Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Friday, April 24, 2015

Animoto/Google for Education on Air/Classroom Connections/LECDE

Animoto is another tool that is free for education that you and your students can use to easily create impressive looking multimedia presentations.

When Christy Mills' and my classes were participating in the Flat Classroom Project, we were required to create a "handshake" that would introduce our school in California to classrooms from around the world that were participating in the project. Armed with a digital camera, our students went around the school to take pictures of things and places on campus that they thought would be different from schools in other parts of the world. Then, they uploaded some of their pictures into Animoto, chose a theme, and let Animoto create the video we shared.

Alta Vista School, Los Gatos, CA

I used Animoto over the years with students as part of field trip reports and in curricular areas. Our Animotos always involved still shots (taken with cameras and tablets, but Chromebook digital shots work, too) and text, but you can also incorporate video clips and music. The Animoto website has wonderful examples on how young students used Animoto to demonstrate the alphabet, while older students used it to demonstrate their learning about the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s.  

To get started, you should head to their page that describes the different accounts available to education. Then, apply for an account at, making sure you've read the directions on  how to apply for the free classroom account

Roughly, the process is: You sign up for a free 30-day trial. They will send you a confirmation e-mail with a class code that acts like a coupon; you'll have one month to "redeem" it. Once you do, you'll be able to enroll 50 students in your class. 

Animoto makes it easy by allowing students to use a sign-up link. Find those directions here. Their accounts will be active for six months, after which, you will need to re-apply/renew your license. 

Once your students have an account, creating an Animoto video is easy. Here's a video on how:

ReadWriteThink offers lots of ideas on Bringing Lessons to Life with Animoto in your classroom, including an "End-of-Year Digital Scrapbook." 

Let me know how you decide to use Animoto in your classroom. I'd love to share your examples with other teachers.

Classroom Connections

The end of the year may be just the time to dip your toes into something new and have your students reach outside the classroom and their community. Union School District classrooms have a wonderful opportunity to connect with classes from the Rio School District in Oxnard, CA. Like us, Rio is a K-8 school district. 

Making a connection with another school can be as easy as a Google Hangout or Skype call about a book both classes are reading, or writing an e-pal letter. You might like to share learning around a curricular topic or project, maybe research the effects of the drought on Northern vs Southern California, or share local community information. The topics can be as diverse and as deep as you and the teacher at Rio decide. 

If you've ever thought of connecting with another class, this is a great way and time to start. Email me at and I'll help facilitate making the connection with a class at Rio SD. Can't wait to help you get started!

Google for Education on Air

Google is presenting a free online conference on May 8th and 9th, bringing some of EdTech's best to you. The conference schedule can be explored here. 

Friday's schedule kick's off at 7:00 am with a distinguished, international panel discussing "What are the skills of the future?" The panel includes the Finnish senior advisor to the Ministry of Education and Culture, along with one of California's favorite sons, Ken Shelton. Watch with other educators at the DO's Media Center. We'll provide breakfast coffee and treats, but you'll need to let us know you are coming. Sign up here. Even if you are only able to make it for the first 30 minutes, we're hoping that you'll be excited enough to join the conference from the comfort of your own home on Saturday. Sessions begin at 4:00 am and run all day with multiple choices in many of the time slots. Offered are Educator, Administrator, and IT tracks including one by another one of our favorites, Lisa Highfill. Use this link to register.

EduWin/Leading Edge Certification Digital Educators

Congratulations to USD's first cohort of LEC-DE certified teachers: Kirsten Anderson, Lynne Anderson, Carla Dunavan, Michelle Guzman, Mary Frances Lynch, Kelly Malatesta, Tamara Malave, Lisa Mata, Linda Ramsey Lakew, Jennie Reynolds, Nicole Van Wilgen, and Anne Van Zante.

LEC is a nationally recognized certification program. The Digital Educator program is designed to help educators develop pedagogy to encourage innovative tech-infused curriculum and learning activities for students.

With an emphasis on "The Four Cs," the eight modules cover topics like Digital Citizenship and Learning Environments. At the end, teachers have developed six lesson plans, that are tightly aligned with the CCSS or the NextGen Science standards, while including student use of a variety of digital tools.

Union SD, in conjunction with Saratoga and the San Mateo School Districts, will be offering this program again this summer. Look for Andrew's e-mail (dated April 20th) for more information, or visit this website. This is a great opportunity to build some tech-infused lessons you can use in your class next year, and have the district pick up the $450 enrollment fee.

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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Self-Paced Google Skills Training/C-SPAN Classroom/YouTube Privacy Settings/More PD Opportunities

After the Future Ready Learning Summit, you may be ready to venture further into Google Tools. One way to hone your skills is by using the Synergyse Training modules available for the following tools:

  • Calendar
  • Classroom
  • Drive
    • Docs
    • Sheets
    • Slides
    • Forms
  • Gmail
  • Google Plus
  • Sites
The Synergize Training for Google Apps is available to students too! From any of the tools listed above, all you and your students need to do it click on the Training icon, and accept their Permission to view your email address since this is a paid app available through USD.  While the training icon should be found on each of the apps, however, if it is missing, more information on launching the app can be found here.

Once Synergyse Training is launched, it can be used as a complete tutorial, following each lesson in order, which takes you deeper into the app as you go through the lessons, or you can scan the topics and get information on a feature you are interested in.  As we all know, Google pushes out updates without warning. Synergyse is committed to keeping their content current, updating their tutorials within 14 days of any Google revisions.

The lessons are short and focused. They include audio, so provide your students with headphones/earbuds if they are going to do a lesson, and guide you to click around the screen. One down side if you are using it with students, there are no review questions at the end, but if you get to the end of a module and need review, you can always go back and repeat a session.

Building confidence and expertise in your classroom has only up sides, so we encourage you to use Synergyse in your classroom. Have a "power user" student who is looking for the next thing to do? Make him/her the tool expert. Have them go through the module, and then share a tip or trick to their classmates. 

C-SPAN Classroom

Created as a primary source resource for Middle and High School Social Studies teachers, C-SPAN Classroom provides a wealth of resources on historical as well as current issues. Each topic includes a brief summary, an introduction to key vocabulary, and a video. There are questions that can be used to begin class discussions on a topic. The Bell Ringers are designed to be used at the start of the day, or as as fill-ins.

Classroom Deliberations has video clips and newspaper articles that will help engage your students in debates about current issues.

While some information, including "On This Day in History," is available to members only, the website is free. Endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies, the site is actively maintained by teachers in the field, making this a great website for both Social Studies and Language Arts teachers (think opinion writing) to check out.

Privacy Settings on YouTube

With the end of the school year and Open House on the horizon, you may be thinking of creating and sharing video with parents. An easy way to share video is through YouTube. Video you upload to YouTube has a default share setting of Public, and making a video Unlisted or Private is easy. An Unlisted video can be viewed by anyone with the URL, while you will need to invite (using an e-mail address) specific viewers to a Private video. Viewers are then required to sign in to view. Here is a video that show you how to do it:


I think we can all agree that this week's EduWin should go to Andrew, Ingrid, the IT Crew, and UDEA for planning the wonderful staff development day on Friday, April 3rd. The speakers were amazing, the internet worked, and the food and end-of-day give-aways were an added treat. Let's keep the #learnusd Twitter hashtag going. Please use it when tweeting some awesome thing you and your students are doing.

There are  two PD events planned for UMS. The first one is the EdCamp on April 25th. There are nearly 250 participants signed up for this free event. You can still register here. The second event is planned for August 14th. This event is being offered in conjunction with SCCOE and educators from around the county will be in attendance. Keep your eye open for registration, since there will be a limited number of spots open to USD teachers.

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