Classroom Technology

Friday Tech Focus

Friday, April 20, 2018

OK Go Sandbox

Am I one of the last to know about this project?  I just discovered it by chance.  OK Go is a band that is pretty famous for their video on treadmills.  

What I didn’t know is that they have now created a project called “OK Go Sandbox”.   This is “an online resource for educators that uses OK Go’s music videos as starting points for integrated guided inquiry challenges allowing students to explore various STEAM concepts.” 

There are not a lot of videos on the Sandbox, but the ones that are there are accompanied by resources for educators, which are STEM/STEAM challenges for the classroom.  There are discussion questions, worksheets, educator guides, science journals and more.

Great resource for science teachers, engineering classes and anyone who is looking to integrate STEM/STEAM in a way that will really capture students’ interest and attention!

 Friday,  April 6, 2018

Wow, have I been delinquent in posting!

This is a tool that I have been using and showing for YEARS but it’s new and improved and deserves some airtime on Friday Tech Focus. There is a caveat, however.  While this tool used to be totally free, there is now a new pricing policy. If you are a new user, you are limited to 3 padlets. If you already have an account and have say, 25 padlets, you will get a maximum of 28.  If you had 10, you will get a maximum of 13. This is not great if you have an account but only have few padlets saved. For me, I had 47 padlets, so now I have 50. I quickly deleted all but a few so I am in good shape.
Padlet is basically an electronic bulletin board, but with lots of features and new options.  Teachers can create the padlet and students can contribute to it with text, images, drawings, videos and more.  It’s great for brainstorming, exit tickets, sharing of resources and so much more. I have created a padlet that you can all access and add to so you see what it is all about.  
I’ll be checking to see who contributes! Try it out!  I password protected this padlet. The password is friday.
Some of the new features are the different layouts. One of them, called canvas, lets you connect the ideas together, like a concept map. This allows you and your students to make visual connections and show relationships between ideas.  The Shelf layout works like a KWL chart.


Friday February 9, 2018

Do More With Google Drawings
This site was created by the Technology Innovation Specialist in the Hutchinson Public Schools in Hutchinson, MinnesotaI found it by accident one day when doing some research for a class I am teaching. It's amazing!  I really love the flexibility and power of Google Drawings and the wide variety of ways it can be  used in instruction. Take a look at this site and all of the different resources that are provided AND SHARED.  Begin taking advantage of all that Google Drawings offers.  You may be inspired by this site and begin using it more frequently in your classroom.

Friday, January 19, 2018
Thank you to Fatima Elmouchtari at Walter Panas High School for sharing this tool and for putting together this Google Slideshow to walk you through the steps of setting up your own class(es) in Kaizena.

Kaizena allows teachers to grade student work and provide audio feedback, comments, or even a URL link right on a shared Google Doc. It provides many more avenues for teachers and students to interact than the simple commenting feature in Google Docs.

Fatima teaches foreign language, so of course, this is a wonderful opportunity for her to hear her students speak in the language that they are learning. But Kaizen is NOT only for teachers of foreign language.

Read this post from a top edtech guru/blogger, that sums it up so well:
In Ditch That Homework, the book Alice Keeler and I co-authored, Alice wrote: "The best thing I can do is sit with a kid." That side by side, "we're both in this together" atmosphere is huge in learning.
In some ways, Kaizena is the digital equivalent to that in writing. It lets you provide feedback by adding voice comments to documents students have created. We speak so much faster than we can type, so this can save time. Plus, when students can hear your voice, there's an added personal touch. Kaizena also lets you add pre-written mini-lessons, and you can create groups for your class to keep everything organized.


Friday, December 22, 2017
Whisper Extension
Thank you to Iris Spadafino at Ben Franklin for sharing this.
This is an extension that you can install into your Chrome Browser called “Whisper” that lets you send a message to one or more student(s), or the whole class, without disturbing the flow of the class work.  If they are on Chromebooks, the message will pop up on their screen. You can compliment students who are working nicely, or remind students who are not on task…..
It’s free. Here is a link with directions on how to use.


Friday, November 17, 2017
Engaging Students: Google Resources
This site, from a bilingual school district in Alberta, Canada, has a wide variety of Google templates for elementary and middle school use. They can be adapted for high school use, too.  All are “view only” but can be copied to your account and personalized.  There are a lot of clever uses of Google drawings here, and there are also some teacher resources.  Use the tabs at the top to navigate between grade levels and to find the teacher resources.



Friday, October 27, 2017
This Friday Tech Focus, "Build a Jack o Lantern with Google Slides" is most appropriate for elementary students but you could use with older students for a fun Halloween-related tutorial on Google Slides. Just visit this page and download the template. It will open for you to “make a copy.” Then you can push out to students on Google Classroom.
Be sure to incorporate the writing part of this!
This website, Control Alt Achieve from Eric Curts is really pretty amazing for ALL teachers.  I could populate a whole year’s worth of friday Tech Focus by incorporating his ideas, tutorials, webinars, and more.

Friday, October 20, 2017
is an online classroom discussion and collaborative tool that allows students to post short audio/video responses for the teacher and other students to view. It works beautifully on a Chromebook! Teachers can ask all sorts of questions, even reflective open-ended ones; students have 90 seconds of recording time.
This tool has endless possibilities in all curricular areas.  LOTE and music teachers are really enthralled with it: students can “perform” with their instruments and record themselves to save precious class time.  Using Flipgrid for fluency is also very appealing for elementary teachers.  
Make sure to sign up for the Educator Version:
Flipgrid has a free and a paid version. I use the free one. You can only  have one FlipGrid, but you can post many different topics on that one.  (And you can sign up with a personal email to get another Flipgrid if you need it.)


Friday, October 6, 2017

Classroom Screen

I just found this posted in the Tech & Learning Newsletter and I think you’ll find it pretty cool and interesting. Just launch the website and turn your screen (SMART Board) into a digital screen with some interesting and useful tools: change the background, the language, add a calculator, draw on it (if your SMART Board pens aren’t behaving), put up a timer, pick a random name, and more!

A teacher in the Netherlands developed it and here’s a great video to show you how it works!


Friday, September 29, 2017

EDU in 90

Welcome back to Friday Tech Focus. This year I will try to publish on Fridays!  (Or else I will have to change the name of this news alert.)

 This week’s focus is on Google - and it’s a new YouTube Channel called EDU in 90.  These episodes are designed to share product news and updates, and provide tutorials in short, concise videos.   You’ll want to watch “What’s New in Google Classroom” if you use that product.  If you DON’T use Google Classroom, you might want to start using it!

 Also of interest is the video about Google’s newest program, “Interland,” a new game from Google that “teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence.”

Did you know that you can get these updates via Remind? Join my Remind group with this url:


ARCHIVE of Friday Tech Focus:

Friday, December 3, 2016

Make Beliefs Comix

One of the ways that students can APPLY their learning is through narrative and illustration.   An interesting and fun way to assess this aspect of Bloom's Taxonomy is to have the students create a comic strip. Make Beliefs Comix is an easy-to-use FREE tool that allows students to create a short comic strip to apply and illustrate their understanding of what they have learned.

Since it's free, there are some annoying ads, but there are SO many resources for teachers that it's worth the annoyance.  For example, there is a page for educators, "25 Ways to Use Make Beliefs Comix in the Classroom" with lots of creative ideas.

There is also the option to write the comics in different languages:

I can see Foreign Language teachers assigning some interesting and fun assignments with this tool!

OH! Did I say that there are lesson plans on the site?  And writing prompts  And story ideas

Your students will have fun with this tool and you'll see how they can apply what they've learned in creative and engaging ways.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Two Sites Today!

1.  Get kids up and moving with GoNoodle - for younger students -FREE version is fine

"GoNoodle turns movement into a game and makes it easy to be active, the kid way — silly, energetic, playful, and fun. Just press play on hundreds of custom-created videos and get kids running, jumping, dancing, stretching, and practicing moments of mindfulness."

This is an excellent site for elementary students; they NEED a break during their rigorous academic day and this site provides great activities at the click of a mouse. Take a look at this one focusing on mindfulness and being a team player.

2.  Hear every student's voice with TodaysMeet  -FREE version is fine

There are a number of "backchannel" sites that provide what TodaysMeet offers, but this one is a sure bet for WORKING!  It's simple, requires no login, is flexible and customizable.  All students can be engaging in a conversation at the same time digitally on any device connected to the Internet. Use for exit tickets, class discussions, brainstorming, or answering students' questions while they are engaged in learning activities in small groups.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Election Central

PBS Learning has put together an excellent collection of resources for students on the election process.  Help students understand the major issues being discussed in this election and candidates’ positions on them.  There are lesson plans,videos, interactivities virtual field trips, a debate toolkit and an Electoral Vote decoder. 

The search tool is very helpful for finding materials relevant to your students' ages.  You can search by grade, subject and/or by type of material offered.

Friday, October 21, 2016

This week's spotlight is Adobe Spark, which was used to create the new logo shown above.

Adobe Spark

This free product, from Adobe, lets students and teachers create powerful graphics, visual stories, simple websites and videos - in a snap!  The product is available as an app and as a website. 

This product is very easy to use, and when coupled with good lesson design, allows students to demonstrate understanding through engaging and attractive digital products.