There are many ways of organising parents' evenings, or parent consultations, or whatever else they may be called where you are reading this. I know at our school, up until this year, a time-consuming administrative afternoon was spent with class teachers trying to organise appointments to fit in with siblings in other classes. It took a whole PD slot of 90 minutes to organise. Not much PD; but plenty of hassle. Paper slips were the order of the day, much like I guess it has since [insert date a very long time ago].
Enter the new idea of using Google Calendar to organise everything. I shared this video with staff to help them on their way:
If you like the idea of moving from a paper-based system to Google Calendar here are 5 tips you may wish to consider:
1. Start small
Depending on the size of your school of course, it is a good idea to trial with a number of classes, or a subset of teachers first if at all possible. We trialled it initially with specialist teachers before rolling it out across the entire Junior School.
2.Use Agenda View to print a summary
When you are on the Daily view for your calendar, click on 'Agenda' at the top-right of the screen to create a print-friendly version of your appointments:
3. Time Zone settings may cause you problems
Especially if you work in an international school! You may get some parents coming to you saying 'Did you mean to set the time slots up for 4am-8am? - I think you may have made a mistake!' In which case, it is most likely their Google account settings are for somewhere other than your school's. Politely ask them to check their settings and all should be well.
4. Disappearing time slots? Check your calendar isn't unticked
If your appointment slots have mysteriously vanished, double-check that you have got your calendar ticked in the left-hand side of your Google Calendar page. If it is unticked you won't be able to see your slots but parents obviously still will after you've sent out the link.
5. Use a URL shortener when sending out the link to parents
It doesn't look great to send out a calendar link such as this:
So use your favourite URL shortener (if you have a favourite you'll likely do this anyway!) - try goo.gl to send out a better, more professional link. Paste the long URL you get when making your appointment slots into goo.gl - then copy and paste this into your parents' evening letter.
I have been using Hopscotch with Y4 this term and have been fairly structured along the way, as they got to grips with the basics. Now the following describes an open-ended challenge, based on one of their own tutorials, I posed to the children:
Some of the children had heard of Etch-a-Sketch; many had not. So we spent a couple of minutes looking at the following videos - shown in Google Slides and trimmed using the amazing new Video Options feature:
I then set the challenge below - a character needs to draw a line depending on which way the iPad is tilted, and then everything should be cleared when the iPad is shaken.
I allowed the children to work on their own or in pairs, and the only bit I gave them a clue about was to tell them about 'Set Angle' for each way the iPad is tilted. I may have emphasised that they had to TILT the iPad...!
Some children cracked on and were soon adding their own sound effects, altering the distance their character travels, pen width etc. Others were not so sure so I did have something to perhaps nod them in the right direction:
All in all, a good project to target at Y4 (8-9 year-olds) - not too tricky for even the more hesitant coder, and with lots of scope for extra tweaks for the more adventurous ones. 'Hopscotch is the best!' one child commented during the lesson. They're not far wrong.
You can make professional-looking videos (at least watermark-free ones if you upgrade) to make engaging content for your lessons, or for whole-school projects, such as for your website or internal school screens. Introducing digital leaders to my school earlier in the year - I managed to knock this video out in a few minutes (what do you mean you can tell?!). A different way of trying to engage the Y6s, rather than a traditional go-to Slides/PowerPoint effort:
Beautiful animations in your classroom
Don't be put off by the slant towards business users in Biteable - there's bound to be a type of video to fit your needs in the classroom. You can choose between Explainer, Advertising, Presentation, Intro or Slideshow.
There are loads of templates to view, including some nifty stop-motion effect videos, with some great plasticine text effects, as one example:
There are probably lots of how-to videos out there explaining how to use Biteable, but you probably won't need them - just dive in and give it a go. You can choose music, colour scheme and animation layout before the video is rendered for you. Once created you can share the video online or download it should you wish.
Simple sign-in with Google (if you're a GSuite/GAFE school I guess) is a bonus too. Happy video creating!
The death of the keyboard has been suggested many times in the past, and whilst mobile devices are popular in schools, all children at some time or other will probably still need to access video content on a desktop or laptop.
Pretty much most people are OK with the space bar for pausing and playing a YouTube video. I think. I still see children (and adults) reaching for the mouse to pause a clip, or to ‘rewind’ content. Teach your children these shortcuts (they’ll know some already) and the world is their oyster! Or rather they’ll be able to navigate YouTube content in a more effective way...
Streamline your viewing
Who knew about the full stop and comma for going forwards/backwards one frame at a time? Great for stop-motion animation inspiration! Also why not use the J K and L keys as a way of pausing (K), and going backwards (J) and forwards (L) ten seconds? The arrow keys (left/right) do the same job but advance/retreat 5 seconds per press.
I like the row of numbers 1-9 across the keyboard enabling you to skip from 10% to 90& of a video. The zero key automatically restarts a video too.
So until the keyboard becomes completely superfluous, these 21 shortcuts are going to save you time when you're on YouTube. I've tried these shortcuts out on Vimeo, and apart from full-screen (F) and a couple of others, it looks like most of these aren't going to work there. Check out the Slides below and see how many you recognise: