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!

Mar 3, 2017

Google Keep Notes; Now in Google Docs!

Google Keep has always been a wonderful tool for keeping notes about anything that is important to you.  You can organize them quickly, add images, drawings, and even checklists.  But now Google has kicked up the productivity of Google Keep by allowing you to access your notes directly from within a Google Doc!  Another great feature is that you can now take notes from directly inside of your Docs and have them tagged automatically in such a way as they always appear front and center when you open that Doc again!

Check out the video below for a walkthrough of the process and some instructional ideas for using Google Keep together with Google Docs!  You can also read the full announcement from Google here.

Google Lit Trips and Tour Builder

Tour Builder is all about telling a story.  With this resource you can build a clickable, interactive story that guides students to different places around the world.  Watch how Bobby Lake, a high school history teacher, talk about the stories he creates for his students using Tour Builder.

make sure to read the whole post for more!

Feb 3, 2017

Custom Unit 5 Google Templates

Staff and students can now submit their own template designs to a special Unit 5 template gallery accessible in Docs, Sheets, and Slides!  This can be used to make a great tool (magazine template, tracking tool, etc...) easily accessible to users across the district!  As an initial example, you will find a 2017 Calendar template in the Google Sheets area to play with.

So how do you access and submit templates?  Well, it's very easy...

Dec 7, 2016

Citation Feature is Back on Google Docs Explore Option

Google recently removed the Research feature in favor of the Explore option.  With this change, the citation feature which was very popular within the Research feature was removed.  Google has just recently reinstated this feature within the Explore Option under tools.  Below is a video on how you can review using the citation feature.

Video By Richard Byrne 

Technology for General and Special Needs Classrooms

On Wednesday Nov 30, 2016 I was fortunate to be able to attend the conference on Assistive Technology for General and Special Needs Classrooms.  The conference was hosted by Infinitec ( ) with a grant from the ISBE.  ( ) The conference covered a variety of tools to assist a wide range of students with and without special needs.  It was easy to follow along and manipulate the different tools presented.  It was also fun to collaborate with colleagues from other schools districts.  The presenter Jenn Skalitzky did a great job.  

Have it Your Way with Google Chrome, was the first session and in my opinion  the best of the three sessions.  Jen went through a multitude of apps and extensions which can be used to customize Google Chrome.  She explained the many ways students are able customize their own workspace in Google Chrome with a single click.  These customizations give ANY student the upper hand to make their learning easier.  I have linked out the spreadsheet I am putting together so anyone can have access to the tools which were presented; and also added some of own favorites in there. (This is a work in progress, so check back often.)

The second session was all iPad apps and iPad Built In Supports and the many ways in which you can use the accessibility mode and guided access within the classroom.  This document will be ready later in January as Nora Bardi, our Special Needs Technology Director and I will be working on updating the apps list so it is the most current.

The last session No Cost/Low Cost Technology Solutions for Diverse Learners was geared around using web resources to build your Universal Design for Learning toolbox.  Many of the sites presented in this session were free, while some had pay options with more features.  These web-based resources included reading, writing, and math.  These are also on the spreadsheet I linked out.  

Overall -  I would rate this an 8 out of 10.  I was able to grab some new tools for my own tool box and for the many teachers I work with on a regular basis.  As with any new tools, go through them and test to see which ones are for you and which ones you can live without.  

~Amber O’Day - Instructional Technology Coach, Secondary

Dec 5, 2016

Digital Comics with Google Slides

📛 Problem

Digital comic creation tools have limited functionality, require account creation, and can be very difficult to incorporate collaboration between group members.

💡 Solution

Google Slides provides an environment where students can work collaboratively, arrange images and text easily, and publish a professional looking digital comic strip.

YouTube Video Editor Trick!

One of the questions that I get all of the time is regarding video editing for student projects.  My go-to suggestion these days is the YouTube video editor.  There is nothing wrong with Movie Maker (the age old standard), but there are some advantages to the YouTube editor that I would like to outline.  You may find something here that you like and inspires you to try it out with your students or personal projects!

Streamline the recording & uploading flow

I go in and out of many classrooms these days and see students still recording video on flip cameras and hand-held video cameras.  Once recorded, these video files must be removed from the recording device, transferred to a computer, and then imported into the video editor of choice.  With YouTube, there is an easier way!
The traditional way

Nov 15, 2016

Guide to Using SMART Notebook with Students

Have Students Use SMART Notebook When it is Smart

SMART Notebook is a great resource within our district.  Many teachers utilize it in conjunction with our SMART Interactive Whiteboards as an option for content delivery.  But when, and how, can it be best used by our students to increase learning?

Oct 20, 2016

New Google Features including "File Upload" question type in Google Forms!

::The following blog post comes from the official Google Blog for Education::

New time-saving features in G Suite for Education

G Suite for Education helps students move from collecting ideas to creating projects and papers as quickly and easily as possible. Google Docs achieves this by facilitating collaboration, making it easy to work on any device, and weaving in machine intelligence to handle the more mundane elements of getting work done.
Today we’re introducing new time-saving features to Docs, Sheets and Slides designed to speed up and simplify the way teachers and students work, so they can focus on what’s really important—teaching and learning. These apps still have all of the same functionality that students and teachers love, with the addition of these new features.