Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Friday, January 30, 2015

Projecting from Chromebooks

As students create content on Chromebooks, we often want to give them the chance to present it to the entire class. It is easy for students to present from their Chromebooks. Students will need to use an HDMI connector. Teachers with TV screens in their classrooms should have an HDMI cable. Just plug in the Chromebook and select input. The projector will automatically find the Chromebook. You'll just need to mirror the screens. Press "ctrl" and 5th key from the left on the top row of keys.

Most teachers will still need to project Chromebooks through classroom projectors. You will need a VGA to HDMI connector. You'll need to unplug the dongle that connects your projector to your laptop and plug in the HDMI dongle, connecting the projector to the Chromebook. Then, the student will have to mirror the screens, pressing "ctrl" and the key

that looks like the image on the right.
We have some of the connectors in the District Office and would be happy to send one out to any class that requests one. One caution is that those dongles will only project images and cannot be used for audio. For that, you'll need to get a dongle that includes a male-to-male audio cable that is plugged into the dongle and the audio in port of your projector.

A few teachers have Chromecasts. Students will need to install the Google Cast extension from the Chrome Web Store, and then also need to be on the USD-Cast wifi. Students will then need to open the Google Cast extension.

EduWin from Nicole Moore

Nicole's Kindergarten students are learning all about penguins. Some of them have never seen a penguin, so to make the experience more real, Nicole and her students look in on the African Blackfooted Penguins at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the penguins at San Diego's Sea World. Needless to say, Nicole reports this is an activity the students look forward to everyday.

Another way to bring resources into your classroom is to participate in a virtual field trip. There are lots of museums and zoos that offer virtual field trips, but it sometime requires a bit of digging to find them. Here is an upcoming field trip offered by The Nature Conservancy, in cooperation with PBS and YouTube. It is scheduled for Thursday, February 5th, and is geared towards grades 3-8.  Click here for more information.

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, January 23, 2015

Photos with Chromebooks/EduWin for Elise Plutt, Global School Day of Play

We've all noticed the camera on a Chromebook. Have you wondered what it is good for aside from selfies? Elise Plutt and her third graders are putting it to good use.

Using the camera, Elise's Third Grade students are taking pictures and adding them to reports. While it is a bit cumbersome, it works! Here's how to do it:

First, go to the Apps waffle in the lower left-hand corner of the Chromebook and find the camera icon. If it's not there, you can find the app in the Chrome Web Store and install it. Click on the icon to open the camera.

Once camera is open, you'll notice you can chose to add effects along the bottom of the screen that can be added before it is taken. This is a good opportunity to talk to your students about purpose and audience.

The app also provides a timer and the ability to take 3 shots with each click. 

Once you've decided on those options,  carefully position the item you want to take a picture of in front of the camera. Elise's students were taking photos of the covers of books they'd been reading. 

After the picture is taken, open the Gallery (see above).

 You will find a menu in the lower right hand corner.

By choosing the icon with the down arrow, you will save your image to your Google Drive. Organize your photos by creating a photos folder. Then you can save directly to it. 

After your student has made sure they saved the photo correctly, Elise suggests you teach your students to delete the photo since there is a limited amount of storage on the Chromebook's hard drive.

Now that the photo is stored in Google Drive, it will be available to insert in a Google Doc or Presentation.

When you are ready, choose insert image. Then, choose to Insert Image from Google Drive.

Choose the folder you have stored your photos in, and when the folder opens, choose the image you want to insert. Then press Select.

Once the image is inserted, you'll see that a menu of image editing options opens when you click on the photo.

Elise taught her students to crop the photo to only show the book cover. I've used it on this photo:
With students taking pictures, this could be a good time to talk about digital privacy. You'll want your students to be sensitive to taking pictures of each other and posting them in documents that will be made public

Just think of how many uses you'll be able to find for the camera once you teach your students to use it. Have your students take photos of artwork, science projects, examples of shapes in the environment. Share ways you use the Chromebook camera in your class. Send your ideas to me and I'll post them on the blog.

Google Classroom

A few teachers who have student teachers and are using Google Classroom have asked if there is a way for co-teachers to share a Classroom. Here is a video on a workaround. Other tips Jen Judkins shares in the video are sharing an entire folder, changing point values, and editing documents with tables on iPads.

Global School Day of Play

Have you heard of the Global School Play Day Movement? Inspired by Peter Gray, a noted American psychologist who has studied schools and societies that emphasize learning through play, the Bedley Brothers, educators in southern California, are trying to raise awareness of how important it is for children to have opportunities for free play. They are rallying K-6 teachers from around the United States to join them on Wednesday, February 4th in acknowledging that play is important in a child's development.

Students bring toys from home but NONE OF THE TOYS CAN REQUIRE BATTERIES. Students can bring board games, legos, blocks, dolls, playing cards, sports equipment, jigsaw puzzles. Think "mid-Century" and you'll get the idea. Then, give them the time to explore and play.

We are fortunate in California to have the kind of weather that encourages kids to play outdoors. Maybe join another class and set up some activities - but don't make the day too structured.

Need a little more encouragement? Watch this YouTube video from Peter Gray.

Wishing you and your students a great day of exploration!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Thinglink, Google Classroom Update, iCloud Account, Klikaklu EduWin

They say, "A picture is worth a thousand words." With ThinkgLink, you can have both! ThingLink is a free tool that you and your students can use to create interactive images.

You start with an image you find on the web or you can upload your own image. You then add links to the image and create icons so users will know where to click. As the user mouses over the image, icons show up. When they click on the icon, it takes them out to the website.

This is a ThingLink I created to use with Charlotte's Web. As students explore the links, they'll find lots of resources to explore, including an NPR interview with the author, E. B. White, a short video, as well as a Quia Quiz, and a Scholastic site.

You can use your Google+ to create an account. Make sure you opt for the edu account and sign up for the Teacher account. Once you do, you'll be able to create a group and free accounts for your students.

ThingLink is a great tool for students to use to create interactive reports. They can attach photos they've take, pictures of images they've created, URLs of Google Docs they have shared, screencasts they've made, audio they've recorded, or rich media resources they've found on the web. And, since works on all browsers, your students will be able to create a ThingLink on their Chromebook, as well as iOS and Android devices.

Here is a YouTube video, created by NPR Education, that will help you and your students get started creating your own:

While I'm sure you can find many ways to use ThingLink in your classroom, Donna Baumbach has created a collaborative Google Presentation, "Ways to Use ThingLink in the Classroom," that offers many ideas to get you started.

Google Classroom

This week, Google announced a Google Classroom mobile app available for both Android and iOS devices. With the new mobile app, students can take a photo and attach it to their assignment. 

There are also new features for teachers on the Assignment page. You'll be able to quickly review student work for a particular assignment, their grades, and any comments.

Creating an iCloud Account Without a Credit Card

Some teachers are still having difficulty creating an iCloud account without a credit care. You'll need this account to keep your computer up-to-date. Thanks to Jason for pointing out an easy way to do it. Here is a short video to show you how.

EduWin for Lisa Mata and Cindy Loper with Klikaklu

Last week, the Fourth Grade class at Alta Vista had a fun activity while visiting the San Juan Bautista Mission. Lisa and Cindy had visited and created a picture treasure hunt with Parent chaperones with iPhones downloaded the app. Lisa shared her treasure hunt with them, and the students were off, searching San Juan Bautista for the spots. Students were excited and  engaged.

You don't have to use KlikaKlu only for field trips. What about creating a scavenger hunt for geometric shapes? Here's how 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.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Padlet/EduWin for Larissa Rehm

Welcome back to school! I hope you all had a wonderfully restful and restorative holiday break. 

Now that we are back and all Third through Eighth classrooms have enough Chromebooks for each student (pretty awesome, thanks to all the voters who supported Bond Measure J), you may be looking for an easy, quick activity to access with students. Padlet might be something you would like to consider.

Padlet is a virtual stickyboard where users can post short notes, images, videos, and URLs. It is easy to create a Padlet board, and you don't even need to sign up for an account to use your first Padlet. Here is a short YouTube video made by Richard Byrne of showing you how to set up and use Padlet:

Once you create a Padlet, it will be assigned a unique URL. As we all know, URLs can be a bit of a problem for students. Using a URL shortener is one way around it. I really like to use the URL shortener. You copy your longer URL and paste it into the box, click "Shorten URL" and you'll have a URL that is easier for your students to use. If you are signed into your Google account, it will keep a record of your URLs and even generate a QR code you can give students who are using tablets or other smart devices. 

Another great URL shortener to use is The advantage is that the URL that is generated uses words, eg The downside is that each shoutkey stays active for a maximum of 24 hours. However, if you have created a Padlet account, you will still be able to revisit your Padlet, and you can create a new shoutkey if you would like to make a Padlet board available again for students to add to at a later date. However, you might like to create the shoutkey ahead of time to make sure the word is accessible and appropriate for your students.

There are many ways to use Padlet in your classroom. Here are just a few:

  • have students brainstorm questions they would like to research about a certain topic
  • create columns on a Padlet and have students indicate where they are in the writing process by placing their name in the appropriate column
  • have students post examples of a ELA concept, eg: "Write a metaphor." "Give an example of an adjective."
  • if you have a library of photos/images, students can post them. An example might be in a primary class, "Post a picture of a word that has the long o sound."
  • have students post pictures that represent a math concept, eg. "Post a picture of an object that includes a right triangle."
  • have students write a short book endorsement and include a picture of its cover
  • post a question for students to respond to, "What evidence do you have that the main character...?"
  • use it as an exit ticket, "What is your most important take-away from today's lesson?"
  • create a bank URLs of websites they find that can be used to research a particular subject. 
I'm sure you can find many of uses for Padlet I haven't begun to think of. If you find yourself using Padlet a lot, you can install a Chrome Extension from the Chrome Webstore. (Let me know if you need help with this). Then, it will sit on your toolbar and you'll be able to Create (a) New (Padlet) at a moment's notice.

EduWin for Larissa Rehm

Being a Fourth grade teacher, Larissa and her class are deep into the Mission Project. This year, her students will use Google Presentation to write their report, complete with pictures they have sourced from the internet. This is a great way to familiarize students with a new tool and teach them about giving attribution to the creators of those images, while completing a traditional Fourth Grade project. 

Larissa is also planning on having students create science notebooks using Google Presentation. Her long range goal is to have students save and showcase their work on a website. Way to jump in, Larissa!

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.

The Hour of Code

Forty-four USD teachers reported introducing the Hour of Code to their students. All grades were represented! Thank you to all who participated. The names of all the teachers who filled in the Google Form were put into a random name picker for a thank you drawing. Christina Le, a Kindergarten teacher at Lietz, was chosen. A MakeyMakey kit has been ordered for her. We hope she and her class will enjoy using it.