MCSD Ed Tech Review

Tools & Tips Worth Your Time

Issue 13, February 2019

Winter is, wait, it's here, and it isn't going anywhere.

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In a winter that feels like it came in September and has decided never to leave, warm up with some ed tech news and tips! Fight cabin fever in your classroom by reading on and finding something new to try out.

In This Issue

  • 1:1 Questions, Answers, & Resources - Part II
  • What's New?
  • Resource Roundup
  • Hey, Watch This!

1:1 Questions, Answers, & Resources - Part II

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Reminders for Students (FA & MMS)

If you could, FA & MMS teachers, please remind your students of the following:

  • Chromebooks must be kept in their cases while at school. The cases will protect them from damage from accidental drops, etc. But they only work while the Chromebooks are in them. If a Chromebook is damaged while not in a case, that isn't considered normal wear & tear or accidental damage.
  • Don't place anything in the case with the Chromebook. We have had numerous screens cracked by pens, pencils, earbuds, etc. being set on the keyboard and then having the Chromebook shut. There have also been instances of items placed behind the screen in the case, and then something like a book dropped on top creating enough of a stress point to crack the screen.
  • If their Chromebooks are damaged or lost, they should take them to the library (unless it's lost, of course) and report it. They will be given instructions at that point, and steps will be taken to start the process of replacement, if necessary.
  • If they have lost their charging cord, again, they should go to the library and report it so they can get a replacement.
  • On the subject of charging cords, they should be taking their Chromebooks home and charging them on a regular (nightly) basis. If there are extenuating circumstances which preclude a student from taking it home, feel free to make arrangements for the student to leave the Chromebook somewhere safe, in an inconspicuous spot in your classroom for instance, to charge.

Shared Elementary Carts

Logging In

If you're a Pre-K through 3rd grade teacher who regularly uses the Chromebook carts with your students, you might have noticed recently that the Chromebooks are behaving differently when your students go to log in. Now, each time one of those Chromebooks is turned on, there are no saved usernames, and so each student must enter his/her username along with their password each time.

The short version of how this came to be is that having user profiles and data saved locally, on the Chromebook, had started creating problems ranging from the difficulty of students scrolling through dozens of usernames to try to find theirs, to slower performance. As a result, the shared Chromebooks have been set to erase all local user data each time they're shut down. Hopefully this will alleviate some of the issues.

Broken/Damaged Chromebooks

If you are using one of the shared carts with your class, and you notice a Chromebook that is damaged or not working properly, please use Service Now to report it. Each of those carts should be stocked with usable devices. But the IT staff will only know that a device needs attention if someone lets them know. They will need to know which cart and which Chromebook number to look at, so please be sure to include that information in the service ticket.

State of the Carts

Please be respectful of your colleagues, and make sure that after your students have finished using the Chromebooks that they are back in their slots, plugged in, and the cart is ready for the next person to use. Some carts have headphones for the Chromebooks; please ensure those have been returned and are ready for use as well.

If you haven't felt firsthand the frustration of getting ready to use a cart you signed out, only to find it in an unusable state, try to imagine what that must be like the next time you're finishing up an activity with the Chromebooks.

Google/Chromebook PD

In the coming weeks, we will be announcing some after-school workshops focused on tools to use in your classroom with Chromebooks. Registration will be through MyLearningPlan, and the sessions will have a cap, so keep an eye out for the email announcement and register right away if you're interested.

The summer PD week (July 15-19) will feature a number of ed tech sessions, with a number of presenters. So if you're planning on attending that week as your EWY, look for them. In addition, I will be doing some sessions throughout the week. As we get closer to that week, I will be looking for input one specific topics and tools you would like to see addressed.

What's New?

As pointed out in a recent 2 Minute Tech Tip, you can find a listing of district-licensed, web-based resources in the "District Resources" section of the Malone Teacher Resources website.

In addition to the ones we have licensed for a number of years, like Flocabulary, BrainPOP,, Pear Deck, and Castle Learning, there are some new tools we're adding. Here's a look at some that are already available, and a peak at something to come.

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Buildings: all

Accounts: Log in using your district Google account to access the premium features. This includes students as well as staff.

Kami is sort of like a Swiss army knife for PDF's and Google docs. Opening a file in the Kami editor gives you access to a range of tools like highlighters, text editing, text to speech, and options for adding annotations which include video notes. You can also use their optical character recognition tool (OCR) to convert PDF's into editable documents. Although Google has this ability also in Drive, you will find that Kami's version is often more accurate and less time-consuming.

The service was designed for Chrome, and is integrated with G Suite. So, among other things, this means that teachers can design Classroom assignments right from the Kami app, as well as grade those Classroom assignments.

Check out their YouTube channel for short videos on various features, like grading in Google Classroom, as well as ideas for how to use the tools in different grades and subjects.

Edpuzzle Pro

Buildings: FA & MMS

Accounts: Instructions were emailed. Email me ( if you missed it and want to know how to access the premium features.

Many of you are probably already familiar with Edpuzzle. We have been including it in workshops, tech camps, and newsletters for a few years now.

If you aren't, Edpuzzle is a great, easy-to-use service that lets you take any YouTube video and turn it into an interactive, gradable lesson. You can add notes (written or recorded) and questions (objective & subjective) to the video, prevent students from skipping ahead, and even keep track of how much of the video each watched.

It includes Google Classroom integration, so you can easily create video assignments and push them out via Classroom.

We have licensed the Pro version of the service for FA and MMS. The main differences between this and the free version are that you can have an unlimited number of video assignments in your account (it's limited to 5 in the free version), and you have access to thousands of shared lessons and videos created by Edpuzzle covering a wide range of curricula.

Check out their YouTube channel for lots of short tutorials on how to use it.


Buildings: FA & MMS

Accounts: Sign in using your district Google account to access our premium license.

One of the three overarching goals of our district is "Engaging Classrooms." If you are looking for a tool to get your students engaged in your content, you need to check out Wevideo. It is an impressively full-featured, browser-based video creation tool.

You and your students can use Wevideo to create videos in a number of ways. You can import a video file, such as one you might have made on your smartphone, you can capture the video with your Chromebook's webcam, or you can skip that and create a video slideshow using a mixture of photos you import and pre-built slide templates. The premium version has over 100,000 video assets, over 100,000 music and sound effect assets, and over 450,000 images available for use.

One of the things I really like is that the interface can be set to either of two options. Storyboard editing mode is streamlined and lets you create polished videos without needing to be an expert. Timeline editing mode is impressively sophisticated for a browser-based program, and will let you get very particular about adding, editing, and lining up multiple video and audio tracks.

So, if you're looking for a tool to introduce a topic or present information to your students, or better yet, a tool for your students to use to demonstrate their mastery of material, check out Wevideo. The district license allows each user to publish up to 1 hour of video per month.

Check out their YouTube channel for an overview, samples, and tutorials.

In the Works: Newsela Pro!

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I'll admit, I didn't think the day would come, but it looks like we will be getting a district license for Newsela Pro, and it will hopefully be available within the next month!

For those who may not be familiar with Newsela, check out this short video:
In short, the service provides thousands of articles, across grade levels and subjects, all a multiple reading levels, with some extremely powerful instructional and analytical tools.

I am very excited about this development, and as soon as the details are worked out, I will be providing much more detailed information. So, stay tuned!

Resource Roundup

As mentioned aboive, you can always find more information on the district licensed services on the Malone Teacher Resources site.

Below are a few free resources that you might find worth checking out.

Hey, Watch This!

Check out Issue 2 of the MCSD Ed Tech Review for tips on using YouTube in the classroom.

If you have a video that you think is worth checking out, send me the link and I'll include it in an upcoming issue.

Accessibility Tools in Chrome

There are a number of very useful accessibility tools built into Chrome. Best of all, these tools are associated with a user's account, rather than a specific device. So students who might benefit from these tools can set them once, and then have them on any device they log into.

Search Tricks

Anyone who has spent time in a 1:1 classroom has realize that, to an extent, the phrase "digital natives," is a bit misleading. Those of us not born with a Snapchat account or Instagram handle have taken this idea to mean we don't need to teach our children anything about how to use technology because they already know it all. That simply isn't true, and anyone who has asked a group of students to use a Chromebook to find some piece of information knows that firsthand. While they may know principles of a properly framed selfie, many have very little idea about effective techniques for searching for information.

These two videos from Google for Education, while not exhaustive on the topic of properly formatted searching, do highlight some of the features of Google Search that many users are unaware of.

Someday the geese will head North, right?

I mean, winter has to end someday, doesn't it? When (if) it does, that will mean the geese passing through again. Have you or your students ever wondered why geese fly in a "V," and how they decide which one is in the lead? If so watch this.

And you thought your job was stressful...

Even if you yourself aren't an artist, it's fascinating to watch an art restorer take us through the process step by step. Watching him use a hand plane on the back of an oil painting, less than a millimeter from the paint layer, gave me heart palpitations.

Channel Spotlight: The Armchair Historian

For anyone teaching social studies, this is a channel worth checking out. If you're looking for supplemental resources for a class, or just looking to add to your own background knowledge, check out The Armchair Historian.

Channel Spotlight: Kurzgesagt - In a Nutshell

With a focus on the universe and our place in it, this channel provides videos that are thought provoking, while at the same time managing to be entertaining. Videos range across topics such as the Fermi paradox (Where are all the aliens?), to the human immune system, what would happen if you step on a black hole, genetic engineering, and mass surveillance. So if you've got some time to kill by going down a YouTube rabbit hole, check out Kurzgesagt - In a Nutshell.

Back Issues

1 - December 2015 - Hour of Code, Living in Beta, Tools for Engagement

2 - January 2016 - YouTube: Channels, Playlists, Content Create, Classroom Integration

3 - February 2016 - Formative Assessment Principles and Tools

4 - March 2016 - Brain-Based Learning Techniques and Tools

5 - May 2016 - End of the Year Tips and Reminders

6 - September 2016 - Welcome Back

7- November 2016 - Situational Awareness & Review Tools

8 - February 2017 - The ISTE Student Standards Intro & Standard 1

9 - April 2017 - District Makerspaces & ISTE Student Standard 2

10 - September 2017 - Welcome Back

11 - November 2017 - One-to-One

12 - September 2018 - Back to School/1:1 Q & A

Get In Touch

My job is to be here as a resource for you and your students. If you want help learning how to integrate technology in your classroom, please let me know. For more information on the sorts of ways I might help you, look at this.

- Mark Dalton, Ed Tech Coordinator