App of the Week: Haiku Deck

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In this weekly blog, our own Emily Jeanes gives readers the lowdown on web apps that educators can use inside Haiku Learning. Emily is the very first Haiku Learning Sales Engineer. Edtech ninja, sci-fi writer, and proud transfer from our award-winning Client Services team, she brings with her a passion for researching, playing with and integrating awesome educational tools into Haiku Learning. Like Haiku Learning, she likes to think she plays well with others.

What is Haiku Deck?

From their site: Haiku Deck helps you make "presentations that inspire. Meet Haiku Deck, a completely new kind of presentation software. We make telling your story simple, beautiful, and fun."

In Haiku Learning: Use Embed the Web to embed a Haiku Deck for any presentation, then hit play to scroll automatically through your beautifully-crafted deck, or use the arrow keys to move from slide to slide. Haiku Deck is responsive, SSL, and looks like it was made to fit inside a content block.

Haiku Deck embedded in Haiku Learning
Here's what Haiku Deck looks like embedded into a Haiku Learning content block. Perfect fit.

How do I get the embed code?

When viewing any Haiku Deck through the web application, hover over the little + sign icon to reveal additional sharing options, on the left hand side. This should present an Embed <> option. Copy/paste the code into a new Embed the Web content block, and you should be all set!

Haiku Deck embed code
Getting an embed code from Haiku Deck.

Why should I try it?

At every conference I've been to representing Haiku Learning (every one!) we've had some super-excited folks come up to our booth, all ready to talk some mad love about how much they adore Haiku Deck. And we always say, "We love Haiku Deck, too! Did you know you can embed it into Haiku Learning?" For a moment, they're a little sad when they realize they're at the wrong booth...but then they get excited when they see how cool we work together. It's like we were meant for each other, Haiku Learning and Haiku Deck. And hey, we're always happy to be associated with such a wonderful tool.

Ditch the PowerPoint, I say! Haiku Deck is a presentation tool, yes. And there are lots of alternatives out there, yes. But Haiku Deck stands apart (to me, at least) for its focus on clean design. The awesome readily available themes created by the Haiku Deck team combine with some modern and streamlined slide Types and Layouts to simplify the "good design" part of creating your deck, letting you focus on your content.

Customize your colors. Customize your fonts. Add charts, search for images, or upload your own. But really, they help you stick to just a few items on any specific slide (one image, perhaps, with a title...or a background image with one text box pulling the focus of the slide). Add your talking points in the background. And that's it. Well, of course, then you embed it into Haiku Learning, and you'll see why we think Haiku Deck is pretty awesome!

Be sure to check out their gallery of featured and popular Haiku Decks for some great examples and this video for an introduction to Haiku Deck.

Until next time, embed ALL the things!

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Question of the Week: What Are Some Tips for Organizing Content Blocks?

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Getting — and staying — organized is one of the biggest classroom management challenges for many educators. And just as students have unique needs, teachers have unique teaching styles, and schools have unique learning goals.

With the new school year around the corner, we'll spend this month providing tips on all the great ways you can organize content in Haiku Learning to help maximize learning, increase efficiency, and get your year started off on the right foot!

5 tips for organizing and using content blocks

Pages are the heart and soul of Haiku Learning. It’s where you course really lives! Sure there are other tabs like “Connect” and “Assess” are great for keeping running lists of items like Assessments when you need that at-a-glance view, but learning happens in Pages. Pages provide your students with a highly visible, engaging, integrated learning experiences.

And what makes Pages come alive? Content blocks! From text to videos, from Google Drive docs to apps from the Embed the Web library, from Assessments to Discussions...you have an array of content blocks to integrate and truly differentiate your instruction.

Teachers, especially those newer to Haiku Learning, are always asking us for things like tips and best practices when it comes to setting up their classes. So, here are five tips that we've learned from our customers over the years when it comes to organizing content blocks — well, here's Part 1 at least because we have so many tips to offer!

Beginnings: content blocks that provide purpose

If you create weekly lesson plans, you’re probably putting the learning objectives and/or state standards that you’re covering somewhere at the top of those plans. You may also start each class with some brief intro into what you’ll be covering that day and why.

Turn that important information - the information that gives students a sense of purpose — into content blocks at the top of a page for that lesson or day, depending on how you organize your pages.

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TIP 1: State Standards: At the top of each page, include an On Page Text content block with a hyperlink to the state standards you're covering for that day or lesson. Some teachers preface these with the acronym SWBAT aka "Students Will Be Able To" (see screenshot below).


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TIP 2: The Big Idea: Related to above, some teachers include a text block called “The Big Idea” to provide some real world context. “So, my big idea usually relates to life. How are we going to relate this to life? Where is it going to be purposeful?” April Anastacio, Special Ed teacher, West Morris Regional High School District, NJ


In both cases above, you’re giving:

  • students a sense of purpose to their learning (especially helpful if they were absent);
  • administrators proof — and assurance — that you’re covering the standards; and
  • parents insight into what their students are learning and why.

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Here's a content block at the top named "Objectives 9/19." It includes the reading standards covered with a hyperlink to the exact standard.

Endings: handling homework efficiently

We all know students need to be told things multiple times in multiple ways to remember them. It’s especially important when it comes to homework!

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TIP 3: “Homework” Assignment blocks: On the same page as the work for that day’s lesson, create an Assignment content block using the Connect & Assess tab in the Add Content Block menu. Title it “Homework” and include the date. Be consistent about placement, so students always know where to find this block, like in the top right corner of the page (see screenshot below).


Why an Assignment content block as opposed to just an On Page Text block? As we said before, students need to be told things multiple times and reminded of things to really remember them.

When you create an Assignment content block, it “automatically” lives in three places for students to find it.

  • On the page you put it on, surrounded by related classwork. This is helpful to students because it’s contextually placed alongside the work to which it corresponds. It’s also easier and more convenient for students to make connections between what was learned in class and what they have to do on their own at home.
  • In the Dropbox, where students turn in Assignments.
  • On the Assignments page, which keeps a running list of all the Assignments for the class.

Homework content block on a Page
Here's a "Homework" assignment content block in the top right. Note the link to the Dropbox where they turn in work.

Homework shows up in the Dropbox
Here's that Homework 6/1 assignment in the Dropbox under the Connect tab.

Homework shows up in Assignments in the Assessments tab
Here's that Homework 6/1 assignment under Assignments in the Assess tab.

In between opening and closing: other "Connect & Assess" content blocks

In addition to Assignments, there are other “Connect & Assess” content blocks including Assessments, Activities, Polls, WikiProjects, and Discussions. Rather than other content blocks that simply provide students with information, these typically require students to do or interact with something.

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TIP 4:Like Homework/Assignments, when you want to add an Assessment, Activity, Poll, WikiProject, and/or Discussion, create it as a content block on a page where it's relevant. These "deliverables" will also show up automatically on the Connect or Assess tab for students who find it helpful to see an isolated list of each activity type.


Think about it. How convenient is it for a student, who has to take a quiz on sentence fragments, to have that quiz live on a page with practice exercises, examples, and notes on sentence fragments? And if they’ve been absent, they can go to the Assess tab and see a running list of other quizzes they have to make up.

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Here's a quiz on the 1960s in the bottom right, surrounded by notes, a video, images, an activity, and flashcards to help review and contextualize the learning.

Make it pop! Use visual cues to get their attention

Let’s be honest. Students have a tendency to skim things and “overlook” reading directions. But they are pretty visual, and Haiku Learning is the perfect platform for visual learners.

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TIP 5: If you really want to call attention to a content block, for example, one that has a practice quiz, use Badges to create “symbols” to grab students’ attention. See the Tip icons in this blog? Those are customized versions of Haiku Learning Badges! Really, you can embed any image you want, but our badges are super easy to customize. BTW, textbooks have been doing this for years — using icons to signify a regular feature so students instantly recognize it.

How do you do it? In the Detail box in any content block, there’s a full toolbar with editing and formatting symbols, including the option to add an image. Easy peasy. Need help creating the badges? That's easy too! Here's a Knowledgebase article for you!

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Here are a few badges-turned-icons we created in our "Haiku Learning How To" class for teachers! Feel free to borrow, and keep checking, as we may add more!

Hope you found all this helpful! Next week, we’ll discuss how to instill some time-management skills with your students using content blocks like the Mini Calendar, Announcements, and Upcoming Activities.

For Haiku Learning customers: Do you have any of your own tips for how to best use content blocks? Share what works for you in the Community Forum!

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EdTech Weekly News Roundup - August 23, 2015

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Being an educator means you probably have very little time to read the news during the week. Here are some interesting edtech articles from this past week that you might find useful.

"Over 35 Formative Assessment Tools To Enhance Formative Learning Opportunities, Part 1” — Tech & Learning

Formative assessment — we’ve got plenty of options in Haiku Learning from Polls for a quick one-question checkins, to Discussions for more breadth and depth, to something more traditional like our Assessments tool using options for “practice” and multiple retakes. In this particular article, which is part of a series, nine different categories of formative assessment tools are covered. Up first? Video tools for formative learning. And hey — one of these — Edpuzzle — is already in our Embed the Web library! If the others have an embed code, they can always be embedded as well!

"8 little-known video resources popular with teachers” — eSchoolNews

Curated by OpenEd, creator of an online library of free and open K-12 resources, these eight “lesser known” video publishers have content that’s actually quite popular and assigned often by teachers. Learn about these publishers and see why other teachers find the content so valuable!

"Five Critical Skills to Empower Students in the Digital Age” — MindShift/KQED

The first week of school can sometimes set the tone for the rest of the year. A former teacher turned lecturer/author/consultant offers up several skills that are important for educators to instill in students during those crucial first five days of school. This was part of a presentation from ISTE 2015 in Philly.

"12 Tested and Trusted Classroom Management Tools” — Graphite by Common Sense

Perfect for the beginning of the school year, these classroom management apps and websites cover the following categories: boost student participation; track and manage behavior; monitor noise levels; keep kids on task; encourage collaboration; and organize workflow.

"3 Ways Schools Can Fund Education Technology” — Edudemic

If you’re not a part of the 39% of schools that have wireless internet available throughout the school building, you may find the tips in this article helpful.

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Question of the Week: What Are Some Best Practices for Using Page Layouts in Haiku Learning?

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Getting — and staying — organized is one of the biggest classroom management challenges for many educators. And just as students have unique needs, teachers have unique teaching styles, and schools have unique learning goals.

With the new school year around the corner, we'll spend this month providing tips on all the great ways you can organize content in Haiku Learning to help maximize learning, increase efficiency, and get your year started off on the right foot!

Different options for page layouts in Haiku Learning

In Haiku Learning, you can use our Page Layout tool to help organize and prioritize your content blocks on each page.

What, you thought those layouts were purely for aesthetics?

Well, for some people they are! However, there are some pedagogical advantages behind each type. With a new school year upon many of you, we thought we'd share what we've learned from teachers using our platform.

Just remember this: There's no one "right" way to use Page Layout. The suggestions below are simply based on trends we’ve seen across our users and we thought, "Why keep them to ourselves?"

One Column

This may be a good choice if you're...

  • newer to blended learning. This layout is the simplest and doesn’t commit you to thinking about how different columns may work better for different types of information and interactions. Plus, if you know that at the very least you want to post notes and homework online, which is the starting point for many teachers, you can always put notes in one content block and homework right underneath it in another. Simple.
  • a little bit wordy. We’re speaking to you English teachers! Just kidding. If you provide students with a lot of notes or other reading materials, this layout gives them more space to read without having to constantly scroll or moving their eyes back and forth across more narrow columns.
  • teaching younger students. This format is especially popular with younger students due to its linear feel: Top block, then next, next, next. There are fewer distractions for them.

A single column layout in Haiku Learning

Even Two

This may be a good choice if you're...

  • newer to blended learning. Maybe you’re just starting out, but at the very least you know you’re going to post notes and homework online. Put notes on one side and homework on the other. It also helps if you’re fairly concise when it comes to text, so it makes for easier reading in these columns. If you’re especially verbose, then see the single-column format above.
  • teaching in a flipped learning classroom. Put homework (like video lectures) on one side, in-class work on the other. This way, the homework, which preps for the next day’s class, is side-by-side with what they’re doing the next day. Plus it’s easier for students to draw connections between the two and go back and forth if they need to review.
  • teaching classes with mixed levels of students. Some special ed teachers like this layout. For example, maybe everyone in the class has to do the work in one column, but only some students have to do the work in both columns. This is a non-obtrusive way to reach both levels of students without having to call attention to those different levels all the time.
  • a savvy blended learning teacher. If you have a decent amount of content and interactions online, you might like the idea of having equally important content blocks next to each other, like an embedded YouTube video next to a Discussion about the video. Or a reading in one column, with the follow up questions next to it (see screenshot below).

An even-two column layout in Haiku Learning

Wide Right or Traditional Two

This may be a good choice if you're...

  • a savvy blended learning teacher, especially in a 1:1 classroom. If you’re all in with blended learning and everyone’s got devices, so there’s lots of interacting online, inside and outside of school, you may want to distinguish between regular updates like announcements and homework to "meatier" content blocks like WikiProjects and Discussions. Put simply, wider column = bigger, more important stuff, like embedded videos, notes, WikiProjects, Discussions, Activities, etc. Narrow column = shorter and more regular updates, like announcements, reminders, and homework.

A wide-right layout in Haiku Learning

Three Column

This may be a good choice if you're...

  • using it for non-traditional purposes outside the classroom. This type of layout is better used for providing concise bits of information and links, information that is less about "deeper learning" and more about posting updates. For example, administrators may use this layout to post updates and reminders to their staff (see screenshot below from Massapequa High School in NY).
  • a teacher who just wants a resource page to provide lots of links to external or downloadable resources on a particular topic. For example, maybe there's a big research project that has its own separate page in your class and you just want to post all available resources and reminders.

A three-column layout in Haiku Learning

Again, there is no one "right" way to do use Page Layout. Just think a little bit about what you teach, how you teach, and who you're teaching, and you'll be sending us best practices for the Page Layout!

BTW, if you're really new to Haiku Learning and are thinking "How do I use Page Layout?", it's found under Manage Page near the top right corner of every page.

For Haiku Learning customers: Do you have any of your own tips for how to best use Page Layout in Haiku Learning? Share what works for you in the Community Forum!

Be sure to subscribe to the Haiku Learning blog to keep up with other news and stories like this from Haiku Learning.

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EdTech Weekly News Roundup - August 14, 2015

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Being an educator means you probably have very little time to read the news during the week. Here are some interesting edtech articles from this past week that you might find useful.

"10 Free Apps and Tools for Starting Out (and Staying) Organized” — Edutopia

Most teachers start off a new school year with high hopes for being a little more organized than they were in the past. This list may give you some ideas of new apps or tools to try, ranging from Google Docs to Pocket. Haiku Learning has an incredibly seamless integration with Google Drive, so we highly recommend Google Docs as a way to keep and stay organized. Just read this post to learn a little bit more about how one school streamlined 21st century learning using their Google Apps for Education integration.

"How Teens Move From Innovative K-12 to College” — US News & World Report

What happens when students from highly innovative K-12 schools end up at more traditional higher ed institutions? This article examines some of the struggles those students face, as well as some of the advantages they have in the long-term.

"What Does It Mean to Have Your Whole Middle-School Curriculum Designed Around Games?” — Hechinger Report

This article focuses on a NYC middle school and how they’ve infused gaming into the curriculum. When justifying this move, one teacher explains "At the core of gaming is the concept of a challenge, and a player’s journey to meet it.” Sound familiar? Read to learn how they do it and even get some audio of a class trip to a local amusement park.

"Teaching the Emoji Generation: 12+ Activities & Resources” — Tech & Learning

Characterizing this generation of students as having "a universal language filled with nonverbal cues, fun, emotion, and culture”, Shelly Terrell provides a host of resources such as activities, icebreakers, and apps for motivating students to read and write using emojis.

"3 Key Trends in AV Technology for Schools” — THE Journal

There are lots of articles about devices like iPads and Chromebooks. But what about the other technology used in the classroom like projectors and displays? Here are some examples of other types of technologies that support more active and collaborative learning. Also included are tips to buying this type of technology.

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