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Showing posts from October, 2014

Schedule for Next Week

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I'm going to start adjusting my weekly schedule next week to try and better accommodate the needs of each school. Next week is mildly complicated because of a couple events. Here is my calendar:


As always, if you need my assistance, just drop me a message. We can always do a Google Hangout if I'm not actually based in your school on that day. :)
Happy Halloween! And don't forget to fall back this weekend.

Site of the Day: Buncee

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For those of you who have used Glogster before, today's site of the day is going to look like a possible alternative tool. Buncee is an online creation tool that lets you add multimedia onto a shareable digital canvas. Overall, I found creating my digital poster was really easy to do. I was able to add in the YouTube view by using the link. There are plenty of graphics that are built into the system to choose from. The cool part is that the text that I type onto the page become interactive and can be read out loud by the computer once I look at the final Buncee. You can see my example by clicking here if it doesn't load below.

Click here to view my Buncee if it doesn't load on this webpage.

There is two levels of membership to the Buncee EDU site. If I was a hard core Bunceeuser in my classroom, I could be convinced to invest in the greater functionality. But the basic level looks perfectly fine for individual students to create and share on their own.

Disabling Swipes Between Web Pages

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I've heard from several teachers that they are frustrated by their browser going back and forth between pages, especially on Infinite Campus. First off, this is not a feature that is easily turned off for a specific site. I've spent time this morning looking up how to do it and suffice to say that it isn't happening. However, you CAN turn it off on your computer and then you won't have that problem at all.
Open your system preferences.


Open your track pad preferences.


Now, there are a LOT of settings having to do with gestures. So feel free to explore and change or remove them as you'd like. But the one that has to do with this complaint is on the third tab:


If you uncheck the box that the arrow is pointing to above, you will disable it going back and forth based on your gestures. If you use the drop down menu, then you can instead change what the gesture itself is. That could be helpful to change it to something that you don't usually do by accident. And that'…

Site of the Day: U.S. Drought Monitor

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Today's site of the day is a bit out of the norm, but I thought that it was appropriate given the dreary weather outside this week and what we're going to face this weekend here in New England. The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Upon first inspection, the site looks fairly basic. However, there is a wealth of data, science and history to explore within it. From animated GIFs of the drought levels going back several years, to the raw data that makes up the maps, the GIS data that you can then import into Google Earth... the list goes on.


So what, right? Well, I love that the raw data is available so that it could be used for statistical assignments. The data could be given the students for them to do the applicable calculations. Or a science class could use the data to study t…

Updated Infinite Campus Online Assessment Resources

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After the collective excitement of last week's late arrival technology professional development sessions at the high school, I took the time today to update my resources on my "Guides & Tutorials" website for how to do online assessments with Infinite Campus. I've included the latest guide book from Infinite Campus as well as an example of the item ID naming structure a teacher at the high school is using.

If you are interested in getting going with IC assessments, you can check out my resources by clicking here.

Site of the Day: Kahoot!

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I know what you are going to say. "Susie, you talked about Kahoot!last year... this isn't new!" Well, no it's not. But I know that there are plenty of new teachers around or teachers who missed me talking about it last year. So I'm talking about it again because it remains one of the easiest to use tools to gauge students' understanding. And the kids love it and request it!


So, what is Kahoot!? Basically, it's a game-based response system for your classroom that is useable with ANY device. iPod Touch, smart phone, tablet... you name it and they can use it. So that makes it a great tool if you have students in class who don't have a laptop or are having issues with their. They can use anything!
As a teacher, you can create a Kahoot!game with multiple choice questions from 2 to 4 responses and a variable time limit to respond to each question. The students join your game with a 4 digit pin. If you turn on the option to have it run on its own, all you h…

Site of the Day: Sophia.org

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Holy. Smokes.

How is Sophia.org NOT blowing up every community I'm a part of?

I found Sophia.org this morning while looking for gaming resources for a team of high school teachers. And I'm blown away. What is it?
"Sophia makes it easier than ever to flip your classroom with our free teacher tools for blended learning. Transform your classroom into an active learning environment with our groups, quizzes, and tutorials features. You can also track student progress every step of the way with our data and analytics. Additionally, we offer awesome ways to continue your professional development.
And it’s all free." [source]
Did you see that last line? Yes, free! I'm really surprised, given how comprehensive the site is.

Sophia.org has a wide range of standards-aligned content for both the NGSS and Common Core standards that you can assign to students via groups. You can create tutorials, resources, content, and pretty much anything you can think of right within their sit…

How to Subscribe to Google Calendars

I had a teacher this morning ask me for help subscribing to the building calendar for her school. She asked and I set it up! So, if you are looking for help with it, too, go check out this page of my Guides & Tutorial's Site to get started. And, as always, let me know if you need help with it.

P.S. I'm working on finding a way to make it easier to find the resources that I provide as opposed to splitting between this blog and my Guides & Tutorials site. While I look into it more, keep in mind that you can always use the search bar in the right hand column of my blogsite to search all of my sites for resources.

Site of the Day: Photomath

Today's site of the day isn't so much an actual site as much as a iOS app that I thought was cool enough to show everyone. The basic premise of Photomath is simple. Take a photo, the app solves the problem, and breaks the math down into a step by step process so the user can see how it is solved. How cool is that?!? I'm blown away at how easy it is to use. Here is a video from Photomath to show you:

PhotoMath from MicroBLINK on Vimeo.
I know that there are going to be plenty of teachers who get frustrated that the students could use this app to "do their homework". But I could also see it as being an awesome way for students to double check their work. By walking them through the steps of how to solve it, the student can then double check their own process to see if they are doing it right. If they don't get the right solution, they basically get an instant look at where they went wrong.

As always, check it out and let me know what you think!

Site of the Day: Rewordify

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Today's site was brought to my attention by Asst. Principal Ben Harris at BEMS. Rewordify is an absolutely free tool that is designed to help our students understand what they are reading better. They can paste in the text from "Warren Buffett loses $2 billion in two days" written by Gregory Wallace for CNN Money on October 21, 2014: 6:30 PM ET and Rewordify simplified the hardest words to make it easier to understand. For example, I used the first few paragraphs of this article from CNN and then plunked them into Rewordify and it spit out this to me (I adjusted my default settings to have the two pieces next to each other):



Replaced the first word is placed in parenthesis because Rewordify is smart enough to question if it translated it correctly. The other words replaced were "shunning" and "drubbing". Creating a free account on the site lets the user save, the harder terms to a word list to learn them better. If you are using an article in class, …

Site of the Day: Peanut Gallery from Google

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Today's site of the day, Peanut Gallery, looks to be a fun tool for students who need support with their verbal skills. The premise behind the site is that you can watch a silent movie clip and then speak what you'd like the actor to have said and Google will interpret your text and put it on the "speaking" screen following the clip. As the user you have to be sure that you are speaking clearly and are in a good sound area without echoes or lots of background noise in order to have it recognize what you are saying.

From a teacher's perspective, I could see using this site in a theater class quite easily since it would help students with their speaking skills and give them a perspective of silent films. For ELA classes, how about having the students write their own poem and then have it "performed" via a silent film? The ideas could keep coming!

The final product can be shared via a link or through social media, which makes it easy to show it off.


Check i…

Site of the Day: Common Mythconceptions

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Ok, so this one isn't really a site with a tool like the past sites that I've posted. It's actually just a really cool infographic that can be used for digital literacy lessons. How many times do you hear a student declare something as being truth when you know it isn't? Well, Common Mythconceptions gives you an infographic with common "truths" that aren't really that at all and the real truth behind them. I can see it being used to teach students how to research better by looking at something that you know is wrong and having them prove it one way or another. And, frankly, it's just plain cool information!


Check it out and let me know what you think!

Virtual WS: Getting Started with Hangouts & Hangouts on Air

Although the day is young and I still have three additional sessions to record while I do my live Hangout on Air this week, I thought that I'd post out the recording from my first session this morning for those of you who are wondering what the outputted video looks like as well as my resources.

Because the session was held as a live "Hangout on Air", it automatically recorded and then uploaded my session onto my YouTube channel. This particular broadcast has not been edited in any way so you can see it just how it was recorded.



As for my notes for the workshop, you can find my outline as well as my recommended resources within this Google Document:

Site of the Day: ChronoZoom

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It seems very easy to lose track of current events or our daily lives in relation to our collective history. For our students, they have an even smaller perspective given the shorter time span they have to reflect on. And so I thought that it only appropriate to share another cool site that I found called ChronoZoom, which is a project from Microsoft Research, The University of California Berkeley, the faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics of Lomonosov Moscow State University, and the University of Washington. From their website, ChronoZoom is for:
Use ChronoZoom to get a perspective of the extensive scale of time and historical events relative to what happened around the world. Become an author yourself! Simply log on with your social networking credentials to record your unique perspective or tell a story that needs to be told. [source] For example, I went to their site to check out the history of the cosmos. Birth of the Milky Way? Cool! Clicking on it brought me to a…

Site of the Day: Tuva Labs

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"The ability to take data - to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it's going to a hugely important skills in the next decades, not only at the professional level but even at the educational level for elementary school kids, for high school kids, for college kids." - Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google [source] Today's site of the day is geared towards the science and math classrooms. I came across Tuva Labs last week through one of my many link sharing tools. I like Tuva Labs because it is really geared towards real life data analysis as opposed to data that we, or our textbook company, made up to have the problem set work. As much as the kids still are getting the analysis part, it is a lot more effective when they have real data to work with.
The site itself is broken into two segments: data sets and activities. The activities are developed to use the data sets. For example, here is a lesson on Erupt…

Free Book: Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom: The Digital Media + Learning Research Hub Report Series on Connected Learning

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I just love being on Twitter. Today I saw a fellow educator tweet that the "Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom: The Digital Media + Learning Research Hub Report Series on Connected Learning" book is available for free as a PDF or 99 cents as an ebook. It's from the "National Writing Project" and "was edited by a group of National Writing Project educators and takes examples of practice that teachers have shared online—at the NWP Digital Is website—and curates them into a larger collection." Although I haven't read it yet, I thought that it would be good to pass it along to anyone else who is interested. I'm going to download it onto my iPad so I can check it out. Click on the book cover image below to be taken to the site to download it.



Site of the Day: Remind

Do you often find that texting reminders to your students, whether in a class or a club, would be helpful? But then they'd know your cell phone number. And we all know how not awesome that would be.

Bring on Remind.

I first heard of them last year and thought that it was a great service. It is geared towards educational applications and all of the documentation and how to documents are set up for classrooms. With Remind, teachers never see the student/parent phone numbers and students never see theirs. It's designed to make classroom communication easy, free, simple, and safe. You can even attach photos, files, or voice clips.

Here is a presentation from Remind to explain the why and how:

Getting Started with Remind from Remind
My sister teaches in a rural school district where email isn't as common. She used Remind last year to keep her parents informed as to what was going on in school and it was a great tool for her.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Site of the Day: ListenCurrent

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Last week I met some representatives from ListenCurrent while presenting/attending ACTEM's annual conference in Augusta. It seems like a really cool site to use to learning about current events in the classroom, so I wanted to share.


So, what is ListenCurrent?
"Listen Current makes it easy to bring authentic voices and compelling non-fiction stories to the classroom. We curate the best of public radio to keep teaching connected to the real world and build student listening skills at the same time." [source] As someone who grew up with Public Radio, I obviously have a personal reason for why I think this is a helpful site for our students to use. I also like it from an educational standpoint because the site gives the students the ability to listen to the article while they are reading. Therefore the article is easier to access by a wide range of reading levels. The site posts a new article every day and most that I've seen are 5 minutes or less in length. Imagine spend…

New Permissions (and Other Features) in Google Classroom

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One of the features that I know folks have wanted for Google Classroom is the ability to turn off commenting. Well, I was surprised to see that it's now live when I logged in to my Classroom this morning.

When you click on the students tab, you should now see the ability to change their access to be one of three options:

Students can post and commentStudents can only commentOnly reacher can post or comment Although I think the commenting feature is a great tool to use in the classroom, you can now turn it off or limit it if you are having problems.
If you are having problems with just one or a few students, you also now have the option to "mute" those students. Just check the offenders and then click on "Actions" and then "Mute".

Finally, you can now show or hide items that you've deleted from your stream. My assumption is that this setting only affects what you see, but I haven't been able to really test it yet. On the front of your classroom,…

Upcoming Changes to Google Forms

Last week while I was at the ACTEM conference in Augusta, I came across a tweet on Twitter with the developer's calendar for Google. Now I'll know when changes are coming so I can keep everyone informed if something happens that they need to know about it! The first update that I wanted to share has to do with older Google Forms. For those of you who have used it this fall, you may have noticed the ability to limit submissions to once per username as well as lots of new themes. For forms that were made longer ago, Google is going to start auto-upgrading them to the new version starting next week. Here is the formal announcement: "In the coming weeks, we’ll begin auto-upgrading all legacy forms created in the old version of Google Forms (those created prior to February 2013) to the new version. The new version of Forms supports higher response rates and advanced features like custom themes, randomizing questions, and one response per person.
All responses from the old Form…

Turn off those annoying pop up notifications!

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Light dawned on marble head this morning while sitting at the opening keynote for day 2 of the annual ACTEM conference. I've had a few people (me included) that have been frustrated by the popups for the system management that sometimes happen. Well... prepare to have your day made! You can turn them off! Go in to your system preferences, click on notifications, and then uncheck all of the boxes under the "Management Actions" and then change the alert style to "None".



Bingo! Day made.

The Hour of Code is Coming!

In the upcoming weeks, I'm going to be talking a lot more about the Hour of Code, which is a worldwide movement to get kids to learn more about how their technological world works. To show it to you a bit more and to hopefully start building excitement, here is a YouTube video that I was emailed yesterday.


Some of our elementary schools in the district did the hour of code last year. I'd LOVE for the middle and high schools to get on board, too. I'll be sharing how easy it is to do in the upcoming weeks as well as share what you can do in your classrooms to do the hour of code. The Hour of Code 2014 is during December 8-14, Computer Science Education Week.

Let's do this!

Gradebook Troubleshooting

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Assignments and categories ONLY go in to TRIMESTER grade! If you are posting grades for assignments in midterm grade or final grade, you are going to get into hot water with it not working right. In fact, that could be why studentsaren't seeing your grades. If you have grades NOT in TRIMESTER then please, please make an appointment with me to fix it. Or be sure that you take screenshots (command + shift + 4) of it all before you try to fix it just in case you lose anything.If you don't see anything in the "In Progress" column for the calculated grade, you have not set up your grade calc options yet. You must do this for every section that you teach for the whole year. It is not a universal option.
​Leave the top section alone.High School: Change the midterm, trimester, and exam task type to be "In Progress Grade" and then BEHS Numeric. Change the final grade task type to be "In Progress Grade" and then BEHS Alpha from the drop down menu.
Middle Sch…

Classroom by Google: A Side-by-Side View and How to Get Started

In my ongoing effort to get caught up on my screencasts from the year, here is my screencast covering a side-by-side view of Classroom by Google with both the teacher and student view of the program. There are some items in it that I learned as I covered the sessions and answered teachers questions, so those of you who attended my first sessions on it would likely still learn something.