Tech Nuggets

February 2014

You may be asking yourself, "What the heck is a Chromebook?" Simply put, it is a computer that runs Google's Chrome OS (Operating System). Everything is web-based, so you don't download or add extra software. If you can't do it through an online site, then you won't be doing it on a Chromebook. Many districts have started implementing Chromebooks in their technology plan because they are cost effective. A Chromebook can be purchased for under $300 (and under the sneaky $299 price).

Last year we purchased three Chromebooks to test pilot in the IT Department and with some of the K-2 teachers. We were needing to replace old computers and thought this might be a good alternative to purchasing new Mac laptops. The teachers found they could still do everything they needed on the Chromebook and we found the purchase price a little more pleasing.

As we are looking at future technology purchases, we've decided to explore the practical functionality of the Chromebook in the rest of our grades. We have purchased 12 more Chromebook books to pilot throughout the remainder of the school year. We will be looking to pilot them in classrooms that do work beyond Internet searches and using Google Tools. However, if you know a teacher that was asked to test out the Chromebooks, feel free to go try one out in their room. For more information on Chromebooks, check out the blog post What the heck is a Chromebook?

If you have questions about the Chromebooks, feel free to contact or stop by the Tech Department. We will be happy to visit with you!

Social Media

As many of you know a committee of teachers, administrators, IT staff and board members are working on our district social media policy. In conjunction with this policy, Stan and I will be working on examples and FAQs in some digital format in an effort to address some of the more specific questions being asked by teachers and staff. In discussing the process our policy must go through to become "official" I was reminded of the Schoolhouse Rocks episode on how a bill becomes a law. Once our policy is created, it will have to be looked over by the school lawyer, approved by our school board and then given the stamp of approval by the Kansas Association of School Boards.

New Apps for February

The following apps were purchased for the district during the month of February. Some of them have already been added to student devices, but if they are not on the devices your students use feel free to request them via the district app request form at Apps4Learning.
Ready, Aim, Blog! - Gain a basic understanding of blogging and fundamental pointers to keep in mind when blogging.

Symbaloo: Visual Bookmarking - Learn about this web-based bookmarking tool that is perfect for visual learners.

What the heck is a Chromebook? - Get basic knowledge on Chromebooks and their role future role in our school district.

Google News Archive Search

Find old newspaper articles in Google News Archive - search by newspaper or topic; newspaper listing gives the number of issues and date range available; great for primary sources

360 Degree Aerial Panorama

Explore the world with these great panorama 3D virtual tours.

WritingFix: Writing Prompts

Fourteen interactive writing prompts for writers of any age.

Lightning Bug

Provides resources and tools to help students write a story from beginning to end. Teacher resources are also included.

Create a PicLit

Inspired picture writing - choose a picture, then drag and drop words from the bottom to create your writing related to the picture. When you are finished you can save it to your computer, email it, blog it or share through social media.

Fit 4 the Classroom

Discovery Education, Sanford Health and WebMD teamed up to create a new program for elementary educators and students called fit 4 the classroom, which brings the four pillars of the fit initiative, mood, move, food and recharge, into the classroom. The fit initiative, located at, contains a suite of free resources designed to empower children and parents to make healthy lifestyle choices. Below you will find a series of FREE dynami c lesson plans with engaging activities and videos that demonstrate the importance of a balanced daily life, and easily tie into math, science or other classroom instruction.

Vocabulary @Web English Teacher

A collection of vocabulary lessons and activities for K-12. Lessons provide all the resources you would need to execute them in the classroom.

TED-Ed Lessons

TEDEd videos that have been turned into lessons for instance classroom or flipped classroom use. You can also create your own TEDEd lessons.

The case against “good” and “bad” - Marlee Neel | TED-Ed

This TEDEd video focuses on improving your writing by eliminating the words "good" and "bad." Great for English or creative writing to get students to think about their word choices.


You can either write your text or copy/paste it onto this page and receive a readability level. It also offers suggestions on sentence structure, passive voice and more. I did this with a paragraph from my blog and had several sentences that were college/post graduate readability levels.

Cool Tools

These are listed as Interactive Whiteboard Resources, but many can be used right on the computer.

Google Cultural Institute

Discover exh ibits and collections from museums and archives all around the world. Explore cultural treasures in extraordinary detail, from hidden gems to masterpieces.

earth wind map

Gives a close look at the wind movement. Great for your visual learners and to talk about currents.

The 34 Most Beautiful Google Street View Sightings

This slideshow gives some great ways you could bring the world to students in the classroom. You could find images yourself related to your topic in geography or literature. You could have students find images showing specific math angles or architecture. Street views also go inside buildings for museum tours and underwater for science exploration.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Site provides titles with full-text for online reading or download as a pdf. You can also use the interactive map to view the various galleries.

40 more maps that explain the world

Great collection of maps that could be used in Geography, History, Social Studies or Current Events. Maps include economic dispersal, world invasions, religion and more.

STEM Resources from PBS

Pdf listing of STEM resources available through the PBS kids website.


Over 100 interactive, research-based STEM simulations for Grades 4-12. Click one of the STEM word in the left column to see the simulations. Also includes lessons ready to use for the classroom.

Interactive Exhibits - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

Gain access to primary resources centering around the hot topics of Kennedy's presidency - Civil Rights, Cuban Missile Crisis, Race to the Moon and more. By entering the various interactive timelines, students and educators can view primary documents and videos of the events as they unfolded.

Welcome to WW II Animated

Animated maps of key WW II battles. Maps include a timeline, visual indicators and audio recordings to help enhance learning for students.

Science of Golf

NBC Learn presents a 10-part video series relating STEM topics behind golf. Lesson plans aligned with the standards are available. Other topics are also available.

Stop the Clock

Help students learn to match digital times with the analogue clock.


Kid safe search engine designed with young internet searchers in mind. KidRex uses SafeSearch to filter out most inappropriate content for children. Great search engine to set as the homepage for our young browsers.

Ellis Island Interactive Tour

Tour includes facts, trivia, audio, images and videos of Ellis Island and the immigration process.

Moon in Google Earth

This video will show you how to take advantage of the Moon in Google Earth. Take a tour narrated by Apollo Astronauts, view 3D landing craft models, watch rare TV footage of the Apollo Missions and more. You can also opt to view the Sky and Mars in Google Earth.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Take a self-guided, room-by-room, virtual tour with your class. Embedded images allow you to see various artifacts at a closer view. You can also browse a list of past exhibits.