Friday, August 29, 2014

Google Chrome Tab tricks/ shortcuts

Google Chrome Tab Tricks and Shortcuts:

PLC Resources

  "Professional Learning Communities" is becoming a more common phrase in today's schools, and with their promise of raising student achievement, aligning core to instruction, and clear assessment goals, why wouldn't a school want to give PLC's a look?  I am excited to see that our schools are taking this work seriously, because we believe it is what is best for our students.  

   The journey to true PLC's, however, can be tricky and a little vague, especially at first.  This is why I created the video below- to give you some resources to look at while meeting in your PLC's or to give you more background if you haven't read DuFour's Learning By Doing from Solution Tree.

Here are the links I referenced in the video:
All Things Assessment

Here's one more from Engage NY

Here's Solution Tree's YouTube page with informational videos

Please comment below if you have found other resources that help in your PLC work!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Google Classroom

   Google has made a new tool available for educational domains called Classroom, which enables teachers to seamlessly and easily assign  Google Apps work to groups of students.  Classroom works like this:
A teacher logs into Classroom, and starts a class.  Once inside the class, the teacher can add students.  Students then "join" the class by entering in a unique class code. Using files created in Drive, the teacher can then "assign" work to any student in the class via  Google Apps.  The assigned work is then "turned in" by a specified date, and Classroom allows the teacher to leave comments and grades on the work.  The best part is that all of this happens in the cloud using  Google Apps.
  Another function of Classroom is for teachers and students to have feedback conversations through a chat feature.  Assignments and chats can also be emailed to students, along with due dates.

   Below is a video created by Roger Nixon showing both the Student view in Classroom and the Teacher view in Classroom:

Classroom makes sharing a single document with multiple students quick and easy, where each student gets their own copy of the document.  Classroom also allows teachers to share links, videos and attachments with students. While  Google claims that Classroom is not intended to be a Learning Management System (LMS), it does make sharing docs with students and grading those docs far easier than before.

   Jonathan Wylie also has a great blog post (CLICK HERE) on getting started with Classroom.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


   WeVideo is a collaborative, cloud-based video editor/ creator.  Once you upload or record raw footage, you can edit the footage together with transitions, titles, backgrounds, and even add voiceovers.  The reasons I like WeVideo include:
1) It's free to signup and use!  Even better, you can sign-up by using your Google account.
2) You can invite friends to collaborate on the creation of your video.
3) You can link your Google Drive account or Dropbox account to upload/ download your videos.
4) You can have multiple projects working at once.

WeVideo's interface is very user friendly and I have found that my students can figure it out rather quickly- much easier than Windows Movie Maker (I've also used with students).  While it is not as powerful as iMovie, the simplicity of controls does not take away from a great-looking end product.

The free version of WeVideo does limit the video quality, size, and number of exports one can do in a month, but they do offer tiered payment plans for more avid video editors.

**update**- WeVideo keeps getting better- their new UI keeps getting better... and you can download the app straight to Google Drive!

Friday, August 8, 2014


 Kidblog is a student online blogging platform that I have been using for a few years now.  I really enjoy using this system for a number of reasons:

1) It's free! My first rule for classroom software...
2) The teacher is the administrator for all student accounts and passwords- no waiting for a password reset or asking for permission to read a draft of a post or comment.
3) It is very intuitive and offers a great visual interface that is easy for students to use, but also allows those "advanced" students a chance to explore simple blog programming.
4) Once all the students are added to the system, they can be ported to a new teacher/ classroom the following year without re-creating every account.

Kidblog also offers some nice features (they have been updating these features on a regular basis recently) that allow users to link their blogs to their Google Drive or Evernote accounts.  I also make use of the "post broadcasting," which allows me to create a single post which is then sent to all my accounts for different classes.

I use Kidblog primarily to allow students the freedom to write "on-demand" pieces from prompts AND to give each other comments.  This is a really powerful tool when I have students offer advice, peer coach, and encourage each other in their writing.

Kidblog is where we can take our final drafts from more extensive writing in our Google Drive accounts and post them.

Lastly, the blog has also become a place where we can embed creations from iPad or web apps and house them permanently.  I also understand that by the end of the school year, Kidblog will allow teachers to download offline copies of every students blog- something the student can take with them after they leave your class.

If you're looking for a neat way to incorporate higher order thinking and evaluation into your classroom's writing experience, give Kidblog a try.  Still a little wary?  Check out my classroom blog HERE.

3 Classroom Blogging resources I use:
Comments4Kids- a resource for signing up your classroom to receive comments from students worldwide.

Imagination Prompt Generator- the IPG is a website that gives students simple prompts to help them begin on-demand and free-writing opportunities.

180 Prompts- a teacher designed website that has 180 different writing prompts paired with pictures/ videos to aid in the creativity process.

1 iPad app I use for Classroom Blogging:
Educreations- An interactive whiteboard that allows students to record voice over what they write AND gives the ability to embed final creations into a website.