Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Visual Creativity - Infographics and Sketchnotes

Creative Communicator
Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

In the course of my teaching career, I've tried many tools and strategies to engage students with creativity and visual learning. Despite this, I am often disappointed when many visual student projects share more text and not enough creative use of images. When images are included they often are poorly connected or they may even distract the viewer away from the learning goals.
In recent years, I've adopted two methods to help my students explore visual learning: infographics and sketchnotes. These methodologies have provided my students with new opportunities to create visually. 

Infographics - "Infographics support focused data with good design to tell a shareable story in a clear and concise manner – Three rules to great infographics: 1. compelling data, 2. rich graphics, 3. viral title." Source

Sketchnotes - "Sketchnotes are purposeful doodling while listening to something interesting. Sketchnotes don't require high drawing skills but do require a skill to visually synthesize and summarize via shapes, connectors, and text. Sketchnotes are as much a method of note taking as they are a form of creative expression." Source

There is no single best way to create infographics and sketchnotes. I do believe it is important to have students explore and discuss visual literacy, before having them create either infographics or sketchnotes. 
I always try to start my planning for a visual activity with a Google search to find an infographic or a sketchnote that connects to my content. I will have students analyze and discuss both the content and the design of any visual resource I discover before getting them creating.

If you are interested in having your students explore and create infographics or sketchnotes, here are a few general resources to help you get started. 
Ready to Start Creating? Explore These Digital Creation Resources. (I mix both paper and digital throughout the year.)
  • Google Autodraw - Google has created this web-based tool that pairs machine learning with drawings created by talented artists. 
  • Google DrawingsGoogle Drawings is a free, web-based diagramming software developed by Google. It allows users to collaborate and work together in real time to create flowcharts, organizational charts, website wireframes, mind maps, concept maps, and other types of diagrams.
  • Google Slides - Google slides is much more than a slide by slide presentation tool. Google Slides include many feature-rich drawing tools and the slides can be resized as you design an infographic or create digital sketchnotes. 
  • Thinglink - Free and user-friendly digital tool that provides users with the ability to turn any image into an interactive graphic
  • - A simple infographic web tool that empowers anyone to create and share powerful visuals... no design experience needed!
  • Piktochart - A web application that helps non-designers create infographics. 
Visit this Google Doc to explore even more resources connected to visual literacy.

Have an idea or resource connected to infographics or sketchnotes? Share it in this Padlet.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Creative Communication with the Bitmoji Chrome Extension

What is Bitmoji?
Bitmoji is your own personal emoji creator. That you can use right from your keyboard! Create an expressive cartoon avatar. Choose from a growing library of moods and stickers – featuring YOU!
How can these be used?
The Bitmoji Chrome extension works directly on many websites. Bitmojis can also be downloaded and inserted into most digital resources for display or printing. The extension is also directly compatible with Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, Slack, most email programs, and just about anywhere you might communicate on the web. You can insert Bitmojis as you type, or drag and drop your character into comments and posts.

Bitmoji in Education
  • Digital Badges
  • Student Projects
  • Awards
  • Feedback
  • Twitter Avatars
  • Digital or Print Classroom Signage
  • Online Posts
  • Google Docs
  • Presentations
I would not recommend that younger students use Bitmoji on their own. While most of the Bitmojis are pretty tame, there are a handful of created avatar poses that involve alcohol or mildly inappropriate suggestions.

Installing the Chrome Extension
1. Click here to access the extension in the Chrome Webstore.
2. Click on Add to Chrome and then Add extension in the pop-up.
3. The extension icon will appear in the top right of your browser window, and a sign-up screen will appear.
4. If you already have a bitmoji account you can log in. If you don't, click Sign Up with Email.
5. If you've used Bistrips in the past, you can retrieve the avatar from Facebook. Otherwise, skip this step, and you can create your avatar from scratch. Follow the onscreen instructions to create your avatar.
6. After choosing your avatar features, click on Save Avatar. (You can change your avatar and outfit at any time.)
7. Click on the bitmoji icon, and a window will open that allows you to Edit your Emoji, search by keyword, or browse the categories.
8. When you click on the Bitmoji extension icon you can drag and drop bitmojis onto compatible sites, or right-click to save them to your device, or right-click to copy / paste them.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Growing a PLN - ISTE Blogging Buddies

My PLN has been an essential resource to help me grow as both a teacher and a learner. I am always looking for new ways to connect, so I recently joined the ISTE EdTech Coaches Network Blogging Buddies to connect, collaborate, and share. 
What are Blogging Buddies?
Blogging Buddies were inspired by Jennifer Hogan's "Compelled Blogger Tribe!"
Blogging Buddies are designed to be a chance for ed tech coaches (and those tasked with helping teachers integrate technology) to connect, network and learn from other coaches via blogging. Many ed tech coaches value blogging as a form of personal growth and reflection in their practice, but don’t always receive that online feedback in the form of comments from our coaching peers that we’re hoping for. So Blogging Buddies groups will be made up of about 5 ed tech coaches bloggers who come together to commit to posting on their blog at least once a month, read one another’s blogs, comment on one another’s blogs, and share the posts with their own networks. That’s it!
Learn more and sign up to be a part of the Blogging Buddies experience here

If you have any questions, please email Katie Siemer at or add your thoughts to the comments below.
My Blogging Buddies Group
Follow all Blogging Buddies on Twitter with this Twitter list here.
Follow all Blogging Buddies with this stream on Feedly here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Critical Thinking and Formative Assessment

Resources to Support Formative Assessment in 1 to 1 Classrooms

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.- Alvin Toffler
  • Formative assessments should be part of the learning experience in all classrooms, but they are particularly important in 1 to 1 classrooms. Quick formative assessments help teachers and students connect learning goals to classroom activities. 
  • Many digital resources can help teachers and students create and engage in quick formative assessments at any time with little extra effort.
  • Good formative assessments help both the students and teachers gauge understanding and adjust teaching and learning on the fly. Formative assessments can also be fun.
  • Before creating your own assessments using any of these resources, we recommend exploring the tutorials embed in most of the resources. If you do want to jump right in, get started by searching for assessments that have already been created. (Most of these resources have a library of shared public assessments that you can copy and modify.)

Quizlet Live
Quizlet Live is an in-class, team-based learning game. Students work collaboratively to correctly match a Quizlet set of terms and definitions. Teachers can create their own Quizlets or find one in Quizlet's public collection.


A bit more teacher centered, but the students get very excited to do this. They do sometimes focus more on speed than accuracy. You can search and find existing public Kahoots that you can modify for you students.


Quizizz allows you to create & play awesome multiplayer quiz games, both in class & at home. Quizizz is similar to Kahott, but a big advantage is the option for students to complete a Quizizz assessment anywhere and at any time.


The easiest way to engage your students with videos. pick a video, add your magical touch and track your students' understanding. EdPuzzle has some excellent searchable channels and public video assessments.

Google Forms

Flubaroo or Superquiz are Google Sheets add-ons to help grade, analyze, and return assessments in traditional forms. Flubaroo | Super Quiz

Quizzes in Google Forms
Teachers can select correct answers for multiple choice and checkbox questions to reduce repetitive grading. They can also enter explanations and review materials to help students learn.

Looking for more formative tools?
Visit this Formative Assessment Google Doc to explore more formative resources.

If you have a favorite formative assessment resource or method please consider sharing in our please Formative Assessment Google+ Community.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Google - Take It With You

Transfer or Download Your School Content

Your School Account Your Stuff  Take It With You

Educational G Suite accounts are typically closed when students are no longer enrolled. This means that students who transfer or graduate no longer have access to the files and resources in G Suite. Students should either “Transfer content” or “Download data” before leaving their school.

Transfer your content from Drive and Gmail
Copy and transfer your emails and Google Drive files to a personal Google Account.

If you need help, click on the Help Icon near the top right of the screen.

2. Follow the onscreen instructions to copy and transfer your school stuff to a personal Google account.

Download your data from all G Suite products
Create an archive with a copy of your data from your school Google resources.

If you need help, click on the Help Icon near the top right of the screen.

2. Follow the onscreen instructions to create an archive of your data.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

5 Resources to Engage Student Creativity and Student Voice

ISTE Standards for Students - Global Collaborator
Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.

ISTE Standards for Students - Creative Communicator
Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
Learn More: ISTE

Technology Is Not Pedagogy. EdTech at it's best is a resource when it is used to support and enhance to sound pedagogic practices connected teaching & learning.

Have an idea or resource connected to student voice or student creativity? Share it in this Padlet.

Student voice and creative presentations are no longer confined to the traditional one slide at a time display of images and text. Powerpoints and Google Slides do have a place, but they cannot be the only way for Future Ready students and teachers to share and experience learning. Strong presentations now include a range of media, including images, text, audio, interactive components, and video. The web and G Suite for Education provides students and teachers with a wealth of resources to flip the traditional presentation model on its head. This post will focus on 4 different video resources connected to creative student voice.

Five great resources for creative student voice activities are WeVideo, Screencastify, Recap, Adobe Spark, and FlipGrid.


WeVideo is a powerful cloud-based video editing service. WeVideo has many popular features, including:
  • Screencast creation.
  • Green screen effects.
  • Add music and voiceovers.
  • Connects to Google Drive and YouTube.
  • Click here to explore more features connected to WeVideo.
WeVideo can be installed in Google Drive or Chrome. WeVideo features can also be accessed on the web.


Screencastify is a Chrome Extension that allows users to record, edit, annotate, save, and share screen captures. Record a specific tab or your whole desktop with a click of a button. 
  • Click here to learn more about Screencastify and screencasting with students. 


Recap is a web-based student video response and reflection app developed by the makers of Swivl. 
  • Recap can be used as a formative assessment tool using the Assess option. 
  • The Recap Discover section of the site is where thought leaders and educators ignite your curiosity to learn through Journeys. Educators can also create Journeys for their students and PLCs. 
  • Recap Journeys start with 60-second videos and a learning path with links. 
  • Explore the features of Recap with this Journey: "What is Recap 2.0?"


Flipgrid is a video discussion community for your classroom that supercharges your students’ voices. You add the topics, your students respond with short videos, and everyone engages!
  • Click here to learn more about the using Flipgrid with your classes.
  • Flipgrid Educator Connections - Connect your classroom with students of your fellow Flipgrid educators around the world! Explore connections by grid, age, or subject domain and check out the educator’s goal.

Adobe Spark Video

Adobe Spark is a free online and mobile graphic design app. Easily create beautiful images, videos, and web pages that help tell your own story.

Have an idea or resource connected to student voice or student creativity? Share it in this Padlet.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Google Essentials - Google Keep

Google Keep can be an essential resource to help teachers and students organize their digital life. The essentials components of Google Keep include the Extension, the App, the Website, and the Keep Notepad in Google Docs.
  • How can you organize and save webpages, images, or quotes? With the Chrome Extension, you can easily save the things you care about to Keep and they will sync across multiple platforms. you can take notes with additional details and add labels to quickly categorize your note for later retrieval.
  • How can you quickly capture and organize what you need to get done for your classes? Share notes and ideas will = with friends and classmates. Create reminders by time or location. The App also helps you create and collaborate on to-do lists.
  • How do you learn more about Google Keep? The Google Keep website is similar to the Google Keep App with one exception. The website includes interactive help videos.
  • How can Google Keep help you brainstorm and create with Google Docs? You can drag your notes from Keep directly into your documents. You can also search your notes in Keep while in Docs to find the information you need to complete your project. You can add new notes in the Keep notepad or select text from inside of your document.
We've organized a HyperDoc to help students and staff explore these Google Keep Essentials.

Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Learn More

Monday, May 15, 2017

Chrome Extensions for Teaching and Learning

Extensions are enhancements to the functionality of the Google Chrome browser. They add to Google Chrome by providing a suite of tools to enhance the user experience within or connected to a website. Some extensions work in the background, and some are activated by a click.

Extensions can be explored and added to the browser in the Chrome Web Store.

We've also organized a collection of Recommended Chrome Extensions to Support Teaching and Learning in this Google Document.

Recommended Chrome Extensions

Additional Resources

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Collaboration with Padlet and Google Plus

"Today’s students must be prepared to thrive in a constantly evolving technological landscape. Zip codes and borders no longer determine the learning opportunities, skills and careers that students can access. The ISTE Standards for Students are designed to empower student voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process of exploration, creativity, and discovery no matter where they or their teachers are in the thoughtful integration of ed tech."

When considering where to start incorporating technology, I think first about the interpersonal skills of communication and collaboration. The skills connected to collaboration and communication provide a strong learning foundation for students to understand content and develop additional skills. 
  • Creative Communicator Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
  • Global Collaborator Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.
Face to face classroom collaboration and communication will always be important. Today these classroom activities can be enhanced with a variety of EdTech resources. My students collaborate regularly with Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Keep. I also love Google + and Padlet for whole class collaboration and connections. This post will focus on Google + and Padlet. 

Google Plus Communities

Google + Communities are moderated secure digital environments for teachers and students to collaborate and communicate online. There are many ways to teachers and students can use Google + Communities as a collaboration and communication tool, including:

  • Posting and responding to questions.
  • Sharing links, videos, attachments, and images.
  • Sharing student work.
  • Creating categories to better organize sharing.
  • Participating in online discussions.
  • Flipping and Blending the learning experience.
Learn more about setting up and organizing Google + Communities with this Google + Community Tutorial.


Padlet provides teachers and students with a customized digital board. I often think of Padlet as a virtual post-it note board. I think Padlet is best for a single topic or discussion stream, so I typically create new Padlets for new topics. There are many ways to teachers and students can use Padlet as a collaboration and communication tool, including:
  • Posting and responding to questions.
  • Sharing links, videos, attachments, and images.
  • Sharing student work.
  • Moving and grouping posts. 
  • Participating in online discussions.
Learn more about getting started with Padlet using this tutorial. Padlet also has a great searchable Knowledge Base if you need help with any features. 

How would you use Padlet or Google + with your students? Share your ideas and questions using this Padlet or in the comments below. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Personal Learning Networks - The Power Of Collaboration

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

I love being a teacher. There is always something new to learn and experience every year, every month, every week and every day. Yes, this can be stressful, difficult, and time-consuming, but it is never dull.

Most days my classroom and my students are the highlight of my learning experience. After my classroom experiences, my educational PLN  has had profound impacts on my mindset as a teacher and a learner.  I can trace many fundamental shifts in my teaching philosophy to my face to face connections and my online educational network. 
We've created a Personal Learning Network HyperDoc for educators. The document is designed to provide both new and experienced connected educators learn and share.

Personal Learning Networks for Educators HyperDoc

What will you learn and share?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Organizing Files and Folders in Drive - Move vs. Add

Organizing Files and Folders in Drive

Moving and adding files in Google Drive is different than making a copy of a file. A copy is static and does not update if the original file is modified. When you move or add a file to a new location, it is a live document that is always the latest version.

  • Copy a File: Create a static copy of the original. Changes made to the copy are not reflected in the original file.
  • Moving Files/Folders: Move a file or folder from one location in Drive to a different location. The file will no longer be viewable in the original location.
  • Adding Files/Folders: Add these items to multiple folders in your Drive. (Please note that deleting a file will remove it from all folders, not just the folder you’ve deleted it in.)

Learn more about moving and adding with these tips connected to Google Drive in the Chrome Browser and Chromebooks.

Moving Files and Folders

The fastest way to move a file is by right clicking on a file or folder in the Drive view. This opens up a menu. Click on “Move to…” and chose the new location for the file or folder and click “Move here.”

Mar 31 2017 10-13 AM - Edited.gif

You can also move an open file. Click on the “File” in the menu bar and then click on “Move to…”. Then click on “Move this item”  Chose the new location and click “Move here”.

Mar 31 2017 10-19 AM - Edited.gif

Adding a File or Folder to Multiple Locations

The quickest way to add a file to multiple locations is using a quick key combination. (You can add folders to multiple locations, but not with quick key combinations.

Highlight the file by clicking on it in the Google Drive view. Click on The Shift Key and the z Key on your keyboard at the same time. This will open the Add menu. Choose a location and click “ADD HERE”.

You can also choose to add a file or folder instead of moving a file in the ““Move to…” menu. Follow the steps to move the file or folder. When you’ve reached the location click on the Ctrl key on your keyboard. The “MOVE HERE” will change to “ADD HERE”.

Mar 31 2017 10-36 AM - Edited (1).gif

File or Folder Details

You can click on the View Details icon near the top right of the Google Drive in order to view activity in certain folders/files and get more information about specific folders/files.

If a folder or file is located in multiple folders, you will see this under location. You can click on the X in order to delete from a certain location without deleting the file from all locations.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Inquiry and Knowledge Construction with Google Keep

 ISTE Standards for Students - Knowledge Constructor

Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

Learn More: ISTE

Technology Is Not Pedagogy. EdTech at it's best is a resource when it is used to support and enhance to sound pedagogic practices connected teaching & learning.

Have an idea for using Google Keep in your classroom? Share it in this collaborative Google Keep Padlet.

"Great ideas can surface in unexpected places. We created Keep to capture your thoughts anytime, anywhere—with smart tools to help you easily organize your notes, ideas and to dos."
Google Keep is a note-taking resource in G Suite for Education. I've frequently heard it described as "virtual sticky notes", but I believe that Google Keep is much more than just a place to take notes. There are many different ways the various aspects can support inquiry activities, help students stay organized, and support collections of research. 

Google Keep includes an extension, a Chrome App, mobile apps, and a website with an interactive help section

The Chrome Extension

When students are engaged on the web, they can quickly save links using the Chrome Extension. This extension allows you to save a link with a description and a label. The extension also allows you to create a note on the fly without opening a new window. Everything saves automatically to Google Keep.

The Chrome App

The Chrome App is where it all comes together for Google Keep. 
  • Create new notes, lists, and reminders.
  • Share and collaborate on notes.
  • Create notes with images.
  • Create notes with drawings.
  • Organize Notes by color
  • Organize notes by label.
  • Customized search options.

The Mobile Apps

Google Keep has apps for both Android and iOS.  The mobile apps are great for voice notes, checklists, images, and reminders connected to a time or location. Everything is connected to Google Keep in real time. 

Connect to Google Docs

The tools menu in Google Docs connects Google Keep to Google Docs. You can drag notes, images, and links directly into the Doc. 

Google Keep Help

The Google Keep website includes the G Suite Training Interactive Help Menu. 

If you need any additional help working with Google Keep, I recommend exploring the G Suite Training Extension by clicking on the help icon. This connects you to an interactive and searchable collection of video tutorials. 

Have an idea for using Google Keep in your classroom? Share it in this collaborative Google Keep Padlet.

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