Wednesday, February 7, 2024

AI and EdTech to the Rescue: Crafting Customized Practice for ELA State Exams

Creating engaging and effective learning materials that mirror state assessment questions can significantly enhance students' preparation for English Language Art state exams. With the advent of AI tools like Bard, ChatGPT, Dall-E, and Quizizz, educators now have the capability to craft customized practice questions and tasks that not only align with state standards but also help cater to the diverse needs of their students. Here are some ideas on how to utilize these tools for this purpose.

Google Bard

Use Bard to construct articles across various subjects at the appropriate grade level. For instance, if you're looking for a 5th-grade science article about ecosystems, Bard can help you build content that matches this criterion. Remember to always vet the results using your content knowledge and other tools.

Sample Prompt: Write an article of approximately [insert length] that is written at a [enter grade] grade level about [enter topic]. Provide similar claims and structure as this article: [Paste text of original article].

  • Fact check with Google by clicking the Google logo below the results. The highlighted portions lead to clickable links to sources. Use this to help vet the results.
  • Prompt further to make longer or shorter based on need
  • Paste new article into Google Docs for future reference

Given an article or a piece of content, ChatGPT can be tasked with generating questions that are similar to those found in state assessments. For example, if the article discusses the water cycle, ChatGPT can formulate multiple-choice or open-ended questions that test students' understanding of this topic. If you have a sample question written in a specific manner and structure, prompt ChatGPT to write a new question about a new text using that structure. Repeat this process for each section of the article to ensure comprehensive coverage.

Sample Prompt: Based on this text [paste article text here], write a question similar to this: [enter question type or sample question]

  • Repeat for all questions
  • If you have text dependent questions from other assessments, you can paste them in to have ChatGPT write similar questions for your new text
  • If you're wondering why I didn't have Bard do this originally? In my experience, ChatGPT has been more effective remixing text and structure.
  • Add to Google Docs

Dall-E and Adobe Firefly

Enhance the visual appeal of your practice questions and tasks by using Dall-E to create images related to the article's content. These images can be inserted into the text and questions to provide visual cues or serve as the basis for questions themselves, thereby aiding in students' comprehension and retention of the material.

Although Dall-E offers robust capabilities for image creation, to get the most out of it, you will need a paid subscription. Adobe Firefly can also be a valuable tool for educators needing specific imagery. At the moment, Firefly is free. Use detailed prompts to generate images that can then be inserted into your documents, potentially after adjustments to fit the desired layout.

Sample Dall-E Prompt: [type or paste descriptive criteria from article details]

  • Add images to text and question on Google Docs
  • Insert image using Insert Drawing function to have ability to crop into different shapes and wrap around text much like they might see on the exam
  • Dall-E is solid, but works best with a premium ChatGPT subscription
  • Adobe Firefly works well too and is free
Digital Delivery with Quizizz

Transform your article and accompanying questions into an interactive Quizizz lesson. Start with a title slide featuring the article's title, followed by slides that guide students through reading the article, either digitally or in print. You may want to link the article file on this slide since students often access the text digitally on state exams. Then, incorporate the questions you've created using ChatGPT, adding relevant images from Dall-E or Adobe Firefly. Design the quiz to include both multiple-choice and open-ended questions, setting appropriate time limits for each. Quizizz allows for both synchronous classroom engagement and asynchronous learning, giving flexibility in how students access and interact with the material. The robust reports produced by Quizizz are valuable tools for evaluating student progress and facilitating discussion in a PLC.

This entire process, the tips and sample prompts were all borne from prompt engineering. Prompts were entered and revised multiple times to produce the mimicked assessment resources. Click here to access a sample of a 7th grade ELA assessment task type that was mirrored from a released sample question. 

Friday, February 2, 2024

Empower English Learners and Teachers with Translation Chrome Extensions

In today's digital age, supporting English language learners (ELLs) has become increasingly innovative, thanks to simple yet effective tech tools. One of the game-changers in this field is the array of Google Chrome extensions designed to aid ELLs in navigating and comprehending the vast world of English content online. These tools are not just helpful; they can transform the way ELLs engage with language learning.

Imagine a student encountering a challenging text online. With these Chrome extensions (click here to access my favorite), they can simply highlight the text, and instantly, a small popup appears, offering the text translated into their home language. But it doesn't stop there. The popup also includes a button to have the text read aloud in their native language. This feature is incredibly empowering for English learners, allowing them to take control of their learning experience. They no longer have to rely solely on teachers or classmates to understand content, instructions, and more, fostering a sense of independence and confidence in their language acquisition journey.
Here is an example of how a student can use this tool in Google Classroom. Note the speaker button that, when clicked, will read the text aloud to them.

Here is a real photograph captured in a classroom situated in rural Tulare County, California. The student depicted speaks and reads limited English; however, they are utilizing a translation Chrome extension. This tool, approved by the school and deployed to student accounts, enables them to access instructions in Google Classroom. Similar to the example mentioned earlier, it features a speaker button that allows the text to be read aloud.

But the benefits of these Chrome extensions are not limited to students alone. Teachers, too, can leverage these tools to create a more inclusive and efficient learning environment. In California, where Spanish is the predominant second language, these extensions are invaluable. When preparing instructions, resources, or activities on platforms like Google Classroom, Quizizz, Blooket, Kahoot, Quizlet, and Gimkit, teachers can use these extensions for quick and convenient side-by-side translations of instructions, questions and answer choices.

The wisdom behind incorporating these tech tools provide side by side translation is that it allows teachers to provide all students with one version of a quiz, game, assignment, etc., keeping all responses, regardless of language, in one place. This approach not only simplifies the teacher's task, but also helps ELLs feel more included. They don't feel singled out or different because they are given the same version of activities as their peers. With just a few more clicks, coupled with some copying and pasting, teachers can make a significant difference in the inclusivity and effectiveness of their instruction.

These simple tech tools showcase the potential of technology to help bridge gaps in language learning and curriculum access. They are by no means a magic bullet or cure all for the support of English learners. By embracing such innovations, educators can enhance their support for English learners, making the learning experience more accessible, engaging, and empowering for all students while they engage in other, more in-depth and research-based instruction. 

The video below demonstrates a translation extension in real time with Quizizz and Google Classroom.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

5 Reasons to Using Flip with your Students


Flip, formerly known as Flipgrid, is a video discussion platform that allows students to create and share short videos. While it is commonly associated with fostering discussion and communication, it can also be a valuable tool for supporting students' literacy skills. Here are five reasons why teachers might consider using Flipgrid for this purpose:

Engagement and Motivation:

Flip offers a multimedia approach to literacy, allowing students to express themselves through video. This can be particularly appealing to students who may not feel as comfortable expressing themselves in written form. The engaging nature of video responses can increase motivation and interest in literacy activities.

Oral Language Development:

By creating video responses, students have the opportunity to practice and develop their oral language skills. Articulating thoughts verbally can enhance communication skills, vocabulary, and fluency. This oral practice complements traditional written literacy activities and contributes to overall language development.

Differentiated Instruction:

Flip allows for differentiation in literacy instruction. Students can respond to prompts in a way that suits their learning preferences and abilities, whether through writing, speaking, or a combination of both. This flexibility accommodates diverse learning styles and ensures that students can demonstrate their understanding in a manner that works best for them.

Collaborative Learning:

Flip supports collaborative learning by enabling students to view and respond to each other's videos. This fosters a sense of community within the classroom, encourages peer-to-peer learning, and provides opportunities for students to engage in constructive discussions about literacy topics. Collaborative learning environments can enhance comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Feedback and Reflection:

Teachers can provide timely and personalized feedback on students' video responses, addressing both content and language skills. Additionally, the video format allows students to review and reflect on their own communication and literacy skills. This self-reflection can contribute to metacognitive development and improvement in future literacy tasks.

Watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on initiating Flip usage after logging in with your Google account. The tutorial illustrates the process of creating a Group, akin to a Google Classroom, and posting Topics within that Group, resembling assignments in Google Classroom. Additionally, it demonstrates how to enroll students through Google Classroom and seamlessly transfer the topics to Google Classroom as Material posts. I recommend selecting Material as the post type, as this ensures responses are collected directly in your Flip account, eliminating the need to designate it as an assignment within Google Classroom.

Helperbird: A Safe Alternative to the Defunct Immersive Reader Chrome Extension


In the ever-evolving landscape of digital tools, the recent discontinuation of the Immersive Reader Chrome Extension marks a significant change, particularly for the education sector. Immersive Reader, known for enhancing the accessibility of digital content, has been a vital tool for teachers and students alike. Its features, such as read aloud, text spacing, and translation, have made it easier for learners with different needs to access information. However, with this tool no longer operational on Google Chrome, many users are left seeking alternatives.

The good news is that Microsoft's Immersive Reader continues to be available on Microsoft products, including the Edge browser. This offers a semblance of continuity for those who are able to switch platforms. But for the vast majority who are entrenched in the world of Google Chrome, this change poses a challenge.

Enter Helperbird, a Chrome Extension that emerges as a solid alternative. Helperbird not only allows users to access many of the beloved features of Microsoft's Immersive Reader but also brings its own suite of tools to the table. Its functionality is straightforward and user-friendly: simply select the text you want to read, right-click, and hover over the Helperbird option. A menu appears, offering various tools, including the option to open the content in Immersive Reader. This seamless integration ensures that the transition from the now-defunct Chrome Extension is as smooth as possible.

However, it's important to note that full access to Helperbird's features requires signing up for an account. This might be a minor inconvenience compared to the benefits it offers. For a visual guide on how to use Helperbird to access Immersive Reader, see the screenshot provided below. This visual aid can be particularly helpful for getting acquainted with the new process and exploring the available options.

For individuals concerned about data collection and usage, the privacy section on Helperbird's page in the Chrome Web Store provides clear and reassuring information. It explicitly states that Helperbird commits to never selling, storing, or misusing any user data. Additionally, the privacy policy aligns with key regulations such as COPPA and FERPA, ensuring compliance with important standards for the protection of children's online privacy and student education records. This transparency and commitment to privacy and security should offer peace of mind to users prioritizing data safety. Click here to view the developer's privacy policy.