Monday, April 29, 2019

Puzzling over the Best Way to Make and Use Crossword Puzzles

Looking for a FREE application.


Tools for Educators   This is easy to create. If unable to generate a crossword with the words provided you will get an error message. I had to make 2 adjustments before my puzzle would generate. I was able to print an answer key and student handout. I plan to use this site to create crossword puzzles, at least for now.   
Student Handout and Answer Key. The image below is of just the student handout.
This link will take you to just the student handout.


Share a Puzzle costs $5 per puzzle or  $12.00 a year or $24 for three years. After your purchase you can do the following:  I decided to give this one a try.
This link will take you to the sample puzzle I created.
You can also complete the puzzle online and embed in a website.

  • Create PDF files that you can print, save locally, email, host online, etc. An answer sheet page is optional.
  • Export graphic files of your puzzles for use in other software. Can include or exclude backgroud pictures. Export solutions too. Formats include PNG, JPG, SVG, TIFF, & BMP.
  • Create an interactive crossword puzzle and share links that lets other people solve on their computers, tablets or phones.
  • Put your interactive crossword puzzle in your web pages.
  • If you purchase a subscription, do the above for any number of puzzles. Subscriptions do not renew automatically (no surprise charges). Your saved and interactive puzzles will remain available after your subscription expires and renewal of your subscription can restore the benefits listed above.


Crossword Hobbyist is not free though it looks very good.

Puzzle Maker has some free options but the better features come with a price

Hot Potato is free but the export feature is clunky.

The Teacher's Corner. I was able to make a free crossword puzzle and generate a pdf document and an image file. I was able to increase the size of the image file.  The pdf image was too small. The result is pretty plain but workable. There are various paid options though I am not sure the resulting image is bigger.  

WordMint. I like the way you can see the puzzle take shape as you add clues and words.  There is a rearrange feature which allows you to see other configuration options. I like the size of the puzzle and you have font size options. You are able to print an answer key but you need to pay a one-time $17.99 to print student handouts if you have more than 5 clues.   Link to a 5 question crossword puzzle and answer key from WordMint

I plan to use these puzzles as a way to summarize the key points at the end of the training session.  My colleague Suzy used the phrase "Exit Ticket."
This activity will also work at the start of a new session to review content from a previous session.
My colleague Kathy used the crossword puzzle at the start of a face to face advanced data coaching session.  She said it worked great and participants liked the activity. They worked together in groups. Kathy suggested having participants try to answer the questions without resources for the 1st 5 minutes and then consult resources in areas of question. Do debrief, Kathy asked the group which questions they were most puzzled by and used these and her insight from listening to their conversations as content to review. She said the activity took longer than she anticipated, about 25 minutes. Her other feedback is that the numbers on the crossword puzzle are too light.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Reflection in Teaching and Learning

On March 8, 2019, I shared some information about Reflection in Teaching and Learning during a TLT FridayLive event. My goal was to share one way reflection can be used in a 60-90 minute learning event. I started by asking people to jot down words that come to mind when they think of reflection. I then opened a Polleverywhere slide and asked them to post these ideas. A word cloud was then created with people's responses. I debriefed that activity. Reflection is a form of practice involving these cognitive activities related to reflection: retrieval, elaboration and generation.  This is from the book "Make It Stick." I then shared an activity I use at the start and at the end of a training event. I ended by asking participants to share some examples of how they use reflection in their teaching.

Examples shared by the TLT participants during the session.  This was done via chat.
  • I often ask about take-aways myself — three for example.
  •  I share a padlet with my group of learners where they can add their posts
  • I have used it to ask about today’s session/class in one word
  • At end of training session- what have we learned today
  • I use Socrative at the end of the session as an exit question to jot down what they learned from the session
  • I would use it to ask at the beginning what they expect to learn today?
  • Face-to-face: provide opportunities for reflection in writing that is then shared in small groups, with each group sharing at least one response (not necessarily read by the person that wrote it). In online, asking students to synthesize responses to readings/materials/previous discussion by posts to a discussion forum.
  • I have used pollen as a pre/post quiz
  • Does anyone use a shared Google Doc for shared reflection writing?
  • Asking what they know and then at the end what they now know
  • Introduce students to Bloom’s Taxonomy and learning strategies by using reflection activities. Require them to post how they will use this information for the class, and have each student respond to two or three posts.

Recommended Readings from Steve Gilbert