Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Friday, December 16, 2016

Create, Curate & Collaborate Using Google Photos

Want to join this Icons album? CLICK HERE
Living in such a connected world, it’s becoming more important that educators model good digital citizenship for students on a daily basis. When adding images to slide presentations and resources, it has gotten easier to find media that is labeled for reuse because there are now over 1.1 billion works in the Creative Commons.

In order to eliminate having to cite the work of someone else, while also modeling best practice, Google Photos has made it easier than ever for users to create, curate and share images, gifs and video clips from any connected device. From mobile devices, Google Photos can be set to automatically backup and sync photos and videos with an unlimited amount of storage.

Looking for the right image to represent an idea? The search capabilities within the app are outstanding! There’s no need to tag pictures with keywords. Google automatically does the work. Album sharing is another great feature. Users can collaborate on albums and their name will appear on the file preview. Shared albums in the classroom promotes student media creation and citation. As your Google Photo library grows, its seamless integration with G Suite makes using your own images easier than ever!
Simply drag images from a Google Photos album to a Slides, Docs, or Draw.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Smart Start the New Year, World Class STEM Building

Smart Start was introduced to USD by Jon Corippo, Director of Academic Innovation for CUE. Its purpose was two-fold. First, it functions as a way to build community at the beginning of a school year. Students use the activities to learn about each other in a supportive, fun, and creative environment. Second, students are introduced to skills that can be used later in the year to support curriculum.

This school year, USD has decided on a district-wide “Smart Start” on January 3rd. Students will have the opportunity for fun hands-on, out of the box type activities to reengage and reinvigorate students and set the tone for the rest of the school year.

Many teachers have already begun planning cardboard challenges, STEAM activities, Breakout EDU opportunities, grade level rotations, Spheros, board games, and special art projects. Need more ideas? Mary Pat Vargas, STEAM ToSA at Lietz, created this Smart Start hyperdoc with ideas and resources. Click here to see the full document with ideas. While these activities include suggestions for grades K through 5, many can be modified and used in other grades as well.

Middle school teachers at Union are starting off the year by taking the opportunity to team build and reinvigorate their classes with activities that include improv, karaoke, and introducing their students to Because I said I would, a movement to encourage people to make and keep commitments.

At Dartmouth, the emphasis will be on team bonding and connecting with their students after the break; things like minute-to-win it games, art-based projects, and STEM and Break-Out EDU challenges.

There are lots of great ideas and resources on this blog and on the web. We encourage you to check them out. Remember, the sky's the limit! Talk to your grade level partners, STEAM ToSA, Tech ToSAs, or Instructional ToSAs for implementation support. As we prepare for winter break, let’s all get ready to reStart, renew, and rejuvenate our teaching and inspire our students to get off to a great start in the new year.

World Class STEM Building at Dartmouth

The STEM program at Dartmouth is housed in a building, much like the STEAM labs that are planned for each elementary school site. If you didn’t get a chance to peek at it at our back-to-school PD Day in August, get an idea of the building that will be coming to a site near you this spring, and see the amazing things happening there by watching the video below.

Thanks to STEAM ToSAs, Cindy Loper and Mary Pat Vargas, Megan Mullaly, and the 6th grade team at UMS for contributing to this week’s blog.

Friday, November 18, 2016

We Are Thankful for Our USD Community

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to thank all of you for your hard work and dedication to the students and families in our community. I feel very blessed to be working in the Union School District for many reasons, but mostly because of everyone's kindness and generosity. Today I thought I'd share a video titled World Without Teachers. It comes from the Jubilee Project YouTube channel, a channel I happened to stumble upon recently. I definitely don't think that we need to wait until May to thank teachers for all that they do. Enjoy your Thanksgiving break!

Friday, November 11, 2016

HyperDocs to Create Simple Thanksgiving and Digital Citizenship Digital Stories

A Thanksgiving Story

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, why not have your students create a Thanksgiving inspired story? To get students started thinking about things to be thankful for, here's Kid President's 25 Reasons to be Thankful! Find more Thanksgiving related videos in my YouTube Thanksgiving playlist

Once students have been thinking about all the things that they are thankful for, here's a HyperDoc to help them create a thanksgiving digital story of their own. If you need it, I've created a screencast that explains my thinking behind the Hyperdoc. All you have to do is have them go to From there, students can explore, learn, help each other and create!

Digital Citizenship Contest Deadline Extended!

Since our Digital Citizenship Media Contest ended up being launched later than intended, we have extended the contest until Wednesday, December 14th.

This year we will be judging entries based on 3 categories: digital graphics, digital stories, and digital recordings. To get students writing scripts and creating videos in WeVideo, try having students take the Digital Citizenship Video Challenge by going to the HyperDoc at: In WeVideo, storyboard mode is the simplest way to drag in pictures and create a basic digital story.

Here's a video to help inform your students about the contest and get them started creating. If you need help teaching digital citizenship lessons, or would like support or advice with creating videos in the classroom, please don't hesitate to contact any of the EdTech ToSAs.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Be Part of the Movement! Just do one “Hour of Code” by guest blogger, Kristy Chia

Calling on all USD teachers to participate in this year’s Hour of Code! Join over 100 million students in over 180 countries for one hour during the week of December 5-11. It’s an exciting way to introduce your students to Computer Science.

Here’s how to get started:

Step 1: Check out this quick and easy how-to guide. provides many activity choices. There are a variety of fun online and offline coding resources for students such as Star Wars, Minecraft, and Frozen themed code activities.  

All activities are self-paced and students follow step-by-step instructions.  You can find one that is just right for your students by using the filters for grade, experience level, and device.

Step 2: Once you’ve chosen a lesson you’d like to use with your class, have your class watch an introductory video about Computer Science or one of the inspirational videos.  

Step 3: Provide an hour of uninterrupted time for students to explore Hour of Code on their own and watch their engagement and excitement!

Step 4: Celebrate! Share your #HourofCode on Social Media to celebrate with other learners around the world!  And print out certificates for your students for completing HOC!

Step 5: Let us know your classroom participated in Hour of Code by filling out this form by 12/15 It’ll help us keep track of the number of students within USD that participate and you will be entered into a raffle to win a prize!

Step 6: Let the Hour of Code folks know your students participated this year and help push the number of total students reached grow even higher than last year by filling in the form on this page.

Offline Coding Lesson Resources:
Did you know that there are ways to teach coding skills even without a computer?  Students can learn important coding concepts such as writing step-by-step directions for others to “code” using hands-on lesson activities such as these. Just click on any of the icons to take you out to the website.

There are tons more online resources you and your students might like to explore. Lisa Highfill gathered a number of them in a hyperdoc. It includes both online resources and iPads apps. And there are still more resources to check out at, the Scratch website, Tynker Coding for Kids, Code Academy, or Khan Academy

We’re hoping you will want to take the Hour of Code experience even further by integrating computer science into your classroom curriculum. Be sure to ask your site STEAM ToSA about more coding ideas and resources. For example, consider having your class pair up with your buddy class to create a coding project together!  Or, create code programs about Language Arts, Science, Math, and History topics to connect with spheros robots and makeymakey circuit boards!  

And as always, if you have questions or would like some support for hosting Hour of Code, reach out to USD’s STEAM or Tech ToSAs. We’re here to help!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Adobe Spark Update with Help from John Funk's 6th Grade Class

Last year, many teachers introduced their students to Adobe’s digital storytelling tools as a powerfully visual way to demonstrate their learning. In the younger grades, teachers created a class account, but in the upper grades, students were able to create their own Adobe accounts.

This year, as students began to use Adobe, they were asked to enter their birthday. If the student was under 13, they were denied use of Adobe Spark. Adobe now requires its account owners to be at least 13 years old. While this is a barrier, students may still use Adobe if their teacher creates the account and allows the students access through the teacher’s username and password. While Adobe projects are not collaborative, only one student can work on a single project at a time, there can be multiple sign-ins on a single teacher account which means students can concurrently work in the same account.

Having all students sign in with the same username and password means that all students have access to all the work on the account. However, once a student creates work, they can download it and save it to their Google Drive.  Thanks to John Funk and his students, Alex, Devin, and Ellie, for creating this Google Slide Presentation to show us how to download an Adobe Spark video on a Chromebook and then upload it to Google Drive. Just follow their step-by-step directions.

This gives the student ownership of the work they created. Although Adobe work saved in Google Drive can’t be edited there, students can use the Google Drive URL to easily add their finished work to their Google Site. Just make sure to share the video as you would any Google Drive file. And, once the work is saved in the student’s drive, the teacher can delete the student’s work from their list of projects, making the list more manageable to navigate.

Students using iPads can also use Adobe Spark as long as they are using their teacher’s username and password. For primary students who have one-to-one iPads, the teacher may want to sign them in, but as long as the user doesn’t sign out, Adobe Spark will remain signed in. Students can easily save Adobe Spark to the iPad Camera Roll. Once downloaded, teachers can remove the student’s work from their Adobe Account. Students can upload the movie from the iPad Camera Roll to Seesaw (click here to watch a how-to video) or Google Drive (click here to watch a how-to video on how to upload to Google Drive). From Google Drive, students can easily add their finished work to their Google Site. Just make sure to share the video as you would any Google Drive file.

Adding Chromebook Photos to Adobe Spark Video

When students are creating Adobe Spark media, they may like to add photos of art or projects they have created. While it takes a few (ok, a bunch) of extra steps, once students get the workflow down, it can become a fairly routine process. Find out how to do it here.

While our students love using Adobe Spark to make video, they can also use Adobe Spark to create graphic Posts or tell a story with Page. To help students, Adobe offers suggestions on how to storyboard different types of presentations. Genevieve has collected and created Google Docs for many of them here.

Still need a little inspiration sparking ideas? Adobe offers a guide for educators with lesson ideas and examples. But of course, some of the best ideas come from brainstorming (be one of the first five people to correctly answer this question and win a small prize) curricular ideas with your colleagues. Please let us know how you are using Adobe Spark. We’d love to share your ideas and your students’ creations by featuring them in our blog.

When you are ready to share the tool with your students, we’d love to help. As always, the Tech ToSAs are here to help.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Eureka! Math Works! guest post by Marika Parnell, 2nd grade teacher at Alta Vista

There are a lot of mixed feelings from the parent community surrounding Eureka Math and Common Core. It has been a difficult transition for students to learn math skills in a different way. Students have needed to learn new vocabulary and new processes. This has led to parent anxiety. Because this method of teaching math is not one parents are familiar with, many feel inadequate to help their students with their homework and find it hard to gauge their students’ grasp of the material. 

Following the Scope and Sequence, I gave my students the first Module assessment at the beginning of September. After taking the first half of the assessment I could tell the students were not yet ready for the assessment. Their scores clearly showed they were struggling with the concepts. The first graph shows how the students did on our first Module assessment at the beginning of September. Eleven students (or 44%) scored below proficiency or at risk, with six students meeting expectations, and eight exceeding for the portion of the assessment they completed.

While we started Module 2, we continued to review Module 1. When I felt the class was ready, we re-took and finished the Module 1 assessment at the end of September. I could not have been happier with the results. It showed twenty-two students meeting or exceeding expectation, while three (or 12%) scored just below and NO student scoring at risk. This was amazing growth in such a small space of time!

I shared the results with the parents, who are feeling a bit easier about Eureka Math. Many attended the Parent Math night and now understand the importance of this new rigorous math and see its benefit. But most importantly, as my students become more familiar with the routines and vocabulary, they have continued to show growth in their understanding and proficiency.

While the implementation has taken and continues to take many hours spent reviewing lessons and watching videos at night and sometimes on weekends, seeing the growth in my students makes it feel all worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Digital Citizenship Week & New Media Contest

It's digital citizenship week! In a 1:1 classroom environment and a technology-driven world, we must not only raise good digital citizens, we should be cultivating digital leaders. Teaching digital citizenship shouldn't be a box that we check off of our list of things to do every year. Even though we do have many Common Sense Digital Citizenship lessons available to all teachers. Digital Citizenship is taught when we model proper use of technology and when we show students that we use search tools and the Creative Commons to give credit to creators of images and media that we use in the classroom. 

Have you ever had a student come across an inappropriate image while completing an assignment?

What would you do in this situation?

Although our district has Safe Search turned on, our filters will not catch every inappropriate image when doing a search. If this ever happens in your classroom, use it as a great teachable moment. Start a conversation with your class. Have them come up with a solution in a way that doesn't draw attention to the inappropriate image. Here are some possible answers:
  1. Don't draw attention by laughing, pointing or calling friends over to see the image.
  2. Click out of the screen and tell an adult. 
    • The adult can warn the tech department and can quickly address the class, if needed.
  3. Students won't get in trouble if they follow this safe digital practice in the classroom.

How could you avoid this situation?

It is understandable that nothing is 100% predictable when it comes searching the Internet for images. If you are doing something like a vocabulary lesson with your students, before starting the lesson, preview the vocabulary words while keeping in mind multiple meanings that may cause an inappropriate image or topic to come up. 

Click HERE for working links.

Digital Citizenship Digital Media Contest

In the spirit of Digital Citizenship week, here is a Digital Citizenship HyperDoc full of all kinds of projects and activities that your students can try. Last year we had a contest where students submitted their video projects. This year we have created a contest with 3 categories:
  1. Digital Graphics
  2. Digital Writing
  3. Digital Recording
Hopefully we've included at least 1 project that every classroom can try. If you need any ideas or help getting started with a digital lesson, please contact Mary FranSandy or Genevieve. We would love to help out!

Projects are due Friday, November 18, 2016 and students can submit their work by filling out the Official Entry Form.

If you are looking for resources to share with parents, here are ones that we recommend:
Click HERE for working links.

Friday, October 7, 2016

An EPIC! Library for Students

Epic! is an all-you-can-read eBook library for kids 12 years and under.  It offers unlimited access to over 15,000 children's books, including read-to-me and Audio books.  Its library brings award-winning fiction and nonfiction books to your students’ fingertips.  Best of all, it is completely free to use, and there are no fees associated with Educators accounts.  You can sign up for a free account here.  Click on the video link below if you’d like a tutorial.  


Once you've signed up for an account, you’ll be directed to create a class.  Epic! even gives you the option of importing profiles through Google Classroom!  You will be able to create a library for your students and choose from a collection of assignments if you’d like.    

Epic! creates a virtual library perfectly tailored to your students’ reading levels and interests by offering personalized recommendations. Teachers and students can add books to personalized bookshelves.  Another great feature is that it carries over 500 Spanish and bilingual books in its library.  Epic! is available on all mobile devices

Thousands of titles to choose from!

Beautiful Videos

Epic! Has also partnered with Smithsonian, Blue Wonders, Animal Wonders and Encyclopedia Britannica to make available educational videos.

Getting started is easy.  Reach out to a tech ToSA if you’d like help getting started with this amazing resource!  

Friday, September 30, 2016

USD's STEAM Program, Apps to Edit PDFs and Provide Feedback

steam logo-L.png
The Union School District STEAM program is up and running at all elementary schools in the district.  Hopefully you have been getting to know your site’s STEAM ToSA and have enjoyed learning about the engineering design process, participated in some collaborative challenges, and gotten to see STEAM in action!

The STEAM ToSAs have been working hard to prepare engaging and collaborative lessons for your students, and hope to connect and collaborate with you to incorporate STEAM activities into your current curriculum.  One easy place to incorporate STEAM is in your science curriculum.

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One website that the STEAM ToSAs have used to find engaging engineering design challenges that correlate to the new NGSS standards that are coming our way is Curiosity Machine.  Curiosity Machine is a free website for educators that links design challenges to specific NGSS standards for each grade level.  Teachers can sign up for free and have access to hundreds of challenges!  Each challenge is designed for students to solve a real-world problem using the engineering design process.  

If you are interested in incorporating any of these challenges into your science curriculum or STEAM time, talk with your site STEAM ToSA! We look forward to collaborating with you as the year continues, please let us know how we can help incorporate STEAM into your daily activities.
--guest blogger, Heather Koleszar

A Few Apps You Might Like to Check Out

Are you tired of making copies of student worksheets and looking for a way to have them completed online? One of these two Chrome tools might be what you’ve been hoping for. I recently saw Dianna Talley using DocHub to correct student Daily Language Review. PDF’s are assigned to the students through Google Classroom. The students use the highlighting, drawing, and typing tools to edit the PDF, and then return it to her. To use it, both the teacher and the student will have to install the Chrome extension. Find out more about it here.

Another app I’ve been exploring is Kami. It will open PDFs in Google Drive where you can use the tools to annotate text. While this video is a bit long it has all the information you need on using Kami with GAFE and Chromebooks.

Giving feedback is really an important piece of teaching. With Google docs, it is easy to leave comments, but I always missed that personal piece that written comments misses. Kaizena is a Google Doc Addon that gives you the ability to leave voice comments. Here are a few videos to get you started on building a class and learning how to begin having asynchronous conversations with your students.

Read&Write for Google Chrome extension has lots of features. If you decide to try it, be sure to register as a teacher otherwise you’ll have a limited time full featured version.The one I want to highlight is “Voice Note.”  It allows you to record a 1 minute note that is inserted into the comment field on a Google Doc. Students don’t need to have the extension to listen to the recorded voice comment.

Please let us know if you’d like help finding, installing, or learning to use any of these tools. As always, we’re here to help.