Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2016

Google Drawings: Student Landing Page (Googliloo)

Snowy day! Today was an e-learning day for the students of MSD of Steuben County. We had quite the winter blast on Sunday as was predicted as we sent all students home with a school issued Chromebook. I went out several times with my snowblower to clean the driveway in phases in case waiting till the snow stopped falling would be too much for my little Toro to handle. It probably would have been fine, but better safe than sorry.  The following day many school districts, like mine, called an e-learning day. MSD of Steuben isn't quite ready to launch an e-learning day the morning of severe weather as some districts are. The day is probably coming in the next few years as I'm continuing to provide training opportunities to learn/refine virtual learning options. My goal is to train teachers to provide learning experiences that are just as beneficial as the experiences students have while in the physical classroom.  What can I say? I'm cheap... Upon the an

Mystery Cards Template

The Best Ideas... The best ideas come when you least expect it. Awhile back I was visiting with Mrs. Antos and her 3rd grade class from Pleasant Lake Elementary, she wanted her students to work in Google Slides to create Mystery Cards in relation to the plot of the story. It was the first time students had experienced Google Slides; it took them roughly 30-45 minutes to build the template without any clues created. All things considered, they were able to accomplish much in a short period of time! The idea behind Mystery Cards is that they give three clues to an important event in the text. The next card had the answer to the clues as well as a short explanation. The fun part of doing it in Google Slides vs. on note cards like her original activity suggested is the vast number of images available that students can access. It also makes for a great presentation for students to share in front of the class to introduce a book. What a great way to build and exciting reading culture

Reading Recs

Running Records So much value can be placed on the time that you spend with students doing a running record. You really get to know each student's strengths and weaknesses. Teachers truly understand the individual needs when they take the time to listen to the student read and ask them questions about the text. What's the biggest problem with doing running records? Time!  Looking back on my teaching experience, I spent a lot of class time pulling individuals back to check their reading performance. Often times, it would take me a week or more of my reading block in order to get through my whole class. As long as you had already established a solid reading culture within the walls of your classroom, the process is pretty smooth. If you have resistant readers, it takes even longer as the teacher may need to do some crowd control from time to time. So how do we get passed the issue of time constraint? There are some options, but I highly recommend that the teacher of

Nationwide is on Your Side

Lunch with Lance I love lunch. Yes, I have a deep appreciation for food, but that's not why I'm discussion my love for lunch. I try to spend the lunch hours hanging around the teacher's lounge due to how precious that time is. Teachers frequently ask questions about technical issues they are having or ways to better implement the tools they are currently using. It is such a valuable time for teachers to learn a new tool, tip, or trick that will in some way benefit them and their class. I have no actual data to prove the benefit of being available during lunch in comparison to holding before or after school training sessions, but I do believe it is of more value due to the fact that teachers visit in shifts. I can personalize the learning experience at a much better level than having a sit-n-get session. Lunch is also of value as the most important ingredient in driving change is to make connections with people. Gaining trust is vital to the process of building a c

Three Reasons Why Teachers Should Blog

Ignite! Ever see or participate in an "ignite" presentation? To say that it is stressful is an understatement. I've done my fair share of presenting in front of my peers or at various conferences, but the amount of time it takes to prepare for an ignite speech is a bit shocking considering that it only lasts a grand total of five minutes. The presenter gets a total of 20 slides that last 15 seconds each. Did I mention that the slides move automatically?  At the Indiana Connected Educator's Conference , I had the opportunity to give my first ignite session. I suppose it is very fitting that I'm going to blog about my topic: Teachers Should Blog. There are a number of reasons that I run through as to why that is, but it all roots from my own experience as a teacher. I had a website. It was terrible to use, but it is what I had available. I attempted to make the most of it and genuinely made an effort to engage students and parents with it. I would update

Custom Color with Colorzilla

What is Colorzilla? To put it simply, Colorzilla lets you select colors from images or any website so that you can match the exact color. Well...not necessarily does it let you select the color, but it allows you to select the hex code necessary to match a color. Not sure what I mean? Look at my banner above. Notice how the colors of the text match the colors emitting from Godzilla's mouth and back. Colorzilla is digital eyedropper that allows you to grab any color on your display so that you can match it accurately.  I love using Google Slides and Google Drawings. I use at least one of the two on a daily basis. Those that know me best are aware that I'm not satisfied with prepackaged themes. I prefer to customize and display information to my liking. Colorzilla works perfectly with the Google suite of apps as Colorzilla automatically copies the hexcode to your clipboard when you capture a color from your display. You can then easily select a custom color in Google Sl

The Indestructible Graphic Organizer

Frayer Model Ann Rice, principal of Angola Middle School, sent out an article to her staff about vocabulary instruction  that caught my attention. It provided great information in regard to what we have students do with vocabulary. Because of the ease of access to information with a class set of Chromebooks, having students lookup definitions isn't an effective way to immerse students in the key terms of your unit of study. In fact, I don't know that it was very effective in my school days because I recall copying the dictionary or the glossary of my textbook word for word. In short, we need students interacting with vocabulary in a manner that will engage a student's mind.  The article offered a couple technology resources. One resource I had never utilized before;  The Academic Word Finder . This is a great free resource as teachers can copy and paste a digital text, select a grade level, and it will determine which words are grade level appropriat

MSDSC Communities

The Power of Choice There has been a movement in education over the power of choice. Some call it "Genius Hour" or "twenty percent time" depending on which book/article you have read on the subject. It all came from a concept Google implemented with their employees. They have a block of time where they can explore and create freely on a project. It is powerful to give people choice.  I was a firm believer in the power of choice in the mid to late 2000s when I was still teaching fourth grade. Many teachers in my school were implementing the workshop model. It always amazed me when I would get a new student from another school district that looked at me in shock when I told them they could read or write about whatever they wanted. I just wanted evidence of their growth as I conferred with them or read their blog. Suddenly reading and writing became more meaningful to the student. Instead of me dictating what they had to do, I was delivering content and strat

Chrome App Builder

Streamlined... The Metropolitan School District of Steuben County is a full 1:1 Chromebook program. It has been quite a transition this year as kindergarten through second-grade students had iPads the previous year. The main difficulty of the process has been the streamlined user experience with the iPad. As far as availability of content for young learners is concerned, the iPad still reigns supreme. So one of my tasks has been thinking of ways that I can streamline the experience on a Chromebook as much as possible for my k-2 folks via the Google Admin Console.  One idea I have tried is utilizing Symbaloo as a starting page for each grade level. I do this by adding a startup page in the Device Management settings. I also turned on the "home button" so that students can get back to the page at any time by tapping on it. (Believe it or not, the home button is off by default.) I add items to the Symbaloo pages items per teacher request, but I am noticing that this al

Hyperdoc Slides

The Cart Before the Horse... Ever get a few steps ahead of yourself? Sure, teachers do it all the time. We often jump into a new activity and miss a few steps here an there that were essential to the learning experience. We backtrack and learn from those experiences and adjust accordingly the next time we try the activity. Well, I did just that.  When I think of things to post or create for my teachers, it usually comes from training or mere conversations in the hallway. I then write the idea as a draft on my blog so that I can remember to work on it later. Earlier in the summer I held some training sessions on the topic of hyperdocs. While planning for those training sessions, I had created a resource on different ways to create hyperdocs in Google Slides. Of course, I wrote it as a draft and it has sat in my list of drafts since June. Whoops! I recently posted about " The Indestructible Hyperdoc " using Google Slides and Google Drawings. That's when I realiz

Comic Slips Revisited!

What's a Comic Slip? It is a comic, it is an exit slip, it is a comic slip! I created a post earlier in 2016 about the idea behind the comic slip. I love the idea of gathering data at the end of a lesson. It allows you to measure student learning and comfort level on a topic or skill. This allows the teacher to create differentiated/personalized learning experiences for students and also provides valuable data for teacher reflection. What better way to find out how well a lesson went than to have students fill out a quick thought about the learning experience? I've had the opportunity to present the concept of Comic Slips to teachers numerous times both within my district and at area conferences. Usually when presenting to teachers, I spend more time focusing on Google Drawings than on the comic portion as I want teachers to know all the functions and features of Google Drawings so that it can be used for much more than just a quick comic builder. However, when I vis

Digital Citizenship Week

What is Digital Citizenship? Digital citizenship, in a nutshell, is character education for the digital realm. It is imperative that we make an effort to educate students on digital safety. Ultimately, responsible use of technology in the early years will translate to a better Internet for tomorrow. Will problems still exist? Yes, people will still make mistakes. But imagine what the Internet will be like if we don't make an honest effort to educate students on the best uses of technology? This year one of my focuses will be on how digital citizenship should be intertwined in the everyday experience of the student. Looking for these teachable moments will provide great opportunities to fit digital citizenship into a natural part of the school day. To get things kicked off and rolling, next week is offically digital citizenship week!  Digital Citizenship Week The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has declared that next week is #digcit (digital citizenship) week. The

The Indestructible Hyperdoc

What's a Hyperdoc? I've written several posts on hyperdocs varying in content and purpose . In a nutshell, the purpose of a hyperdoc is merely to provide learning space. It might be an organized collaborative space or a document chock full of links, graphics, and resources to guide a learning experience. Either way, the real advantage of a hyperdoc is to buy the teacher time to collaborate with students and personalize learning. Students work through learning experiences as the teacher meets with individuals or small groups. This is much like the reader's workshop model I utilized in my classroom. Students worked in small groups on a text, independently on their own text, or were writing about their reading through a notebook or our class blog. In the meantime, I was conferencing and meeting students in the trenches of their work. In the end, the teacher will have a collection of responses that give a wealth of information about the students' discussions or level

Google Classroom Guardian Summaries

Guardian Summaries are Here! I'm very excited about the opportunity to connect family members with Google Classroom . It has been a major piece missing since Classroom debuted. Parents were reliant on students to open their classroom and decipher the information teachers put in there. To a person that has never seen/used Classroom, it could seem pretty overwhelming. If you look at the example above, you can see that Guardian Summaries will provide an overview of all classroom activity. With Guardian Summaries, caretakers can choose to get a daily or weekly summary of their child's classes. It arrives in their email so no account setup/password is required. Teachers merely attach a guardian's email address to the students and an alert will be sent to them to confirm the address. Once the parent is attached to a student, other classes will automatically add the same email address.  Not so Fast! This is not yet available for teachers in MSD of Steuben County.

Google Classroom: Handwrite Feedback

A Little Something for Your iPad This year is the first time that the Metropolitan School District of Steuben County is going to be a full Chromebook 1:1 technology district. In the past, we had a combination of iPads and Chromebooks. As our fleet of iPads have aged, we've come to the point that we were ready to make a switch. So what do we do with all of our old iPads? Put one in the hands of all our teachers.  For many of our teachers, this is the first experience they have had with an iPad in a classroom setting. So the question I'm getting is how can a single iPad be beneficial to a classroom? I have a few ideas listed on a previous post in April of 2016. If you'd like to see it, click here . One item that is not on that list is the new launch in the Google Classroom app for Android and iOS devices. Users can now give handwritten feedback on assignments.  Why Give Feedback on an iPad? Do you prefer handwriting over typing? Do you like to quickly mark a pa

Google Classroom Topics

Let's Get Organized! My biggest beef with Google Classroom for quite some time has been the organization of it. Teachers have been at the mercy of "the stream" since it debuted. Last year, teachers rejoiced when they could finally move items to the top of their stream of assignments, announcements and questions. It wasn't enough though because the teacher still had to scroll through all those materials to find the resource they wanted to bring to the top. With all of Google's expertise in search, it always surprised me that there wasn't a way to categorize those posts. Well, the time has come! Topics I'm very excited that Google Classroom now has "topics" added to the stream. Now teachers can essentially group posts with a single tag. This is great if you have several items in relation to one topic or study. Students and teachers can then easily trounce through only those items with the associated tag. Setting up topics is e

Google Cast for Education

What Teachers Need... Eight years ago I was still teaching fourth grade and was getting a brand new building. I remember how excited I was because of how amazing it would be that I would have a projector that I didn't have to share with other teachers and wheel in on a cart. I was even more surprised when we were going to receive a tablet PC that would work completely wire-free. It completely changed my style of teaching: I no longer taught with my back turned to the board.  I experienced less interruption because I could better locate myself in proximity to a student that needed to refocus. (I rarely had to stop a lesson because I had my laptop in my hands.)  I could pull up an unlimited amount of content at any moment.  For the last couple years, Apple TV has given iPad teachers the same experiences I had several years ago. Now that all of my teachers are going to be utilizing Chromebooks in the classroom, what options do teachers have?  What is Google Cast for

Welcome to the New Google Sites!

Early Release! Toward the end of June, MSD of Steuben County gained access to the early release of the New Google Sites. It is a very exciting opportunity as our teachers can start to get a feel for how to implement it as a key communication tool and implementation in the classroom. Due to the upcoming changes, I've already canceled a training I had planned for a blogging template I had created using Google Sites. Now that there is a new version, I ultimately decided that it was a matter of time until that training would be obsolete. So I'm excited to present the new version of Google Sites to the administrative team on Monday, August 1st and teachers Thursday, August 4th.  MSDSC was also planning on utilizing Google Sites for school websites. That plan is now on hold as the transition takes place. So for now, teachers and administrators get to test and get familiar with the new format as we prepare to make the transition along with Google.  What's in the New

Google Classroom Guide

Chromebooks Required Throughout this summer, I kicked off a training series for my staff that I titled "Chromebooks Required." Mainly because we are shifting completely to the Chromebook for students vs. a mix of devices. We are excited for this focus on all that Google has to offer our students. There certainly be some growing pains as many of our teachers transfer technology integration from the iPad to the Chromebook.  Part of my training has been on the topic of Google Classroom. It has been a basic orientation of how to connect students as well as how to utilize the various methods of communication as well as how to utilize other tools to enhance the experience with Google Classroom (Share to classroom, Doc Hub, Orange Slice Rubric, etc.) Google Classroom is much more than an assignment creator. I also have been holding training sessions on the topic of hyperdocs which is much more about lesson format and how to more efficiently create learning experiences via

Google Forms Quizzes!

Can I Have It Auto-Grade? I frequently get the question about how to create quizzes that will be automatically graded.  If you already have a quiz you are planning on using, you might as well take advantage of it being fully automated, right? It saves a great amount of time if you are planning on administering a quick quiz all based on multiple choice or true and false.  Toward the end of June, Google launched the ability to create graded quizzes via Google Forms. Using a Google Sheets add-on ( Flubaroo ) is no longer necessary to accomplish this task. Teachers can quickly make a quiz, set the correct answers, and instantly have all the results within their Google Form. If you are wanting something quick and extremely user-friendly, this is the route to go. If you are wanting to have more control over point values and weighted grades, Flubaroo is much more feature-rich as it has been in existence much longer. Both tools are great, I recommend trying them both. Why not? They

My Experience with ISTE and COPPA

#gafe trainer and innovator meet-up rocked. Lots of exciting Google goodies coming soon! #ISTE2016 @leadlaughlearn — Lance Yoder (@Mr_Yoder) June 28, 2016 ISTE 2016 ISTE 2016 was awesome. The Denver Convention Center is probably my favorite location out of the four ISTE conferences I've attended. The building is easy to navigate and in a great place, downtown Denver. I walked away from ISTE with some great ideas of how to supplement teacher training as well as a taste of the new features Google is offering schools this academic year. I'm excited for the new version of Sites to be launched, Android apps on Chromebooks, as well as some new features within Google Classroom that will certainly make the lives of teachers much simpler. Many of these features will be discussed in future posts. This post is focused on an issue that seems to be regularly ignored within the realm of educational technology. We're talking about the Children's