Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Thursday, December 11, 2014

AudioBoom EduWin with Debbie Arrieta, Cindy Loper, Susan Raser, and Todd Sinclair

With AudioBoom you can record, upload and playback audio recordings. I love AudioBoom because it is a multiple platform tool. You can record through its website on a Mac or Chromebook, or you can use an iOS iPad or iPhone, or an Android tablet or phone. Your recordings can then be accessed when you sign into your account, regardless of the device.

Another reason I love AudioBoom is how easy it is to share. Each recording generates a URL, a QR code, and an embed code so you can add it to your website.

Recording files can include a photo, which can be uploaded or the app allows you to take a photo to add to the audio file.

Over the past few weeks, I've seen the AudioBoom iPad app used in Debbie Arrieta's Kindergarten class. Her students recorded a few sentences about themselves on an iPad and then Debbie helped the student take a photo of their drawing using the camera on the iPad. Debbie printed out a small QR code, cut it out, and glued it to pictures the students had made of themselves. She plans to include the picture in their memory books so parents will not only have an art project memory, but will also be able to listen to their student's voice when he/she was 5 years old.

Susan Raser used AudioBoom as part of the Cultural Doll unit. Susan had taken photos of the students' Cultural Doll projects ahead of time. Her class used Susan's MacBook and the AudioBoom website to record a description of their doll and a little bit about what they had learned about their cultural heritage while doing the project. Susan easily uploaded the photo from her iPhoto file to complete the AudioBoom file. Susan created a Playlist and added all the Cultural Doll audio files to the Playlist. She created a webpage and then added the embed code from the Playlist. You can see her page at You'll have to listen really carefully. A lesson learned is that students will have to speak up really loudly, and that using an external mic may work better.

Todd Sinclair has his students producing a weekly podcast update with AudioBoom. Listen to it here.

Last year, I used AudioBoom a lot. For example, while reading the story "Across the Wide Dark Sea," students wrote the diary of a passenger on the boat. They then recorded their writing and added a picture. Third grade students became so familiar with how to use AudioBoom on the iPad, all I had to do was sign in for them. You can listen to one of them here or you can use a bar code reader or a QR scanner. Just point it at the QR code, and you will be taken to the URL where you can listen to the recording.

While on a field trip, I passed the iPad around and had students record something they learned or found surprising. Back in class, I printed a large QR code and put it in the window. Parents used their smartphones to scan the code. It took them right to the audio recording and had something to listen to while they waited for their students.

How about an audio Holiday greeting? As some of you may know, Cindy Loper is an amazing glass artist. She has brought this passion to her classroom with a holiday ornament. On the reverse side, she has fused the QR code so families will have a lasting memory of their student's holiday greeting.  You can have the students create a card, or poem, record it, and add the QR code to their work.

Here is a short video on how to get started:

This will probably be the last blog post of 2014. I have seen so many wonderful things happening in classrooms as teachers begin to integrate technology into their curriculum, and students become more confident in their skills.

I feel honored to have been able to watch the transformation, and to be working with such an amazing group of dedicated and forward-thinking teachers. I can't wait to see what 2015 will bring.
Best wishes to you and your families for a healthy and happy holiday season.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Next Week: The Hour of Code/EduWin for Regina Smith/EdCamp SJ

Don't miss having your students spend a fun hour learning the basics of coding next week. It is super easy to sign up and you don't need to know the first thing about coding or programming to get your kids involved. Just this week, I was in Regina Smith's Third Grade class at Oster, helping her to enroll her students.

Regina had gone to , clicked the Teacher Sign Up button and then signed up using her Google Account, using her email address. By signing up, her class was added to the list of over 33,500 events, and Oster was put on the map!

Here, I've signed up for a class just to show you how easy it is.

When you get to the Teacher Home Page, choose Student Accounts and Progress. It's the choice in the upper left-hand corner.

Name your class, choose to have your students use an email to log in. Don't worry, elementary school teachers, what they are looking for is the format. Since your students already know their Google account log-ins, it'll be easy for them to remember.

Choose your grade, and pick the course. I chose "Hour of Code" because it starts off fairly easy and takes students through a number of progressively more difficult lessons. It is a great differentiating activity.

Once you do press Save, you'll get a Section Code. Your students will use this code to sign into your class.

Your students will also start at the webpage, but they will choose Student Sign Up. They will be required to enter a name, e-mail address, password, and age. I created a student with only my daughter's first name and a fake e-mail address and was successful in creating an account.

Once signed up, your students click Sign Up, and are taken to the Welcome page, they will need to scroll to the bottom of the page to Add a Teacher. Here, they will add the Section Code for your class. As students click on Add teacher, you'll see the number students increase. Students will then be able to start the activities, and you'll be able to watch their progress.

UPDATE for USD teachers: Trent has added it and it makes it really easy for your students to sign in. When the students click on Hour of Code, their name and Google account name will automatically populate. Students will need to enter an age to sign up. That will take them to the Hour of Code. They will still need to scroll down to "Add a teacher."

Next time they go to Hour of Code from the Symbaloo page, it will automatically sign them in and take them to the page where they can get started! Couldn't get much easier than that!

Thank you, Kathy, for suggesting it, and Trent, for putting it all in place.

Regina's class just dug right in, even before we were able to walk them through the directions. In fact, when one boy was having difficulty getting started, we just asked for a volunteer to explain what to do and 3/4s of the hands went up.

Here's a video you might like to show your students to help them understand what to do:

While the event is called "Hour of Code," students can sign in whenever and from wherever they like, and there are other activities they can try.

We hope you'll give Hour of Code a try. We can see by the map that someone from most of our schools has signed up. If you are one of those teachers, let us know. We'll throw everyone's name into a hat and choose one for a (small) appreciation prize.

If you'd like to have more information about The Hour of Code, you can find it here.

EdCamp SJ

Ever go to a Professional Development Conference and wish you had more control over the sessions offered? If so. EdCamp is for you.

EdCamps started about three years ago, and have been spreading all over the world. It is a free event where teachers suggest topics they'd like to talk about and learn more about. The event organizers then group topics together and create an agenda. The sessions are assigned a room and time, and the participants are off. 

When you enter the room, there is no presenter, just a bunch of "like-minded" and "like-interested" educators willing to contribute to rich conversation, or just listen and learn.

EdCamp is coming to San Jose, and will be hosted at Union Middle School on April 25th. While April might seem like a long way off, people are already signing up, so you might want to check your calendar and consider reserving your spot on EventBrite.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Word Clouds/EduWin from Kaitlin Klein

I love word clouds. They can be a beautiful representation of text, highlighting the words and concepts that are most important.

There are lots of ways to use word clouds in a classroom. Here are a few I thought of:
  • Students can create word clouds of different passages from related books, and then compare and contrast the texts.
  • Teachers can create a word cloud of an upcoming topic. Then use the word cloud to identify key vocabulary and concepts. Teachers can review the unfamiliar words and   students can anticipate the key concepts.
  • Students can create a word cloud before summarizing text, to help them identify the most important points.
  • Word clouds can help students analyze important historical texts or news articles to see what author felt was most important.
  • Teachers can collect words or impressions on any topic in a Google Form, and then copy and paste the text into a word cloud. I would do this after every field trip to see what most impressed students, to find out what their “take aways” were.
  • Word clouds can also provide a powerful way for students to analyze their own writing. Pop the text into a word cloud, and students will get a visual representation of which words are used and overused in their writing. With this information, they can revise writing to use richer vocabulary.

Wordle and Tagxedo are the two word clouds teachers are most familiar with. Both have their advantages. Wordle is easy to use. With Tagxedo, you can have your words make a shape, and then, when you mouse over a word, it pops out of the word cloud. But both of them require you to download and install applications on your computer. Wordle requires Java, and Tagxedo requires Microsoft Silverlight. Both work on Safari and Firefox, but neither work on Chrome. That makes either of those more teacher tools than student tools.

Google Docs now has an Add-on available that students can easily use to analyze their own writing. It will need to be added to Google Docs, but once it is, it is easy for students to use. And since it is a Google Docs’ Add-on, it will work on Chromebooks. True, it doesn’t give the user any options and only picks up the primary words, but students can use it to analyze, reflect on, and revise their writing. Here’s how to enable it.

In the toolbar of any Docs document, click on Add-ons. Go to "Get add-ons..."

Then search for "cloud."

When you get the results, choose “Tag Cloud Generator,” and click on the blue +Free box.

Now that it is enabled, you can create a word cloud in any Google Drive document that has at least 100 words. A word cloud is automatically generated when you choose Add-ons > Tag Cloud Generator > Create a tag cloud. Revise the text, and create another cloud. It is just that easy.

The three word clouds used in this post were all made with the same text. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but just think of how powerful a visual (and fun) tool word clouds can become in your classroom.

I’m guessing there are dozens of ways I haven’t begun to think of. Let me know how you use word clouds in your classroom. I’d love to pass along some of your ideas.

Hour of Code - December 8-14, 2014

The Hour of Code is fast approaching. Over 43,000 events in over 180 countries are already planned. With all the excitement, they are well on their was to reaching 1 million students this year.

Taking part in the Hour of Code doesn't take that much set up, and there are lots of resources online to help you get started.  Last year, I looked through the first two lessons and set my kids loose. Before I knew it, some were charging through the ten lessons and had become the local experts.

There were Angry Birds activities or students could make a holiday card. With choices, students could find what they liked to delve into it. While I had a parent in the computer lab along with me, it wasn't long before the kids had surpassed us. When there was a question, we just called on our student experts to help.

We'd love to know how many of you are participating. Let us know by sending me an e-mail at

EduWin/EDpuzzle with Kaitlin Klein

Ever assign a video for your students to watch and then wonder if they actually got anything out of it? EDpuzzle was developed to encourage active watching and learning.

Kaitlin Klein has been using EDpuzzle with her students. "I am using EdPuzzle to create video lessons. The students seem very engaged and I like the ability to embed questions and voice comments etc. into the videos."

EDPuzzle is easy to use. You can find video from a number of sources, including YouTube, Khan Academy, Vimeo,  LearnZillion, or you can upload your own video.

To try it out, I found a YouTube video on animal adaptations. I was able to trim it to only include the portion I wanted, and I added three questions. In addition, I could have added voice directions and comments. 

It is easy to assign to your students. They will need to sign up, but EDpuzzle provides you with a code so they can join your class. You can then monitor their progress and see their scores.

Here is the EDpuzzle assignment I made in just a few minutes.

Thanks, Kaitlin, for letting us know about this easy to use and free resource. 

If you or one of your colleagues are doing something in class that uses edtech tools, please let me know. I'd love to share it with other teachers.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Search your Gmail and Drive/EduWin from Julia Pugliese

Do you spend too much time trying to find that e-mail from a  parent from last year, or about a particular topic that was sent last year when you did that unit? Lucky for you, Gmail is a Google product. And if there is one thing Google does well, it's search. Here is a quick video to find out how to find the e-mail you are looking for in a hurry.

You access Advanced Search to the right of the search field. Just click on the drop-down arrow,

to open up the menu.

If you know the approximate date of the e-mail you are looking, you can narrow your search. If you leave the date blank, your entire mailbox will be searched. It will even search mail that you migrated to Gmail.

You can also use Search to find Google Drive files. New Drive allows you to put in a key search term, and then narrow your search by file type, the application your file will open with (opens files you created using apps from Google Drive), and by owner. Here, I am searching for a Document file with the keyword "animal."

There are lots of operators you can use to search for a document, even if what you are looking for isn't in the title. For example, I went to a conference and took notes in a presentation given by "kristen berg." By putting the exact words in quotes, the search will look through all my files and return results that include that exact phrase. You can see here that the words, "kristen berg" don't appear in the title of either files.

There are lots other operators you can use to help narrow your search. If you want to know more, click here.

EduWin with Julia Pugliese and Google Translate

This year, one of the students in Julia Pugliese's second grade class spoke no English. Julia opened up Google Translate, and she and her students recorded short phrases in English, that Google translated to Japanese. While it wasn't perfect, Julia's student understood enough to be able to be able to know where the class was going when they left the room for PE, music, or lunch, and began to be able to follow along in class.

In this screenshot, you can see that I used Ingrid to speak a short sentence in Dutch. Google translated it to English, and I then starred it to save to the phrasebook.

There are also options to type, using the standard US keyboard, but it will also open language specific keyboards and a handwriting tool. 

While I wouldn't recommend using Google Translate for sensitive communication with parents, there are 70 languages available and Google is constantly trying to improve Translate's accuracy with feedback from its users.

And while you may not have occasion to use Google Translate in your classroom, anyone thinking of taking a trip abroad this coming summer? Might want to pack Google Translate with you.

If you or one of your colleagues are doing something in your class that uses edtech tools, please let me know. I'd love to share it with other teachers.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Get Googly/EduWin from Dartmouth

Are you missing the Training  icon that should appear in the top right corner of some of your Google Apps windows? If yours is missing, you'll want to make sure you and your students follow the directions to find and launch the program. It is the icon for Synergyse. 

Synergyse is a training program that provides an interactive way to learn to use Google Apps. By following the step-by-step directions, you and your students will soon become Google Apps for Education (GAFE) experts.

Signing into Google Drive and Enabling Synergyse will tell you how to install it and how to get started.
Since lessons are short and specific, teachers may want to challenge students to become Google Ninjas by completing the modules. It can be a great "What do I do when I'm finished?" activity that students can dip and out of whenever they have time.

We'd be interested in you letting us know how it goes. 

EduWin from the "Dartmouth Tech Divas"

I was really excited to be invited to a Dartmouth Staff meeting where some of the students presented work they have been doing in class. Given the low percentage of women in Science and Technology careers, I was especially excited to learn that the presenters would all be girls. Pam Rissman and Tracy Brown teach all these classes. Pam was kind enough to provide me with this report.

"Eleven girls presented the projects they worked on in different STEM classes offered at Dartmouth, highlighting the importance of having these STEM classes in middle school.  The girls from the computer programming class presented Javascript programs they wrote that increased in complexity; the class requires no prior knowledge in programming yet a student can develop their own interactive graphical games by the end of this self-paced class.  Students from the 3d Modeling class explained how they use the engineering design process to develop their own 3d models in Autodesk Inventor which can later be printed out on the 3d printer. The Robotics class students pointed out different parts of a robot developed in class, including the gears and sensors.  Students from the Green Architecture class discussed the concepts and terms they learned to allow them to build models of houses in Autodesk Revit and to design container homes and environmentally green dog houses. The girls from the STEM 1 class showed the link they established between science and engineering by studying friction in mouse-trap propelled cars and other hands-on projects." 

While diva is generally used to refer to singers, I think of diva as a woman of extraordinary talent. There is no question in my mind that each of these students is extraordinarily talented. How wonderful that they are given the opportunity to explore those talents in classes offered here in the Union School District. Can't wait to see what they have in store for the world.

If you or one of your colleagues are doing something in your class that uses edtech tools, please let me know. I'd love to share it with other teachers.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Digital Citizenship with an EduWin from Elise Plutt

While the official Digital Citizenship Week was last week,  as our students begin to learn their way around tech, there are lessons that go hand-in-hand with their new environment. Students need to learn to respect themselves and others, how to protect their privacy and the privacy of others, and how to connect to and communicate with others.  There are many different websites and services that provide lessons for digital citizenship, but the one most educators prefer is Common Sense Media.

I first learned about Common Sense Media as a parent. It provides ratings on movies, books, games, and apps. I always appreciated their take on "good for ages...." and the ability for me to use the sliding age range to help narrow my search. Each year, right before the gift-giving holidays, I'd share their information with my students' parents who look for guidance when exposing their students to media.

As an educator, I found the Common Sense Media Digital Passport lessons fun and engaging for students. Geared to students beginning at about third grade, it is easy to enroll students, assign modules, and then track student progress. 

Elise Plutt, a third grade teacher from Guadalupe, wrote, "I was able to create an account, and then sign my kids up for the Digital Passport. That then gives them access to 5 different games to teach various lessons about being a good "digital citizen." i.e. lesson on cyberbullying, oversharing information online and even a game to teach how to search things with effective keywords and how to cite sources when using images. You can enable or disable games depending on what you think is appropriate for your kids to learn about. For example, I disabled the game about cell phones and texting. "

Each of the modules are Common Core aligned, come with a teacher-led lesson to introduce the topic, and a Family Tips sheet to send or e-mail home. Click here for the Educator Handbook to get started.

Another resource I used that is more teacher directed can be found in Common Sense Education. You will need to register with the site as a teacher at your school. Once you do that you will have access to lessons that range from K-2 through high school. Topics as early as K-2 include Internet Safety and Privacy & Security. 

As teachers, parents, and responsible adults, we naturally try to teach children to be kind to each other in our classrooms, homes, and on the playgrounds. It is now equally important for us to pass on these social norms for online behavior. Common Sense Media helps us by providing the tools to do just that.

If you or one of your colleagues are doing something in your class that uses edtech tools, please let me know. I'd love to share it with other teachers.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

EduWin from Pamela Rissman and Christy Mills - Hour of Code is Coming

EduWin from Pamela Rissman, Elise Plutt and Christy Mills

Over the past week, I've gotten a few e-mails from teachers who are planning ahead for the Hour of Code.  The Hour of Code began last year as a way to raise interest and awareness of coding in schools. 

Pamela Rissman, from Dartmouth, was one of the teachers contacting me. She wrote, "As we lead up to December 8 -14, you might want to promote Hour of Code.  Last year, at Dartmouth, we had all math teachers doing this during one period during that week. Here's the website that teachers want to review to determine the best level for their students."

One of Elise Plutt's parents, advocated for the Hour of Code. In an e-mail, he wrote, "I spent 100's of hours coding as a young teen back in the 80's and it's been an invaluable foundation throughout my life. "

Christy Mills' 5th grade students participated in the Hour of Code last year. Watch a short video on what happened when Christy introduced the Hour of Code to her students last year.

Last year, my third grade students participated in the Hour of Code. We started out on the Hour of Code website. I had looked at the first three lessons, but some students were beyond that before the end of our 30 minutes computer lab session. Students who moved ahead quickly were happy to share what they were learning with the other students in the class, while I helped those students who were having challenges. Some students went home and worked through the ten lessons. At the end, they can print a certificate of achievement. The parent of one of my students encouraged her son's interest in coding and Santa brought that student a programmable toy for Christmas. Before the school year was up, Andrew had the toy traveling around the house, with notes requesting a drink sent to the kitchen, and the toy returning the drink to him.

Whether your students are middle schoolers or Kindergartners, whether you have Macs, Chromebooks, thin clients, or iPads, your students can participate in the Hour of Code. Aside from the Hour of Code website and apps, there are a number of coding websites and apps . Primary students might start with the Daisy the Dino app, available for iPads and Android devices. For older students, Tynker and Hopscotch also use building blocks to program commands for students. 

While some coding apps and sites have a license cost, most offer Hour of Code activities for free.

Here is a list of fifty coding tools you can use or pass onto parents to teach kids to code.

As Andrew said in his e-mail, "Here is a great opportunity to get students introduced to coding. No experience necessary." But, if you'd like help getting started, or planning to get started, please let us know.

Thanks to Pamela, Elise, and Christy for sharing enthusiasm for the Hour of Code. If you or one of your colleagues are doing something in your class that uses edtech tools, please let me know. I'd love to share it with other teachers.

Friday, October 17, 2014

BrainPOP/Google Classroom Update/EduWin from Jenny Torres and Diane Nunes

Kids love BrainPOP, and so do teachers. It is so easy to search for a video to augment a lesson and its engaging content and delivery make it a sure bet students will be listening. But there's more to BrainPOP than Tim and Moby.

BrainPOP has aligned all their videos with the Common Core standards. It is easy to search through and find video and resources to enhance a lesson.

BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr's resources include lesson plans, graphic organizers, and short response questions.

As a third grade teacher, I often found that our topics bridged both BrainPOP Jr and BrainPOP. My students always loved the the BellyUp comic and Pop a Joke features at the end of every video. Those were the rewards for having completed the Quiz. They were always disappointed to not have a comic at the end of BrainPOP videos. I hadn't realized it was hiding in the FYI tab. 

BrainPOP also offers game-based learning. In BrainPOP, Game Up is designed with upper elementary and middle school students in mind and are meant to be completed in one class period. You can search through Game Up's catalog of science, health, math, and social studies games to find the one that aligns with your curriculum. You can introduce it as an activity for the whole class, or make it a differentiating activity, having students who complete their work have another aligned activity to keep them learning.

BrainPOP Jr also has game-based learning activities. You can find them by clicking "Game Up" on the home page.

Did you realize that the Union School District has purchased a 24/7 license for both BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. that can be accessed from home? This means that you can "flip" a topic by assigning a BrainPOP video for homework. Students use the same username and password as teachers do to access either program. You can then have them take the quiz, and have the scores e-mailed to you. Just be aware that if you ask your students to e-mail their results, they won't be able to see their score until after the e-mail is sent. You might like to ask them to view the results and teach them to make a screenshot. Use Command + shift + 4 on an Apple computer, and control and the key that looks like pages above the 6, on a Chromebook. That screenshot can then be e-mailed to you.

Also, did you know that BrainPOP has a feature that allows you to "Mix" quizzes, assign them to students, and then track individual student progress? Watch this recording of a webinar to learn more about My BrainPOP. While our license covers this premium feature some additional set-up is required by site level. Please let us know and Ed Services can facilitate setting this up if you think you'd find this feature useful.

A final bit of fun is embedding the Movie of the Day or the Pop a Joke of the Day into your webpage or blog. I embedded the Pop a Joke into my KidBlog last year. That was one way to get kids to go to it.  You can find the code for BrainPOP Jr at You'll need to request the code for BrainPOP's Featured Movie. You can submit your request here:

Update on Google Classroom

A number of teachers have begun using Google Classroom to push assignments to their students and to streamline student submission of the assignments. Your grade-level tech may be introducing you to it on the next PD day so I won't go into it here. However, for those of you who have begun using it, Google just pushed out a number of features in its update. Learn more about it here.

Make sure you continue to use the Suggestions button in the lower right corner of your Google Classroom page. Word is, they are listening, and trying to develop the tools to make it a useful and intuitive tool for teachers to use.


This week's EduWin goes to the Jenny Torres and Diane Nunes at Lietz. Faced with an increasing demand for computers in classrooms, they have developed a school-wide Google calendar that all teachers have access to to reserve a laptop or Chromebook cart for their classroom. They find the carts are pretty much always in use, and this give teachers the chance to plan their lessons around having technology resources.

Jenny wrote, "We realized that if staff has access to view calendars they will also be able to book any appointments without needing to be invited.  If they book an appointment, all they have to do is choose appt time they want and save.  It automatically saves to our calendar as well as theirs.  On our calendar it reflects their name.   IMPORTANT..if they need to cancel appointment they will need to email their administrator.  While you can cancel appointments on your calendar, but it will not cancel on the appointment calendar.  Only the admin can cancel appointments on the appointment calendar."

Jenny is happy to share the directions with any staff or teacher who might find it useful. You can e-mail her or Diane.

If you or one of your colleagues are doing something in your class that uses edtech tools, please let me know. I'd love to share it with other teachers.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Want Apps? Find Out How to Get Them Here

Have iPads in your class and wonder what the procedure is for getting apps? Regardless of whether you earned an iPad from an Academy, or were given it by your school site, here's how:

If the iPad is primarily a teacher tool, you are asked to use the USD-Staff wifi network. The District also asks that you use the iTunes/iCloud account created with your USD username when downloading free apps. If there is a paid-app that is work-related, let your administrator know its name and cost. When they approve the app for purchase, they will let the Tech Department know. We'll purchase the app through Apple's Voucher Purchase Program. Then, we'll install the app.

For student iPads, please use the USD-Student wifi network. Each site has an Apple iTunes account for installing apps. You are asked to use it when you'd like to install free apps on to the student iPads. Your site administrator or secretary should have the username and password for you. Alternatively, you can set up each of the student iPads with your iCloud account. Any apps you install will be available on any of the iPads signed into that account.

If there is a paid-app you would like to purchase, first talk to your grade-level colleagues. Apple has a Volume Purchase Program with a twenty license discount. Unlike your personal iOS devices, we'll need to buy a license for each device you would like the paid app on. Let your administrator know the app's name, cost, and the number of licenses your grade level would like to buy. When your principal approves the app for purchase, (s)he will let the Tech Department know. We'll purchase the app through the Apple's Volume Purchase Program. Then, we'll install the app.

From time to time, a paid-app is free for a day (or maybe a few). I try to keep my eye open for them using the Apps Gone Free iPad app, or the website Apple Sliced. If I find one I think teachers might be interested, I will tweet it and you'll find it in my Twitter stream in the right-hand navigation bar. However, you might enjoy keeping an eye out for them yourself.


This week's EduWin goes to all the teachers who are welcoming tech into their classes and learning how to use it along with their students. This is a huge shift in how we have viewed ourselves as teachers and educators for a long time. We have felt that we needed to/were expected to know all the answers. The shift to using technology is a little scary since students take to it so naturally and their knowledge quickly surpasses ours. As I visit classes, I am proud to work with such a wonderful group of flexible thinking and risk-taking educators. Thank you.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Digital Portfolios for Students in Google Drive/EduWins

I got an e-mail from a teacher early this week. Her student had opened up her Google Drive and documents the teacher had seen in Drive on Friday had disappeared. "What happened to them?" A little of investigation of the Revision History showed that the student, in her zeal to clear out her third grade work, had put the documents in the trash, and then emptied the trash.

While I completely understand wanting to clean out files from time to time, there has long been discussion in educational circles about the value of a digital portfolio. Digital portfolios, unlike paper notebooks, give the student and parents an opportunity to watch the growth of a student's skills through the school year and over the school years. How many of you have enjoyed coming across something you or your child wrote years ago? These gems give such a wonderful glimpse back into what the author was interested in and what might have been happening at the time.

At Alta Vista, fifth grade teachers have included a file of K-5th grade District writing assessments with a student's final elementary school report card. Now, think of including projects and other student created work in a folder that follows them through eighth grade. Students have been assigned a username that begins with the year they will leave middle school. The implication is that they will have access to their work throughout the years. As I have visited third grade classes over the past month, students have created a 2014-15 folder to store their work in. My hope is that they will keep file of their best work, kind of like a learning diary.

Lucky for us, Google Drive not only stores files created in Google, it is also a great depository for photos students take as part of a project, or photos of student art work. Videos, audio files, PDFs, MS Office documents - these are just a few of the kinds of files a student can store in Google Drive. Some apps even give you the opportunity to upload directly to Google Drive.

And this week, Google announced virtually unlimited storage for Google Apps for Education accounts coming this fall. Teaching a student to organize their files gives them a valuable skill. Helping them to appreciate where they've come from and how far is also a great gift. My hope is that with storing learning in Google Drive, that your students will have both.

This week's EduWin goes to all the teachers who have helped make the MacBook Air distribution go so smoothy. A big thank you from the Tech Department to all of you who have used the Welcome to MacBook Air website and been able to do things you didn't realize you could. I love getting e-mails from teachers who are so excited that they have figured out how to (for example) connect their printer. Well done!

A second EduWin has come to USD middle schools in the form of an article about Project Lead the Way which appeared in this week's news. Read it here

If you or one of your colleagues are doing something in your class that uses edtech tools, please let me know. I'd love to share it with other teachers.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Global Read Aloud/EduWin from Dianna Talley

Looking for a project to connect your students to students in another geographic area? The Global Read Aloud project may be something you'd like to consider.

The project has chosen four books you can either have your students read, or you can share it with them as a read aloud. You then decide how your students will connect with another class - you can Skype, use a Google Hangout, or even communicate asynchronously through Edmodo or a blog.

One of my favorite books, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is on this year's list. This year, Peter Reynolds has been chosen for the author study. 

The project begins October 6th and ends November 14th. There is a weekly reading schedule,making it easy for everyone to share projects and discussions.

While I didn't participate in Global Read Aloud, I did an number of collaborative projects over the years with my students and students in other geographic locations. It was always a fun and enriching experience.

If you decide to participate, I'd love to hear about it.

EduWin/YouCanBookMe from Dianna Talley

For many of you, it is time to think about scheduling Parent-Teacher Conferences. Dianna Talley found a great web app that works well with Google Calendar. YouCanBookMe is a free service. They have a special account for teachers, specifically designed for you to book Parent-Teacher conferences.

It is pretty easy to set up, but first, make sure you apply for the non-profit status. Since our USD e-mail addresses don't end in .edu, it might take a few days for them to approve it, but once they do, you will have access to some of the premium features. I used the "sign in with Google" feature from my USD GAFE account.

There are a lot of features you can customize, including the theme of the calendar choices the parents will see. 

You decide which days and times are available to book, as well as the length of the appointment. 

Once a parent signs up, they and you get an automatically generated confirmation e-mail with all of the details.

Here is a video you can watch to walk you through the set-up. It is a bit long, but covers all of the features.

There is a word of caution from their website worth pointing out to Middle School teachers who have a number of students. Copied here from the website, just so you don't miss it:

"When setting up a schedule for Parent/Teacher conferences, we strongly advise you to disable the two "Google guest" features on the Afterwards tab > 'google'.
Google may need to send emails on your behalf to manage the invitations for these guests. In that situation, Google Calendar strictly regulates how many messages it sends out to anyone associated with your event. The result could be that not everyone is able to complete their booking through the system, as the Google system is set to prevent any 'volume' notifications that could be seen as spammy.
Parent/Teacher conferences are one example where this can happen - since hundreds of bookings are likely on the day the bookings open, you can easily pass the Google limits. Keeping these two options set off will completely avoid the problem."
If you or one of your colleagues are doing something in your class that uses edtech tools, please let me know. I'd love to share it with other teachers.