Did anyone out there notice that TPT quietly rolled out an update to their Easel Activities? In today’s blog we are going to talk about what those 2 big changes are and how they MAY actually make Easel more useful to teachers now!
Before we get started, does anyone else out there feel like this is the longest May ever? By the time this video comes out, here in Las Vegas we’ll have about a week and a half of school left for the year and I just can’t wait!
Normally we go on a big trip to far away countries but this year we don’t have any major travel plans because... #covid... but we do have some big BIG life changes that we have planning for a while and are super excited about so I just want June to get here already!
I’ll let you guys know more as things become more real.
But for now, let’s go ahead and get back to Easel.
So I’ll be honest, after using TPT Easel for a few weeks now, I haven’t been completely sold on it. It’s just felt like ANOTHER platform for us to post activities on and realistically most of us already have a preferred platform or one we are told we must use by our districts.
Teaching kids a whole new way of accessing a document that is essentially a scanned copy of a paper worksheet hasn’t really seemed worth it to me.
As a seller, I HAVE been adapting my TPT products to be Easel accessible but I was not going out of my way to make products exclusively for it and I also wasn’t going out of my way to teach the kids how to use it.
As a teacher, the biggest gripe I’ve had with it so far is that it is super basic and has a very limited amount of features that other platforms already have. So it just hasn’t made too much sense for me to get the kids on it when they’re already familiar with accessing more interactive resources using Google Classroom.
I’ve been keeping an eye out on my sales to try to identify trends and just keep a general eye on what I could be doing better and so I started to look a little closer at my Easel Activities.
When Easel first came out, I noticed a huge shift in what was being sold and what wasn’t. All of a sudden, resources that hadn’t sold for months but I had recently adapted to Easel started selling.
And resources that were my best sellers didn’t sell at all anymore!
But now that Easel has been out for a few months, I’ve noticed yet another change. My sales are completely random right now.
It’s making it really hard to find a direction to go to with regards to the type of products that I make.
But since some Easel activities ARE still selling, I decided to jump back in there and see if I could figure out a way to use their platform and I was pleasantly surprised to find that TPT had made 2 big changes to Easel.
First, they allow us to use images now as movable objects instead of using just just their basic shapes!
This opens up a whole lot of possibilities to be a little more creative with the resources that we make.
What’s also really cool is that the images are considered secured since buyers can’t take the clipart you put in there and copy and paste it to their own resources.
I tried to do CTRL+C, I tried to right click and copy and I even tried to right click and save the image and I was unable to grab that clipart to use as my own using any of those ways.
The other thing that’s nice about this new update is that, unlike Google Slides, the kids can’t accidentally resize the images OR delete them.
I’m going to create a quick activity of how you could use this new feature with the draggable images.
This will be a super simple place value slash number representation activity.
I’ll create a new slide here and I’ll use the text box to write “Show 27 with place value blocks”
Now I’ll click on the image icon and select my place value blocks that I want to insert.
I’ll bring in the ones and I’m going to duplicate them a bunch of times. I’ll select it, press control + c to copy and control + v to paste it, then I’ll stack them on top of each other. I’ll select that whole new group and do that again a bunch of times until I have more than 10 ones in one stack.
I’ll do the same thing for the tens. So bring in the image, then copy and paste it, move them so that they are layered on top of each other, select the whole new group, and duplicate it again.
Last I’ll bring in the hundreds and thousands. I’ll speed up the video here so that you don’t have to watch me do it all over again but you’re basically doing it all over again. Bringing in the image, copying and pasting it, layering them, selecting the new group, and copying and pasting them again. Then just repeat that a bunch of times.
You’ll of course go in and make this much cuter and you can add in a background and all of that. This is just a quick example.
When you’re all done, you can assign it to your students the same way and they’ll be able to move the place value blocks to represent the number you are asking for.
I think this is a feature that makes Easel much more useful to us as teachers.
The second big update that was quietly released was the ability to see what students are doing on their assignments REAL TIME.
Now there’s a little bit of an asterisk with that REAL TIME claim because when I was trying it out, the teacher screen did not update on it’s own even though it would say “updated 1 minute ago”.
Instead, I had to click on refresh to see their updated screens. It’s not a huge deal but I did want you to be aware of that.
So to assign the activities, you can either send it to them through Google Classroom or you can send them a direct link.
If you send them a link, students WILL need to sign in using a GOOGLE ACCOUNT so they’ll need to know their email address and passwords.
Let me show you what that looks like.
Once you have your assignment ready to go, you’ll click on assign and review at the top.
Here is where you choose to assign through Google Classroom or through a direct link. I’m going to show you the direct link way.
You’ll give your class the link either by emailing it, sending it through the virtual meeting chat, or any other way you prefer.
When they click on it, they’ll be asked to sign in using their Google email address. (teacher tech files email)
They’ll then be asked to put in their name and the access code will automatically be typed in for them so they don’t have to change anything there.
After they type in their name, they’ll click on Enter and the activity will load up for them.
Now, as the students are working you can see what they are doing from the teacher side of it.
You’ll go to the same area where you assigned it by clicking on Assign and Review. Then, you will be able to see a list of your students here.
Simply click on the view button to pull up their specific assignment. Don’t forget that to truly get a current view, you have to refresh it at the top.
For me, it kept saying it was refreshed but the screen would not update. Not sure if that was just on my side or not but just click on refresh to be safe.
And that’s it. Those are the two major updates that Easel quietly released and I’d love to know what you think about them.
How much have you been using Easel Activities? Do you think these two features will make you want to use it even more or is the platform still missing some key features? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
And if you’re brand new to Easel or would just like to know more, I have created 2 more videos on it that I’ll link below. For now, remember to keep being kind to one another, and I’ll see you in my other videos!