Substitute Feedback Form

Substitute Feedback Form

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ April 19, 2015

As teachers, we all know the huge amount of time it takes to get ready for a substitute teacher. I had my “3-ring substitute teacher notebook” and my “required” sub-folder next to my desk “just in case”. I seldom had to use them. Preparing for a “sub” required far more work than it took to be there. Unless I had a family emergency, or I seriously couldn’t physically teach, I was there. Personal days were used for Recess TEC workshops.

And then there was the “Feedback Form” that was waiting for me on my desk when I returned.

As a substitute teacher, I appreciate the time that is dedicated to getting ready for me. I try to follow the plans as much as I can and to leave comments about my day. There is often a paper feedback form to fill out with a pen/pencil, but more often, when there is none, I open up a Word document and type observations, feedback, comments and messages as the day moves forward.

As I sat Friday afternoon filling out a “Sub Feedback Form”, I thought about Google Forms. As a substitute teacher, it would be much easier to fill out an online form designed for that purpose. As a teacher, it would be nice to have all of the feedback collected in one spreadsheet that I could access from home where I could plan to address any issues when I returned. (That’s what you want, right? To get good news about how your students did exactly what they should have been doing!) It couldn’t replace the plans and general instructions for the substitute, but it would be a nice alternative to the usual feedback form.

If you choose this type of feedback form, I would make sure of the following:
1.    The option for a “digital feedback form” is at the top of the list of instructions for the substitute teacher so he/she could begin using it from the beginning of the day in each class.
2.    The link to the form is clearly labeled and visible on your computer desktop in a folder marked “Substitute Teacher”.
3.    Make sure the substitute teacher has access to your computer desktop.

I’ve put together an example to use as a start for your own. I tried to make it appropriate for both departmentalized and self-contained classrooms. You can view below or here.

If you have any ideas/comments/suggestions as to ways this form could work better in your classroom, please share in the comments. We’re all in this together!

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Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ April 12, 2015

“You read and write and sing and experience, thinking that one day these things will build the character you admire to live as. You love and lose and bleed best you can, to the extreme, hoping that one day the world will read you like the poem you want to be.”
~~Charlotte Eriksson

On March 27th, one of our favorite Facebook pages, Humans of New York (HONY) posted a short piece about StoryCorps. The founder of HONY, Brandon Stanton is both the photographer and the author behind HONY, and it’s Brandon’s thought-provoking questions that encourage and enable people to share their very private and personal stories. The comments and the support of the viewers of this page add to its overwhelming popularity. Brandon is now encouraging people, especially teachers and family members, to use StoryCorps to record conversations and memories to add to this oral history project.

StoryCorps 2

Dave Isay is the founder of StoryCorps, and his TED Talk can be viewed here. Listening to his TED talk will educate you about the history behind StoryCorps and its importance.

What is StoryCorps? From their About Page:

“StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews from more than 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.”

StoryCorps 3

Please take the time to visit the StoryCorps website and consider downloading their app to help collect your stories. Start with their “Login Page” to create an account, and you can upload an audio file with an image from their website. We have found creating an account online helps facilitate the login process on the app.


StoryCorps 4

[Tweet “With the newly released StoryCorps app, it is now easier to share memories and personal stories.”]

As an added note, here is a little more about the “man behind HONY”:

National Poetry Month 2015

National Poetry Month 2015


Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ March 29, 2015
Recess Rewind

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”
  ~~Walt Whitman

We first featured National Poetry Month in a March 24, 2013 post titled “April is for Poets”.
We are featuring it again this Sunday with new links updating it to this year’s celebration.
With so many new friends finding their way to our blog, we decided that it was time to occasionally do a “Recess Rewind” with some “classic” TEC tips.


There is still time to plan for April and the National Poetry Month 2015.

National Poetry Month 2015

With the iPad and web tools, technology can take motivation and ideas to a whole new level.
To start, know that you can order a free copy of their annual poster for National Poetry Month 2015 from The Academy of American Poets.

Although posters are not guaranteed to arrive before April, it is a place to begin, and for $5, you can order past posters. The academy also offers a “Dear Poet Project” for upper grades on their website: Included are four activities aligned to the Common Core Standards for grades 7-10.

Scholastic has a website to encourage writing poetry with published authors. Along with activities, students have the opportunity to “publish” their poems online to share with friends and family.

Another resource is from with online interactive poetry writing sites for students grades K-12.

Finally, a British website for “young writers” offers a list of different types of poetry with several examples of each. It is an excellent resource for student poetry anthologies. Students could choose their favorite types of poems to include in their personally created collection, or you could filter their choice depending on your students’ levels and abilities.

We hope this offers both you and your students some fresh ideas to motivate you as we enter the last months of our school year.

Enjoy your weekend! It’s chilly here, but the sun is shining and the crocuses are blooming. We are all looking forward to some April showers and more spring flowers!

[Tweet “Recess TEC offers resources for educators to launch April’s National Poetry Month 2015”]

Quicker QR Codes

Quicker QR Codes

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ March 22, 2015

We are finding more and more of our teachers are adopting the use of QR codes to direct their students to resources and activities. If you are using Mozilla Firefox as your browser, there is a little add-on that can speed up generating your QR codes. By enabling the add-on, “QR Code Image Generator” by webdevmedia, you only have to right-click and scroll down to find your generator. This add-on will allow you to make QR codes of the current URL, selected text, or “free text”.

Quicker QR Codes
It also works offline.
If you prefer shortcut keys, just press CTRL-SHIFT-Q. 

Quiicker QR CodesQuiicker QR Codes

You no longer have to search for QR code generators or go to your bookmarks.

I took a substituting job last week, and the teacher had developed an activity for a math center. After students completed a worksheet on fractions, they used their iPods to check their answers using the QR codes next to each problem. Who doesn’t love to see the “fist pumps” and to hear whispered, “Yeses!” when our students scan the codes that lead them to a correct answer?
Just another way technology can motivate students to learn.

Oh, and I looked up the spelling of the plural form of “yes” and learned from several sites that either “yeses” or “yesses” are acceptable.
And the plural form of “no”? That would be”noes”.

Have a great week!

[Tweet “With this Mozilla Firefox add-on, generate QR codes quickly within your browser and while working offline.”]

SMARTBoard tips

 Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ March 8, 2015

Watch our video as Shannon introduces
This is a handy little web tool that will turn any quote into a poster that can be shared on your favorite social networks, or downloaded as an image file for use in your SMARTBoard lessons or PowerPoint presentations.
Check it out…

Easy Peasy!
Fast and simple leaving you plenty of time to head outside and enjoy some fresh air and hopefully some sunshine!

[Tweet “Let us introduce you to, a handy little web tool that will turn any quote into a poster.”]

Google Add-On Lab Scheduler

Google Add-On Lab Scheduler

Google tips

 Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ March 1, 2015

Here is another tip we picked up at METC 2015 in the session, “Become a Google Ninja” presented by Michael McCann and Greg Lawrence. “Lab Scheduler” is a Google add-on that enables school personnel to schedule devices, resource rooms, computer labs, or resource personnel. We see “Lab Scheduler” offering far more uses than just device “sign-outs”. For visiting support personnel, training, special events at school when classrooms need to schedule special visitors, and anything that is tied into blocks of time/periods, this add-on will simplify the set up and keep it current.

Lab Scheduler


Lab Scheduler Overview

The video below from Greg Lawrence’s YouTube Channel explains how best to add and set up the “Lab Scheduler” add-on, and when I previewed the app itself, I was impressed with how slick it worked. This is a great little management tool for anyone trying to manage schedules in middle schools and high schools.

March made its entrance as the proverbial lion, and with nine inches of fresh snow on the ground,
I’m headed out to catch some snow shots this first day of March.
Stay warm and safe!

[Tweet “This tip from an #METC15 session: The Google add-on “Lab Scheduler” will simplify block /period scheduling management.”]

Common Comments

Common Comments

classroom management Google tips writing

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 2-22-2015

Every day our curriculum and collaborative work are moving to an online venue, and we are encouraging our students to create and submit their work in digital form. Here is a tip we picked up at METC 2015 in the session, “Become a Google Ninja” presented by Michael McCann and Greg Lawrence . This was a new one to us, and we couldn’t wait to share it with you. Continue reading to find out how you can quickly add one of those common comments we all use when assessing student work.

We’ve seen and used the “canned comments” our grading programs provide, but most of us like to add our own comments that reflect our personal “voice”. Google Docs provides that option under “preferences”.

Common Comments 1

Just access that option under “Tools” where you can find the shortcuts that are there for you, and delete and add to personalize it even more.

Common Comments 2
Make sure you choose characters and combinations that you wouldn’t normally use, such as “qa”.

Stay warm, enjoy your Sunday, and hopefully the sun is shining in your corner of the world!

[Tweet “A tip from an #METC15 session: Google Docs allows us to personalize shortcut “keystrokes” to add “common comments” and symbols to our work.”]

D.E.A.R. Day

D.E.A.R. Day


Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 2-15-2015

D.E.A.R. Day.

I think I first heard about it in a graduate reading class.
I remember distinctly thinking, “Brilliant! I wish my teachers had celebrated “D.E.A.R. Day” when I was in school!”
The following week, it appeared in my lesson plans.

In my classroom, D.E.A.R. Day was celebrated in many ways. I remember early in my career we would head outside to read under the trees in the weeks before school was dismissed for the summer. My favorite memories were when my teaching partner of many years, Ron Ghere, and I would carry in milk crates filled with picture books from the library for our fifth graders to read.


Who doesn’t enjoy “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”


and “No, David!”?

In addition, to reading to my class every day, D.E.A.R. Day gave me a chance to spend an hour to sit and read right alongside my students.

Last Tuesday, we included D.E.A.R Day as part of our “Library & Media Literacy” session at METC.
As we’ve moved into the digital age, many teachers have forgotten about it, and we feel that D.E.A.R. Day needs to remain an option for our teachers and their students.

For those of you who are wondering what D.E.A.R. Day is, it’s an acronym for “Drop Everything and Read” Day. Beverly Cleary first wrote about it in her book, “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” on pages 40-41. To honor Beverly Cleary, April 12th, her birthday, was set aside to celebrate D.E.A.R. Day as the first day of a month focused on making reading a priority.

Our METC session included multiple digital resources to foster reading and to motivate students to read and to write about what they have read. One suggestion we had was to create a Google form to collect the data our students usually record in their reading logs. It would be the teacher’s responsibility to decide when students fill this form out and how often. The results are generated into a Google spreadsheet that can easily be filtered as a starting point for teachers to use while conducting individual student “book conferences”.

Why are we posting about D.E.A.R. Day when it’s over a month away? One of the teachers who attended our session approached us as we were packing up and told us that she also celebrated D.E.A.R. Day in her classroom, and that last year she asked each parent to purchase a book for their child. The parent, or grandparent, wrote a message in the front of the book, and the teacher surprised her students with their personalized gifted books from their families. We thought this was a wonderful addition to D.E.A.R. Day, and of course, in the case of those parents or guardians that couldn’t afford a book, there are always creative ways we, as teachers, have been able to supplement the extras that our kiddos need to feel loved and part of the class.

Although this tip isn’t as “techie” as what we usually share, we hope it rekindles the tradition of celebrating D.E.A.R. Day in your classroom.

If you would like to see a copy of the Google form that we shared in our session, just click on the image below.


Stay warm, enjoy your weekend, and the good news is that we are on the downside of February. Spring is just around the corner!

[Tweet “Celebrate D.E.A.R. Day with a Google forms digital tip and a sweet idea from an #METC15 attendee.”]

METC 2015

METC 2015

Conferences tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 2-8-2015

This Tuesday, February 10, we will be presenting at the annual Midwest Education Technology Conference
(METC 2015) at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri. It has been one of our favorite conferences and it is known as the region’s premier education-technology event. We compare it to a “Mini ISTE”.

We will be hosting two sessions:

Session T2 – Tuesday – 10:50-11:40 “Did You REALLY Read This?”
Strand: Library & Media Literacy

Session Description: “Reading is important at all levels across all curriculum. We know this. Where we stumble is how to motivate and how to foster independent reading. Join us in a session to give you some fresh ideas on how to manage independent literacy.”

Session T3 – Tuesday – 1:00-1:50 – “To Each Their Own”
Strand: Assessment

Session Description: “My mom always says, ‘It’s not how smart you are, it’s how you’re smart’. We all know students learn differently. How can we make sure all students have an opportunity to succeed? Attend this session to find ways to differentiate instruction and alternatively assess your students.”

If you are planning to attend the METC Conference, we recommend that you arrive early to secure easy parking, insure a shorter line to confirm your registration and pick up your “conference swag” (unless your last name is “Smith”), and to take advantage of the morning “coffee, tea, and crumpets” that will be available from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. outside the Grand Ballrooms

Take some time to download the METC 2015 app to pre-plan your sessions,
or scan through the online conference booklet to see all that is available.

METC 2015 itunes app
Click on the image for the link to download the iTunes app.


The keynote speakers will be be presenting from 8:00 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
Gwyneth Jones will be featured on Tuesday and Jaime Casap on Wednesday.

Finally, remember to follow METC 2015 on Twitter and use #METC15 to stay informed.

We have been working hard on this year’s presentation and, as always, are looking forward to sharing some fresh, new ways to include technology into your curriculum. Join us and we’ll help you make your lessons a little more relevant, motivating for both you and your students, and of course, a little more fun!

[Tweet “Join us at #METC15 on Tuesday. We’ll be presenting sessions on alternative assessment and independent reading.”]

The Math Learning Center Apps

The Math Learning Center Apps

app App Review iPad tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 2-1-2015

One of our very favorite words.
The Math Learning Center apps are free.

Math Learning Center Apps
We’ve had bins and boxes and crates and drawers and plastic baggies…
all filled with math manipulatives.
I even had one big envelope filled with pieces that could replace missing manipulative sets.
Many of the pieces were broom and vacuum bait.
Those tiny 1/12 pieces were always missing.
And how long can you expect rubber bands to retain their elasticity before they snap when stretched beyond their intended use?

The Math Learning Center Apps have come to our rescue. While we’ve seen many flashy, clever math games for our iPads, these apps are simple, highly functional resources that provide hands-on free virtual manipulatives. This link will take you to The Math Learning Center App Download Page. You’ll find links and YouTube videos that demonstrate how to download each app and some examples of ways to use the app in your classroom.

Last week our post recommended building video playlists.
Make sure you log into your Google/YouTube account and add The Math Learning Center videos to a playlist for quick and easy references.

The Math Learning Center YouTube Channel
We highly recommend downloading The Math Learning Center apps to your device and to organize them into a manipulative folder.

Snow is on its way in our neck of the woods.
We hope it brings whatever you wish for a potential snow day, either an extended weekend, or safe travels to school tomorrow,
and we hope that on this “Super Bowl Sunday”, your team wins!

[Tweet “Learn about The Math Learning Center Apps featuring free virtual manipulatives that include YouTube video support. “]