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Showing posts from November, 2014

Site of the Day: Read&Write for Google Chrome

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Calling it my site of the day is a bit of a misnomer, since it's really a tool. But it leapt to the top of my psyche today when I was talking with another teacher about helping our kiddos out with their ELA skills in the digital world. Read&Write for Google Chrome is a Google Chrome extension that gives you deeper functionality with your Google documents. It is geared towards dyslexic, ELL/ESL, or LD students, but I can certainly see the applicability across the board. One of my favorite aspects is the ability to have a document read aloud to you by the computer. Yes, it is the typical robotic voice. But students of all abilities could use that feature when proofreading their papers since they will often gloss over the mistakes that they make unless they are hearing them.

Here is the rest of the write-up from the Google Chrome store:

Boost reading and writing confidence. Offer support for Google Docs/web to students with learning difficulties, dyslexia or ELL/ESL. Boost reading…

Hour of Code: Teacher's How to Guide

I've been hearing from more and more teachers that they are interested in doing an hour of code with their students during the week of December 8th to 14th. That's awesome! It's become a worldwide sensation that is held during Computer Science Education Week. Our elementary students have done it for a few years and I'd love to have more teachers on board. You don't even have to know how to code!



I found this great how to guide for teachers. I really recommend checking it out so you can see just how easy it is. Click here!

In fact, I'm assisting a high school teacher next week do an hour of code on Tuesday with her students. It's the second day of the trimester and the day before vacation, so not necessarily ideal to dig into the regular curriculum. What a perfect time for hour of code instead!

Don't think you can pull it off? Let me help! I can come into your class during your hour of code session to help you make it happen. In fact, I've set up my …

New Hour of Code Tutorials!

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I just received the following email from Code.org with over 20 new tutorials for the Hour of Code in December. So awesome! Don't be afraid to try the Hour of Code in your own room even if you don't have any idea what you are doing with programming. I AM HERE TO HELP! Want to do the Hour of Code in your classroom? Let me know and I'll come and help you with it. This is a really awesome way to get our students to be familiar with computers and what makes them tick.
An Hour of Code, featuring Anna and Elsa from Frozen! We are excited to share Code.org’s exclusive new tutorial for the Hour of Code 2014, in beta - featuring Disney’s “Frozen” heroines Anna and Elsa! While learning the basics of computer science, students will create a winter wonderland, then share their artwork with friends! Try the early preview now 20+ additional Hour of Code tutorials for all agesNew Hour of Code tutorials are ready to try – with options for every age, every device, and even "unplugged.&q…

Upcoming Free Webinars from NEISTE

I just got the following email from NEISTE with their upcoming free webinars. I'm thinking that some of you may be interested in checking them out, so here you go!
2014-2014 FREE Webinar SeriesRegister for all FREE webinars here.  Please share this with colleagues!
Managing the 21st Century Classroom Thursday, November 20th at 7 PM EST Gov Connection/HP - (A NEISTE Corporate Partner)
Netsupport - Using Classroom Management  to Get the Most Out of Your Technology Thursday, February 5th at 7 PM EST CDI Computer Solutions - (A NEISTE Corporate Partner) ----------------------------------------------------------------- RISTE Hosting College and Career Ready - Through a Technology Lens November 19, 2014    4:00 - 6:00 pm New England Tech East Greenwich Campus ----------------------------------------------------------------- Adobe Webinar Series for NEISTE Districts Friday, November 21 2:00–3:00 p.m. ET Thursday, December 4 2:00–3:00 p.m. ET For more information: Jarod Pace 206.675.7080 (tel…

Modifying the Model

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There always comes a time when you have to reflect on what you are doing and then modify to make it better. I'm at the modification stage now.

So far my model has been to offer workshops at both schools each week with a set topic and then office hours to accommodate 1:1 time. Based on attendance and feedback from staff, that doesn't seem to be the right model for our staff. Many of you have expressed to me that you like having the content available to you via my screencasts, but are simply struggling to be able to fit in a traditional workshop into your day.

At the same time, my office hours have been for groups or 1:1 work with me to learn new skills. That has worked for many of you. But I know that others find the one day a week a struggle to make work with everything else you have going on.

Let's try to solve all that...
Topic of the Week: My new plan is to post a screencast with a new skill or tool every Friday for the following week. That would give you the weekend, i…

Updates to Google Classroom

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Yesterday brought down some more updates to Google Classroom, which I thought I would take the time to make you aware of just in case you haven't seen them.



Supposedly it's easier to invite students. Given that I am a big fan of using the class code instead, I'm not sure how noticeable this change really is. In fact, I couldn't tell at all. But you can judge that for yourself. It looks as if it is most noticeable for districts that set up groups of students (such as a group of all seniors, juniors, etc.) and it therefore doesn't have much effect for us since we don't utilize groups with students.

On the student's side, they can now mark an assignment as "Done" even if there is nothing attached to it. I could see using this method if your students had to complete the assignment by filling in a Google Form through a link on the assignment. In the past, they've had to create a document to turn in for it to show as being turned in, which meant extra…

Do you need a backup?

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I know that the idea of moving further into the SAMR model and going beyond simply replacing old tools with technology (versus using tech to go deeper) is scary and overwhelming. Add in the "what if it goes wrong" and the instinct is to avoid it all together. So, I really want to try to help make it no so overwhelming.

If you are going to be using a technology in your classroom for a lesson and you think you would be more comfortable if you had a backup, let me know! I can come in and simply be available to help troubleshoot problems or answer questions that your kiddos have. I'm not there to teach the lesson, but more to provide you with a boost of confidence to make it successful.

All you need to do is book me during my office hours and tell me what you are going to be using so that I can be prepared in advance. Or, if you know that you'll need backup and it's a little ways out, just get in touch and I'll adjust my schedule to be there for you! Remember, I…

Site of the Day: Graphite's Common Core Explorer

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Today's site of the day is from the wonderfulness that is Common Sense Media's Graphite. If you haven't checked out Graphite in general, I highly recommend that you do so. It's designed to support our use of technology in the classroom by providing teachers with reviews of all kinds of web tools (and iOS apps) that are broken down into many different categories and grade levels to find what you are looking for very easy. They also offer professional development and appyhour podcasts for teachers.

The aspect of the Graphite site that I wanted to talk about as my site of the day is the Common Core Explorer component within their site. I LOVE this part because you can choose which common core standard you are covering, what grade, and it will give you some tools to look at to use in your lessons. Let's look at the language arts standards for grades 9-10.


If I wanted to look at technologies that would support "L.9-10.2c Spell correctly". Once I check out the …

Site of the Day: Periodic Videos

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I've been looking into resources for a science resources for one of our kiddos and today's site of the day is from that. The Periodic Videos site (and Sixty Symbols for physics and Numberphile maths sister sites) is from the University of Nottingham and goes through every element on the periodic table and shares stories, demonstrations, and information about them. The folks in the videos are trained scientists that clearly need a "do not try this at home" clause.

Why do I think you should check these sites out? Well, because they are awesome and different. We all know how hard it can be to get students engaged and I think these could be a great add into science classes. Or how about using them to inspire students to create their own videos about whatever topic you are covering? Instead of a typical stand in front of class report, have them record and produce a video instead and see how the engagement goes up!


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

Site of the Day: SafeShare.tv

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Today's site came to me through another Integrator. SafeShare.tv is a way to show a YouTube video without all the distractions. The nice part is that it generates it as a link, so you can easily link to it from your own webpage, blog, etc. in order to share resources in a safer environment. For example, this link will take you to one of my YouTube videos I made and shows it ON the YouTube site. But giving you this link, as generated by SafeShare.TV, instead will make for a much easier to watch video that is easier to focus on. Looks pretty awesome to me!


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

Site of the Day: DIY.org

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I've dished out a number of sites geared explicitly towards classrooms and teachers over the past few weeks. So I thought that I'd change it up and share DIY.org with you. It does have a teachers dashboard to it, which you can access for free (they use your credit card to verify that you are an adult, but apparently don't charge you). But I created a student account, and rewound the clock a bunch of years in order to be eligible for one, and started exploring.



Why do I like DIY.org? Well, it really is geared towards our kids. It's the kind of place they would like. It is filled with like minded kiddos that are working on the patches that interest them. Yes, there are patches! So, if you have a student who is an engineer in the making, they can go check out the engineer patches that they have (ranging from mechanical to solar and everything in between) and then start doing project to "earn" that patch. But it's not just for the STEM crowd either. Are they …

Weekly Agenda for November 10-14, 2014

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I'm continuing my efforts to increase folks' awareness of where they can find me and when. I already have this information posted on my blogsite, but I know that not everyone navigates to it. With next week's schedule being as scattered as it is, I've decided to opt out of workshops for the week and instead focus on giving teachers more 1:1 time. If I am scheduled to be at the other school and you'd like to meet with me, just be in touch. I can often walk over to meet with you, if time allows, or I can call you via a Google Hangout. I'm always here to help!


Site of the Day: CK-12 Physics Simulations

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Me and Physics. We were never friends. Sure, it keeps my feet firmly planted on the ground and my car going. But I was never a very good physics student.

And here is where the CK-12 Simulations come into play as my site of the day.

On the site, students can chose from a LONG list of simulations that cover everything from the physics of sound to gravity's forces on water from a fountain... the list goes on. The first step once you've selected is to learn about the physics behind the simulation. Then you are taken into the simulation to put it to the test. The site has prompts under the challenge button to see if the student really knows their stuff.

If you are a science, math or industrial tech teacher then I highly recommend that you check it out.


Check it out and let me know what you, and your students, think!

Rubrics with Google Classroom (Thanks to Doctopus + Goobric!)

This week's workshop topic was on using rubrics with Google Classroom. It's very easy to do once you know the process thanks to Doctopus + Goobric. Keep in mind that you need to be using Google Chrome to have it work and you shouldn't be flipping back and forth between multiple accounts in one Chrome profile. Please make an appointment with me if you wind up having issues.

Here is my screencast to walk you through the process:

Site of the Day: Sketchpad by Sketch.io

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After so much geek over the past few sites of the day, I found today's website and decided it was the perfect way to offset that. Sketchpad from Sketch.iois an easy, online sketchpad that lets students draw and create within their browser without the need to make an account. At first it came across like all kinds of other online sketching tools I've seen. But, as I dug into it more, I found lots of features that many others lack. The gear tool, for example, is highly customizable so that the gear can be practically any shape you'd like. There is also a spirograph tool, which takes me back to my youth, and a web tool as well. The real stand outs for me are the blending types, such as darken and overlay, that really kick it up a notch. Add in layer control and it's a really full feature tool! If you currently have students creating posters or drawings the traditional way and you'd like to offer an electronic method, I really recommend checking out Sketchpad from Ske…

Site of the Day: Made with Code from Google

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Today's site of the day is brought to us by the wonderful folks at Google. Made w/ Code is a site that helps students, especially girls, explore the world of coding in a really easy way. The site is broken down into a couple categories:

There are six different project types that the participant can do, with five of them being geared towards beginners and then another for intermediate.Then there is a mentors page with six different videos to watch that tell you about how coding has been used in different fields from video production to health science, which makes it easier for the viewer to see how coding can be applied to so many different aspects of their life.The Makers section is great for female students to become familiar with coding and understand that it is not just a "boys' world".The community section lets the viewer connect with the "Made w/ Code" site in Google+, Twitter, Instagram, etc.The events page is turning out to be fairly limited for our a…

Site of the Day: Heatmap News

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What's going on in the world? Where is the news coming from? Well, today's site of the day is a really awesome visual way of looking at just that. The Heatmap News site seems basic enough, but it's pretty awesome. When you log on, you can toggle between a map or satellite view of the Earth and then there are glowing areas where the site is seeing more topics posted on Google News. The most stories are going to be shown in red. Want to know what the area means? Click on it and it tells you a brief summary with a link taking you to all the news articles posted on Google News about it.


I can see Heatmap News being the first site that a teacher has open on their projected computer screen every day at the beginning of class. For me, it would spur me to wonder what is going on where the deep red is. In fact, just viewing their site made me aware of news articles that I didn't know of yet and I normally think of myself as fairly well informed. (Do YOU know why India was so re…

Site of the Day: Gooru

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Today's site of the day, Gooru, is meant to help teachers take advantage of all of the awesome tools that we have available to us thanks to technology. If you are looking for resources on a specific topic, you can log onto their site, search for the topic and then pull together the resources you find with a list. For example, one of their featured sources on chemistry has all of the resources for the course pulled together by unit. It makes it really easy to find information that the teacher has pulled together all in one place. Struggling with a skill or concept? Check out the teacher's Gooru and see what resources are available for that topic. Here is a screenshot:


Overall, I like how easy it is to use Gooru and how organized it can be. I've seen other tools similar to Gooru and they always seem to be more complicated than they should. If you are interested in checking out Gooru, I'd highly recommend checking out their quick start guide to see what it's all about…