Charlotte's Web ThingLink

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.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Voice Recording/Movenote/EduWin for Athenour TK Teachers

As elementary teachers are getting ready for Open House, many have asked about using an app that generate a QR code to record students talking about a project. They want to attach the QR code to the student work so parents and visitors can hear student voices. A QR code is kinda like a bar code. Using a QR code reader, a free app available for smartphones, the user scans the QR code and is taken to the URL where they can access the webpage where the information is stored. 

Here is an example of one I found on the back of a Heinz ketchup bottle. Download a QR code reader app from either the iTune or Google Play Store and try it out.

At the beginning of the year, I was a big fan of AudioBoom, and even wrote a blog post on it. But since then, they have changed their model and listeners are now required to sign in with an account. This works fine if you have a tablet or two that are signed into an account and available for your listeners to use during an event, or if your parents are happy to sign up for an account. However, there are a few other web apps, Chirbit and Vocaroo,  available that you might like to try out. Each have their pros and cons. Here is a table with some of the features you might like to consider before jumping into one of the apps:

Want to get started but need a little help? Send me an e-mail.


Movenote is a Chrome Web App, available in the web store, or by adding from "More - + Connect more apps" under New in Google Drive. The app makes it easy to record audio and video will narrating a Google Drive Doc, Presentation, Sheet, or Drawing. Imagine being able to add that personal dimension to your student work, while covering those listening/speaking CCSS standards!

Here's how to get started.

EduWin for Athenour TK Teachers, Mary Katayama and Rachel Schaffer

TK students' learning is being enhanced by Bee-Bots. Bee-Bots are tiny programmable robots that can be used to teach vocabulary, math, sequencing, collaboration, creativity, and so much more!

Athenour's TK teachers have embraced using Bee-Bots. Armed with a binder full of curricular ideas and their own imagination and willingness to jump in, the teachers are integrating the students' newest friends into lessons.

Students are using them to learn about Community. You can see the community they have built, complete with a Starbuck's. The community is built on a grid, with streets wide enough for the Bee-Bot to navigate. But first, the students need to learn how to program the Bee-Bot.

Working in collaborative groups, students were assigned a task, Maze Designer; Program Planner, this student is responsible for using measuring sticks to find out how many times a Bee-Bots needs to follow a command; Recorder, this is the student responsible for writing the program; and the Bee-Bot Programmer, the student who follows the Recorder's directions and enters the commands into the Bee-Bot by pressing the buttons.

In this activity students learned vocabulary (words like memory, maze, rotate, and command), the concept of right and left (remember how hard that is to get correct?), measuring and math, and a myriad of social skills. Following the activity, the students write about their experience, using some of their sight words, eg go and end.

Congratulations and thank you for making such a rich lesson so much fun for your students!