Sunday, November 29, 2015

Build with Chrome

Get Started with Your Google Apps Account

Why Build with Chrome?

Looking for a fun way to incorporate building with Legos in your lessons? Try Build with Chrome as students can make creations with virtual Legos. What can be finer than kids making cool models or demonstrations of their learning with all the quietness of doing so on your class set of Chromebooks? It reminds me of my days starting out with 1:1 iPads when my teachers first discovered the geoboard app by Math Learning Center. Teachers were more excited about the fewer issues with the distraction of flipping rubberbands across the room rather than the functionality itself. Build with Chrome allows kids to build without all the distractions of kids rifling through Legos and is much more cost effective if you have a class set of Chrome enabled devices.

Sharing Your Legos

What's also exciting is the ability to share your creations. When students sign into their Google account, they can share their creations on a map of the world. Users can view creations by other users around the world, and share their own. Want to make it even more exciting? Try having the students give a tour of their creation as it relates to their learning with screencasting tools likes Screencastify or Nimbus. Having this recording could take the place of a traditional presentation as the students could create a model of a location in history, fictional text they are reading about, or any topic where students can create a graphical representation. 


Want an overview of how it works? Check out my video tutorial below to get a feel for the workflow in how to use Build with Chrome. 

Using Google Classroom?

After you make you creation, grab the link once it is published. Students can then turn in their work via a link in Google Classroom. Below is a quick video of how students can do just that. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chapter Four: How to Implement the Flipped Classroom

Chapter four delves into the nuts and bolts of flipping the classroom. First, the authors cover some of the equipment needs of the flipped classroom as well as the whole process of making a video. Most of these issues are actually questions that the MSD of Steuben County staff have addressed. Since we had a training day on utilizing video to leverage learning in September, many teachers are already using Screencastify to create videos and distribute them through Google Classroom, Google Drive, or Seesaw. If this chapter spurns some further questions, I can address those here. Feel free to ask. 

The rest of the chapter covers making videos interesting and also the suggestion that flipping the classroom will buy you time once it is set up. Select one or both of the following questions: 
  1. In what ways do you want to attempt to "make videos your students will love?"

  2. Do you envision that flipping will save you class time? How do you see yourself using this hypothetical time?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Youtube Photo Slideshows

Youtube has Photo Slideshows? 

If you've ever uploaded a video into Youtube. You may have noticed a lineup of  tools available on the bottom-right corner of your screen. I've utilized the Youtube Video Editor numerous times. It happens to be my favorite for cutting video on a Chromebook. I've also used the Photo Slideshow on numerous occasions as it provides a super simple way to create a slideshow to post on your blog or website. (See post from June, 2014)
Editing Tools in Youtube
This week Kristin Sine, principal of Hendry Park Elementary, wanted to create an Animoto slideshow for the school board meeting that she was hosting. After she was all finished, she realized that the free version placed an Animoto watermark over her slideshow. So I offered her the Photo Slideshow option in Youtube that I'd used in the past. As it turns out, there was an Advanced Editor that I didn't even know about! I just happened to notice it as she was was weighing her options between Animoto and the basic Photo Slideshow option in Youtube. 

Why the Advanced Editor?

With the Advanced Editor, you can add transitions, text, adjust slide times, and use royalty free music. It has much to offer and is fairly simple to use. Just like any tool, there is a learning curve, but I'm sure within a few minutes you'll have this one down pat. 

There is a drawback that I've come across. (As of 11/20/2015.) Your projects don't appear to save so that you can comeback and work on it later. As I've worked on a project and named it, I've noticed that it does not appear in my projects list if I come back later. You'll need to create your entire project and process the video when you are done so that you do not lose your video. 


I have five separate videos going through the steps of using the Advanced Editor in Youtube in the playlist embedded here. I broke up the entire process so that you do not have to sort through a really long video on how to upload your photos, insert items, and process it. You can see all the videos in the list by selecting the three lines with an arrow pointing on the top-left corner of the video below. 


Here is the fun and exciting example that was created for the MSD of Steuben County board meeting. Mrs. Sine did a fantastic job as this was her very first experience using the Youtube Photo Slideshow creator. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Google Forms has a New Look

Google Forms has a New Look?

If you haven't noticed in your Google Drive, you might be prompted to try the "new" Google Forms. I made a quick overview of how to navigate around the new forms (see video below). For the most part, the functions are the same, but they merely redesigned it and controls are in different places. 

The Prompt in Google Forms

Overall, the new look is very sleek and smooth in design. I like how they separate the question choices from the other input types (images, videos, page breaks). I also noticed that you can create a prefilled form link so that entries are automatically selected. All of these features are outlined in my tutorial. 

The new summary reports are built right within the form so that the owner can quickly see response data. The old forms had this, but the new graph data is much more accessible and easy to read. 

Responses are Easy to Find


Feel free to try out the new Google Forms, but if you'd rather just see a glimpse of where things are, watch my video. You still have the option of going back to the old version of Google Forms. On the bottom-left corner of the screen, you'll notice a silhouette of a person walking. That will take you back to the old version if you decide not to continue using it. How long you will still have that option is the big question. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Google My Maps

Why Google My Maps?

Within Google Drive, students and teachers can create and save customized maps. It is a great resource for mathematics and measuring distances, adding details to a report on a specific location, or studying locations on various time periods. (By no means are individuals limited to these three ideas.)

My Maps Features

In this post, I created a video to demonstrate how to add various features to your customized maps. We'll
first start with the features available.


The first basic function is search a location. Google is notorious for search in all of their resources. Quickly search regions on the globe and it will more than likely pop up with a variety of options. Select the one you want; the map will zoom in on that region.


You'll also have the option to save specific points directly on your map. You can customize these points by adding color and selecting a shape/symbol to coincide with your specific location. Once you create your point, the creator can also add various details and facts in the text-box available below the title. The creator can also add images or videos to their map. (Videos are limited to Youtube.)


Users can create routes throughout a map. In the video, I demonstrate how to create a straight line route. Walking, biking, or driving routes are also possible and will follow a specific road route. The traveling routes may not be as applicable in a school setting as those are there more for the purpose of modern day traveling. Just as a tip while creating a route, remember to click once to initiate the route and connect points. Double-click to end a route.


You can create layers on your map in order to better organize your points and routes you create. These layers allow you to turn the points and routes on and off that you want to see on your maps at any given time. Layers would be a great way to organize points of interest throughout various time periods. Each layer could represent a specific date, year, or range of years. Then when the user wants to see a specific time-frame, those specific eras can be viewed.


Google My Maps are shareable just like any Google Doc. However, it seems to lack the live editing features that the rest of the Google Apps for Education suite contains. So keep in mind that you may make changes to a map, and the shared user may not see the results until they reload the map.


My Maps lends itself well to screencasting tools like Screencastify or Nimbus. Students can give an oral report while clicking on their various points in the map key on the left side of the screen. As the user clicks on the points, the map automatically moves to that specific location or route and shows any of the extra information, images or videos the creator added to the point on the map. Then the student has a great video report while they click through the points of interest on their custom map.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Study: Flip Your Classroom Chapters 1-3

The first three chapters give mostly an overview and the reasoning behind the concept of "flipping" the classroom. As Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann delve into their reasoning, they also point out some poor reasons for wanting to flip the classroom. 

In the comments section below this post, think about reasons why you should and shouldn't consider flipping the classroom. After reading the first three chapters, do you feel that this model is something that will benefit your students? Is a full flip appropriate for your students, or are there just elements that you can take from this study? 

If you had something else in the forefront of your mind instead of the question I'm asking, feel free to post that instead. Please give a disclaimer that you are headed in a different direction if you choose to do so. Also, please feel free to reply to your colleagues' comments. Ask questions or throw in your two cents. Later this week I will likely throw out a reminder email asking you to revisit the post to see what others had to say. 

Next week, we will tackle only chapter four. 

Thanks again for participating. I'm excited to learn with you! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Seesaw Presidential Election

Allison Miller's Kindergarten was featured in my last post about utilizing Seesaw in the kindergarten classroom. I posted it to demonstrate Seesaw in action so that teachers could develop ideas for the implementation of this tool. Seesaw is an amazing opportunity for all learners, but it especially caters nicely to the needs of primary students with being icon based and simplistic. The simplicity does not diminish from the power it holds as students can quickly document/record their learning and communicate it to either the teacher or the entire class. In the past, I had used Google Drive in a similar manner to increase idea sharing and the excitement for learning. The opportunities Seesaw holds for primary students trumps my previous experiences with Google Drive. 

Last week, Mrs. Miller was ecstatic about what her kids were doing with Seesaw. To demonstrate their knowledge of the Indiana kindergarten standards K.2.2, students created a mock election for a stuffed animal. (No insult to our government intended.) Here the students were to create a reason why voters should select their candidate, take a picture and record their voice with the image in Seesaw. 

Check Out This Presidential Candidate Example

Seesaw happens to work well for the voting process as well. Students were to "like" a classmate's post. The likes were considered a vote so the animal with the most likes was the winner of the election! Not all of the recordings were up this quality, but the students are gradually learning how to effectively communicate their thinking with Seesaw.

What cool ideas do you have for Seesaw? Share them here in the comments area. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Hour of Code - 2015

What is the Hour of Code?

The Hour of Code is an event each year (December 7 - 13) to promote the field of computer science. All things electronic require someone to program it. From basic coding resources like Scratch to learning actual computer languages in Code Academy, the hour of code is designed to give students exposure to programming robotics and computers.

Why Participate in the Hour of Code?

Ask a teacher what their ultimate goal is for their students. Most of them will say that it is to prepare their students for the future and to be successful lifelong learners. (At least something along those lines.) Computer science is a part of our world. Whether it is changing the radio station and seeing the frequency light up on the screen, or using your iPad to Facetime with family, you are utilizing the efforts of a software developer. 

The demand is great as the technology realm is changing so rapidly. With the launch of the iPhone and Android devices, the need for developers exploded. What need will the next break-through device create? According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an 8% increase in jobs for computer programming will occur in the next seven year. 

How to Participate in the Hour of Code

There are a ton of resources out there to get started on the Hour of Code. I'm listing just a few to span over the devices and grade levels that are in my school district (MSD of Steuben County). So check out the materials and think about how you can discuss the field of computer science with your students. They need to be aware that their video games and favorite websites didn't just magically appear there. There is someone's work behind the screen. 

1. Introduce Computer Science

Let students know that computer science is a real thing. You could start with either of these two videos supplied by to give students a feel for what coding is.

2. Have a Conversation about Computer Science

Have a discussion or have kids post on a blog, Google Classroom, or Seesaw to share where coding has impacted their life. Discuss how their life would be different without it. 

3. Have Students Participate

The Hour of Code does not mean the kids have to do coding for an hour straight. It means that throughout the week, the students are trying activities that expose them to the realm of computer science. So if the kids have a few minutes here and there, encourage them to participate in one of the many activities in relation to coding. Feel free to have students watch the video if you feel it will help them get acquainted with the tool. 

Kodable - Kindergarten and First Grade

The Foos - Kindergarten through Second

Lightbot - First through Sixth Grade

Scratch - Third through Eighth Grade

Code Academy - Seventh through Seniors

Khan Academy - Sixth Through Seniors (Video Tutorials on Links)

4. Celebrate

Take pictures or videos of students participating in the Hour of Code. Tweet them out or post them on Instagram with the hashtag #msdsafari and #hourofcode. Free free to tag me in your images on Twitter with @mr_yoder and Instagram with @edgaged

Monday, November 2, 2015

Seesaw in the Kindergarten Classroom

I have utmost respect for primary level teachers. If you've never had the experience of working with early learners, I highly recommend taking the time to observe or even assist in a Kindergarten classroom. It is eye opening for other grade levels to experience the rapidly changing learning experiences in order to meet the needs of young learners. It is much like watching a maestro leading and conducting an orchestra. 

Primary Needs

With the pace of the classroom, technology must be able to keep up. Technology needs for primary students require that tools are time efficient and an effective means by which students can express their learning. One of the more difficult questions to answer is how to fit a learning management system (LMS) into the equation. Quite frankly, the majority of LMS options do not meet the needs of primary students or  teachers effectively. LMS options may effectively provide opportunities to distribute content, but the main problem lies in the ability for students to return content to the teacher. 

Being a Google Apps for Education school district, we naturally look at Google Classroom as an option. It is an excellent resource and very user-friendly. However, students still need to be able to read in order to effectively communicate their learning experiences. A better option I'm considering is Seesaw

How It Works

Connecting Students

Students can either sign up with their Google Apps for Education account, use an email address, or connect using a QR code! If students are able to type in their email address and password, I recommend using it through that method. Otherwise, I suggest taking advantage of how easy it is to utilize the QR code option.

QR Code Method

Submitting Content

Submitting work in Seesaw is extremely simple as it is icon based. The icons are straight-forward and easy for students to understand. This is essential when selecting digital tools for primary students. Students can submit a drawing, image, video, typed note, or other file type. What makes it truly primary appropriate is the option for an audio recording. Most one-on-one conferences consist of students reiterating what they attempted to communicate on paper or other media type. Here, students can communicate verbally what they attempted to communicate through written work or drawings. 

Submitting Content in Seesaw


Feedback is equally easy for teachers as they can communicate through text and/or audio recording. This is powerful for young students. I highly recommend providing both text and audio recording so that students can read and hear your feedback. If given a parent code, parents can participate and give feedback just to their student. This is exciting as one of the biggest criticisms for students using technology in the classroom is the ability for parents to be involved in an easily accessible/universal manner.


Seesaw is intended to function as a digital portfolio where students/teachers/parents can participate. However, I see the potential well beyond that. Here are some ideas:
  • Class Blog - Seesaw could easily function as a class blog as members of the class can easily find their classmate's work. By clicking/tapping on individual names, all of the work samples from that particular student appear in the feed. 
  • Content Curation - This would appear very different according to grade levels, but younger students could curate images for projects. Older students could submit links to various websites relating to a topic. This would allow all group members to benefit as they can quickly access content submitted by the class.
  • Flipped/Blended Learning - Seesaw is a great platform by which to distribute video content. It works very compatibly with a variety of video formats. The teacher can submit a video and ask students to respond either through their own brand new post or through comments. 
  • Connecting Classrooms - I'm actually in the works of making this happen with some kindergarten classes. I think Seesaw would be an awesome way to connect students with other classes. Having a shared class would allow students to submit work and receive feedback from peers outside of their physical classroom. I'm actually considering making a system for digital pen pals in the near future. I'll be sure to let you know how that works out! 
  • Learning Management System - Essentially everything that Seesaw can do functions as a learning management system. The only real element it is missing is the option to provide actual grades and house a gradebook type system. However, that piece is not necessary when teaching primary students. The feedback options provided are much more meaningful than a percentage/point system. 


Seesaw is available on Android, iOS, and is web-based. So no matter what your device, Seesaw is a great option. I currently have teachers and students using Seesaw on iPads and Chromebooks. I utilize the Android app from time to time as well.