Thursday, December 29, 2016

Digital #GSuiteEdu Science Resources for K-12 Teachers & Students

G Suite for Education

Recharge Learning  - Digital Science Resources for K-12

Classrooms must be focused on the connections between teachers and students. Technology should serve as an enhancement to these connections. Digital resources can also support content understandings and the development of essential skills for students.

Objective: Connect teachers and students with resources to enhance teaching and learning in Science Classrooms.
Chrome Apps and Extensions, along with Google Drive Add-ons and Apps, can provide valuable support for Science Classrooms.
Guiding Question: How can G Suite for Education support and enhance teaching and learning in your classroom?
Click here to learn about our Google Resources for Science

We’ve done our best to select resources that are highly rated and do what they should do without a huge learning curve. Many of the resources are free, but some do have premium options available at an additional cost. We recommend exploring the free features before considering any pay options.
Additional Google tools for teachers and students can be found in our shared resource folder: EdTech and G Suite Resources
The Google Chrome Webstore supports keyword searches for additional Apps and Extensions connect to specific science courses (Physics, Chemistry, Biology . . . ). We recognize that many science courses are very specialized, but we’ve chosen not to isolated resources into specific curriculum categories.

Special thanks to my PLN for sharing so many of these valuable resources. Please feel free to suggest additional resources using the Comment feature in Google Docs.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Digital #GSuiteEdu Math Resources for K-12 Teachers & Students

G Suite for Education
Digital Math Resources for K-12

Classrooms must be focused on the connections between teachers and students. Technology can serve as enhancements to these connections. Digital resources can also support content and the development of essential skills for students.

Objective: Connect teachers and students with resources to enhance teaching and learning in Math Classrooms. Chrome Apps and Extensions, along with Google Drive Add-ons and Apps, can provide valuable support for Math Classrooms.

Guiding Question: How can G Suite for Education support and enhance teaching and learning in your classroom?
Click here to learn more about Google Resources for Math.

We’ve done our best to select resources that are highly rated and do what they should do without a huge learning curve. Many of the resources are free, but some do have premium options available at an additional cost. We recommend exploring the free features before considering any paying for anything extra.

Additional Google tools for teachers and students can be found in our shared resource folder: EdTech and G Suite Resources. The Google Chrome Webstore supports keyword searches for additional Apps and Extensions.

Special thanks to my PLN for sharing so many of these valuable resources. Please feel free to suggest additional resources using the comments below.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Inspiration & Engagement - The Lesson Hook

David Burgess is a pirate teacher. One of the reasons he connects pirates to teaching is the well-known fact that "Pirates have hooks!" David recently shared some great ideas while speaking at the Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit. One of my takeaways was that I need to remember that even in a learner-centered 1 to 1 classroom, the "hook" is still important!
Anticipatory sets: A brief activity or event at the beginning of the lesson that effectively engages students' attention and focuses their thoughts on the learning objective. (via Google) 
Learning objectives brief statements that describe what students will be expected to learn by the end of school year, course, unit, lesson, project, or class period. (via Google)
My questions today: Is it enough to simply explain to students what they will be doing without convincing them why they should be curious?

Most teachers have had some preservice training in the importance of the "anticipatory set" or "hook" to engage students in a topic or lesson. Teachers also understand the importance of sharing learning objectives with students.  There is a great deal of research that connects successful student learning to students knowing in advance what they are going to learn. 

When I visit classrooms as an instructional coach, I frequently see the learning objectives front and center. Students know what they should be doing and how they should be doing it. This is great and I the students are often immediately able to start thinking about the learning. 

What I don't see as often is a clear "hook". I think many teachers get so focused on making sure the students have an understanding of the objectives for the day that the "hook" get's lost. In the rush to get stuff done, we often focus more on the how than on the why. The lesson hook gets lost or forgotten. 

After watching David Burgess, I rewatched the Unpacking Formative Assessment YouTube video by Dylan Williams. Dylan wonders if a lessons objectives really do much good if the kids are not interested in the questions. He suggests that a good "twist" may be essential to students engaging in the lesson objectives. I could not agree more.

Dylan's video and a deep dive into lesson hooks with my PLN inspired me to start placing a greater emphasis on some "twists" or hooks. I need to make it a priority to some creative hooks in the future to help engage my students in the objectives. 

I am inspired to remember that it is not enough to have great objectives. These do not lead to engagement. Students need to connect to the activity, before they can be inspired to learn and explore. A good lesson hook can help engage students. Here are a few of my ideas to hook my students: 

Hook #1

Get my students talking about what they know using an online assessment tool like Kahoot or Quizlet Live to connect students to the content or concepts of the day. I've seen some incredible formative assessments that use quotes connected to the learning objectives. 

Hook #2
Start with a short video from YouTube or TEDEd that connects to the learning objectives in a unique way. I'm not talking about a video that just explains the content. I am looking for a video that makes the students think about how the video connects to the objectives.

Hook #3
Explore an interactive website. For example, use's Logo Quiz to connect students to a lesson focused on consumption, advertising, or . . . . ?

Hook #4
Find something visual to get the students thinking. For example, Use the Thrillist post about Abandoned Places in the Midwest to connect students to a research project, succession, or . . . ?

Hook #5
Use a digital tool like Remind,  Padlet, or Google Classroom to ask the students a thought-provoking question the night before to get the thinking started. David Burgess calls this "preheating the grill!"

How do you hook students to encourage engagement? Please share your thoughts and ideas  below!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Updated for 2016 - Online Shopping and Saving Guide

Here are some tips we’ve put together to help teachers, their families, and just about anyone save a little green this holiday season.

1. Online Cashback

There are many sites that take advantage of online advertising to provide the consumer with coupons and cashback for major retailers.  They also provide links to some great online coupons from major retailers. They are free and easy to use. Combine this with rewards on a credit card and it starts to add up. Mr. Rebates and Ebates are two great resources for online shopping.

2. Apple

iPad, iPod or Macbook? Apple typically runs the once a year sale on Black Friday online and in store. The MacRumors Site typically has the most updated details about Apple Store Sales

I would recommend visiting the Apple Black Friday Deals from Forbes Online.

3. Android and Chromebooks
Most major online retailers will run a variety of sales throughout the year. I would recommend starting with Amazon Online when looking for the best prices.

Most mobile service providers will include deals on phones when you sign up for a contract, but smart shoppers can often find great deals online. I recommend the Android Authority Site if you are looking for any Android devices outside of a mobile contract.

4. Amazon and eBay

Great places to shop. You will frequently find the best prices here.  Remember that you are not always buying directly Amazon. Like eBay, Amazon has items for sale from other companies and independent sellers.  Both eBay and Amazon have incredible customer support. Mr. Rebates and Ebates also support Cashback for both sites.

Learn more about Amazon Prime Membership to save on shipping.

Learn more about the eBay Bucks to earn cashback on all of your eBay purchases.

5. Union Membership Card

Did you know that both the NEA and AFT posts some excellent deals for teachers? These deals include: merchandise, restaurants, and travel.

6. Deal Websites – Online and in Store

There are a variety of websites that compile information about sales and deals year round. My favorite is  the Wise Bread site. I also love the deals on

7. Online Coupon Sites

There are several online sites that collect and share retailer coupons and deals. These coupons are often both digital or printable. RetailMeNot is a current favorite.

Honey - Chrome Extension
Click on the Honey button during checkout and Honey will automatically apply coupon codes to your shopping cart.

8. Protecting Your Credit Card Online

Most online stores / credit card companies do a great job taking care of credit card purchases, but a great way to pay from a lot of online purchases is to use PayPal. It’s free and provides an extra layer of security between your credit card and online shopping. Paypal also supports free returns for many purchases.

9. The Rest of the Story - More Online Shopping Resources

Get the Reviews
Online Electronics Retailers

Unique and Creative Gifts

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Digital Resources to Support Student Voice

Student voice should not be relegated to the traditional presentation that is simply a display of copied images and connected text. Powerpoints and Google Slides still have their place in classrooms, but they cannot be the only way for Future Ready students and teachers share learning. 
Student voice needs to be connected to a range of media, including images, text, audio, interactive components, and video. The web and Google Apps for Education can provide students and teachers with a wealth of resources to flip the traditional presentation model on its head.

The resources connected on this page are commonly used in education and are typically free. This is by no means a complete list. We’ve selected 3 to feature in each category and additional resources are included at the end of this document.

Most of the resources below have interactive help tutorials built into the resource. Additionally, a quick YouTube search will provide some nice tutorials for teachers and students.

Please feel free to share your favorite questions or share additional resources in the comments section below.

Video Resources

WeVideo makes video editing easy for everyone and accessible from anywhere. District 204 students and staff have access to upgraded WeVideo for Schools.
PowToon is online presentation software tool that allows you to create free, cool, and awesome animated video explainers as an alternative to traditional presentations.
Screencastify is a simple video screen capture software for Chrome and Chromebooks.
Recap is a free student video response and reflection app developed by the makers of Swivl.
Educators create grids with topics and students respond with recorded videos to discuss.


Google Slides
Google Slides has its own templates. Slides Carnival is another web resource for creative slide templates.
Pear Deck
Create interactive presentations and formative assessments.

An interactive presentation, collaboration, and real-time assessment tools into one integrated solution.

Images and Infographics

Google Drawings
You can easily create, share, and edit drawings online by creating a drawing using Google Drawings.

Piktochart is an easy infographic design app that requires very little effort to produce beautiful, high-quality graphics.

Create interactive images and videos with links and annotations built in. is a simple web tool that empowers anyone to create and share powerful visuals


With Soundtrap you make music or podcasts online.

Voki that lets you: Create customized avatars, Add voice to your Vokiavatars, and Post your Voki to any blog, website, or profile.

Blabberize is a very easy application that allows you to speak through a picture.

Interactive Whiteboards

Padlet is a digital canvas to create beautiful projects that are easy to share and collaborate on. It works like a piece of paper.
Explain Everything

Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export.

Quickly create a collaborative whiteboard space. On your whiteboard you can type, draw, and upload images.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Start with the Why? - The ISTE Standards

My school district has made the Future Ready District Pledge. My high school has been focused on improving student-centered learning based on the ISTE Standards before we started learning about the Future Ready Initiatives. The Future Ready Initiatives give us another set of resources to learn and grow.

When we talk about student-centered classroom enhanced by technology, we always start with "The Why" before ever considering the "How or How Much".

The new ISTE Standards for Students are a great foundation for "The Why".

I recommend that all educators take a look at the ISTE Standards for Students as they evaluate teaching and learning in their classrooms.

Simon Sinek's TED Talk: How great leaders inspire action is another great place to start thinking about "The Why". 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Reflections on Building a Student-Centered Learning Environment Part II

I am continuing to focus on facilitating a learner-centered classroom enhanced by technology.  I am also trying to limit the amount of  homework for my students. Homework falls in 1 of 2 categories: Optional enrichment and Stuff They Didn't Finish. I suggest they don't spend more than 15 minutes on either on a daily basis. The combination of these two factors has been a challenge for me. 

Recently,  I shared my experience with our first quiz in this post. Long story short, my students struggled on our first open note quiz. We decided to focus on the areas of struggle by narrowing our focus using another collaborative activity.  We retook the quiz a week later. The retakes results showed improvement. We did not see as much improvement across the board as I hoped, but I think it was a step in the right direction.

Here are a few takeaways from this experience. 
  • Students need more practice collaborating. The have a tendency to default to divide and conquer. This is not working for them. They improved on the concepts that they chose to work through. They did not improve much or at all connected to the concepts their partners focused on. 
  • Focusing on everything is too much. Some of the students tried to take on all the concepts without thinking about what they already knew. They admitted they were overwhelmed by the amount of information they needed to know in a reflection question connected to the quiz. 
  • Time becomes a serious concern. Many of the student-centered and collaborative activities have taken longer than even I anticipated. 
Next steps:
  • Checks for collaboration by having students stop and discuss what they learned during the activities. 
  • Formative assessments built by students to challenge and assess their partners' learning.
  • Solve the time issue? Still thinking about this one. 
We are working on a WeVideo collaborative activity connected to climate factors that will be our preparation for our next quiz. I built in the first two bullet points, but I have a feeling that time will still be an issue. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Reflections on Building a Student-Centered Learning Environment

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin

I am passionately curious about how students learn best. I am always experimenting with new ideas and lessons to challenge my students to own their learning. I do not "teach" my students, I instead I do my best to facilitate learning in a student-centered classroom. 

This year I want to help students adjust to a more student classroom. I decided to start our first major unit on ecology a with this in mind. Instead of starting with direct vocabulary activities, I decided to build the foundation around a field experience to one of our local prairies. We explored the prairie in small groups while engaging the students in building a sense of space about the ecosystem.

We returned to the classroom and began to build a Google+ Collection that connected key concepts from the unit to our exploration of the Prairie. Students were given guidelines and encouraged to collaborate. I circulated the room and clarified and questioned. We checked in with Google form exit slips and a quick Kahoot review / discussion. Students were encouraged to review for a quiz covering the objectives we had been working through. 

Students typically struggle on our first several assessments. The breadth of the material and the depth of many of the questions is not something they have enough experience with. Despite this, I was hopeful that we were ready. The quiz was online and students were encouraged to use the resources they created to help them with the quiz. The only rule was that they could not help each other. The results were not what the students and I hoped for. 

We decided to drop the quiz for now and take a few more days to dig deeper into the concepts on the quiz that were the biggest struggles. I stood my ground and I have not lectured or given them the answers. I instead create several additional collaborative experiences to help the students experience the concepts. These activities allowed for differentiated learning opportunities. Students had options to choose where to focus as they worked through the activities.

My normal practice is to go over the quiz and then we would create opportunities to earn points back. I decided instead to not share the questions and answers. Students will instead receive the same quiz tomorrow. 

My students will still need more time to learn how to use the activities and manage our assessments. We will take our time and grow together as learners. I am both hopeful and nervous that we will show some improvement through this process. 

I will check back in soon to let everyone know how we did on our second go around. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Formative Assessment - Driving Teaching and Learning

Formative assessment, including diagnostic testing, is a range of formal and informal assessment procedures conducted by teachers during the learning process in order to modify teaching and learning activities to improve student attainment.
Do you have a favorite formative assessment best practice, sample, or a favorite formative resource? Please consider sharing in our Google+ Community.
Formative assessments are powerful learning checkpoints for teachers and students. The importance of these assessments has grown in parallel to the growth of student-centered learning in technology-rich classrooms.
Formative assessments must be part of the learning process and can be enhanced with a variety of different #EdTech resources. This post will introduce a variety of formative assessment tools. These tools are essential to help engage students in the learning process. Both teachers and students must use these assessments to evaluate their current understandings and more importantly where they need to go.
Many of these resources have activities & assessments that have already been created. These public assessments can be copied and modified. We recommend taking your time to explore and experiment with some of the public assessments in each of the resources below.
We've categorized some of our favorite formative assessment resources in this document into several categories.
  • Video Formative Assessment Tools
  • Game Based Formative Assessment Tools
  • Presentation Formative Assessment Tools
Learning Activity
1. Explore the resources in our Formative Assessment Google Doc and choose one resource to create an assessment that could be used in your classroom or with teachers.
2. Share an assessment you created in the comments below, in the Google Form below, or in our Google + Formative Assessment Community.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Google Apps for Education Updates

Google Apps for Education has updated a variety of resources this summer. These updates include some great enhancements for teaching and learning.
Here is a quick list of some of the most popular updates for teachers and students. (Click on the links to learn more about each resource.)

1. Google Forms Now Has a Quiz Option
Many of us have used Flubaroo and Superquiz to support assessment with Google Forms over the past several years. Google has now made it even easier to create and grade quizzes using Google Forms.
Teachers can organize the class stream by adding topics to posts, and teachers and students can filter the stream for specific topics.

3. Add Images to Form Question
Teachers can now add images to questions or as multiple choice answers.

4. Google Expeditions Continues to Grow
With over 200 Expeditions available, we’re excited for them to experience these virtual field trips on more devices. Students will soon be able to experience expeditions across multiple devices without the VR Viewer.

5. Google Cast for Education
A new Chrome app that allows students and teachers to share their screens wirelessly from anywhere in the classroom.

6. Google Classroom Email Notifications for Parents and Guardians
Once invited by a teacher, parents and guardians can receive automated daily or weekly email summaries of student work and class announcements.

7. Annotate in the Google Classroom Mobile App
Using annotations, students can complete assignments, sketch out math problems or even create visuals of creative ideas directly on their devices.

8. The New Google Sites
Google sites has been updated. Early adopters can now create sites using the new and improved interface.

9. Training for Google Apps
Interactive training and walkthroughs, right within Google Apps

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