Friday, December 22, 2017

What a thank you note can do

This week I received a thoughtful hand written thank you note from a colleague- when I showed it to my daughter at home she read it and realized how good it made me feel.  Writing a letter is just one suggestion in this blog post titled “Encouraging a sense of gratitude in students” from Edutopia.  A great read for now and through the year.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Looking to the future

Use these lesson ideas from Storyboardthat to help your students set goals for the new year.  They are in the grade 6-8 range, yet I am sure you could modify them for younger students.  Please see their suggestions here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Got the winter blues?

Or just students and staff struggling to finish out the year?  Eric Curts (from
Control Alt Achieve) shared a variety of Google activities that will work now and
throughout the winter!  He puts it best:

To help out with that, I have put together six sample wintertime-themed activities that use
free Google tools including Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings. Some of these are projects
I have shared in the past, while others are new twists on previous posts, and others are
brand new. Hopefully some of these will be a good match for your students to keep
them busy AND learning as we head into the holidays.

You can access all of the directions, templates to copy, and examples at:

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Here in NJ, we had the first ‘real’ snowfall of the season over the weekend.  Are you students interested in snow?  Check out the videos Richard Byrne shared (on Free Technology for Teachers) here.

Monday, December 18, 2017

STEM Ideas for high school students from DE

From Discovery Education- more STEM ideas for the high school

Connect STEM Learning to Real Life Navy Careers
Discovery Education, in partnership with America's Navy, created standards-aligned digital lesson plans to help your students connect STEM concepts to exciting, real-life Navy careers. If your students are curious about how they can apply their learning to actual STEM careers like a Naval Aviator, Electronics Technician or Nuclear Propulsion Engineer, then our no-cost digital resources are perfect for your high school classroom!
Demystify the physics of flight, launch a design challenge to create a fire-fighting robot, and explore the science of diving through Boyle's law. Each lesson plan will open your students' eyes to the wide variety of STEM careers that power America's Navy.
Explore more High School Teaching Tools:

  • Play the Navy Proving Grounds interactive game as part of your classroom instruction
  • Watch the Navy STEM for the Classroom Virtual Field Trip on demand
  • Hear firsthand accounts of a day in the life of a Naval Officer

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Feed the Dingo

Sometimes timing is everything.  I’m currently taking an online SMARTBoard class.  With each lesson, I need to complete something in SMART notebook.  Since I didn’t want to make something for nothing, I reached out to one of my fifth grade friend and we decided I would make a SMART Notebook with food chain activities.

While I am working on that week’s assignment (adding a link to an object), this email from Richard Byrne appears)- Feed the Dingo is a free PBS game that challenges you to keep an Australian ecosystem alive for 12 days ( I didn’t do too well on the first tries!).  But it was the perfect link for my SMART Board lesson.  And it would be perfect for food web lessons for your class.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

It’s even easier to get things in your drive

With the Chrome extension Save to Drive, you can put things in your Google drive with just one click.  For all the details, please see Alice Keeler’s blog post here.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Enter Daily for STEM Lab for your school

Siemens is sponsoring a STEM contest.  Enter daily (between now and April 1) to give your school a chance to win.  Please see the details here.

Reading and Tech

In this straightforward post from Monica Burns, Cultivating a Love of Reading in the Digital Age, you will find easy ways to integrate tech in your reading environment.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Embedding in the NEW Google Sites

Up to this point, in the NEW Google Sites, all you could embed was a url (or web address)- now they have made changes to include almost anything (webpages, twitter, etc).  For complete directions, please see Alice Keeler’s post here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


This free tool (described by Richard Byrne in his post here) on Free Technology for Teachers) allows you to take text and reword it.  The first parargraph is from the second is what I got with Rewordify.  Notice there are some things a machine cannot do (Harbor and a safe place) but I think this would be a useful tool for some students.

Pearl Harbor is a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, and was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Just before 8 a.m. on that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base, where they managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight enormous battleships, and over 300 airplanes. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.

From Rewordify
Pearl Safe place (for boats) is a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, and was the scene of aterrible and destructive surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Just before 8 a.m. on that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes moved downward/originatedon the base, where they managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval ships, including eight huge fightships, and over 300 airplanes. More than 2,400 Americans died in theattack, including people not in the military, and another 1,000 people were wounded. The dayafter the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

SMARTBoard for the very young

Imagine a group of preschoolers actively participating in a SMARTBoard lesson. From
using clues to uncover the hidden object to sorting colors and shapes,
these students had a great time.  

Special thanks to Mrs. Kristine for inviting me to her class.

Do you know it?

I  know it is a free math review site (for grades K-5) that Maria Vella shared me.It might be something to explore!

Monday, December 11, 2017

So you want a YouTube video in a Google Doc?

Sean Fahey has it figured out- it takes a few clips and a few steps.  But it works.  Please see his post here and I’ve embedded the YouTube link as well. Looking for more suggestions? See this blog post from Eric Curts.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


I didn’t know this was the first acronym for STEM- something I learned reading this blog post from Discovery Education - 5 Resources Connecting STEM, the Arts, and the World.  As well as a brief history of the evolution of STEM, it include hands on suggestions for your classroom.  I was delighted to see Dr. Lodge McCammon’s paper slides highlighted.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Instead of showing movies…

At the end of the year (both calendar and school), sometimes you might need something to engage your students.  Instead of showing videos, check out the suggestions John Spenser makes in this blog post Ten Creative Alternatives to Showing Movies Before the Break .  From Genius Hours to Wonder Days- I’m sure you will find a spark for your students.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ditch That Textbook Summit- free PD this month

It’s called the Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit from Matt Miller. There are nine video presentations from awesome presenters on topics related to tech and solid teaching and learning. Get your free ticket at:

Last year I didn’t make all of them- but it was the place I really learned about HyperDocs.  I would look through the list and select the ones of interest to you.

HOW IT WORKS: New presentations are released every day from Dec. 15-23. They remain available until Dec. 31 so you can re-watch or catch up on any you’ve missed. They’re pre-recorded, so you can watch them whenever you want until Dec. 31. After that, the summit ends and the videos are unavailable to watch anymore.

FREE PD HOURS: You can get FREE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CREDITS for watching the videos. There’s a form to fill out after each presentation, and you’ll get an automatic PD certificate emailed to you.

FREE CHROMEBOOKS: They’re giving away two free Acer Chromebook 15’s, courtesy of Acer Education, the giveaway sponsor. Be sure to join the Chromebook Crash Course session on December 22 to enter the drawing.

Sign up for the digital summit at

The schedule looks like this:
December 15 (Fri) -- Combining Tech and Solid Teaching Effectively (Tanya Avrith and Holly Clark, authors of The Google Infused Classroom)
December 16 (Sat) -- The Science of Happiness (Kim Strobel, happiness coach and educational consultant)
December 17 (Sun) -- Brain-Friendly Learning that Works (Dr. Pooja Agarwal, cognitive scientists and educator)
December 18 (Mon) -- How in the Google Did You Do That? (Eric Curts, Google Certified Trainer and tech blogger)
December 19 (Tue) -- How to Learn from a World of Educators (Sarah Thomas, tech coordinator and uber-connected educator)
December 20 (Wed) -- Plan Smarter, Not Harder with Edu-Protocols (Jon Corippo, interim executive director of CUE)
December 21 (Thur) -- How to Make Learning a Game (Michael Matera, teacher and author of eXPlore Like a PIRATE)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Instead of Copy and Paste

Think of using the duplicate function (Control D).  In her blog post, Alice Keeler provides directions as well as practical suggestions for Google Drawing applications.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Join the holiday viewing party with DE!

You and your class can join other students to learn about the winter celebrations!  Here are the details:

Virtual Viewing Party: Holidays around the World

December 12 | 1:00PM ET

This season, #CelebrateWithDE and learn about the origins, significance, and traditions of some of the world’s most-beloved holidays! In this program, explore Hanukkah, the eight-day festival of lights observed in Judaism, Christmas, a secular and Christian holiday observed on December 25, Kwanzaa, a week-long holiday honoring African culture and values, and Lunar New Year, a 15-day festival celebrating the new year in the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

Click here to register and for more information!  You can participate in real time or watch the video later and still take part in the online activities.

Storyboard in Winter

Looking for seasonal ideas for Storyboardthat for your students?  Check out their Teacher Guide here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

One learner’s journey

Kathy Renfrew (as a guest blogger for Alice Keeler) shares her experiences as a lifelong learner (and late in life career changes) here in this post.  I could relate to parts of her story- after all I joined the teaching profession after 20+ years in another industry.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Prescription for your slides

Could your slides use a makeover?  This PearDeck post will introduce you to the Slide Doctor along with a slides makeover.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

EquatO for math on a device

In his blog post here, Richard Byrne outlines the features of EquatIO.  They are now offering a free subscription for teachers.

Please click here for their website to sign up for the product.  Then visit Richard’s site here to access the code to obtain the free account and view his video.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Pearl Harbor

Looking for resources on Pearl Harbor?  Check out this link from Discovery Education (complete with an SOS suggestion).

Friday, December 1, 2017

Grading suggestions for ELA

This post from Teach Thought has several suggestions for providing feedback on written work.  From using a spinner to select what is graded to having students diagnose the issue, there is something for everyone (and every grade level).  Please click here to read.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Be a better Google Searcher

That’s what you will be after you read Alice Keeler’s post.  She shares her top five favorites to help you be more productive.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Table Top Texting (and more!)

In this blog post from Discovery Education, see how Hugh McDonald uses this SOS strategie as well as some of his suggestions for classroom implementation.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

All you need to know to code!

TeachersFirst has gather a wealth of resources all related to coding in the classroom.  While some might be familiar, it is worth a look.  Please click here to see their resources.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Play with your shapes in Google Slides

Now you can enhance your shapes with a drop shadow or a reflection.  I added the purple shadow behind this image.  You can change the color, transparency, and angle.  Please check out the slide presentation by Mrs. Drasby here for her complete directions.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Everything you need to know about YouTube Playlists

Need to save something to your playlist?  Need help finding your playlist?  Check out Alice Keeler’s post here for the answer to all your questions.

Friday, November 24, 2017

#CelebrateWithDE – Cyber Monday

 From the latest Discovery Education Blog:

Happy Cyber Monday! On November 17, 2017, people everywhere will celebrate the special deals you can find online. While so many people are going online in search of goodies, we want to encourage our students to go online in search of the good: safe, accurate, secure, and – yes – fun and fascinating things. Use the selected resources below or the CyberMonday Digital Integration Kit (US subscribers only) to highlight cyber safety and security on Cyber Monday. Share your student work with us at #CelebrateWithDE.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Finding student work in Google Slides

Alice Keeler is always a source of great information.  In this blog post, she shares how you she can quickly find student slides in a collaborative process.  While I use the Control F key to find data in spreadsheets all the time, I hadn’t thought how I could use it in this context.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Now the images are back in the sidebar

When Google was first rolled out in the district, some folks might remember there was a search option that added photos to the sidebar.  A few version later, this was gone.  But now it is back.  Click (in docs, drawings or slides) on Insert- Images- and a drop-down menu will appear.  Select search, and the search bar will appear and your images down the side (please see my screenshot below).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Too early for snow?

Not in Mrs. Swierczek’s class.  On Veterans Day, her students used this SOS strategy to share their knowledge about the history of the day.  Check out all the SOS options in your Discovery Education account (Select Professional Learning and then Strategies and Resources.)

Digital Worksheet?

When I hear this I cringe!  Alice Keeler has posted several suggestions to improve your activities.

Monday, November 20, 2017

We are thankful

This morning I visited Mrs. Abrams’ class.  With her students’ original artwork, they shared how they are thankful using ChatterPIX- this is a great start to the holiday week.

All you need for Thanksgiving!

TeachersFirst has an exhaustive list of Thanksgiving resources.  While it is too early to cook the turkey, there is still time to find Thanksgiving ideas!

SOS- Eye Spy

Here’s a new SOS- I think you could use this in any grade and content.

SOS: Eye Spy

Woman with lens in front of eye

Eye Spy

PDF  and Video Versions
Visual literacy is the ability to interpret and make sense of visual information we encounter, including but not limited to information found in photographs, drawings and paintings. According to the article “Reading Images: An Introduction to Visual Literacy,” by Melissa Thibault and David Walbert, “The visually literate viewer looks at an image carefully, critically, and with an eye for the intentions of the image’s creator.”
In order to develop visual literacy skills, students need structured opportunities to revisit an image multiple times as they carefully analyze it, noticing details and nuances that help them understand the context of the picture. The Eye Spy strategy scaffolds students through a structured analysis of an image, helping them see details that they would otherwise miss.

Materials: digital image, projector, timer, paper, writing utensils
  1. Introduce this strategy to your students by explaining that they will be looking closely at an image for several short periods of time. Set the ground rules by explaining that you will give them specific things to look for, and that when the timer goes off they will be asked to write down what they’ve seen.
  2. For the first viewing, set the timer for 10 seconds and reveal the picture.
  3. Ask students to look for what the picture is about or what is happening in the picture.
  4. When the timer goes off, cover the image and have them quickly jot down their thoughts and observations.
  5. Have students quickly pair and share. Circulate through the room to encourage discussion.
  6. Move on to the second viewing. Set the timer for 15 seconds and show the image again. This time ask students to look for more details in the image, such as:
    • Who are the different people in the picture and what are their roles?
    • What are they doing?
    • What event is taking place?
  7. When the timer goes off, cover the image and have students quickly jot down their thoughts and observations.
  8. Have students gather into groups of four and quickly share.
  9. Move on to the third viewing. Set the timer for 30 seconds and show the image again. This time ask students to look for even more details. Prompt students with questions such as:
    • What is the setting?
    • What else do you see in the frame other than the focal point of the image?
  10. When the timer goes off, cover the image and have students add to the notes they’ve already taken. Encourage small groups to debrief what they’ve added.
  11. Move on to the last viewing. Set the timer for 45 seconds and show the image again. This time, ask students to look for evidence that helps them make inferences about what they see in the picture. Scaffold students by asking questions such as:
    • Why do you think the photographer took the picture?
    • What do you think is the story behind this picture?
    • What meaning did the photo have at the time it was taken?
    • Has that meaning changed for today’s audience?
  12. Wrap up the exercise by asking students to discuss their ideas with the whole group. Be sure to have them justify their insights by using a sentence frame such as: “I think ……… because……….”

This strategy promotes the use of a carefully scaffolded process that helps students notice the details, foreground, and background of an image, as well as taking in the action, characters, and point of view of the image’s creator. Multiple viewings with specific things to look for will help students learn to view images with an analytical eye.
Extend this strategy by combining it with SOS Get Venn-y With It (CDN Version). Have students use the structure of this strategy to compare two similar images.