September 17, 2018

The New GMail

Have you been hearing about the new Gmail but afraid to try it? I definitely recommend using it – but you can switch to it easily, give it a try for a while, and switch back if you’re not happy with what you see. I find that it streamlines much of what I do when I use my email. I can add events to my calendar (and view my calendar while I’m in my email!), reply back with ease, locate, open and download attachments more simply, and delete emails much more quickly. Take a look at these directions, switch to the new Gmail, and try it out today! If you want to see it in action, watch the video linked at the bottom of this page.

Try the new Gmail

  1. On your computer, go to Gmail.
  2. In the top right, click Settings Try the new Gmail.

If you change your mind, you can click Settings  Go back to classic Gmail.

View Calendar, Tasks, Keep & Add-ons

You can now use Google Calendar, Keep, Tasks, and Add-ons while in Gmail. I especially like having my calendar showing all the time, but if you use Tasks or Google Keep, you may opt to have those tabs open. Either way, it makes it easier to keep important items at your fingertips.

On the right of your inbox, click these icons:

New Gmail

  • Calendar: View your daily schedule, click events to edit them, create new events, and jump to upcoming events.
  • Keep: Create checklists and take notes.
  • Tasks: Add to-do’s and deadlines.
  • Add-ons: Get extra Gmail tools to help manage your mail.

Delete or archive emails from your inbox

When you point to messages in your inbox, you can quickly take action without opening each one individually: organize messages

  • Archive
  • Delete
  • Mark as unread or read
  • Snooze

Use suggested replies & follow-ups

Quickly reply to emails using phrases that’ll show up based on the message you’ve received. Learn how to use Smart Reply.

quick replies

Open attachments without opening email messages

Easily locate attachments, instantly recognize their type, and open and save files without having to open the email message.

view and open easy

To watch the new Gmail in action, click here: New Gmail Video

September 10, 2018

Easy Access to Great Online Resources:

We have access to some fantastic online resources, some of which we pay for as a district, and many that are paid for by the Minnesota Legislature. These resources ca be a pain to locate and log into, however, so to make it easier, our school library website have created easy access into these websites. The best part?  If you go into it through the school library webpage, you won’t have to log in at all. That link goes directly to the site, already logged in. It’s slick. I highly recommend that you make the library one of your homepages on your computer connected to your Smartboard, for easy access.

The Century (Elementary & Middle) School site is:

The High School site is:

Through these links are the ELM databases, which include Encyclopedia Britannica. It’s a wonderful resource!! Again, if you go through those links you shouldn’t have to log in. The Encyclopedia Britannica (and many of the other resources) have multiple reading levels or can be read aloud to students! This allows for some great differentiation! Please contact me if you need username/password information.

Additional ELM databases:


  • Britannica Learning Zone Interactive learning modules for pre-kindergarten through grade 2 includes drawing, reading, games, and geographical exploration.
  • Britannica School ElementaryEncyclopedia content for elementary grades plus multimedia, timelines, world atlas, country comparison, animal kingdom, and geography explorer.
  • Kids InfoBits(Interactive Tutorial) Popular elementary school magazines as well as encyclopedias and newspapers written for kids, plus an image collection of photos, maps, and flags.
  • Explora KidsContains elementary school-appropriate magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and images. Includes Primary Search and Middle Search Plus databases.

Middle School

  • Britannica School MiddleEncyclopedia content for middle school grades plus multimedia, timelines, world atlas, country comparison, and primary sources.
  • Research In ContextA middle school-appropriate database of reference works, biographies, magazine and journal articles, primary source documents, and multimedia.
  • Explora TeensContains middle and high school-appropriate magazine, journal, and encyclopedia articles and also includes primary source documents, reference books, and multimedia. Includes Middle Search Plus, MAS Ultra – School Edition, Consumer Health Complete, Health Source – Consumer Edition, and Science Reference Center databases.
  • Student Resources In Context(Interactive Tutorial) Encyclopedia, magazine, and journal articles, plus primary sources, images, video, and more for middle and high school students. Includes the InfoTrac Student Edition database.
  • Points of View Reference Center(Interactive Tutorial) Pro vs. con essays that present multiple sides of current or controversial issues. Plus magazine and newspaper articles, primary sources, and more related to those issues.
  • Science Reference Center(Interactive Tutorial) Science encyclopedias, reference books, periodicals, and other sources covering numerous science topics for middle and high school students. Included in Explora Teens and Explora Library databases.

High School:

  • Britannica School HighEncyclopedia content for high school grades plus multimedia, timelines, world atlas, country comparison, and primary sources.
  • Student Resources In Context(Interactive Tutorial) Encyclopedia, magazine, and journal articles, plus primary sources, images, video, and more for middle and high school students. Includes the InfoTrac Student Edition database.
  • Explora TeensContains middle and high school-appropriate magazine, journal, and encyclopedia articles and also includes primary source documents, reference books, and multimedia. Includes Middle Search Plus, MAS Ultra – School Edition, Consumer Health Complete, Health Source – Consumer Edition, and Science Reference Center databases. Tags
  • Points of View Reference Center(Interactive Tutorial) Pro vs. con essays that present multiple sides of current or controversial issues. Plus magazine and newspaper articles, primary sources, and more related to those issues.
  • Science Reference Center(Interactive Tutorial) Science encyclopedias, reference books, periodicals, and other sources covering numerous science topics for middle and high school students. Included in Explora Teens and Explora Library databases.
  • AAS Historical PeriodicalsDigitized images from the American Antiquarian Society of the pages of American magazines and journals published between 1684 and 1912.

Brainpop and Brainpop Jr: I especially want to share this great resource to you, particularly in grades K-6. It is full of videos on school topics in every curriculum area that give a base set of facts. If you select either Brainpop or Brainpop Jr from the library website you will automatically be logged in and won’t need the username or password. (Please contact me if you need username/password information.)

Primary iTools links are also there, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It gives you “manipulatives” that are electronic. For example, you get base ten blocks you can break apart into 10s and 1s, or put back together in their groups again. Also, coins you can break apart – to illustrate a nickel equaling 5 pennies. These are perfect for the SMARTBoard too. And, again, if you go through our website there aren’t any usernames or passwords to worry about.

In addition to those specific resources, the library websites have grade level specific listings of websites you will want to use with your students. Grade level teachers: please email me with any websites you’d like added to these lists, or any you’d like removed. If there are direct links to resources that require a password, I can connect them here so a password isn’t necessary. It makes using these websites especially easy for your learners!!

April 8, 2018 Tech Notes

I am available all week: please email, call or text anytime to set up a time to get together!

This summer’s district technology and educational training dates are scheduled for:

  • June 4-7 (Monday – Thursday)
  • August 20-22 (Monday – Wednesday)


Interested in engaging your students in creative writing activities? BoomWriter’s free tools help students with story writing, vocabulary development, literary analysis, and more! It includes great lesson plans and quick writing ideas and story starters. There are resources for creating amazing class projects, and helpful handouts and useful information, all created to help your students become more effective writers and story tellers. Create your free account and try it out with your students in grades 2-12 today!

Fluency Tutor by TextHelp:

Fluency Tutor helps students of all ages and ability levels become more avid, engaged and confident readers. What’s more, it gives teachers a clear picture of every child’s reading progress over time. This easy-to-use app lets students record themselves reading aloud on a laptop, Chromebook, or tablet, away from the stress and embarrassment of reading out loud in a classroom environment.

Many teachers have asked what types of apps can be used on our older model iPads. This is a great option for your students!


Bookshare is an accessible online library with over 600,000 titles, all available at no charge for students (and adults) with print disabilities that limit their reading options. Bookshare is for visual impairments, physical disabilities or severe learning disabilities. Students listen to books with high quality text-to-speech voices, hear and see highlighted words on screen, can read with digital braille or enlarged fonts, all from their internet browser. Bookshare makes reading possible! As a teacher, you must register and be approved for an account, which is specific to a student who qualifies for the service.

Prizmo Go:

Need to get text into your cell phone or tablet? Prizmo Go may be your answer. It lets you grab printed text easily, so you don’t have to retype it. Before shooting, the app shows lines of text directly in the camera preview, so you can see how it will look. Once you’ve snapped the picture, Prizmo Go can read the text aloud, and you can copy and paste that text into other apps or to your computer.

Tech & Learning:

One of my go-to magazines, Tech & Learning, is available FREE for educators. It gives you an inside look at issues, trends, products and strategies pertinent to the role of all educators – and gives you the tools you need to succeed! Visit the website and click on the Subscribe link to start your own free, all access (print, digital and mobile) subscription.

Parent Communication:

According to the Speak Up data released by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow, there’s still a disconnect between parents and schools. The 514,000+ respondents on the survey provided feedback on a variety of questions, but I thought this was of particular interest to teachers. While 74% of district communications officers pointed to Facebook as an effective way to communicate information, only 16% of parents agree. The top four most effective methods parents listed for district communications were: Email (76%), Auto phone messages (62%), Text (45%), and Online newsletters (26%). And when it comes to teachers communicating directly with parents on academic progress, parents listed: Email (74%), Face-to-face meetings (45%), Text (39%) and Phone calls (32%). How does that compare with what you’re hearing?

Five Alternatives to Padlet:

No….say it isn’t so! One of my favorite tech tools for group collaboration and discussion is Padlet. However, Padlet has recently changed their model to a fee-based only product, which means it isn’t available for me any longer. If you use it too, you’ll want to check out this blog post from Richard Byrne’s Free Technnology for Teachers where he lists five alternative tools.


Spring is a fun time to have your students try out Podcasting! Cool Cat Teacher Vicki Davis has two great introductory videos to share on her YouTube channel including What is Podcasting? and Getting Started Editing with Audacity. If you’re interested, take a look at those – and give me a call. I’d love to help!

Project Based Learning:

Project Pals is an interactive platform that schools can use to facilitate student-centered inquiry as well as PBL. It integrates with Google Classroom, and students can work in collaborative teams as they dive into a subject area specific or cross-curricular activities. The Project Pals platform is updated in real-time, so students can participate in a collaborative workspace as they view the progress of their project and participate in problem-solving activities. At the same time, teachers can access student work and provide feedback to students in a timely and actionable manner.

Here’s the link to sign up for a free teacher account!

PBS Nature Nuggets:

Nature Nuggets are short, minute-long videos drawn from NATURE, one of the most watched documentary film series on public television.

Nature Nuggets began as a new pilot campaign by WNET’s Education Department to test text-based technology as an effective community engagement technique. For this purpose, the minute-long videos from the NATURE series were repackaged for early learners (ages 2 to 6) and promoted as a tool for active science and language learning opportunities to parents, educators and caregivers across the nation.

Nature Nuggets videos are also available on the Nature on PBS YouTube page.

Science U:

Looking for some hands-on science to engage your young students this spring? Experiment! Each hands-on Science-U experiment includes an overview video, a student handout, and a teacher’s guide.  The handouts include a materials list, step-by-step instructions, guided scientific questions, keywords with definitions, and a description of how and why each experiment works. Engage your students in these fun scientific activities!

Science-U is dedicated to advancing science literacy in youth through the sharing and discovery of scientific knowledge. Our chief goals are to educate and inspire students, encourage critical thinking, and prepare them to become responsible, skilled and caring citizens, as well as capable scientists and teachers when faced with tomorrow’s challenges. This is a program of Penn State Science Outreach, the Eberly College of Science, and WPSU.

Creating video on Chromebook:

I ran across a good tool and some great suggestions for making movies with Chromebooks, and it’s by using Spark Video. The blog post above, from Dr Monica Burns’ Class Tech Tips, provides some clear directions for use. It also highlights places you can look for more information. If you’ve been wanting your students to create videos on devices, this may be a big help!


March 26, 2018 Tech Notes



Reminder: This summer’s district technology and educational training dates are scheduled for:

  • June 4-6 (Monday – Wednesday)
  • August 20-22 (Monday – Wednesday)

Digital Safety

Ready for this fun fact? More people own cell phones today than toothbrushes! Whether the children you see on a day-to-day basis are your students or your own children, you want to keep them safe, right? This blog post includes descriptions of ten apps that teens (and even pre-teen!) can be drawn to, and explains the concerns. The blog post:

Ten apps to watch out for include: Hot or Not (Rating of other people), Calculator% (looks like a calculator, but stores photos secretly), Burn Book (anonymous rumor messages, texts and photos), Omegle (free anonymous chat), Yubo (Yellow) (like Tinder – for flirting), and many more. Note that these apps change continually – but just a quick search in the App store locates many, many more.


Science teachers will LOVE the video journals and blog posts on Jove. This site gives students the opportunity to see cutting-edge science! World-renowned experts share their experiments on video and give intricate details along the way. They cover biology, chemistry, environmental studies, psychology, physics, and engineering. The videos are peer-reviewed and fascinating! As an example, I watched a few on cancer research and another on immunology and infection. If you are interested in science, especially at the higher levels, check them out today!

April is Poetry Month!:

Don’t miss out on one of my favorite April activities: poetry! The blog post above details many great interactive classroom activities related to poetry, including Poem in Your Pocket Day, and If you’d like to do a collaborative project with a classroom somewhere around the world, please let me know. I know of some teachers looking for poetry partners!

ELM eBooks in Other Languages:

This collection includes a lot of very hard to find Ojibwe titles, but also Hmong, Somali, Karen, and a few Spanish titles. Simply click “Read This” and the book opens on your screen. These are awesome for sharing on your SmartBoard!

There are many additional Spanish language books in the eBook collection of ELM. You can find these by going to The categories will appear, and you can browse for any type of book you want.

These eBooks are FREE for Minnesotans. They open EASILY in any browser, or can be read on the Kindle or iBooks apps. These are a MUST for every classroom!!

ClassFlow Activities:

ClassFlow website:

If you haven’t tried ClassFlow yet, there’s no better time to try it out. ClassFlow allows you to set up interactive activities with your students on their devices: quizzes, polls, activities, and wonderful ways for students to collaborate! And ClassFlow is FREE, and if you don’t like logging in you can use it without creating an account.

ClassFlow Activities are fun and engaging resources that are created in the ClassFlow Activity Builder. You can find ready-made activities in the ClassFlow Marketplace or you can customize your own with 10 different types of activities in the Activity Builder. With so many choices available, below are a few examples of how teachers use activities in their classrooms, with a focus on categorize and matching activities.


There’s a lot of stress right now about Facebook privacy and security. The following was shared by Jen Legatt, Hopkins North Junior High, and she said I could share it with you. Thanks Jen!

You don’t need to delete your Facebook page to keep your digital life *more* secure. Remember, like we tell our teenage students, you’ll never be completely secure if you’re sharing on the internet. There’s a lot you can do with your Facebook profile settings to improve your privacy. Some tips are below. These are some setting changes that I’ve made/updated on my own account.

The steps below are for the Facebook App on the iPhone for iOS 11. The steps will be slightly different for other devices.


Post Privacy

Bottom right corner: 3 lines


→Account Settings


Step 1:

  • Limit who can see past posts -> Limit Past Posts
  • Who can see your future posts -> Friends

Why? This turns off any posts you may have set to public in the past. They are now set to be shared with friends only. If you want to go back and change a certain post, you can do that.

Step 2:

  • Who can see the people Pages, and Lists you follow? -> Only me (or Only Friends)

Why? The information on your likes for Pages and Lists would be information easily used to profile you. I have it set to Only me, as I feel no one really needs to see this info. Only Friends would also be a safer setting.

Step 3:

  • Who can send you friend requests? -> Friends of Friends.

Why? I have this set so that people who have mutual friends with me can connect. I still need to approve the connection.

  • Who can see your friends list? -> Friends

Why? Only people that I have approved as my friends need to see my friends list.

  • Who can look you up using the email address/phone number you provided? -> Friends

Why? This is the most restrictive setting Facebook has. Once people are my friends, I assume that I can trust them to contact me via email if needed.

  • Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile? ->

Why? Google and other search engines do not need access to your profile data.

In the past, saved Cover photos remained public. After going through these steps, only my current Cover photo is viewable from someone looking at my profile.

NOTE: After these changes, if a friend is tagged in a picture/post of yours, his/her friends can see this picture/post of yours. This happens even if you are not friends with the one viewing these posts.



Check which Groups you are enrolled in. If the group is listed as a “Public” group, it is visible on your profile to people who are not your friends. If you do not want that Group to represent you, you can remove yourself from the group:

Bottom right corner: 3 lines


→Tap the Group

Look under the name of the Group. It will list if this is a public group.

To remove the group, click the down arrow after the name. Choose Leave Group.

Clean out any old Groups that you may no longer be affiliated with at this time.


Login Location

Check where you are logged in:

Bottom right corner: 3 lines


→Account Settings

→Security and Login

Where you’re logged in:

The devices where your Facebook account is logged in are listed. If you are not currently using a device, click on the three dots—- and choose Log Out.


Timeline and Tagging

Bottom right corner: 3 lines


→Account Settings

→Timeline and Tagging

  • Who can post on your timeline? -> Friends
  • Who can see what others post on your timeline? -> Friends
  • Who can see posts you’re tagged in on your timeline? -> Friends
  • When you’re tagged in a post, who do you want to add to the audience of the post if they can’t already see it? -> Friends?

Why? The least restrictive I would make posts is at the level of Friends only so that if you’re tagged, only your Friends would be the audience.

  • Review tags people add to your posts before the tags appear on Facebook -> ON
  • Review posts you’re in before the post appears on your timeline? -> ON

Why? This gives you the chance to approve or not approve any time you’re included on a post that has your name attached, giving you the opportunity to remove yourself before the tag appears.


Note: I found one problem with tagging/mutual friends. Let’s say you have a mutual friend with your ex, John Doe. John can see mutual friend Tim’s Facebook page because they are friends. You are also Facebook friends with Tim. If John searches your name, any of Tim’s posts or pictures where you are tagged are open for John to see. Unless someone else can find a setting that hides these, I believe this is how the system works. To make it so that your ex John Doe can not see your tags, you will need to Block John Doe. Honestly, you may just want to block John Doe anyway. (This is hard for me to test without a handful of accounts to see what can be seen and what can not.)

Bottom right corner: 3 lines


→Account Settings


→Add to Block List

The setting states: Once you block someone, that person can no longer see things you post on your Timeline, tag you, invite you to events or groups, start a conversation with you, or add you as a friend. This doesn’t include apps, games, or groups you both participate in.


Connected Apps:

Bottom right corner: 3 lines


→Account Settings


Some of the articles out there right now are suggesting simply turning off Platform in this section. BEFORE YOU DO THIS, I suggest you stop and look at the accounts that you have linked.

One friend of mine had 100 linked apps. I suggested writing them down or screenshotting them. I don’t know what happens to accounts out on those other sites if you just shut off Platform. I suggest that you may want to delete those other accounts if you no longer use them before disconnecting Facebook, especially if they also contain private information. It may take a while to work through the apps, but if we’re going to be safe, then you may want to consider going through this process too.

You may choose to just go down to a few, trusted Apps.

Or, if you are ready to disconnect Apps…

  • Platform -> Off

Why? This un-authorizes apps from using your Facebook account. What the Settings say if you try to turn Platform back on: “Turning Platform back on resets related settings (such as your “How people bring your info to apps they use” setting) and allows Facebook to receive information about your use of third party apps and websites.”

  • Apps others use -> Disabled

Why? The setting description explains it: “Use the settings below to control which of our information is available to applications, games and websites when YOUR FRIENDS use them. The MORE INFO you share, the MORE SOCIAL the experience.

Your name, profile picture, gender, networks, and user ID (along with any other information you’ve made public) is available to friends’ applications unless you turn off platform applications and websites.


March 14, 2018 Newsletter



This summer’s district technology and educational training dates are scheduled for:

  • June 4-6 (Monday – Wednesday)
  • August 20-22 (Monday – Wednesday)

Google Apps for Education Summit

The fourth annual Google Apps for Education Summit held in Fergus Falls is scheduled for Wednesday & Thursday, Aug. 9-10. The Summit is a two day learning extravaganza, mostly built around using Google tools in the classroom, but other things are presented as well. The entire event is about increasing student achievement and engagement with technology.

There are terrific national keynote speakers each day, followed by breakout sessions, door prizes, and Google Slams, quick 2-minute demos of cool things you can do! IT’S FUN! The breakout sessions are led by regional rock-star teachers and techies. In fact, presenters get FREE admission, plus the prestige and honor that goes with displaying the badge you see in my signature. Trust me…people treat you differently. So, if you’re interested in presenting, let me know and I’ll hook you up with the organizers and see if we can still get you on the schedule. I think there’s still time!

Registration information is located here:

My Simple Show Video Creator:

Wow! Here’s a unique and fun way to share information! Suitable for your learners to use for creating instructional videos, or for you to try when preparing a flipped lesson, My Simple Show is an amazing and easy tool to use! The link above provides you with free access for a classroom. You will need to log in with your Google account and register as a school user. Once you’ve logged in you can upload any PowerPoint presentation or type in your own script. The tool quickly separates your slides and adds appropriate images, voice-over, and music. You can adjust all of these things (including uploading your own images) and share a final project that is fun to watch and very professional-looking. And not only can students create individual shows, they can also be added to groups for collaborative projects!

Try it today!


Student engagement is on fire at!! This is the most exciting thing I’ve seen this year! is an app that YOU modify to match the learning needs of your students. Hundreds of lessons are available for you to use with your class, and if you want to make changes to the lesson it is easy to adjust it to fit your needs! is perfect for those situations where you have students using iPads or Chromebooks. They can work together or alone, and you will receive the data to let you know how they did! These lessons would also make great centers, or try one of the Breakouts for a challenge!

Talk about total differentiation! It’s easy and fun! There are the Lines, Maze, Memory, and Rockets

  • Lines: Draw a line to match the correct answer
  • Maze: Find the correct match within a maze
  • Memory: Memory game by matching the cards through flipping
  • Rocket: A hangman-like game with rockets

Find out more about how they exude fun to your classroom by exploring them here.


Seesaw is continuing to improve! Now Seesaw is a great place for sending newsletter, reminders or permission slips to families without cluttering the student journal. Seesaw announcements and private messages allow you to send photos, albums, videos, PDFs and more! You must update your app to use these new features.

Family communication right within Seesaw – to all families or to a single parent. This is an awesome way to send newsletters and reminders, and they’re all available to parents in an easily accessible location.

This might be just the time to try Seesaw! Let me know if I can help you set it up. It’s a fantastic tool, especially for grades Pre-K through 3 – but flexible enough for every classroom!

Explore the Magic of Harry Potter:

The British Library has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to bring the magic of Harry Potter to the world! Here you ca find the Harry Potter exhibit with the original illustrations (which you can zoom in on), all kinds of information about fantastical beasts and wizardry, and view over 10 exhibits and lessons. If you or your students are excited about Harry Potter, this is one site you won’t want to miss!

Women’s History Month Resources from PBS:

This link brings up over 11,700 resources from PBS on Women’s History. These include all subject areas, and activities, audio and video links, images, documents, webpages, interactive lessons and lesson plans, all of which can be very helpful as your students learn about women’s history. You can narrow the search by subject area, by resource type, and by grade level in order to locate the most appropriate resources for your class.

Kudoswall Discover:

Looking for scholarships and awards to assist students with college? The list on Kudoswall Discover is extensive – and has so many opportunities listed all in one location. Of course local scholarships are a student’s first stop, but remind your students not to overlook these types of awards. Many of these scholarships are particularly appropriate for students who excel in creative writing.

Learning Resources on ELM:

I’ve pushed the ELM (Electronic Library of Minnesota) resources to students and staff for years because they are PAID resources that the MN legislature funds for all Minnesota residents. We couldn’t possibly provide all of these resources (encyclopedias, databases, research tools, etc) for all our students if this funding disappeared, as it would be cost-prohibitive. We are so lucky to have them!

The site I’ve listed above is a resource for teachers using the ELM tools. It includes lesson plans, videos, games, webinars and other resources that help you and your students take advantage of these awesome ELM materials. If you are having your students do any type of research, these are the tools to use. Although these are electronic, they are actually all of the encyclopedias, journals, magazines, newspapers, scholarly articles, and additional materials (including many primary sources), made available electronically. They are definitely a better place to begin your search than simply using Google. Our school links to these resources are found here: and on all of our school library webpages.

Google Drive changes

As of May 2018, the desktop version of Google Drive will stop working. Google announced this months ago, but soon you’ll actually have to do something about it if you use the cloud storage service. The Drive service itself isn’t really changing, but instead Google is replacing the Google Drive software for Windows and macOS with a new app called Backup & Sync.

In reality, not much is changing aside from the name: Backup & Sync has pretty much the same set of features as the old Google Drive all and works in the same way. This is the app you’ll want if you’re a home user. Google says that the old Drive app will stop working on May 12, so if you want files to continue to sync you’ll need to install the new Backup & Sync app.

I assume that your tech guy will give you more information on what to do about this with your school computer, or perhaps will even be taking care of it himself. He would be the one to talk to if you have questions.

February 12, 2018


The items that follow are time-sensitive for February. I hope you get a chance to check them out! Please contact me any time if I can help you with anything at all.


Winter Olympics:

It’s not too late to enjoy some terrific Winter Olympics activities with your students – but where to start? This great resource, put together by my friend Shannon Miller from Follett Software, is just the place to start! You will find books, websites, and activities galore. Check it out today!

Interested in chatting with an olympian? Jump on this one quickly! Classroom Champions’ Student Champion Chats is connecting schools across the USA with top winter athletes, as they compete on the world’s stage during the Winter Olympics! The third in a series of four moderated chats on February 22, 2018, will be coming to students live from South Korea. Olympic athletes will be discussing the importance of Goal-Setting, Perseverance and Teamwork with America’s students. Interested teachers can register to participate and receive a free toolkit to prepare for the live chat.

Black History Month Resources

February is Black History Month. Find the resources from NEH, the National Endowment for the Humanities here:

The Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture resources are located here:

The Library of Congress Teacher Resources also include a wealth of information for the teaching of Black History Month. Find them here:

These free resources are great, but another I recommend for teachers is  Up From Slavery, the autobiography of Booker T. Washington. (A free read on Amazon Kindle.) I wish every educator and person who wishes to be called educated would read this book. IF you do a book of the month reading, this is a great one for educators to discuss because he was a fantastic educator.

Fulbright Distinguished Teaching Award:

Ever wonder what it would be like to teach overseas? The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and IREX have announced the 2018 application cycle for the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms (Fulbright TGC) Program. Fulbright TGC is a year-long professional development fellowship for United States elementary, middle, and high school teachers to become leaders in global education. Global education is integral to building 21st century skills, and teachers are the greatest resource to empower students as global citizens. Applications are due March 13, 2018, at 11:59 Eastern time.

I have met several amazing teachers who have been through this program. It sounds pretty amazing!

Presidential Primary Resources Project:

Here’s another one you’ll need to register for immediately in order to participate. Celebrate President’s Day all week long with 3 great  FREE events from Presidential Primary Sources Project:

February 13: Forging Greatness – Lincoln in Indiana (Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial)

February 15: The Mystery of William Jones (Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site)

February 22: A Return to Where it Started – Herbert Hoover’s Lasting Legacy (Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum)

Discounts for Teachers:

Picking up some extra glue sticks or glitter for your classroom? These stores offer discounts for teachers. Every little bit counts! And if it’s books you’re buying for your classroom, both Barnes & Noble and Amazon offer discounts when purchasing for school.


Barnes & Noble:

Girls in STEM:

Everfi has put together some really interesting information regarding the gender gap in STEM. They also have incredible FREE resources for your students in Financial Literacy, Digital Literacy, Understanding Money, STEM Career Exploration, Alcohol and Prescription Drug Safety, Cultural and Civic Literacy. I’ve talked about these before – but they are worth mentioning again. There are resources for every grade level, and the activities are engaging extensions to your classroom (that are self-correcting as well!) For more information, see, or shoot me an email and I’ll show you more!

FREE Matific Math Games:

The US Matific Math Games are free and use the fantastic virtual manipulative math site Matific. The “warm up” or practice rounds are February 14-20. Then, from February 21-28, your K-6 students can play the games and earn points. Over $50,000 in cash and prizes is being awarded. But most importantly, you have a simple, free way to help each student learn the math behind the standards you need to teach. Whether you do the games or not, the site is a fantastic free resource that every K-6 classroom should use.

Instagram for Teachers:

I’m not going to kid you – Instagram makes me a little nervous. But I know there are people using it a lot, and I understand that it can be a terrific teacher tool. So – let’s look a little closer at Instagram. You can start by reading this article. And if you’re using it successfully in your teaching, please let me know. I’d love to learn what you’re doing with it!

Seesaw: PD in your PJs

Seesaw is one of my all-time favorite tools to use in classrooms, and if you haven’t tried it – for communication with your students and/or their parents, and for digital portfolios – you really must give it a try. It’s one of the easiest tools to figure out – and there are many, many resources available on their website to get your set up with your free account and using it with your students. A great place to start is here:

I would love to work with you in planning way to use it, so please let me know if I can help. I’m also available to be your support as you try it out those first few times with your class. Once you give it a try I think you’ll find it’s one of your favorite tools as well!

January 29, 2018

The items that follow are time-sensitive for late January and February. I hope you get a chance to check them out! Please contact me any time if I can help you with anything at all.

February 1 is World Read-Aloud Day:

Skype is hosting live literacy events that your class will love to participate in. You can learn all about them and register here: Sign up for a free Skype account – and enjoy the event with your class right through your own computer with your SmartBoard.

Interested, but not sure if you dare? Email me and I will join your class and do the technology setup with you. This is a fantastic FREE way to bring an author to your classroom!!

Tuesday, Feb 6 is Safer Internet Day:

Share this information with your Middle School and High School students and their families. This international event is live-streamed and is focused on this year’s theme: “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you”

Looking for an activity calendar focused on READING for your February I LOVE TO READ Month? Check out Matthew Winner’s calendar here: You can print out a PDF version of the calendar, which includes all kinds of great reading activities…and you can find a calendar for each month here, so you might want to bookmark this page for future use.

Looking for a book calendar for the entire year? Then Anita Silvey’s Book-A-Day Almanac is for you!! Find it here: The Children’ s Book-a-Day Almanac is a daily love letter to a book or author. Here you will find events, trivia, and celebrations for every day of the year, as well as a featured children’ s book to explore in more depth. Children’s book expert Anita Silvey discusses what each book is about and who each book is for, and she’ll also walk you behind the scenes to tell some of the backstories of how our classics came to be. While the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac includes books for toddlers to teens, it’s also organized by age, genre, and theme so that you can find recommendations for the young readers in your life.

Doesn’t it seem like the germs are everywhere this time of year? The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has some great suggestions for keeping the flu out of school! You can check out their terrific resources here:

Included in this resource are videos, newsletters, handouts, and posters for you to use in your classroom and/or in parent communications. Looking for additional resources? The CDC  –  – includes a great guide for sanitizing your classroom and cleaning items like your computer keyboard, along with many other posters and educational materials. Fight those germs today!

Groundhog Day is February 2nd! Learn all about this holiday with the resources at PBS: Interested in how the people of Punxsutawney celebrate? Check out their full schedule of events (including many videos) at

Free ACT Practice:

Select the TutorMe logo on our school website – on the very bottom of every page. The code has been activated and students should be able to access the course immediately. All they have to do is enter the code PARKRAPIDS2018 on the checkout page, and they will be able to access the course. Please share this with your students!

  • To register: Click “Get Started”
  • Create your account using your email, your parent’s email, and your own personal password. Click “Create Account” when you are finished.
  • On the checkout page, click “Have a coupon?” Enter the code “PARKRAPIDS2018”.
  • Press “Apply”.
  • The price will go down to $0.00. Make sure you don’t enter any credit card information. Press “Purchase”.
  • Begin the course! You can take the course from any computer, smartphone, or tablet. When you sign out, the course will pick up right where you left off.


Already a great tool, Quizizz has added a few new features that make it even better! Now you can share your game links through Google Classroom, Remind or Edmodo. The new dashboard shows you where your attention is needed most, and makes it easier to find a quiz, add students, and get individual feedback. Similar to kahoot, Quizizz has some great features that make it well worth checking out!

Digital Literacy Resources:

Equipping today’s learners with digital literacy skills, things like coding, collaboration, cloud software management, word processing, screencasting, personal archiving, information evaluation, and social media savvy, is an important part of education. We assume that today’s students are digital natives, and have these abilities just because they can text fast, but there are important lessons that we need to teach students in order for them to become successful in the future. These short video lessons show fun ways to incorporate digital literacy into core subject-area instruction. Check out the lessons – and the free 12 Essentials of Digital Literacy Guide today.

What is Net Neutrality?

Trying to understand Net Neutrality, and all of the news about it lately? This video, created by Burger King, helps explain it in a way we can all understand:

Smart Lesson Exchange:

In working with a teacher this past week I was reminded of all the incredible resources available on your SmartBoards. New presentations are added to the Smart Exchange on a regular basis. It’s easy to download them and adjust them as your own. You do need to have a Smart Exchange account to take advantage of these items, but it is free and just requires registering with your school email address. Please let me know if you’d like to take a look further.

January 15, 2018


I hope you can skim this newsletter sometime during the week. Much of the information is time-sensitive, so take a quick look at, and click on those links that interest you. Please contact me any time if I can help you with anything at all.

I am available all week: please email, call or text anytime to set up a time to get together!

CILC: Center for Interactive Learning & Collaboration

There are some fantastic free opportunities available, especially over the next few months that you won’t want to miss! I receive their updates in my email – and you can too! Just register for a free CILC membership. Please note: you must be a CILC member to participate in their programming.

A few great programs that caught my eye this week include:

**A Celebration of Dr Seuss!

Join us for this fun, interactive lesson to celebrate the birthday of the beloved children’s

author Dr. Seuss! This distance learning event focuses on fun facts about Theodor Seuss Geisel and his classic story “Green Eggs and Ham”. Students will get to express their creative side in group activities while completing a craft designed for this program. It’s a “Seussical” good time!

This FREE program is available at a variety of times from February 26 – March 3, but you must be registered ahead of time to participate!!

**A House Divided: Civil War

The Civil War tested and consumed the country for more than four years. Explore how this great conflict and subsequent Reconstruction period are depicted through the traditional mediums of painting and sculpture, as well as the then new medium of photography.

This FREE program can be used with a variety of age groups and can fulfill standards in Visual Arts, History, Civics, Reading, Speaking and Listening and Historical Thinking. Again, registration ahead of time is required (and free membership in CILC).

Educational Games:  (appropriate for upper grades)

Interested in a little game playing? This article, Three Awesome Educational Games Hiding in Plain Sight, published on MindShift, and written by one of Common Sense Education’s authors, highlights three games that can be used in the curriculum that can be extremely meaningful for your students. They were all viewed favorably by Common Sense Media, and they truly foster 21st Century Learning and great cross-disciplinary experiences.

Newspapers in Education: (All ages!)

The Newspapers in Education (which all of you can subscribe to FREE) has a great resource of learning tools for all grades and content areas. On my quick search I found extremely usable and interactive tools for teaching math, geography, test prep, history, career planning, and much more. It’s well worth a look, no matter what you teach.

CNN10 Current Events:

Looking for a way to share current events with your students, but don’t want to spend all your time (or theirs) searching the web? CNN10 provides a 10-minute daily digital news show that explains global news to your students. Don’t have time for this during class? Try flipping your classroom by assigning students to watch just 10 minutes a day.

The Learning Network:

Looking for other sources of news for your students? The New York Times’ Learning Network provides news articles, plus articles written by students, writing prompts, students opinion polls, games and contests that will engage your students, and pique their interest in our world.

Smithsonian TweenTribune:

Smithsonian’s Tween Tribune has sections for each grade level (K-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12), plus sections in Spanish. It includes current events lesson ideas for students, leveled reading passages, and more.


DOGONews features award-winning non-fiction content and a huge assortment of ready-to-use assignments. You can use the free version and get all you need – but if you’re really excited about this site you can also get a pro license that provides even more lessons, reading comprehension, critical thinking and vocabulary in context.

Winter Olympics:

The 2018 Winter Olympics are just weeks away! Education World provides a great list of links related to the olympics, as well as some wonderful ideas for celebrating the olympics in almost any grade level or subject area. Start your olympic planning today with this terrific resource!

November 13, 2017



Digital Equity:

Future Ready Schools ® (FRS) –led by the Alliance for Excellent Education and with support from AT&T —has launched a new program, the FRS Digital Equity Program, that will provide school district leaders with the resources, leadership strategies, and support to better plan and implement a digital learning strategy to personalize learning for all students.

Digital equity—or removing the opportunity divide amongst students who have and do not have access to digital resources —has become a prevalent topic among K-12 educators in recent years. As many districts and schools across the country move closer to fully transitioning to technology-enhanced, student-centered learning, there is a need to understand and address the barriers that inhibit many students from receiving a high-quality digital-age education.

What can we do as educators to advocate for digital equity in our rural schools? Take a look at the Future Ready Schools Framework and have some thoughtful conversations around these issues today.

Future Ready Schools Framework:

Thanksgiving Resources for all grades:

Don’t miss these great Thanksgiving digital resources for your class, thanks to PBS Learning Media!

Update!!     Book Creator for Chrome:

I have to plug Book Creator again because over the last few days there have been some great new features added.  You can now send books to your printer or save them to PDF. Just click on the share icon to grab that paper copy and stick it on the wall! They want to make book creation available to everyone, including (actually especially!) early and struggling writers. To that end students can now speak into the text box using the microphone. They have also received some great feedback on improving the classroom workflow around libraries, and here are the first 2 improvements:

  • As a teacher you can now edit your students’ books.
  • Edit any book in your libraries to add feedback to a student’s work, or make a small change before publishing online.

Now, when a student joins your library they will see your books automatically. This makes distributing a template or instruction book to your students super simple – just add it to the class library. In addition, they’ve created a comprehensive set of help articles which you can search right in the app based on the common questions others have asked. This makes it easy to learn how to use Book Creator.


Learn how to make the most of Epic! in the classroom and become Epic! Certified. Epic! Certified teachers are part of a select group of teachers that have demonstrated a thorough understanding of how to use Epic! in their classroom. Log on to Epic! and complete the following steps and you’ll receive an Epic! Certified badge and certificate so you can share your new status with your colleagues.

Getting certified is easy:

  1. Find a book and read it.
  2. Create at least two student profiles
  3. Find your classroom code
  4. Explore books and content by category
  5. “Favorite” a Collection
  6. Create a Collection
  7. Find a book at your student’s reading level

If you’ve set up Epic! and are using it with your class, you have probably done all these steps! Click the link to get certified today!

Leveled Readers:

Throughout most of my teaching career, my passion has been around early literacy, with a focus on beginning readers. There were many times, both as a first grade teacher and as a media specialist, that I questioned some of my methods around leveling readers. I came upon this great blog post focusing on the idea of leveled books and I love this quote from Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell:

It is our belief that levels have no place in classroom libraries, in school libraries, in public libraries, or on report cards. That was certainly not our intention that levels be used in these ways. We designed the F&P Text Level Gradient™ to help teachers think more analytically about the characteristics of texts and their demands on the reading process, and the A to Z levels were used to show small steps from easiest to most difficult. The goal was for teachers to learn about the characteristics of each level to inform their decisions in teaching—how they introduce a book, how they discuss a book, how they help children problem-solve as they process a book. We created the levels for books, and not as labels for children, and our goal was that these levels be in the hands of people who understand their complexity and use them to make good decisions in instruction.

I encourage you to spend a little time in this conversation by reading the blog post linked above, and this article. As much as I believe there is a purpose for our use of AR, I agree that it should be used as levels for books, and not as labels for children. Please share your comments with me: I love the conversation!

Thanksgiving Books:

It can be hard to decide how to approach Thanksgiving in your classroom. There are the glaring misconceptions that still prevail about the first Thanksgiving and current associations that range from a day of mourning to football and parades. What’s a teacher to do? Well, you can start by sharing some of these favorite Thanksgiving books for kids, thanks to

In addition, do you need any Thanksgiving writing prompts? Here are several to get you started:

And since we’re on We Are Teachers, here is your link to five Kid President quotes that might be fun to print and share with your class:

Yikes! I’m stuck on We Are Teachers!! Here is a list of Ten Things Instagram Made Me Buy!


Have you been talking to your students about gratitude this month? Here is a great article from Vicki Davis highlighting five ways to encourage a heart of gratitude in your classroom. Try a few of her ideas today!

Mapping Resources:

It’s time for Geography Awareness Week! This year’s theme is “The Geography of Civil Rights Movements.” GIS has a few resources that suit this study along with other great geography resources from National Geographic:

Explore free mapping resources for Elementary Students (or folks just getting started with maps too), Get your resources for GIS Day, which is approaching fast! GIS Day 2017 is November 15th!

Science Journal App:
The way I see it, this is a long-awaited tool! Let your class explore the world like scientists with the Science Journal app from Google. Students can measure real time data and record their observations in a digital notebook. The redesigned app is now available on iOS and Android with over 20 new activities from educational partners, all easily located here:

The Origin of Everything:

Do your students ask why? The Origin of Everything YouTube Channel from PBS investigates the “why” behind many aspects of everyday life. The fun videos are perfect for your most curious students, or for getting students excited about learning on their own. Video topics range from history (Why is there a South and North Korea?) to pop culture (Where does the #Hashtag come from?).

**You will want to preview these videos before sharing with students – and it is also a good idea to post or share them in the Viewpure frame to take out the ads and previews. Not sure what Viewpure is? Locate it here: And contact me if I can help you with it.

Digital Copel Brain Games:

Brain Games is new app that sparks a child’s curiosity, helps them concentrate on solving problems, and gives them a space to have fun all at the same time. The lessons built into the app are split into three different age groups. As children progress, they’ll unlock more & activities as they walk through Copel Town. Children earn badges and points, and teachers/parents can view the progress children have made.

The lessons in Digital Copel fall into six categories: math, language, logic, shapes, memory and knowledge. With Digital Copel, up to ten lessons can be played each day for free (but you can purchase a subscription for unlimited playtime). There is a 20 min “take a break” feature enabled by default included in Digital Copel. With this feature, children are prompted to pause after playing the game for an uninterrupted number of minutes.

If you have parents asking for suggestions for learning activities for their devices at home you may want to suggest they try Digital Copel’s Brain Games.