Monday, November 27, 2017

Life After the Interactive Board

Is It Worth It?

Long has it been that companies like SMART or Promethean have dominated display options in the classroom. SMART really revolutionized how we as teachers demonstrate or share content with students. Freedom is what it represented in those days. The idea that a teacher to could grab content from about anywhere and manipulate it before their students' eyes. It enhanced our productivity as content creators. 

Technology is ever changing. Students and society is ever changing. Therefore, the way we teach should change was well. Once schools began exploring options for all students to have a device, the need for the teacher at the front of the room (The Sage on the Stage) began to dwindle. Suddenly the students had access to thousands of teachers, and personalized instruction became a reality. If a student wants to know more on any topic of their liking, the resources are just a click away. This landscape causes me to question the need to spend thousands of dollars for teachers to stand at the front of the room with what is essentially a glorified overhead projector. (Actually, it is worse because the teacher's back is turned while operating a SMART board.) $5,000 - $7,000 is a ballpark estimate for an interactive display; that equates to a class set of Chromebooks. A class set of devices that can make personalized learning a reality. A class set of devices that can give students the experience, tools, and skills to be competitive in the marketplace. Can that be done by students watching a teacher write on a website at the front of the classroom? What wins in your book?


At MSD of Steuben, we are exploring options to still effectively display content and save money for other opportunities. The simple answer is merely using a television. A 65-70 inch display is reasonable. Especially when comparing to the likes of a SMART or Promethean Interactive television. The next typical response I get is how it can be interactive like SMART or Promethean products. I'll propose a couple of options. One is more focused on teacher-directed instruction. The capability of having a point of interaction and students utilizing the Interface is a reality at the fraction of the cost. The other is to allow for students to take control. Students can be in the driver's seat and sharing from their very own device. But before I move on, keep in mind that both of these options are with the thought that a teacher would still need to have a PC, Mac, or Chromebook connected to a television via the HDMI port. 

Chrome Remote Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop run on a touchscreen device (iPad, Chromebook, Android tablet, etc.) provides the mobile interactivity that teachers need. We have a lot of teachers that love Active Inspire or SMART Notebook. You can still operate these pieces of software, but from a smaller touchscreen device. One that you can carry with you around the room. You are not stuck at the front of the room with your back turned from the class. You don't even have to have students go up to the board. You can place your device before a student so that they can respond from afar. Chrome Remote Desktop takes your touchscreen Chromebook and turns it into a remote control for the the device (PC, Mac, or Chromebook) connected to your television. This is a nice transition for teachers that are very comfortable with the software that SMART or Promethean offers. If teachers have invested quite a bit of time creating flipcharts or notebooks, Chrome Remote Desktop will ease the growing pains. 

Keep in mind that there will be some necessary steps for setup on your PC or Mac. The next video demonstrates the installation as well as basic use with Active Inspire. You can install Chrome Remote Desktop from the Chrome Web Store.

Google Cast for Education

Google Cast has come a long way since its inception in the summer of 2016. When it first launched, much frustration took place because of poor picture quality and failed casting attempts. The idea was great because it allowed for the teacher to turn the teacher PC or Mac into a Chromecast location. The best part was the fact that students now had the capability to cast their own screen! The teacher could choose to accept or deny the casting attempt as an alert automatically pops up on the teacher's device. There the teacher can see who is attempting to cast and choose to accept or deny the connection. What a powerful way to give students power. 

As I mentioned before, things were rocky for Google Cast for Education, but it has since greatly improved. I've utilized it numerous times during class visits with very few connection issues. Students love being my demonstrator. Like Chrome Remote Desktop, some installation and setup is required. The next video will give you an overview of how to set it up and utilize Google Cast for Education. 

You will need to first download the Chrome Extension for Google Cast for Education.


Life after the Interactive Board is not only the title of this blog post, but it is also the title of a half-day workshop I run with my teaching staff. During this session, teachers have the opportunity to try casting, Chrome Remote Desktop, and explore various interactive websites that work well on a touchscreen Chromebook. The teachers that have participated have expressed positive feedback as it eases the fear of change. Change is never easy, but my hope is that I can adequately provide support to make it palatable. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Google Forms Question by Question Grading

ISTE 2017

The ISTE conference never disappoints. It is a great opportunity to be oriented with great pedagogy, new technologies, and awesome people to build up your personal learning network. As far as GSuite for Education news goes, one of the awesome additions is the ability to do question by question grading in Google Forms. Forms have certainly transitioned much in the last year or so with an entirely new makeover, the edition of quizzes, automatic grading, and now the ability to grade question by question. It is a small update, but it is mighty in the sense that it fills a void that people have desired since the built-in quizzes debuted. 

Question by Question Grading

In the previous version of Google Forms quizzes, multiple choice and short answer questions could be graded automatically. The short answer has some issues of being unreliable. If a student spells a response incorrectly or add/misses capitalization, the answer is automatically counted as incorrect. This would cause the teacher to have to go into each individual response, scroll the specific question, and reevaluate the response. This is especially time-consuming. Now the teacher has the ability to look at that specific question and analyze every student's response. The teacher can then quickly adjust grades by simply selecting the green check-mark to accept a response; all other responses can be left as is. This is also handy if partial credit is necessary. If a question is worth two points and a student is on the right track, the teacher can simply add a single point to that response. 

The most important scenario as to why question by question grading is important in Google Forms quizzes is in the case of an extended response. To get a more accurate measure of a student's learning, multi-faceted and reflective questions are necessary. These types of questions obviously require more time. The best way to assess these types of question is to focus on one question at a time instead of looking at the student's entire quiz. It saves time for the teacher to have a specific focus while analyzing responses. The question by question feature allows the teacher to accomplish just that. 

Most people are hands-on and would rather jump right in and start trying this feature. You can find it in the exact same place as where the quizzes already exist. You'll see the option in the same place teachers could view student individual responses... 

If you prefer to see it in action first, I made a practice quiz and a quick demonstration of how the viewing of questions can be an asset to you. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Be Internet Awesome with Google

Digital Citizenship

Great resources for teaching students to be Internet savvy are here! It is a necessity to be smart about security and digital footprint conscious. We are molding the future of Internet users each and every day. It doesn't matter if you are in a 1:1 technology environment, have carts of devices you wheel into your classroom, or if you take your students to the computer lab once a week, training students to be wise online is a part of what we do. 

Google just launched a new site with more opportunities for students and teachers alike. If you visit, users can access a wide range of resources. 


Interland is an online game for elementary students to navigate through some of the tough questions we face with the troubles of the Internet. As students navigate through Interland, they explore the concepts of being kind online, secure passwords, information protection, and being Internet savvy. Each world focuses on a different area of being Internet awesome. The worlds are as follows:

Kind Kingdom

Students should be aware that what they say online can affect others. Online bullies should be reported or blocked to create a safe environment for others. This world consists of the user spreading positive messages to others and taking action when bullies are present. 

Reality River

There are a lot of schemes and tricks online to get your to give up personal information and/or buy unwanted services. Being aware that these advertisements and schemes exist will help students to think twice before clicking on them. This world has a series of scenarios where these schemes exist and make the best choice. 

Mindful Mountain

Being conscious of what you share with whom you share is important. Not all information is necessary for the whole world to see. This world runs the user through a series of scenarios and causes him/her to question what information should be shared and with whom. 

Tower of Treasure

Password security is important. Users should change their passwords often to keep data secure. They should also utilize a series of upper and lower case letters along with numbers and symbols. The users collect letters, numbers, and symbols to build a secure password. 

Resources for Teachers


Along with Interland for students, there are also great resources for teachers. Interland shouldn't be used in isolation. The information in the game will not be very meaningful unless there is deeper content taught in conjunction with the game. There is an online curriculum (that can be downloaded) that has a series of lessons and activities to go through with your students. The students should be discussing online safety and their digital footprint to make it meaningful. 

Teacher Training Course

Google is also offering a Digital Citizenship and Safety Course for teachers. To complete the course, the teacher must read through content, watch a few short videos, and answer questions pertaining to online safety. It would be good for all teachers to go through this content. I found it to be beneficial as reminders of things I should be doing to make sure my information is kept secure. 

MSDSC Teachers

If you are a teacher in my school district, please complete the course. If you do so and receive your certificate of completion, forward it to me via email and I will send you a certificate for two Professional Growth Points. 

What's in the Video

The video below gives an overview of where to find all the contents listed in this blog post. I go through how to access Interland, the online safety curriculum, and the teacher training course. So check it out and be Internet awesome!