Monday, May 18, 2015

The GCISD Virtual Voyage is back!

GCISD Virtual Voyage

The Virtual Voyage is back and it's gamified!  This year we've added new challenges and you'll earn badges for completing challenges.  Some campuses are even offering a variety of prizes (jean passes, leave early coupons, Sonic drinks, duty free lunch/recess, etc.) based on the number of badges earned.  

What is the GCISD Virtual Voyage?    
The GCISD Virtual Voyage is a summer opportunity for you to have fun and step outside your technology comfort zone! Challenges can be completed in any order at any time.  Do as many as interest you.  The only rule is that you must share your learning with others via your blog!  If you've already done these things, please still share your reflections in a blog post to earn your badge.

How do I participate?
Follow the instructions on the GCISD Virtual Voyage website to setup your blog and badges spreadsheet.

What are the challenges?  
Choose from a variety of challenges like Google Hangout, Blendspace, Thinglink, Google Classroom, Kahoot, Google Forms, Genius Hour, YouTube, infographics, Twitter chats, gamification, classroom redesign and more!

Have questions?
Tweet them with the hashtag #gcisdvv!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What's New? - Google App Updates, PicCollage Kids and Photos for Class

"What's new?"  I get this question a lot.  Today I have some exciting new (relatively) things to share!

1.  Google Docs and Slides app updates 

The newest update to the Google Docs and Slides apps FINALLY allows users to insert images from the camera roll!  Woo hoo!  Now the Google Docs and Slides apps can actually be replacements for Pages and Keynote on the iPad... with the added functionality of collaboration plus automatic saving/backing up.   More info about the update here:

Pic Collage has added a YouTube video search feature that is pretty scary to me.  Just by clicking the YouTube button, students could see a list of videos without ever typing in a keyword.  You can't predict what will come up.  The good news is that the company has released a new app called Pic Collage Kids that's perfect for students.  The only option for images is to insert from the camera roll and it doesn't have the YouTube option.  I know lots of teachers like the built in image search in PicCollage, but the fact is, we don't know where those images are coming from... from either a legal or safety standpoint.  More info about PicCollage Kids here:

Speaking of image searches... here's a new one to add to your list. has filtered, copyright friendly images just for students.  You can read more about how they do it on their website.

Here's a chart I made (must be logged in with your GCISD Google to view) with QR codes for students to easily access several copyright friendly image search sites.  Just print and post in your classroom.  Students can scan the codes and add the sites to their home screen for future use.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Donors Choose

Today's guest post comes from Lisa Brown, Learning Liaison at Cannon Elementary.  You can follow Lisa on Twitter @Lisa_BrownGCISD or on her blog is an online charity that allows teachers to a write project request in which anyone, individuals or corporations, can donate money to help meet the needs for public schools. Cannon has had numerous individual teachers as well as some teams participate in writing a Donors Choose.  Recently, our kindergarten team funded a  $1460 project to help create STEM labs for all Kindergarten classrooms.  Their effort as a TEAM to ensure ALL students the opportunity to have quality manipulatives in their classrooms is commendable.

How it works:  
You create a Donors Choose account.  It walks you through the steps of writing up your proposal by sharing about your classroom, choosing what items you need and describing how they will impact your students.  Once your project is approved it will be listed on the Donors Choose website and you can share your link via your newsletter and social media.   The fun begins when you and your students can then track your donations as they are posted.  Based on the fact that some donations may come from people that you do not know will foster rich conversation of the value of their education.

Once it is funded, Donors Choose processes your project by ordering your ​supplies and everything is delivered directly to your school without any additional steps from you!

Have you received a Donors Choose grant?  Share your experience in the comments!
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