Tuesday, November 26, 2013

SpellMania App

SpellMania is a free app available in the iTunes store.
 It is available for the iPad and iPhone.
This app gives players 16 letters to make words.
Words must be 3 or more letters.
Players use their finger to connect letters to form words.
This app has a timed and un-timed feature

The Un-Timed Feature
The un-timed game shows the player how many words can be made with the 16 letters.
This player has made 4/148 words, words are shown in the center.
The Timed Feature
The timed game has a timer that runs out.
Once the timer has ran out, the player must start a new game.
The game can be paused and resumed.

This app is great for all grade levels. It gets the brain working. 
For an extension of this app, teachers could have students make sentences using one, two, or three of the words that have been made on the app. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Parent Connections- New Site!

Parents Connections is a new website full of resources for parents!  This is a tool to assist teachers and parents in educating our students.  One of the main goals of the Parent Connections team is to inform parents and students about the importance of Online Safety.  Although technology provides many positive results, there are also dangers lurking if not used correctly.  Teachers can refer parents to this site to answer questions and provide useful and important information.

The features available for elementary teachers and parents include:
  • K-5 Online Safety brochures and resources
  • Skyward Family Access tutorials
  • Pearson SuccessNet tutorials and information
  • Homework resources
  • Access to the I-Canyons Parent Tool Kit for report card information
  • Information and guides for volunteering in the schools
The features available for secondary teachers and parents include:
  • 6-12 Online Safety brochures and resources
  • Skyward Family Access tutorials
  • Homework resources
  • Information and guides for volunteering in the schools
  • Information about Google Apps for Canyons and Chromebooks
  • Canvas Resources coming soon!
Come check out the resources available at the Parent Connections Website today!

Friday, November 22, 2013

CSDDocs on an iPad

A couple months ago, Dustin posted a bit about the district's new Google Apps for Education instance called CSDDocs. It is still in a sort of soft rollout phase, but is available for all Staff and Students (3rd grade and above). Everyone in the district from 3rd graders and beyond have CSDDocs accounts. Teachers talk to your EdTech to find our more and how staff and students access their CSDDocs accounts.

What CSDDocs allows us to do is have a platform for teachers and students to collaborate on and share documents, presentations, spreadsheets and files easily with one another. For example, a teacher could assign groups of students to create a report together. Instead of each member of the group working on their own copy, the entire group could work on one document in Google Docs, AT THE SAME TIME. CSDDocs can be accessed on the web, from a Chromebook and even from an iPad. I want to share with you how to access your Google Drive (this is where all of your files now live if you use Google Docs, etc.) from an iPad.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hour of Code - Calling All Teachers!

In the month of December, Canyons School District classrooms (and schools across the state of Utah) will be participating in the Computer Science's Ed Week project called 'Hour of Code.' The Hour of Code project strives to involve all students, ages 6-106, in a "one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify "code" and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, an innovator." Teachers and entire schools can sign up to participate and every teacher who completes an hour of code with students will earn an extra 10GB of Dropbox space! Schools in which every student participates are entered to win a mobile computer lab.

Tutorials for students to use during the hour of code are available for FREE.  Teachers need not worry whether (or not) they know how to code as the tutorials are designed to be self-paced training students that complete on their own! If computers are not available for your class and you still want to participate many activities not requiring computers are ready as well - use the tutorials found at Computer Science Unplugged!  

Sign up to participate today!

Not convinced you should participate? Take a look at these statistics!
  • There will be 1 million more computing jobs than students over the next 10 years (adding up to $500 billion in salaries)
  • More than 50 percent of all projected math and science occupations are in computing occupations.
  • Computing occupations are among the highest-paying jobs for new graduates. Yet fewer than 3% of college students graduate with a degree in computer science.
  • In 36 states, computer science classes don’t count toward math or science high school graduation requirements.
  • A.P. Computer Science is taught in only 5% of U.S. high schools
  • Fewer than 20% of AP Computer Science students are women. 
  • Fewer than 10% are Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino.
  • More statistics can be found at the CSEdWeek Pitch PowerPoint Presentation!

I-Canyons Parent Toolkit

The I-CANyons Parent Toolkit is a resource created by elementary educators in the Canyons School District to help parents with student academic achievement.  A parent and/or teacher can go to the web site and click on a specific subject and standard for each grade level to learn how to help students who have mastered or not yet mastered a concept.  There are many links that parents can download to work with their students at home.  Working together with their child's teacher, they will most assuredly help their student succeed and be college and career ready.

Click here to go to the Parent Toolkit

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Buncee.com for Fun and Bouncy Digital Storytelling

Let's build a "Buncee"!

Check out this exciting and free new web app that allows teachers and students to build interactive digital presentations in a snap.  This tool is great for sending a simple message or creating a full-scale digital story.  Something as complicated as the Gettysburg Address can be shared online with a fun "Buncee".

Much like a PowerPoint Slideshow or Keynote Presentation, a Buncee can be made with slides and images to tell a story.  But unlike the other two programs, a Buncee is free and easy to make online with digital resources straight from the web - images, movies, hyperlinks, and other interactive features can be dropped into the show right from the Buncee website.  Check out this story of Thanksgiving:

Learn more about how to get started building your own Buncee with this short YouTube Video.  Then go to www.buncee.com to make your own free educational account for students and teachers.

Monday, November 18, 2013

App Feature: Red Stamp

Red Stamp is one of my favorite apps for creating beautiful birthday cards, thank you notes, invitations, letters, and more!  The app is free and does not require a login to create or send notes via email, text, tweet, Facebook or Instagram.  Red Stamp will even print and mail your cards for you (login and payment required)!  Some templates even allow pictures!

Ways to use Red Stamp in the classroom:

  • Inform parents of upcoming events
  • Thank you notes to students for a job well done
  • Student Spotlights
  • Introduce yourself to parents/faculty
  • Class party invitations
  • Class Posters

Templates are organized into categories on the main page and then subcategories on the next page.

There are over 600 designs to choose from and each design comes in several different color options.

You might even recognize some of these flyers hanging around your school!

 Try Red Stamp for free today!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Parent Communication has Never Been Easier, Thanks to Technology Tools for Teachers!

When I was teaching 5th grade I had many parents who were very interested in supporting their kids in school, but with demanding schedules and 30 students it was difficult to make individual contact with every parent regularly.  I found one year that a successful tactic in coordinating our efforts was to send a weekly email that outlined the major plans for the week, project deadlines and expectations, and supplemental resources that supported the classroom lessons and activities.  I was quite impressed with the quality of work I received from these students and how happy the parents were with being able to know what was happening in the classroom without having to dig it out of their children at dinner.

I found that I was a much more effective educator because I was no longer working alone.  My students' parents had more information and could ask more specific questions to target growth in their children.  The greatest thing about this development was how easy it was to do.  I simply used Outlook Contact Groups to easily email everyone at once.  The unpleasant duty of chasing down work was all but gone because parents were informed and reminded of deadlines.  They were not reliant on their children to let them know these important dates.  The parents were my allies in our common mission to help make the students successful.

I made sure to collect the emails of all of my parents at the beginning of the year and enter them as contacts in Outlook.  Skyward is a great resource in our district because the parents enter their emails when they enroll the students each year.  For about 30 minutes of work at the start, I was able to become a stronger teacher for the entire year.

For a Tutorial on how to create these contact groups click here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The iKnow Podcast on iTunes U

Did you know that iKnow, the Canyons District employee newsletter, is now available as a podcast? The iKnow podcast is ideal for busy teachers who want to stay "in the know" with District events and news but have busy schedules. The podcast can be accessed through iTunes U and downloaded onto a computer or iOS device (iPad, iPod, iPhone) so that it can be accessed on the go. Imagine learning about all about the latest and greatest happenings in the District while you're running on the treadmill, commuting to and from work, or cooking dinner. The iKnow podcast makes it easy!

The iKnow podcast and many other podcasts and professional development courses are available on the Canyons District iTunes U channel. Watch the following tutorial videos to find out how to subscribe:

iTunes U on iOS

  iTunes U on a Computer

Monday, November 11, 2013

What Can Canvas Do For You?

We are talking about Canvas in all of our secondary schools this year. To help teachers to better utilize this tool in their classrooms, we want to help provide answers to the question:

Why Canvas?

Maximize opportunities to Respond.
Canvas can help you to better understand what your students are learning. You can give students opportunities to share what they know and ask questions when they need help. You can track concepts students aren’t grasping, which assignments they have missed and who needs extra help.

Re-Capture Instruction Time.
Canvas is designed to give you more time to teach and to give students more time to learn. With Canvas you can extend your instruction time beyond your classroom walls and time limits, and students can learn from your instruction materials anytime and anywhere.

Want to cut down on the time you spend grading tests, quizzes, essays and other assignments? Use SpeedGrader in Canvas to grade student work in a fraction of the time while still providing personalized feedback to each student. The SpeedGrader app for iPad lets you take your grade book wherever you go.

Professional Learning.
Teachers can become students in a Canvas course and share ideas and resources across classes and across schools. Canvas is easy to use and can engage teacher-learners anywhere and anytime, so more time can be spent teaching and working with students.

What should you be doing with Canvas now?

Most teachers won’t begin teaching with Canvas until next school year. But for some groups and for those teachers who would like to get started, there are some guidelines listed below. The goal is to help ALL secondary teachers participate in Canvas as a student this year. If you’d like to do more, contact your Ed Tech Specialist.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Write About This

An app I recently shared with the teachers at my schools is Write About This.  It is a great writing app. You can use this app in whole group or small group lessons, or as an independent activity. Prompts include a picture and a written prompt. Use can use the preloaded prompts, or create your own. The app allows you to type your response to the prompt or vocally record a response.

The free version of this app provides you with 50 preloaded prompts and the ability to try the create your own feature. The paid version allows you full access to all features and costs $3.99. Your students are sure to love this app!

Watch this video for a demonstration of the features and ideas on how to use it in your classroom.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


This year much of my time and effort has been helping teachers and counselors with csddocs.org, Google Docs.  There is no mistaking that using Google Docs in the classroom itself is not an amazing tool, but I am asked a very specific “how to” questions that Google Docs cannot do easily .  

The number one question is “How can I share documents with students so that each student has their own document to edit without students having to share the document back to me?”  

Doctopus is the answer.  Doctopus allows the teacher to distribute, share, and manage documents (templates) easily to each student.  This will help increase differentiated learning and communication with your students.  

To learn more please watch "Doctopus 4.0 walkthrough" by Jay Atwood.  The video is licensed as "Reuse Allowed" by Creative Commons.  Thanks Jay for sharing. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Flippin' the Classroom with Knowmia Teach

 Knowmia Teach is a free online tool and iOS app that allows teachers to build and record lessons for teaching and learning purposes.  Teachers can create their own lessons and post them on the website for everyone to see, or they can search from over 19,000 lessons created by other teachers in the Video Lesson Library.  Lessons can then be turned into assignments using the Assignment Wizard Tool.

Knowmia can provide free training opportunities to teach teachers how to use the app effectively.  You can get a group of 5 or more teachers together and then schedule an online training session.  The website also provides online tutorials that provide more detail about the product.

The app allows you to build lessons by adding photos/graphics, voice, face recording, text, shapes, background color, and a pen.  It even has a pointer tool to help draw attention to specific things on the screen as you are recording.  Once the lesson has been created, it can be exported to the iPad, Dropbox, Google Drive, or added to your lessons on the Knowmia website.

To learn more about Knowmia Teach, click on the link below.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Safeshare.tv is a site that allows you to show and share YouTube videos without the ads and other videos that show up. If you have been on YouTube lately you know that you can't control what images and ads appear on the YouTube site.  Many of the videos and ads that appear are not appropriate for students young eyes.  Safeshare.tv is a site to help eliminate that problem. 

Once on Safeshare.tv here are the directions for how to use it:
  1. Copy the YouTube link for the video you would like to share
  2. Go to http://safeshare.tv
  3. Paste the link in the space provided and click Generate Safe Link
  4. Click Take Me to the Safe View (It will appear below the button you just clicked)
  5. It will then take you to a page that just has the video you would like to view/show your class.
 You can copy the Safeshare link and reuse it.
Click here to view an example of a video shared using Safeshare.tv.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Vocabulary Spelling City

If you are looking for a place for students to practice with vocabulary or spelling words- this is the place! Vocabulary Spelling City is both a website and and app, so students can practice and play games in a variety of ways both at home and school. The FREE version of the program works really well for most teachers and most grades because you select the level of difficulty based on the words you enter.  For information on how to set up an account to use with your students see below.