Eastwood eLearning eNews

Dec 2013 / Jan 2014

This newsletter was created using SMORE.

Smore is a free tool that can be used to create a flyer, newsletter or any type of print piece you might use in or out of the classroom. The free version features several backgrounds, format colors and fonts. And you can add all sorts of media including videos, buttons, links, pictures, images and text. Similar to the tool used for the last eNewsletter (Tackk), SMORE offers some different layout options but ultimately does the same thing - it organizes a lot of information into an easy-to-read format. If you like SMORE, go to smore.com to sign up for an account.


  • Assessment: Rubrics to Assess Digital Work; Add Audio Comments to Google Docs
  • Spotlights of Eastwood Teachers integrating Tech
  • Students Engage with Tech @ Luckey
  • Students Having Math Conversations?
  • 1to1 Tools: Display Your Slides on Student Laptops; Create Multimedia Lessons with Gooru

  • Teaching & Learning Tools: Quick Ways to Search/Find SMART Notebook ; lessons/Activities; Annotate Web Pages with Scrible; Where to Find Common Core Aligned Lessons

Rubrics to Assess Multimedia & Digital Work

University of Wisconsin, Stout has a really nice collection of rubrics for assessing everything from slide presentations and video projects to online discussion board writings, graphic organizers and even research process. While you will customize these rubrics to align with the lesson or project goals it's often helpful to have a starting point...and these may just fit the bill. The collection includes rubrics for K-12.

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Google Apps News

New Features for Presentations & Spreadsheets

First of all, Google Presentation is now being called 'Google Slides'...Google always has to change things around for us! Did you know you can now add an object to a slide presentation theme? After adding an element to a slide, like an Eastwood Eagle for example, right-click on it and select "add to theme". This could be useful if you want to customize a presentation by placing a logo or image on every slide in the same position on the slide. Lastly, a small but neat new feature is that when you and your collaborators type on a slide your names will appear next to the cursor as you type, like they do with a Google Doc, so you can now see who is typing what and when.

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You can now work offline on Google Spreadsheets (now being called 'Sheets'). This is great if you want to work on a spreadsheet when you do not have an internet connection...then your changes are automatically updated the next time you connect to the internet. There are also a bunch of new formulas for calculations and Google has increased the speed at which data is calculated. Scrolling through large spreadsheets is faster and there are no longer any limits on columns, formulas or the number of cells you can copy and paste.

How are Eastwood teachers integrating technology?

Go Animate has been popular with Diane Swartz's Honors Science students. They used this animated video creator to report results from their Student Watershed Watch water testing project. And they won "Most Creative Presentation" at the Summit held at University of Toledo! What a creative way to share scientific findings...check out the video here.

Dance Mat Typing has been a great learning tool for Pemberville 2nd graders. Tracey Briggs says she and Heidi Frantz schedule about an hour each week to provide students with time to use this free online program to work on keyboarding - important skills to help prep students for those online assessments!

Carolyn Ashby and Debra Kemp gave their 7th graders the option to use Go Animate, Google Docs or Storybird to create stories about Greek myths. Students were so creative! Check out a few of the digital storybooks they created with Storybird...The Island Across an Ocean and The Traitor Who Was and A Voice in the Wind.

Cory Schrader has 3rd graders using Google Docs. It's great to see the youngsters using cloud-based tools - while the tools and apps may change, we know the skills needed to successfully use collaborative communication digital learning tools like this will be a big part of their learning for years to come!

Karen Long at Pemberville has been trying out Reflector - software that allows her to wirelessly project her iPad (and the apps) through her LCD projector. Karen sought out a way to expose her students to expanded learning activities that are available via iOS apps so we decided to try out the Reflector software. We are working to get beyond the 'hiccups' and increase the functionality of the actual program but Karen says the kids love using the apps as an extension of classroom learning. We applaud Karen for being the 'guinea pig' as we assess whether Reflector could be an effective resource for the classroom!

Using Bitstrips for Schools to create cartoons on the topics of Internet safety and cyberbullying was John Wagner's latest lesson for 7th graders. One activity had students creating a comic about ways to stay safe on the Internet. For the other two assignments, John used the first cell of the strip to pose a cyberbullying scenario. Students had to complete the comic by narrating how they would react to the situation. This is a creative way to get students to think about their online actions and the potential impact of their digital footprints. Here are a couple student examples: Cell Phone Cyberbullying - Internet Safety - Cyberbullying (with a clip from one included below).

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Karen Schroeder, like many other elementary teachers, has been exploring how best to utilize the Go Math! online resources. The pictures below show her students using the online activities to review for a test. Karen says the program has offered an efficient, interactive way for students to review concepts - especially with the chaotic class schedule that has been created by the unpredictable December weather.

Posting videos on your class website is a great way to increase site traffic. This is exactly what DJ Michel did by posting a video of his students performing various exercise activities (accompanied by the Rocky theme song!). Not only does the video - 'Wellness Wednesday' spotlight student efforts, it promotes exercise and healthy living.

Kristi Dubois added an extra credit assignment for her students, challenging them to create videos for the NY Times Word of the Day contest. Students created a video, 15 seconds or less, that defined one of the words from the 'Word of the Day' collection (nearly 1,000 words to choose from). Students were encouraged to act the word out, animate it, use puppets, sing or song...or anything else that will help views understand and learn the word. Since Kristi had students create vocab videos for an assignment in November, her students already had some practice with this exact task. While they didn't win, we applaud their efforts!

Students Engage with Technology @ Luckey

The newly instituted Tech Time program has all K-4 Luckey students spending one-half hour each week learning vital tech skills they need to prepare for PARCC...and for the real world! Bonita Brown leads the Tech Time sessions and designs learning activities by working closely Luckey classroom teachers to identify tasks and objectives that align with curricular topics being taught in the classroom. So far this school year, Eastwood's youngest students have been learning Google docs, internet research techniques, email basics and Microsoft Word tips. Tech Time has them practicing web navigation and mouse skills too. Students are also acquiring core content using online programs, games and websites such as Think Central, ABCya, Starfall and Spelling City; which provides opportunities to increase fluency in math, science, ELA, and social studies.

When asked about the success of Tech Time sessions, Bonita replies; "The kids are getting very confident in using computers and navigating on them." Kids are also learning some problem-solving skills by discovering how to fix small computer hiccups (Bonita calls them 'oops') on their own. For example, Bonita had a multi-session lesson that covered common computer mistakes and how to fix them (e.g. screen shrinks to the bottom. screen view gets larger/smaller, pop ups, elements that get highlighted, head phone use, monitor turns off, etc.). Bonita also says "the typing skills are really surprising me!" The increased typing skills are a result of using Dance Mat Typing. Bonita tries to start each session with a few minutes of finger warm up with Dance Mat while the 2nd graders complete the entire series with Dance Matt Type (a program Barb Helm started at Luckey last year).

While it's still a work in progress, this program is proving to be a budding success! When asked about the impact of this new effort, Margy Brennan-Krueger says "the Building Leadership Team has communicated that teachers feel it has been a productive way to ensure that the students know and can use many skills". Margy also added that this program was the result of re-purposing some of Bonita's time, which did not require the spending of additional funds.

We all know our kids are wired to think 'digitally'. However, they need the knowledge and skills to utilize the digital tools in efficient, safe and productive ways. It's not easy to navigate through the constantly changing digital learning landscape but it's programs like Tech Time that help foster the basic computer literacy skills that provide the foundation for a lifetime of digital learning!

Tech Open Lab

Thursday, Dec. 19th 2013 at 2:30pm

Lisa Smithmyer's room @ HS Room 32

This is a make-up date. Feel free to stop by for a bit if you want some guidance in completing some of your latest tech tasks!

Students Having Math Conversations? Yes!

Figure This is a website produced by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics that presents interesting math challenges designed to spark discussion and collaboration between parents and their upper elementary/middle-school age children. The problems are based around objects and situations with which most students will be familiar. For example, there are questions about how movies make money, how far a paper airplane can fly, what shapes hold the most popcorn and how long you would have to wait in line at concert ticket booth. It offers hints and then provides the solution - not just the answer, but how to solve the problem. Challenges also include a notation on where the math is used in the real world, fun facts related to the math concept and resources for further exploration. Try it and see what curiosities and conversations are sparked!

Do you share websites with students? Do you have students do online research?

We all know how easy it is to get confused and misdirected on a web page or site. Scrible can offer a bit of organization to the chaos of information on the web. Scrible allows you to annotate the pages to spotlight important points (see simple example below). This could be a nice tool for students when doing online research - saves their notes directly on the webpage and when they revisit that page later, Scrible prompts them to load their previously saved annotations. To begin, add the Scrible Chrome extension to your Google account. A Scrible toolbar appears with tools for highlighting, creating sticky notes, and altering the font on any webpage that you save in your Scrible account. And, the coolest feature...you can then share your saved 'scribled' pages with others. Scrible also has an online version that offers even more features but start with the Scrible Chrome extension and see what you think.

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Display Your Presentation Slides on Students' Laptops - Great for 1to1 Classrooms

Presentation.io is a free service that allows your audience to see your slides on their laptops, tablets, and smart phones. When you advance your slide, the synchronized presentation allows them to watch the slides change on their screens. This is great strategy to help keep students on track (or maybe for just mixing things up a bit in the classroom!). And, if you have links on your slides for websites, Google docs, online worksheets, etc. that you want students to view during your lesson presentation, they simply click on the link you provide on the slide. How does it work? Once you sign up for a free account, upload a PPT or PDF and then share with students by giving them the URL (or you could email them or tweet the URL right from the presentation screen). When the members of your audience open that URL they will be able to see and follow along with your presentation. When you're done with your presentation just click "stop presenting" and the synchronization stops. One item of note though...the free version of Presentation.io keeps your presentation on file for four hours before it expires...so you will need to plan accordingly. But, since uploading a presentation and sharing it literally takes only seconds, you could upload on the fly before or during class.

Call for Proposals Now Open for Ohio Google Summit

Monday, Dec. 16th 2013 at 12am

This is an online event.

ITIP Ohio is now accepting session proposals for the Google in Education Ohio Summit to be held at the Kalahari Resort May 12 & 13. With all the amazing things Eastwood teachers are doing with GAFE, please consider submitting to present a session! Sessions are focused on uses of Google apps to support integration of the Common Core, New Learning Standards and Next Generation Assessments. Click here to submit a proposal! If you do not want to present, save the date and attend!

ReadWorks - Common Core aligned lessons for K-6

ReadWorks is a nonprofit service that has cataloged hundreds of lesson plans and 1000+ non-fiction reading passages aligned to the Common Core. Search for lessons and reading passages by grade and skill. Create digital binders of the lesson plans and reading passages that you want to use in class. All this can be done with a free ReadWorks account. The ReadWorks website also has teaching tips and tutorials. Lessons teach the concepts of reading comprehension while weaving in activities that build vocabulary and background knowledge. Lessons scaffold as students progress through the activities. You can opt to follow ReadWorks' year long scope and sequence or simply use on an "as needed" basis to find appropriate reading passages that align to your current lessons.

Below is a 2 minute ReadWorks overview video.

Intro to ReadWorks
Eastwood eLearning Website - Web Tools List

Take a look at the updated Web Tools list! Tools are categorized by type ( Productivity, Graphic Organizers, etc.) AND by grade level so it's easy to find a type of tool or find tools that are appropriate for a specific grade band. Check it out!

Use Gooru to Create Online Multimedia Lessons - add them to your class site for reference or use for a flipped lesson (for all grades levels!)

Gooru, a 'search engine for learning', searches the best of the web for teacher-rated resources - videos, websites, interactives, slides, handouts, assessments, etc. Select resources to create a digital unit, or a 'collection', that you can then share with students. For example, a search on the Gooru site for 'kinetic and potential energy' and grade 'high school' resulted in combining a 4 minute NOVA video about the energy transfer of a trebuchet; a reading passage from an online textbook; an animated short; and, a 10 question quiz to check for understanding. The resulting collection can then be shared by URL address or by embedding within your website.

Are you spending a lot of time reviewing/grading students' Google Docs?

Save some time and improve the feedback you are providing by using voice/audio comments with Kaizena.

ELA teachers - you might really like this one!

Last spring during an after school PD I featured a neat Google Drive app for adding voice comments to Google Documents. Recording audio comments can be an efficient way to give feedback to your students - it can save time and provide a more personal approach for offering direct feedback to students. That tool was originally called Voice Comments, which then changed to 121 Writing and now this same tool is called Kaizena. The name doesn't matter much but what does matter is that the functionality of this tool has greatly increased. You can add voice comments, written comments AND resources to a Google doc - all from a single menu with Kaizena.

The voice and written comments are self explanatory but the resource tag is a way to direct students to additional info that you feel is needed to improve or correct their document. For example, if a student improperly cites a reference, you can add a resource tag that includes a link to a website that explains proper citation format.

For a quick overview that demonstrates just how easy Kaizena is to use, watch the video below.

Teacher Directions for Utilizing Kaizena Voice Comments in Google Drive

Ohio Educational Technology Conference

Monday, Jan. 27th 2014 at 12am to Wednesday, Jan. 29th 2014 at 12am

Columbus Convention Center

Conference 2014 theme is Learning in Ohio: Where we are, Where we are going, and How do we get there. Featured presentations from state and national experts in over 400 educational sessions and more than 250 exhibitors.

Click here for an overview of the keynote sessions.

Click here for the featured speaker topics and descriptions.

Click here for a listing of all concurrent sessions.

Super Easy Way to Search & Find SMART Notebook Lessons and Class Activities

Created using a Google Custom Search, the SMART Notebook search engine is designed to help teachers quickly find resources for teaching with SMART Boards. It searches SMART Exchange and Teachers Pay Teachers, as well as teacher websites and classroom resource sites from around the world - all at once. I did a search for 'place value' and found everything from a place value chart to printable place value cards to a complete set of Notebook slides (with interactives) for a neat 3rd grade math lesson (posted on a school district's resource website). Check it out and consider adding something new to your SMART Board lessons!