Posts tagged ‘Technology’

Top 5-ish #NCTIES15 Take-Aways

“If you don’t much care where you want to get to, then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.” By The Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

One of my favorite conference is NCties, an ISTE affiliate for North Carolina, and I look forward to it every year. Below are only some of my take-aways, as I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone so I filtered through my notes and chose my top 5-ish (because you will see I sub-resources of my top 5) and they are not in any particular order.

  1.  Todd Nesloney
  2. Kevin Honeycutt
  3. Richard Byrne
  4. Resources based on tweets from #NCTIES
  5. My Favorite Tweets
    • “School shouldn’t be something kids are surviving. It should be the highlight of their day”
    • If we want learning to change for students we have to change the way we do PD for educators. @web20classroom
    • When a teacher asks: “Who doesn’t have Internet at home?” the kid hears “Who is poor & pathetic” @gwynethjones

Bonus: Here are all the #NCTIES15 resources from all sessions:

From my session was on how we rolled out Personalized Learning in our district. Here is our information: and come see Personalized Learning in action! Sign up for a tour on April 2nd, 2105. More Info

Sites that are Not Well-Known, that You Should Know as an Educator

“A defining condition of being human is that we have to understand the meaning of our experience.” By Jack Mezirow

Below are ten sites that I don’t think are not well-known but you should know as an educator. They are sites that will help you in the classroom from classroom management to challenging your students.

1. Team Maker: A simple random team generator that lets you create teams quickly and easily.

2. Tinkercad: a free, easy-to-learn online software to create and print 3D models.

3. Planetarium: Explore the stars and planets from your web browser. (Also a chrome extension)

4. Class Badges: Award badges for all different learning experiences.

5. Coggle it: Great for mind mapping and brainstorming.

6. HsTry:  Create interactive timelines

7. Zaption: Turn online videos into interactive learning experiences that engage students and deepen understanding.

8. Classtools-Connect Four: a game to review key terms/vocabulary and the connections between them.

9. Bouncy Ball:  Great for classroom management; the balls bounce based on level of noise in the classroom.

10. Greg Tand Word Problem Generator: Create different types of word problems in minutes.

*Sites that are coming soon or are in beta that look promising:

1.  Class Realm: a platform for teachers to introduce gamification into their classrooms, encourage better behaviorpatterns, and promote creative expression.

2. ThemeSpark: Build a standards-based rubric in under a minute.

3. Sphero Education:  Core lessons and STEM challenges give kids a fun crash course in coding while sharpening their skills in math & science.

Do you have a website that is not well-known but you think educators need to know? Please share in the comment section.

Using Google Draw to Create Manipulatives and Tasks

“Manipulative’s are a tool for instruction, yet teachers tend to not use them due to lack of education and confidence of their effectiveness to increase learning.” (Green, Flowers, & Piel, 2008).

With more and more Chromebook’s coming into school districts it is important to make sure our students are using them for creation verse consumption of knowledge. A great way for students to show creation is in Google Drawing App. Teachers and/or students can create manipulatives, task or games based on the skills they are learning. Below are a few examples along with how to create these in Google Draw.

1. Let’s Go Shopping: This is an example for our a second grade money task. The students must show how much money would represent what they are buying. They can do a screencast* to share their thinking as they are creating.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.22.01 AM

2. Water Cycle: This is an example a student created based on the water cycle. The student created the water cycle images, label the correct terms and then did a screencast* explaining their thinking. For younger grades they can do a screen shot.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.21.36 AM


3. Base Ten: Here I created a virtual base ten task. The students have to create the number by using the base ten virtual manipulatives and explain their thinking through a screencast*.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.22.46 AM

Here is my folder of Google Draw templates I have created or I have found, click here to add them to your Google Drive.  They will only look like an image until add them to your drive, then you can edit and see more of the details.

*Screencast: We use the Google Extension Snag-it. (If you are in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, this extensions is put on all Chromebooks. All the students need to do to create the screencast is click the blue S to the right of the url window.)

How to Create Manipulatives in Google Draw: 

1. Decide what type of manipulative you need and brainstorm what the goal of the task is for the students. (Example: For the Let’s Go Shopping task I created above. I wanted to see if they could create the correct combinations to pay for the items.)

2. Then log into your GAfE account, go to your drive and click on new (you will have to go to the arrow where it says more to find Google Draw) click on draw.

3. Right click on the blank grey and white grid/canvas to choose a background color you would like to use.

4. Now you build your manipulatives or games the way you would like. Under the insert tab are where you can put pictures, create shapes and text boxes.

Here are a few other ideas you can create manipulative/tasks for but not limited too….

Math: fraction number line, quadrilateral chart, ten frame, clock/time etc

Reading: story maps, word sorts, vocabulary, brainstorming/mind-map etc.

Science: periodic table, cell diagram, rock cycle etc

Social Studies: history timeline, infographic, graphic organizers such as for cause & effect

Other Resources for Using Manipulative’s:

Alice Keeler Website

Graphic Organizers with Google Drawings

 Google Drawings Support

I would love to know how you use Google Drawing in the Classroom, please share in the comments.

Ways to Use Blokify – Without a 3D Printer in the Classroom

“It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life.” by Julius Caesar

3D printers are becoming more popular in classrooms and schools because of makerspaces and the need for creativity! Blokify is a 3D modeling App software that enables kids to create toys/items they can play with virtually or physically via 3D printing.*

I downloaded Blokify and was hooked! There are two modes: challenges and free play. I started thinking about how much fun this was even though I couldn’t print it and realized I could still share via email (great for classrooms that don’t have 3D printers yet). So I started thinking of ways to use it in the classroom even if you didn’t have a 3rd printer:

1. Students could create a scene from the book they are reading or for the stories they create.

2. Complete the challenge modes: It promotes problem solving and critical thinking skills. Can’t figure out when students would have ‘time’ to do this, have it be apart of your may do’s or when they finish something early.

3. Create challenges (they would do in free play) such as make an array for 4×5 or create a building with the area of 36 and perimeter of 42.

4. You can App Smash it with many other apps: Check out this student explaining his work on Blokify and Explain Everything.

More Articles about Blokify:

Blokify 3D Modeling Software

Blokify iOS app aims to make modeling for 3D printers accessible to kids

Blokify app is where Minecraft meets 3D printing

 I would love to hear how you have used Blokify in your classroom.

*”blokify.” 2013. 25 Nov. 2014 <>

Creating Better Google Searchers

“If it isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist.” By Jimmy Wales

Do you use Google? I know I use it almost everyday hence why I love Google’s Search Education (GSE). GSE is a place where teachers and students can learn about different ways to search. There are lesson plans and live trainings so you can also learn at your own pace based on your needs as a learner. Here is a quick video on the GSE:

Combine this new knowledge of how to search with Google a Day (see previous post) and watch your students become critical thinkers.

Revolutionize PD and Your Classroom for the Digital Age

“Professional learning does not advance… through the inexorable confirmation of previous certainties, but through a systematic challenge to our present conceptions” By Douglass B. Reeves

Two of my favorite educators in the world are Jen Sieracki and Ray Giovanelli and I have had the pleasure to work with both of them. I was ecstatic that their article, 10 ways to revolutionize PD for the digital age,  was published in eSchool News this week! eSchool news is a great resource you should not only check out but also subscribe too. Below I adapted the 10 ways they shared about revolutionizing PD and added how you can use these same ideas to revolutionize your classroom!

1. Technology Tuesdays. These are volunteer sessions for additional technology tool support. This is an opportunity for teachers to get additional tech support on new tools that can be integrated in to the classroom. This is done each month by school or district experts. –Classroom Take-Away: Introduce a new digital tool to your class on Tuesdays so they have a toolkit of different apps/sites they can use when creating. Take it a step further and let the students present to each other the educational ones they like.

2. Flipped PD. Rethink professional development and begin to differentiate by allowing teachers to pick areas they want to learn about, create collaborative action plans, and then learn about their focus area. Simulate an EdCamp model, focus on more engaging and longer term PD that is more in-depth rather than isolated shorter sessions. –Classroom Take-Away: Allow the students to pick what they want to learn and how through choice menus.

3. Model and Celebrate. Model technology use with staff any chance you can (in professional development, staff meetings, student groups, model lessons, etc.).  Make sure that facilitators and administrators are using different tools as they present to show teachers how they work “in action”. Celebrate the risk-takers on your staff! -Classroom Take-Away: Model technology with your students. Don’t say this is how you use this (fill in app) but use it fluently so they can see how one uses it seamlessly.

4. Be Flexible. Allow flexibility with what is used by both teachers and students. Don’t focus on one platform or one app. Teachers should be able to use what they are comfortable with and what works for their kids. –Classroom Take-Away: Don’t tell the students what app/site to use for a project but allow students to have choice in apps/sites they want to us.

5. Tap into Student Resources. Use students to be a catalyst for what they want in their learning (Genius Hour, Genius Bar).  Make sure to get student feedback, allow for them to work on passion projects, and work on characteristics of collaboration, communication, and life-long learning. Have students share their learning with teachers and a global audience! –Classroom Take-Away: Have experts in your class that are technology helpers.

6. Innovate. Create time during the day to try new things! Have administration cover teacher classes so they can focus on planning and preparation for new strategies and ideas. Empower teachers with the gift of “time.” -Classroom Take-Away: Let your students participate in genius hour so they can choose what they want to learn more about and be given the time.

7. Build Professional Learning Networks. Encourage teachers to broaden their knowledge base and connections with others inside and outside of your building and establish collaborative teams (utilizing Twitter, PLCs, Google+, etc.). Use opportunities to teach staff how to best use Twitter and other tools to learn about areas of interest, and building their learning network beyond the schoolhouse. –Classroom Take-Away: Let the students network and collaborate with each other when they need an idea or help. You can use tools such as TodaysMeet, Padlet or Chatzy.

8. Ask the Tough Questions. Compare/Contrast an iPad, Laptop, or Chromebook to a pencil.  Is this used because students are engaged or is it truly being used as a tool for learning? Is the technology an add-on or a non-negotiable for this task?  Which tool works best? As with anything, children must use the right tool for the right situation. –Classroom Take-Away: When the students are creating for project/activity, have them ask themselves these questions.

9. Categorize. Just like using a media center, children need to be taught and begin to learn when to use the appropriate application to meet the expectations of the activity they are working on. For example, creation tools:  iMovie, Google Docs, PicCollage; or organizational tools: Google Drive, Evernote, Padlet. Every tool is not appropriate for every task. –Classroom Take-Away: Have students create lists in their notebook or as a class for how they use the app. Ex. presentation (Haiku Deck) verse brainstorming (Popplet).

10. Let Teachers Visit Teachers. Allow time for teachers to watch model tech use in action. This not only strengthens the learning culture of a school, but it also allows teachers to see how their colleagues may be using a technology tool or management of technology in a creative way. –Classroom Take-Away: Let students visit other classes to work with other teachers and students that are masters at certain apps as we all can know it all.

Make sure to also read their original article, 10 ways to revolutionize PD for the digital age,  published in eSchool News!

Plickers: A Digital Assessment Tool

“A teacher is a person who knows all the answers but only when she asks the questions.” By unknown

I learned about Plickers this summer at #ISTE14 conference but forgot about it until I was in a school this week that was using it and loving it. Plickers is a digital assessment tool, like the ‘old school’ clickers but using paper and argument reality (AR).

The site is very user-friendly and FREE! It is also great for schools that are not 1:1 or for teachers that don’t feel comfortable yet with technology. After you create an account you input your students names and assign them card sheets. (They work like QR codes but are shapes) Each code card can be turned in four orientations letting them answer A, B, C and D. When you, the teacher, are ready to collect data; you use the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see the results. You can see each students name, what they answered and it is also color coded to quickly see if they got it right or wrong.  The data can also be seen as a bar graph of the responses so you can look for trends between your questions. Plickers is great for entrance/exit tickets, informal assessments or checkpoints. It is a quick way to see if students are understanding a concept or not in real-time and allows for student voice.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 4.50.40 PM

Other articles about Plickers:

Free Tech For Teachers: Plickers

Plickers: Classroom Clickers without the Clicking

Video: SHS App Review – Plickers

I would love to know how you have used it in the classroom! Please share it in the comments.


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