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Blended Bites Blog

Jessi's Favorite Things

Jessica Anderson

Every year around Thanksgiving/Christmas Oprah Winfrey does a show about Oprah's Favorite Things. I have actually never watched it, but have caught the media's broadcast of the list online.
When I arrived home today, I kept coming back to four resources/strategies that were incredibly successful this week. I'm calling this list Jessi's Favorite Things...

  1. Voxer: I actually wrote about Voxer in a previous blog post, but had to mention it again. Voxer, a walkie-talkie application, is one of the most powerful pieces driving my PLN. Everyday I listen and collaborate with brilliant, like-minded people who care just as much as I do about our profession. If I have a question, my professional learning network is one tap and a voice message away from providing meaningful answers. If you haven't tried it yet, let me know and I'll add you to the #MTedchat group. We'd love to have you!
2. Google Classroom and Google Apps: Yes, this is probably on many educator's lists. However, for a school that just this school year made the shift to using Google, it's awesome! I have used Google Drive for many years in my personal and professional life. I've used it to collaborate with individuals, store information in the cloud, and as my primary word processing program. I've also completed many collaborative projects with educators across the country using it. However, up to this point I haven't had students work as an entire class in one document. Today was that day! After completing our Mars Sphero Rover project I thought it would be great to share out the project (its successes, its failures) through student perspective. Therefore, when my astronomy students entered class today we set-up a document, made an outline, and started typing. Together they worked to complete an entire blog post on the project they'd just completed.  As a teacher, it was powerful to watch as they read each other's work, critiqued sentences, and then heard it verbally read aloud. They were proud of the work they created and they are excited to share it with the world next week.
3. Level Posters: This is the first year in the three years that I've gamified that my students have moved completely self-paced (no deadlines) in our blended classroom. As a result, I knew that it would be necessary to display students' progress in the levels in order to motivate them to keep moving. With the goal of displaying achievements and making the end and beginning of levels times to celebrate, I came up with a simple idea, level posters. I made posters for each level on, printed them out using a plotter, and laminated them. When students master a level they put their name on the next level poster. It's surprisingly the most simple motivator in our classroom. My 9th graders cheer and fist pump when they complete a level, and literally run to put their names on the poster. Who would of thought this would be so successful? Not me!

4. Leaderboard: I had intended to start this at the beginning of the year, but it got lost in the mix. As a result, I made it my new year's resolution to make the leaderboard visible every day to my earth science students. This week was the first week I used it in earth science and it was a HUGE success. I actually had a 50% increase in the number of battles (activities) turned in as a result of students seeing the XP they earned visible on the board. YAY!