select one of these, you must name the file, and then it will open with the version of Office installed on your computer.

 

Once you’ve finished editing the document, simply save it and it will automatically sync to your Drive. No more downloading and uploading Office files for you!

Another cool feature you now have, thanks to Universal File Opener, is the ability to open any Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file from Drive. First, locate the file in your Drive. Instead of double-clicking on the file name, move your cursor to the right. You’ll see an icon of a computer with a pencil over it. Hovering over this shows the “Open File” text. Clicking it opens the file in your computer’s version of Office. Make any changes to the file and click Save. A small pop-up will notify you that the file is being synced to Drive. Make sure to save often!

 

After the file has been synced, another notification will pop up on the lower right corner of your screen notifying you that your file has been saved to Drive.

Using both AwesomeDrive and Universal File Opener should definitely make managing your files a lot easier. Give them a try!

Resources

A Technology-Infused Socratic Seminar

I spent most of my time yesterday with a team of 6th grade English teachers. These students were beginning their first Socratic seminar sessions in the library. Two classes come together. In the past, these classes have followed the traditional format for Socratic seminar where groups come together to discuss a text in a round table discussion setting. Some students were also along the sides taking notes as the discussion progressed, and others were observing the current session to provide feedback to classmates. The teachers were observing in the background as well, only stepping in to redirect if necessary.

This semester, the two teachers, Dawn Baber and Melanie Kennedy, wanted to change a few things with their seminars, and they wanted to add in some technology. They wanted to be able to assess student work after the task, and document student thought processes in terms of understanding the text. This would allow them to design further learning experiences for the students, as well as take notes for future instances where the text is used.

The first step was changing how the students took notes on the seminars that they were observing. Instead of taking pencil and paper notes, these teachers wanted to try using Padlet instead. Padlet would allow the students to see each other’s notes, and would also allow them to comment on each other’s replies to add to student notes. After the session, teachers can have students look back to these notes and add additional comments to keep the discussions flowing. It also becomes a way to review for any content quizzes or exams.

The second step was adding a backchannel chat option to the seminar. Originally, students in this section were observing and taking turns switching in to ask questions during seminars. The teachers had found an option for this called Backchannel Chat. They really liked the setup of this site, especially since students logging into a chatroom could have that login tied to their Google accounts. Students would be unable to create goofy names, or be anonymous with comments. Teachers could also remove comments or set the chat to moderated, even with a free account.

Originally, it was decided that Backchannel Chat would be used for students to post questions as they listened to the seminar in the center. However, when we implemented this, it did not work as well as we wanted. Students were so busy asking questions that they weren’t really focusing on the seminar in progress. Instead, this became an online discussion where students could ask questions and answer back and forth. I typically started the discussions with a question, and the students would take over after a few minutes.

We ran sessions every period, implementing these tools, and learned a lot along the way. There was definitely a lot of risk involved, and some failure along the way, but that’s how trying something new works. Things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes it takes seeing the lesson in action to see the failure.

Based on both sessions, we realized that every class period needs a separate Padlet. The students were putting on short notes, which in turn added to the amount that had to load on the page. While Padlet can have unlimited users, it struggles to load massive boards, and our students encountered traffic jam error messages. I would also like to look at having students take notes in just one post on Padlet, versus every time they hear something new. It might make things a little easier. We also may look at removing it from Socratic seminar sessions, as it may not be the best tool for the job, and we don’t want to use it just to be using it.

Backchannel chat went over pretty well. We had issues with one of the groups in the last block of the day not being able to handle it, but otherwise students picked it up very quickly. It was nice to have a chat room that students cannot log into without their G Suite account. I could also mute students who were having trouble responding, and students were also able to “like” comments in chat.

Often, I started the chat with a question, and students began by answering that question. From there, they would discuss and ask more questions about the text. If I felt that things were a little quiet, I would through out another question based on the text, and that would help things pick up. We did have some students who did not respond, but they were engaged and following along with the chat. I think that with a few more sessions, these students will do much better.

The one group I mentioned above did have issues with chat. They were not ready to handle it in a group that size (about 10 students), and would often spam chat with ridiculous hashtags or unneeded information. The good thing was that I could remove comments and warn them first, then switch them to read only if they continued. With this group, I would try again with a smaller amount of students.

The best positive from using Backchannel Chat as the session the groups would attend before doing a Socratic seminar in the center of the room was that they were able to prepare better. They could pull from questions they had asked in chat, and continue discussions from chat. We noticed an improvement in the conversations that took place once we were using Backchannel as an online discussion tool instead.

The other great positive with Backchannel was that we set a Chromebook by the seminar leader at the center table. When they couldn’t think of a question, they could pull one in from chat and use it. Of course, students with me were pleased when they heard their question used in the discussion.

Overall, a lot of positives occurred, but so did a lot of failures. We are using these failures to redesign and rethink the next session so that we see more successes. Who knows what Socratic seminar will look like next time?

Fluco Toolbox: Kaizena

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever wanted a beefed up version of Google’s comment feature for Docs? Wished you could stop repeatedly typing the same comments over and over, or wanted to add voice comments? Wished that you didn’t need a program that required yet more student accounts and was instant?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Kaizena

First, the basics:

Name: Kaizena
URL: Link Here (Or find with the Add-Ons menu in Google Docs)
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Kaizena’s recent switch to focusing on Google Docs makes it easy to add text comments, voice comments, track skills, and reuse common comments over and over again. No need for a special account for students, and everything syncs with Google.

If you looked at Kaizena before and cast it aside because you had to be using the website, you might want to give it another shot. I remember looking at this particular tool before and putting it aside because it just seemed like one more thing. However, Kaizena has changed their focus as of the end of January 2018. While their website still exists, and can be used, G Suite schools will find that Kaizena is focusing mainly on their new Google Docs add-on. This add-on is easy to use, and only teachers need accounts to provide feedback. Students do not need any special accounts, just the add-on. Based on that premise alone, I was intrigued, and I think you will be, too.

First, load Google Docs and go to the Add-Ons menu. Search for Kaizena, and add it to your account. Docs will install it in the background. Once installed, open it like any other add-on. A new window will slide into view.

When you first open Kaizena, you will be asked if you are a Teacher or Student. Teachers need to have an account to give others feedback, and clicking the Teacher button will walk you through this process. If you are just a student, chose that route, and give Kaizena any permissions that it asks for to access your Drive and Docs.

Every other time Kaizena loads, you’ll see a screen with a few different options- Voice Message, Track a Skill, Attach a Lesson, and Text Message. Let’s break each of these down:

  • Voice Message: Record your voice and leave a comment for students to listen to later. Students can also download the comment.
  • Track a Skill: This lets you give students feedback in the moment on how they are doing with a particular skill or standard, much like a rubric. Customize and reuse as necessary.
  • Attach a Lesson: When giving feedback, you can attach a lesson that has links to guides or videos about a certain skill, such as capitalizing beginnings of sentences. Reuse your custom lessons again and again!
  • Text Message: Similar to the regular commenting feature, this does just as you think. Write a text comment to be viewed later.

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Since lessons and skills can be used again and again, they are stored and created on Kaizena’s website instead of in the add-on. More on how to create these later in this post.

Let’s look at using Kaizena. First, have a student share a document with you. This can be done in many ways, but chances are that Google Classroom is the most common method. Open the student’s document, and then start Kaizena from the Add-Ons menu.

Read through the student document. When you are ready to make a comment, highlight the text to be commented on. Choose to either make a text comment or a voice comment. Do note that you can change the color of the text that has been highlighted. This can be handy if you and a collaborative teacher will both be giving feedback on the document.

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If choosing to make a text comment, simply type the text and post. If choosing to make a voice comment, first agree to allow Kaizena to access your microphone. Then record your comment. Notice that highlighted text stays highlighted as long as the Kaizena add-on is active. It will be hidden from the screen if turned off, but not deleted.

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Example of a text comment with highlighted text.

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Example of a voice comment with highlight

All comments are immediately available to the student. All the student must do is open the same document and load Kaizena from the Add-On menu. They will be able to review any comments left by the teacher, and leave replies, just as with the regular Google commenting feature.

Commenting, whether text or voice, is a great tool, but Kaizena lets you do more than just that. By utilizing their website, you can create reusable lessons or track skills. Let’s take a closer look at each of those.

Any time you make a comment on a student’s work, you can attach a lesson. Lessons can be customized and reused. They must be made on the website side of Kaizena. For example, if students are always forgetting to capitalize letters at the beginning of sentences, you can create a lesson on capitalizing that includes what students should do, and provides links to other websites or resources.

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Click + New Lesson to create a new lesson for your Kaizena account.

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Add comments that include links to videos or websites. You can even add voice comments as well!

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Go back to the document and Add a Lesson. Start typing the name of the lesson, and click to add it.

Track a Skill is like a mini rubric. If you are focusing the assignment around certain skills, such as organization, this tool will let you track student progress toward mastery. Create a skill on the website and then edit to provide further details. You can describe what it means to receive each level, or modify the number of levels for a skill.

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On the website, click the + New Skill button to begin.

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Name the skill, and edit the different levels, as well as provide descriptions for each.

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Go back to the document and Add a Skill. Start typing the name of the skill, and click to add it.

With all of these extra features, Kaizena takes adding comments and feedback to student work to the next level. Step up your feedback game and give this add-on a try!

Resources