Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Here's a short how-to video on screencasting (capturing your computer screen while you narrate) using Screencast-o-matic.  I've recommended Jing in the past, but this one has some nice features that make it a great choice for you and your students:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Embedding YouTube into PowerPoint (update 12/12)

Well, it was good while it lasted.  PowerPoint 2012 had the ability to play YouTube videos inside a presentation.  I say "had" because this required embed code from YouTube that is no longer available.  So how can you show videos during a PowerPoint?  Here are three ideas:

  1. Put a link to the video in the PowerPoint (this is what we all used to do).  The video will play in a browser, separate from PowerPoint.  You may also want to have the video queued up in a browser, so you can exit the PowerPoint and start playing immediately.
  2. Try this tool, which promises to deliver the required embed code: http://www.tools4noobs.com/online_tools/youtube_xhtml/.
  3. Don't use PowerPoint.  
    1. Google Presentations play YouTube videos very nicely (note that YouTube is owned by Google).  They don't, however play sounds.  Or...
    2. Have you checked out SlideRocket?    It's listed under "More" in our Google Apps.  SlideRocket is a professional-looking presentation tool that has some nice templates. Works with both video and sound, which Google Presentation doesn't.
    3. Prezi also works with YouTube video.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Auto grading Google forms with Flubaroo script

There are many tools available for creating quizzes that students can take online.  Moodle, for example, has a powerful quiz module that I use all the time in my class.  To be honest, the learning curve can be a bit steep, so here's another (easier) tool you can try.  It's called Flubaroo and it makes use of Google Forms.  Students submit their answers and they are checked against your key.

The tutorial below takes you through all the steps required.  One thing to note is that for "free response" questions, spelling will count.  There is an option to have particular questions not graded, however, so that you can do these manually (I use that option in Moodle not only for longer responses, but for shorter ones where students may word their answers differently).

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Computer Basics

After working with a freshman class the other day, I realized that there were certain computer concepts that we might consider basic that some of them didn't know.  This is particularly true as we see more and more use of phones and tablets. Thus, this post to remind us all (including myself) that it never hurts to review some of the basics when the students are working with computers.

Here's a partial list-- feel free to add your ideas in the comments.

  1. Save vs. Save As.

    Created a presentation in Keynote, but you need to play it on a computer that doesn't have Keynote?  Save As allows you to save a file in a format different from the standard format for the application.  You can save that Keynote as a Powerpoint, or a Word file as a PDF, or a Powerpoint as a set of images, etc.  Save As also allows you to make a version of a file without changing the original.
  2. Visibility of on-line content

    Shared a link to a Google doc with people, but they can't open it?  When you create online content (such as Prezi, YouTube, Glogsters, GoogleDocs, VoiceThreads, etc.), you have to pay attention to the visibility of that content.  To use Google Docs as an example, you don't need to individually share a doc with each person.  You can just click on Share, then change visibility to "Anyone with the link."  Copy the link and provide it on a blog, web site, e-mail, etc.
  3.  Local and network file management

    Don't just hit save and hope for the best!  At CVU, G: indicates your storage folder, while C: refers to the particular computer you are working on.  
  4. Secondary clicking (right-clicking)

    Right-clicking (on a PC), or control-clicking (on a Mac) on something typically brings up a menu of options that apply to that thing.  Want to increase the font size of a word?  Right-click it!  Need to change the color of a drawing object?  Right-click it...
  5. Creating hyperlinks

    When you enter or paste in the text of a hyperlink (a web address), some applications will automatically convert it into an active link (meaning that clicking on it will take you to that web page).  Moodle and Mahara (among others) do not always do this.  To create the hyperlink yourself, 1) select the text, 2) look for the hyperlink icon (it is typically a chain link or a globe), then 3) enter or paste in the web address.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New student account information

Welcome to the CVU Community! Your student will need to come down to the IT office as there are a number of accounts that we'll need to setup for him. He can check with his Core teachers and they'll get him sent in the right direction. Ultimately, he'll end up with four different accounts here at CVU:

A network log in account to log in to the computers here at school.

A Moodle account - this is where his homework and other class information will be found.

A Google Apps account for email, etc.

Currently, we don't have parental access for our Moodle page, but the majority of our courses are open to the public so you can see anything that the teacher posts. You won't be able to see any student work through the public log in due to privacy requirements. If you'd like to see your son's work in a class, you can ask him to log in and show you what he has done.

I hope this has answered your questions regarding this ticket. Please feel free to contact us via the helpdesk with any other questions.

Monday, November 5, 2012

More Tools for ESL1

Originally posted 9/ 9/ 2012

Looking back on my last post (about ESL 1: Communication), I realize I may have violated the first condition for some folks-- some teachers and students may want to start with something even quicker than shooting and sharing video.  Here are some ideas you to try that are easy to set up:
  1. VoiceThread. Upload a picture or file, give your students the link, and let the conversation begin!  At CVU, this has been used in world language classes to discuss famous Spanish paintings, for example.  Students can provide text comments, record audio comments, or even use webcams to provide video comments.
  2. Jing.  Jing is a free tool for recording screencasts.  Students can record their voices as they capture video of their computer screen.  They might explain how they solved a math problem using Geogebra or take the video on a tour of a house they designed in SketchUp.
  3. Audacity- It's free.  It's on all school computers.  Record audio, save as mp3.  Easy.

Tools for ESL 1

Originally posted 8/26/12

You: OK, Charlie, it's a new year and I want to try something new with technology!
My requirements:
  1. Easy to do
  2. Improves student learning
Me: I'm on it-- and I'll even arrange by ESL (our Expectations for Student Learning at CVU HS). Here goes:

ESL 1 Communication

Replace a written response assignment (essay, reflection, answers to questions, math problem, etc.) with an oral one.
Instead of--or in addition to-- having each student present to the class, use technology to capture the response.


tech tools
For audio, students can record themselves using computers, handheld digital recorders (see Jacob in 118), or their own smartphones.
For video, students can record themselves using webcams (the mini carts at CVU all have these built in), standard or Flip video cameras (see Jacob in 118), or their smartphones.
It is easiest to minimize the editing needed for this sort of task, so students should strive to get the response in one take.  They will find that each successive attempt at the perfect take will improve the quality of the response.
Important- Where students run into the most difficulty is understanding media file types.  They may need to use a video or audio editor to convert their recording to the proper format.  I'd be happy to come in and explain this to your class.
How do they share the recording with the class/teacher?  There are lots of ways to do this.  If your students are already blogging (I'll be talking about that when we get to ESL 2- Writing) , they might include the recording in a blog post.  Otherwise, an easy way to share is using Google Docs (now called Google Drive).  Students can upload their recordings and control the visibility.  Here's a how-to (for video).

Tag, you're it!

beatlestgOriginally posted 4/1/2010

I was just playing around with Tag Galaxy (try it, it's a blast!) and it got me thinking about how important it is that we teachers recognize and appreciate the shift in how information is being organized.
The following is from amazon.com's review of David Weinberger's Everything is Miscellaneous:
Human beings are information omnivores: we are constantly collecting, labeling, and organizing data. But today, the shift from the physical to the digital is mixing, burning, and ripping our lives apart. In the past, everything had its one place--the physical world demanded it--but now everything has its places: multiple categories, multiple shelves. Simply put, everything is suddenly miscellaneous.
And here's the professor himself, explaining the concept.
It's worth watching (or reading the book), but if you're short on time, the basic concept is that we were brought up with a hierarchical organization of information- so, for example, to research The Beatles, our path might have been something like Arts->Entertainment->Music->Musical Groups->English Musical Groups->The Beatles.
...but The Beatles belong to more than one "category" of information.
The Beatles are: a rock band, a collection of songs, a haircut, the British Invasion, John Lennon's group, Yoko One, Liverpool, etc. , etc.  This is where tagging comes in.  Tagging allows us to attach all of these descriptions to the Beatles.
Earlier this year,  we  switched our school e-mail to Gmail.  All of the sudden, we didn't have to choose whether a particular e-mail belonged in the  "Curriculum" folder, the "To Do" folder, or the "Pedagogy" folder- with tagging (it's actually referred to as "labeling" in GMail), we put it iall those "folders."   And, since we can search by tags, we find it when we look for either Curriculum or Pedagogy (or To Do).
Let's help students become good "taggers."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


(Originally posted 3/30/10)

Prezi is a different way to make presentations. It is especially useful for looking at the big picture versus the details. 
Check out this example from CVU student Maddie R (used with permission- thanks to Joe G):
or this template about perspective:

Moodle "choice" activity

(Originally posted 1/6/11)

Looking for an easy way to let your students vote? Try using the "Choice" module (under "Add an Activity") in Moodle. It only takes a minute to set up. Of course, you can also use Google forms and other online tools to take a vote, but one nice feature of the Moodle choice is that you know who has and hasn't yet participated.

The results look like this (whether students see the results and whether there is a limit for each choice are optional settings):


Here's a video on how to set it up:
I would love to help anyone get started with this- just let me know.

Digital poster projects

(Originally posted 1/7/11)

If you have a project that involves students designing a poster, consider a digital tool.

Why? Digital posters are
  • Multi-media- incorporate images, video, and sound.
  • Multi-dimensional- use hyperlinks and “hot-spots” to extend.
  • Sharable- beyond the classroom.
  • Engaging- students tend to enjoy working with digital tools

Here are some tools to consider (with examples of actual student work): Students can be given the choice of which tool to use, with the constant being the content to be "displayed." I would love to come into your class and support this kind of project.

Exam Review

(Originally posted 1/10/11)

Here are two ways that technology can help you and your students prepare for exams:

1) Quizlet is a great site for making on-line flashcards. You can make a flashcard set as a class, students can make their own, or search the site for sets from other users. Quizlet offers various ways to practice, as well.

2) For the bigger picture, consider using Google Drawing to make mind map diagrams. Go to Google docs, Create New..Drawing, then just drag in shapes, double-click to add text, and connect shapes with arrows. Here's one I'm working on for my class. Of course, since it's Google, you can make changes and not have to re-share (just remember to set the sharing settings to "Anyone with the link" so students can access).

3) From Mark P:
I found this online version of Jeopardy. You don't have to register (in fact if you do, you'll have to pay $$) and it stays online so you can access it anywhere. Quick and easy to set up and even helps you keep track of team points.

4) Joe G shared this "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire"- type game that a student created for Grammar Fest:

Quia has templates for other types of games, as well. A one-year subscription for teachers is $49- not free, but not too bad.

Cell phone surveys

(Originally posted 3/1/11)

At the last faculty meeting, we used a web site that allowed people to text their responses to a prompt and projected the results. You may have thought that such a thing is difficult to pull off. In fact, it's quite easy- and it's free (for up to 30 responses per question). The site is http://www.polleverywhere.com/ .

There are some things to consider when using this site, however:
1) Equity. Many kids have cell phones with unlimited text plans, but not all. One nice thing about polleverywhere is that they provide a URL for submission over the web. Students without cell phones (or with smartphones) can use this, instead.

2) Anonymity. You don't know who is submitting which response, so a conversation about appropriateness is probably a good idea beforehand.

You can create multiple-choice or text questions. You can also download the results afterward for future reference.

Classroom Scenarios

(Originally posted 3/7/11)

Need some inspiration/ideas on how to integrate technology and 21st century skills in the classroom? Take a look at these "Classroom Scenarios" that were developed around the new Vermont state technology GE's. They are broken out by grade level- use the links to look at the 9-12 examples. Some of these are units that have actually been done in area classrooms. I'd love to team with people who might want to put something like these in place in their classes.


(originally posted 4/7/11)

Has anyone tried Wallwisher? It's a ridiculously easy-to-use web tool for creating a "wall" that students can post notes to. It's a great way to hear from students about what they're learning, where they want to go on a field trip, etc. Walls are by default publicly viewable, so students should not use their full names.

I've create a sample wall here. Try posting a note to it! On the wall, I've posted a link to some sample uses, as well.

If you have used this in class, or do use it, let us know how it worked out.

National Geographic Education and Google Map Maker

(originally posted 5/10/11)

National Geographic has just unveiled its new education site (in beta), which promises lots of resources for teachers and students. One of these is a nice map-making tool, where students can add features to maps, then download the image files.

Speaking of maps, Google Map Maker is a tool that lets anyone add details to maps. Google may then incorporate the information into Google Maps. Students could add placemarkers and routes for the local area, for instance.

Students can also use Google Maps to create their own private or shared maps.

Moodle Design Tips

(Originally posted 5/12/11)

I ran into this slideshow which gives some simple and effective tips for designing a Moodle page. Note that this assumes that your page is in Topics view.


Here are just three key points from the slide show that are right on:

1) Use Moodle more as a launch pad to content, not to create the content itself. There are lots of great resources out there, as well as tools for you to create your own good-looking material. What Moodle provides is the link to these resources and the ability to build conversations (forums) and assignments (activities) around them.

2) Use Activity reports to find out who is accessing resources and how often. Did you know that you can find out exactly who has (and who has not) visited that great link that you provided? Click Reports in the Administration block to try it.

3) Let students get involved in developing the page. For example, build a class glossary or database that the students contribute to.

I'd love to sit down one-on-one with anyone who'd like to work on Moodle course design. Just let me know what works for you.

Free technology for teachers

What's a good resource for free, web-based resources for my class?

My favorite site is Free Technology for Teachers. It's a blog, written by a middle school teacher, that has quick reviews of lots of tools for all curricular areas. In addition to visiting the site, you can subscribe via RSS or follow on Twitter.

If you happen on something that looks promising and would like me to check it out or support your use of it, please let me know.

(Originally posted 10/10/11)

What's new in Office 2010

Here are two features available in Microsoft Office 2010 that may be helpful to you:

1) Screen Shots- you can now add images of your computer screen to Word, Powerpoint, and other Office docs. This is useful if you are doing a "how-to," for example, and you want to show students exactly what they should be seeing when they complete a particular step in a process. Go to Insert..Screen Shot. You will then be given thumbnails of all open windows. Click on the one you want and an image will be inserted.
Here's a video on how to do it:

2) YouTube in Powerpoint- you can now embed video from YouTube (and other streaming video sites) into Powerpoint. For YouTube, first find the video you want. Click on Share, then Embed, and check the box that says "Use old embed code" (you\'ll know the code is correct if it starts with object, rather than iframe). Copy that code. Back in Powerpoint, click Insert..Video..Video from Web site, and paste the code into the dialog box that appears.
Important Note- the video will only play on computers running Office 2010 (all computers at CVU). If you want students to watch at home, this is NOT a good choice.

(originally posted 10/20/11)

Timeline tools

Here are four tools for creating timelines:
TimeRime. Like other timeline tools, TimeRime "does the math" of creating an appropriate scale, so if that's the skill you're looking to practice, this is not the tool. However, if you're looking for a way for students to create text descriptions of events and add photos and videos, this is worth a look.
Here's an actual student example. Note that "M" signifies an event with multimedia attached (follow the link for this to work).




Please let me know if I can help!
(originally posted 10/31/11)

QR codes in education

Is anyone interested in forming a group to try out using QR codes in the classroom? If you don't know what a QR code is, it's the thing (you see more and more in magazines and on products) that looks like this:
qr code
A smartphone with the appropriate app (I use RedLaser on my iPod) can "read" the code, which typically opens a web site or provides text or an image.

I just made the code above using this tool. Give it a try and see where it leads!
And here's a tool that creates a code that you can put on any document so if someone wants a copy of the doc, all they have to do is scan the code.
How can we use QR codes with students? Here's an article to get the ball rolling. Anyone interested?

(originally posted 11/28/11)

Using the new Google Presentations editor

Google Presentations (the "Powerpoint" of Google) has a new editor that features slide transistions, animations, "fair use" image search, and real-time collaboration among editors. It (still) doesn't require any software other than a web browser (and connection to the internet) and it allows a group of students to all work together on a presentation. Oh, and YouTube video is easy to embed.
If you haven't tried it lately, it's worth taking a look. Here's a video I made that demonstrates some of the new features:

(originally posted 12/20/11)

2nd semester tech boost

It's a new semester, and a chance to try something new with technology. Here are 10 simple things you can do right now! In a 10-minute meeting, we can get any of these ideas started:

  1. Have students post their reactions to a reading/video on a Moodle forum....
  2. ...or use a VoiceThread to get students’ reaction to a picture, video, or story.
  3. Have students start a blog to write reflections on what they’re studying (go to GMail, More, Even More, Blogger).
  4. ...or for a different approach to writing, have students create a comic strip summary of the day’s lesson.
  5. Have your students record themselves speaking/reading, using Audacity or Aviary.
  6. Create a Google alert to send you the latest results on any search query.
  7. Start a parent e-mail list (see me to set this up- it only takes a few minutes!).
  8. Create a YouTube playlist (or have students create them) for extending classroom learning.
  9. Create a database or glossary in Moodle that all students can contribute to (see me to set this up).
  10. Create a Google form (in Google Docs) to get input from students.
Why not give one of these a try? I'd love to help you get started.

(originally posted 3/10/12)


There's a new site that looks promising for classroom resources called
GooRu. You can get to it through Google Apps, by opening your GMail, then choosing Gooru under "More." I'd love to know what people think- are these useful resources? 

(originally posted 2/10/12)


Many teachers use TED videos with their classes. TED has now jumped into the "flipped lesson" model with TED-Ed. Essentially, TED-Ed takes pre-existing TED videos and creates "lessons" that include a quick quiz for understanding, free response questions, and links to extend the learning. You can even customize the lessons or build your own based on any video on YouTube.


There are some criticisms and cautions about the flipped classroom model, but used as a supplement, TED-Ed could be a powerful tool in your class. If anyone tries a lesson, please share your thoughts here.

Using Google Docs for letters of intent (and more!)

Here are some tips for using Google Docs (note- the first two tips also apply to Microsoft Word- with some differences, but are easier to do in Google Docs):

  1. Comments in Letters of Intent (Grad Challenge). Try opening your junior’s letter of intent in Google Docs, then using “Insert Comment,” rather than typing directly in the doc. This makes it clear to the student where revisions are needed and separates your comments from the work itself. Each comment can also become a conversation (just hit reply) and/or be “resolved” once the issue is addressed. Here’s an example of a letter I was working on today (blurred to protect the innocent!).Comments example
  2. Using Paragraph formatting. Next time you make a heading in a doc, try using paragraph formatting (it’s just to the left of the fonts- the default is Normal Text), rather than just increasing the font size. This serves two purposes: 1) you can automatically generate a table of contents and 2) for those using screen readers, they can skip from section to section rather than having to listen to the first 12 pages to get to content on the 13th. The video at the bottom of this post (which, BTW, I uploaded to Google Docs and shared) explains this further.

  1. More fonts! Google Docs just added over 450 fonts, so you can now spend 5 minutes writing a document and 90 minutes choosing the perfect font for it! To check out additional fonts, click “Add Fonts” at the bottom of the font list.

  1. Easier printing. Google Docs has improved the printing interface. Just click on the print icon in Google Docs (do not choose “Print” in the brower), choose your printer, and print.

More word cloud tools

You probably have seen Wordle, the tool that analyzes text for word frequency, then arranges the words graphically (the Advisory wordle is a good example of this). There are other tools that are similar and are worth a try. Here are two:

Tagxedo is much like Wordle, expect that it allows you to decide the shape of the final image. Here, for example, is our course catalog in the shape of a hawk (note that these screen shots are not as much fun as the online version- try it yourself and you'll see what I mean):

WordSift is not as pretty as the others, but clicking on a word in WordSift brings up images and a visual thesaurus representation. This might be especially useful for ELL students. Again, here's our course catalog:

Unfortunately, neither of these have built-in printing, so you need to take a screen shot if you want them on paper.

Want more? Here's a blog post that discusses other word cloud tools:

How to create random student groups

Here are three tech tools you can use to place students in randomly assigned groups:

  1. Team Maker http://chir.ag/projects/team-maker/ - paste in your class list*, choose the number of teams desired.

    Team Maker
  2. Round Robin Tournament Generator http://www.teamopolis.com/tools/round-robin-generator.aspx - designed for sports events, but works great if you want each student in your class to be paired with every other student (each "round" in the tournament represents the next time you do pairing in class). You can paste in your class list, or just use numbers.

    Round Robin
  3. Moodle- go to Groups in the Administration block and click Auto-create Groups. You can set either the group size or the number of groups. No need to paste in names, because Moodle already has them!

    auto groups

*Here's how to get your class lists

e-portfolio "how-to" site

For those teachers using Mahara (our e-portfolio platform) with their students, I have created a "how-to" site that I will be continually updating. I welcome any comments or suggestions for improvement or additions. https://sites.google.com/a/cvuhs.org/managing-your-cvu-eportfolio/home

Tech tips

Looking for classroom resources? Tech tips from the forums will be moved into this blog, which allows for easy access. Please visit the Tech Integration page to view tips by category.


Welcome to the new home for tech support at Champlain Valley Union HS!