Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Getting a Little Help From my Friends - Google Books and Google Search

My co-teacher and I often begin the year with a few mini lessons in reading.  This year one of the lessons we are starting with is a lesson on making connections. 

We searched and found a simple presentation on the Internet to use.  I love that searching Google led to a presentation that will save us a lot of time and will supplement our lesson perfectly.

This presentation suggests using the book "The Best School Year Ever" by Barbara Robinson to practice the skill of making connections.  So I turned to Google Books to find this book.

I simply typed in and searched for the title.   I found that the book costs $1.99 which was within my price range!  I used Google Wallet to purchase the ebook version.

Here are the results for a search for the book "Shiloh".

When we use this book in our lesson in class, we can project the ebook on our SMART Board. There are some helpful features we can take advantage of when using an ebook from Google Books.

I think our students will enjoy reviewing making connections with the Google Presentation and using Google Books to practice the skill.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Create Avatars for a Safe Online Profile

Several of the sites that we use such as Kidblog and Glogster allow students to upload a profile picture.  Since we teach our students not to post actual pictures of themselves online, we create avatars.

The site that we will be using is called Doppelme.  There are a lot of sites for creating avatars, but my choice is Doppelme.  Here's why.

  • Doppelme does not require an account.  Simply create the avatar and the right click and save your image.  You can get an account for free and have access to all of the choices if you would like to.
  • Doppelme has plenty of choices so that students' avatars will all look different.
  • Doppelme looks realistic and like people.
Before we start, I make sure students know that they must be appropriate in their choices.

Here are what our avatars looked like last year.
Notice that we also use pseudonyms instead of our real names for privacy on the Internet.

I realize that there are a lot of other choices for making avatars, but Doppelme is the one I choose!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Great Sites to Help Teach Cyber Safety

We will begin our school year teaching our students about Copyright, Cyber and Internet Safety, Plagiarism, and Fair Use.

Here are the sites that we will be using:

#1 Surf Swell Island

This is an adventure game from Disney.  Through playing the game, students will learn all about how to be appropriate and safe on the Internet.

#2 Game Classroom 
This interactive is a great way to answer questions that students have about Fair Use, Copyright, Creative Commons etc.  

#3 Cyber Saftety
This is site that looks very similar to an infographic.  The topics covered are Cyber bullying, Identity Thief  Plagiarism, Computer Viruses and Internet Safety.

#4 Webonauts 

This is an adventure game from  Students work to become part of the Internet Academy.  They will learn about privacy and how to be safe on the Internet.

Here are the important concepts that Police Departments want students to learn about being safe online:
  • Tell your parents immediately if you come across something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Remember that people on the Internet may not be who they seem.
  • Never give out identifying information such as your name, home address, school name or telephone number in a public message, such as in a chat room or on a bulletin board.
  • People who are dangerous may represent themselves online as a young boy or girl to entice you to a face-to-face meeting.
  • You should never arrange a face-to-face meeting without first asking a parent. If a parent agrees, you should meet in a public place with your parent accompanying you. Be careful when someone offers you something for nothing.
  • Be very careful about any offers that involve you coming to a meeting or have someone visit your home.
  • Always get to know your online friends just as you would get to know all of your friends.
  • Never send your picture without first asking a parent.
  • Never respond to messages or items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening or make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Be sure that you are dealing with someone you and your parents know and trust before giving out any personal information about yourself.
  • Diligent parental supervision will help ensure your safety on the Internet.
I hope these sites help you and your students as you begin the new school year.   

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Setting Up Tech for the New School Year

This past week was spent getting things ready for another year in the classroom.  My co-teacher and I met to lesson plan (thank you Google Docs!) and also went into our classroom to get things organized and decorated.

It used to be that I would spend the majority of August in my classroom decorating and organizing, but things have changed over the past 20 years.  Today I spend most of my time at home on the computer getting things ready for our 1:1 laptop environment.

Let me share with you some of the ways I have been getting ready.

#1 - CSV file - I create a Google Spreadsheet with student names, email, a common password and usernames.  I can then download this Google spreadsheet as a CSV (comma separated values) file.  This saves me so much time in setting up accounts for my students.  I type everything in once and then can use this information to set up most of the accounts for my students.

Here is a peek at the spreadsheet.  I won't show any student information because it contains private data.

#2 - email -
To start the year, I create groups in my email.  One is a parent group and the other is a student group.  To create a group I simply go to Contacts and then click on More Labels.  I then scroll all the way down and click on New Group.

To add my students emails in the group I simply copy and paste the email column from my Google Spreadsheet.  This way I can add all of my students into the group at once.  Yeah!

Another great benefit is that I can share this Google Spreadsheet with my co-teacher and then she can also quickly create her student email group.  Double Yeah!

#3 - Set up accounts - We use quite a few sites that require student accounts and log ins.  Some of the sites are Spelling City, Kidblog, and Glogster.  Each of these sites allows me to upload a CSV file to quickly import student information to set up the accounts.

Spelling City

#4 - Schoology - I take the time to create each of my students' accounts (there is not option for a CSV upload).  I also have to log onto each students' email account and verify their emails for Schoology.  And I also connect each of the student Schoology accounts to their Google account.  This is a lot of work, but it is worth the time to have everything ready to go for the school year.

#5 - Classroom Wiki - Each year I create a new wiki for our classroom.  We use the wiki for bell work to start our day.  Wikispaces has had some updates and I'm really liking the changes.
There are now options to have your wiki look like a website or an option for a classroom layout.  Check out our wiki by clicking here.

Of course there are a few other preparations to do, but these are the big ones.  I hope your transition back into the classroom goes well.  Have a great school year.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Google Apps and the Common Core - Ripon Tech Academy

One of the sessions I had the pleasure of teaching at the Ripon Summer Tech Academy was a session on Google Apps and the Common Core.

One of the main parts of this session was too look at actual examples of how teachers are using Google Apps (docs, forms, drawing, presentations, and spreadsheets) to meet the CCSS.  

Feel free to take these examples and adapt them to your grade level and content area.  These examples promote collaboration, require higher level thinking and many use the new research tool.

Group Research Form
Students work collaboratively to decide on an essential research question.  They then use the research tool to find web sites that help them to collect information. And finally the students present their conclusions.

Tree Chart
Students edit this drawing to insert the topic, main idea and supporting details for a literary piece.

Students read a literary piece and then answer questions using supporting evidence and writing an answer in their own words.

Students fill in the glossary table using the research tool and in particular the dictionary tool.

Math Term Presentation
Students contribute a slide to the presentation on math terms.

Hopefully these examples inspire you to create your own activities using Google Apps to meet the CCSS.  If you would like more examples check out my presentation by clicking here.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

iPad Resources from the Ripon Tech Academy

Last year we had the opportunity to begin using iPads with our students through our Media Center.  We had 12 iPads available. This made creating online content and utilizing educational apps very doable.

This year we are supposed to be getting 12 more ipads in the Media Center which should make the possibilities even greater for student creation!  :)

I plan to make the best use of these iPads and to help me out I can refer to the generous amount of iPad apps shared by various presenters at the Ripon Summer Tech Academy.

Dan King shared multimedia apps in this presentation.  Consider using the iTalk app and the VidEditor app.

Dan also shared a nice collection of apps for creating ebooks.  Click here to see this presentation.  Last year we used the Book Creator app as well as Story Kit and I was very impressed with both of these apps.

Tim Nielsen also shared wonderful lists of apps. 

Click here to view the list of apps for math and literacy.

Click here to view the list of apps for creation.

It's going to take a while to work my way through these lists, but I love all of the choices and the possibilities.  Last year we focused quite a bit on creation apps such as Educreations and Explain Everything for creating tutorials.

This year I would like to focus more on math and literacy.  The Write About This and Geoboard apps look really good.

If you are lucky enough to have iPads available to your students, I hope you make the best of this technology and get those iPads in the hands of your students.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Managing Student Assignments Using Google Docs and Drive - Ripon Tech Academy


I've been gone for a week, but with good reason.  We have just wrapped up our second Ripon Summer Tech Academy facilitated by Naomi Harm of Innovative Educator Consulting.  And what a great academy it was.  Naomi's team of presenters delivered amazing presentations and were inspiring as always.

The next series of posts will highlight several of the resources shared in various sessions.  All of the session resources and presentations can be found in this shared folder.

Today I would like to share with you some very useful video tutorials from Naomi's session on using 1:1 Chromebooks.  

Many teachers today are using Google Drive and the Google Suite of Apps to have students create assignments and turn them in. These video tutorials show how to manage this process in an organized and efficient way. 

Each video is approximately 5 minutes in length, so in just about 20 minutes, you will have a good understanding of what to do.

Video #1

Video #2

Video #3

Video #4

And there you have it.  I have been using Google Docs and Google Drive for a few years now to collect assignments from students. These videos will be very helpful as we get things set up for the school year.  

Thanks Naomi Harm!