Monday, December 15, 2014

Self Correcting Assessments

Looking for a quick yet accurate way to correct assessments?  You can save time and energy by using Google Forms.  When you create a form, Google automatically generates a Google Spreadsheet of the student responses in your drive. (It will have the same name as your form with the word (Responses) at the end of the title.)  You can add conditional formatting to the spreadsheet to ease assessment correcting.  Watch my brief tutorial for step by step directions.

Conditional formatting can be used on your digital assessments across the curriculum areas or even on a Student Feedback form.   Check out the above video and let me know if I can help!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Scrolling Text

Looking for a new way to reach your students?  Want to make your reading passages more accessible and replicate PARCC style options?  You can use a website to house a collection of passages and comprehension questions.  Your website can be unit or theme based, (e.g. Immigration, weather or the American Revolution) or be a collection of varied reading passages.  Google Forms is a great way to digitally include comprehension questions.  Forms can include multiple choice, multiple select and open response questions. (Sample Google Form questions) Student responses will automatically be collected on a separate document in your Google Drive!  (My next Tuesday Tech Tip will include tips on self correcting response sheets.  Stay tuned!)

Check out the 5B Literacy Website I created with Christine Blair.  Christine uses Google Classroom to share these assignments with her students.  

Let me know if you are interested in creating a website together!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TERC Investigations

As you may know, our TERC Investigations Program includes interactive lessons.  You do not need a Mimio or Smartboard to use these lessons.  If you do not have a Mimio, you can interact with the lesson using your computer mouse or trackpad.  The added bonus to having a Mimio or Smartboard is that your students could come up to the board and perform the interactive actions.

Interactive activities allow you to model various math concepts.  These powerful visual lessons will grab your students’ attention.  Check out this sample.

Explore the Investigations website!  Let me know if you need any help.

To access Investigations resources:
Video of step by step directions  OR follow steps below:

  1. Type in your search bar
  2. “Register Here”  (Register using your school email address)
  3. “Teachers/Register”
  4. “Request a School Code” (a code will be sent to you via email)
  5. Return to the Pearson’s Site on your open tab and enter your school code
  6. Enter your email address and school
  7. Enter your name and select a password of at least 8 characters (including a number  or symbol)
  8. Once you have register, you can sign in (You will only need to register this one time.)
  9. “Add Products” to your account (all free with our district subscription)
  10. Select the resources you want to use (Teacher’s manual, interactive lessons, etc.)
  11. Select Home to access your Investigations resources

Monday, October 27, 2014

Google Docs & the Writing Process

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 9.48.08 PM.png
Editing Features
Editing options support the writing process.  As students draft, edit and finalize their writing, you can identify changes made during the editing process.  Teachers can now see how students are improving their writing throughout the process.  Editing feature allows you to edit directly in the document.  Viewing allows you to read and print the document.

Suggesting encloses the suggested edits in colored brackets.  Deletions will appear with a strike-through.  A comment box will automatically appear so you or peer editors can add an explanation with your suggestion or words of encouragement!

Suggesting Samples
Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 9.47.09 PM.png Suggest an addition

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.01.24 PM.png Deletion

Now you can see your student’s drafting process and how he has edited his writing.  Another great Google feature is the Revision History.  (File/Revision History)  You can see changes made as well as return to a former version of the document.  (Very helpful if a student inadvertently erases a paragraph!)  Using these Google features will provide a more comprehensive overview of your students’ writing for formative and summative assessments.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


As you know, Westwood Public Schools’ grade 3-8 students will take the PARCC on-line assessment this year.  Students in Grades 3, 4, and 5 will take the Performance Based Assessment and the End of Year Assessment in both ELA and Math.  Grade 5 will also take the MCAS science assessment.  I would like to support you and our students as we prepare for the PARCC.  

Some skills we want to address include keyboarding, drop and drag features, self pacing through videos, highlighting key words and phrases, copy and paste.  Becoming comfortable with technology takes time and practice.  Students need to build their stamina.  (Common Core:  one page in a sitting in 4th grade, 2 pages in a sitting in 5th grade)  Repeated exposure to keyboarding for writing assignments, research papers, or even quick write activities will be beneficial.  Some other tools we can use:  Google forms for assessments, Brainpop videos, videos with embedded questions (EdPuzzle), and even using your classroom website to have students practice manipulating various menu features.

You can find practice tests and grade specific sample questions on the PARCC website.  (This site does not work within the Chrome browser.  You may want to open in Safari or Firefox.)  You may also want to check out Next Generation’s Website for additional sample questions.  I hope we can work together to support our students.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Do you use videos in your classroom?  Videos can be engaging and entertaining.  But how do you know your students are learning as they watch?  Now you can embed questions throughout the video. Student responses will be collected in a spreadsheet for your review, allowing misconceptions to be addressed quickly.  With EdPuzzle, you can shorten videos to use only the clip you need.  Adding comments in your own voice or embedding questions throughout a video are also valuable options.  You can upload videos from YouTube, TeacherTube, the EdPuzzle Community and more.

Flipped classrooms, PARCC preparation or just another trick in your tool box.....EdPuzzle is a great tool! Check out this brief sample video on the water cycle.

Let me know if I can help in any way.  Have an awesome day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Universal Design for Learning

I have the pleasure of visiting classrooms across the grades in both the Sheehan and the Martha Jones.  Everyday I learn more about quality teaching, leadership as well as differentiation across the content areas.  Universal design for learning is applied daily in your classrooms.  Connections are made between background knowledge and new concepts.  Students are engaged and excited about learning.  They are given opportunities to share experiences, new ideas and strategies resulting in self-reflection and peer feedback.  With universal design in mind, I thought I would share a few ways the Instructional Technology Coaches can support you and your students.

Principle I:  Provide Multiple Means of Representation by providing…..
  • videos with embedded questions
  • digital assessments (also shortens your correcting time!)
  • digital flashcards, jeopardy or review activities
  • digital graphic organizers, checklists and rubrics
  • access to programs such as BrainPop, Raz Kids, Lexia, IXL, TTL and Fastt Math
  • by providing tips and tools for enlarged text or various fonts, background text features, volume and sound enhancements.

Principle II.  Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression by providing….
  • Text to Speech and word prediction tools (Command + R or Read & Write)
  • Visual timers and movement breaks
  • Geogebra activities
  • Google Shortcuts
  • iPad apps (Upper grades can sign out the iPad Pack)
  • digital mapping tools

Principle III.  Provide Multiple Means of Engagement by providing choices…..
  • voice recordings and digital storytelling
  • project based learning opportunities
  • strategy sharing opportunities
  • Assessment choices: student created presentations, book trailers, public service announcements and videos
  • music videos (sharing a message or lesson from a story or fable or a new song!)

Thank you again for letting me learn from you each and everyday!  Please let me know how I can help.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Adobe Voice App

Good Morning,

Adobe Voice is a new app for creating short videos.  This app is very user friendly! Recording (or re-recording!) is just a click of a button. You can use images from your iPad or use the free-use photos provided by Creative Commons.  Adobe Voice even provides a variety of background music choices.  Or bring in your own music!  Best of all, Adobe Voice even cites the images for you!  

Students can tell stories, create PSA's, research presentations, or share new knowledge.  Teachers can teach lessons, create invitations or presentations.  (sample) You or your students can create a brief video about the water cycle, the life cycle or important leaders during the Revolutionary War.  Then the class can view the videos as a study guide!

The possibilities are endless.  Check out this brief video introducing Adobe Voice.  Let me know if you want a tutorial or to chat about possible projects.

Have an awesome day!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tips and Tidbits

Good Morning,

I recently came across this image of Google Drive.  The Anatomy of Google Drive by highlights many of the key features of Google Drive.

Screenshot 2014-05-25 13.55.42.png
More interesting tips:

Documents can be in more than one folder (press command as you check the box to the left of each document then select the folder from the top tool bar.  A list of your folders will be generated.  Choose which folder or folders you would like to put the document in.)

Comments:  When collaborating on a shared document, if you type a + before the email address of the recipient in your comment (, your message will immediately be sent to the recipient via email.  (Thanks for the great tip Judy!)

As always, please let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Explain Everything Examples

Good Morning,

Explain Everything is a great app for students to demonstrate their creativity or share their work.  Poetry comes alive with images and the student's voice.  Many of you have already used Explain Everything to:

You can also use Explain Everything to share information with your parents.  Check out this video on "Supporting Subtraction Strategies At Home."  This video is a tutorial for parents on the math strategies we teach in the classroom.  Sharing a video supports both the students and the parents as we bridge school and home.

The technology department has a set of iPads which can be signed out for your use.  Please let us know if you would like to do an Explain Everything Project!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Google Features

   blue-pink hydrangea banner      

Google is always working to improve!  There are two new features you may like.  You can now adjust images within your Google Documents. You can crop, rotate and add borders of various styles, colors and widths. Just select an image and edit from the toolbar, the format menu or the right click menu.

Google has also added the option to direct someone to a specific spot in your document.  For instance, if you are collaborating with your colleagues and you want feedback on a specific section, just link directly to that spot.  Step by step directions are available here.

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Good Morning,

Today’s tip pertains mainly to the upper grades.  However, if you are taking any college level course, you may want to keep reading!  A few weeks ago, I introduced you to the Add-ons.  Add-ons provide immediate access to Google extensions and apps.  Add-ons is accessible on the tool bar at the top of your Google Documents.  EasyBib will generate your bibliography in any format directly into your document.  This is a great resource for research projects and presentations as well as a valuable lesson in citing your sources.  Check out this short tutorial on how to access and use EasyBib!

Happy researching!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Brain and Body Breaks

Good Morning,

Are your students having a tough time settling back in after vacation? Spring fever getting the best of them?  A quick brain and body break may be just what they need. Depending on the needs of the students you may want to try some yoga stretches or if they are feeling sluggish, a dance break might do the trick.  

Some thoughts on the educational value of Brainbased Education.

Brain Breaks can be incorporated into your day.  Some opportunities are:
  • in the morning to energize your students
  • before or after an assessment
  • transitions
  • to refocus following recess
  • or to break up a long day with some fun!                           

Screenshot 2014-04-16 10.54.01.png
Some resources:
GoNoodle - Can be added to iPad as a shortcut or accessed through your computer - energizing and calming breaks for younger children (I can show you how to create an iPad shortcut.)
KooKoo Kanga Roo Music videos (YouTube) - all ages
Just Dance 3 - Dynamite - Taio Cruz - dance break for older children
20 Three Minute Brain Breaks includes a list of specific activities you can try.  

Thank you to Tracey Truman, Carli Kyvelos and Jen Stygles for sharing their Brain Break ideas!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Voice Recordings

Good Morning,

Many of your students are working on writing and publishing poetry.  The next step is to share their creative writing. Traditionally, you may have sent home the students' poems on paper.  Have you considered sharing their poetry online with audio clips?  When you share digitally, grandparents, aunts and uncles will all have access to your students' work. Students tend to take their writing more seriously when they know that it will be shared with a greater audience.  You will also address the ISTE NETS (Technology) Student Standards of Creativity/Innovation and Communication/Collaboration.

Poetry can come alive through the author's voice.  Voice Record and Vocaroo are both great options for recording your students. Student recordings can then be uploaded to your website or emailed home to parents.  Voice Record Pro is available on the K-1 iPads and the Tech Pack iPads (see the MJ Calendar or the SH Calendar to sign them out). Vocaroo is available free online.

Other uses for voice recordings:
  • Music class - send a sample reminder to your parents before the end of the year performance or practice an instrumental piece and then self-reflect
  • Reading - practice fluency
  • Social Studies - re-enact events or discussions such as the Patriots vs. the Loyalists
  • Debates on current events
  • Public Service Announcements created by your students
Sound effects can also be added!  Let me know if you need anything or if you have any fun recording ideas to share.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Good Morning, is a free educational site with games and activities for children in kindergarten through grade 5.  Engaging and interactive games reinforce math skills, language development or even typing skills. These activities will reinforce parts of speech, verb tense, math concepts, and much more. includes games from across the curriculum and is broken down by grade level.  You may want to use this site as a math station, for morning work or as an alternative to your IXL or Type to Learn homework assignment.  

Check out!  

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Happy Tuesday,

It finally feels like Spring!  So that means it's time for some Spring Cleaning. Some quick tips you may want to consider.......

 ~ Back up your images and documents....USB stick (flashdrive), cloud or external hard drive - take your pick!

 ~ Empty your Trash - Just because you put it in the trash doesn't mean it's gone. You still have to empty the trash or permanently delete the items.  Select Trash/Empty Trash

 ~ Organize your emails, delete, categorize or label those you need to keep! Gear Symbol/Settings/Labels

 ~ Completely close out of browsers and programs.....if the little bubble appears beneath the icon on your dock, then the browser or program is still open.  Right click on the icon, a menu will appear, select quit.

 ~ Create and/or organize Folders within Google Drive, your Documents or on your iPad.  In your Google Drive, you can even color code your folders:  blue = writing, purple = parent correspondence, yellow = student council, etc.

 ~ Clean up your Desktop - having too many items stored on your desktop will slow down your computer.  Move these items to Documents.

 ~ Update apps on your iPad

 ~ Stay healthy - wipe down your computer, iPad, iPhone with electronic safe wipes.

 ~ Streamline your RSS Feed (Feedspot) - too many items to ever read?  Pick your favorite sites or blogs to follow and get rid of the rest.

Refresh and recharge....choose one item (big or small) from your to-do-list (orTodoist) and do it!  You will feel great checking even the smallest items off your list!

Have an awesome week!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Google Draw

Good Morning,

Google Draw is another great Google feature.  Your students can make webs, Venn diagrams or a graphic organizer within their document.  There are many features available within Google Draw including multiple shapes, arrows, bubbles and color variations.  You can search for and add images within Google Draw too.  Students can make timelines of historic events or character transformations within a story or create a web of the life cycle of a butterfly.  Your students can build webs as study guides, for assessment purposes and much more!

To access Google Draw:
Open a document
Select Insert/Drawing
Begin to add and manipulate shapes, arrows, colors, word art or images to your diagram
Select Save and Close - drawing will appear in your document
If you need to make changes to your drawing, double click on the drawing in your document, Google Draw will automatically re-open.

K-2 teachers......Popplet is an iPad app for creating similar webs and diagrams.  

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Good Morning,

You may have noticed Google has added a new option in your Google Documents menu bar call Add-ons.  You may find some useful apps to use within your documents.  Track Changes allows you to track the changes a student makes in his/her document.  This is a great tool for the editing and revising phase of the writing process!

Uploaded by Awesome Screenshot Extension

Some other add-ons you may like are Charts, Easy Bib, Thesaurus, VexTab Music Notation or TextHelp's highlighting feature. Once you download the add-on, there is a Learn More button with a helpful video.  If you have a student with a particular need, we can discuss adding an add-on to his or her drive.  

Donna Santabarbara, ITC at the Thurston Middle School created this helpful Add-ons Tip Sheet.

Please let me know if I can help in any way.  Have an awesome day!

Monday, March 10, 2014


Good Morning,

Last week I shared some great templates that are available through Google. But I also know that everyday teachers are creating documents to meet the needs of their students.  It's easy to turn your documents into a template.  Just follow these 5 simple steps.
  1. Open your Google Drive
  2. Check the document you want to convert to a template
  3. Select More/Submit to Template Gallery
  4. Describe and categorize your template
  5. Check Submit
You can then share with your students and have each student save their copy with their name or initials.
Are you a visual learner like me?  Watch this 90 second screencast.

Just a reminder that all of my Tuesday Tech Tips are available on the Elementary Tech Tools Page.  Please let me know if there is any topic, tool or resource you would like me to investigate.  


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Google Templates

Good Morning,

I have attached some Google templates that you may find helpful in your classroom.  You may need to tweak them for the specific needs of your students or lesson.  Google has provided many templates in the gallery or you can search the Westwood Public School Templates or the Public Templates for graphic organizers to meet your needs.  

Tune in next week to learn how to turn your documents into templates!