Thursday, June 2, 2016

Tech Thank You!

It's hard to believe that the 2015-2016 school year has come to an end. The tech coaches would like to send out a big thank you to everyone who took the time to read the blog, contributed with comments, and/or tried out something new this year. We have some exciting ideas in store for next year and can't wait to share them with all of you. If you have any questions or concerns over the summer, please feel free to e-mail one of us. Have a relaxing and enjoyable summer and we'll see you in the fall!

Thanks again for all you do!
                Angie, Jen, and Amanda 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Let's keep it CLEAN, St. Marys...

You clean your desk drawers, organize your filing cabinet and store away decorations.

But, where is digital organization on your list of to dos?

I must admit, I am very much a guilty party.  I had no idea where to begin when it came to digital clean up.  To get to my daily flipcharts I would navigate a maze of folders that I created years ago.  There was little rhyme or reason to the organization.  It was a path that I would spend an hour re-figuring out at the beginning of every year.

 Here are the 5 steps that I have been taking to start the process of digital clean up.  The initial task is daunting.  Once the organization process is established, it will become habit and your digital cleanup will be an ongoing process instead of the obstacle that you try to avoid.

NUMBER 1:  Google Keep .

  • Get the sticky notes off your computer screen. gives you digital post it notes that follow you from classroom to classroom, device to device, school to home.
  • What a great way to make your to-do lists: 
    • End of year business 
    • Make up exams/work
    • Summer reminders
    • Classroom items you want to look to purchase
    • Things you want to remember for the start of next year
      • (Unlike that post it - the google keep note won't lose it's stick!)

You can even add links, check-off boxes, reminders, and share your notes with others.

NUMBER 2:  Get it in your PBox.

  • Check for files that you may have only saved locally on your machine:
    • Desktop Screen, Downloads Folder, Picture Folder etc.
  • Get these in your PBox asap.  Cut, Copy, Drag and Paste those files into your Y or Z drive to prevent their loss.
Next year: Get in the habit of doing this right away! - Don't wait until year's end.

NUMBER 3: Name those media files.

  • Media files have the tendency to save as generic names: 
    • WIN / IMG
    • the name of your camera
    • the timestamp
    • numerical order
This can make it very difficult to search for the image or video that you are looking for later.

  • You can bulk name your files very easily on your PC
    • Highlight all of the files that you want to rename in the same category
      • e.g.  MacBeth Videos 10th grade
      • 5th grade field trip 2016
    • Right Click and choose Rename 
      • it will seem like you are only renaming one file
    • Hit Enter
All of your files are now renamed "MacBeth Videos 10th grade (1, 2, 3, 4, ...)" 
"5th grade field trip 2016 (1, 2, 3, 4....)

NUMBER 4: Delete and Organize.

To find unused files: 
  • Open your PBox or any file within your PBox.  Click the Date Modified header to sort your files from oldest to newest.

  • Use your judgement... here I see I have files that have not been modified or opened since 2003, I am guessing those can go.... 
    • Hold Crtl as you clik through the ones you want to delete and then delete them all at once.
  • If you are worried about permanently deleting files, try making a folder called Old Files and keeping them there for another year, to see if you actually will access them.
To create folders: 
  • Right Click anywhere in your PBox.
  • Hover over New then click Folder
  • Find a filing system that works for  you.  I use a style similar to that of my actual paper filing cabinets.
  • Then Drag, Drop, Cut, Copy and Paste your way to a better organized drive.

What is Archiving?

  • Google Classrooms will appear in students' lists of classes until they are Archived by the teacher (or the student removes him/herself from your class)
  • Archiving a Classroom: 
    • Preserves your posts, assignments etc.
    • Removes them from your active classes screen, for organization
    • Gives you access to the posts, for reuse next year
    • Does not allow you or a student to further modify the class
    • Still allows you the option to restore the class if you need to reuse/modify it for any reason
How to Archive: 

  1. On the class card, click the dots and select Archive.
  2. To confirm, click Archive.

What tricks do you have for tidying your digital world?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


At NeoK12, they believe that kids learn best when they see how things work, when, where, and why they happen.  Watching educational videos is a great way to learn because it allows kids to build a visual picture or model in their mind. The visual dimension not only helps them understand concepts better, but also stimulates curiosity and encourage self-learning.  Go to to check out the topics available!

NeoK12 also features innovative tools for learning and teaching.
      These include:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Genius Hour!

Once again, I am hitting a topic that may not directly be a tech tool, but that will more than likely incorporate technology somewhere along the way. I thought this would be a good post to leave you with for the year to give you time to think about implementation next year. 

I first heard about Genius Hour last year when I was teaching 5th grade and I was intrigued by the idea. As the definition above states, Genius Hour is adapted from Google's 20% time idea. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin highlighted the idea in their 2004 IPO letter: "We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google," they wrote. "This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. (Side note: Gmail was created during a 20% time project!) During Genius Hour, students have a chance to pursue their passions and creativity and innovation are encouraged. Each student develops a big question focused on a topic he/she would like to explore further. They take the time to research about their topic and then plan a project that will be shared. The research will incorporate information from all kinds of different sources and technology can even be used to connect students to experts on the topic. Projects students create can be shared within the class, school, or through technology, the world! 

My students last year completed Genius Hour projects, and it was amazing to see how engaged they were. Student choice was a huge motivator and they couldn't wait until Genius Hour time. I know...the biggest roadblock that comes to mind is, "I don't have enough time as it is-how am I going to give students an hour a week to pursue their passions. I get it. However, it isn't as hard as you might think and is something that can be incorporated into elementary, middle and high school environments. It just takes some rethinking on how you use your time in the classroom.

There are many articles and resources out there about Genius Hour that can say it much better than I can. I encourage you to think about how you might be able to incorporate Genius Hour into your classroom. Your students will thank you! 

Here are a few links to get you started:

On Twitter, search #geniushour

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

3d Printing Math Style

180 - 160 = 20 days of school left

That is 20/180, 

which can tell us that we have 
1/9th of the school year ahead of us
to try some 3d printing.

The only variable that we have to account for yet is... YOU!

The world of 3d printing is complex and many waters are uncharted for core subject teachers.  However, this doesn't mean we cannot get our feet wet with a few simple ideas.

Idea #1: Math teacher is teaching formulas to calculate surface area & volume.
- Have the students each create a cube on Tinkercad.  (quick and easy activity)
- Choose a few students to have their cubes printed.
    * or alternately have a tech coach print you some samples.
- Use these cubes to measure and solve for area and volume.
- Have groups get together with the various cubes and compare the dimensions.

Idea #2:  Print a visual parabola manipulative to demonstrate slope. 
- Print this Parabola manipulative to demonstrate slope in Algebra class.


The .stl file that your tech coaches can print for you can be found here.

Idea #3: Print manipulatives for a visual presentation for fractions.
- Many ready-to-print manipulatives can be printed by your tech coach for use in your classroom.
- Find manipulatives that you wish you had more of.  Contact a tech coach to see if we can print them for you here.

Other thoughts: 

  • The end of the year is a great time to have students express their knowledge with a comprehensive project.  If you have a tech-savvy student who can go above and beyond the call of duty, use him as your guinea pig for the incorporation of new tech, such as 3d printing in your classroom.  Use a project you already have, and have him take it one step further using a design software like Tinkercad.

  • If you are looking for premade lessons / projects Autodesk ProjectIgnite is free and links straight into your Google Classroom.  The lessons are easy to follow can be used from Elem-High School levels.  Sign up for free and search the projects.  Eventually you as a teacher can create a lesson that your students can follow to make their own 3d printable files.

  • SMAHS drafting teacher Mr. Rieger has welcomed any pen/paper designs (complete with specs) to be sent to his drafting students.  They will gladly take your students' ideas and create a printable file with them.  In no time your students can hold their work in the palm of their hands.

Above all, you as teachers are busy.  Why not let the TechCoaches do the legwork for you?  Have a manipulative you would like printed?  Looking for a premade lesson?  Have a group project that would like to utilize 3d printing?  Let us know!  Tech Coaches aren't just for teachers, we can coach your students as well.

 Please keep in mind that starting small is the best option for exploring your ideas.  3d projects can take hours to print, and do cost money.  (e.g.  Having 30 models that do not have any long-term use or value is not ideal.)  Projects in groups and projects that bear continued use over time are encouraged.

You can Google many ready-made 3d printing files to gather ideas.  Here are some sites worth browsing:

28 other sites can be found here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Quizlet Live

How to use Quizlet Live...


What is this new game?

This is an in-class, team-based learning game based on any Quizlet study set. Students are randomly paired into teams of 3-4 students to race against other teams. Each team must work together to clear their board, and the first team to do so wins.


Who can use this game?

All teachers on Quizlet can use the game for FREE. Students will not be able to play this game on their own, however.


How does the game work?

Here is what to expect:
  • Students work together in randomized teams of 3-4, on ipads or computers.
  • Teams race to match all the terms and definitions but wrong answers reset progress to zero.
  • The first team to match all 12 terms correctly in a row wins.
  • At the end of a game, see what terms students get right and wrong.


To get started you’ll need:

Here's what you'll need to run a successful game.
  • A Quizlet study set (with at least 12 terms)
  • At least 6 students (there is no upper limit on the number of students but we’ve tested with 12-40 students at a time)
  • A computer, ipad, or phone for each student
  • 10-20 minutes of class time


How to set up a game in your class:

Teacher Instructions:
1) Set up your computer to project your screen to the class
2) Give each student a computer or ipad
3) On your computer, go to the set you’d like to use on Quizlet
4) You’ll see a “Live” button on the right side of the page with a “beta” label. Click it!
5) On this screen, click "Create game."
Student Instructions:
1) Students go to and enter the game pin you are projecting on your screen (if you cannot access due to school filters, you can access it via
2) When all students have joined, preview randomized team assignments (with the option to reshuffle)
3) Assign these teams to students by clicking Use These Teams
4) Ask students to move next to each other so that they can work together
5) Start the game!


Things to Keep in Mind:

Unique Terms:
Requires that there be 12 unique terms in your Quizlet set before starting a game. So, if a set that has the same term OR the same definition repeated, all of those pairs are removed.

Check out the video below or click on this link: Quizlet Video


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Not Just a Glorified Overhead

Many classrooms in the district are now home to a handy little technology tool-
the document camera. 

The models of the cameras vary from room to room, but the basic functions are the same. Most project, zoom, take pictures, record video, and some have a light function. Here are some engaging ways to get the most out of your document camera in the classroom:

  • Read alouds-turn any book into a "big book" under the doc camera
  • Utilize math manipulatives
  • Science experiments/demonstrations
  • Demonstrate an app
  • Show a piece of music
  • Demonstrate how to set up interactive notebooks/how to take notes
  • Let students be the teachers and explain how to solve a problem
  • Show art work or projects
  • Demonstrate dictionary skills
  • Show-and-tell on the big screen
  • Zoom in on rulers
  • Project graph paper
  • Display student work
  • Take and save a picture of student work to save for use with later classes and/or posting on a class website
  • Take photos of other items/documents and save image for later use
  • Record video-Work out a problem, narrate a demonstration, etc and add to your website or upload to YouTube. Perfect for students who are absent.
If you don't have a document camera in your classroom and think it would be something you would use, let a tech coach know. We will find one for you to try out! 

What other ways are you using a document camera in your classroom? Post below and let us know!