Wednesday, April 30, 2014


PicWall is an easy-to-use collage maker that allows you to insert and edit photos, text, and create custom backgrounds. In many ways, this app is much like Pic Collage. It is user-friendly and fairly intuitive. However, one feature I prefer on Pic Collage is the ability to keep your work automatically saved within the app. Primary elementary students have a tendency to forget to save their work. :) One of the biggest points you'll have to drive with students using this app is that they will need to save their completed work before creating a new one. 

If you need students to create a poster, slides for a slideshow/movie, or a cover for a published piece of work, PicWall will meet your needs. 

Feel free to view the video below. I created it with the intention of students learning to use the app. You can show it to your students through a projector or TV. If you are a 1:1 technology school, feel free to send it off to your class. Here is a QR code if you prefer to have students reach links through a QR scanner. (The video is embedded from Youtube.) 

Monday, April 28, 2014

PD in PJ's: Padlet

Last week I attempted my first Google Hangout for professional development. I certainly learned a few lessons and hope to improve in the future. We chatted about Pocket and how it can be utilized from a teacher's standpoint as well as a way to distribute content to students. I will be providing more resources on that topic in the future as I chose to not record the session like initially planned. 

By the way, thank you to the staff members that were so very patient with me. :) 

Next session will be on Padlet. I have quite a few teachers already utilizing this tool and have had a good response to it. I will focus on it in a couple of ways. 
  1. Using Padlet to distribute content to students.
  2. Using Padlet as a collaborative tool.
The next session will take place on May 6th, 2014 @ 8:00 pm. If you are an East Noble Employee, you are eligible for a PGP for license renewal, but you can still participate if you are not a part of my school district. Please mark if you are going. 

On the day and time of the event, that same button will change to "Join Hangout." 

If you are unfamiliar with Google Hangouts, this tutorial should help with preparing you for the process: 

Blogger: Elementary Learning Management System

Last February, I began compiling resources for teachers in my school district to begin moving over to Blogger as their teacher website. I'm excited for the opportunity as it will build communication between teachers, parents, and students at the elementary level. 

Elementary teachers, especially primary, need a site that allows them to conveniently post chronologically so that parents can see what is happening each week. It also needs to be convenient, fast, and easy to use. I pushed Blogger because it works across multiple platforms and is extremely user-friendly.

I'm continuing to build my materials on Blogger as I believe it will also provide a great way for teachers of primary elementary students to distribute content to their students. Prior to this point, teachers in my school district focused heavily upon using email. Sending emails for students is easy enough because most apps have an export feature that directly attaches to email. However, if you attempt to send them multiple emails to students, they sometimes get confused with all the taps they have to do to access the content on an iOS device. One could utilize a Learning Management System (Edmodo, Canvas, My Big Campus, and Schoology), but I have found them to not be as user friendly as I would like for primary students even though they are excellent products.

By using a "Page" on blogger, you can dump text, pictures, video, and links all on one convenient site. It is as simple as writing in a word processor as the writing tools that Blogger provides are easy to use. Adding pictures can be done by copying the link address. Youtube videos can be added by searching directly in Blogger. You can even preview the Youtube videos from Blogger before inserting them. Thus removing any need to even visit the actual Youtube website. 

The ultimate goal here is to utilize Blogger as a teacher's central hub for parent communication and distribution of student content. That way it simplifies it for everyone by having all your content located in one place. 

For more detailed information, please view this tutorial: 

Feel free to comment if you have found a resource that works well for primary students. I personally like Pocket and Padlet as other alternatives as well. However, students cannot download pictures from Pocket. 

Connected Classrooms

Last week, I began the process with several teachers to utilize Google+ as well as Google Hangouts to provide professional development opportunities (PD in PJ's).  Another opportunity that exists with these tools is the Connected Classrooms project. 

The idea is that through Google Hangouts, you can participate in numerous virtual field trips. This is essentially Google's response to the decline in actual field trips due to budget crunches. You participate virtually and can interact with the presenters through video chat as well as a typing chat. Questions can be answered live right before all participants. So while you and your classroom are asking questions about Lemurs to a zoologist at the Minnesota Zoo, students across the country get to share and participate in the same discussion. 

What if you really want to participate in an event, but it just doesn't fit your time-frame? That's the beauty of Google Hangouts as they record the event live so that you can watch it later at your own convenience. You may not get to participate in the live discussion, but your kids still get to be a part of the event as you can still post questions/view the discussion that took place on the day of the event. Take this one for example

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hello Crayon

Hello Crayon is an easy to use app for coloring and illustrating. It has a variety of textures from crayons, markers, paint brushes, paint-fill, and a pen. Users can free draw, complete coloring pages, and annotate pictures. This app would work well for students wanting to respond to questions and email them, or even create amazing slides for a presentation or slideshow. 

Other great apps where these pieces of work could be utilized: 

I apologize for the lengthy video. However, it includes a quick tutorial as well as some integration ideas involving CCSS RL 4.1 and RI 1.5. (I also apologize at the poor placing of my text. I didn't plan that very well.) 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Interactive Twitter Activity: GE Spring Breakit

GE posted this Tweet today to promote their development of high endurance materials. The science behind these processes is fascinating.

I post this not only because of the fun science content, but also because of the power of social media. Twitter allows you to promote and share like never before. It also opens up a good discussion on the proper uses of social media.

So if you are an educator and you have a Twitter account, try visiting the website and tweeting out which video you would like to see. Within 10 to 15 minutes, you'll get a Tweet back with a link to a video. I chose #Smash It. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Update on Story by Disney

Story by Disney has to be one of my favorite iOS applications out there. It is user-friendly. It is versatile. Name a content area that where it can't be applied. I dare you!

Click to see previous posts and sample projects with Story

I'm posting about the update on Story by Disney because the environment has been completely revamped. In many ways, the app is much easier and stable than it was in the past. You will also want to know that you might have some issues with your classroom account if you had one previously. At first, the app would not let me sign into my account. If you have a device that does not want to sign in, try making a new account with a different email address and then log in with your original class account. Why this is an issue? I have no idea. However, eventually Story let me log in with my original account.

I made a video tutorial on the changes with Story. If I'm unavailable to work with your students on the new version of Story, feel free to show them this video. 

As always, feel free to post comments if you have great ideas on how this app can be used in your class! :) 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pocket - PD in PJs

PD in PJ's will be kicking off with Pocket. I'm excited at this opportunity as teachers will be able to participate in PD sessions from the comfort of their home. Through Google Hangouts, I plan to not only have teachers participate in the actual meetings, but record for later viewing. Afterward, a small assignment as "proof" of participation will be required for one PGP. (Professional growth point.)

Pocket is a resource that works well across all platforms. You can save websites for later viewing in a more comfortable manner as it "cleans" the page of advertisements. You can also organize the websites with "tags" for easy later finding. This would work well for teachers wanting to organize professional files/student materials, and for students to organize their research materials. 

Pocket Cleans the Page

Pocket in Website View
I have an event planned on Google+/Google Hangouts. You will be able to able to join the session on Thursday starting at 8:00 p.m. You will just need to follow this link to see the Google Plus page. On the time of the event, a "Join Hangout" button will appear. For example: 

Please consider joining me Thursday. On the Google+ site, please indicate that you are coming by pressing the "Yes" button under "Are you going?" 

After the session is over, I plan to post the recording directly here so that you can still participate. Keep in mind, an assignment will be discussed in order to receive the PGP point. I also have a form that I would like you to fill out so that I can confirm your participation. 

For East Noble employees:

If you have a Fujitsu computer, you will nee to do the following updates to run Google Hangouts. We had a few "hangups with hangouts." These updates will need to happen at school:

1. For the microphone fix, make sure you copy all of the text below and paste it in your address bar to download:

2. For the webcam fix, make sure you copy all of the text below and paste it into your address bar to download: 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

PD in your PJs

(I know, strange title. I'm calling this "PD in your PJs" because essentially you can participate in comfortable attire. If you prefer to stay in your school clothing, that's up to you.)

One of the most difficult things I've found with being a technology coach is attempting to provide professional development opportunities that meets everyone's needs and schedules. In an attempt to overcome this issue, I am proposing that I move some of my PD opportunities to Google Hangouts

If you are unfamiliar with Google Hangouts, it is much like Skype. However, you can have multiple people participate and can share your screen with the entire group. In fact, I can even take control of your computer if you need something fixed when you grant permission. (I've actually done this a couple times with East Noble Staff.) 

So what does this mean for you? If you are an East Noble employee, I can grant "professional growth points" (PGP) for teachers that participate. I plan on having the sessions last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. My goal is to shoot for 45 minutes so that a quick "assignment" can be completed as evidence of your knowledge of the digital tool I'm introducing. What if you can't participate the night it is scheduled you ask? No problem because I can also record the session for later viewing. If you watch the session and complete the assignment, you can receive a PGP for participating. 

If you are not an East Noble Employee and would still like to participate, I welcome it! Please join me for any topics that I will throw out there. 

If you have never used Google Hangouts before, you will first need to activate a Google+ account. You may use your East Noble account to do this. If you would rather use a personal Gmail account, that is perfectly fine as well. Please keep in mind that I will be using: 

Here is how you can access your Google+ account and participate in a Google Hangout: 

(Click on the box on the right side to maximize.)

How do you find out about events? For starters, I will post them here. I will also need to send invitations out to those who confirm that you are participating. So please confirm it if you are coming. 

I am planning some short sessions (No PGP's involved) for practice. This is an opportunity for you to connect and see if you can get it to work on your computer. I will be online for only 30 minutes. This is just a test, it does not mean you have to be talking to me the entire time. :) 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Want to Present at KTT?

Have a digital tool that you love to use in the classroom? Want to share how it has become a benefit to you and your students? Please consider presenting at KnightTime Technology. Here is your chance to share your expertise. Presenters will have a waived entrance fee, free copy of Snag-It by Techsmith, and food! Click here to find out more information!

Kidblog for Publishing

Typically when I speak of using Kidblog, my focus is extremely iOS focused. Mainly because it provides a safe and easy-to-use outlet for primary students. Here in the last few weeks, Ms. Northrup has expressed her excitement as she has been utilizing it with her fifth graders to create dialogue between students about their learning. She loves how naturally engaging the activity is as students love to read each other's posts and comment about it. It is powerful.

This week an idea came to mind as I was reflecting on my old class prior to the days of students having their own device. Ever have students publish their work, and then spend an incredible amount of class time listening to each student share? I think every teacher has done this at some point in time. With Kidblog, pictures are able to be uploaded. So even students using Microsoft Publisher or PowerPoint can save everything as a picture and upload it to the site. Now the students have a location where they can display their work, and other students can give feedback or ask questions at a much faster rate than having each student present. 

If you have a larger Powerpoint presentation, you can utilize the embed option in Office 365 to display it directly onto Kidblog. Not only does this enhance the publishing experience, it also makes it easier for the teacher to grade and give feedback since it is all in one location. This would also ensure that you do not use up all your Kidblog space as embedded objects do not require the hosting that images need. 

Students in East Noble can access their Office 365 by going to

Here is how you embed a Powerpoint in Office 365: 

Monday, April 7, 2014


eduCanon is a fairly new resource for teachers that do any type of "flipped learning." Whether that be that students watch instructional videos at home or in class so that the for the teacher can more effectively differentiate and work with individuals or smaller groups of students. 

I had come across the resource through Twitter and I tweeted it back out so that others could check it out and also because I wanted to remind myself to look at it. Janelle Foster (sixth grade teacher) came to me the next day and asked about it. I was a little shocked at first wondering how she knew about it so quickly, and she simply responded with, "I follow you on Twitter." So suddenly eduCanon moved up my priority list. :) 

What is eduCanon?

Two Warnings: 
1. Students need to have Internet access at home in order to take advantage of this service if you require students to receive the content from home.
2.  Make sure you use Google Chrome.  

Ironically, the day after I came across this site, Mr. Martin (5th grade teacher) approached me about the issues he is having with students either not watching his videos, or they do not retain any of it because they are not engaged. This is where eduCanon comes in as it doesn't allow students to skip ahead, and you can insert multiple choice questions in the middle of the videos. After students respond, you can go back and see their responses. They also have the ability to write a response to questions they miss in order to receive partial credit points. It places all responses in a convenient location for you to click through and see responses, as well as the color code missed questions as red, revised answers as yellow, and correct answers as green. 

The features I mentioned are all free. However, there are some great premium features that are available that I have not been able to see such as free-response questions and downloadable quiz data. 

Before you begin, one of the things you'll want to do is take advantage of a Youtube account. (East Noble employees can sign in with their school username and password.) Youtube allows you to upload your videos for free, and it does not have the abundance of upload restrictions like most hosting sites teachers are accustomed to using. If you are worried about random people coming across your videos, set them to "unlisted."  

How to Create a Video

How Students Participate

Assigning Videos to Classes

Monitoring Student Progress

Manage Classes and Accounts

Lastly, I love that eduCanon works across platforms. I've used it multiple times from my iPad and have had very little issues. 

iPad Version