Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Friday, April 28, 2017

Digital Citizenship Parent Morning Coffee with Merve from Common Sense

On Tuesday, April 25, Merve Lapus, Director of School Partnerships for Common Sense Education, came to the Union School District board room to talk with parents about current media trends in the lives of our kids.

He shared eye opening videos and statistics from a 2015 Common Sense Census of more than 2,600 8-18 year olds regarding tween and teen media use and a 2016 Common Sense Census of about 1,800 parents titled Plugged in Parents of Teens and Tweens. This helped open up a discussion about strategies for tackling the surrounding issues. Parents asked lots of questions and shared their own personal experiences and tactics for dealing with technology and media use in their homes. Merve stressed that it is always a good idea for parents to have open conversations with their children before jumping to conclusions and simply taking devices away. I was drawn to a quote that he shared from a 2014 Common Sense Focus group, "Adults don't get it. They think I'm addicted to technology - but I'm not. I'm addicted to my friends." Todays kids deal with the same basic issues that we dealt with when we were young, just in a very different way. With the power of social media, teens can now show their popularity by the number of likes that they have on their Instagram or Twitter feeds. Instead of having 100 friends, they can have thousands of followers.
Media Use by Tweens and Teens Full Infographic

Merve also shared Common Sense Education resources and gave tips to help parents connect with children on important issues regarding technology and media use. Common Sense understands that it may be difficult for adults to keep up with their children these days. He shared that parents can find descriptions and read parent tips for apps, tv shows, movies, websites and video games on their Reviews page. This is particularly helpful in helping parents decide weather or not to allow their child to watch something or play a game that may be popular among peer groups. Parents can also find a whole section titled Parent Concerns where they can find answers to frequently asked questions.

Connecting Families
Before closing out the presentation, Merve talked about a whole community approach to digital citizenship. He emphasized that it is OUR responsibility to reinforce that kids think critically, participate responsibly, and behave safely when engaging with media and technology on a daily basis. As teachers, we have to do our part to educate our students in the classroom, but it is equally important that parents do their part at home and in the community. He even shared with them Common Sense's Connecting Families page and how easy it is to hold parent group discussions using their Series of Conversation Cases that includes event fliers and discussion guides with questions about carefully selected videos that open up great conversations about tough topics like Cyberbullying, Video Games & Violent Content and Sexual Imagery & the Internet.  

The two hour presentation flew by and at the end of the event, parents were lining up to speak with Merve and thank him for his knowledge, expertise and advice. One parent came up to me and said, "We need to hold more events like this. All parents should come and see this." After sharing my sketchnotes about the event on Twitter, Merve tweeted, “great turnout today, & parents from room to parking lot praised the event.” 

Here's a link to his presentation slides: Don't forget to check out all Common Sense parent and educator resources at

Friday, April 21, 2017

Path to Presenting

We all agree that Union School District has a number of amazing teachers who are doing amazing things with students. Some of our teachers have accepted the responsibility to share their best practices outside the district at local and state conferences. Fifteen of the accepted presenters at the recent Teach through Technology, SVCUE conference, were from USD! Helen Kamali and Jackie Knudson, both Kindergarten teachers at Noddin, were two of the presenters.

As a math lead, one of Jackie’s responsibilities was to present to her grade level. Helen’s introduction to presenting was as a Tech Teacher Leader. She presented a Union University session. Both got their feet wet in a supportive environment, to a known audience of colleagues, in a familiar setting.

Since then, Jackie and Helen have had the opportunity to present outside the district to increasingly larger audiences.

“I never wanted to do presentations. That has never been my goal,” said Helen, “but there are so few sessions for primary teachers.”  Jackie added, “We didn’t think what we were doing in our class was special. But we were encouraged to present and share what we were doing, and now here we are, soon to be, CUE RockStar Faculty!”

Jackie was part of an Android tablet pilot. Her kinders had one-to-one tablets, as did Dianna Talley’s first graders. Mary Fran Lynch, always a Google advocate, encouraged them to submit to present at Fall CUE 2015. Jackie remembers writing the proposal with Mary Fran’s help, and hoping they wouldn’t get chosen. Against hope, they were chosen. The upside was getting to attend Fall CUE. Knowing that being accepted to present at a pre-approved conference means getting to attend, Jackie knew she wanted to present again!

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About the same time, she and Helen had gone to Lakeshore to buy a book on STEAM in Kindergarten. Helen was especially excited and encouraged Jackie to jump in. “Let’s just do it.” So they did.

Their passion, excitement, and growth mindset (“Lots of times we failed.”) led them to develop STEAM centers, run for two hours on Wednesdays with the help of parent volunteers.

Knowing they had something special that should be shared, Jackie and Helen were encouraged to present, by Cindy Loper who told them, “You can do this,” Genevieve Pacada, who asked if they would consider presenting at SVCUE, and Mary Fran Lynch, who helped them write the presentation proposal and encouraged them to resubmit their proposal when their 90-minute workshop proposal was rejected by National CUE.

Even with presenting at Fall CUE to 30 people and at SVCUE to a classroom full of people, they didn’t know what to expect from National CUE where they presented to over 150!
“We focus on why would people want to see our session and what can we give them that they can turn around and use next week in their classroom. And, we practice.”

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“Presenting is an opportunity to make connections, help other teachers, and learn about what is happening in other districts. And, we get to attend the conference.”

Interested in taking the first steps towards presenting? At Union SD, you have a lot of opportunities to hone your skills. Consider presenting to your colleagues either at a staff meeting, a grade level meeting, or at a Union University. Next, apply to present at a local conference like one of the CUE affiliates, like SVCUE. Or, suggest and facilitate a discussion at an EdCamp. Then, you might like to consider presenting at a larger conference.

Learning & Innovation is thrilled for you to represent USD at conferences. Follow these steps to help you on your journey from a district presentation to presenting at ISTE!

View with working links at:
Before applying to present, make sure you receive approval from L&I (email the conference details to Andrew at Pre-approval is required if you would like to have your travel expenses and sub days covered. Many (but not all) conferences provide free or reduced rate registration for one presenter, so, make sure you check before accepting. If you are presenting along with a colleague, check with L&I to ensure the co-presenter’s registration will be covered too.

Here are some conferences and deadline dates you might want to look for:

Conference Dates
CUE Affiliates
eg. East Bay Cool Tools, Sept. 30
CA Math Conference
Pacific Grove, Dec. 1-3
Palm Desert, July 16-17
CA STEAM Symposium
San Francisco, Dec.10-11
CLS Technology
Monterey, Feb. 2-4, 2018
Annual CLS

Fall CUE
American Canyon, Oct. 27-28
National CUE
Palm Springs, March 14-17, 2018
Chicago, June 24-27, 2018

When you are ready to take the next step, any of the ToSAs would be happy to help you complete the presentation proposal form. While that is no guarantee for acceptance, having another set of eyes before pressing Submit can be helpful.

Good luck! And thank you for considering sharing the great work you are doing in your classrooms and here are USD!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Looking Ahead to Showcasing Student Digital Portfolios

It is already April! It won’t be long before families will be visiting to celebrate the learning the students have done over the year.

One of the ways to catalog and showcase student work is through their digital portfolios. Whether your students have created Seesaw portfolios, Google Sites, or chosen another platform, students can display much of their digital work through these sites.

Often, a URL can be uploaded. In the first example, the student added the URL of an Adobe Spark video through “Link” in Seesaw.

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That same video can be added to Google Sites by using the URL.

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When students chose that method, the link will take the viewer out to the original website where the student work was created. The downside, is that if the work is deleted from the website, the URL will no longer work. The plus side is that the work can continue to be edited and reposted.

To avoid losing work when website work is deleted, work can be saved on the device and uploaded.  The downside is that downloaded copy of the work will not be editable in the iPad’s Camera roll or through Google Drive.

Here, the student used Download to save a copy of his Adobe Spark video. Once it is downloaded, it can be uploaded or saved to Google Drive. From there, it can be added to Google sites by using the insert function. See how to save it the file to Google Drive on a Chromebook by reading the blog post, Adobe Spark Update with Help from John Funk's 6th Grade Class .

In this case, the video will play in Google Sites.
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If you choose to upload a video from Google Drive or from the iPad Camera roll to Seesaw, there is an extra step. Make sure, you choose to use the Upload Video option when you Upload File.

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There are lots of creative web and iOS apps that can be showcased in Seesaw and/or Google Sites. Check out this Symbaloo site for some examples.

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Looking at all of these apps can be a bit overwhelming. Your Tech ToSAs are happy to talk to you about what you are doing in class and how an app can integrate into your curriculum, and provide your students a way to demonstrate their learning. We’d love to help. Please contact us at or at

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Explain Anything with Explain Everything, by guest blogger, Julie Nguyen-Ebadi

When I use Explain Everything, an interactive whiteboard app, Lauryn Hill’s “Everything is Everything” song pops up in my head. As a result, I was inspired to create this 22 second clip to help explain who Lauryn Hill is and simultaneously give you a quick preview on what the final product can look like when using the app.

In second grade, the students in my classroom see me using the app almost daily during math instruction. I walk around the classroom, iPad in hand, with Explain Everything airplaying from it. In the Eureka Math curriculum, I use it for concept development, problem set question review, and to solve application problems. You could record these lessons while you’re doing direct instruction and share it with parents to help students with the corresponding lesson’s homework, especially if you know the strategy was quite difficult for students to grasp during class. Who knows, you could be the next Duane! During classroom instruction, I also like to get students involved by teaching and reviewing what was just taught. Here is an example of one student who volunteered to solve and explain Part A of an application problem

Another student volunteered to solve Part B. During this math lesson, we are reviewing subtraction strategies as well as the Read, Draw, Write Process.

More importantly, Explain Everything has been a powerful tool for me because students are creating their own videos to show what they know. For students who struggle with writing, this tool gives them an alternative to explain their thinking and it offers another way for me to formatively and summatively assess students. If you do math centers, you could use Explain Everything as one of the centers. Questions could be created by the teacher or students, or you could simply use selected questions from the Eureka Math problem sets or applications.

So why use Explain Everything instead of a good old fashion whiteboard? Here are some of my reasons:
  • Student Engagement - Students feel empowered when they see their final product and what they are capable of
  • Self-Reflection - After watching their own video or their peer’s video, it gives them a chance to see what they could improve on
  • Collaborative Learning - Having students work in pairs or groups to solve and create an interactive digital whiteboard video gives them a chance to learn from each other
  • Teacher Movement - Having the iPad in my hand and walking around the classroom allows me to check in with students a lot easier and faster

Currently, I am using Explain Everything in math, but I could see my class using this tool in many subject areas. For instance, in science, students could use it to explain the life cycle of plants and animals.

If you are completely new to Explain Everything or have questions on how to use some of the features, it would be helpful to watch the introductory tutorials first. Many of the questions I had on how to use the app were answered by watching these videos. Here's one to get you started.

Since Explain Everything is a paid app, you'll need to request a license for your iPad. To do that, click here to fill out the Google Form request. It will be open through April 30th.

Feel free to email me if you have questions, or contact Mary Fran Lynch or Gena Pacada, our Tech ToSAs, for ideas on how to integrate Explain Everything into a lesson or for help implementing it with your students.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sketch 50: Join the Movement!

Everyone Can Draw!

Even if you think that you can't draw, I want you to know that you can! Whenever I start a sketchnoting lesson in the classroom, I have students point their finger in the air and draw 4 things: a straight line, a squiggly line, a circle, and a dot. All images are made up of some form of those elements, so as long as can do that, YOU CAN DRAW!

What is Sketch 50?

Sketch 50 was started by Cate Tolnai, SCCOE EdTech Coach and sketchnoter, who has found tremendous value in practicing 1 drawing a day. Her idea was to form a community of learners to practice 1 sketch every day, leading up to Drawing Day on May 16, 2017. That makes 50 sketches! 

By sketching along with hundreds of other doodlers, Sketch 50 is meant to help you gain confidence in your artistic ability as you grow your visual library one day at a time. Once you know how to draw a light bulb, then you can use that same light bulb to represent words like idea, learning, clarity, knowledge, etc. Imagine how many words you could represent if you had 50 images in your visual library!

Join the Movement

Here's how it works:

Once you are following Sketch 50, starting on Monday, March 27, 2017, look for the word of the day. Get inspired by the community of learners posting to #sketch50 and sketch away! This can be a personal journey or one that you share with your students. However you decide to participate, don't forget to share to @sketch_50 on Twitter or Instagram

I hope you decide to join us. We're all in this journey together, so encourage one another and be proud of your creations! 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Green Screen

In honor of St. Patrick's day, I would like to share a green screen idea that was originally created for a kindergarten class, but the concept could be used at any grade level with any wild topic imaginable! First, I will walk you through the directions and then I will share some examples from various classes.

If I Caught a Leprechaun... Green Screen Idea in 5 steps:

For any of you trying green screen with your students, here's a St. Patrick's Day idea to try.
  1. Find a background image and a leprechaun image with a transparent background OR grab images from this St. Patrick's Day Google Photo album
  2. Prepare the images in Do Ink Green Screen app as follows:
  3. Setup your your green screen and position the location of your iPad accordingly:
  4. When student is in the picture, move the leprechaun before taking the picture:
  5. Air drop the image to a student iPad so they can record their voice in Seesaw

Once the image is in Seesaw, students can record themselves completing the sentence "If I caught a leprechaun..."

A special thanks to Alicia Walpole at Guadalupe for collaborating with me on this idea! We were able to get through her whole class in less than an hour.

Here are some #USD Learns Green Screen Tweets:

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Could Your Students be Smarter Searchers?

It's about that time of year when students are researching various topics for projects that will be shared in digital portfolios and displayed at Open House. When it comes to searching for information, do you teach your students techniques for getting better results?

Check out this meme:
If you've ever found yourself on page 8 of a search, then you know there must be a better way. 

Do you still have students that type full questions into the search box? If so, that's a red flag letting you know that they probably have never been taught how to search. Kids love shortcuts, so let's start teaching them that there is an easier way! As teachers, it's our responsibility to make sure that they learn search strategies that will make them more effective and efficient. Open the Smarter Searching Slides to start learning simple, time-saving tips! You may make a copy of the slides and modify them according to your students' interests. For more ready-to-go Search lessons, visit the Google Search Education website. Happy Searching!

Here's a quick list of Search resources:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

As our students become more familiar and comfortable with creating online content, there are a number of ways for them to add original images to their documents and presentations. While we might think using a Chromebook to take pictures is a bit clumsy, students are amazingly adaptable.

Taking Photos with Seesaw

One program students are using to document their work is Seesaw. It is easy to open the app and choose to add a Photo. Students can add audio, text labels, a caption, or draw over the photo. Photos are added to their files and easily shared with families.

Taking Photos in Google Docs and Slides

Sometimes, students might like to take photos of their work and add them to Google Docs or Presentations. Use Insert Image and "Take a snapshot". Take a snapshot will save the last three photos so students take a few and then choose the best one.

Once the photo is inserted into their Doc or slide, they will be able to use the image editing tools. Be sure the image is selected.

Using the Chromebook Camera and Editing Tools

Students can also use the Chromebook Camera to capture their work. To begin, students will need to click on the Launcher in the bottom lefthand corner of their Chromebook (it is the donut-looking icon). From there, choose All Apps and look for the Camera icon. If it is not there, students can search for Camera.
Once the camera is enabled, students will see the green light and their picture on the screen. There are a few features that can be explored:

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Filters can also be accessed by pressing on the trackpad. Photos can also be taken by pressing on the space bar.

Once the picture is taken, students can "Copy to Clipboard" open the Gallery or find find the File folder by clicking on Launcher in the bottom lefthand corner of your Chromebook. From there, choose All Apps and look for the Files icon. If it is not there, use search to find Files.

You might like to create a folder in Google Drive to store the photos and to make it easy to insert them into work. When a photo is taken, students will see a popup in the lower right-hand corner of their Chromebook. Click on it to locate the photo. Students can then drag that photo into the folder they created.

To edit a photo, choose a photo and double click to open it. Access the editing tools by choosing the pencil. The tools will appear at the bottom.

Encourage students to add their images to their work, display them on their Google Sites, or use them in apps to create new work, like adding their photos to Adobe Spark video. Students love the chance to be creative and show what they know. Give them a wider audience and watch their enthusiasm grow!