Monday, June 30, 2014

Welcome ISTE Friends!

We are a group of dedicated digital learning facilitators from Moore County Schools in Moore County, NC.  We started this blog dedicated to innovative uses of Google Chromebooks a few months ago to help our colleagues across the county in their implementation of our 1:1 Chromebook deployment.

We hope some of the info here is beneficial and let us know how we can help!

(List from tallest to shortest...=) )

Will Herring -
Tyler Callahan -
Clint Rogers -
Steve Johnson - @edtechsteve
Deanna Spizzirri - -
Lee Ann Holmes -

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tips to Start the New School Year

Setting Your Class up for Success

   As another school year quickly approaches, there are some points to consider for organizing your class with technology. With many schools now using Chromebooks, there are many methods teachers can use to stay organized and connected with students.
   Once teachers receive his/her class lists, it is helpful to create student contacts on Google Drive. 

   Within the contacts folder, teachers can create class groups, enter in each student's name, and email address. By creating a class group, the teacher will be able to send emails and share documents with the entire period at one time. 
   After contacts and contact groups have been created, the teacher can now send and receive assignments from students! In addition, instructors can set up class folders on Google Drive, to maintain organization of student work. By creating individual class folders, student submission of work will be housed in a common spot and prevent your shared folder from being overloaded.
  Enjoy staying organized this school year!
~Deanna Spizzirri

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Zaption - Make Educational Videos Interactive

Have you ever had that moment in your classroom when you're showing an educational video with your students and you have a few friends who are tuned out and missing out? As I was browsing my usual online PD spots I stumbled upon a new tool that has a lot of promise. Zaption is a free resource to create and share interactive videos with your students. 

Zaption lends itself perfectly to those teachers who want to flip their classroom or create a more blended learning environment. Using this tool, teachers can use videos from YouTube, Vimeo, PBS, National Geographic or upload your own from your computer or webcam. Zaption then allows its users to add images, text, drawings, open ended and multiple choice questions, as well as check boxes to specific points to your selected video. Once you've made the videos more engaging for your students, you then publish them and retrieve the link to share with your students. 

After your students complete the video "tour" you will be able to retrieve the data from their responses to deliver more individualized instruction based on their results. Zaption is a great tool for differentiating your lessons by creating "tours" that are designed to meet the needs of your learners.  Zaption also offers a paid subscription that opens up more features to its users, such as creating student groups to track progress, more interactive elements, and more tools to manage your content.

Google Helpouts - Need help? Find help.

My friend and colleague, Clint Rogers (@clint_rogers21) and I were working on our district website yesterday and wanted to try out Google Helpouts to see how it worked.  It wasn't long before we realized this could be a great tool for teachers.  Google Helpouts is a service that connects people that need help, with those people that can help them.  Helpouts are video conferences through Google Hangouts that allow you to speak with Subject Matter Experts.  There are people available to help from all walks of life and fields of work.

Our first ever Google Helpout was with HomeAdvisor.  It was a free helpout (I should say that some Helpouts are paid services) that connected us with a gentleman named JD.  JD was very helpful and answered all of our questions thoroughly about some simple home improvement issues we asked.  

 If you would like to give Google Helpouts a try, a good place to start would be with the group at HomeAdvisor.
Check out HomeAdvisor on Google Helpouts

After participating in my first Google Helpout, I decided I would like to create my own Helpout account.  I received an invitation code from Google and setup my Helpout account offering help with high school and college Biology.  Check out my Google Helpout page and feel free to share with those that may need help with Biology.
Check me out on Google Helpouts for help with Biology.


Tyler Callahan

Monday, June 16, 2014

Maintaining Assessment Integrity in the 1:1 Environment

Maintaining Assessment Integrity in the 1:1 Environment

I continue to hear the notion that web enabled devices and / or 1:1 devices undermine the integrity of our classrooms and assessments. The truth is that it is no more in danger than at any other point. The strategies used by students looking to get over on teachers has changed; but if they can adapt, so can we. I want to show you a couple of quick tips & tricks to tackle some of your usual suspects:

Cheating will be attempted in the standard, Honors, and the Advanced Placement version of any course. It is difficult to catch but easy to vex. If you are using Google Forms (which I recommend) to conduct M/C or T/F quizzing, this has a simple fix. After you write a question click “advanced setting” above the “Done” button. Check the box “Shuffle Option Order” & you’re all set.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.35.55 PM.png

For short answer text questions you can go into your Google Sheet and pull up your suspect’s answers, use the Ctrl F feature to search for similar student responses. Confront them cautiously because your evidence is only circumstantial. It may be enough just to poke them with a little joking comment to make them understand you are on to them. Redirection of behavior is our goal. Getting caught is a teachable moment.

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When you have students send you electronic versions of essays/etc.. you already know that you can Google parts or whole by 1) highlight suspected text 2) Ctrl C to copy the highlighted area 3) Ctrl V to paste it into a Google Omnibar & 4) get back sites that may indicate plagiarism.
But, you can also use Google Revision History to see who did original work. Go to the Doc that was shared with you by the student. As we did before, select File-> Revision History. If you see that one student has made many revisions and another has only changed his/her document a couple of times… there is your culprit. If you have a really difficult situation between students you can go as far as to see the timestamped revision in which the actual questioned portion is contained. 

It is probably needless to say that if they have a full worksheet or a full paper and only 1 edit then you have a smoking gun.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.09.11 PM.png

The Worst Partner EVER; (AKA: UN-collaborator)

We’ve all listened to students complain that they did more work than any other member & it’s UNFAIR! One easy way to check for participation is to have students collaborate in a Google Doc using different color text. You can eyeball the doc to see who is doing what & if a dispute arises use the revision history feature to see if someone has altered another student’s work. To see the “Revision History” of any Doc click on “File” -> “Revision History”

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Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.09.11 PM.pngScreen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.12.19 PM.png

Keep in Mind

The cat and mouse game is centuries old. The Chromebooks are just a new field of play. Don’t spend too much effort building a better mousetrap. Instead spend your time creating challenging and interesting lessons with authentic assessment items that incorporate student product generation and publication. Embrace the notion that students have access to any fact based knowledge in the history of man in their pockets and ask them to DO something with it!

Add a teacher pro-tip in the Comments section below if you have even more ideas

Will Herring

Thursday, June 12, 2014

More Movenote AwesomeSauce

About a month ago, my friend and colleague Tyler Callahan (@STEM_TC) introduced our team to a great new tool, Movenote.  On this blog space, Tyler wrote about how he helped a high school Bio teacher use this tool to great effect.

When I first saw the student examples sent, I knew Movenote was one of those tools that come along and check a ton of boxes off my own personal digital tool checklist:
  • Can be used in any content area
  • Students have opportunities to express their creativity and imagination
  • Students are able to showcase their content mastery and understanding
  • Easy to personalize and "make it their own"
  • Incorporates student voice- literally and figuratively
  • Allows public publication and easy sharing on the web
In other words, it's one of those great tools that is easy, highly flexible, easy to share out, and works across devices.  I had a pretty good idea that it could also check the box off for "spans a wide age range" but decided to try it out with my own girls at home to make sure.

So, my kindergartener Kenna (who will be in 1st next year) had to do a report on an animal she had seen at the zoo.  So we whipped my Chromebook out and I helped her to put a short slide presentation together on ostriches.  She was then able to flip over to Movenote, load her presentation, and record the following Movenote:

I sent the link to my daughter's amazing kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Demolet, and she was able to easily pull it up and play it for the class.  And what's more, Movenote has a replay/commenting feature so Mrs. Demolet had her students send this Movenote back as a response (they're all doing the BYEEEEEEEE thing at the end- so funny).

So this is a tool that can be used all the way from AP Bio down to kindergarten (with support and help).  I also let my 2nd grader (now 3rd grader) handle it and it's worth noting that I didn't have to help her with anything at all.

What a great and flexible tool for students to be able to take content, make it their own, and personalize an easy creation that shows what they know as well as lets them be creative!  I hope you'll try Movenote in your classroom. :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Teaching Transformations in Math Using Webcam Toy

We've all caught students taking those funny pictures using the Chrome App, Webcam Toy. Now you can use that App in the math classroom. I helped a teacher use Photo Booth on the Macbook Air to teach reflections, rotations and translations in her math class. The students used this program and added special effects to their pictures to demonstrate each transformation concept. I wanted to find something similar to this on the Chromebook. The special effects that are available in Webcam Toy will allow the student to demonstrate each concept.

Effects that can be used in Webcam Toy:
  • Reflection - left mirror, right mirror, bottom mirror, quad mirror
  • Rotation - kaleidoscope
  • Translation - quad cam, split screen (ok...this may be a little harder to see)

Friday, June 6, 2014

What is Google Drive & Why Use It?

Google Drive....A Closer Look

   Over the past year, there have been many questions surrounding Google Drive. Teachers, students, parents, and administrators are all curious as to why Google Drive ('the cloud') is being used as a storage space for information. It is a new idea, and ventures away from the traditional save and email documents modality. As with most new ideas, they are approached with caution and apprehension at times. Therefore, it is important to learn the benefits of Google Drive, before deciding one way or another.
   Google Drive, in a nutshell, is an online storage space. Documents, media, presentations, and much more can be housed in 'the cloud'. The benefit of using an online storage space, like Google Drive, is the accessibility of documents, without the fear of them being lost. Anything stored in Google Drive, can be accessed from any device, at any time, and from anywhere. Therefore if your computer breaks, you can still access and work on your documents from a different device.  This is an important feature in that it eliminates the worry of the 'computer crashing', and losing all of your information. 
   Also, Google Drive contains its own unique suite of writing tools. Google Documents (word processing), Google Slides (presentation), Google spreadsheet, and Google Drawing are among the basic tools provided on Google Drive. With these documents, students and teachers have the ability to collaborate on work, simultaneously. This notion assists teachers and students in achieving work completion, despite overlapping schedules.  
   Lastly, through Google Drive, the user has the ability to share documents with others. Once documents have been shared, the user can determine whether others can edit, comment, or simply just view their work.  Once work has been shared with another person, there is no need to share again if revisions have been made or suggested. This is an important piece to Google Drive, as it alleviates the need to email documents back and forth for every revision. 
   Just like any other tool, Google Drive will have its positive and negatives. The important question to keep in mind is, does Google Drive best suit your needs as an educator? The only way to truly determine its benefits for you, is to try it out and ask lots of questions! Best of luck on your Google Drive journey!
~Deanna Spizzirri

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Creative Posters with Canva

Designing professional, cool looking posters can be done easily with Canva.  

Canva has a drag and drop feature that allows you to select from 1,000's of images (free and paid) or add your own images from your computer.  Below is a sample poster I made in Canva to highlight our Moore@School Digital Transformation.   
Moore@School Canva Poster
One of the coolest features of Canva was the ability to edit images within the program.  This allows you to make changes on the fly with filter colors, tints, contrasts, etc.  The drag and drop text feature has 100's of fonts to choose from, making every Canva poster unique.

Canva is perfect for quick projects in the classroom.  With templates for Facebook cover, profile and Twitter header templates, students would create these social media spots for famous historical characters or significant scientists.

Canva would also be great for making infographics.  There are several templates that can be customized to your specific needs.  

Here is a short video showcasing some of the features of Canva.

Follow Canva on Twitter by clicking here.

Until next time,

Tyler Callahan

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Stormboard - Online Brainstorming and Collaboration Platform

So it's the last few days of school and you're interested in trying out a new digital tool in preparation for next year. Here's a suggestion: Stormboard

Stormboard is a free tool for real-time collaboration, brainstorming, and mind-mapping. Using Stormboard, users can create an unlimited amount of "storms" from a bank of education templates (Character Map, Compare & Contrast, Conflict Map, Reading & Analyzing Non-Fiction, etc.) or start from scratch with a blank brainstorming wall. Once the storm is created, users can invite up to 5 collaborators via email, providing the link to the storm, or giving out the storm ID & key. 

Your storm can include color-coded sticky notes, images, videos, and sketches. Users can utilize the chat option to communicate within the storm. The drag-and-drop process makes it very easy to edit the storm. A couple of the nice features of Stormboard is the ability to vote on the ideas on the storm (each user gets 10 votes to prioritize the sticky notes) and the option of commenting on each item on the storm so that your collaborators can give feedback on the ideas. You can retrieve reports from your Stormboard in a variety of formats. 

The Google sign-in feature makes this an easily accessible tool for your Chromebook users. The numerous literacy templates are great if you're thinking about going paperless. 

*Free education accounts until July 31, 2014 which enables unlimited users per storm*