Mar 14, 2018

Augmented Reality - What a learning experience

While at the ICE conference I went to a session on Augmented Reality.  This session highlighted all the ways you could use AR in your classrooms.

Ever wish you could demonstrate an active human heart beating?   Bring Abe Lincoln into the classroom to give his Gettysburg Address, hold a brain in your hands or really look at the solar system up close and personal? All of these things can be done with Augmented Reality, which brings it to life and right into students hands.

How do you do this you ask? Well there are AR apps out there and you can use with The Merge Cube.  The Merge Cube brings your holograms right to the palm of your hand. Turn, twist and see all the different angles of 3D objects. Some apps are FREE and others cost money to download.  I am currently working on mirroring options for your phones since we are a Chromebook district.  Go to and setup and register your merge cube.  Then download one of the apps and start playing. As a little incentive I gave all my Junior High teachers a Merge Cube this week to start playing with since they are all going to have new curriculum next year. What a great way to incorporate it into the classroom. 

Here are the apps that I have downloaded and played with:
  • Th!ngs for Merge Cube - To get started and it was free.  I was able to familiarize myself with the cube and see how it worked…..  I quickly moved on from this one…
  • AnatomyAR - Use with the Merge Cube and you can hold a human brain in your hands.  Watch the lungs breath in and how and rotate all of them around to see the 3D view of it all.  How fun is this. See picture above for what it would look like.
  • Galactic Explorer - Use with the Merge Cube.  You can see the picture above.  This allows you to see the solar system and to get up close with each of the planets.  Click on each one and they will all come up individually. WOW!
  • 57° North - Use with Merge Cube - A survival game…  Shipwrecked on a remote island in Alaska….  You help them survive based on the decisions you make during the game.
  • Flashcards AR Lincoln -  Crazy as it sounds, you can bring Abe Lincoln into your classroom to deliver your Gettysburg Address.  This app allows for a real life Abe to appear, and you can also explore his childhood home and more on this one.  Do not need Merge Cube for this one!
AND…. The best part, they are only $1.00 at Walmart right now!  Go out and grab a class set!  It will be worth the 35 dollars you spend! Try looking at Brickseek to see what the inventory is at your local Walmart!

Mar 12, 2018

Extensions, Extensions and more extensions!

Try some of these extension and tools from Alice Keeler. Remember to check out her blog! Each extension is linked to the webstore where you can read about what it does and add to chrome. Have other great extensions? Let us know about them.

Alice Keeler Webstore:
Other Great Extensions:
  • Eqatio - Yes, it is available in the Unit 5 Webstore for students already!  Teachers get full version FREE - Students do not. This extension makes it so easy to enter a problem into a slide or doc even a Google form.  You can even speak it into the slide so you don’t have key it in each time. Love this!
  • Equatio/Read Write FREE for TEACHERS  Scroll down and fill out the information.  If you already have Read-Write for Teachers for free then you are already enrolled you just need to login with your school e-mail.  If not you can register to get the free Teachers version for both of these at the same time.
  • Tab Scissors/Tab Glue - Split your screen in a side by side mode and glue it back together when ready.
  • Tab Cloud - Allows you to save links and open those links up in a new Chrome Window. Great for CICO and bloggers your follow.
  • Desmos - Graphing App - can be used and then use the Quickshare screenshot to take a picture of the graph.  Teachers and students can login with their Google Account
  • Insert Learning - Transform any online article into to an interactive read. Add video, questions, comments, highlight and share it out with your Google Classroom! Yes, it is available to students and teachers and students have to have the extension in order to do the activities.
  • Extensity- This extension allows you to manage all of your other extensions. I have so many that I add to chrome to try or to see how it works, and I need a way to easily turn them on and off. This allows me the flexibility and ease to run only what I want to.

Mar 9, 2018

Teaching Math with Google Apps

#ICE2018 was a great conference and I was fortunate to attend Alice Keeler’s Double Session on Math in the Google Classroom.  If you don’t know of Alice Keeler or have never heard of her you are missing out.  She is one of my Professional Crushes! She is the kind of teacher/speaker who makes you question everything you are doing and why you are doing it.  I’m not a math teacher, but a tech coach and I was so impressed with what she was doing and how she was doing it all within the Google Apps for Education Suite.

While listening to her speak, some takeaways were:
  • 80% Collaborate 20% Individual.  Math is a process and understanding that process is really easy for some and really hard for others; so when you give students time to collaborate, ask questions, fail and try again, learning is happening.  A lot of this collaboration is happening in the private comments of the assignment within Google Classroom. 
  • When students learn something, give them full credit.  It doesn’t matter if they failed the first three times, if they learn it, then learning has happened and therefore the student should get full credit.
  • Don’t give students the same problem to work on.  If you do, then they are going to “Look” an see what others got and how they did it.  But when you give them different problems, you make them talk about the process and strategize how they are going to solve their own problem.  Make them do the work instead of you. Using Google Slides will allow students to create their own slide and put a math problem they were having trouble with.  Boom…. Now they can start the conversation. Using Equaito will allow easy use of entering math problems.
  • Give students problems then have them use their phones to solve the problem with PhotoMath.  Then have them compare and contrast the answers.  Remember they all have different problems…..
  • Using the 4 C’s and DOK 2 & 3 is where she believes every student should land while giving them multiple chances to learn and ask questions. OpenMiddle has some great resources for DOK 2 and 3.
  • Don’t change an assignment from paper to digital if the learning is happening with the paper.  If students are collaborating and learning, then there is no reason to go digital.
  •  If you can have an assessment graded online then do it.  Why waste time grading when a computer can grade it? Showing work at assessment time doesn't matter as much as showing work during the learning process. Are you are having those conversations before an assessment?  Students will not look at feedback after they get their grade. Feedback needs to happen before the assessment.

Now these takeaways can be used in any class not just a math class. If you haven’t had a chance to read her blog or follow her on Twitter; do so,  you won’t be disappointed. Here is her social networking info.

Mar 2, 2018

#ICE2018 - Keynote - Special Books for Special Kids

Special Books by Special Kids

I had the privilege of attending the # ICE2018 (Illinois Computing Educators) conference this past week and one of the keynote speakers was Chris Ulmer.  Chris is known as the teacher behind the books Special Books by Special Kids.  He started his journey in a special ed classroom in south Florida and now has millions of followers from his video series which started with his students in his classroom.

Chris is dynamic, emotional and real. He interviews neurodiverse individuals and shares their stories. His belief of every person has a story comes alive in his interviews.  It has been a long time since I have heard such a good speaker which inspired me and pulled at my emotional heart strings. The stories he shared were inspiring to say the least, the kids were incredible, and there was not a dry eye in the house. Take a look at Bella’s Story.  

Please make time to look at some of his videos, as well as his social media handles.

Social Media Links:

Oct 13, 2017

Google Slide Update

Ever wish Google Slides had more options?  Well now, it does!  Take a look at the video link for a preview of all the newest options. 

Google Slides Update  - by Teacher's Tech 

Sep 8, 2017

Cisco WebEx | A New Virtual Classroom Tool

"This technology allows teachers to bridge the gap between school and community without the time, safety issues and expense of a field trip.  [It] allows us to increase the number of stakeholders in the education process which provides students with a much more diverse education.  Students can be face to face with someone in their desired field which can increase the buy in by students to their own education."
- Lisa Tomlin | Teacher NCWHS 
"I think this tech has incredible potential for educational use.  First it allows instructors to visit the class room without having to travel to school therefore increasing the number of hours available to teach.  Second, it allows recording so the seminar can be saved for rewatching or viewing by other classes.  [WebEx] also allows for multimedia presentation using videos, webpages, computer coding, graphical displays and any number of file formats.  The audio and video into the room allows for [the outside party to view] the classes."
- Dr. Andrew Bland | MD Nephrology 

These two quotes, the first from Lisa Tomlin (Science teacher at Normal West) and the second from Dr. Andrew Bland, MD Nephrology, demonstrate the vast potential found within our new Cisco WebEx system.  This system is made up of multiple parts.

May 19, 2017

U5 Chromebooks | Fall 2017

Chromebooks Fall of 2017

Unit 5 recently approved the integration of Chromebooks for 6th, 9th and 10th grade students for the fall of 2017.  These devices will be the first in the rotation to phase out the current Windows student machines.

May 16, 2017

Google Takeout | Getting Your Stuff Out of Google


(1) Download an archive of all of your Google data (files, emails, videos, etc...) and take it with you.  (2) Transfer your files and emails to another Google account.


Anyone with a district Google account (Staff, students, etc...)


Graduation | Leaving or coming into the district

May 2, 2017

Google Earth - Chromebook Version with Lit Trips......

Linked is a great Blog Post By Eric Curtis of Control Alt Achieve.  He highlights Lit Trips within the NEW Google Earth within the post and the video.  Before Google Earth had to be downloaded in order to use it, but now it has a web version which runs within the Chrome browser.  This is especially great since next year we will have Chromebooks within our district.   Enjoy!

Lit Trips on Chromebooks with the New Google Earth

Mar 13, 2017

NASA Comes to Normal

What do an Oceanographer, Business Manager, and Education Specialist have in common?  They all work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) at NASA and recently participated in a video conference session with a class of fifth graders at Sugar Creek Elementary!  The NASA professionals shared their experiences on the Mars rover program and fielded questions filled with excitement from eleven year olds for almost a full hour.  The experience was a demonstration of the immense educational potential when solid pedagogy and technology combine forces!