Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hour of Code week

This week is the Hour of Code!  Lots of great resources again this year to get everyone to try coding for one hour.

Here are students in Chittenden Core working on their programs.

And here is the CVU Computer Programming class videoconferencing with a class from New Jersey, sharing what each class has done.

Why not give coding a try yourself!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Adding actions to YouTube videos

Have you ever asked students to watch a YouTube video and wanted a better way to assess their understanding or get their reaction while they watched? Vizia is a tool that allows you to add polls, open-ended or multiple choice questions, and more to YouTube videos.  As students watch the video, it pauses at the places where you inserted questions.  Students answer each question and the video then continues.  Answers can be downloaded as a Google Sheet (select "Gate Video" if you want to collect their names/email addresses, as well).

Vizia is still relatively new and could use a few improvements (specifically, better navigation while inserting questions and more than four choices for multiple choice and polls), but it's definitely worth checking out the next time you assign a YouTube video.

Here's an example of one I made for my class :

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Need a short break today?  Try QuickDraw with Google.  The idea is that you draw a doodle and the AI (Artificial Intelligence) tries to guess what you made.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What's this about G Suite?

In case your were wondering... G suite is the new name for Google Apps (Docs, GMail, Calendar, Drive, etc.).   Same tools, new name. Time to add a new tag to the blog!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Vermont Fest Recap

Last week, Mark Pogact and I attended the Vermont Fest ed tech conference. There were educators and "tech people" from all over Vermont and beyond. Here is the complete schedule (click through to see presenter materials). Here are some of the takeaways:

We attended a session with Peter Drescher on the new ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Standards for students. We looked at how these have evolved.  Great conversations about assessing these and how they fit with the CSSU Grad Standards.

There was a panel discussion on PLPs during lunch on Thursday.  Lots of schools grappling with these.

On Thursday afternoon, we attended Dan French's session on Open Education School Systems. We applied the Design Process of

  1. Describe problem as design challenge
  2. Brainstorm/empathize
  3. Rapid prototyping
  4. Iteration and refinement
to the context of PLP implementation. 

On Friday morning, I was in the Innovation Lounge, where we were demo-ing such things as 3D printing, green-screen video, and programming toy robots.  Mark attended a session on virtual learning. In the afternoon, we both attended an excellent session on Open Education Resources.  This really got me thinking about how we can utilize free and open resources in classes and for student-centered learning.

As usual, some of the best learning came from conversations with colleagues from other schools-- in the hallway, at the next table in a workshop, or at lunch.  

Mark and I would be happy to share more details on what we learned if you're interested.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Chromebook Workshop

I'll be posting screencast recaps from last week's Chromebook workshops.  This first topic is using Googlecast to project your Chromebook's screen through your classroom projector.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Comparing and Contrasting Doctopus and Google Classroom


Have you ever been in the situation where you want all students to create a document (perhaps based on your template), shared with you so you can then give feedback (I'm guessing "yes")?  How can you manage this so that your GMail inbox is not overrun with Share notifications and you can easily find all those files?

Doctopus and Google Classroom are both tools that manage the sharing and "collecting" of student work in Google Apps.  How are they the same? How are they different?

  • Set up student rosters
  • Distribute an individual copy of a Google Doc to each student, properly named and shared with you.
  • Access those docs all in the same folder.

  • Rosters
    • Doc: Teacher creates the roster
    • GC: Students can self-enroll with a code or teacher can create the roster.
  • Folders
    • Doc: Also creates a folder for each student so you can see all of their work in one place
    • GC: Only creates folders for each assignment, not each student.
  • Rubric Grading
    • Doc: Uses the Goobric Chrome extension for rubric grading.
    • GC: Does not support rubric grading internally*
  • Other features
    • Doc: Shows details of when students last worked on the document and other information.
    • GC: Classroom is more than a document management tool.  It also has a discussion forum that connects to GMail.   

*Doctopus and Google Classroom can actually be used in conjunction.  An assignment can be imported into Doctopus from Google Classroom, 

Some screenshots:


So, what should you choose?  I would say that Google Classroom is overall easier to use. However, Classroom doesn't provide individual folders by students of rubric grading, so if you need those, consider Doctopus.

I'm happy to help you with either of these.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

It's Digital Citizenship Week!

Digital Citizenship Week is an opportunity to take stock of how safely, responsibly, and respectfully we are using technology.

Check out these resources from Common Sense Media, including a pledge that teachers and students can take.
Image from Common Sense Media

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Desmos Graphing Calculator to be used in SBAC testing

I just learned that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests will be switching to the Desmos Graphing Calculator this year (replacing the built-in calculator from years past).  That's great news, because Desmos is a well-designed, easy to use tool with a nice interface.

Many students are already using Desmos.  If you haven't tried Desmos yet, take a look here.

Desmos also has many pre-designed activities that students can try individually or as a class, such as this one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Vermont Fest 2016

Vermont Fest 2016 is taking place November 3rd and 4th this year in Killington.  This is an ed tech conference, but it's about much more than technology integration-- it's really about learning.  It's a great way to get some new ideas and interact with colleagues from around the state.  Check it out at http://vtfest.vita-learn.org/

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Taking a screenshot on a Chromebook (and other devices)

Here's a question that's popping up a lot: "How do I take a screen capture/screenshot (i.e., an image of my screen) on a Chromebook?"

It's often useful to snap a picture of what's on your device's screen.
On a Chrombook, this is done by pressing the Ctl key together with the "Switcher" key (so called, because it otherwise switches you from tab to tab in Chrome)

Here's how to do it on other devices:
  • On Windows computers, the Snipping Tool (in Accessories) does this nicely.  
  • On a Mac, you can use Command-Shift-4
  • In iOS (e.g., iPhone) or Android, hold the power/sleep button and home button (or volume down if your Android doesn't have a home button) at the same time.

Need more advanced features?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Embedding content in a Blogger post

I've written before about embed code as a way to have content from one site viewable within a window on another site.  This can be more effective than simply linking to a video, for example-- like this...

Recently, Jeff and Justin's E10/MMW stduents created videos in WeVideo.  They wanted these videos to play within blogger posts. I wrote up instructions for this and thought these might be useful to others (of course, I embedded the doc as a demo, but here's a link!).

Chromebook workshops

I'm doing a workshop next week called

So you have a Chromebook. Now what?

If you have questions about how a Chromebook differs from a traditional laptop, how apps and extensions work on Chromebooks, or what keyboard shortcuts are available on a Chromebook, come check it out!

We will be in room 118 (note-- not the library lab) for the first half of each block on Thursday, 10/6 and Friday 10/7.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The new Google Sites

Are you someone who made a Google Site a few years ago and didn't like the interface and/or thought the site looked boring?
You might want to go back and take a look at the new Google Sites.  The user interface is vastly improved.  The overall look is a lot cleaner.  Creating and editing pages is more intuitive, as well.

I just quickly made this site to give you an idea of how it looks.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Printing Class Lists new for 2016-17

As we start a new school year, you may want a printed roster of your students.  In an older post, I described how to do this in different ways.  We are no longer able to use GradeQuick, however Moodle, MMS and JumpRope all have the capability.

Here's how to do it in JumpRope, which is the quickest method, but is less flexible than the Moodle method below:

  1. Click the Courses tab
  2. Choose the course
  3. Choose Print Roster from the pull-down menu.

This will produce a pdf file of your roster, with 5 blank columns for recording data.  You can create more columns the old-fashioned way (i.e., using a pen and a ruler).

Here's how to do it in Moodle, which is a few more clicks but allows you more control.

  1. Open your class page.
  2. Click "Grades" in the Administration block.
  3. If you have your class set up in groups, you can choose just the group desired, or all participants.
  4. From the "Choose an action" drop-down list, Choose "Export -- Excel" (you may have to scroll to see it).  See 1st pic below.
  5. If you wish, you can specify exactly what data is exported, but it's easiest to just hit "Submit," then "Download."
  6. Open in Excel or Google Sheets, then delete columns that you don't need (you can also add/delete students)
  7. On the top row, go over to the last column that you would like to print and enter any character in that cell 
  8. When printing the spreadsheet, choose "Show Gridlines." It will print a grid up to the column you specified in the step above.

In Excel or Google Sheets

Friday, May 27, 2016

Media Lab new look

If you haven't had a chance to stop by room 118 (the AV Media lab) recently, please come visit!  I think you'll be amazed by the new look.  Nick, Matt, Matt Kihm, Jamie, Tom, and (our fantastic fill-in) Keith Peden all had a hand in transforming the space.  It was immediately put to use by Deb's Spanish class, seen here recording audio for their WeVideo projects.

We are looking forward to getting the most out of this space as we move forward.

Monday, May 16, 2016

New Q&A feature in Google Slides

Google Slides (formerly Google Presentations) recently got a great update that's worth checking out. You can now collect audience questions using something called Q&A.  Essentially, while you're presenting, audience members post questions to a link you provide.  Other audience members can then vote up a a question.  At any point, you can see which questions have a lot of votes and reply to them.

This is a great way to involve the audience (even the shy people who might never raise their hand) and filter for questions that have a lot of interest.

Here's a video of Q&A in action (featuring the winner of the first Google Science Fair)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

More summer PD opportunities

Got this today from Marlboro College:

I wanted to let you know that we are now offering the below optional credit courses on convenient schedules, with lower costs, all with an eye towards supporting flexible pathways.
Info and easy registration at: Marlboro's new professional development pagehttp://www.marlboro.edu/pdi
Summer PD Courses
  • Game Design for Teachers: August 14thSeptember 25th, online. 
  • Cracking the Code of Proficiency: June 20-22 Bellows Falls area. 
  • Transforming with Technology: June 14, 15, 16, Bellows falls area.
  • Teaching with Canvas Learning Management System. July 11 through October, Burlington High School.
Partner PD Courses
  • Create, Make, Learn 2016 with Lucie deLaBruere, August 1-5, Burlington. 
  • Google Certification Bootcamp: July 11th-12th, CVEDCi-Classroom, Dupont Hall, Fort Ethan Allen in Colchester.
  • Online Teaching Endorsement and other courses through Vermont Virtual. 
  • Universal Design: Technology Integration Certificate through Landmark College
For more information see: http://www.marlboro.edu/pdi 

Or contact Kara Hamilton in admissions at: khamilton@marlboro.edu | 802-451-7506.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Creating a shared Google map for your class

I've posted before about teachers using Google Maps for students to place annotated markers, routes, and regions on.  This can work well as a group activity, where each student creates a marker for a particular place on the map, for example.

Some ideas?  Create a map that marks important locations in a novel, or different regions in an area, or the routes taken on an historical journey.

I just wrote up teacher instructions on how to create a shared map in the first place.  If you'd like to give it a try, I hope these help.  I'm also happy to get you started.

The map below is editable.  Feel free to give it a try.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Creating Timelines

I dug up this old post to help  a teacher whose students are making timelines.  Whenever I look at an old post, I check the links to make sure they still work.  I'm please to report that all of the sites in the post are still up and running, except for xtimeline.

Here's a timeline of Steve Jobs' life to show you a possibility (click the image to see the full functionality)...

New Team Mode in Kahoot

I mentioned Kahoot in my last post (about Quizlet).  As it turns out, I just read about a new "team mode" in Kahoot.  It's designed for when groups of students are sharing a device.  As 1-to-1 move up through the grades, this will be less and less of an issue, but for now, this is a good thing to know about!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Quizlet Live

Many teachers and students at CVU use Quizlet to create online flash cards.  Quizlet has now introduced Quizlet Live, which uses card sets to create games where teams of students compete against one another.  I haven't tried it myself yet, but it sounds similar to the functionality of Kahoot.

So, if you already use Quizlet, why not give Quizlet Live a try?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Revisiting VoiceThread

I've been thinking about VoiceThread again lately.   Have you tried it?  I've posted about VoiceThread before, but if you're unfamiliar with it, it's essentially a site where you can post a series of images to start a conversation.  People then add comments, as text or in audio or video form, using a microphone or webcam.  The comments show up to the left and right of the images.

Spanish teachers at CVU have used VoiceThread to allow their students to discuss famous paintings in Spanish, for example (recording their voices).  There's a math teacher in Burlington who snaps photos on his phone when he sees interesting geometric shapes, then posts them to a VoiceThread for students to comment.  There are science teachers who use VoiceThread for lab reports (students capture images and/or video of each step, then annotate with comments).

Here's a VoiceThread  I just started with some images from different areas that might just get students thinking.  You can see that I've used text, audio, and webcam commenting.  Best to expand to full screen to see this.

Feel free to add a comment (you do need to create an account to do so).

I'd be happy to help you get a VoiceThread going in your class.  Stop by 118 any time!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Two Google tips

Here are two simple but useful tips for Google Apps

Creating Reminders in Google Calendar.  

This is a new feature.  You can now add a "reminder" to your calendar (as opposed to an "event").  This is a great way to remind yourself to get something done at a particular date/time.  And they'll continue to appear on your agenda until you've marked them as done.  I've posted before about the usefulness of Google Tasks.  Tasks are still available, but they can be converted to Reminders as desired (down the road, I wouldn't be surprised if Google were to merge these).

Customizing the Google Apps Launcher

This is one of those really simple things that can make your life a lot easier.  If you didn't realize it, you can click and drag to move the icons in your Google Apps Launcher.  This is especially important if you want certain apps to appear "above the line" (i.e. not under "More").  Here a quick screencast on how it works.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Made to Stick Google Slides Template

Many teachers (and maybe students) have read the book Made to Stick,  which is subtitled, Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

I was working on a new Google Slides presentation today and I noticed the the Heath brothers (who wrote the book) have created a Google Slides template.  It might be worth a look the next time you are putting together a presentation in which you want your ideas to, well, stick.

Another  great resource for effective slide decks is the  book Presentation Zen (available in the CVU library) and the companion website

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Chrome Music Lab

Here's an interesting new site that lets students experiment with musical ideas-- it's called the Chrome Music Lab. It is interesting how much you can do these days right in a browser.  This page links to a groups of activities that let students (and everyone else) try creating rhythms and melodies (without the use of standard musical notation), explore pitches that strings of different lengths make, and more.  Give it a try!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Making it easier to create resources in Moodle


If you haven't already noticed, we've made it a little easier to post resources in Moodle. The "description" field used to be required, however many people found it not helpful.  So...it's now optional.  One less field to fill in when posting!

Assignments do still require a description, as that what tells students what to do.  This can be a written description or a link to a Google doc, etc.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Speeding up YouTube

There is so much useful information on YouTube but only so much time in the day...

Here's a simple tip on how to watch a 5 minute video in 3 minutes-- speed it up! If you are watching a video of someone who is speaking clearly, you'll find that you can often watch at 1.25 to 1.5 times the normal speed and it is perfectly understandable (in the case of a slower speaker, even doubling the speed can work).

Don't believe me?  Give it a try.  Here's how:
Click the settings (gear) icon on the lower right of the video (you may have to hover to see it).
Choose Speed (note you can also change video quality and turn on/off captions here).

Bump it up to 1.25.  How does it sound?

I watch most videos (I tend to watch a lot of tutorials) at 1.5 speed.  That means it only takes me 2/3 the time it would normally take to watch the video.

So, what to do with all the time you save?  Relax-- you deserve it!

Another word cloud tool to try

Colleen Wedge shared this word cloud one of her students made. She used a tool called tagul.com.  This particular student is doing dog therapy, so the shape is a nice fit!  Can you see using word clouds within PLPs?

I've written before about word clouds, but it's also good to see what the new tools are.  Here are some ideas on how you can use them:

  1. Try pasting in the full text of two presidential candidates' stump speeches.  How do they compare?
  2. Make a word cloud from responses to a survey to get a feel for the main points.
  3. Add a tag cloud to your blog to see what topics are most often discussed.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Thesaurus in Google Docs

I was just asked whether Google Docs has a built-in thesaurus.  The answer is, "yes, but you need to know where to look!"

Highlight the word or phrase for which you want to find synonyms. Then choose "Define" from the Tools menu.  If available, synonyms will appear with the definition(s).  Some of these are hyperlinked, so you can maneuver in as you would in an actual thesaurus.

For example, I tried the word big and got

I did find that some words yield more results than others (and some only give a definition).

There is also a Google Docs addon called Thesaurus, but it currently has a 2.5 star rating on the Chrome store, so...

Of course, there are also online and print thesauruses (thesauri?).  

Oo... now I get to tell my thesaurus joke:
"I lost my thesaurus the other day, which is really frustrating and....um....frustrating!" 

Anyone have a particular thesaurus they find useful?  Please post in the comments.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Recording voice

Technology integration doesn't have to be overly complex to be effective.  Here's a simple idea that can be very powerful-- ask students to share something in a voice recording.  This might be their reaction to some reading or explaining a concept in their own words.  Think of how what you get might compare to what they would write.

image from pixabay.com

How is this done?

To record:
  1. For students with smartphones, use the built in voice memo app (or try one of the many free apps available for iOS or Android).
  2. For students with laptops, use the built in microphone to record to TwistedWave (web app) or Audacity (installed app).
  3. Other students can borrow a handheld digital recorder or a mic to connect to a computer (from 118).  
To share:
  1. Smartphones-- install the Google Drive app (for iOS). Share the audio file to Google Drive
  2. TwistedWave-- File..Send..Google Drive
  3. Audacity-- save as mp3, then upload to Google Drive
  4. Once in Drive, share the file just as you would a Google Doc.
  5. The audio will play inside Google Drive.
Here's a screencast on using TwistedWave and sharing from Google Drive:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Screenshots and screencasting with the Snagit extension

When explaining something computer-related, it is often helpful to capture either a still image of the screen (called a screenshot) or a video of the screen as you do your thing-- often recording your voice narration, as well (called a screencast).

I've mentioned various tools for doing this in the past, but I started using a new one recently, and I'd recommend it for two reasons:
  1. It's easy to use
  2. It automatically stores your screenshots and screencasts in Google Drive for easy sharing.
I made a how-to video. Here's an index so you can skip ahead if desired:

0:00 What is screencasting?
0:55 Signing into Chrome
1:45 Starting up Snagit
2:18 Granting permissions for Snagit
3:00 Capturing screenshots (still images)
4:24 Capturing screencasts (video of the screen)

For those who prefer the short and sweet written steps:
  1. Sign into Chrome
  2. Click the SnagIt Extension (white S in a blue square)
  3. Grant the necessary permissions
  4. Click the extension again 
  5. Use the sidebar menu to take screenshots and screencasts
  6. These are automatically saved in Google Drive for sharing 
(full disclosure on the video above-- I didn't actually use the extension itself to make the video, because I demo it in the video.  You can't use a camera to take a picture of itself !).

Friday, January 15, 2016

WeVideo help site

I've been working with several classes using WeVideo this year so I thought I'd create a single help site with resources and documents.  I'll be adding to the site as we continue to use WeVideo.

If you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, you must check out WeVideo! It's a web-based video editing tool.  It's easy to use and you can publish your final product to YouTube, Google Drive, Vimeo, etc.

Here's an example of a video done from my office webcam:

Please check out the help site and let me know if I can help you get started.