Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Google Docs has a lot of functionality on its own, but you can also choose to use add-ons that will simplify, streamline and extend the possibilities for its use.

Below is a quick snapshot of where to locate the Add-ons menu in docs, sheets, slides etc.

If you have not checked out the add-ons for Google Docs, you can check them out in any Google doc.

If you just want some highlights, here are three great ones to start.

  1. Doc Tools  - this add on offers 13 ways to easily make minor changes to your doc
  2. Speech Recognition SoundWriter - use speech to text with Google Docs to type your ideas
  3. Rhyme Finder - just what it says, making poetry more accessible
  4. Lucidchart Diagrams - create diagrams from data in Google sheets to ease the interpretation with visuals
  5. GradeProof - Instantly correct spelling, grammar and phrasing within docs.

Let us know if you try one out and what you think!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Digital Citizenship

This June, it will be 11 years since the iPhone was first released. The first iPod was released almost 17 years ago. That means our seniors have probably never bought a CD, nevermind made a mix tape with recordings from the radio.

With great technology comes great responsibility. While we encourage the use of technology in our classes in order to create greater access and possibilities for our students, it also means that we need to inform them about what constitutes being a good digital citizen. This has become more relevant than ever with the institution of the 1:1 program at the middle and high school. So with that in mind, here are some resources for teachers and students. This will serve to begin a conversation about how to improve 1:1 instruction and integrate this as a topic of our everyday interaction with students.

My favorite resource for Digital Citizenship resources is Common Sense Media, which is also great for parents and I first learned about from Chris Long (thanks, Chris!). As part of the 5th grade specials rotation, I would use a number of resources on this website to expose kids to these topics in an engaging way. Here is a rundown of the best resources for each level.

For teachers - This training is for any level teacher and is different depending on the one you choose. If you choose to participate, you will receive a certificate and you can turn it in to receive 1 hour of Act 48 credit. I did the one for high school and found it to be really engaging and helpful. - These posters are free to print and display in classrooms. - Receive a digital badge to showcase your skills as a Common Sense Educator. - Complete this training with Google to touch on the most important topics related to Digital Citizenship and Safety.

For elementary - This is for grades 3-5 and has several modules on digital citizenship and internet safety in game format. - From Google, could be high elementary or middle. - Use these questions to gauge a student’s mastery of digital citizenship concepts. When they finish the 20 question assessment, they will receive a percentage grade and a certificate.

For middle school - This game is case studies in decision making online, but presents kids with options and choose their own adventure. It talks to them about the reasons for choosing the correct answers and the consequences of poor decisions. - From Google, could be high elementary or middle. - Use these questions to gauge a student’s mastery of digital citizenship concepts. When they finish the 20 question assessment, they will receive a percentage grade and a certificate.

For high school - This is designed for high school students and has them hear from other teens, but then actually has them create a project to voice their thoughts on the topic of digital citizenship. - Use these questions to gauge a student’s mastery of digital citizenship concepts. When they finish the 20 question assessment, they will receive a percentage grade and a certificate.

Please reach out if you have questions or comment. We will continue this discussion in the future at all levels.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Your Next Book

You'd like to read a book, but you're not sure what to read next.  Unsure of what you're in the mood for or what will be "good," you don't know where to turn.  Sound familiar?  Have no fear, your friendly high school librarian can help!

These websites' primary goal is to help you find your next book.
Reading Communities
Book Talks, Trailers, Teasers
Browsing Your Library

Image result for harry potter diary gif

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Classroom Screen for Classroom Management

Do you use your smartboard to show a variety of tools as part of a lesson?  For example, giving students a timer and indicating the countdown for how long they have to complete the task?  Or maybe you want to do a random name choice to choose a volunteer.  Maybe you keep a traffic light in your room to indicate appropriate volume level while working.

Classroom screen has combined these all into one place and made a toolbar to quickly bring up these options.  When you have this page open in chrome, your page will look like this:

The menu at the bottom allows you to add different options on the screen.  They are:

  • Language - change to another language such as Spanish or French!
  • Random name - import your class list and choose a random volunteer
  • Sound level - allow it access to your computer microphone and it will show when the volume is getting too loud
  • QR code - tell it a web address and the kids can scan the code on the screen to go to a certain website (K and 1, this is GREAT!)
  • Drawing - draw function, similar to the smartboard tools
  • Text - same idea
  • Work symbols - another volume management, but with the options for "Silence", "Whisper", "Ask a neighbor" and "Work together"
  • Traffic light - volume control
  • Timer - Start a countdown and tell those kids how much time they have to do a task / break out / etc
  • Clock - give the time (analog and digital)
This has great possibilities to help manage class flow.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Online Portfolios at all levels

Many classes use portfolios to collect evidence of student learning. This can take a few different forms:
  • Evidence of successful completion of a task 
  • Journaling on a project, such as what they learned while going through a process 
  • Reflection on their learning 
  • Pictures or videos that demonstrate understanding or implementation 
When creating a portfolio, teachers may indicate what evidence needs to go in the folder. However, it is also useful to have students choose the best elements to represent their learning. In order to best represent all concepts, a teacher may still guide the necessary components.

Student portfolios can be compiled online in a number of ways. The easiest way in a Google school is with a Google folder. For those of you using Hapara, it seems even easier when you use the Hapara folder created for each student, but just remember that these will be archived at the end of the year! Anyway, here are some alternate ways (not Google Drive) at each level to compile an online student portfolio:

As the state rolls out the Future Ready Index, there will continue to be more and more discussion about evidence of student learning.  This will allow us to focus on deeper levels of learning and what we know to be meaningful.  I hope these tools provide you with a starting point to try a new tool related to this topic.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Flexible Spaces

A new year brings new buzzwords.  Lately, we've heard a lot about "flexible learning/instructional strategies" and "flexible spaces."  Buzzwords are easy to toss around, but what do they actually mean?  Let's focus on the latter, "flexible spaces."

Applying the highlighted definition to spaces, we can presume that flexible spaces are easily modified to respond to various scenarios.

Flexible spaces help us create student-centered environments.  When we use a variety of techniques in our instruction, we are asking our students to use a variety of techniques in their learning.  That variety must be supported.  That is where flexible spaces come in to play.

Flexible spaces are popular for a reason.  They are set up with movement in mind, and are easily changed to suit the needs of your students and your instruction.

Around Warrior Run, you can see flexible spaces at all levels:

  • Libraries at all three schools
  • Middle school Makerspace
  • High school classrooms, notably 215D

Most recently, at the high school, we have redesigned rooms 105A and 105B to become The Commons.  Currently, it is available for classes, activities, department and faculty meetings, presentations, and more*.  Eventually, it will be a true flexible space with a specific criteria for student use.  It is in its early stages (more renovation needs to be completed), but it is able to be used now!  It is exciting to see a new student-centered space come to fruition at Warrior Run.

* If you'd like to use The Commons, please use the reservation calendar.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


The best type of educational technology is robust, flexible and FREE. Those terms are not normally used together. Fortunately, it appears like Everfi might fit this mold. Since they are funded by outside resources, they are free to us!

Everfi has a database of educational and interactive resources to teach concepts from financial literacy to college and career readiness to STEM. Each one has a grade span that it works best for, so it’s definitely worth considering.

One of the weaknesses of Everfi right now is that they do not have single sign-on. That’s a big deal to me because when a website has that, we know Google is not sharing the child’s name with them, but instead sharing a “code” with which to recognize them. Being a little concerned about CIPA and COPPA compliance, I decided to check into it more. It turns out that many schools in our area are already using this for some of their courses, such as financial literacy in the high school.

Students would have to go to and make an account, so this should really ONLY be used with students 13 or over UNLESS you are going to get permission from their parents to create an account for them. Please also note that Warrior Run student accounts cannot receive outside emails. A teacher can add students from the teacher dashboard, but the same rules would apply for privacy compliance.

Once a student has successfully completed one of the courses, you can print a certificate for them.

Here is an example video overview for the “Ignition” course on Digital Literacy and Responsibility.

Everfi may be free, robust and flexible, but there will be an initial setup for the teacher, and it’s not ideal for every grade level. If you teach one of the topics listed in their K-12 resources and are looking for something that students can work through independently that is also engaging, I recommend you give it a try.