Thursday, January 30, 2014

Supporting Classroom Instruction with iMovie

We are often looking for creative ways to support our classroom instruction with engaging classroom projects.  Ms. Blaser's students at Ridgecrest Elementary were recently able to create iMovie projects to support their Language Arts instruction.

The students have been learning about movie special effects in their Reading Street Unit.  They were able to apply what they had learned through the creation of their own iMovie project.  Each student selected a movie they felt was full of special effects.  They did online research using pioneer library and collected images that supported their movie facts.  They found royalty free music using , added transitions, titles, and other special effects to their own iMovies.  They became pros at recognizing what special effects are, identifying them in film, and even adding their own!

This idea could be used in many content areas to support student learning.  Allowing students to pick a topic and showcase what they have learned to share with their classmates and parents can be empowering and exciting!

Keep Work Flowing with WorkFlowy

Teachers are like jugglers, or plate spinners, or maybe plate spinners who have to juggle at the same time. It's a difficult job that requires extreme multi-tasking and constant decision making. How can you keep track of all that you have to do?


At first it looks like a text document with a bulleted list, but it's SO much more. This interactive, free, and easy to use web app allows you to create a simple "To Do List" to organize your complicated lives. Each bulleted item can become it's own item for focus, reflection, or sharing.

With so much to do in life, why not ask for help? Just share a specific bulleted item with a co-worker or colleague by email.

Setup is easy too. Go to the site, enter your email address and create a new password.  Don't stress about making multiple accounts to desegregate your personal life from your professional life.  Once you get started you can make separate lists for each and control which items are shared with who.  Share your grocery list with a spouse or room mate, and then share the classroom needs list with your grade level teammate.  Everything can be organized in one account, one list, at one site.

When you're ready to dive in, check out this short video to see the basics to using Workflowy.

Finally, if you find yourself craving Workflowy on the go, download the WorkFlowy App from the iTunes store.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WeVideo is an online video creation program with similar features of iMovie.  As Chromebooks, Macs, iPads and PC's are used throughout a course, it can be difficult to find programs that work on all of these devices.  WeVideo solves that!  As an online program,  WeVideo works on Chromebooks, Macs, and PCs!  Students and teachers can log in using their CSDDocs Google account.  If you take video on the iPad, use the WeVideo Uploader app to upload the video to the website

Why should students create videos in the classroom?  Video creation:
  • is fun!
  • engages and excites students.
  • helps learning retention.
  • allows creative expression.
  • requires higher level thinking.
  • improves technology skills.
  • develops problem-solving skills. 
Source: Tech & Learning

Ideas for using student-created videos in the classroom:
  • Book Trailers
  • Scene Reenactments
  • Public Service Announcements
  • Advertisements
  • Video Essay
  • Get to Know You Activity
  • Illustrate text or poem
Source: Ed Tech Teacher

Students can even submit their videos to the Canyons District Film Festival! Visit WeVideo for Education to for more information about how to use WeVideo in the classroom.

Monday, January 27, 2014

CSD Docs for Elementary Teachers - Creating Groups for your Class

We've talked a lot on this blog about our CSD Docs rollout. I expect that to continue for awhile as we implement this district wide.

I would like to focus today on Elementary Teachers in the district and how they can share documents with their students and visa-versa. This will be a very powerful tool for teachers to help students write more and provide a way for back and forth communication on the writing.

Click Here for a document on how to share files and create a group list for your students. Here is also a brief video describing how to create groups.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Two Great Apps: Explain a Website & Final Argument

Two apps have really struck my fancy recently.  I first learned of these apps from purchasing and experiencing an older app from the Morris Cooke developer, Explain Everything.  They have done it again with two great apps that have the power to create engaging presentations that can work as a resource for a flipped or blended classroom.  These two apps are Explain a Website and Final Argument.

Explain a Website is exceptional because it allows the user to record audio and navigate a website.  One of the amazing aspects of this terrific app is that you can annotate and navigate simultaneously.  There are apps that allow PDF annotation and the annotation of screen shots, but this one allows you to annotate words while viewing and interacting with the website.  Impressive!

Final Argument also comes highly recommended.  This allows the user to present slides in a non-linear fashion.  Instead of viewing slides in order, it allows projection of slides and navigation.  It's kind of like Prezi, but is more powerful as it allows you zoom and annotate during a live presentation.

With students, engagement and novelty can go hand in hand.  These two apps really give some options when creating quality online content. They have some versatile export functions that will allow the files to be opened in a variety of formats.  Final Argument is $4.99 and Explain a Website is $0.99 in the app store.

Final Argument Twitter Feed
Explain a Website Video Tutorial

Thursday, January 23, 2014

iOS for Admins

So you have an iPad! Now what?

An iPad can be a great tool for an administrator if you know what apps to use. As I have observed the many apps used by admins, I have noticed a pattern of how these apps are being used. The following infographic shows these categories and lists a few apps that accomplish the goals of each category. Give these apps a try, and you'll be well on your way to transforming your administration with your iPad!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Using the Google Drive App to Transfer Videos

As teachers have been having their students capture videos using devices such as iPods and iPads, they have been looking for ways for their students to get those videos from the device to a computer.  Using the Google Drive app is a quick and easy solution.  The directions below will walk you through the process.
  1. Make sure the Google Drive app is loaded to the student device. 
  2. Open the app.
  3.  Log in.
    Students in the Canyons School District will login using the same usernames and passwords that they use to log into the computers. Anyone else can log in with their Gmail usernames/passwords.
  4. You may have to agree to some things, and/or click the Get Started button to get to the My Drive page.
  5.  Once at the My Drive page press the + located at the top right of the screen.
  6. Press Upload Photos or Videos.
  7. A message will come up that says “Google Drive would like to access your photos” 
    Press OK.
  8. Find the video you would like to upload and select it. 
  9. Press the blue checkmark located at the top right of the screen. (The checkmark won’t appear unless you’ve selected the video.)
  10. Depending on the size it might take a little while for the video to load.
  11. Once the video has been uploaded to Google Drive it is now accessible when you go to your Google Drive on a computer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Connected Classrooms- Virtual Field Trips

Field trips are a valuable educational tool.  Students need to see curriculum they study in the classroom applied to real life situations.  With tight budgets, and high transportation costs, most teachers are not able to take students on as many field trips as they would like to.

Connected Classrooms, otherwise know as Google Virtual Field Trips, is a fantastic way to bring culture and experience from around the world right to your classroom. Interact with virtual field trips in real time, or view them later at your convenience at no cost.  

Participating in a virtual field trip in real time gives your students the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered on air by the experts!  Field trip hosts often post valuable resources on the field trip page that can be used for extension activities either before or after the field trip.

Virtual field trip videos are posted after the live event ends so you can access them anytime!  Field trips are available in the subject areas of Art & Music, Science & Nature, and Social Studies.  Topics range from sea vomit to holidays at the White House.  This tool is sure to bring any topic to life.  Access Connected Classrooms via the web at

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Google Forms for Education

Google Drive can be a very valuable tool in education. Many School Districts are currently getting on the Google bandwagon by creating accounts for their students and educators, which makes using Google Forms a practical decision. Google Forms is one of the powerful resources Google provides.  This simple tool can be in a plethora of ways.

 Educators can use Google Forms as a way to help students dig deeper into their learning.  Whether the student is creating the actual survey, taking the survey, or analyzing the results, they are gaining a deeper understanding of the curriculum.  

Teachers can create quizzes using Google Forms. After the students have taken the quiz, the teacher can quickly grade the quiz using the add-on Flubaroo.  Flubaroo takes about 3 minutes to set up, which saves hours in correcting and analyzing time. Flubaroo averages the question results, gives a total score and average per student, and will even email the results to the student. 

Google Forms are also a great way to interact, communicate, and get feedback from parents. What better way to ask for parent volunteers for a field trip, class party, or class rotations than building a survey?  Teachers could create the form, email it out to parents, and then look at the responses.  This not only saves trees, but it also saves class time by not having to pass out and collect papers.

There are many ways that Google Forms can impact Education. I have only mentioned a few.  Take a look at ­­these websites to learn more about the possibilities of Google Forms:

Google Forms for Teachers- A Must Read Guide
80 InterestingWays To Use Google Forms In the Classroom
4 New Ways to Use Google Docs Forms with Students
10 Great Free Google Forms Every Teacher Should be Using

Using CSDDocs to Support Writing

     With End-of-Year testing approaching, I am finding creative ways to assist teachers in third, fourth and fifth grades, to practice and enhance writing skills using technology.  With all teachers and students in Canyons School District having access to CSDDocs, I found it most appropriate to utilize this tool in teaching writing skills.  I am working with my teachers and their students, at Willow Canyon, East Sandy and Quail Hollow, on ways to incorporate writing throughout their curriculum using CSDDocs. To begin, students are creating an electronic writing journal and sharing the document with their teacher.  The teacher can then help the student edit their work by using the 'comments feature' in CSDDocs.  This journal allows a quick write format and can be done as a whole class or in small practice stations in the classrooms.  The next step in scaffolding instruction, is to have students read an article and write a short essay, using facts from the article and then type in in CSDDocs.  The final step I am supporting my teachers is sharing articles through CSDDocs and having their students read the article, highlight information that will be used in a writing piece and to edit their final project.  These steps will be used to help support what the students will be expected to do on the End-of-Year Testing and to further develop their writing skills.  Below is the training piece I am using to incorporate Reading Street into this process:

Mini Lesson and Quick Write for Fluency (Day 1):

Step One: Electronic Writing Journal for Quick Writes
Step Two: Provide feedback to guide editing process using comments feature
*Question of the Week, ELL Poster, Read Aloud Anthology, the concept talk video

Retelling: Think Critically (Day 3):

Step One: Electronic Retell Journal for Quick Writes
Step Two: Provide feedback to guide editing process using comments feature

Let’s Write It: Different Genres (Day 3)

Step One: Electronic Write It Journal for Quick Writes
Step Two: Provide feedback to guide editing process using comments feature
Additional Steps: (Vary) Follow guide and rubric from Reading Street Teacher Manual

Unit Writing: Guided Practice to Produce a Published Piece (Writing Guide in back of manual)
(Plan and Prewrite, Draft, Revise, Edit, Publish and Present)

Part One:
Step One: Gather printed sources to use as a reference to create a four square graphic organizer- practice highlighting
Step Two: Use four square as a graphic organizer to type an essay in CSDDocs
Step Three: Provide feedback to guide editing process using comments feature
Step Four: Students edit essay in CSDDocs and Publish

Part Two:
Step One: Provide variety or articles electronically in CSDDocs
Step Two: Use four square as a graphic organizer to type an essay in CSDDocs
Step Three: Provide feedback to guide editing process using comments feature
Step Four: Students edit essay in CSDDocs and Publish

Monday, January 13, 2014

Creating Rubrics

By now, most every teacher has used a rubric for assessing student performance at one time or another. The research is out there and Canyons District supports the use of quality rubrics for evaluation in a variety of forms, so it is not a shock that many grade-level teams and PLCs in schools have started using them on common assessments to gather data. 

We know that using appropriate rubrics not only helps to define "quality," but they also help set clear goals and provide specific feedback for students. Additionally, they have the added benefit of helping teachers "explain" why a certain grade was earned on the given assignment or exam and give a tool by which to measure improvements. 

Why then, don't we see more rubrics being used in classrooms beyond gathering data? Part of the issue might be the time that it takes to create or modify them to match the new Common Core Standards
So, to help remedy this issue, below you will find several resources for the easy creation of rubrics for your classroom! 

  • Try Rubistar, my personal favorite, for pre-made as well as customizable rubrics fast! 
  • Or check out Teachnology Rubric Tools rubric collections and rubric creations sites of all kinds. 
  • Also there is the University of Wisconsin- Stout rubric page with resources available for rubrics on everything from webpages and research to wikis and podcasts! 
If you need help with the use of these tools, check with your school's Ed Tech and for the content of a quality rubric, check with any of our Evidence Based Learning Specialists who would be happy to help with the creation of your rubrics! 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Become a Video Ninja

Video Ninja – Post 1

Video is a powerful resource in the classroom. Especially in the hands of a skilled teacher. It can engage students in the conversation, and give them a different prospective on a topic that can only be topped by being there first hand.

I was asked once to share some tricks about collecting video, viewing them in the classroom, and storage and distribution. I call these skills "Ninja" skills. It is a secret practice shared by a few teachers, and handed down for the betterment of classrooms. I would like to share a few here today with you, and add to this as a series of Ninja Lessons over the next couple of months.

Let's start with getting video from Youtube. This is a moving target and there have been many ways to make this happen. Youtube is the second largest search engine on the planet. There are a couple of basics tools to download video from Youtube: a browser & an extension or add on. In this example I will use Firefox and three add ons, Download Youtube Videos, DownloadHelper, and MP4 Downloader. This could be done with the chrome browser if you like.

Friday, January 10, 2014


ChatterKid is a free app available in the iTunes store

Using this free app is as easy as 1, 2, 3

1. Take a picture with your iOS device, or use one of ChatterKid's preloaded photos

2. Draw a line to make a mouth

3. Record your voice, and watch your picture talk

You can also add filters, stickers and text to your photo.
Share your talking photo with your voice.

Some things this app could be used for:
Book Reports
How To's
Explaining How 
Greeting Cards

This app is appropriate for ages 6-12
ChatterKid can be used on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

TED & TEDx Talks by Students (Youth) from all over the World

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading". It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED talks are riveting talks by remarkable people...and even more remarkable are the inspiring TED talks given by students (youth) from all over the world.

In the classroom, TED talks:
  • provide great content!
  • bring traditional lessons to life.
  • show real-life examples of curriculum knowledge being put to use in incredible ways.
  • demonstrate the remarkable contributions youth have to make to the world!
TRY THIS:  Show a student TED Talk today and have your students think about the contributions they can make or hope to make in the world.  Looking for example videos?  Take a look TED under 20 or 9 Talks by Impressive Kids!

Below are a sampling of the youth TED talks you can find at and