Showing posts from 2018

Digital Breakouts

I love digital breakouts, and so do students!

What is a digital breakout?

Have you ever paid to do an escape room with friends or family? Maybe you've used Breakout EDU kits in your classroom? A digital breakout is similar, except it's all done online. There's no need to spend money or haul around those locked boxes. Simply put, a digital breakout is a game experience that embeds your course content into an exciting challenge.

Take a look at this example which was created as a model for teachers to get an idea of how a digital breakout works. Feel free to click around to explore the format and the different types of tasks and clues you could use.

There are many pre-made digital breakouts you can use by searching online, and these can be a great way to review content at the end of a unit. 

You can also create your own digital breakout by crafting a scenario and using a few Google tools.

Think of a scenario that would require your students to "break-out." Are they locked…

Becoming an Apple Teacher

Want some fresh new ideas for the classroom along with recognition for your hard work?

Consider becoming an Apple Teacher!  It's a free professional learning program designed to help you build skills on the iPad and/or Mac.  This self-paced journey will help you acquire valuable skills that can be applied directly to the classroom.   You can embark on the journey with your team, a partner, or as an individual.

It's three easy steps!

1.  Go to Apple Teacher, login with your Apple ID, and choose a path: iPad or Mac.
Note:  You may want to use your personal Apple ID so your badges stay with you if you switch

2.  Learn new skills by selecting your topics.  Choose from apps like Keynote and GarageBand, or  focus on ways to improve creativity and productivity.

3.  Take the quiz and earn a badge for your topic.  Don't worry if you don't pass the first time.  You can retake the quiz.  Earn all eight badges for the iPad or Mac to become an Apple Teacher.

You might al…

Listening to Podcasts in Class

From Mindshift KQED
You may be a person who is super obsessed with podcasts and can't live without them. Or you may be a person who is new to the term or who has never heard of a podcast. Either way, this blog post is for you.

Podcasts are digital files made available on the internet, through your phone or computer, that offer content on a multitude of topics. Whatever the thing is that you like exists in podcast form with people talking about it. Your favorite TV show, to sports, to education, to name it.

Listening to podcasts in class can help students improve their reading and comprehension skills. You can read research here, here, here, or many other places on the web!

From Listenwise
But how do we make sure the podcasts we want students to listen to are appropriate? Well, there are a few resources to help us. Our K-4 students do not have the podcasts app on their iPads. All podcasts you listen to are likely on the web somewhere, usually on the website for the sh…

4 Big Google Classroom Updates September 2018

Take a look at a few of the newest updates to Google Classroom:

1. Google Classroom now organizes assignments in its own section called "Classwork" instead of being mixed in the stream with announcements and comments.

Any classes created before the August 7, 2018 update will not have the Classwork tab. You can add the Classwork page to these older classes by clicking on the “?” in the bottom left, then select Add Classwork Page.

2. Your classwork can now be better organized using "Topics" to put certain assignments, materials, and questions into categories. The topic headings are big and colorful so it's easy to manage classwork for the whole year. Many teachers use topics to separate content by units, weeks, or subjects.

3. When adding content to the Classwork page, you will notice you can add Assignments, Questions, or Materials. Assignments can be turned in, questions can be answered, and materials can be referenced throughout the year. Soon a Quiz option wi…

Nearpod- New Features!

Ready to start a new school year by engaging students in their own learning? Revisit Nearpod and all it has to offer both teachers and students! If you’re new to Nearpod, check out the original Nearpod blog post by Susan Hill back in September 2017.
In the past year, here are just a few of the areas in which GCISD students have used Nearpod: Digital citizenshipVirtual field tripsHigh school EnglishPre-labs in ScienceElementary Humanities
Teachers can access Nearpod through ClassLink or theNearpod website. Students will access lessons through the website using a five digit letter code provided by their teacher. GCISD teachers have access to an extensive collection of close to 7,000 TEKS-aligned instant lessons under the Explore tab in Nearpod. Teachers can search through several lesson collections including the Nearpod Store and Digital Citizenship & Literacy.

Under Filters, the new feature 'By Standards' allows you to search by standard and narrow your results to the specifi…

Back to School Resources

As we get back into the swing of things, we want to highlight a few of the instructional technology resources available to you.

Make sure you’ve bookmarked ClassLink, our single sign-on portal, for easy access to the online resources you need the most. Read more about ClassLink in Amy’s blog post to learn how teachers and students can best use this tool.

Create interactive lessons in minutes with Nearpod. Nearpod can transform your Google Slides and PowerPoint presentations into interactive learning experiences. Your district account allows you to access hundreds of Nearpod lessons already available to you. Login to Nearpod through ClassLink and read this blog post to learn more.

Discovery Ed
Discovery Education Streaming is now available for all teachers and students.  Search for full videos, video clips and text documents. Read more about Discovery Education in Amy’s blog post and watch a screencast from Tony.

DyKnow is a web based program used by GCISD teachers…

Interactive Boxlight Projectors

Does your projector look somewhat similar to this? With a big lens on the front and the words "BOXLIGHT"? Well, then you're in luck! You have an interactive projector, which works similarly to a SMART Board.

In order for your projector to be interactive, you need a specific cord to be plugged into your computer. This cord is called a Super Booster, and on one side it has a USB plug and on the other, it has a place for an ethernet cord to go. It looks like this, though it could be many different shapes and colors. In addition, you should have your VGA cord with your computer adapter and your audio plugged in!

Finally, you should have a black bag of supplies that go with your projector. This includes the remote to turn it off and on, a wand, and a LightPen. (Imagine the pictured white LightPen is black and that's what yours looks like.

One of the main uses of your LightPen is that it can act as a mouse for your computer. That means you can touch your whiteboard with it …

Summer Learning 2018

Learning never stops in GCISD. With summer break right around the corner, it's time to start planning your own professional learning. Take a look at the multiple sessions the Instructional Technology team is offering for Summer 2018. With a mix of in person and online learning opportunities, you're bound to find something that fits your schedule. Click the sessions below to learn more about our summer offerings.
Date Course Location Ongoing #Digital20Challenge - Register here Online Ongoing Overdrive ebooks & audiobooks Use your GCISD credentials to log in. June 4-22 Book Study: Media Moms & Digital Dads Online June 4-22

Will You Accept the Digital 20 Challenge?

Wondering what GCISD’s #digital20challenge is all about and why you should accept the challenge?  Want to earn some sticker swag while learning new skills? Read on! What: The GCISD Instructional Technology team has devised a list of twenty digital challenges, including reading books on Overdrive, being active on Twitter, and listening to a podcast. Why:Achieving each challenge will enrich your toolbox of digital skills and benefit both you and your students.

How: Visit only to GCISD staff) for the details, then register for the online class in Eduphoria When:Self-paced!  The challenge officially starts on June 4th and ends August 10th, however you can start your learning at any time and continue through the 2018-2019 school year.  When you’ve accomplished the twenty challenges, complete the Google Form on the website to receive your sticker!

Encourage your friends and colleagues to join you as you complete each challenge. To share your learning and see…

Checking out books with OverDrive!

GCISD has recently switched over to using OverDrive for our online library needs. Your campus librarian can help you and your students use this app to get eBooks, audiobooks and read along books! To find OverDrive, go to your Classlink App (or website). Click the Learning Commons folder, then OverDrive.

Browse the site for the titles you'd like to read. You can sort by Collections, Subjects, or Reading Levels. You can also use the search function to find something specific. Once you've located the title you want, click on it. From there you can view a sample, or click Borrow.

Once you click the button to go to your checkouts, you see that you have many options for ways to read your book. You can also view how many more books you can check out, how many you currently have out, as well as view your history, holds, and settings.

Reading in your browser is an option, and it is the only option if you are on a computer. I personally like reading in the Overdrive app itself in an eP…

The Magic of the Post-it® Plus App

To be honest, I’ve always hated using Post-it notes as a formative assessment in my classroom.
In theory, they are great. Each student gets a small square of brightly colored paper that I can quickly look at to see student responses as an exit ticket. In reality, at the end of the day I had 150 squares of brightly colored paper half of which had lost their stickiness and fallen onto the floor. By the time the last bell of the day rings, I have no desire to comb through 100+ post-it notes.

The Post-it® Plus App makes using Post-it notes a little easier by allowing you to digitize them. When your students post their stickies to your wall, just open the app, point your phone at the wall, and click to capture an image. Take a look at the app in action by watching this video:
The magic of the app is that once you capture an image of the post-it notes, the app lets you digitally maneuver them on your screen. You can organize the notes, move them around, delete them, or share them with students…


**Please check with your Learning Liaison to determine if your campus has purchased IXL.**

To begin, login to IXL @

Creating Class Rosters
A pop up window will ask you to input your class roster.
Click Go to my roster
Classes can be created by selecting Start Using Classes.
Begin entering your students names.  When Last Name is typed it should show students that match.  Select the student's name to add and continue until all students have been entered for that class.  If a student name does not show,  enter their first/last name, student id and click Save.  A username and password will auto-generate for them.  Subject will auto-populate. (You will see an M for Math or E for English Language Arts or both.) You will have the option to have all students usernames/passwords sent to you by email.

Edit your Profile
Select Profile & Settings from your account menu (upper right corner).

Enter your display name .
Select Texas.

Get your Class Started
Have stud…

Storytelling at South by Southwest EDU 2018

As a first timer to the South by Southwest EDU (SXSW EDU) conference in Austin, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew I would be with others in the field of education and we would learn something. The 'something' is where it got fuzzy for me, especially when I looked at the the four day schedule of sessions and realized there were many more choices than I had time for. Thankfully, there were no 'wrong' choices and I was able to start at the easiest place: the opening keynote speakers from The Moth. Through their power of storytelling, I was reminded of the value of sharing our experiences with others as a way to learn and make deeper connections.

The Moth, which Wikipediaexplains as "a non-profit group based in New York City dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling" shares storytelling via radio station broadcasts, podcasts, and live shows by enlisting courageous people to tell a true story from their own life. The four speakers I listened to told…