Friday, September 30, 2016

When the technology enhances the learning

Today I had the privilege to visit two third grade classes in Eisenhower and demonstrate Storybird (this is one of my favorite digital storytelling tools- magnificent illustrations that never fail to spark the writer’s imagination).

But that’s not the point of this post.

It’s not that the kids loved Storybird (how do I know? They all wanted to know if they could do it at home and were delighted the answer was “Yes”).

What made today so exceptional?  Here are a few moments:

  • The beaming smile from a (former struggling) writer when the teacher sent him online feedback on his well-written pages.
  • The student, who after he read his story to us, said- “ I need to go back and make changes - there are some things that are not the way I want them.”
  • The student (who wanted to work at home) “because I already have 9 pages and I am working slowly to make sure it is just right.”
  • And finally, the group is one class realizing they could read each other’s stories in the online classroom library.  “Read mine, read mine!”

It was a very special day.

Putting Columns in Google Docs

Now there is a new formatting feature in Google Docs- you can add columns (without having to first create a table).  Select the text you would like to change, select Format from the menu bar and then select Columns. Here is a blog post from Alice Keeler with the details.

Peardeck (and foreign languages)

Here’s an engaging post from Peardeck on how to best use Peardeck in your foreign language classes.  From translating requests (students could respond with a number, text response or a drawing) to fill in the blanks- you will find step by step directions.  To start a Peardeck account, go to  Just be sure to use your school Google account to get all the benefits of our paid subscription.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Assignments come to BrainPOP!

(For my BrainPOP Jr. users- this feature has only rolled out in BrainPOP- while Moby has told me it will come to Jr, he did not have a date).

Now you can assign BrainPOP videos, quizzes, FYI, concept maps- and what makes it even better, you can assign to the entire class or to individual students.  Think how great this will be with the quiz feature- you can modify the quizzes and differentiate for your students!

For more information, please sign into your My BrainPOP account and visit the BrainPOP Educators section.  Use the search feature to find several Assignment resources.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Who knew snowflakes were the cause…

Of avalanches?  I had no idea that different types of snowflakes adhere in different ways- and that can make all the difference.  In a recent blog post from Richard Byrne Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments, he showcased  the wild weather site from Open University.  In these series of 4 brief videos, you can explore weather concepts and then demonstrate them in your own classroom. I think these would be great for all age levels. Her avalanche model was made of icing sugar and hot cocoa mix!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Election Comics

FREE Printables from .png

MakeBeliefsComix is a fun online comic creation (while you cannot save to work on in other session, the tools are so robust, your students will be able to finish in one class).  In a post last week from Richard Byrne, he shared the series of election templates.  There are a dozen to choose from (click here)- this might be the perfect addition to your election lesson plans.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Global Wrap is Back

"The Global Wrap features a weekly synopsis of the major news reports occurring throughout the world. Previous editions of the series are available in the Discovery Education News Content Collection, with the program starting its weekly run on Sept 7th."

This is a clip from Discovery Education- please remember to use The Global Wrap in your class.  There are two grade related sections. Remember, you can create short assessments for your students. For only a few minutes a week, you can improve out students understanding of our world.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Travel around the world

Learn Around the World offers a variety of free virtual field trips (check out their website for the Fall offerings).  All you need to is register and have your kids explore!  There are sessions (Jr.) geared to younger learners while the regular sessions for targeted to grades 5-8.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A place for Math
Math Landing is a collection of lessons and activities for elementary math educations.  This is a free site (yet you can make an account joining their groups and saving materials).

Friday, September 23, 2016

Images in Google Forms

Would pictures help your Google forms?  Now you can easily add images (with text if you like) to your forms. You will see the image icon to the right of each form choice.

Here are the directions from Google. Here is a post from Alice Keeler.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Self-Paced Review for Middle School

When I first read Richard Byrne’s blog post about PrepFactory, I’ll admit- I wasn’t too excited.  The last thing I was interested in was more test prep.  But then I signed onto the site and started to explore the resources.  I changed my mind- rather than test prep, I saw it as some self-guided learning opportunities in math, writing, and reading.  Each section includes text, video resources, and problems.  You could do it as a whole class, yet I think it might more effective as additional material for students.  Please read his post for more information.

Parents and Google Classroom

Google recently announced parent summaries in Google Classroom.  Here’s what parents/guardians will see:

  • Missing work—Work that’s late at the time the email was sent
  • Upcoming work—Work that’s due today and tomorrow (for daily emails) or work that’s due in the upcoming week (for weekly emails)
  • Class activity—Announcements, assignments, and questions recently posted by teachers
Parents only see their own student- and they do not see grades.  Parent accounts are linked to each student account- so once these accounts are linked, it will link in all classrooms.  Maybe we could get one group of educators (perhaps ELA?) to invite the parents and then they would have access to all classes. There is also the chance to add multiple contacts.

You can invite parents/guardians from the Student tab:
Students in August test.png

Due to security reasons, parents/guardians must have a Google account (it doesn’t have to be a gmail account).  Parents/guardians can use their existing email to create the Google account. Here is a detailed post from Alice Keeler for creating a Google account with a nongmail email address.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Storyboardthat Templates

Today in Kerry Fleschner’s class, the students created their Storyboardthat (SBT) accounts.  Kerry used one of the samples from the SBT teacher’s guide and shared it as a template to her students.

This acted as a “story starter” for the students and allowed them to create their own content (rather than start from scratch and develop the entire 5 celled framework/titles).  Special thanks to Jared for sharing his work.  I would love to work with your students- please keep me in mind. From Kerry's feedback, her students enjoyed SBT as well!

What's your (Adobe) spark?

What if you took Animoto and added a voiceover? You would have Adobe Spark!  

Meenu Kohli created this sample to use with her students.  It takes images and text and creates a slideshow where you can then add music and a voice over.  I’ve also included one I made (it is a commercial for upcoming DEN Ambassador sessions). In addition to videos, you can also create pages (and for older students, social media posts).  Students must be 13 to create their own accounts.  For younger students, teachers will need to set up accounts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Math and Google Slides

Ever think of math as a conversation?  How about using Google Slides to have your math students show and explain their thinking?  You will find some samples in Alice Keeler’s blog post here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ideas for Storyboardthat

This week I’ve been introducing Storyboardthat  to several classes.  The students have loved it (and since we are signing on via Google, life is easy for the teachers as well!).  This year we have more accounts in the district- and I would love to work with you and your students.

Richard Byrne recently hosted a webinar tutorial on Storyboardthat,  You can click here to see both the slides as well as the recording. He discussed several good options for storyboards (from graphic organizers for written assignments, timelines, greeting cards, and slides). Toward the end, he talks about adding rubrics to your storyboard assignment.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

New from Discovery Education- more Professional Learning!

I was cleaning out my email and found this one I saved from last month- but the news is current.  In fact, all of these topics were mentioned last Saturday when I attended the Day of Discovery in Baltimore.

From Discovery Education:

Discovery Education's new Professional Learning Center integrates the former Teacher Center and Professional Development sections. This unified space centralizes resources and provides support for all educators, whether getting started, looking for instructional strategies, participating in events, or connecting with the Discovery Education Community.

Continue your learning journey by logging in to Discovery Education, selecting the Professional Learning tab, and exploring this recommended content:

Learn & Lead - Make the most of your Discovery Education experience with self-paced interactive learning modules, step-by-step text and video guides, new teacher essentials, and ready-to-go resources for sharing Discovery Education with students and staff.

Strategies & Resources - Find ways to bring digital resources into your classroom with our research-based Spotlight on Strategies series, archive of virtual field trips, and timely lesson starters.

Events & Experiences - Attend online upcoming virtual field trips or back-to-school webinars and in-person community-driven events, like the Day of Discovery Tour.

Connect with DE - Build your own personal learning network with the Discovery Education Community and stay in the loop with the latest news on social media or our blog.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Reuse (don’t make a copy)

Want to recycle some of your documents from last year for this year’s class?  According to Alice Keeler, you don’t need to make a copy- just reuse a post.  Please see her blog post here.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Now Google Quizzes are even easier!

If you can make a Google form, you can now create a multiple choice quiz without using the add on Fubarool!  (Note- it can only be multiple choice, no short answers.)  You can change the point values, see data on responses, and add explanations to your answers. Here are step by step directions from Google.  I’ve also included a video from Matt Bergman. Richard Bryne compares the options here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Visit the LIbrary of Congress (all day Friday)

From Discovery Education- virtual field

Go Behind the Scenes with the Founders at the Library of Congress

At the center of the nation’s capital rests the world’s largest library. Inside, a treasure trove of historic artifacts dating back to the days of the Founding Fathers is waiting to be explored, along with other important items on more than 830 miles of shelves.
This Constitution Day, take your class on a virtual visit to the Library of Congress and witness how the American experience has been preserved for future generations. Discovery Education’s next virtual field trip, “Behind the Scenes with the Founders” kicks off on Friday, Sept. 16.

Meet the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, take a tour of the largest library in the world, and get a candid look into the minds that founded our country, learning facts such as:
  • What was George Washington really thinking about during the Constitutional Convention?
  • What were Alexander Hamilton’s parting sentiments to his wife, Eliza, before his fatal duel with Aaron Burr?
  • What did Thomas Jefferson try to cover up in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, and how did scientists at the Library of Congress uncover the truth?
Many recent findings regarding the lives of America’s Founding Fathers have been informed by technologies, helping scientists dig deeper into unique artifacts kept at the massive library.
“New technologies combined with these historic materials are providing insight and information into things we could never have imagined,” said Lee Ann Potter, Director of Educational Outreach at the Library of Congress.
This virtual field trip will be available to watch anytime, starting at 7 a.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 16. All you will need to view the event is a laptop or computer with an internet connection, speakers, and a means of projecting your screen to the classroom.
You can also join a live Twitter Chat with the Librarian of Congress Friday at 1 p.m. ET, using the hashtag #DEConstitutionDay2016.
The content in this virtual field trip will be appropriate for upper elementary, middle, and high school students.

It’s all about Thomas!

Thomas Edison, that is.  Visit Thomas A. Edison Innovation site for all things Edison- from a photo gallery to STEM links.

Creating a group slide project

In this blog post from Alice Keeler, she shares a template (and easy to follow directions) for you and your students to create a collaborative Google slide project.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Making your mark!

This weekend I attended a Day of Discovery event in Baltimore.  During the keynote, Lance mentioned the new collaboration projects- and there is one that would be perfect for the start of the school year (geared to grades K-6).  It’s called Make Your Mark,  While it ties in with International Dot Day (and the associated Peter Reynolds book).

It’s a chance to work with your students to determine how they will make their mark- what will they do this year.  There you will find step by step directions to guide you and in the end, your class can upload their digital art and pin your location on the map!

To find this great project, just sign into your Discovery Education account (remember,, select the Professional Learning tab, then Events and Experiences, and finally to Collaborative Projects.

Historical online library for kids!

Until I read Richard Byrne’s post about the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature- I had no idea “The 3 Little Kittens” had so many verses! Might be a nice addition to your classroom library and a chance for students to compare with today’s books!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Reading Comprehension Solutions

While on a webinar today, the presenter mentioned ReadWorks. This free site provides units, lessons, and leveled passages online and for free!  You can create your own account and begin to explore!  They also have a digital site (ReadWorks Digital).

Friday, September 9, 2016

Peardeck goes Student Paced!

If you loved Peardeck for sharing (and obtaining) information from your students, you might want to check out their new student-paced option.  Here is their blog post with all the details.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kahoot! goes (went) team

Using Kahoot while students are sharing devices?  You might want to try their team mode.  Please see the post here from Richard Byrne for a quick overview.  Just select the team option!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

One in a million! (so what does that look like?)

This is for all my science friends.  How do you explain ppm (parts per million) to your students?  Maybe this TED-Ed lesson will help them understand (my favorite was the time example- one second in 11 days!).

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Teach Your Monster to Read

I saw this site (and app) on Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers earlier this summer.  It is a reading game for the very young. Teach Your Monster to Read (at the start of the game you create your own little monster) starts with an adventure type game focused on sounds and letter.  I played the pc version and it worked well- I could see you using it on an interactive whiteboard as well ( I didn’t try the app). You create a teacher account and then add students. There is a teacher resource page with additional material.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Google Arts and Culture

This Google resource recently had a facelift.  Now  Google Arts and Culture is even easier to explore the site. Here is an example of your search choices:
Sōsaku hanga   Google Arts   Culture.png

Here's how Google sees their site:

Our new tools will help you discover works and artifacts, allowing you to immerse yourself in cultural experiences across art, history and wonders of the world—from more than a thousand museums across 70 countries:
• Search for anything, from shoes to all things gold
• Scroll through art by time—see how Van Gogh’s works went from gloomy to vivid
• Browse by color and learn about Monet’s 50 shades of gray

• Find a new fascinating story to discover every day. (today I saw the 11 objects that changed the world).

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Keeping the stream sorted!

One of the issues I have with Google Classroom is the stream.  While you can move things to the top, sometimes I feel students have a hard time locating information.  Recently Google Classroom introduced the Topic feature.  You can now  tag (label) each stream item to make things easier to find.  The topics appear on the left side on the Stream page (where the class code used to be- you can now find that on the Students page).  Here’s a post from Alice Keeler with the details as well  directions from Google.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Google Classroom for the new year

Here are a few tips to jumpstart your classroom from Jenn Jenkins- you will be back on track in no time! ( Loved her hint about adding classes in reverse order!)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The O.R.E.O. Project is back! (9/12-10/14)

Jen Wagner is hosting her annual O.R.E.O. project.  Yes, it does use the cookies in a stacking challenge  and includes a variety of opportunities.  Here is the registration form and the directions (the later is a Weebly site and may be blocked at school).  This is for grades PreK-6 and runs from September 12 to October 14.