Monday, December 22, 2014

Teacher Feature - PCHS ELA

I want to feature a few teachers from Pinecrest ELA department that have integrated technology into writing poetry and an independent reading project.

Mrs. Hayes and Mrs. Klingenschmidt had their students create a video from their poetry using Animoto. Animoto is an easy website to use in which you can quickly create a professional-looking video that flows to the music chosen. Students used computers, phones, tablets, etc. to complete this project. Mrs. Klingenschmidt even set up a cafe-style classroom when the students presented their projects to the class.

Check out these projects:

I also wanted to highlight a project that Mrs. Scruggs used with her ELA classes. The students had to create a Google site as a final project to an independent reading. What I liked so much about Mrs. Scruggs project was that she gave the students choices of what they would do in each section. She broke her project into five main sections: Characters (30 pts), Setting (10 pts), Comparisons (10 pts), Artwork (30 pts), Vocabulary (10 pts) and Review Game (10 pts). Students had several options to choose under each section. Some options were to create a timeline, create a 25 word dictionary, write a 400-500 word essay, create a collage to represent the setting or create a comic strip about the book. 

Check out the very detailed project created by one student:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Meet Davis, a 4th grader inspired by the Global Read Aloud

Sometimes in the everyday, enjoyable chaos that is the edtech world I get a stark reminder of why we all do this.  This always seems to happen when a student is doing something GREAT in school that has a huge impact on them, using tools that have never before been available.  These are opportunities that simply didn't exist for students before the tools and access caught up to our imaginations.

This is exactly the place I found myself when I ran across a 4th grade teacher named Ms. Kaylor Kaemba, who had a student that she told me had found a ton of motivation for reading and writing through their participation in the Global Read Aloud (read more about the Global Read Aloud, created by Pernille Ripp).  So I decided to go meet this young reader, Davis C, so I could feature him and his progress on our blog.  It was the highlight of my week!

So without further ado, I introduce you to Davis!

Davis is a 4th grader at Carthage Elementary School in Carthage, North Carolina.

This year, Davis' teacher, Ms. Kaemba, was exposed to the Global Read Aloud by the Digital Integration Facilitator at her school, Kelly Priest.  Mrs. Priest helped this class get started with the project and assisted in setting Davis' class up to also Skype with a class from San Diego.  The two classes engaged with each other via Skype and through Kidblog blogs, where they discussed the book The Fourteenth Goldfish.

As Mrs. Kaemba reports:

"Davis has so much to share but putting it down in words is not always easy for him. He did not eagerly participate in writing activities, that is, until Davis was introduced to a 4th grade class from San Diego via Skype.  After his experience with one student in that class, Davis began to ask to write on his blog.  He would eagerly check the comments left by students all over the United States.  Davis found motivation to grow as a writer and as a reader."

I found Davis to be an exceptionally bright and articulate young man, who gives an outstanding interview.  Below are the questions I asked him and his (paraphrased) answers.  I hope you enjoy him as much as I did!

How did you start blogging?
We read The Fourteenth Goldfish and got to blog with other people, kids, from across the world.  We were all reading the same book.  The other kids were way ahead of us at times but were nice enough not to spoil it.

What would you write about?
Things like our favorite parts of the book and we would ask questions of the other class.  It was cool to see what they thought about the same book and parts of the book.

What did you like about blogging?
I like blogging because it's really nice to know what others around the world are like and to know their names.

What was your favorite part of connecting through Skype?
We got to see them on the webcam!  There were lots of kids all over the place.  There was a student in the other class named AJ that I really liked reading his posts.  He would talk about his family and what kinds of things he liked to do over the summer.  When we got to see the other class I was really excited to meet AJ since I had read all his posts.  He looked a lot different than I expected and that was neat.

How has blogging and connecting with this other class helped you become a better reader or writer?
Before, I didn't really like to write or read that much.  I did write one comic book but that was about it.  I got to be a better reader because I saw that the things that others were blogging about were really interesting so I started reading all their stuff.  Now I like to write on my Kidblog blog.  And now that I'm reading better, I'm starting to read a series of books called The Amulet and it's really awesome- I can't wait to read the next few after they come back to the library!

So there you have it- it was a great experience for me to sit down with Davis and I can't thank Ms. Kaemba and Mrs. Priest enough for being bold enough to try something new with digital tools to make learning relevant and motivating for students!

And Davis- keep reading, writing, blogging, and connecting!  

~Steve Johnson
Lead Digital Integration Facilitator, Moore County Schools

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Make Beliefs Comix

Are you looking for an innovative way for students to summarize information, practice new vocabulary, work on conversation skills or collaboration skills? Make Beliefs Comix may be the tool you are looking for!

Make Beliefs Comix is easy to use and engaging for students. After you choose the number of panels you want to create, you can begin adding your content. Start with a background or background color. Then add characters, speech bubbles, thought bubbles, objects and panel prompts. Add your name and a title before you share it. Your students will amaze you with their creativity!

– School Library Journal (January 9, 2013): "One of the true pioneers in the field, Bill Zimmerman launched only a few years ago, and now it's in use in countless classrooms, libraries, and technology labs throughout the world. Not content simply to provide one of the premier 'comics generators' available, Zimmerman and Make Beliefs are constantly coming out with new, highly topical templates as well as free printables (now numbering 350!) that allow educators to help kids write comics without a computer in sight."

 -- Connect the Pop Blog by Peter Gutierrez, School Library Journal (January 9, 2013)

"This website is great! My students have had fun using it. We used it to summarize the different types of waves associated with an earthquake."

Student Work

21 Ways to use

5 Steps To Get Started

Open the website: Make Beliefs Comix

1. Choose the number of panels for your story.

2. Highlight a panel. 
      *Choose a character - be sure to check out all the options for that character 
      *Press enter to add the character to your panel. (You can add more than one character per panel.

3.  What is your character thinking or saying? Add a thought or speech bubble.

4. It's never too late for a background or some objects. 

5. Proof and add your e-mail information. 


You can change the number of panels at any time.
Items can be scaled, moved, flipped, and layered/ordered
Can edit before finalizing
Option to print
You can send the file to more than one person 

The only drawback that I can see with this tool is the inability to save partially finished work. I have used this with 6 - 8th graders. They love the tool and have worked diligently to complete all assignments. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Computer Science Education Week

This is my first year getting my feet wet with coding, but after I realized that I wouldn't drown in all of the computer science programming mumbo jumbo, I dove in head first! I'll admit, I was a little intimated when I first clicked on to try my hand at what over 61,000,000 people had done, learn the basics of coding. I've been a part of meetings with our technology department and looked over the shoulder of one of the lead technicians while he went into the "guts" of some of the programs we use in our county. It wasn't pretty. It was foreign language. So to say I was hesitant to try my hand at coding would be putting it lightly. Then I watched this video from our President and I was inspired to give it a shot. Take a look.

That's when I hoped over to to start coding. I was amazed at how well the instruction for coding was organized. You start simple with drag-and-drop coding with blocks to create snowflake designs with Anna and Elsa of Frozen. They even have cameos from Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. If you really want to challenge yourself, you can even create your own app or game with tutorials to help guide you along. 

By the end of the night (more than just one hour) and with the help of's training wheels, I was caught up in the excitement of creating my own code! I was wrapped up in the ability to create something just by writing the code for it. To get an idea of how powerful coding can be, check out this Google Hangout with Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter.

I want to challenge YOU and your students to make some time for an hour of code. Give your students the opportunity to build something impactful, something meaningful, something they can be proud of. "It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path." -

Here are a few resources to help you get started:

-Clint Rogers

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Teacher Feature - Stacey Deaton

This past week, I had the pleasure of visiting Vass-Lakeview Elementary and see how some of the 5th graders there are using their Chromebooks.  VLE has only been 1:1 with students for approximately 7 months and it was great to see the creative work the students are already deeply involve with!

One of the teachers' rooms I visited was Stacey Deaton.  Stacey has been teaching for 7 years, all in Moore County Schools (and she is also a product of MCS!).  After 1/2 a year teaching 2nd, she has spent the last 6.5 teaching 5th grade.

It was immediately obvious that Chromebooks were not an add-on in this room- they were very much a natural extension of the learning tasks at hand.  Some students were working in inquiry-based ways, creating Google slideshows of images that represented current vocabulary words (which they will subsequently show their classmates, who would have to guess which word was being alluded to). I also saw some great, creative examples of students showing mastery of content.

"Using Chromebooks have benefited student learning in my classroom because they are more engaged than ever before.  They have fun working on projects and they are able to do more creating.  It is also more relevant to the world that they are living in now."

-Stacey Deaton, 5th grade teacher, Vass-Lakeview Elementary

Student Work Samples:

Movenote   (Support Materials here)

Jordan C - Vocabulary Movenote
Journie T - Vocabulary Movenote

GoAnimate  (Support Materials here)

Rebecca C - Animation about Thomas Paine
Kaden T - Animation about John Adams

Thanks so much for all the work you do for your students, Ms. Deaton!

-Steve Johnson
Lead Digital Integration Facilitator
Moore County Schools

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

SpiderScribe - Cool Tool for Collaboration

SpiderScribe - Cool Tool for Collaboration

picture from has an app available in the Chrome Web Store and is my focus for Collaboration tool for this week.  SpiderScribe is a mind mapping tool that gives you the ability to embed a variety of content into your map.  The best part of this tool is that  students can work on the same map, at the same time, to collaboratively edit and share ideas.  

 Students will choose from the various tools listed on the left hand side of their maps to import content.  They can insert text they type themselves, documents from their Google Drive, pictures, maps, and important dates.  All students need to do to add content, is drag and drop the stencil for the type of content they would like onto their map.  Then students can draw arrows, linking various content.

Maps can be private, or public, depending on what you are wanting students to do with them.  Just like working with a Google Doc, students can collaborate in real time with SpiderScribe allowing them to work together on projects.  This feature really makes it stand out among the many other mind mapping tools available.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Have you ever wondered what Rosa Park's Website would look like?  
What about Albert Einstein's? 

Why not have students create one using 

Students don't have to "sign up," they just "log in" using their School Google Accounts.

Student Work Samples from Mrs. Oakley's Classes at 
New Century Middle:

More samples coming soon :)

Last year's MCS Pilot Websites:

Step by step:

Log in and choose your theme.  

It's just like a Word Program!  Just click on the words to add your own titles.

Just like this...

Just drag and drop these tool boxes right onto the site to display pictures, embeds, extra text, slideshows, contact forms, etc...

When you are satisfied with your newly created website, click the "PUBLISH" tab.

You even get to choose your own domain name!

And that's it!  You have a free, published website for the world to enjoy!