HomeFree Technology for Teachers: Book Widgets

Free Technology for Teachers: Book Widgets

BookWidgets is a service for creating interactive online activities. It’s been on my radar for a while and I finally tried it last week. I wish I had tried it sooner.

BookWidgets lets you create interactive online activities for your students to complete on any device. One of the great things about it is that it offers over thirty types of questions that you can choose to include in your activities. In other words, you can develop a wide variety of questions and activities so that students will not get bored of answering the same type of questions over and over again.


Unique online activities
When I started creating the BookWidgets activity, the first thing I noticed was that there were some activity templates that I couldn’t find on any similar platform. Some of the notable ones include split whiteboards, split worksheets, and active plotting.

The Split Whiteboards template lets you create an activity in which students read text on one side of the screen and use freehand drawing and writing on the other side of the screen to answer questions. I can imagine many math teachers using this option. Active Plating Template is another one that math teachers will love. It lets you create a graphing activity that your students complete online. The obvious thing about this is that you can see their work in real time. Split worksheet templates, such as the split whiteboard template, show students text on one side of the screen and questions on the other.

There are many other interesting templates and widgets that you can use to create online activities for your students to complete through BookWidgets. There are templates for comparison before and after, templates for adding interactive markers to images, and templates for displaying animation and video frames.

My screenshot below shows you some of the many types of templates you can use to create online activities in BookWidgets.

See progress in real time!

The small camera icon next to the BookWidgets template title indicates that you can see your students’ progress in real time. The small checkbox icon identifies templates that can be used to create activities that can be automatically scored for you.

getting started

Like any good educational technology service, BookWidgets provides a comprehensive set of tutorials for first-time users. But as soon as I try a new service, I skip the tutorials and go straight to the activity. I suggest doing the same as I think the best way is to find out how a tool will really work for you.

When you first sign in to your BookWidgets account, you’ll be taken to your teacher’s dashboard. There you will see a Home button on the left side of the screen. In the same place you will also find a “My Widgets” box where you can click to create your first widget (I would call the widgets “Activity” if I was in charge of naming things). When you click “Create Widget” you will see a menu of more than 30 widget types including the above Split Whiteboard Widget and Split Worksheet Widget.

Once you have selected the type of widget, you are ready to start customizing it for your needs. This is how the process of customizing a widget begins, regardless of who you choose. You’ll give your widget a title, select a background image (optional), and then select your sharing settings. From there, your next step is to add content to your widget. If you are using one of the quizzes or other diagnostic widgets, you will write down your questions and create an answer key (if you want it to be scored automatically). If you are using a split whiteboard widget, you will enter text to point to your students. Take a look at my screenshot below to see the split whiteboard widget in action.

As you can see in my screenshot above, the Split Whiteboard widget includes the option to use video as part of the prompt that students respond to on the whiteboard.

Assign activities and monitor progress
Here are some ways you can distribute your BookWidget to students. The easiest way is to grab the unique link assigned to your widget and share it with your students where you usually share links. The second option is to import your Google Classroom roster and share your widgets as assignments in Google Classroom. It is also possible to connect with Microsoft Teams, Moodle, Schology, and Canvas. And if your students use a tablet or phone in your classroom, you’ll want to use the QR code option to share activities with them.

Students can complete BookWidget activities in a web browser on any device. When they have completed the activity, they will simply tap or click the envelope icon in the upper right corner of the screen to submit the assignment. Students do not need email addresses to complete BookWidget activities. Once they submit a complete activity, you can view your students ‘responses in your teachers’ dashboard by simply clicking on the “Grades and Reporting” option and then clicking on “Student Work” where you Can score by looking at individual work. You can also see a summary of submissions in the “Grades and Reporting” field.

As I mentioned above, it is possible that your students’ work continues before they submit it for your review. To do so, simply link your Google Classroom account and click “Live” in your Teacher’s Dashboard to see which of your students are working on an activity and how much they’ve done.

Options for each teacher
I might write a thousand words about the customization options available to teachers who create book widgets activities. Suffice it to say, there is something for everyone. You can format your text from left to right or from right to left. You can choose from sixteen language options or add custom translations. Pages can be formatted in landscape or portrait mode.

There are more than 30 types of questions and types of answers available for book widgets. In this blog post I have just scratched the surface of what is available. Other notable features include the ability to record audio answers to questions, interpret pictures and drawings as answers, take and upload image answers, and combine and configure question formats. Math and science teachers will be happy to know that BookWidgets also has the tools to compose questions with equations and create answers with equations.

And for more examples of using split worksheets and split whiteboards, take a look at this example called Kung Fu Grass Shoppers and it’s one of the online maze.

Disclosure: BookWidgets is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

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