In collaboration with BookWidgets, opinions are my own
I absolutely love finding new tools to try out in my classroom, especially when I notice a dip in student engagement or want to explore different options that will provide more active learning experiences for my students. Whenever I try something new, typically I create an account and try it out first myself, whether it is playing a game, creating a presentation, recording a video, so that I know what students might expect and because I rarely have the chance to use these tools myself! I am also interested in the learning curve that comes with digital tools since we know that teachers’ time is valuable and finding extra time to learn something new can be tough. Finding a tool that enables us to provide authentic, interactive, and engaging learning experiences for our students while also saving time is essential. This is why I love using BookWidgets!
When I first tried BookWidgets on my own, I couldn’t wait to create some “widgets” for my students! It was easy to create and there were so many options that deciding on which to try first was tough! One of the best things about BookWidgets is that it offers more than 40 interactive templates for teachers to use as they design activities to help students build their skills. You can create bingo cards, crosswords, exit slips, hangman games, jigsaw puzzles, timelines, a word search and so much more to use with any content and for any grade level. The interactive lessons can be accessed from any device or you can opt to print some of the widgets like the word search or crossword as well. Check out this crossword!
Awesome features for teachers and students!
The power of voice: During my teaching career, there have been times when I’ve been unable to be in the classroom and worried about how to best provide my students with meaningful learning experiences in my absence. Should I create a packet? Should I assign reading and activities with worksheets? What about giving them feedback? These are just some of the many concerns I have when I cannot be in the classroom as well as for everyday planning.
BookWidgets helps by providing many great features and one of my favorites is the audio recording option. For the first crossword that I created for students in my Spanish classes, when they clicked submit, they heard my voice congratulating them and giving them some feedback. It was funny to see their reactions when they heard my voice. Even though I was in the classroom it still provided some encouragement and motivation. Imagine how much more meaningful it is when our students hear our voice when we cannot be there to provide feedback or support in person. Depending on the activity that you choose, you have several options. You can record specific directions for the activity. As a language teacher, I can use it to pronounce some of the vocabulary words or can record a message for when students complete the activity, which is great for providing positive feedback and motivating our students. You can create a question using the audio recording feature rather than typing it in as text.
There is so much power in our voices, that being able to record and add further instructions into a quiz or use the hotspot image for example, gives students more support as they work through an activity. When we think about promoting accessibility in learning, being able to provide instructions via the audio recording feature and with widgets like the memory game and flashcards, using the text-to-speech option functionality will help to support all learners, and in my case, language learners as they build their skills.
We can promote the development of speaking skills by having students record their responses. It helps them to practice their pronunciation and to do so in a way that is more comfortable and will help them to build confidence. When we were in fully virtual or hybrid learning, our opportunities to interact with our students one-on-one were so limited. Having this functionality of the audio recording where students can also submit recordings that we can listen to and provide feedback makes an impact on their learning potential.
In addition to having templates to create activities and interactive exercises, BookWidgets also has a rubrics function which makes it easier to review and score student work. There are ready-to-use rubrics or you can simply create your own and then add them to assignments right within BookWidgets. Some of the choices in rubrics include a checklist rubric for students to use as they work on a project for example, self-assessment rubrics which are great for students to develop social-emotional learning (SEL) skills such as self-awareness. Using rubrics helps students to understand what the expectations are for an assignment or project and develop SEL skills such as self-management as they set goals for themselves and work through the challenges. With rubrics, educators can evaluate student work and responses and be better able to provide authentic and timely feedback to students and use it to guide our instruction. You can also use emojis and other symbols in your rubrics!
Provide instructions for the rubric completion.
Integrations: BookWidgets integrates with Canvas, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Schoology and more so you can easily share the widgets with students without much effort at all. When we have access to tools that enable us to bring in a variety of learning experiences, without the overwhelm of navigating to different sites, it saves valuable time for class interactions and more activities together.
So many choices
Regardless of the grade level or content area you teach, BookWidgets has something for you. Math teachers will appreciate being able to quickly create a spreadsheet or a chart for use in the classroom. When we want students to focus on specific images or use video in our classrooms, BookWidgets offers some engaging options such as random images or a 3D file viewer. How about teaching students to play the piano and read notes, all with BookWidgets! There are many ways to use these templates in our classrooms and it gives students the opportunity to practice the content in more active, engaging, and personalized ways with support provided along the way. Also, check out the BookWidgets blog for more ideas!
A fun crossword for Spanish class! With the recent addition of “instructions”, you can let students know exactly what to do for each widget that you create!
Get started today!
Now that you know about some of the many possibilities with BookWidgets, it’s your turn to find something to create and get started. Creating a widget simply requires typing in words for use in a puzzle or selecting from the many templates available to find the right learning activity for your students. Add in some audio or use the live monitoring feature too! BookWidgets is also a great option for professional development! Engage teachers in one of the activities and in the process, teach them about a new tool that they can bring to their classrooms. Sometimes the best way to encourage teachers to try new tools is to dive right in!
Headed to ISTE? Don’t miss the BookWidgets ISTE Conference Session: Transforming the Traditional Learning Environment with BookWidgets, Wednesday, June 29, 1:30 – 3 p.m. Location: La Nouvelle Ballroom, Table 17
For more information about BookWidgets, head to:
About the Author
Rachelle Dené Poth is a Foreign Language and STEAM Educator at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. She is also an Attorney, Edtech Consultant, and Speaker. Rachelle is the author of seven books about education and edtech and a blogger. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @Rdene915.
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