Charlotte's Web ThingLink

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.

Friday, September 23, 2016

We have a digital portfolio! What's next?

60+ DMS 7th Graders create Google Site Portfolios
In the first month of school, the USD EdTech ToSAs have helped over 60 classes get setup with digital portfolios. (This number doesn't include the teachers who got their classes setup with portfolios on their own!) In grades K-2 we are promoting the use of Seesaw and in grades 3-8 we are using the new Google Sites. The beauty of digital portfolios is that it gives students a place to display the work that they are most proud of throughout the school year. It also gives them an authentic audience and an opportunity to reinforce good digital citizenship skills.

3 Recommendations for Keeping Student Portfolios Updated

DMS student made globe digitized with Prisma.
  1. Let students choose which assignments to display on their portfolio. It is not necessary to have them include everything that's done in class. Students take more ownership over work when they are given choice. Dedicate a period of time once every other week (or so) to have students update their portfolios with their favorite creations. 
  2. Take non-digital assignments and digitize them by taking pictures. A series of photos can be used to document the creation process. Mobile apps like Prisma can take those photographs and turn them into interesting artwork. 
  3. Reflections are an essential part of the learning process. When students add photos or work to portfolios, don't forget to have them give a description of the assignment and what they learned. 

Suggested Creation Apps to Try

Open image for all working links
Whether your students are on iPads or Chromebooks, there are an endless amount of apps that you can try with your students. Here are some of my favorites to help get you started. These apps were chosen because they are free and easy for students to use. Even though some apps may be very familiar to you, try using them in new and different ways!

*Note about adding video onto a Google Site: Once a video is in your Google Drive, it can easily be inserted into a new Google Site. It is possible to save a WeVideo to Google Drive.

Tips for Using the New Google Sites

For those of you who are familiar with the old Google Sites, there may be some changes that you are not used to. Here are some helpful hints:
  1. You can no longer use the html embed code to embed outside projects into your Site. Instead, you can grab the link (not emebed code) from your project, click insert url, and Sites will attempt to grab an image, title, description, and link to the website. (See example on the left.)
  2. Since we are trying to keep student's last names off of projects, if a student adds an assignment that was originally created in Google Classroom, make sure students take their last names out of titles before posting and publishing on the Google Site.
  3. If students post anything from Google Drive, make sure that the share setting for that item is set so anyone with the link can view. You (the teacher) may occasionally want to preview students' Sites in an Incognito window to make sure it's viewable to others. 

If your students have not created a digital portfolio and you would like to get them started, here is a Seesaw and Google Sites step-by-step tutorial. If you need help having students create portfolios, or if you're ready to try a new creation project and need extra assistance, please email any of the ToSAs and we'll be happy to come into your classroom!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Zearn, Connecting through Books

Making Math Meaningful
Thank you, teachers, for the amazing job you are doing adopting the rigorous Eureka math program. Using Zearn has been part of that learning curve for you and your students. Zearn doesn’t exactly align with each of the lessons in Eureka math. However, it does provide lessons to teach math concepts to build a deeper understanding as students move through the lessons at their own pace of understanding.

We wanted to share a few ways teachers around the district are using Zearn to augment their math curriculum. One teacher uses Zearn to create an opportunity to teach her math lessons to a smaller group of students. While some students are engaged in Zearn on-line, she delivers the Eureka math lesson to the rest of the class, giving her the chance to give each student more individualized attention than if she were conducting the lesson whole-class.

Other teachers are using Zearn to flip the lesson. Before the lesson is presented in class, students watch the video and complete the intro activity. Using the data from the previous night’s activities, teachers are then able to differentiate their lesson for smaller groups of students, remediating those who are struggling, and providing a more challenging lesson for those who are ready for extended understanding.

Have another idea on how to use Zearn? We’d love to hear it so we can share it with others. Together we provide the best learning opportunities for all students.

Making Real Connections Through Reading

This year’s Global Read Aloud book for 2nd and 3rd grade is The BFG by Roald Dahl, Pax by Sara Pennypacker for 4th-5th grade, (however, BFG is also an option) and Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt for middle school classes. Over a six-week period, teachers read the book aloud to their class. TK-2nd grades read a different picture book each of the six weeks.
Once a year, teachers from across the country and across the globe take time to read aloud a book to their students, and then connect with another classroom to share thoughts, explore activities, and maybe even visit virtually through a face-to-face Google Hangout (GHO) or Skype call.

Last year, Todd Sinclair, 5th grade teacher at Oster, jumped into Global Read Aloud mid-project. His students got so much out of the project, that he spread his enthusiasm throughout his school site. This year, 95% of Oster teachers have been paired with another class. Together, they will read the book, plan one to share one activity and one GHO over the six-weeks.
We would love to have your class participate. With the support of your Instructional ToSAs, Chanmi Chun, Mary Katayama, Christy Mills, and the Tech Integration ToSAs, Mary Fran Lynch and Gena Pacada, your students can find an authentic audience for their voice as they discuss a well-loved book. Please consider joining us, but don’t wait too long. The GRA project starts soon. We’ll need to make sure you have the book, and we’ll help find a class for you to share with.
Let us know you are interested by filling in this Form.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Reaching Special Populations

With technology rapidly evolving, it's important that we consider how we are meeting the needs of our special learners.  You might not know that there are some terrific Google tools you can use to support these students!

Text to Speech Support:
The Read and Write extension for Google offers a great set of tools for a range of students, including students with special needs and English Learners. Highlights include:

  • Words and passages read aloud with dual color highlighting
  • Hearing text translated into other languages
  • Turning words into text as you speak
  • Word prediction feature
  • Vocabulary tool which pulls highlighted words into a new doc to include definition and pictures
There is a paid version with all of the tools, and a free version with just a subset of the tools. However, educators can get the paid version for a year at no cost by filling out this form.

SpeakIt will read selected text on any web page using Text-to-Speech technology with language auto-detection. It can read text in more than 50 languages.  It is simple 
to use and can be beneficial for English Learners.  SpeakIt can read emails, documents, news articles and more.      

Cleaning Up the Clutter:
With ads and clutter, websites can be overwhelming for some students.  These extensions can help create a more readable version of web pages by removing distracting items.

Readability will turn web pages into comfortable reading views by disabling surrounding webpage noise and clutter.  It also helps keep students' reading lists organized using the "Read Later" function. Font size and color scheme of text can be adjusted too!  

OpenDyslexic is a fabulous tool which increases 
readability for dyslexic readers by overriding all fonts on webpages and replacing it with the OpenDyslexic font. This font can help prevent confusion for students with dyslexia because of the unique shape of each letter (heavy weighted bottoms).

If you are interested in trying out any of these tools with your students and need some support, please let me know!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Let's Raise a Cheer for Digital Citizenship!

USD is Common Sense Certified - Let's Keep the Ball Rolling!

Thanks to all of your hard work teaching digital citizenship in the classroom, we were officially able to become 1 of the 40 Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified School Districts in the nation! In order for us to maintain this certification, we need your help in continuing to teach digital citizenship to students. Read more to find out about new lessons you can be teaching your students!

New Look, New Lessons

Thanks to the new Google Sites, we've updated the look of our USD Learns website. We now have a brand new Digital Citizenship page with 3 new Google Slides lessons for each grade level band. If you teach grades 1-2 or 7-8, you will now be teaching Unit 2 Scope and Sequence Lessons. Grades 4-5 will no longer be teaching Digital Passport and can start teaching Scope and Sequence lessons from Unit 1. Like last year, after you've completed a lesson, please don't forget to do the Lesson Completion survey. This will help us track the number of lessons so that we can re-apply at the end of the school year to maintain our certification.

6th Graders Learn about Copyright Law

This week I had the pleasure of going to both middle schools to do a lesson on Copyright Law, Fair Use and the Creative Commons. Now that many of our upper elementary and middle school students are creating digital portfolios, it is essential that they learn how to find, use and cite media for anything that gets posted to their site. You can find more information about this lesson, along with the new Photo Bingo activity, by going to the Middle School Digital Citizenship page. If you need any help teaching this topic to your students, please email me and let me know how I can help!

DMS students learn to look for the Creative Commons
license so they know how to cite the image.