Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Preserving Empty Spaces

It's the end of the school year.

You've made it through another marathon of changing curriculum, new tools and programs, unpredictable challenges, and an exhausting job. But unlike most marathon runners who expend their last drops of energy to get across the finish line to celebrate their accomplishment, you're being pressured to make decisions and plans for your next race.

Where will you teach next year? What's your schedule going to be like? Which students will you have?

This is a very difficult time for many educators. Our routines are coming to an end, and the promise of next year's assignments feel unclear. The shift from predictability to uncertainty is shocking. How can we prepare for the next year while still reflecting on this one? Stress begins to seep in as the finish line approaches and instead of elation we feel deflated.  Not a good way to start a summer vacation or break.

Typically, when faced with these decisions and uncertain plans we take out our iPads, computers, phones, and other devices to start filling in the blank white squares that make up our schedule. We count the few weeks off we've been looking forward to, start putting in important dates like the first day of school, PD sessions, team meetings, and before you know it - that day is here. We start our next marathon before we've finished the last one driving ourselves into a deeper state of exhaustion and disillusionment.  Where did the time go?

Technology, although a great tool for preparation and planning, might actually be a catalyst in this reaction.  Some psychologist actually see technology as one source in our perception of time speeding up (see "How Technology Speeds Up Time" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/06/technology-time-perception_n_4378010.html).

All hope is not lost - you can use your devices and computers to plan without rushing the time away. Using a little proactive planning and positive thinking you can take advantage of technology to help you slow down the "race", set time aside for yourself in the future, and learn how to stay calm in the present.

STEP 1: Think carefully about those little blank boxes on your Microsoft Outlook Calendar.  They may look like 30 minute increments and you may think you know how much you can teach in 30 minutes, but how much time will you need to rest in between?  What about travel or planning? When will you realistically start and end your day? Did you remember to block time for lunch? And what about all those emails, drop ins, and other requests from students and fellow staff members that you didn't plan for?

STEP 2: Use your calendar to make to-do lists.  Set up a recurring event every Friday for the last 30 minutes of your work day where you can collect a list of things you need to do so you're prepared for Monday.

As a teacher you know there's nothing worse than the SNBs (Sunday Night Blues).  You've had a great weekend and want to relax with friends and family, but instead you're looking over your plans for next week and thinking of all the things you need to do first thing Monday morning.  Fail!  Get it all done on Friday before you leave school.  Enjoy your weekend without worrying about work, and then return on Monday ready to go.  Use that to-do list to work efficiently and get it all done.

Step 3: Relax! And use your phone to do it.

Check out the app "buddhify2" for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.  Select your feelings and situation from a color wheel spectrum of emotions to hear a meditative guide walk you through how simple steps to relax, motivate, or even help you get to sleep.

If stress takes up a lot of your time, check out these other 10 Apps to help you relax - http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/10/02/10-apps-to-relax-your-body-and-mind/

Be mindful with your time. Preserve the empty spaces. Allow yourself the time to reflect, rejuvenate, and refresh. Even if you fill every second of every day with valuable teaching time, you're no good to your students burned out in the first few days of school.

And most importantly, enjoy the end of the school year.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Apps for Apes

iPads aren't just being used by people anymore!  Over 13 zoos across the nation have started using iPads with their Orangutans as part of the Orangutan Outreach program. Utah's Hogle Zoo is one of these participants!  The iPads are used to draw pictures, play music, listen to animal noises, and even Skype with other orangutans who have been transferred to another zoo as a method for easing separation anxiety.   The iPad itself is kept outside the cage as a safety precaution.  If you visit Hogle Zoo this summer, make sure you stop by the ape exhibit!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Summer... How to back-up your Canvas course!

"How do I export my Canvas course?"  "Do I need to export my Canvas course?" These questions have been asked a lot lately with the end of the school year coming.  The answer is simple, with technology it is always a good idea to back up your documents, pictures, etc.  While you may never need to use your backup, having it just incase provides peace of mind!  Exporting your Canvas course will allow you to share it with other teachers or, if the unthinkable happens and a server fails, you will have a backup of your course.  Below are the steps for exporting:

1. Navigate to your course in Canvas.
2. Click the Settings link in the left navigation menu.
3. Click the Export Course Content button.
4. Click the Course export type option. Click the Create Export button to begin the export.
NOTE: Exporting a course in Canvas may take a few minutes, depending on its size. You will receive an email when the export is complete.
5. Click on the Click here to download link to download the new export.

Note: The export will be in .imscc format. You can also change the extension from .imscc to .zip and treat it as any other zip file.  Files in .imscc format can ONLY be opened by Canvas or other online Learning Management Systems.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Teachers, What Will You Learn This Summer?

Well here it is, the year is winding down. That summer vacation for teachers is around the corner. You know that break the teachers get so that they enjoy all that money that they've made over the past year. Imagine it, the whole summer to yourself. Although, we know that's not what really happens. As a teacher you will spend your summer getting ready for the next school year, in fact you've probably been doing that for the past month. Sure, you'll take some time off relax but more than likely you'll spend a lot of your summer getting ready for your next class or classes of students. Many of you will take some sort of professional development. You will learn about new programs, new ways to teach, etc. Some of the PD you take maybe what you want some may be what you're expected to take, but let me talk about a way that you can get PD on what you want at any time.

I have used Twitter for my professional learning for about eight years now. Twitter allows me to ask questions of other teachers, share what I'm learning with other teachers, and make acquaintances all over the world in the field of education. You may say that's easy for you, you're a technology guy, but really twitter is a pretty easy tool. If I could get you to learn one thing this summer it would be how to use Twitter to get timely information that you can use.

There are a lot of using Twitter guides out there, so I am not going to create my own. I will however in this post share some of the better guides that I think are out there. One of the most important things you can learn about Twitter is the use of the hashtag. The hashtag is a way to keep similar information together on Twitter. For example, if you follow or you search for the hashtag #edchat, all through the week you will find teachers and others from around the country and around the world talking about educational matters.

We even have a local edchat using the hashtag #utedchat. This chat primarily takes place on Wednesday evening between 9 and 10 PM, although you can post items using that hashtag at anytime. So feel free to join with other educators across the state on Wednesdays and about what is going on in other areas of the state.

Now here are those Twitter guides I promised.

KQED Guide to Using Twitter in Your Teaching Practice

Twitter for Educators, A Beginner's Guide  This is a PDF that will download and you can read it offline.

The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education

Have a great summer, and I look forward to seeing you next school year.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Who Needs a Document Camera? Breaking the Tether!

Not too long ago, there were overhead projectors.  There was a natural consequence for lecturing too long with the overhead.  This was for me, temporary blindness from staring at an incredibly bright lamp for longer than I should.  I remember how important it was to be taught to never look directly at a solar eclipse, why in my teacher preparation courses did they not cover overhead projector induced blindness?

As technology moved forward, the document camera emerged.  These have become a classroom staple for many teacher, especially in our district.
However, as technology changes (often improves) so rapidly, there came about in my view, a better way.

When I was given an iPad to use for teaching a few years ago, I learned how to wirelessly project.  This enabled me to do with the iPad what I used to do with the document camera.  Instead of writing on a paper, however, I was annotating a PDF.  When I used my iPad to project my PDF annotation, I was not tethered to a document camera and could elicit the participation of my students in a real and organic way.  Moving around the room, maintaining proximity to my students allowed for authentic teaching and discussion.  Writing on a tablet is still kind of novel and cool, so the kids would behave as instructed to earn the privilege.  The cost of this configuration is often much less than that of a document camera!

The implications of this are expanding.  When attempting to apply the flipped or blended classroom models, the annotated PDF can be published or have the process recorded as a video to be posted on a website or LMS, like Canvas!  Many textbooks have their resources available online as blacklines that can be uploaded to a PDF annotation app through Dropbox or Google Drive.  Buildings in our district are all equipped with copy machines that will scan papers into a PDF format using email or a flash drive.  If you don't know how to use this function on your copy machine, call your Ed Tech right away!  

The easiest way to get the PDF file to these apps is to upload it to a cloud service- Google Drive is a great one!  This is how I transfer files from my computer to my iPad.  Here are a list of PDF annotation apps that I have used in the classroom and for my own productivity. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Why I Choose Pages

You're going to write a blog post about Pages? It's just a word processor, right? How boring!

Not so! Pages is one of my most frequently used computer applications. It's more than just word processing... it's beautifully-designed reports, newsletters, résumés, cards, posters, and more. It's easy-to-use graphic design and publishing capability.

Pages is, "...simple to use, easy to learn and has sharing features that should finally put an end to [your] complaints about friends who are unable to open the documents [you] send them... [Apple] has rethought its approach to the most boring of computer applications — the word processor — with some impressive results. It particularly shines in three areas: appearance, compatibility and sharing." (Shear)

Some features that make Pages my word processing software of choice are:
  • The Pages template chooser offers great designs that are easy to tailor to your own tastes and needs.
  • Menus and options are visual and easy to access using the formatting window (formerly the inspector).

Pages has, "...a contextual panel that slides out from the right. Editing text? Out pops the buttons for bold, font size and justification. Inserting a table? The panel switches to let you modify the rows and columns. Add a picture and you automatically get options for borders and shadows." (Shear)
  • Multimedia is readily available, tied to iPhoto and iTunes.
  • Automatic centering guidelines make arranging the components of projects easy.
  • Sharing and exporting options allow sharing of documents in various file formats so that you can share projects with people who use other word processing programs.
  • iCloud sharing options make your files easily accessible on various computer operating systems as well as iOS devices.
"The new version of Pages introduces an all-new sharing option, powered by the company’s iCloud service, that works remarkably well. Type in a person’s email address, click send, and that person receives a link to your document. When the link is clicked, the document opens in a web browser that looks like a fully functioning Pages application.... The recipient doesn’t have to have Pages installed or have an iCloud account. It even makes Mac-PC sharing easy. The new version runs just fine in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari on a Windows PC." (Shear)

In case the templates and tools that come with Pages aren't enough, there are many online tools and apps available to enhance Pages even more:

  • The Toolbox for Pages app is available in the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store for free. Toolbox provides extra templates and graphics, some paid and some free, for creating even more Pages projects.
  • Templates Box for Pages is also available on the Mac App Store. It is a bit pricey, but also provides new templates for use in Pages, including Calendar templates.
  • There are a limited amount of free template downloads available from StockLayouts as well as paid membership options. I have found these a little more difficult to use, but it's still nice to have some freebees available.
  • iWork Community is an online community built for sharing free templates created by Mac users who love Pages.
  • And for those of you who can't live without them, here is the link to a template for Avery Labels with Address Book Merge!

For those of you who are less familiar with how to use Pages, following are several resources for learning more about the application:

Not only is Pages great for all the teacher projects you need to complete, it is also great for student projects. Check out these great examples:

  • Posters 

  • Brochures

  • Reading Responses, Notes, Storyboards

  • Reports

  • Newsletters

  • Memory Books

Pages isn't so boring after all, is it? There are many amazing things you can do in Pages, from word processing, to project creation. If you haven't ever given it a try, maybe it's time you do!

Shear, Michael D.. "Apple’s Pages, Going the Distance With Word." The New York Times 27 Nov. 2013, U.S. ed., sec. State of the Art: 1-2. Web.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

An Interactive Way to Learn History

Mission US is a multimedia project designed in a way where students can experience three different eras in U.S history in a fun and interactive way. The students’ experiences may differ slightly based on the choices they make and their behavior as the character they take on in the different missions.  There are currently three different missions available:

  • Mission1: For Crown or Glory is a mission where students take on the role of Nat Wheeler, a printer’s apprentice, in Boston 1770. Through different activities, students will experience the events leading up to the American Revolution. Students will encounter both Patriots and Loyalists, and after the Boston Massacre they will have to choose where their loyalties lie.
  • Mission2: Flight to Freedom is a mission about slavery and the Underground Railroad.  Students take on the role of Lucy, a 14-year-old slave in Kentucky. Students will navigate her escape and travel to Ohio. They will discover that life in the “free” North isn’t safe and easy.
  •  Mission 3: A Cheyenne Odyssey is a mission that teaches students about westward expansion and how it affected Native American tribes.  Students take on the role of Little Fox, a northern Cheyenne boy.  They help Little Fox and the rest of the tribe survive as white settlers, railroads, and U.S. military expeditions start to threaten their survival. 

Mission US provides many helpful educator guides to make each mission a successful learning experience for the students. The different guides contain:
  • In-depth information about how to play the games
  • Classroom implementation
  • Essential questions and goals
  • Alignment with learning standards
  • Information about characters, situations, events and historical period presented in the game
  • Classroom activities to use with students before, during and after the missions
  • Additional information to enhance and extend students’ learning about the time periods 
To get started with Mission US, you and your students need to register and create an account.  Creating an account allows students to save their progress.  They will be able to stop a mission at any point and be able to pick up where they left off the next time the log in.


Storybird is a fantastic creative writing tool for students of any age.  Storybird is web based and allows teachers to create a classroom account and then generate student accounts.  Once students have an account Storybird gives them access to thousands of illustrations and page layouts to help guide their writing.  Students select a collection of pictures and choose the images they want to include in their book.  Then students can begin writing!  They type the text for their story directly on the page with the illustrations they selected.  Storybird also allows students to work collaboratively on stories!  Once a story is complete students can publish their story and it will appear in the public Storybird bookshelf, or they can keep their story private so only their teacher may view it.  Storybird is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and a fun way to complete a writing project!

These tutorials walk you through setting up your account and student accounts, as well as giving ideas of how to use Storybird in your classroom.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


As I begin to wrap up the school year with my teachers, I want to think of fun ways to 'assess' what they have learned new in technology this year.  I recreated an idea I saw on Twitter for a BINGO Game to assess students and thought, 'That would be a fun way to assess my teachers!'  I started by creating a BINGO card for things that I feel my teachers should know how to do on their iPad.  I plan to create BINGO cards for other trainings I do throughout the year in the future.  I think it is a fun and easy way for teachers to keep track of what they learn as well.  Below is a picture of the IPAD BINGO card I created.  If you find this idea fun, please add your BINGO card ideas! Enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Google Search Images for Classroom Use

How many times have you, as a teacher, needed a picture?  You go onto Google, search for an image, and copy and paste it to your project without looking at the copyright information. Whether we admit it or not, we have all done it at one point or another.  Google has made it simple for us to ensure that we are following Fair Use Guidelines.  By taking a few extra seconds, we can filter the pictures, allowing us to see only pictures that are labeled for "reuse".

Follow these simple steps:
  1. Go to google.com 
  2. Type in the subject you want to search and click the search button
  3. Click on Images
  4. Click on the Search Tools Button
    • A new toolbar will show up
  5. Click on Usage rights
  6. Choose on the Usage rights option that meets your goal.  
Happy Searching!

Friday, May 9, 2014

End of Year Housekeeping Ideas for Teachers

When I was in the classroom, I used to struggle with what to keep and what to throw away every year at the end of the school year. I would stand in my classroom, and think, "Do I need to keep this?"  The same is true with technology files. "What should I keep year after year? What will I use again? What should I save? Is everything worth saving? Is it safer just to save it?" I still struggle with this. I have asked several colleagues what they recommend. I have also asked people who are considered "organizers" by trade. You know...those people you hire to come into your house and organize all of your closets.

Basically, both groups suggest the same thing. If you haven't used it in the past year, chances are you won't need it next year. THROW IT AWAY. :)

It will make you feel so much better. No more clutter in your inbox. No more junk in your documents folder.

Now, let's get organized for NEXT YEAR!

First, go ahead and make those monthly folders for next year. I know, they are going to be empty right now. But if you make the folders, you will be a lot more likely to use them. :)

Second, Color code the folders. You already do that with your bulletin board boxes, right? So, why don't you do that with your documents folders? It will be much more easy for you to access them later.

Finally, and probably most importantly, put the items in the correct places when you create them. Then, when you need to find them next year, it will be so much easier for you.

I hope this is helpful. I am going to give it a try myself.

Assessments in Skyward!

Since Canyons School District opened in 2009, Skyward has been used as the gradebook for parents, students, and teachers.  Yet, many teachers do not know that within Skyward, teachers can assess student learning.   Skyward calls this testing option, Online Assignment. 

Question types include: multiple choice, true/false, matching, short answer, and essay.  If the Online Assignment only has multiple choice, T/F, and/or matching, Skyward will automatically grade the student’s assignment and enter the score into the gradebook.  Teachers are able to get data reports by student or by questions.  Other useful features include adding images to questions/possible answers and the ability to share or use assessments created by other teachers throughout the district. 

A key to success for online assignments is that each student must know their Skyward login, which is different from their AD/OD credentials.  Secretaries are able to lookup student Skyward usernames and passwords. 

For step-by-step instructions creating online assignments click here.  To view other Skyward Resources please click here!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Get Caught… Reading!

As it turns out, May is "Get Caught Reading" month, so today I encourage you to take a break from testing and remember to enjoy a good book! This nation-wide event started in 1999 as a way to remind and encourage people of all ages to read and is sponsored by many companies and celebrities throughout the country.

Online you can find a variety of teacher resources to support students in "getting caught" this month, but one of my favorites is a site called Teen Reads that not only has contests, chat boards and a newsletter, but is also features some really fantastic book reviews for many Young Adult novels written in the past 10 years. This site as well as Read Write Think has great resources to try adding a bit of reading for fun into your classroom, so get out there and be caught… reading!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Time to Clean Your Laptop!

If your laptop has smudges and stains it is time to give it a good cleaning! This post is going to walk you thorough the steps of how to properly clean your laptop.

What you will need-
Soft, lint-free cloth, or microfiber cloth
Dish Detergent- Dawn works just fine
A can of compressed air
Rubbing Alcohol

Never use Paper towel or Windex
Never apply anything directly to your screen, spray into cloth first

Before you begin power down the device, and unplug any cords that are connected.

Clean your screen-
If the screen of your laptop has smudges or stains they can easily be wiped off with a clean, dry lint-free or microfiber cloth. This method can be used to clean any screen (laptop or iOS device).

Clean the lid and bottom of laptop-
First, pour a couple of drops of dish soap into a bowl or cup and dilute it with warm water
Next, dip a cloth in mixture, wring out, and wipe down the surface of your laptop
Now, rinse out the cloth with clean, warm water and wipe down lid and bottom again
To avoid water streaks, wipe down lid and bottom a third time with a dry cloth
This method can be used to clean laptop cases and display, monitor screen and HDTVs

To clean the keyboard-
Take the can of compressed air and spray away crumbs from the keyboard
If laptop has vents, spray out dust from the vents as well

If the keyboard keys are dirty, dab your lint free cloth with rubbing alcohol, and wipe your keys. 
This is a better method than using soap and water because the rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, and we want to avoid liquid getting under the keys. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere allows an educator (or anyone for that matter) to create a poll where the audience can participate in real time.  When creating a poll, you type the question you want to ask in the poll creator, choose what kind of poll you want to create, and then click on create.  The types of polls that can be created are true/false, multiple choice, free response, "clickable" images, discourse and you also have the option to generate a "creative" poll. Any device a teacher or student can text from is how answers are submitted.  Using a web browser is also another option to submit answers if "texting" is not available. Poll results can be displayed from any web browser, presented as part of a powerpoint or keynote presentation, or embedded into a webpage.  Results can also be published from Facebook and Twitter.  

There is a Basic K-12 account that is free.  Some of the features include 40 student responses per poll that is created, the poll can be embedded into a powerpoint, and unlimited number of classes can participate.  There is a $50.00 yearly premium account that is an option if Poll Everywhere is used  daily in the classroom.  There is an institution wide plan for $500.00.  Here is a look at the different K-12 plans.

Give Poll Everywhere a try with your classroom today.  Your students will be engaged in your question and curious about the responses to your poll.

Facebook:  Poll Everywhere
Pinterest:  Poll Everywhere
Twitter: @polleverywhere

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Forget about clickers, make your own Plickers

A classroom set of clickers, aka Student Response System can cost anywhere from $1000 to $3500 depending on the brand you choose, yet most of the teachers I have worked with use their clickers for quick multiple choice and true/false assessments.

My first set of 40 Plickers. Printed on white card stock and laminated.
I recently discovered a new iOS app and website (and Android app) called Plickers, short for Paper Clickers, that allows teachers to create and collect data from multiple choice assessments for little to no cost (provided they have a smart phone, iPod, or tablet.) Here's the basic idea: each student in class gets a paper card with a unique matrix design similar to a QR Code. When asked a question, students hold up their card with the correct answer positioned at the top of the card. The teacher scans the room with a smart phone or tablet (iOS or Android) and answers are recorded.

This is what it looks like in action:

As you can see, as I scanned the classroom, each student's name appeared on my screen to confirm that their card had been read and their response recorded. When that process is complete, I then get aggregate scores from the class displayed as graphs as well as individual scores for each student. Here's what the data looks like in the app and on the website:

This video shows what the results look like in the app. Scrolling through students, I can quickly see who answered correctly, who answered incorrectly, and who didn't answer the question.

Aggregate and Individual Scores via the Plickers website.
It's a pretty simple process to set up. The steps I followed are all listed below. The only trick is to remember that you need to visit the website to set up your classes and then you have to use the app to set up your questions. The other thing to remember is that when you create your quiz, you can't enter the responses for A, B, C, and D. So, I built my quiz as a PowerPoint presentation listing one question and possible responses on each slide. This way students could easily see the options for their responses.

When I was teaching with Plickers and sharing how to use them, I wrote these steps for setting it all up on the board.
One additional note, I added an answer key to the back of each card. I thought this would help students identify their answer while holding their card up for the teacher to scan. I made the letters for the back of the card in a thin font and used a light gray color so that the answers wouldn't be readily seen by a student's neighbors.

Here are all of the files that I used and created to make a set of Plickers and to get started.
Additional ideas:
  • If you use small whiteboards in your classroom for student response, Plickers could easily attached to the back of those whiteboards and used for quick response questions. 
  • Because the cards are so easy to make, you could make one set of each class and students could keep them in their binder or notebook for your class. 
  • If they get lost or damaged, it is very easy to print new Plicker cards. 
  • The biggest limitation is that you can't currently track and export data for a class or track student progress directly in the app. But the website says, "Online tracking/reporting tools coming soon," so hopefully that functionality is added soon. 
So, now that you can make your own set of clickers for next to nothing, how will you use them?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Lesson from Disney

How do you feel when you are at Disneyland? How do the memories make you feel? I have only been to Disneyland once, on a trip with a friend and his family at the age of 14. I was looking for rides that gave a thrill and rush! I found rides that made me feel good and want to be a kid again, where my imagination reined supreme.

I have been an educator for 20 years, and it is a very service oriented occupation. As a teacher, I served the students and their parents. As an Educational Technology Specialist, I serve teacher, administrators, and support staff. We have a great opportunity to make a difference in peoples' lives. And at this time of year, with field trips, end of level testing, dress code violation, senioritis, and the list goes on, how do we handle those tense situations with parent, teachers, and students? I think a lesson from Disney can help. A friend of mine, that used to work for Disney, shared the acronym below, along the explanation. I think it is good advice and I am striving to implement it into my interactions at this stressful time of year.

L.A.S.T. = Listen, Apologize, Solve and Thank

Listen – Let the customer share what happened. Let them vent if need be. Let them get it out. Don't rush to answer. Maintain good eye contact and open body language. Ask open-ended questions. Capture the critical details. Consider how the guest's emotions are influencing their words. Make certain that the customer feels completely heard before you start offering solutions.
Apologize – Express sincere disappointment for the situation not meeting their expectations (no excuses, no blame) and that you are committed to making it right.
Solve – Find the right solution and provide it immediately. This is where the grid makes the most sense. If it's a case of offering Empathy, do so. If the matter needs to be fixed—Fix It! Most importantly, roll the Red Carpet out if you're at all to blame, or be a Hero when you aren't.
Thank – Often, the best gifts we receive from customers are the complaints they register. Feedback is the breakfast of service champions. While it isn't our nature to appreciate negative comments, those complaints can act as a road map to tell us if we're on track to providing the quality of service we want to offer. Being genuine and authentic is critical. 

The Grid of Service Recovery

You can be the hero for your teachers, parents and students by rolling out the red carpet, make them feel special and that your focus is on them. You have been in the classroom, empathize with them, help them discover the answer, and the tension will be gone, the pressure will release, and whatever caused it will be much easy to fix and the right solution found. Be a change agent for your school!


Animoto is an online program that allows you to create videos using photos and video clips.  It’s fast and very easy to use.  Creating an Animoto account is free.  With the free account you are limited to creating 30 second videos.  However, educators can apply to upgrade their subscription to the Plus package for free.  With the Plus account you can create videos up to 10 minutes in length, choose from 51 templates, and have access to more than 300 music tracks.  

To create an Animoto:
  1. Choose a style
  2. Add pictures and/or video
  3. Add text
  4. Adjust the order of pictures, videos and text by clicking and dragging
  5. Preview and save your Animoto
  6. Share the final product.


EduClipper is a great place to search, find, collect, and share educational content.  Educators and students can search for websites, documents, images, and videos from anything to teach and implement in the curriculum to wanting to find ideas about how to use technology in the classroom.  Teachers and students can create an account in EduClipper or they can sign in from social networks.  The really cool thing about EduClipper is that students can showcase what they are creating and share with other students.   It is really a great OER (open educational resource) that is worth keeping at your fingertips.  

Here is an example I found on EduClipper called Data Never Sleeps 2.0 (courtesy of Domo).

Stay connected with EduClipper:
Facebook:  EduClipper
Twitter:  @eduClipper

Tell Me a Story....Digitally?

Digital storytelling is when computer and web based tools are used to create and tell a story.  These stories focus on a specific topic, contains a particular point of view, and a mixture of digital images, text, audio, video, and/or music.  Topics for digital stories can range from personal takes to recounting historical events.

Many teachers like the idea of having students create digital stories, but have the same concern.  Time.  When do you fit it all in?  The beauty of digital storytelling is that it can be integrated into any topic/subject that is being taught in the classroom.  It can be a way to integrate writing into a social studies or science lesson.  Students can share what they have learned by creating a story about the content.  Using the writing process and research skills students can write digital stories and bring them to life with technology.

There is so much technology that can be used to create digital stories.  Programs such as iMovie, Microsoft Photo Story 3, Windows Movie Maker and Garageband are great computer based programs to use. You can also use programs like Wordle, PowerPoint and Keynote to create digital stories. There are also many iOS/Android apps that can be used to create digital stories.  One of my favorites is Haiku Deck.  Other apps such as Puppet Pals, ExplainEverything, Creative Book Builder, Little Bird Tales and Videolicious are great options too.

There are 7 elements that are the building blocks of digital storytelling.
  1. Point of View - The storyteller must decide what the main point of the story will be. What is their perspective as the author? 
  2. Emotional ContentThis is a chance for issues to come alive in a personal and powerful way that connects the story to the audience. 
  3. Gift of VoiceThis element helps personalize the story to help the audience understand the context of the story.
  4. EconomyThe storyteller should use just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer.  
  5. Pacing -This is the rhythm of the story, and how slowly or quickly it progresses.
  6. Dramatic Question - This is a key question that keeps the viewer’s attention and will be answered by the end of the story.
  7. Power of Soundtrack - The music or other sounds used in the story should support and embellish the storyline.

Here is an example of a digital story that was created with Haiku Deck.  The students had to tell a story in six words.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Here is a digital story created in iMovie and told from the point of view of a 3 year old named Max.