School Apps

In an effort to communicate better with parents and students in a mobile culture, I started the Bloomingdale High School app in the Android and iOS stores in July 2014. In nearly three years it has over 9,500 users and has had over 258,000 views! Recently, I started an app for Boyette Springs Elementary, my kids’ school, that brought the school apps back in the spotlight.

Our app features social media feeds, like our Twitter run by our principal and our WBUL Youtube channel, so that they can see the latest news from these outlets without having to be a user of that social media network. Our course and club directories are featured, as well as current sports schedules. Guidance, news and grades are a click away, as are lunch menus, maps, the student handbook, and the calendar. You can email your teachers, or call the school at a click. Next year, we’re going to try to do salad and sandwich line pre-ordering via app too!

We use AppMakr/Infinite Monkeys as our publisher. It’s important to understand why we use this route: to publish in the Android store is a $25 one-time fee; to publish in the Apple store is a $99 annual fee. With a coupon code for student apps, the cost to us is free, avoiding the $99 annual fee (message me to learn more). It’s also a what you see is what you get editor, which means you can drag and drop icons in and adjust your app without any programming knowledge! My favorite part is that it pushes out instant updates without having to wait for Apple to approve the update!

You’ll spend the most time building the app itself. It needs clean, consistent graphics with a uniform look. There are some icons to pick from, but I prefer downloading my own from Flat Icon. You’ll want to create a banner for the top screen of the app as an image. From there, it’s deciding what features you want to include.

The most important thing to know about the Apple Store is that you only get two shots to get it approved, or you’re permanently banned. Here’s what you need to know to get approval:

  • Make sure your graphics are on point. If they’re misaligned, or inconsistent in appearance, they won’t approve of the aesthetic. Give the background a color that matches your banner (best bet is to learn the hexadecimal color value and use the same color).
  • Apple requires interactive features. That is, they don’t want your app to be a mobile website in function. Use AppMaker’s wall and chat features to allow parents to communicate, and add it in the app description. (Remember how I told you it makes instant updates? When we get our apps approved, we immediately delete these features! The thought of unregulated conversation on school apps scares us a little. Or a lot.)
  • Make sure that each link is good–is there content under each click? The AppMakr has a demo view and will allow you to text a web preview to your phone to try it out.

Once you get Apple approved, it’s very easy! Android access is immediate without approval, and they send you all the graphics and uploads you need for a successful Android launch. I recommend you get your webmaster behind this, so they can help you in keeping it updated regularly, and download the Bloomingdale and Boyette Springs apps for inspiration. Happy app building!

Strategies for Differentation of Assessment

  • Tic tac toe/choice boards
  • Skill-based (but same standard)
  • Rotating stations based on needs
  • Verbal vs. written response
  • Different rubrics based on needs
  • Whiteboards
  • RAFT
  • In class tutoring
  • Relay game with points
  • Add visuals/art into traditional writing
  • Grouping based on data from the day before–going up at different levels
  • Strong students as leaders
  • Bingo cards
  • Student-made rubric
  • Assessment based on level of experience
  • Compare outcomes with other students
  • Choice of topic–teach each other
  • Choice of resources–textbook, BYOD
  • Grouping students into jobs/roles
  • Multiple intellegences
  • Reteaching/extension
  • Anchor activities
  • Sponge activities (ORP)
  • Unit/topic contracts
  • LYA–pictures & graphics
  • LYB–Explaining photos/captions
  • LYC–Explain significance & paraphrase
  • Word wall creation–some color in lower level turns in a pre-made coloring book page, others generate their own based on higher level terms

Strategies for Pulse Checks

  • Thumbs up/down/sideways
  • 1-5 scales, fist to five
  • small white boards
  • Group discuss spot check
  • Bellwork review question
  • Group accountability
  • Seating chart, check + –
  • HOT questions embedded in Powerpoint
  • BYOD exit ticket
  • Red, yellow, green flashcards
  • Rhetorical analysis
  • TPS
  • Plickers
  • Questions/checkpoints
  • Stop lights
  • Padlet
  • Kahoot
  • Nearpod
  • Quizlet
  • Walk around and check computer screens
  • Ask a multiple choice question and have stundets hold up a card
  • Have the students teach/demo the next concept
  • Partner-up students and then share with each other
  • Peer edit with specific comment starters
  • Put requirements in own words (tell me what we’re about to do)
  • Visual or auditory cues
  • Reflection questions
  • SpringBoard ideas/details questions
  • Random checks
  • Open ended questions built on knowledge
  • Hypothetical, application to scenario
  • A question they haven’t seen but know how to do
  • Post it note on board
  • Color coded flip charts (T/F, A/B/C/D, fact/opinion)
  • Margin notes (written, graphic)
  • Student created questions
  • Self-rating (content and reflective)
  • Entrance slips

Strategies for Exit Slips and Planning for Instruction

  • Analyzing student work
  • Grouping in heterogenous groups
  • Placing them on a pre-made scale
  • Edsby
  • Nearpod polls/answers
  • Illustrations
  • Applications of facts given during class
  • Purpose relates back to objective (does slip relate back? Measure what the objective says)
  • Collect data–assessment, not ust completion
  • Exit slip feedback to build unit review
  • Reflection from them to ensure they are ready for the next day
  • 3 things you learned today
  • Plan for DI next day
  • Write their own question to give out the next day
  • Real world application: “How would I use it?”
  • Stop light with post it
  • Generic exit slip
  • Show number of nice fingers
  • Reflection–what do you need help with?
  • Question/concern/comment
  • Quick problem to solve
  • Sentence starters on exit slips
  • List problems with essay to plan for next essay
  • Exit slip as intro for next day
  • Multiple questions on exit slips (A/B versions)
  • Provide idea of “hard to grasp” concepts
  • Sticky dot chart by concept of skill to assess areas of strength and weakness
  • Red/yellow/green light with sticky note
  • Kahoot

Strategies for Using Rubrics & Student Self-Assessment

  • Class assignment–3 problems to complete, records answers on answer sheet, then look in envelope for answers to check their work, giving themselves the grade for the assignment
  • Drill individuals to element (row) to flight (team), assess “knockout” drill each level
  • Rubric for writing, individual to student goals
  • Peer grading for FRQ
  • Think, pair, share
  • Self-reflection for FRQ, rubric, & assess own errors
  • Students create Kahoot questions
  • Mini-group, whole group with student generated questions
  • White board
  • Self-check examples
  • Group leader with checklist who knows the answers because they are experienced in the shop
  • Skeletal outline of required pieces (criteria) with point value for each piece
  • Self-assess using five senses: pizza dough “stinks”
  • Open discussion as they produce
  • AP rubrics–score own FRQ and peers’ FRQ
  • Use Nearpod to have students check each others’ answers
  • Envelope–groups
  • Pattern puzzles: words/definitions, student friendly rubrics (peer edit, suggestions for comments), feedback
  • Student created rubrics (develop expectations for lit circles, evaluate themselves)
  • Stop lights (possibly generic)
  • Leveled measurement
  • Pre-tests
  • Check for prior knowledge
  • Student generated vocabulary crossword
  • KWL
  • Take a Stand — 4 corners
  • Peer correction
  • Kids determine where points come from
  • Look at scenarios & classify
  • Checklist of skills–students evalaute others
  • Clear objectives
  • Turn-it-in rubric/revision/paper
  • Rubistar
  • Reflection sheets
  • Show examples and non-examples
  • Must see rubric before assgnment and the value
  • Rewrite the rubric, summarize
  • Focus incrementally–in chunks

Strategies for Higher Order Thinking Questions

  • Have students use question stems to create HOT questions based on text. Create & anticipate answers and evaluate each other’s answers
  • Costa’s Questioning
  • Must always justify response with relevant evidence
  • Synthesis (identify common themes)
  • Have questions or cards on strips of paper to distribute
  • Plan HOT questions into your lesson
  • Have an essential question
  • Have lower order questions assist in answering the HOT questions–scaffolding
  • Pair “what” question with a “why” question
  • Connect to previous knowledge, thought process
  • Quality vs. quantity
  • Questions that extrapolate
  • Change parameters (what if)
  • Predict
  • Open ended questions
  • Compare/contrast
  • Textual evidence
  • Design own test questions
  • Gradual release modeling (I do, We do, You do)
  • Think pair share
  • Data analysis
  • The A-list (Jim Burke, see attached from Nancy Harris)
  • Wrap up/reflection
  • Let student “teach” class
  • Why/how
  • Diagnose what’s wrong
  • Evaluate
  • Given a rubric, apply judgment for promotion (debate)
  • Sentence starters
  • Agree/disagree format
  • Reasoning–fix another’s mistake, explain the error
  • “What if?”
  • Apply what they already know
  • Webb’s Depth of Knowledge
  • Key ideas and details questions
  • FSA style questions
  • Google (level 1), doodle (level 2), noodle (level 3)
  • Allow kids to solve problem in multiple ways, determine best one
  • Nearpod
  • Resource from Academic Moves

Strategies for Timing in Discussion

  • Use a specific time limit
  • Gauge for “lull” reminders throughout activity
  • Divide time for team members
  • Timed talking tool
  • Spider web (yarn ball) toss discussion group
  • Wait until students respond (no matter how uncomfortable at first)
  • Use an actual timer: online stopwatch, kitchen timer, Google timer
  • Differentiation: small group with their own timer & allotted time
  • Self-counting for wait time
  • Kagan selector tool timer
  • Write it down
  • Use phone timer
  • Watch alarm
  • “With-it-ness” knowing when to adjust time, monitoring group conversations
  • Daily routine
  • Giving think time, or time to jot down thoughts
  • Warning time
  • Clear up fallacies
  • Provide stem starters (“I think…” “I believe…” “I predict…”)
  • Use music (tabata timer)
  • Finger answers after wait (How many minutes do you need?)
  • Hands down and think 30 seconds, now up
  • Lights for timer
  • Plickers
  • Kahoot!
  • “Do the Dew” (walk back to desk for drink while giving think time)
  • Silent seconds to look over notes / ask a question

Strategies for Equal Participation

  • Small group–each member shares round robin before presenting
  • Team evaluation
  • Student designation (numbered desks, random shape, color, playing/Uno cards)
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Partners (“They said…” “I heard…”)
  • Reader/text marker then trade & share
  • Group roles/content specialist
  • Tell them ahead of time all will be called on today
  • Whiteboard responses
  • Random names
  • Cold call
  • Parking lot
  • Pre-assigned roles
  • Pick stick app
  • Kagan selector tools
  • Post-it notes
  • Classroom performance system
  • Socrative
  • Roles, tasks, duties
  • Equal amount of time
  • Differentiate (language, ability)
  • Spinning names
  • Role rotations
  • White board answering
  • Individual exit slips
  • Participation grades
  • Seating arrangements
  • Talking chips/cards
  • Options in how to participate
  • Partner talk
  • Rally Coach
  • Seating chart to keep track
  • Grade grid from Edsby–check for right or question generating
  • Beach ball
  • Yarn spider web
  • Unknown answer? Student can ask a question, come back to him/her later
  • Popcorn
  • 3×5 cards with names
  • Jigsaw
  • Nearpod
  • Numbered heads review
  • Trail runs
  • Hot potato
  • Philosophical chairs with talking chips
  • Thumbs up/down
  • Fist of five
  • Active listening strategies
  • 3 strikes /  Penny for your Thoughts (variations of Talking Chips)

Strategies for Creating Opportunities for Discussion