Back-to-school with BookWidgets!

In Collaboration with BookWidgets

We started to use ​B​ook​W​idgets last year and my students immediately fell in love with it. The first activity that I gave to them was a crossword and they thought it was the coolest thing ever. As a language educator, I want my students to be able to remember the vocabulary and the verbs of course, and a big part of that is knowing how to spell them. Using some of the ​options like crosswords or word searches helps students to build their skills in spelling because the words have to fit in the right place. The benefit of using a tool like ​B​ook​W​idgets is that students can work on these activities wherever they are. As long as students have access to a device, I can share different activities with them whether for extra practice, for enrichment, and sometimes just because they ask me to because they enjoy the activities and forget that it’s actually for learning!

​So many choices!​

There are more than 40 different templates available in ​B​ook​W​idgets and in case you didn’t know, in August they added some new features just in time for the upcoming ​school year. Beyond those activities that I had done with my students last year, something else that I recommend for students is using flashcard​s. With some tools, it can be difficult​ to know if students are in fact using the ​f​lashcards. However, in the live ​B​ook​W​idgets dashboard, I can see which cards the students practiced​, the time ​spent on them, and even how many times they flipped a specific card. Students even have the audio with the flashcards! ​Having this real-time data is great for me to be better able to understand what my students’ needs are so that I can provide additional resources and encouragement as they work on learning the content.

Another great feature is the scratch pad, my students love using the dry erase boards but the time that it takes to gather the materials and to keep cleaning them loses precious class time. However, with BookWidgets I can have students use the scratch pad and have them conjugate verbs or I could give them a sentence and have them draw something​. T​here are so many different possibilities​!​ I can even have ​students submit what they created so that I can review it and if I want to and also provide a grade for it. Just another way that I can really stay connected to where they are in the learning process and be able to provide timely​,​ authentic, and meaningful feedback to them when it is most essential.

A very important issue when it comes to using technology in our classrooms is accessibility. We want all of our students to be able to participate and engage in the methods and tools that we are using so that they all have the same opportunities to amplify their learning. In some tools, they have translation capabilities, and now in ​B​ook​W​idgets, it offers text to speech for students. Having students that use screen readers, ​this feature ​is fantastic because they have the option to listen directly through ​BookWidgets. ​Students can select the text and choose the language that they want to have it read out loud in. For teachers who use Google classroom, ​B​ook​W​idgets is one of the add-ons which makes it even better for keeping things streamlined and not overwhelming students but at the same time creating so many amazing learning opportunities.

Now with Google!

There are more than 40 interactive templates available that you can add to your Google classroom. The favorites for my students are the crossword puzzles, the word searches, and the split whiteboard​! There are possibilities for using these with all grade levels and content areas. ​​We will continue to add more to the list of the activities that we are using because​ ​students ​keep coming to class asking to use ​BookWidgets​! When this happens, ​ you know that it’s making a difference for them. Also as a language educator, it’s important that I be able to assess their speaking skills as they develop them, and having the option for students to record their voices is great​.​ ​Some students may not feel comfortable at first speaking in front of their classmates​,​ so this helps them to build their confidence because they can record at home or in a place that is comfortable for them. ​For teachers, it enables us to access their recordings at any time and be able to give feedback after it that the students can respond to. Check out some additional examples that can be used in language classes!

With the Google Chrome extension, it is so easy to get started with BookWidgets! Using the SSO, everyone saves time accessing activities and being able to understand where students are in their learning journey. Being able to provide feedback to students right within Google Classroom streamlines the process and keeps the learning going. If your school has the Google for Education teaching and learning upgrade or a plus account, you can ask your administrator to enable BookWidgets for your entire school!

For teachers that are using Google Classroom, it’s great that you can monitor the work students are doing in real-time whenever you’ve created a ​B​ook​Widgets​ assignment within Google ​Classroom. Being able to see when they completed the last activity, what their progress is, and how they responded, in a very visually engaging and easy-to-understand way, helps teachers be able to give feedback when it is critical. It’s also great to be able to visualize the progress of the class, to be able to provide additional instruction to the whole group or to have time to go and work with students on an individual basis. Check out these ideas for using BookWidgets with Google Classroom!

In addition to teaching Spanish, I also teach a ​STEAM course and if you didn’t know, ​B​ook​Widgets also has interactive ​STEM lessons available with 25 ideas to choose from​!​ You might want to check out the recent blog post on those 25 ready-to-use less​on​ ideas for ​STEM lessons​. T​​​here are so many and the key about them is that it helps students to work at their own pace ​and experience more active learning that becomes more meaningful for them and then of course will boost student engagement. Even if you don’t teach a specific course to ​STEM, you’ll find options for other courses that you can adapt to the course that you are teaching.

So if you are looking for some great back-to-school ideas for any classroom, head to BookWidgets and get started today. Check out the ready-to-use lesson ideas and many templates to choose from! And even better, sign up for one of their upcoming webinars! Join in and you might win BookWidgets for your entire school. At the end of the 1-hour webinar course, complete the survey and you’re in the running to win BookWidgets for 1 year for your entire school!

About the Author

Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She is the author of sevens books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World”, “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us,” “Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-person and Digital Instruction” and “Things I Wish [..] Knew.” All books are available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at https://anchor.fm/rdene915