Monday, November 27, 2017

Fabulous Fonts

I often hear teachers say they still use Microsoft Word because they believe the Google Fonts are limited.  But did you know there are hundreds more Google Fonts?

Play around with these Google Fonts and add those you think you will use!  This site allows you to preview the font in a sentence, paragraph, numbers, the alphabet or your custom wording.

The styles are endless!  Just tap the plus sign and these fonts will be available in your Google Documents, Slides, etc.

 Great for beginning writers!

Add some flair to your documents....use text that highlights the theme....

Monday, November 20, 2017

Inserting Images

Recently Google made an update to how we insert images in Docs, Slides and Google Drawing.  When you select 'Insert/Image', you will see a small pop-out menu allowing for uploading from your computer, Drive, Google Photos, by the URL or by searching the web.

Unfortunately, if your students search the web from this menu, the photos are not filtered down to public domain images.  When looking for images to support your students' writing and presentations, students should search through the Copyright Free Image Sites provided on the Tech Tools Page.  The Tech Tools is accessible from the WPSS Home Page.  Students should always cite their image sources.

There are some cool bonus features when inserting images in Google Drawing.  Students can add captions, crop, rotate, change the color palette, add reflection, drop shadow or transparency.  Be creative and explore the capabilities of Google!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Classroom Screen

Classroom Screen provides teacher tools at your fingertips.  You will have instant access to a timer, red light, noise level reminders and volume meters.  Or just enjoy the serenity of the wide selection of backdrops.  There is a full screen and an in screen drawing tool.  Use your trackpad to quickly model a shape or equation!  The drawing tool includes a selection of backgrounds including a grid.  Small drawings can be uploaded and shared with your students.  You can move the tools around the screen, use one at a time or display multiple tools if necessary.  

You will want to bookmark this tool today!  Check out this 2-minute video highlighting some of's features.  


How to Bookmark

1.  Click the star in the Omnibox to save the current page as a bookmark. You can also press Ctrl+D on your keyboard

2.  A dialog box will appear. If you delete the name, an icon will appear on your Bookmarks Bar.  You can also shorten the name if you want to, just type the new name in the "Name" box.  

3.  Choose where you want the bookmark to appear (on the Bookmarks Bar, in a folder, etc) from the Folder dropdown menu.

4.  Click Done.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Web Based Replacements

With the move towards 1:1 Chromebooks, we have been researching web-based replacements for various programs we use here in Westwood.  For instance, many of you have already started using Xtra Math as a replacement for FastMath.  Xtra Math reinforces fast facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Students can be set to a specific operation or to a mix of operations depending on need.  Xtra math shuts down after approximately 7 minutes.  It is most beneficial if the students complete seven minutes a few times a week.  Teachers can set up their own classrooms and track student progress within Xtra Math.  The program provides a parent letter to go home with students.

We would also like you to use Typing Club with your students.  This can be an at home assignment (if you know students have at home access to technology) or in school.  Typing, as you know, is a vital skill in today's society.  Like math, most people type every day!

Click here to set up a Typing Club account. Then follow these simple steps:

  1. Select "School Edition"
  2. Select Get Started Now Free/Teacher
  3. Fill in the information about the Sheehan School and your work information
  4. A URL will be selected for you. However, you can customize the URL if you choose.
  5. Choose a Plan:  Basic Plan 100% Free
  6. Select number of students, how you heard about Typing Club and CREATE ACCOUNT

Once you have created an account, you will need to add your students.

Please add students using our standard Usernames and Passwords:   27mcomer    Google Password

Grade 2 teachers:  we will introduce Typing Club to your students in January as usual.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Westwood Educator Folder

Need a substitute?  Information on a student?  Make a tech request?  In case you haven't noticed, we have provided a folder on the top left side of your bookmarks bar.    


This folder provides access to links that every Westwood educator routinely needs.  These links are also available on the 

WPS Home Page.  But you will love having these educator resources right at your fingertips!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Calendars and Lesson Planners

As you prepare for the new school year, you may want a digital calendar.  (curtesy of Vertex 42)  

Or check out!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Online Stop Watch

Everyone needs a stopwatch for various activities.  Many of us rely on our cell phones as timers.  There are many digital timers which are handy in the classroom!  Use the online timers to:
  • reduce transition times
  • make students aware of time left for a task
  • race the clock activities 
  • time math or writing stations; games or activities
  • timed quizzes or silent reading time

Check these timers out

Egg Timer - Simply type in the time in words. The timer then takes up the ENTIRE screen, which is perfect for projecting time to the class.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

EquatIO Extension

Looking for an easier way to include equations, math or science symbols in Google Docs?  The EquatIO extension simplifies this process!  You can now insert math equations, square roots, formulas, and more with ease.  Simply dictate or draw the equation and it will automatically generate the equation on your Google doc.  Quizzes made easy!  Check out this brief video for the highlights.

Go to the Chrome Web Store to install the EquatIO extension!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Interactive Tools with Illuminations

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics provides many engaging digital tools to support your math content.  From ten frames to concentration, addition to division, fractions to balanced equations!  Volume can be a difficult concept.  But students can see how cubes come together before their eyes with Cube Nets.

These interactive activities can support your curriculum and provide valuable practice for various math skills.  Search by topic, grade or standard.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fractions and Geogebra

Attached please find a list of some great interactive visuals for learning or reviewing fractions.  Geogebra is an interactive site.  You can use these activities to model for your students whole class or in small groups.  Or your students (Grade 3-5) can sign in using their Google Accounts and manipulate the variable as they solve a variety of math problems. has many lessons already created!  Take a moment to explore all of their great resources.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rotated Text in Google Sheets

Do you still believe Google can't do everything Word can do?  Google Sheets now allows you to rotate the text! (Format > Text Rotation)  This is very useful when you need to fit a long header name into thin columns, or when you want to fit more text on one screen.

Simply select the desired cell/s, select Format, and text rotation.  You can then choose from a variety of styles including stacking vertically or angled to any of the above angles.

Need to include a table in your document?  Add borders and take a screenshot! (Command + Shift + 4)

Embedding Videos in Google Slides

The Google Suite has been a game changer in the classroom.  Collaboration and formatting features have increased communication and organization for both students and staff.  In true Google fashion, new features are always being added and improved.  Google Slides which is often used by teachers and students, now permits embedding videos directly from your Google Drive as well as from YouTube.  You can even set your video to start automatically or to start at a certain point in the video. Simply right click on the embedded video for more options!

Select Insert/Video

Enter the YouTube Url, search YouTube or select from your Google Drive

Click on your video selection/Select

Right click for more options

Monday, February 6, 2017

Pin Tabs

Do you avoid shutting down your computer because you don’t want to lose your open tabs in Chrome?  It is important to regularly shut down your computer.  But if you pin your most used tabs, they will open automatically when you re-open Chrome.  

Pinning tabs also provide additional space on your computer screen when researching or planning a lesson.  I have pinned my favorite tabs but I still have many tabs open as I work on a project.

To pin a tab, simply hover over the tab and then right click (two finger click) on your trackpad.  A new menu will open allowing you to select 'Pin Tab'.  To unpin a tab, simply right click again and select “Unpin Tab”.  

You will also notice some other options on this menu.  You can open and close tabs, bookmark tabs or even mute a tab.  

Another great shortcut to remember is how to re-open a tab you accidently closed.  You can use the same drop down menu or select “shift + command + t” simultaneously.  Your last tab/s will reopen!  

Check out this brief video to learn how to pin tabs!

Just Read Extension

Today’s tip is the Chrome extension, Just Read.  Often times articles, websites, and blogs will have excessive amounts of advertisements, comments, and other unrelated text.  This can be very distracting to the reader.  With one click, Just Read removes the excess text so just the article (and pertinent images) appear on the page.  You can use this tool for articles you display whole class or each student can have ease of reading at their fingertips.  You can also change the background color or size of the text for any students with visual challenges.



As you can see the excess text, comments and advertisements are removed once you click on the Just Read extension at the top right of your screen.

This extension has been pushed out to all 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. But you can also add it to your Google Account from the Chrome Web Store.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Emojis..... or , can evoke many feelings.   One emoji can carry multiple meanings depending on the context. Most students use context clues to determine which emoji meaning is intended by the writer.  To develop critical thinking skills, ask students to analyze examples of the same emoji being used in different ways.  Just as with non-fiction reading, students will need to consider photos and text to determine the author's intention when choosing the emoji.

For a writing activity, use this Emoji generator spreadsheet (created by Eric Curts) to randomly generate various emojis.  Students can then write a story based on the randomly selected emojis.  Students can press "Control" and "R" simultaneously to reload with new random emojis.

Eric Curts also created a random word selector.  You can get a new set of 20 random prompts by refreshing the page in your browser.  Try them out with your class or share out to individual students on Google Classroom (new feature) as an extension activity for students ready for the challenge!  

Or create challenging puzzles or stories by combining emojis and words or syllables.  (See Inserting Special Characters/Emojis Post)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Individualized Student Assignments in Google Classroom

Google Classroom has a new feature allowing the teacher to select individual students, groups of students or all students to receive an assignment.  This new feature is great for differentiating assignments or for distributing specific group work to groups of students. For students needing a little extra practice or an extension, teachers can push out specific assignments. Only the students you choose will see the assignment.  

Click here for a brief video overview of the steps.

Or follow these steps!
1.  Select the + sign (lower right corner)/select "Create Assignment"
2.  Fill in Title and instructions
3.  Attach file (document; slide; video or link)
4.  Select "All Students" drop down menu 
5.  Select "All Students" or specific students
6.  Select "Assign"

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

17 in 2017

January is a great time to reflect on the year ahead and the goals you hope to achieve.  "17 in 2017" is a list of curriculum ideas and resources available at your fingertips.  Choose one to try this month!  I am happy to provide support to you or your students or to plan a project together.  

 1.  Make your own screencast - make your slides come alive with voice (student projects; directions for a math station, homework instructions)
 2.  Create an eBook with Google slides - example here - great idea for persuasive writing!
 3.  Pear Deck - Interactive opportunities for Peer Instruction 
 4.  Ted Talks - students' share their new found knowledge or passion on any topic; OR watch a Ted Talk of your preference  
 5.  Ted Ed -  use these 3-5 minute videos to share content; lessons include: Watch, Think, Dig Deeper, and Discuss (How Clouds Get Their Names)
 6.  There's an App for that....math, geography, creativity, writing - Tech Room iPad Pack (includes 5 iPads) can be signed out anytime!
 7.  Blogging - you or your students (Kidblog)- Great way to communicate and to get your students writing!
 8.  Kahoot - a fun and informative check in
 9.  Seesaw - the fastest way to create a portfolio of student work; invaluable when preparing report cards or at a parent conference.  You can take pictures or videos of a students work and have them annotate or record their voice explaining their thinking.  
10.  Explore the Tech Tools Page for curriculum resources and links for your students
11.  Plickers - scan the room for a quick check in (no student device needed)
12.  Google Drawing - be creative!  Create images with captions, images with arrows, interactive activities, the possibilities are endless!
13.  Today's Meet -  give everyone a voice with a mix of traditional book groups and virtual discussion
14.  Twitter - expand your PLN (Teach Thought Article: 50 Educator Twitter Accounts Worth Following)
15.  Flippity - randomly select groups; Jeopardy template; or create flashcards; open a Google Spreadsheet and select Addons/Flippity
16.  Google Keep - organize notes, assignments, ideas with virtual stickies
17.  Google Forms as assessments, surveys, or feedback regarding a field trip or guest speaker.

Take small steps....try something new each month by adding these engaging resources to your tool kit!  Let me know how I can help.

Google Keep: