Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Super Helpful G Suite Training Extension

When we first started this blog, Liz did a post on why you should be using Google Chrome (if you aren’t already).  In addition to using chrome, you should also be signing in to Google chrome on your personal device.  If you see your name like this:

Then you are signed in to chrome.  When moving through Google pages and apps, you will remain signed in.  It will also remember you when you shut down and restart.  DO NOT USE THIS FEATURE ON A SHARED COMPUTER.  If you see this:

Then you are not signed in.  You can be signed in to Google WITHOUT being signed in to chrome.  As noted in the picture above, signing in to chrome will sync your tabs, bookmarks, history, and your other settings.  View this page for more information and instructions.

In addition to this super useful feature, check out G Suite Training.  This icon appears in the top right hand corner of your browser on most G Suite apps (Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets).  It autopopulates as an extension on your pages.

Depending on the page, it will give tips and tricks or instructions on how to use it (as interactive lessons).  It invites you to learn about features that you may not have already known about.  Here’s an example for Google Docs:

You could use it to learn how to use a feature, explore new features that you didn’t know about, or refresh your memory on something you haven’t used in a while.  Check it out and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Summer Reading Ideas

One more month and Summer will be upon us. As the days get longer and warmer, one can’t help but think about all the adventures a Summer can hold. However, don’t forget to include some reading in your daily adventures. There are many different ways reading can be a part of your summer fun. Check out some suggestions below:

Summer Reading Challenge:
On Teachers Pay Teachers, Teachable Teacher created a summer reading challenge checklist for all ages. It is a free downloadable sheet that challenges the user to read with a flashlight, read to a pet, read outside, and so much more.
It can be found at:

Take a weekly Trip to the Public Library:
Libraries don’t just have books. There are movies, audiobooks, digital downloads, magazines, and more. There are also multiple activities held each month. Making a weekly trip to the Public Library can ensure that children have many materials to read and explore this Summer.

Book Reports:
After your child reads a book, don’t just ask them if they liked it. Have them do a book report and work on their comprehension skills. Betsy Beier’s website has a great printable report that has children summarizing the story, recalling characters, and telling about their favorite part.
It can be found at:

Rethink Your Summer Reading Chart:
Summer reading charts come in all shapes and sizes. On the site “Chicken Babies” the creator Erin has an interesting take on charting books read over the summer. For each book read, the child earns a piece of an ever-growing bookworm. On top of that, the child earns an incentive for each book read.
It can be found at:

There are so many ideas for fun, engaging ways to incorporate reading into your summer fun. What do you do in your home?

Feel free to leave a comment below!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Student Choice

Project-based learning (PBL)
          Alternative assessments
                              Personalized learning
                                        Flexible strategies

These words and phrases are everywhere.  They all directly relate to student choice.  As Joshua Block so eloquently puts it in his article:

Learning that incorporates student choice provides a pathway for students to fully, genuinely invest themselves in quality work that matters.  Participating in learning design allows students to make meaning of content on their own terms.

So... how do the phrases above relate to student choice, and what does that actually look like?

Here are some examples of what's happening at Warrior Run.  (Keep in mind, these are just a few examples - there are so many instances of student choice occurring every day!)

Students recently completed a persuasive research essay on a social topic (e.g. hunting, paying NCAA athletes, year-round school).  Through the research paper process, they honed their skills in research, writing, and crafting an argument.  They are now applying those skills as they turn their papers into public awareness projects. Students were given time to explore four different project options and choose their own direction.  It is now up to them to meet the basic requirements in a creative way.

As students learned about this period in literary history, they were given the opportunity to 1) become experts, and 2) help their classmates learn.  In small groups, students researched a Dark Romantic author, analyzed a short story by that author, created a lesson plan, and developed an interactive assessment.

Wrapping up the unit on poetry, students were asked to explore different types of hands-on poetry, including book spine poetry, blackout poetry, and others.  With very little direct instruction, students used their understanding of poetic rules and terms as they navigated in the uncharted territory of hands on poetry.  In the end, they created true poetic masterpieces.

Students are just beginning their final novel study in high school.  They will be given the option to work independently from start to finish.  Their goal is to complete checkpoints (i.e. quizzes and other assessments) along the way as they show their teacher their understanding of the novel.  The ultimate goal is proficiency or better.

From a long list of options, students chose a topic from Peruvian culture (e.g. food, clothing, customs, geography) and a corresponding language skill (i.e. reading, writing, speaking, listening).  In small groups, students researched that topic and developed a stand-alone lesson to go with it, including a formative assessment.  In the end, there were 16 stations throughout the school.  In their groups, the students visited each of the other stations to learn about that aspect of Peruvian culture, demonstrate their understanding, and receive a stamp for their visit.  

As I said earlier, these are just a few examples of student choice at the high school.  Do you have an example from your classroom?  Please share in the comments.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Nearpod and VR

As education moves towards a focus on authentic learning (thank goodness!), there is also a push to move beyond the classroom walls.  One way that teachers are doing this is through virtual reality.  Many teachers are already taking advantage of the virtual reality headsets available in the middle and high school libraries.  Our students have “left” the classroom to experience coral reefs, Mars, Versailles, Machu Picchu, and other places otherwise unavailable to us.

Nearpod is now offering this opportunity embedded into what is already an interactive lesson when using their software.  Teachers interested in using it, make sure you sign in with Google!  Their program, available across all devices, allows you to direct what is showing on the screen and collect formative assessments from students throughout the lesson.  One of these options can now be a 360 degree view of places around the world...and the universe!

Let’s try it out!  The lesson below is a ready-made virtual reality lesson from Nearpod which is free and it goes through different types of Native American Housing.  They recommend this lesson for grades 4-9, and students can work through it on a chromebook, with a mobile device, or with a VR headset (for the full immersion experience).

When you create your own lessons, you can choose to include a few VR experiences (known as a field trip) for your students in that lesson.  Or, you can choose from the pre-made lessons from Nearpod.  Many, but not all, are free.  They are all of a very high quality.

If you are interested in trying it out, make sure you redeem the free 6 month subscription to Nearpod Gold Edition by following these steps:
  1. Create an account (with GOOGLE!) if you have not already done so.
  2. Go to and enter the code PETE&C17.

That’s it!  See your building techspert or me if you have questions!