Tech Connect!

Anna ISD, March 2016

March Conference & Cookies- Plickers!

This month, teachers learned about Plickers, an interactive way to check for student understanding and get instant feedback. Click the button below to learn more!

Technology Levels Playing Field for Dyslexia Students

(SER) When Rattan Elementary's Dyslexia teacher, Jodie McCloud, first heard of, she knew immediately what her first project would be. Ms. McCloud uses technology in her dyslexia classroom because she knows that each one of her students learns differently and technology allows her to individualize instruction and accommodations. She requested that anonymous donors help her purchase two Chromebooks for her classroom. Through the help of social media, Ms. McCloud's project was fully funded and her students are using the Chromebooks daily.

"This has been a wonderful experience. I plan on doing this again until there is a Chromebook to check out for every one of my dyslexia students…technology has leveled the playing field for the dyslexic reader and there is no reason each child shouldn’t have their own chrome book!"

Check out Ms. McCloud's project here:

JKB Code Club Promotes Computer Science

(JKB) First grade teacher, Elysia Zimmerman was interested in started a technology after school club for students at JKB, and when a professional development workshop opened up from, she jumped on the chance to learn more. Mrs. Zimmerman sent a letter home asking for parents' permission for kids to stay after school. Within a week, she had more than 60 students return the form back to school!

JKB’s After School Code Club is teaching’s K-5 Intro to Computer Science course to those students. K-5 Intro to Computer Science is fun, collaborative, and creative! It’s designed to inspire students to continue learning how technology improves real world relationships, connections, and life. has developed an elementary school curriculum that allows even the youngest students to explore the limitless world of computing. The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged”activities that require no computer at all. By the end of each course, students can create interactive games or stories that they can share with anyone.


Software is everywhere. It’s shaping almost every aspect of how we live our lives. But very few kids are learning how to actually create games, apps and programs.

Did you know?

  • 90% of American schools don’t teach computer science.
  • Fewer students are learning how computers work than a decade ago!
  • All students can learn to code. But girls and students of color are severely underrepresented in computer science.

Computer science is a foundation for every student. That’s why JKB is introducing their students to these critical 21st century skills. This is a chance to change the future of education in Anna, Texas!

Code Studio: Kid tested, teacher approved

AMS Students Go LIVE!

(AMS) For the first time ever, Anna Middle School announcements have gone live! That's right, every Friday, ten students from the yearbook class write, direct, video, edit, produce and publish the announcements for the week. The idea started at the beginning of the second semester when 8th grade yearbook students wanted another project to work on. Since then, the selected students work 2-3 days a week rehearsing and filming the week's announcements.

Students have learned basic lighting, filming, and photography techniques, as well as, editing and producing videos in TechSmith's software, Camtasia. Videos are uploaded to YouTube every week so that classroom teachers can show the video to their class on Fridays.

The Coyote Morning News Team has come up with several different segments since the announcements have started including "The Buzz", a weekly segment where students highlight what AMS has been 'buzzing' with throughout the week. A favorite among AMS students has been "Feature Friday", a segment that features music and pictures of the happenings around AMS from that week. All pictures are taken and edited by the 8th grade yearbook students.

Recently, Anna ISD was closed on a Friday and the video announcements were moved to Thursday. The News Team struggled with whether to even do the fan-favorite segment "Feature Friday" or not, since it wasn't a Friday after all. As the team talked about what to do with the segment, one student suggested that they do a "Throwback Thursday" segment instead, a popular trend among teen social media users. The team enthusiastically agreed, but there was one problem, it was already Tuesday and the announcements had to be produced and published the very next day. That's when the 8th graders took it to social media- Instagram to be exact. Immediately, students posted a message to all AMS students to post their throwback Thursday pictures featuring AMS friends with the hashtag "AMSTBT". Within 24 hours, AMS students delivered over 400 posts with throwback pictures! Although not all the throwback pictures were used in the final segment, it was great to see AMS pull the theme together so quickly.

The News Team is currently working on future segments that will inspire and motivate their school. Check out some of their past productions:

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Fourth Graders App Smash Famous Texans

(JKB) 4th grade teachers at Joe K. Bryant Elementary love teaching Texas History and were interested in helping make their students' projects more interactive. That's when the idea of "app smashing" came into play. App Smashing is the process of using multiple apps to create projects or complete tasks. App Smashing can provide your students with creative and inspired ways to showcase their learning and allow you to assess their understanding and skills.

Just in time for Open House, student created projects that parents could not only look at, but interact with as well. Here's how fourth grade teacher, Ms. Maegan Rodgers describes the process:

"Students picked a Famous Texan and researched about 5 questions. Next, they created a Google slide show- no more than 5 slides long about their Famous Texan. They then wrote a script and created their Movenotes, a website that allows students to record their voices adn slideshow at the same time. Then we added some chrome extensions- Google Shortener and QR Code Generator so that they could create a shortened URL and QR Code for their Movenote presentations. They also created action bottle (like 2 liter bottles) biographies, so that we could take a picture of them to go along with their interactive presentations. It was a lot of work but they were rockstars and I am so impressed by them!"

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Chromebooks in the Classroom Updates

Tech Tip of the Month

4 Things You Can Do Right Now to Create a Perfectly Organized Google Drive


Everyone organizes their Google Drive differently. Shockingly, many Google Apps users don’t organize them at all. I have found that, by using a few best practices, there is a system for making Google Drive much more organized and easier to navigate.

Proper folder structure, naming conventions, color coding, and keeping track of what is shared with you can go a long way when used properly. These 4 tips show the best way to organize your Google Drive for faster navigation so you never lose track of a document again.

1. Folder Structure Comes First

The best starting point is creating a clean universal folder structure. An easy way to do this is to create a folder for each category of document and then make subfolders for each aspect of that category. An ‘uncategorized’ folder can house all the documents that don’t fit into any of the other folders yet. Scan through the ‘uncategorized’ folder regularly and sort its contents into the appropriate labeled folders if possible.

Within each subfolder, it is a good practice to create folders that are dated by week to keep track of the dates each document is created, that way no folder becomes too full and difficult to sort through.

To create a folder click the red NEW button and then select the option for folder.

2. Add Some Color

Google Drive has an awesome feature that allows you to color code your folders, this can be done in such a way that makes sifting through your drive much faster.

I made each folder in my drive a different color and then each subfolder a different shade of that same color. The dated weekly folders within each subfolder are the same shade as the subfolder it is contained within. This way, if I am looking at a folder titled “April 6-12” I can instantly tell what types of documents are contained in it simply by glancing at its hue.

To change the color of a folder click the arrow to the right of the folder name on the top bar then select the change color option.

3. Standardize Your Naming Conventions

Date created is a mysteriously absent field in Google Drive, instead you can only view when a document was last updated. Finding a document by it’s creation date is sometimes useful and more intuitive, which should be considered when designing your naming convention.

We think it is best to name every document in the following way “[DateCreated] DocumentName” and then let the folder structure and color coding do the rest. For example a student loan payment receipt created on the 19th of April would be titled “[4.19] Student Loan Payment Receipt” this will be easy to find whether you are searching for the date or the title of the document.

To rename a document, highlight the documents name in Drive and then click the three vertical dots on the right side of the top bar. Then select rename.

4. Shared with you, organized by you

When a document is shared with you, it can be hard to locate because it is not automatically added to your My Drive folder. Make sure to add the file to the appropriate folder in your My Drive. If it does not adhere to your naming conventions, create a folder that fits the naming convention and add the shared file to that folder.

To add a document that is shared with you to your My Drive, highlight the document in the Shared with Me folder and then click the three vertical dots on the right side of the top bar and select Add to My Drive from the dropdown menu.

Upcoming Technology Professional Development Opportunites

Region 10 Tech Conference 2016

Wednesday, May 18th 2016 at 8am-5pm

400 East Spring Valley Road

Richardson, TX

For details, visit

Texas Google Summit by

Saturday, May 14th 2016 at 8-10am

3003 Stonebrook Parkway

Frisco, TX

For more information, visit
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