Friday, August 22, 2014

One Way (or More) to Use One iPad in Your Classroom-Part 2

Have an iPad? Just one iPad? Wondering….what in the world will I do with one iPad and all my students? Well, you have a device in your hand that can help you and your students in so many unique ways. This is part two in a series of posts that will provide ideas for the one iPad classroom. The intent is to help save you time finding ways to use your device. Maybe you will try something new, and then help someone else try something new.

Interactive Class

Use an app like Skitch, Notability or Explain Everything to annotate your documents in real time. Circle important locations on a map, demonstrate how to write a check, label the parts of a cell, or solve an equation. To make it even more interesting and interactive pass the iPad around and have students circle the locations, write the check, label the parts of the cell or complete the problem.

Explain Everything
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Bell Work

At the beginning of the hour or day, many teachers need their computer to take attendance and work with students that may have been absent. Therefore, it is vital that students have some type of “bell work” so time isn’t lost. Having an iPad can help by freeing up the teacher computer. Connect your iPad to your projector and display the bell work for students to complete.

Student Participation

Use an app, such as the one below, to randomly select students to share out or answer questions. The great thing about this app is that you can control how many times you want a student to be selected. So, if you want everyone to answer once, you can set that up and the app will let you know when everyone has had an opportunity to share out.

Random Name Selector Lite (free)
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Written by Jeanette Carlson

Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 Ways to be Especially Helpful

It’s a new school year and everyone is feeling excited, anxious, pressured, and nervous.  Teachers are feeling the strain of getting their lesson plans in order, curriculum materials organized, online content together, and classroom managed.  One thing that would really help alleviate stress would be if their tools were working as expected.  Specifically, in this case, their technology tools.  If you are in a position to help out your fellow teachers and administrators keep these 5 strategies in mind to help the process go smoothly.   

Patience-This skill is critical in helping out a lot of people!  We work within certain constraints that we don’t always have control over.  Being patient while everyone starts to get on the same page can really make the difference between a situation escalating or getting resolved.  For example, in Google, changes can take up to 24 hours.  There is really nothing that can be done about this.  

Listening- Sometimes people just want to be heard when issues cannot be resolved quickly.  Restating what you have heard and reassuring them that you understand their frustration paves the way for better communication and resolution.  

Picking what to pick apart- Sometimes the little things do work themselves out.  Take a step back and consider all the possibilities for the problem.  It could be something as simple as a misspelling or a miscommunication.  Instead of jumping in to fix something wholeheartedly, just consider if it will work itself out.  More often than not, the little issues do disappear.

Smile- It sounds simplistic, but a simple smile can smooth out the edges of a tough encounter.  Nothing says, “Everything is ok”,  more than a friendly smile.  Body language is critical so don’t forget to monitor yours.  

Follow-Through Following up with people sends the message that you didn’t forget about their situation and that you are still thinking of them.  Whether you send an email, a DM on Twitter or a friendly text message, you just need to remember to follow through and follow up.  If a resolution hasn’t been achieved, try a different avenue; with patience, of course.  Don’t leave unresolved problems unresolved.  This is where you have to dig deep and be persistent.  

I recently got involved in a situation that provided lots of good laughs over email.  See the sequence below.  This helped us see the humor in a frustrating situation.  In the end, the teacher found a reasonable solution.  

Teacher D:
Hey Jenny,
> I have a google site that I use for my AP class.
> When I make a change on the page, then click on the "Save" button, nothing happens.
> Any suggestions?
> Thanks!
> Teacher D

Try theses things- make sure your browser is completely updated or try a different browser. That usually does the trick!

Teacher D:
Hello again.
I tried your suggestions.
Firefox would let me log in to Google, but would not let me get to the Sites page.

Have you tried Chrome or Safari?

Teacher D:
I can try the rocket hole punch trick too.

Yes try that too!  Then stand on your head and throw salt. Hehe

Teacher D:
I tried the hole punch thing.
Didn't work...
Will water softener salt work? =)

Only if you hold your nose!

Teacher D:
OK, I tried holding my nose...
no luck on the water softener salt.
But, apparently sea salt works great!

Actually, I did try it again at school, but the page still would not change.
I did the same thing at home and it worked great!
(I mean the webpage update, not holding my nose).

Great!  That is what I was suspecting.  So more work at home until our filter gets straightened out.

Reassure your people, smile, find some humor, be patient and kind.  

Quotes from

Written by:  Jenny Krzystowczyk

Monday, August 18, 2014

Growing Your Google Garden: Use a Running Agenda in Google Docs

Growing Your Google Garden: Use a Running Agenda in Google Docs
Tip #2 in a series this year

Would you like a time saving way to manage classroom assignments? Give a "Running Google Doc Agenda" a try this year! 

What is "A Running Google Doc of Agenda", you may be wondering? It is a time saving way to communicate with your students and parents. The "Running Google Doc Agenda" is a list of all assignments for the school year, with the most recent date at the top of the doc.    Changes you make on the doc are reflected immediately! See an example of "A Running Google Agenda" on Senora Musil's website .

Directions for creating a Running Google Agenda:
1. Create a Google Doc called Running Agenda.  

2. Change the share settings so anyone with the link can view.

3. Copy this link and paste it on a class website, Facebook Page, Blog, S'more, etc. and/or share or email the doc with your students.

4. Each day, update the doc with today’s date and assignments.  The most recent date will always be at the top of the agenda.  You can also include links to videos, handouts, Google Slideshows, worksheets, etc.

Printed Assignments
Digital Daily Assignments
Limited Access
Accessible with any device connected to the Internet.
Students are dependent
Students are independent
Static document.
Dynamic document. Updates are immediate.
Written by Ann Feldmann

Friday, August 15, 2014

One Way (or More) to Use One iPad in Your Classroom-Part 1

Have an iPad? Just one iPad? Wondering….what in the world will I do with one iPad and all my students? Well, you have a device in your hand that can help you and your students in so many unique ways. This is part one in a series of posts that will provide ideas for the one iPad classroom. The intent is to help save you time finding ways to use your device. Maybe you will try something new, and then help someone else try something new.

Become a Producer

Use a screencasting/whiteboard app like Explain Everything or iMovie to record a lesson that is difficult for your students. Share the lesson on your YouTube channel or on your website. This will allow students to watch the video at home, pausing and replaying when necessary to help them understand the lesson.

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Explain Everything
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Noise Control

When students are working in pairs or groups, or even during study time, and you want to keep the noise level to a manageable roar, use one of the apps below and display your iPad to help your students maintain an appropriate noise level for the tasks at hand.

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Too Noise Lite-Elementary
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Noise Down-Secondary

Written by Jeanette Carlson

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Setting up Student Assignment Folders is a Snap with gClass Folders

Do you want a slick way to efficiently organize, share, and collect student work?  Then gClassFolders is just what you need to set up an excellent paperless workflow for your classroom in just a few minutes.

How does this work?

Use an Add-on called gClassFolders which does all the work for you!  Here are six easy steps to follow to get your Google workflow started.

1.  Create a new spreadsheet in Google Drive. Click New --> Google Sheets

2.  Title the spreadsheet and add the gClassFolder Add-On. Click on Add-on from the drop down menu and search for gClassFolders.  Then click on the FREE button to install the script. 

3.  Next, click Add-ons from the drop down menu --> select gClass Folders --> Initial Setup. This will create the headings on the spreadsheet.

4.  Populate the spreadsheet with student first name, last name, and student gmail address.
***Note:  If you set up mail groups in your contacts, the student information can be exported from Google Contacts as a CSV file and information can be copied to the gClass Folders spreadsheet.

5.  After all the names are in the spreadsheet, you are ready to create the folders.  Click Add-ons-->gClassFolders-->Create Folders

6.  This process can take up to 15 minutes depending on the size of your spreadsheet.  When the script is done, you will receive a message like the one below that tells you how many folders were created.

You did it! Now you have a paperless workflow set up for the school year in just six easy steps.  

Written by Ann Feldmann

Monday, August 11, 2014

5 Benefits to the Global Classroom

Why should you invest the time to connect your classroom to the world? Why not?

Here are five benefits to the global classroom!

1.  Expertise
Let’s face it, we all can’t know everything.  In these days of tightening budgets, field trips may not be an option. Why not let an expert share his/her knowledge with the class. A perfect solution is to bring an expert to your classroom via Google Hangouts or Skype.  Utilize a Google Community,  such as Connected Classroom,  to find academic learning experiences for your students.  Whether you participate in a Google Hangout with other students from around the world, explore a museum by a virtual field trip, or bring in an expert to your students,  you will see direct benefits from the experts.  You and your students will be learning with people around the world.  Here is a link to Connected Classrooms so you can learn more and join.  

2.  Multicultural Awareness
The second best thing to actually traveling to a new country is to connect with that country via a video conference.  Having a class discussion with two classrooms in different countries increases student perspective and allows all students to gain new insight.  It is one thing to read about culture or watch a video and a completely different experience to interview people from another country, sometimes talking in another language.  In addition, students gain a global perspective, understand time zones, can identify cities and countries around the world, and enjoy a first hand learning experience.  Connected teachers often take a few moments to drop a pin on a map to all the places the classroom connects with. This map becomes a great talking point and an excellent way to keep track of all the connections made throughout the school year.  

3.  Authentic Audience
What is the value of an audience beyond the classroom teacher?  Motivation! I have witnessed students blossom into incredible readers and writers with an authentic audience waiting to read and comment on their work.  Globalizing your classroom with blogging is powerful.  Suddenly, not only does writing matter, but word choice and grammar matters too.  Our students have enjoyed being partnered with sister blogging classrooms. With blogging partners, classrooms takes turns in the blogging/ commenting process.  One day your classroom comments, next you write a blog post!  It is incredibly validating for writers to receive meaningful comments from around the world. An easy way to start blogging with students it to use .  Amplify your student work and join with other blogging classrooms using the hashtag #comments4kids on Twitter.  

4.Cooperative Learning and Collaboration  
Global classrooms foster cooperative learning experiences for students.  One such global classroom idea is Mystery Skype / Hangout.  Students participate in a class challenge to determine the location of the other classroom.  Mystery Skype is global geography game.  By asking a series of yes/no questions, students narrow the location of the mystery classroom. The first classroom to guess correctly wins!  The students gain confidence in their mapping, geography, and questioning skills as they partake in more and more of these activities.  To get learn more, register and connect, check out Mystery Skype at  . Follow #mysteryskype on twitter too.  

5.  Curious and  Magical Classroom Environments
The ARCS model of technology integration says lessons that are novel, surprising and out of the ordinary stimulate a sense of wonder and maintain interest.  The global classroom provides daily opportunities that raise curiosity and create magical learning moments.  One such magical moment occurred when author / illustrator Jena Ball joined our elementary classrooms and showed students how to illustrate puppies.  The children were thrilled to share their illustrations! Another magical moment was when two high school English classes connected to discuss a novel.  The students faces said it all. As their faces appeared on the screen, it was as if superman himself showed up! They were curious about one another, eager to share, and open to learning new ideas from a classroom over 1500 miles away.  It is nice to have global learning activities on the calendar so students can look forward to the next time they travel outside the classroom walls.

Globalizing the classroom gives your students access to the world’s expertise, an increase in multicultural awareness, an authentic audience, cooperative learning opportunities, and a magical learning environment.

Challenge yourself to participate in one global learning project this year.  Let's celebrate global classroom success stories. Share your global classroom experiences as comments to this post.

Written by Ann Feldmann

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Kindess Quits go from the Classroom to the Sarpy County Museum

3rd Grade Kids Kindness Project Goes from Classroom To Sarpy County Museum: CritterKin Quilts in Exhibit of 100 Historic & Modern Quilts!

“CritterKin Kindness Quilts” Celebration for Kids & Adults at the Museum with Author/Illustrator Jena Ball August 9!

(Bellevue, Nebraska July 21, 2014) --Two “CritterKin Kindness Quilts” created by forty-three 3rd graders at Bellevue Elementary School during an innovative multi-media Summer Reading Program are in the current Sarpy County Museum exhibit of more than 100 historic and modern quilts: Depression to Digital: Celebrating 80 Years of Quilting.  A fabric and digitally-enhanced paper kindness quilt (with embedded videos of kids) were inspired by the book Lead With Your Heart by author/illustrator Jena Ball.

A community event - for children and adults - to celebrate the students’ kindness quilts is planned for Saturday, August 9, 2014, (10:00 - 11:00 a.m., Press Invited). Special guests will include teachers from Bellevue Elementary School - Monica Evon and Brittany Braasch - who spearheaded the program and author/illustrator Jena Ball. The author and storyteller will be at the event “Live” via Google Hangout - the digital platform used by her for the many visits with the 3rd graders during the program.

“We’re thrilled to have the CritterKin quilts be a part of the quilts exhibit this year. Beyond their far-reaching impact in the classroom, the quilts offer a blend of one of America’s oldest traditions, alongside state of the art technology to provide a great educational experience,” said Ben Justman, Executive Director of the museum.  

Each component of the quilts – from the four large hearts at the center filled with words of kindness to the students’ individual squares – was designed by students as a tangible way to think about and express kindness. With the help of the author, master quilter Dana Doran, teachers and tech specialist Ann Feldmann, the students crafted the fabric and paper versions of the quilts. Teachers used Aurasma so people can look at the videos the kids created to go with the paper quilt.  

The 3rd graders read, blogged, sang, danced, took photos, made drawings and acted out the final chapter of Lead With Your Heart at a performance before a live audience in the school gymnasium.  Bellevue Elementary School Principal, Dr. Robert Ingram, said, “I have never seen such excitement and energy about a summer school opportunity for students and staff. Combining the reading of two books, drawing, writing, and interacting with Ms. Ball truly energized our thinking about empathy, compassion and respect. Our students and staff were so engaged. This has been a win/win for students and staff. Bravo!” 

Written by guest blogger 
Karin Lippert