Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hour of Code

It's that time of year again! Many of you may remember the Hour of Code from last year, and for those of you who don't, it is a worldwide movement where teachers and students of all ages dedicate at least an hour during the week of December 7th to learning how to code. If you aren't sure if you have the time to fit it into your busy schedule, consider some of the many reasons why you should make time to do it.
Maybe you are not sure how to teach code or even how to do code yourself. The best part is, it is actually much easier to do than you would ever imagine. Check out this hyperdoc created by Lisa Highfill which is filled with kid-friendly resources. It's really just a matter of letting the kids "play" with them while they work at their own pace.  Kids are amazing, and they do figure it out on their own.

Be sure to sign your class up for the Hour of Code, and then fill out our district Google Form. All teachers who get their classes to participate will be entered into our district drawing to win a free mystery technology item that is going to be awesome! Also, if all classes at your school participate, your school will be entered in the big Hour of Code drawing sponsored by the organizers to win $10,000 of technology for your school site.

You can even print Hour of Code certificates in bulk at Students will also see a certificate when they complete an Hour of Code tutorial, but some students won’t make it to the very end in an hour — and that’s okay.

Have fun coding!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Customize Google Slide Pages/EduWin for Julie Nguyen-Ebadi

After learning about how to customize the size of the pages of a Google Slide presentation, Carla Dunavan put together a short tutorial on how to do it. Thank you, Carla, for sharing your directions with us. Teachers, you may notice that this is a great way for students to create an e-book. And because it is a Google Slide, Google Drawings, images, or YouTube videos can be easily inserted.

EduWin Nomination from Heather Koleszar for Julie Nguyen-Ebadi

Julie Nguyen-Ebadi is a second grade teacher at Noddin doing great things with her students in Google Draw. Recently, Julie had students find images on Google to show the life cycle of a butterfly.

Thanks, Julie, for showing us how your students are reinforcing their learning using online tools.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thanksgiving Themed Activities Inspired by Video

Do you use video in your classroom to inspire thinking? 

Last month I attended Fall CUE up in the Napa Valley and ever since then, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Lisa Highfill's session titled YouTube Lessons That Will Leave You Thinking.

I was truly inspired, and after searching through the Highfill Crew YouTube playlists, I came across the video WWII vet forms unlikely friendship with toddler. That video sparked an idea about creating a Google Sites HyperDoc that could be used across grade levels. I decided that this was a great video about friendship, which seemed to tie in nicely with Thanksgiving. This led me to create a website with tabs for different Thanksgiving themes that teachers can explore with their classes, or have students explore on their own.

USD Learns: Thanksgiving HyperDoc

I invite you to check out the USD Learns Thanksgiving Hyperdoc to see if there is anything that might inspire you and students the week before Thanksgiving. There are some interactive pieces where students can share their thoughts or turn in links to their work.

Please be aware that any Padlet on this Thanksgiving site is a shared learning space where students can freely post their thoughts. Before trying it with your students, please have a conversation about digital citizenship and ask them only to post ideas and content that they want other students and teachers to see.

Want your students to be a part of our USD is Thankful Video?

What if we could capture video clips about what USD students are thankful for? Kid President's 20 Things We Should Say More Often reminds us that we shouldn't just say thank you on Thanksgiving, but we do have to start somewhere. This idea was inspired by the video Kid History Shorts: "Thanksgiving" (The Roberts).  If this video is too silly for your class, check out this school who captured clips about what they are thankful for: Happy Thanksgiving from Kingsway College School. This is a closer example of the vision that we have for our USD is Thankful video.

If you would like to participate, you can find more information about how to create class videos on the Gratitude page.

I am thankful to be working in such an amazing school district with such creative and innovative teachers. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your students, friends, and families!

Monday, November 2, 2015

4 Easy Low-Tech Digital Citizenship Projects

Don't forget that the November 13th Digital Citizenship Video Contest deadline is quickly approaching. The good news is that it's not too late to encourage your students to participate. We've come up with 4 simple low-tech project ideas with suggestions about how to turn those creations into videos:
  1. Write a poem
  2. Create a poster
  3. Write a song or rap
  4. Create a comic
Here's a Digital Citizenship HyperDoc with examples and how-to videos that can help get you started. You'd be surprised how easy it is to turn these projects into short videos.

Once you have your students complete a project, you may like help creating videos. The Tech ToSAs are available! Please fill out the 2 question Digital Citizenship Video Lesson Sign-Up and one of us will contact you to coordinate the lesson.

If you have any questions, you can always email any one of us: Genevieve, Nicole, or Mary Fran

Don't forget to turn the videos into the Official Entry Form by November 13th. We can't wait so see all of your students' creative digital citizenship projects!

*If you are having your students create their own videos for the contest, here are some digital story video templates to help them plan a script before creating the video.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

3 Easy Halloween Activities

Looking for some fun, easy Halloween Activities to do with your class? Here are a few simple ideas that can work at different grade levels.

Halloween Magnetic Poetry 

This activity has been shared all over Twitter by @ShakeUpLearning. Read Kasey Bell's blog post Halloween Magnetic Poetry with Google Drawings. I modified her template a little so that more of the words are visible.

Halloween Google Doc Fun!

Here is a simple Google Doc Halloween lesson that I originally created for a 2nd grade class.  It gets students to play around with the simple, basic functions of Google Docs in a fun way. Here's what students do inside this activity:
  • read a Halloween poem
  • change font and color of 2 important word from each line
  • use the Research Tool to insert an image to match lines of the poem
  • learn how a Google Drawing works inside of a Doc
Teaching students how to use the Research Tool is an important feature in Docs. Just in case students finish the activity early, I added the magnetic poetry to the 2nd page for students. Students are invited to create a spooky sentence, or a spooky poem.

Cinquain Poem Template

Halloween always sparks some really creative an imaginative ideas and I used to always have my 4th grade students write different kinds of poetry in October. 

 This Google HyperDoc gets students to plan and create a Cinquain poem. Completing a class copy of the Cinquain Poem Template Doc is a great way to get the students thinking about their own poem. After the poem draft is completed, you can give your students art supplies for their final draft, or I gave suggestions of some tech tools that they can use to creatively display their work.

I kept this template neutral so that it can be used any time of year, not just Halloween. 

If you have any questions, or would like help trying out any tech lessons in your classroom, please email me at

Friday, October 16, 2015

Adobe Voice and the Digital Citizenship Video Contest

Hopefully by now you have heard about our Digital Citizenship Video Contest and have been promoting it with your students. To make it easier to get started, we'd like to highlight some of our favorite easy to use video creation tools that we are suggesting students use to make their videos. If they have access to iPads at school (or at home), Adobe Voice is probably the quickest and easiest way to make a professional looking video slideshow. It is the same app that we used to make the video promoting the contest and it's free! 

 It comes with access to a huge library of copyright friendly free graphics or images that are easy to search for and use that are automatically added in the credits at the end. This speeds up the process of making the video and eliminates the problem of copyright infringement while modeling proper use.

Don't have enough iPads to go around? Why not have students work in groups for a fantastic opportunity to collaborate?

Still worried that it might take too long or be too hard? No pressure or anything, but check out this Adobe Voice video made during one center session by a student in Mrs. Kamali's kindergarten class giving a tour of the classroom. Claire even used her own images! Now that's pretty impressive!

For more information on how to use Adobe Voice, check out this tutorial that will make it even easier to get started. Enjoy!

And of course, this week's EduWinner goes to Helen Kamali! The second time her Kindergartners made Adobe Voice videos, they demonstrated their understanding of the life cycle of a pumpkin and the structure of a book. No parent volunteers for centers? It was no problem. Her students made them all by themselves! We think Mrs. Kamali must have done a great job of teaching them. She claims she's not so tech savvy, but we disagree. Congratulations, Mrs. Kamali. We are amazed!

If you want to learn how to do this in your class, I highly suggest you attend Helen's Union University class. It's called, "Movie Making in the Primary Classroom" on Monday, November 16th from 3:30-5 at Noddin.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Using QuickTime to Display an iPad on a MacBook

I've had several teachers ask me about being able to display your iPad on your MacBook so that students can view a doc camera or iPad app and a Chrome browser at the same time. After playing around with different options, I've found that this is the easiest FREE option.

*I have to warn you that this only works if your MacBook is updated to Yosemite. 

Here's a Slide Presentation that I put together... It works more like a multiple-page ThingLink. It should give you all of the information that you need. Don't be afraid to click around on all of the links  and icons that I added on each slide to learn more.

If you just want to watch my video tutorial, here's a link to: Using Quicktime to Display an iPad on a Macbook

If you have any questions, please let me know.

An Easy Way to Share Webpages/EduWin for Lisa Merkel

I love Chrome extensions. You may notice a (ridiculous) number of them to the right of the search omnibox on my Chrome webpage whenever I record a screencast. Extensions add functionality to your Chrome Browser and can easily be added through the Web Store found in the Chrome App Launcher.

One that I recently came across makes it super easy for teachers to share a webpage through Google Classroom. You can push a webpage to students, no more tiny URLs or goo.gls and the time it takes for students to type it in. By using the "Share to Classroom" extension, when you "Push" a webpage to students it will open on the students' Chromebooks almost instantaneously. If you prefer to assign a webpage as part of an assignment, that's easy too. Once you click on the "Share to Classroom" extension, you can assign a name and due date. You'll also be able to save a draft of the assignment, or simply send the webpage as part of an announcement.

While you can send assignments and announcements to your students without their having to add the extension, your students will also need to install the extension for you to be able to Push a webpage to them. You can find it in the Chrome Web Store, or by going to and adding it as a Chrome extension. An added benefit to having students install the extension, is that students will also be able to push a webpage to you, the teacher. You'll receive a popup notice. Once you click on it, the webpage will open in a new tab.

Here is a short video showing how to find, install, and use the extension. 

EduWin for Lisa Merkel and Google Forms

This school year is off to a running start, party due to the hard work put in by the techs in the IT Department (shout-outs to Eddie, Jason, Ray, Sean and Trent), and partly due to the new site techs who have worked closely with teachers to make sure all the tech is working and teachers are comfortable with it. 

In the midst of all the back-to-school whirlwind, Lisa Merkel created a Google Form for all the Alta Vista teachers to use at Back-to-School night. The form collected the usual information on parents' names and email addresses, and also provided places for parents to sign up for Home and School Club and classroom volunteer positions. Once collected, Lisa was able to send each teacher and Home and School Club Chair the relevant information quickly - no more waiting for the information to be typed into a spreadsheet, sorted, and compiled. It was ready to go! Thank you, Lisa, for helping to save a tree, and help make BTSN go just a bit easier for everyone at Alta Vista.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Digital Citizenship / EduWin to Alice Baum from DMS

Digital citizenship is a topic that is essential for all students. Our goal this year at USD is to become a Common Sense Media school district. In order to do that we, the Tech ToSAs, are working hard to create ready-to-go digital citizenship lessons at every grade level. You can already find some of those on our USD Learns website.

It's been so exciting walking through the Union and Dartmouth Middle School campuses and watching the 6th grade students and teachers embrace the new take-home Chromebook program. I have to give a HUGE kudos to all of the 6th grade teachers and everyone who put time and effort into planning and executing the rollout of the Chromebooks. It was definitely not an easy task, and it will be interesting to collect and analyze data throughout this school year. 

It is especially important for our 6th grade students who have access to the USD issued Chromebooks 24/7 to be responsible digital citizens. Common Sense Media has a lot of great digital citizenship curriculum for all grade levels, but there is one brand new resource for middle school students that was just released this year. Digital Compass is a choose-your-own-adventure game that gives students the responsibility to make tough digital citizenship life choices in a fun, safe way. There are 9 possible endings to this game and it's all based on the 50 combinations of paths and decisions that students make along the way. The better their choices and the more lessons they learn, the more points and better badges they earn.

Here's a video trailer for the game:

The 6th grade team at Dartmouth has taken an impressive blended learning approach to teaching the Digital Compass lessons to students.

This week's EduWin goes out to Alice Baum, a 6th grade ELA and social studies teacher from Dartmouth Middle School, for the great work that she's done using Digital Compass to teach her 6th grade students about digital citizenship.

It's never easy implementing something completely new into your curriculum, but I was super impressed when Alice showed me a Google Slide presentation that she put together to help teach her students how to begin and navigate through the game. It was clear that she had taken the time to go through the Educator Guide and the game in order to capture screenshots and important information that her students would need in order to be successful. We will be continuing what she has started by putting together Common Sense Media lessons in Google Slide Presentations that will reinforce the most important lessons learned in Digital Compass.

Alice has done a great job stressing the importance of digital citizenship in her classroom! Thank you, Alice Baum and all of the 6th grade teachers for all of your hard work and dedication to your students and the Union School District!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Using Your Max iPad Stand

Check out How to Use Your Max iPad Stand by Tech ToSAs on Snapguide. Note: Tutorial made with Snapguide, a free app for your iOS device.

How to Create a Redirect Link on School Wires

While SchoolWires is the official webpage host for our District's information for the community, many teachers have begun using Weebly or Google Sites to provide information to parents and families.

It is easy to create a link that automatically redirects viewers to a page outside of SchoolWires. This provides a seamless transition without asking the viewer to click on a link. 

Here's a video I made earlier to show a teacher how to do it.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Edu Winner: Kaitlin Klein and Modern Day Silhouettes

Pretty walls in time for Back to School Night? Miss Klein's students made it look easy!

Edu Winner: Kaitlin Klein, a 5th grade teacher at Carlton already has her students up and running in Google Classroom and using Google Apps like pros. In preparation for Back to School Night, Kaitlin wanted to have at least one pretty project on her walls. A modern day silhouette was the solution.
That's Miss Klein! After/Before- Note: The best silhouettes have subject in front of the sun, and an uncluttered background. 

Students worked in pairs to take profile photos of each other, and then edited them on the iPads using Snapseed. Next, they uploaded their images to the Google Drive app so they could access them from the Chromebooks later.

From the Chromebooks, they inserted their edited silhouette onto a Google Presentation slide where they used the text tool to add their name and five adjectives to describe themselves.  Then they turned their finished project into Google Classroom. Neatly organized in the Google Classroom folder in her Google Drive, Kaitlin was able to easily print out her beautiful black and white silhouettes and slap them on the wall in the nick of time! I bet those parents were impressed!
Miss Klein's students were so efficient they even had time to go for a photo walk in the school garden with the iPads!

Students also backed up their photos using the Google Photos. We can't wait to see what happens with those!

If that sounds like a cool project you'd like to do with your own students, know there are a lot of people who can help you. Not only is Kaitlin a tech lead at Carlton, Tech ToSAs can be scheduled during the school day to demo this (or any other lesson) in your classroom. Or.. you could just call on Miss Klein's tech savvy 5th graders.
Silhouettes gone digital? So much easier than tracing, cutting and pasting, and a lot less mess!

To learn more about some of the amazing things that are happening in Kaitlin's classroom (or in other classrooms around Union School District), be sure to follow her on Twitter at @missklein20 and #usdlearns . Better yet, check out her student blogs (and comment)  I'm sure those students would really love to hear from you! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Introducing the Instructional Technology ToSA Team

We are excited to be working with you this year. 

Genevieve Pacada, Nicole Dalesio, MaryFran Lynch

Visit our website USDLearns We'll be posting lots of resources for you to use and refer to throughout the year.

Check out our video to give you a better idea on how we can help you.  Then, contact us at,, or 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Flipping Back to School Night/EduWinner - new teacher, Nupur Sethi

Thoughts on Flipping Back to School Night

Welcome and welcome back. I'm hoping that each of you feel fully recharged after the summer and are excited about the upcoming year. One of the early events of the year is Back to School Night. After my first year, I always looked forward to Back to School Night (BTSN). I looked forward to meeting the parents of my students and having them begin to form a community. However, by the time I got them to sign in, sign up for all the committees, sign up for Parent Teacher conferences, and then run through the slide presentation, time was up and I’d barely gotten to know them.

Even though I’m no longer in the classroom, I’d been thinking about how I might do things differently now that there is so much technology in the classrooms. While I was at a PD workshop this summer, a teacher mentioned flipping BTSN. Perfect, I thought. I’d used the same slide presentation, only tweaking it with current field trip dates, etc. It had way too many words and information to be an effective presentation, and it didn't seem right for a parent who has already had two students in my class to have to sit through the same thing yet again. I started thinking, “What if I sent presentation home ahead of time?” Then, I’d have the time to show off some of the great digital tools I’m planning to use and have a chance to build community.

I’d take advantage of the (mostly) one-to-one devices and have the students leave the Chromebooks on their desks. Parents can use them by clicking on “Browse as a Guest” in the bottom left-hand corner.

The first thing I would do is use a Google Form to collect information, making sure that when I create the Google Form, that I unchecked the box that requires an credential to log in. I always found Google Forms easier than trying to decipher parent handwriting. I might also include three questions that asks for a word that describes how students or parents are feeling about starting school or about entering the new grade. I’d use those words to create a word cloud, either on the fly or to include in my newsletter.

Then, I’d use Kahoot! to reinforce some of the things that are in the BTSN presentation I wanted to make sure everyone got, like critical school or class rules. This way, even parents and families who hadn’t had time to go through the presentation would get the important points, and it would give me a chance to address questions. Near the end, I’d add a few getting to know you questions like, “How long have you been a (insert school name here) family?” or I might use Print-Bingo to create bingo cards and have parents up, out of their seats, and meeting each other.

Now, I would have time to demonstrate a lesson. With all the talk in the media about Common Core and the new math, this would be my chance to calm parents’ nerves and answer questions.

I’d finish up the time with having parents sign up for Remind so I could keep them informed with a quick text reminder throughout the year. For example, I was a third grade teacher and posted the weekly homework on my website. If I decided we’d worked hard enough that day, and wanted to give a homework free night, I’d use Remind to let the parents know.

I’d also have a YouCanBookMe calendar set up so parents could begin to plan to meet for Parent-Teacher conferences.

I know that Back to School Night is only a few days away, but the Tech ToSAs are here to help in any way we can.

Introducing the Instructional Technology ToSA Team

You may notice that the name of the blog has changed. Nicole Dalesio and Genevieve Pacada have joined me as Instructional Technology ToSAs. In addition to helping you with planning a lesson, learning to use a new tool, or working with you and your students in your classroom, we’ll all be writing to give you tips and tricks to use as you continue to integrate technology into your curriculum.

Along with the renamed blog is a newly created website, USDLearns. So far, we’ve created and put information on how to setup and use all the new media tools the Tech guys have worked feverishly to install in classrooms over the summer. We’ll be using this new website to house howtos and informational resources. You might like to bookmark it so you can refer to it. If you have a question that isn’t answered on either the blog, the new website, or last year’s HowTo site, just e-mail us. We can be found at,, and

Twitter Hashtag

We are so excited to see that every principal and many teachers have begun promoting the wonderful things happening at their sites and classrooms by using Twitter. Please remember to add the #USDLearns when you tweet about all the great learning students are engaged in here at USD. Thanks to Kristy Chia at Carlton for this one:

EduWinner/ new teacher, Nupur Sethi

Nupur Sethi, a new fifth grade teacher at Lietz, is excited and ready to start the school year. To introduce herself and to keep her students’ families informed, Nupur worked last weekend to build her class website using Google Sites. Welcome, Nupur, we can’t wait to see how your enthusiasm creates a dynamic learning environment for your students.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Don't Delete Files/Music Making Web-App/Summer Ideas


This year, students created a lot of work they have saved on Google Drive. Students might like to clean-up their files as the year ends. Please remind them that there is no reason for students to delete or Trash their work. As Google Apps for Education (GAFE) users, students and teachers have unlimited storage in the domain. This account (along with the username and password) will follow the student until they leave our Union School District. For most students, this will be when they are promoted to high school. 

Many students may enjoy being able to see how they have grown over the years. My daughter was one of those kids. Even now, she'll nostalgically peruse grade school notebooks. You might like to have students consolidate their work into one folder. Here's how to do it:

Remind your students that, while they have primarily used the same Chromebook for the entire year, their account and files are accessible on any device that has an internet connection. All they need to do is go to and sign in.

Returning students will have access to their GAFE accounts over the summer. This means that all those budding authors and movie makers who continue to create over the summer, and will have a place to save it.

Just Plain Fun Music Making
Looking for one last fun online activity for your students? If you still have the SBAC earbuds or have headphones available, you may want to turn your students loose on Incredibox. Incredibox is a music creation website where students drag and drop an icon onto one of "the guys," and mix and mash until they are happy with the sound. While there are a limited number of choices, students will get a sense of how different musical sounds come together to create a piece of music. There are a few additional features found under the Settings gear. One will mute a sound. Why not challenge students to create a musical theme the wraps up their feelings about this year or ask the to create a theme song for their favorite book or story they read this year?

Summer Fun

As you wrap up the school year with one last communication with parents, you might like to let them know about some online resources to keep their students engaged over the summer.

Wonderopolis is a great website that starts with a Wonder of the Day, and offers highly engaging non-fiction reading, videos, and pictures. Students can also browse the topics or search the site for information on questions they have. 

This summer, Camp Wonderopolis will give participants the opportunity to explore STEM-based units through topics like sports, tech, and health. The free online learning camp, which launches on June 15th,  is geared to students in grades 2 through 8. Students will need to pre-register and a parent or guardian e-mail is required to verify participation.

Many elementary teachers have enjoyed using GoNoodle this year in class. Having students take a brain break to get that blood flowing is fun, and, as research shows, helps to refocus students.

Camp GoNoodle will keep students moving this summer. Beginning June 29th, it will offer different activities each week and students can earn badges for participation.

Parents will need to register their students for this free activity. There is a printable letter on the GoNoodle website that makes it easy to let parents know about this great, free summer program. 

Students who like to tinker and build will enjoy participating in Maker Camp. Another free, mostly online, resource for keeping students engaged and busy over the summer. Last year, some San Jose Public Library branches offered meet-ups for students participating in Maker Camp. This year's Maker Camp begins on July 6th, however, local affiliates and hosts have not yet been announced.

There are different themes over the six week camp. Participants watch by Google Hangout and are treated to a new activity each day. This year's first week's theme is Fantasy. Maker Camp is geared toward students middle school and up, parents will need to sign a release for students under the age of 18 to participate.

EduWinners/the amazing USD Educators

Last post of the school year! I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by. 

As I reflect on the year, I am honored to have been able to get to know and work with the incredible and talented educators in the Union School District. 

We began the year with Chromebook carts being pushed into classrooms and introducing most staff and students to Google Apps for Education and the power of web app tools made possible by student access to devices. Thank you for your flexibility in integrating technology into your curriculum and for your dedication to bringing the best pedagogy to increase student engagement and outcomes for your students.

Enjoy your well-earned summer break. I look forward to seeing many of you at the EdTech Innovation Summit on August 14th. Don't forget to register now.

Friday, May 29, 2015

SumoPaint/Summer Reading Programs

The end of the year is a great time to test out a new web app. This year's students are fairly comfortable with their level of tech, and you get to see what the app can do and think about ways to use it the following year.

SumoPaint is a web app that can easily be used on Chromebooks. While I haven't played around with it very much, Lisa Highfill, whom many of you may remember was the Keynote speaker at last year's August USD Innovation Summit, has used it with students to paint a picture which they then use to add Thinglinks to. Here is an example of using the tools, and an example of the finished SumoPaint flower with Thinglink

Here's how to get your students started using SumoPaint:

Megan Mullaly's class is using some of SumoPaint's more advanced features. They are using the layer feature. To create this picture, students imported a photo background, and then one of themselves. Using the lasso tool, they deleted the background of their picture and, in an instant, transported themselves to Ancient Greece as part of their studies of ancient civilizations. Megan would be happy to share her directions with you on how to do this. Email her at

Summer Reading Programs

It's nearly summer, and students are excited to have a long break free of school work. But, parents are looking for ways to for their students to occupy their time, and teachers are concerned about the summer slide. Here are a few ideas to help combat those worries.

The SanJose Public Library sponsors a free Summer Reading Challenge every year. To encourage reading, there are different events scheduled at library branches, and participants have the opportunity to be entered in drawings for special prizes. There is even a writing contest sponsored by the San Jose Earthquakes, with the prize being tickets to a game.

Included on their website are recommended books from Easy Readers to Teen Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

You may be familiar with Newslea, the website that provides high interest, high quality non-fiction articles to help build deeper understanding and critical thinking. Susan Peers is a real fan having seen how her students' reading comprehension scores have grown with use. "I use Newsela everyday, current event articles, with my students--I know-I have said this before--but my students have reached their goal just this last week, 5/11:  completed 1272 articles read/quizzes taken at 77% avg. quiz score at 6.2 avg. grade level--I am ecstatic--their critical thinking skills have soared!" To help prevent the summer slide" Newsela has a free Summer Reading Program. Students who already have an account can continue to use it during the summer, but for those who don't yet have an account, parents can enroll them in the program.

A DIY idea came to me from a Twitter chat. The principal has students mail him a postcard every time they finish a book over the summer. Then puts them in a drawing held during the first assembly of the year. Google Forms can even be used instead of a postcard!


The Tech Teacher Leader Kick-off was held at the DO this past Tuesday. We are so excited to have so many enthusiastic teachers who have committed to spending part of their summer in training on how to best support student learning when integrating tech into their curriculum. Thank you all for your dedication!

Here are just a few proudly sporting their new t-shirts. Thanks, Lisa Mata, for posting this picture of smiling faces to Twitter.

If you are posting pictures to Twitter from your class, please add the #USDLearns hashtag. We love seeing the wonderful things you are all doing in your classrooms!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Google Tone/Jeopardy Style Quiz Show with

Google just launched a new extension that makes it even easier to share websites. Say goodbye to and When you and your students have Google Tone installed, all you'll need to do to share a URL is click on the extension icon, and that website URL will be broadcast to any computer with the icon installed that is within earshot.

Since Tone is an experiment, it is not easily found in the Chrome Web Store. To install it, start with going to

and add the extension to Chrome. It'll install a
small megaphone next to your omnibox. Your students, or anyone you would like to share URLs with, will also need to install the extension. Then,  next time you want to share a URL, make sure your volume is turned up and click on the megaphone. Nearby computers will receive a message notifying them that you are sharing a URL. When they click on the message, the URL will open in a new tab.

Managing the Google Tone extension is easy, just right click on the extension icon and you'll be able to disable or remove it from Chrome.

Any computer with the extension will be able to broadcast a URL. If a student is attempting to broadcast a Google Drive file, they will have to make sure it has been properly shared. A private file cannot be shared with Google Tone.

Jeopardy Style Quiz Show with

One of my favorite activities on the last day of school was always a Jeopardy-style game. I'd load the game board with questions covering curriculum, projects, and fun times in class, and I always included a "Mrs Lynch" category. My first games were written on a piece of paper and the game board was drawn on the white board. This transitioned to a PPT and a SmartBoard game. While you can still use this method, makes it really easy to make one using Google Sheets, and you can easily share it with the other teachers in your grade level.

Here is a short How-to video to get you started:

EduWin/Dawn Ullmark, Kaitlin Klein, Elise Plutt, Sharon Victorine, Lisa Mata, Annie Van Zante

Providing students with real-life opportunities to visit (even virtually) with experts in their field, and to have experiences they might not otherwise have can contribute to a student's deeper understanding and appreciation of a topic.

Kudos to all of the many teachers, some who I'm sure are not recognized here, for providing their students with those experiences. Dawn and Kaitlin took their students on a California Gold Country field trip provided by the California Parks PORTS program. Elise's students visited Palua's coral reefs along with over 800 other classrooms throughout the world with a program through The Nature Conservancy, and were lucky enough to have one of their questions voted up through Google Moderator and answered live during the broadcast. Sharon's students watched San Jose's annual falcon visitors as the eggs hatched and the fledgling birds took their first flight. Lisa and Annie's 4th grade classes will share the California Gold Rush and learn about the Colorado Gold Rush through a Skype call.

It takes time to find a virtual visit and to prepare the students with enough background information to ask thoughtful questions. And then there's the technology that needs to be tested ahead of time. Thank you to all the dedicated teachers who make it possible for their students to have these experiences.

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, May 15, 2015

Formative/EduWin for Kristy Chia

As teachers, we all know how important formative assessment is. Intervening at just the right time can make a difference between a student continuing to make the same mistake or forming a misconception, thus needing remedial help, and a quick redirection that sets the student off on the next step to deeper understanding.

Formative is a real-time tool that gives you the ability to assess your students' understanding, and give them immediate feedback.

Because Formative works with any device, it is a great tool to use with student Chromebooks or tablets.  You can create a free account using your GAFE username and password. Once you have an account, you can create an assignment and send it out to students using a "Quick Code." It is easy for students to access Formative from the USD Symbaloo Landing Page. They enter the assignment code and can "Continue without logging in" to participate in your assignment. However, you might like to keep track of student work and progress. To do that, you'll first need to create a class.

After students access Formative through the Symbaloo page, have them click Signup, click on sign up as a student, and press the red bar "Sign in with g+." On the next screen, have students enter the Class Code (not case sensitive), and then press "Let's Do This" to join your class. 

You can upload a PDF or Word document and have students answer questions on top of the canvas. You can create a new document using multiple choice, true/false, typed response, or show your work/drawing responses. You can even embed a YouTube video. 

When students join the assessment, you'll be able to see their answers in real-time, and send them feedback.

Formative has a GoFormative Guide and Walkthrough Google Doc that you can find here. Since they are a new company, having launched in January, they are constantly adding new features and updating the document. You might like to bookmark it rather than make a copy.

Megan Mullaly, a teacher at Dartmouth, has been using Formative. She offered this, "I've used Formative before starting a unit to pre-assess, during a lesson to check for understanding, and the end of a unit as a summative assessment. I like it best for the checking for understanding (my questions were too long/involved with the summative). One of my struggles as a middle school language arts teacher is to provide quick feedback; Formative gives immediate feedback--a game changer. When I use Formative during a lesson, I am way more in tune with what worked and what I need to go back and re-teach in a timely manner (not after I've avoided a stack of exit passes for a day or two!). And of course the kids are more aware of their learning and understanding with the immediate feedback. It did take me a little bit to get used to the format/display. To start, keep it simple--only ask a few questions and use multiple choice and true/false style until you are more comfortable with the format. Also, I would suggest checking out the videos on their Youtube channel: formative youtube ."

Formative is a fledgling company and is interested in getting constructive feedback from users. Please let me know if you're interested in helping out their developers.

EduWin for Kristy Chia and her Third Grade Class

Kristy Chia's students are using Chromebooks to take pictures of their Third Grade Memories. Using the Camera app, students can add filters to the photo before they take it, a bit like in PhotoBooth on Macs.

Once the picture is taken, the students save their photo in Google Drive. Using the photos, they are creating Google Slide presentations. With the photos in Slides, they have learned to crop and use the photo editing tools. 

After their presentations are finished, they plan to narrate their Slide presentations with Movenote. These Third Graders are putting so many new skills to work in this project. Congratulations!

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, May 8, 2015

Answer Garden/Nicole Moore's EduWin and Kahoot!

As I got closer to the end of the school year, I always liked polling both students and parents about their favorite memories of Third Grade. I would create a Google Form, requesting three terms and sorted the parent and student responses in the spreadsheet. I would take the answers and dump them into Wordle, and then add screenshots of the Wordles to my final newsletter. It was always interesting to see the differences in parent and student responses.

I've written about word clouds in previous blog posts. Recently, Lisa Highfill and Andrew Schwab tweeted about another word cloud tool. AnswerGarden is a bit of a cross between Padlet and Wordle or Tagxedo. Padlet, because it captures and displays responses to participants in real time, and Worlde or Tagxedo, because it creates a word cloud as participants answer.

In a classroom, AnswerGarden is a great instant feedback tool. It can be used in any curricular area for brainstorming or to gauge student understanding. An AnswerGarden question is easy to create and there is no sign up required for you or the participant. A down side is that since you have no account, you'll need to save your AnswerGarden URL and responses. While AnswerGarden word clouds are rather utilitarian looking, responses can be exported to Wordle or Tagxedo where you can add color and formatting.

Another thing I like about AnswerGarden is the ability to send results by Twitter, making it another great way to invite parents into your classroom.

As with any tool that displays results in real-time without moderation, "that" student may try to take advantage of the situation and send an inappropriate word or comment to be displayed. While there is no way to prevent this, a quick walk around the room will show which student submitted the offending word since words the participant entered will be underlined on only their screen. Still worried? You can use Moderator Mode where each answer is submitted to "AntiGarden" and you can manually approve each response before it is displayed.

To give AnswerGarden a try, you can get started by going to their website  or by downloading the free app from the App Store for iOS. Create a question. For example, "Which ed tech tool have you found most useful in your classroom this year?" Then, set the mode. I like Classroom Mode which allows one answer per submission and unlimited unique (to the participant) submissions. Set an Admin password so you will be able to edit the responses, and have a Reminder e-mail sent to yourself with the link and password if you think you'd like to access it again.

Create your AnswerGarden question. If you are using iPads,  give your students the AnswerGarden ID number to sign in and participate. If you are using the web version, use the long URL to create a shorter one to give to your students. They can easily access AnswerGarden on their Chromebooks and begin responding. As students respond, your AnswerGarden will grow. Let's try it here.

When finished, you can Share the wordcloud on Twitter, Export to Wordle or Tagxedo, or create a QR code.

Teachers with iPads will love the iOS app, free  in the App Store. Create a question and give your students the AnswerGarden ID number to sign in and participate.

If you decide to give AnswerGarden a try, let me know how you are using it. I'd love to share your ideas with other teachers.

EduWin/Nicole Moore and Kahoot

Nicole Moore found a great way to use Kahoot in her classroom. Using her class Android tablets, students used the Kahoot app and added the Game Pin. Once they were in, Nicole presented addition problems, giving her great formative assessment results, and giving the students a great time while reinforcing skills. Kahoot can also be used on Chromebooks, easily accessed on the USD Symbaloo page, or through the iPad by creating a bookmark.

If you haven't yet tried Kahoot in your classroom, you might like to give it a try to liven up those last days of the school year and review and reinforce this year's key concepts. Review an earlier blogpost to get started.

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.