Right about now, teachers like you are looking for quick and simple ways to incorporate some variety in your students’ online learning experiences. And you may be wondering how you can differentiate your favorite activities and make them interactive online — without spending a lot of your planning time toggling between various websites and tools. That’s where Easel by TpT™ can help.
Easel lets you easily customize activities for specific students, small groups, and classes, while taking the fun up a notch by making those activities interactive. These changes can help you increase student engagement in a distance learning environment by quickly livening up resources you already use — including resources from TpT, along with your own original PDFs* or activities created from scratch.
How to Find Easel Activities on TpT
Find Easel Activities on TpT by filtering your search for “Easel Activities” or keeping an eye out for the “Easel” badge when you’re selecting new resources. You’ll also see a link to Easel on the top right of the TpT homepage that lets you go straight to the Easel tools.
Alternately, when searching for new activities in general, look for the “Easel” label above the “Add to Cart” button in your search results to identify those that are already Easel-friendly.
Fun Ways to Change Up Your Distance Learning Lessons
Ready to give Easel a whirl? Take it for a test-drive by trying some of these tips for quick, easy ways to creatively enhance your online instruction.
1) Easily differentiate your resources — and make them interactive!
Working within Easel, you can make multiple interactive versions of activities from one resource to meet the needs of students working below, at, and above level. Create a unique version for each of these student groups by clicking “Create Easel Activity” on TpT.
Here are a few suggestions for customization and differentiation:
- Using the text tool, add “bonus” or “challenge” questions for students working above level.
- Highlight key words and phrases to make instructions clearer for all students, but particularly those working below level.
- Remove pages or use shapes to hide content that isn’t on level for a given group of students.
When you’re ready, you can easily assign activities via a custom link shared to specific students or groups — plus, students can complete and turn in their assignments on Easel from any device. This makes it quicker and easier for you to provide timely feedback.
2) Use the preview feature to present an engaging warm-up activity.
Working within the Preview tab in Easel, you can turn your screen into an online “whiteboard” that you can use to get your students to think on their feet.
One way to do this is by presenting a logic puzzle warm-up at the beginning of class. Here’s how:
Before class, start by writing a list of clues on a blank page within Easel. Then, insert a movable shape to cover the clues. Share your screen during a video class (with a conferencing tool like Zoom) and/or project it during in-person class. Then, reveal the clues one by one in “Preview” mode. Have students volunteer answers by raising their hands or typing into a video-conferencing chat box.
For example, let’s say you’re teaching grades K-2 and want students to use clues to identify an animal. Your logic puzzle might look like this:
- This animal has four legs.
- It lives in a den.
- It can be brown, black, or white.
- It hibernates in the winter.
- It is a bear!
3) Create virtual manipulatives using movable shapes.
Adding movable shapes to your resources lets students take a hands-on approach to learning. Consider these ideas based on grade range:
- An elementary student might identify circles, squares, and rectangles by moving the correct shape(s) into a box or column on the page.
- Middle school students might use different-colored shapes to design a room or space based on a STEAM assignment.
- High school students might move shapes to reveal answers during self-quizzing and practice exercises.
4) Encourage text mark-ups, questions, comments, and ideas.
Insert instructions on student readings to provide guidance for text annotations — and add answer boxes to give students a dedicated space to write comments or pose questions. In any subject area, encouraging students to annotate their class reading materials can help encourage more active learning and critical thinking!
For example, in elementary school science, you might insert instructions asking students to highlight their vocabulary words and underline evidence that supports their answer to a question. In middle and high school ELA, you might add answer boxes next to questions you insert throughout the reading, or ask students to highlight examples of metaphors.
5) Create a collaborative writing activity.
Start by using a blank page as a whiteboard. Then, during a live video class lesson, display a sentence-starter in Preview mode, and have someone volunteer a word or phrase to complete the sentence by raising their hand or typing their response in the chat box. Add their word or phrase to the whiteboard to complete the sentence, and then take and add additional suggestions in real time to collaboratively create a paragraph or page of student writing.
Want to extend the learning? Follow up by assigning the “final” paragraph or page to students and asking them to respond, revise, and/or add to it.
6) Add a social-emotional check-in at the end of an activity.
To wrap up an activity, add text asking students how they felt when completing the assignment. Depending on grade level and student needs, you might include different ways for them to respond.
For example, elementary students might move a shape to a box to indicate how they felt (e.g., green square = good, yellow circle = struggling, etc.). Secondary students might write how they felt during completion of the activity and note any lingering questions.
7) Implement virtual rewards.
Prepare an Easel Activity by hiding rewards behind shapes within your resource. Then, while delivering the lesson in Preview mode during class, give students the opportunity to select these virtual rewards as incentives for participating or providing correct answers.
For example, if Maisha raises her hand to respond to a question — or if she provides a correct answer — let her choose a movable shape you’ve created. Then, move it to reveal a reward (e.g., choosing the next class brain break activity).
How Are You Using Easel for Distance Learning?
We’d love to hear how you’re using Easel to get creative in distance or hybrid learning! Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook and tag #EaselByTpT to share your ideas. And stay tuned, as we may feature your Easel ideas on social media or on our blog!
Join the free webinar on March 10, 2021, at 6pm ET, to learn from Team TpT and Teacher-Authors about all the ways you can get started using Easel. The virtual demo will walk you through preparing and previewing custom digital activities, instructing with a “digital whiteboard,” assigning to your students, and reviewing student responses and providing feedback. There will also be a live Q&A following the demo. Register to attend.
Start creating interactive lessons, just how you want, with Easel by TpT.
If you have a TpT School Access subscription, get started with Easel here.
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