Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What I Learned at #ISTE17 Day 2

My brain is starting to stay in a state of fog! There is so much learning here at ISTE. I've heard there are around 15,000 people in attendance. The sessions are full of information, but the conversations are also rich with learning. I mentioned yesterday that relationships were important to my learning and they are making a repeat appearance in today's top 5.

Here are the top 5 things I learned:

Relationships Part 2

1.  Today's relationships that grew my practice came in the form of the "Playground" that focused on Ed Tech Coaching. I have enjoyed the playground feature of the conference. Each day has a different theme with tables for small group learning and conversations. Most of today's playground sessions focused on Instructional coaching. Here is a link to the schedule with many presentations linked. There were some books that were suggested to read that I am going to explore further:
  • The Global Education Guidebook: Humanizing K-12 Classrooms Worldwide Through Equitable Partnerships
  • The Global Educator
  • Cognitive Coaching: Developing Self-Directed Leaders and Learners
  • Made to Stick
  • Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling For Less
  • Learning First, Technology Second: The Educators Guide to Designing Authentic Lessons
2.  Yesterday, I mentioned Flipgrid (and I still need 10 people to respond to a post with a quick video reflection on something they have learned this summer at ). Tonight, while enjoying the evening at the rooftop pool, Erin shared with me an innovative way to use Flipgrid. The teacher created a Flipgrid and sent the link to parents and asked for them to respond with a video on their experience with the upcoming content.  During the classroom learning, the teacher played video clips of the parents' responses. What a fun way to bring relevance to the learning and connect the parent to the classroom!

3. While in the pool, Kerissa shared a hidden gem within Chrome!  On the iPad or other mobile devices with the Chrome app installed, pull down to reveal the Spotlight search and search for "QR".

Select "Scan QR Code" and you can scan directly within your browser!  No need for Chrome extensions or QR reading apps!

Thank you, Kerissa, for sharing your learning and your willingness to pose for my picture! I'm sure there was so much more learning gleaned from relationships, but I am going to move on to learning from my sessions!

4.  I went to a great session on giving feedback within Google Apps led by Eric Curts (one of my favorite bloggers!). Eric suggested giving video feedback by creating a Screencastify as you review the document and then putting a link to the video in a comment on the document. Your students hear your voice and see exactly what you are referencing on their paper!  Susan wrote a post on Screencastify earlier this year that you can read here. You can access Eric's full presentation on his website!  If you don't read closely, you might miss this gem for ELA teachers with pre-canned comments with links to learning resources for the student!

5. Google Forms

I was invited to attend a roundtable meeting with our Texas Google Edu representative. In this meeting, we gave feedback on GSuite Apps and heard about updates that were forecasted to come soon. In the midst of all the ISTE learning, I missed the announcement of the updates to Google Forms and the ability to batch grade questions in quizzes.  Here is a tweet from Google with an animated GIF to show the steps.  Ricard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers also wrote a post to share a little more about this new feature!

Bonus: Take a moment to explore a new resource announced by Google yesterday!

There are so many other things that I learned today that will have to be a later post. I'll leave you today with a couple of quotes from Alice Keeler to ponder!

Signing off to get ready for another day of learning tomorrow!

Cross-posted on Suzanne's personal blog at

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What I Learned at #ISTE17 Day 1

When you go to a conference, the amount of learning can often be overwhelming. I also have a tendency to push myself to gain new knowledge at every opportunity that I fail to allow time to process that learning and to master it. Thanks to a colleague, I decided that I wanted to learn 5 things each day and anything beyond that was a bonus. I also wanted to make sure that I learned at least one thing from a Playground or Poster session or a vendor in the Expo.

Here are 5 things I learned today:

1. Padlet's shelf feature

I like Padlet as a tool for collaboration and sharing of ideas in the classroom. However, it can become quite disorganized as students add thoughts. In the past, I have created background images in Google Slides to provide columns for students to sort their notes on the canvas. Now, with the addition of the shelf feature, there is no need. You can create the topics/questions for each column and participants respond in the correct column. You can read more about it at this blog post by Padlet.  When Padlet released the Shelf stream, they added some other new features as well. You can read more about them here.

2. Twitter Searches

I regularly go to Twitter to search for a certain hashtag. What I didn't know is that I could drill that search down even further. I'm currently at ISTE.  I can search Twitter for #ISTE17 but that feed is long and full of great information. If I want to see what is being said at ISTE about the Apple app Clips, I can search #ISTE17 Clips.  Pick something you want to know more about and go search the #ISTE17 hashtag. You may find some great resources!

3.  Speaking of Clips, it is my new favorite app! There is so much this app can do and I am just beginning to scratch the surface. The Verge says Apple’s Clips App Is iMovie for the Next Generation.  Here are my notes on the app from a session I attended today:

Clips app

  • allows you to create multiple clips on the go
  • Live Titles allow you to speak text and it will add it as text on the video
  • You can pause for humor/drama
  • You can tap on text to get a text editor to make changes.
  • Can add music from your iTunes or from Soundtracks that apple has built in that are completely legal to use. Apple paid musicians to write the songs. Songs change length based on length of the video! 25 sec video they make a 25-second version of the song!
  • Videos will be square to fit the screen without turning to landscape mode.
  • You can tap library to pull from what you already have on the device. Hold to add the photo.
  • Trash to delete. Or pick up clip and flick away
  • Pinch in to zoom and then as recording, drag out to give animation like Ken Burns effect.
  • Zoom way in on satellite picture to make it seem like a drone film
  • Ease in and out feature makes it smooth.
  • Trim to make it where the entire time it is in motion.
  • Tap anywhere on the video you brought in to preview.
  • Scrubber bar is along bottom
  • You can position video before or while recording. So you are moving the camera in post production.
  • Keep things moving in clips videos. Don't make your scenes too long.
  • Can use panorama clips. You can pan from one side to another and it becomes animated video.
4. Plotagon Education

I enjoy creating animated videos and I really enjoy a good Bitmoji! Plotagon Education brings these two worlds together! (Note, there is also a Plotagon app but you will want the education version. If you sign up soon, teachers can get a 1-year subscription for free!)  Here is my first Plotagon that I created! (To all those who feel they have lived this scene with me before, I'm sorry. Special shout out to @ErinGerdes for the voice over!)

I've read a few additional blogs tonight on uses for Plotagon. Here are some of my favorite so far:

I'm thinking it could be a great teacher-created "hook" for your next HyperDoc!

5. Relationships are important. Whether talking to a vendor, friends, or strangers, I seemed to learn something from them all. I seriously walked up to the Plotagon booth and said: "Tell me why I would want to learn about your product and how to use it". I had a great time visiting with Joe from Plotagon.

I had lunch with two of my teammates and we were able to discuss our learning through the lens of GCISD. Then tonight, the three of us joined the ISTE Ed Tech coaches for a meetup dinner. Listening to others in the role speak of what they are doing in their schools gave me food for thought and reminded me that GCISD is the BEST and I am grateful to work and learn alongside so many wonderful educators!

Bonus: Flipgrid isn't new conference learning for me, but I do love the app for a way to capture student/teacher voice.  Today I learned that Flipgrid now offers Flipgrid Certified Educators. In order to apply, one component is to provide evidence that I have had 10 respondents to a Flipgrid post. Would you be willing to go to and leave a quick video reflection on something you have learned this summer (if posting from a mobile device, you will need the app to respond)?  By doing this, you will help me grow my practice!

Well, it is 12:30 AM and learning starts all over bright and early in the morning!  Signing off from #ISTE17
Cross-posted on my personal blog

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mindfulness Apps

On a recent GCISD Professional Learning Day, I had the opportunity to attend a session on Mindfulness presented by CHHS Counselor, Erin Booher. We began by participating in a mindful meditation exercise that could be used to calm a class before diving into the objectives for the day. During the presentation, Erin shared a list of mindfulness apps for both Android & iOS. Since GCISD students primarily have iOS, Mac, and Windows devices, here are a few recommendations that are accessible to our students:

Settle Your Glitter by the Momentous Institute allows children to name their feeling (mad, sad, silly, or worried), how strong their feelings are, then shake the device to start the glitter moving. Students will then focus on their breathing while the virtual glitter settles on the screen. At the end, they get to choose whether or not they or ready to settle or repeat the exercise.

Calm is an iOS app or can be accessed via browser by going to If you're a K-12 educator, fill out the form on the Calm website at to get free access to Calm's paid subscription service. 

A 4th-grade student actually told me about the Aquarium Live Free app. He said, "you just watch a bunch of fish swim around and it's really calming."

As we wrap up the school year and head into summer, give one of these apps a try and let us know how it works!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Padlet is a beneficial tool for students and teachers to use in a variety of ways. Padlet is both an app and site which teachers and students can use to display ideas, images, video, and more with a collaborative platform. Previously Padlet has been a topic of posts on our blog which you can refer to here: original post and the Padlet app post.  For directions on how to use Padlet, see this Padlet.

Padlet displays in real-time, which is both exciting and frustrating at times. Recently, Padlet began providing a new feature to prevent the displays from adjusting until you decide, which is called Focus Mode. The following will pop-up and you select REFRESH and the boxes will move around from other contributors.

Often times, Padlet is used to brainstorm or collaborate individually, in a small group, or a whole group. Collaboration can connect students with others beyond the classroom walls. In addition, Padlet can be used to create a Flowchart by connecting the boxes with arrows. There is an option to label the arrows to define the flow of the information.

For the above post in Flowchart format via Padlet, please view here.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Force a Copy for GSuite

Google Classroom has made it easy for students to have their own copy of a teacher's Google Doc. However, you can also force anyone to make a copy of a Google doc by navigating to the URL and changing "edit" at the end of the URL to "copy" and then sharing that link.
In order for the person receiving your link to make a copy without needing your permission, make sure that your share settings are set that anyone in GCISD with the link can view your original document if you are only sharing within the district, or anyone with the link can view if you are sharing outside of the GCISD domain. 

Another use of forcing a copy is with surveys or quizzes. Many teachers are using Forms to collect survey data for student voice, quizzes, and more. If a teacher then shares his/her survey with another teacher, all of the results will populate in the same Google Sheet. Here comes force a copy to the rescue! In Forms, click the three buttons to the right of the "Send" button and select "Add Collaborators"
Change the share settings to anyone with the link can edit and select "Done"

Do not copy the share URL on this page!  

After selecting "Done", navigate to the URL bar at the top of the page and change "edit" to "copy" and then copy this new URL to share. The recipient of the URL will be forced to make their own copy of the form and they will be the owner of the data that is gathered using the form.

That just made sharing our Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms easier!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Chrome Profiles and YouTube Checker for Student Viewing Rights

Within the district, teachers are able to view YouTube videos that are restricted for student access. However, in the past, it has been difficult to determine if the video would be open or restricted for the student.  Thanks to GCISD Technology Services, a new Google profile has been created for the sole purpose of providing teachers a way to check student access to videos and then submit a request to have a video unblocked if students do not have access.  The profile email address is (please see your campus liaison or an instructional coach for the password to this account). 

Between a work Google account, YouTube checker Google account, and personal Google accounts, it can be tricky to determine which account you are logged into if you have not set up Chrome profiles. You can create multiple Chrome profiles and easily switch between accounts without having to sign out of either account!  Below is a screencast on creating multiple profiles (

If you prefer to see a step-by-step guide, here are instructions on how to set up a second Chrome profile for the GCISD YouTube Checker account but could also be used for creating profiles for any other email account. If you would prefer a larger copy to save or view, you can access a PDF of instructions here.

If a video cannot play when logged into the YouTube checker account, you can submit a work order to have the video approved at

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


While searching for engaging ways to integrate technology with her students, Tara Martin (@TaraMartinEDU) created #BookSnaps. Tara's idea was to use a platform her students were already familiar with to share about stories they were reading. Now, #BookSnaps have developed into so much more!

BookSnaps are fun for learners of all ages and can be used with a variety of apps. Our team recommends the following apps:

*iPad apps: Draw and Tell HD, PicCollageKids, Doceri, Shadow Puppet, ChatterPixKids, Seesaw

*Chromebooks/Laptops: Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Draw

For more information on How To create a #BookSnap, view Tara's blog post here.

Students can use #BookSnaps to identify words, make connections, describe vocabulary terms, locate topics in Grammar, identify and describe story elements, share their thinking with connections from the text, and more!

Students use #BookSnaps to
 identify vocabulary words.

Students use #BookSnaps
 identify topics in Grammar.

Students use #BookSnaps to
identify and explain story elements.

Students use #BookSnaps to tell the main idea
plus connect to other content area skills.
Students use #BookSnaps to
 identify connections to the story.

Students use #BookSnaps
 to define vocabulary.
Students use #BookSnaps
to define vocabulary.

Students can share important information or describe their work using #BookSnaps. These can provide a snapshot into the minds and hearts of our students. #BookSnaps can be used for Student Voice.
Students use #BookSnaps for Student Voice.

Provide clear expectations for #BookSnaps in your classroom. Invite students to create guidelines and rubrics for effective use of #BookSnaps in the classroom.
Provide clear expectations for #BookSnaps.
Provide opportunities for students use
their creativity when making #BookSnaps.
#BookSnaps have cousins, such as #SpanishSnaps, #MathSnaps, #LabSnaps, and such.
Students can practice language
acquisition with #SpanishSnaps.
Students can identify vocabulary
or explain their learning with #MathSnaps.

Teachers can collect #BookSnaps on a class Padlet for students to view and comment:
Create a Padlet or table in Google Docs
 to hold a collection of #BookSnaps for students.
Teachers can collect #BookSnaps on a class Google Slides and students can compare and discover a variety of thoughts and opinions from their peers:
To use Google Slides for each student to insert their #BookSnaps, make a copy of this:

To use Google Slides for the class to add a Book Snap on each slide, make a copy of this:

To use Google Slides for the class to add a Math Snaps on each slide, make a copy of this:

How can your students use #BookSnaps or other snaps to share their learning?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark ( is a web app that allows students to Create a Video,  Page, or Post.  You (teacher) can login using your Google Account.  If your students are under the age of 13, the teacher will need to create one account for all students to use.  More information can be found in the Adobe Spark Edu. Guide.   Check out Claudio Zavala Jr's list of ideas for using Adobe Spark!  Thanks Kerissa Bearce for sharing!

  • To begin, select the Plus Sign. (Or select the 3 Horizontal lines on the left side of the screen. )
  • Select Create a Video, Page or Post.

  • If students are not sure where to begin, they can select a Category located at the bottom of the page.

  • For this Blog Post, I selected Create a Video.
  • I selected the Tell What Happened template or you can Start from Scratch!
  • Adobe will give some quick tips to help students get started. (1 min. video)
  • Students will now see the layout with options for creating their Video.  
  • They can add Video, Photos, Text, and create recordings. Themes, Music, and Layouts can also be decided. 
  • When ready to Share, click the Share icon at the top of the page.

  • Students can change their Title, add a Subtitle, and turn off the Author's name so it will be hidden. 
  • More options allow students to add credits to any photos they used (their personal photos and those they used from the internet).
  • Adobe Spark Branding can only be turned off with a paid account.
  • Get Noticed will allow students project to be found in a search engine and maybe shown on the Adobe Spark website. (I would recommend students select Off to keep their project unlisted.)
  • Students can also Download their video by selecting Download underneath the image. (It saves as an mp4 file.)
  • Select Create Unlisted Link. 
  • It may take a few minutes for the video to render and your link to appear.

  • Now you can copy the link and turn in through Google Classroom (if this was an assignment). 
  • Or you can select Embed, copy the code and add to your ePortfolio!

  • Students can also make changes to their video. When Share is selected, they will be able to update their link.

Note: When students select Create a Video, they will have to upload from their hard drive (Chromebook users can insert video files from Google Drive. iPad users can upload from Camera Roll).  
Adobe Spark recommends using video files with the extension: .mov, .mp4 or m4v.  
If the video is on their Google Drive, they can download to their computer then upload to Adobe Spark.  I know this seems like too many steps.  I sent feedback to AS asking them to allow adding video from Google Drive.  
But for now, you can upload (video, photos) when creating a video, search Find Photos (creative commons) or Google Photos to add to your creation. Students should always cite their sources!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Stop-Motion Animation

There are so many fantastic ways to incorporate technology into instruction that, sometimes, there are highly useful resources that we might have overlooked. One of these technological gems is stop-motion animation.  If you haven't yet used this tool, you owe it to yourself and your students to try it out. Stop-motion animation apps have been available for over five years. And the use of animation is easier than ever. Many apps are free and can be easily used by your students on their smartphones or tablets.

Heart Cycle animated GIF by students using StopMotion App. 

These kinds of apps allow students to use the cameras on their smartphones or tablets to quickly create short animated films or GIF files. Below are some examples of projects that have incorporated stop animation. 
  • There are many projects in language arts and in social studies where stop-motion animation would be an engaging way for groups of students to tell a story or re-enact a historical event. (Here is an example of students animating a children's book.) 
  • Stop-motion can also be used in math as a formative assessment (elementary example and high school example), where students work collaboratively to produce products that show their mastery over specific math concepts. 
  • Science teachers make frequent use of models in order to help students understand phenomena. The use of technology to animate such models adds a dynamic dimension that can really help students understand the complexity of the system and the sequence of events. (Protein synthesis example and body systems example and teacher lesson example

Google Keep

Recently, Google announced the integration of Google Keep with Docs. Google Keep has become a favorite for notetaking or quick "sticky" notes of things to remember.  Google Keep is available

Google Keep has many functions. You can read about them at Some of my favorite features are the ability to leave myself audio notes while on the go and to color code my notes. I'm all about color coding, so my notes match the same color organization that I use for labels in my Gmail and folders in my Google Drive.

A feature that I am committed to learn more about and utilize to make it a habit is the Reminders feature. With Reminders, you can set a location-based reminder. Is there something you need to do as soon as you get to campus? Set a reminder and when you arrive at the campus, you will receive a reminder. Do you have a to-do list that you need to accomplish? Set a time-based reminder to make sure you never miss a thing.

Sign up here to receive an email with an incredible Google Keep Cheat Sheet!

With the integration of Google Docs, it only takes two clicks to move things from your notes to a Doc. 

There are many ways for teachers and students to use Google Keep. Here are a few blog posts that can give you ideas!

How do you use Google Keep? What are some new ways you can use it in your classroom?  Comment below!

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