Updates abound: New features for Flipgrid, Google Classroom, Formative and Kahoot!

Lots of teachers' favorite tech tools get summer upgrades. See what's new in 2017 with Flipgrid, Google Classroom, Formative and Kahoot!

This year is no exception. In fact, just yesterday (the day before I publish this post), Flipgrid threw a HUGE bash at their Minneapolis headquarters to release the all new Flipgrid and a slew of new features. It’s a good time to be in education, folks. Technology makes all sorts of meaningful, engaging education accessible […]

Teach with Kahoot!: Go beyond review with the Blind Kahoot

teach with kahoot

Teachers all over the world use Kahoot! for formative assessment and to review content with students. And why wouldn’t they? Kahoot! (getkahoot.com) is a fun gameshow-style assessment activity. There are tons of creative ways to review and assess with it. Kahoot! lets students answer questions with their own device. It has music and a leaderboard, […]

15 building blocks to a meaningful #ISTE17 (or any conference)

Craft your ISTE experience like you'd make a creation out of LEGOs. Here are some ideas for making it meaningful. (Icons via jon trillana via TheNounProject.com)

When you go to a conference — even for a single day — you’re investing hours of your life into the experience. And if that’s the case, it’s always best when you get a good return on the time investment. The ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference (iste.org/conference) takes place every summer. It’s […]

Remixing traditional lessons with tech: a framework you can use

Trying to "tech up" our old lessons may not have the impact we hope. But we can use traditional lessons to inspire new teaching. Here's a way. (Public domain image via Pixabay.com)

Many times, teachers try to bring technology into the classroom by “teching up” their old lessons. They hope that they’ll get big, lasting change from a little bit of tech fairy dust. Many times, it doesn’t change the overall learning experience much — and sometimes detracts from it. To really get the most out of […]

10 strategies for lightning-quick feedback students can REALLY use

Students crave feedback, but it has to be timely to matter. Here are some strategies for feedback students will WANT to read. (Wikimedia / Carla OLPC Wiki / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Using homework assignments to give feedback is pokey. Inefficient. Slow. Think about the length of the feedback loop for traditional homework assignments: Teacher assigns homework to students. Students take it home (maybe) and work on it (maybe). Students turn it in the next day. Teacher grades and provides comments that night (if not completely swamped […]

The Meaningful Tech Workshop

By Ditch That Textbook

Find this page at: DitchThatTextbook.com/tech

meaningful tech workshop image

Restaurants near Love Field (and the hotel): click here

Getting started

The Voice of the Active Learner: Education from a Digital Native’s Perspective (YouTube link)

voice active learner


Animation. This is a great hack (i.e. non-traditional use) of Google Slides that could take some time to complete but yield amazing results. Check out this video, where the creators made an impressive animation with 450 slides in a Google Slides presentation just by clicking through the slides quickly.

Interactive posters. Google Drawings are great for bringing images, text and shapes together. Those elements combine for a great digital poster. But these digital posters are way better than a regular one made of poster board. Various elements in the poster can be clicked, delivering webpages and other online content to viewers.

Make video. These tools will help students use their creativity to make and share good-looking video.

Photo comic strips. Take photos of students using a webcam and add them to a Google Drawing. Add speech bubbles to the photos. Then save those images and add each one to a different slide in a Google Slides presentation. Here’s a Google Site about Comics with Google Tools and Creativity Games for examples and more details.

Graphic organizers. Drawings gives users a blank canvas where they can add text, shapes, lines, etc. When done, they can save their work as image files or PDF files and can add those images to documents, slides and spreadsheets. It’s a perfect medium for creating graphic organizers. I’ve created 15 of them that can be copied, saved, changed, tweaked or completely redone to fit your needs and your students’ needs.


Shared presentations. Create a presentation with one slide per student and give students permission to edit it. Then assign an activity — some quick Internet research, a writing prompt, an image search to find an example, etc. When they’re done, show the presentation on a projector. It’s student work instantly on display.

For more fun, creative uses of Google Apps, go to:


Use free technology tools and engagement hooks from “Teach Like a PIRATE” to create exciting learning opportunities your students won’t want to miss!

Go to: DitchThatTextbook.com/pirate to get your copy of Matt’s free ebook, “The Digital PIRATE” and to see examples of several of the activities that YOU can use in your classroom.


Using social media is a great way to gather new ideas and connect with other educators like you. Using Twitter professionally as an educator has had the greatest impact on my teaching of anything in my career!

My Twitter for Teachers guide: DitchThatTextbook.com/twitter

Some social media resources to check out:


If we want students to practice new skills with homework, the feedback loop is pretty long … often two days or more from assigning to returning to students. Shorten the feedback loop with some of these great tools to assess your students. Plus, they’re a lot of fun! Go to: DitchThatTextbook.com/gameshow


The tools

Google Hangouts: hangouts.google.com
Skype: skype.com
Facetime (iPad, iPhone)

Mystery location calls

Finding video chat partners

Other resources


Maps and mapping tools can reach so many content areas and grade levels:

  • Distances and scale in math
  • Geography in social studies
  • Locations of settings of literature in English
  • Physical science (environment, weather, etc.)
  • Culture in world languages

These mapping tools can take students places the bus can’t. Go to: DitchThatTextbook.com/mapping


  1. Google Apps / G Suite (drive.google.com)
  2. Stackup (stackup.net)
  3. Formative (goformative.com)
  4. Remind (remind.com)
  5. Twitter (twitter.com)
  6. Skype (skype.com) and Google Hangouts (hangouts.google.com)
  7. Quizizz (quizizz.com), Kahoot! (getkahoot.com) and Quizlet Live (quizlet.com/live)


Let’s take some time to process what we’ve learned and thought about today. (video)


girls first ski jump


matt headshot (2)Click here to learn more about Matt. Click here to see Matt’s book, Ditch That Textbook, on Amazon.

Matt Miller is available to present at your school or event! He presents to thousands of teachers all around the United States on a wide variety of technology and innovative instruction topics. See his “Work With Matt” page for more details.

Ditch That Homework

Reducing reliance on homework by being more effective and efficient

Find this page: DitchThatTextbook.com/homework

ditch that homework header

1. Start here: Quick survey on your feelings about homework …


When you’re done, close the survey window and come back to this page.

2. Ditch That Homework book available on Amazon!


3. Central questions

Why do we give homework?

Is homework effective?

What would class look like if giving homework wasn’t an option?

How can we make that scenario actually happen?

4. Research

John Hattie: 10 myths about student achievement

Excerpts from the article:

John Hattie’s 15 year meta-analysis of over ¼ of a billion students worldwide has enabled him to identify what really aids student achievement. In an interview with Sarah Montague for BBC Radio 4, he dispels some popular myths about what does and doesn’t matter in your school.

4. HomeworkHomework has been found to have no effect on the progress of primary school children. To get it right without getting rid of it, children at primary level should be given less projects and more activities that reinforce what they learnt in the lesson that day instead. Whilst homework does make more of a difference to secondary schoolchildren, too much emphasis is placed on it; 5-10 minutes of practising what was taught that day at school has the same effect as 1-2 hours does.

5. Ditch That Textbook (using technology to remix “textbook” activities and practices)

Screencastify (record screen and webcam) — screencastify.com

Create eye-catching infographics with Google Drawings — drawings.google.com/create

6. Ditch That Red Pen (providing timely, useful feedback that students can really use)

Quizizz (game show-style review and formative assessment) — quizizz.com

7. Ditch That Resistance (communicating with parents to build mutual understanding and support)

Remind (send text message reminders to parents, students … anyone) — remind.com

Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.)

8. Ditch That Referral (building relationships with students that pay dividends for everyone)

Every kid needs a champion (Rita Pierson) via TED: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFnMTHhKdkw

“The most important thing I can do as a teacher is sit next to a kid.” — Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler)

9. Ditch That Lecture (getting kids connected to content and learning in new ways)

Ideas for giving choice in class:

  • Topic
  • Source for gathering information
  • How to demonstrate learning
  • Peer interaction (i.e. face to face, through comments, blogs, etc.)
  • Difficulty level

10. What do we do now?

PROGRESS. Make steps in the direction of your goals. Don’t expect everything to change immediately.

“We’re going to have to go through a middle phase before we go to no homework.” — Jon Corippo (@jcorippo)