Monday, December 28, 2015

Boomerang for Gmail

What is Boomerang? 

Boomerang for Gmail adds some pretty cool features to your Gmail account. When you install Boomerang, you'll instantly notice that you have an additional send option when you go to compose a new email. In this post, I'll cover a couple options you have with using Boomerang for Gmail. The first covers receiving confirmation emails. The second covers how to schedule emails or create recurring emails. 

Confirmation Emails

Have you ever wanted to know whether or not someone has opened your email? With Boomerang, you can select the span of time someone has to open your email. You can then get a confirmation email letting you know when the message had been opened. You can even have it send you a response regardless of how someone responds to your email. This is a great way to remind yourself of a conversation that you initiated and will require followup. To do this, check mark the box below your typical send box, set your time and parameters, and send your email. 

 Scheduling Emails

Boomerang is also handy if you want to be able to schedule an email or create a recurring message. I recently had a teacher ask about a recurring email message. She wanted the same document sent to a group of parents for several weeks so that they had a continuous reminder that it was there for them to access. That way she could better keep parents informed of the resource being provided.

Another way scheduling would be handy is if you need to send an email to parents or staff members, but need it to be sent a specific time. This is nice if you know you will be short on time or do not want to rely on your memory to get the message sent out. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Parent Access and Google Classroom

Keep Parents Informed

How do you keep parents informed about assignments in Google Classroom? This is a question I frequently receive and it is a legitimate issue. Having the students sign into their Google Classroom account and showing it to their parents is about the only advice I have given. However, if I were a parent that had never explored Google Classroom before, it would appear to be an unorganized mess of assignments and announcements. A Google Calendar may provide a solution that would be less intimidating for parents.

Google Classroom Calendars in Google Sites

Earlier in the 2015-2016 school year, Google Calendar started integrating with Google Classroom. This provides an opportunity to keep those communication lines open. The key is that you must make good use of your teacher website to be able to do so. In the video below, I demonstrate how you can import your Google Classroom calendar into a Google Site. (Please keep in mind that would need to create a separate calendar for each Google Classroom that you want posted.)

Not Using Google Sites?

If you are not using Google Sites, you could also use an embed code to the calendar to post it on Blogger or other website service that allows for HTML editing. It takes a bit more work, but it can be done. If you are planning on using it in a site like Blogger, It might be a good idea to create a separate page for all your Google Classroom calendars you want to publicly post. (This video is an older video on putting a calendar in the sidebar of your Blogger site, but it will at least give you the basic idea.)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Flip Your Classroom Chapters 8-9

As the author's wrap up the last two chapters, they clearly communicate that there are many different variations of flipping the classroom. Really, it all depends upon the needs of your learners.

Chapter 8 is dedicated to the frequently asked questions they receive about flipping the classroom. As you read through the questions, were there any responses that stood out to you or possibly left you hanging? Do you have any further questions that were not listed? This will be great to formulate a list as we will be chatting with Jon Bergmann on January 7th via Google Hangouts!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Seesaw with First Grade

This week has been an exciting week for my MSDSC primary teachers and students. I was able to work with teachers during a collaboration on utilizing Seesaw as a tool for student/teacher communication. (The parent feature will come later.) I was also able to jump into a few classrooms to help teachers and students get more acquainted with this awesome tool. I just wish Seesaw had been around when I took on the role as a technology integration specialist five years ago. It would have made my job a whole lot easier! (I had kindergarten students sending emails from iPads to turn in content.)

At Ryan Park Elementary, I was able to work with Mrs. Moor's first grade. They had some experience with Seesaw, but Mrs. Moor really wanted to know more about the capabilities of this tool. Being the first year she and her first graders have had devices (iPads), Seesaw can feel a little overwhelming with all the various opportunities it holds.

One of the options I find very useful is the ability for them to copy and edit an item you provide for them. This would be great for spur of the moment exit tickets or any other quick check you would like to do. It is also great in a scenario where the teacher has a specific item he/she would like annotated. To do this, you must go to the "manage class" option in the menu. The teacher will then need to turn on the "Enable Item Editing" option. Now students can make a copy by pressing the three dots under the teacher's post and choosing to copy and edit the item.

In my lesson with first grade, I provided them with examples of proper nouns. I started with a picture of a dog and chatted about how we can make sentences about the dog. We started with just using the word "dog" as sentence with a common noun and worked into how we could include a proper noun. I sent the image of a dog through Seesaw as a teacher, but used a student iPad to copy and edit the image as a class.

Next, I sent an image of their principal, Mrs. Heavin. All of the students were able to tap on the three lines, choose to "copy and edit" the image, and write their own sentence about Mrs. Heavin. Once students began submitting and I approved their work, the magic started to happen. Often teachers ask why they should bother allowing students to view each other's work. The dialogue that takes place is magic as they read each other's sentences and listen to the recordings. It strikes up conversation and collaboration that would have never taken place had you made them complete a worksheet and turn it into the tan trays in the back of the classroom for only the teacher's eyes to see.

In the video below, many of Mrs. Moor's first grade examples are shown demonstrating their ability to write sentences with proper nouns. They are not perfect by any means, but they will not forget how much fun it was to make sentences with Mrs. Heavin and Mrs. Minick as their subjects for proper nouns.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


What is PiZap?

PiZap is a free resource in the Chrome Web Store, or you can just visit It is a webtool that you can use to edit, combine, and annotate images. You can edit individual images or create entire collages with text and stickers. You can be as creative as you desire. 

Why PiZap?

Students often need images cropped or edited for videos or presentations. They may want to add their own design with the drawing tools, recolor images, or add a caption. Students can also use it to combine multiple images and add speech bubbles. All edited photos can be used as a single project idea or in conjunction with a larger presentation or video. 

Teachers can also use PiZap if they desire a custom banner for their social media outlets. PiZap has presized banner templates so that you can create your Youtube cover art to match your Youtube channel. If you use your Youtube channel (or other social media outlet) to display student work, this would be a great way to advertise the purpose of the account.


In my video tutorial, I demonstrate how to combine two images, add text, and import it into a Google Slides presentation. Combining images would be a great way for students to impose their own image with historical figures or places of interest. Imagine a student creating a presentation on Abraham Lincoln and them imposing their own image with him. What questions could they ask? How would he respond? With the example that I gave, I took to pictures of myself and imposed one on the other. What if students were to share their thinking about their reading. What question could they essentially ask and respond to?

Digital Citizenship

In the example, I didn't go into the stickers option. Please keep in mind that some of the stickers are not school appropriate. Those are important discussions to have with students that they determine what is appropriate for their projects. It is also important to discuss with students that they are conscious of the purpose of advertisements. Typically these advertisements will lead students to websites they do not truly wish to visit. Help them understand what to do if they accidentally click on an ad. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Chapter 7: How to Implement the Flipped-Mastery Model

"We describe our classes as hubs of learning. The focus of the classroom is no longer on the teacher, but rather on the learning."  - Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams
Chapter seven is on the implementation of the flipped-mastery model. There are a lot of great tips and things to keep in mind that the authors bring up. They discuss the number of years till they felt that the flipped-mastery model actually seemed to feel comfortable. They discuss training the students to function in their classes. They also describe the types of assessment that are necessary and are an effective means to measure learning.

What really stood out to me in this chapter was the quote I put to start this post. What do you think of the authors referring to their classes as "hubs of learning" in comparison to the traditional classroom?Do you feel that the way they describe the flipped-mastery model deserves such a title? Feel free to add any other thoughts you'd like to add about the chapter as well.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Orange Slice and the Hour of Code

Looking for an Expert

With the Hour of Code starting next week, I thought it would be fitting to find an expert in the field of computer science. When I signed up with to be the site organizer for MSD of Steuben County, having an expert was actually a suggestion and they provided opportunities to get in contact with people as such. Reason being that it helps young minds understand that all their digital content doesn't just magically appear on their device. There is a person and a thought process through the creation of digital resources. There is a skill set required to build the video games they play. I have quite a few experts in my personal life that are software developers for local engineering firms like Aptera and Logikos. Resources were certainly within reach, but I wanted to go a different route. 

Immediately I thought the Hour of Code would be a great opportunity for MSDSC's very own, Matt Buchanan, to chat about his experience with programming the Google App add-on, Orange Slice. Here we have a former mechanical engineer that decided to go into the teaching profession. Now Matt is using that engineering mindset to create digital tools that teachers and students can use to increase feedback.


In the interview, Matt shares quite a bit about the process of creating Orange Slice. Perseverance was his mantra as he talks about the problem solving process necessary to find solutions. Problems consistently arrived for Matt, but perseverance was key in finding success. This is an important message to our youth about what it means to work diligently, being reflective, and using the resources available that can help pull through the difficult moments of any challenge. 

The Hour of Code

Next week (December 7-13) is the Hour of Code. Matt's interview provides an opportunity for students (even teachers) to get a glimpse of the problem solving skills necessary in order to work through computer programming. It also may give viewers an appreciation of the effort Matt has placed in the creation of Orange Slice Rubrics. 

If you are looking for ideas for running the Hour of Code, I created resources to get your started, and you can find them by clicking this link. If you are already familiar with the Hour of Code, look for more resources at They have a wide range of webtools for all ages. 

Interview with Matt Buchanan

(I apologize for the poor audio quality.)

Orange Slice

If you haven't tried Orange Slice Rubrics yet, check out my blogpost featuring the teacher rubric

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chapters 5-6: Flipped Mastery Model

The first four chapters really cover the basics and logistics of flipped the classroom and the benefits it holds. Chapters five and six introduce and make a case for the blending of the flipped classroom and the mastery model (flipped-mastery model).

The authors discuss how the flipped-mastery model that students are the ones pushing their learning. They work through the content at their own level of learning and proceed when the student has mastered that skill set. In chapter six, the authors mention that the flipped-mastery model teaches students the value of learning instead of "playing school." What are you thoughts on that comment? Agree or disagree as you please.