Saturday, February 17, 2018

Build a Book Report Website

I have been enjoying using the new Google Sites for creating websites with students. It is much simpler to use than its predecessor and the students like learning how to create a website without any hassle. We are a Google Apps For Education district so all students have access to the GSuite of creation tools in their Google Drive.

For this project I created a sample website to model the expectations and to give students a reference point in case they needed something to refer back to. I choose the book Me and The Pumpkin Queen.

This project was done with a fourth and fifth grade book club group. Prior to starting the book the teacher had me come in and explain the technology component of their club. I showed them my sample site and walked them through how to set up their sites. During that meeting they started the outline of their site by making the home page and all the sub-headers across the top. Under the chapters tab they created sub-pages with a grouping of chapters. Even though my book was short it had 38 chapters so I grouped them in sets of five (you may want to consider that).

The idea is that students would add to the site after each book club meeting. Under the chapter's tab they would write a short summary of each chapter, as they went, and include a picture that represented their write up. The idea is at the end of the club they would have a website they could share with their peers/family once they published it. Having them do it along the way gave them something to look forward to and kept the project from being one of these overwhelming things they had to do AFTER the book was read (they simply had to tweak formatting and proof the final version before publishing).

This was my first time using Sites with students and I definitely could see more applications going forward. 

If it is your first time using Google Sites check out these tutorials that will help you get started.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Free Resource for Black History Month

One of my favorite sites is for social studies and science articles for kids but it also has a section for biographies separated into categories. 

One of the categories is African Americans which links to biographies of notable African Americans through history. 

If you are having students conduct research for Black History Month you may want to consider this site.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Superhero Themed Night Idea - Green Screen

One of our schools is having a superhero themed curriculum night and in one station (in the media center) students can wear capes and masks and will have a picture taken in front of a green screen superhero background.

I used the green screen app Doink ($2.99) on my iPad to take the sample shots pictured here. I have used the app before and I am very familiar with it (I like that it has both a video and photo option and three layers to add overlays). The media center had a green screen wall but the color didn't extend to the floor and we needed the feet showing in most of the backgrounds. We set up a table with a green screen cloth and had a step stool and someone helping students up and down.

We do have one school that painted the baseboard green and added green turf to the floor to solve their problem. 

When we were setting up the project I started looking for ideas online when I came across this blog and really liked how she used editing tools to create effects...editing tools I didn't have on my iPad. I did some research and found two free apps that worked for me. The first was PicsArt and that let me add some blur effects and lens flare. The second is called Damage Booth and that let me add fire ball and laser effects (I tried it on the two teacher pictures below).

The plan is to upload the pictures to an album on the schools Facebook page so parents can see or download if they want.

We are going to keep it simple. Students will get to choose between one of four backgrounds/costumes. The school is small (two classrooms per grade) so we think it will be manageable. A larger school might require two green screen set ups.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Digital Vision Boards for the New Year

I was in a classroom today and the students were brainstorming goals for the New Year. Later I was randomly emailed a post about students creating digital vision boards using Google Slides...or Google Drawings (which I thought was pretty cool).

The picture above is the vision board I created as a demo (I used Google Slides). I added the two add-ons Kasey Bell suggested in her article but I didn't use them so I think you can ignore those. I just used "insert" "image" "search the web".

Typically vision boards are made by cutting out pictures and words from magazines, and I have done quite a few in my lifetime. I have to say I really liked the digital version (less mess and having to solicit a bunch of magazines from co-workers!).

The article does give some good tips and tricks for how to introduce the activity as well as completing and sharing.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Websites to PDF's (Chrome Extension)

One of my favorite sites to use with students is It is a great site that has lots of student friendly articles (I use it mostly for the history articles). It is a free site, and as such, has a lot of distracting ads and sidebar information making it easy for students to click out of the intended article.

In order to keep students focused on the information I need them to be I use a Google Chrome extension called Print Friendly & PDF.

The extension allows you to make a downloadable PDF of the website and delete any extraneous information you don't want. This way the PDF can be shared with students via Google Classroom without sending them to a website, or it can be printed for their Social Studies or Science notebooks. It also works great if you need the information for a lesson but the website is blocked for students.

To add the extension simply follow the steps below:

To use the extension:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Secret Santa Goes High Tech

I just noticed some schools are preparing to start their staff Secret Santa. Last year our supervisor organized our departments Secret Santa using

It was a nice technology twist on something that typically is done, in a very confusing manner, by paper and pencil.

The site is free to use and participants sign up, if they are participating, and they can add what they like as far as drinks, snacks, etc. to help out the person they get paired with. The system then randomly pairs people up so you don't have to do it. It is pretty cool and something you might want to pass on to whoever handles your school's Secret Santa sign up.

My supervisor has a large extended family and she uses it with them as well. It is very easy to use and would save your organizer man hours as well as help keep the copies down at your school.

Have a great holiday season everyone!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Parent/Teacher Conference Scheduling

If you are looking for a techie way to schedule parent/teacher conferences, instead of sending home slips of paper asking parents to choose a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice, try using the free site

The site (which I only use for this purpose) lets you adjust your time in whatever increments you want, as soon as parent books a spot they get an email confirmation, and then the time slot disappears so other parents can't see it. 

I made a 6 minute video (above and linked HERE) walking you through how to set up an account, create a parent/teacher calendar, what the parent sees and what you see when your times start booking up. 

I shared this with our teachers but I thought it might help others as well.