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.

October 31, 2017




Wow! The amazing Padlet has gotten even better. Padlet is such a great way to have your students work together and get their ideas down in one place. Here are some additional features that are new for fall 2017:

  • Collaborate and assess with reactions. You can grade, star, upvote or like the posts of others!
  • Categorize posts with colors. Give your posts one of five colors. What colors mean is totally up to you.


Book Creator for Chrome:

Book Creator has been an awesome app on the iPads for years – but now you can access it on Chromebooks and in the Chrome browser on computers. This is an inexpensive and beautiful way to create books of all kinds! Consider using it to make a classroom book of your activity, field trip, student interests, or lesson. Or, have your students make books for their book buddies in other grade levels. Try Book Creator as a way for students to share their knowledge or to extend an activity.

Book Creator is flexible, easy to use, beautiful, and free! Students log in with their Google account. Books can be shared in a variety of ways, or even downloaded and printed. This is a great tool for all grade levels and content areas! Check it out today!


Free Pioneer Press for Schools:

Classrooms teachers are all eligible once again this school year for a free access to the St Paul Pioneer Press. One of the best reasons to register is to receive FREE online access to all of their great lesson plans, tools and resources! You can set up individual student accounts if you so choose, but you don’t have to. This is a great resource for teachers of all grade levels – and it is entirely FREE! Check out the website and register for your free account today.

In addition to the website access you can sign up for weekly emails that highlight the resources for that week. You will find that these support your curriculum and engage your students. There are daily puzzles, lesson plans, and so much more! Don’t miss out! Register today!


Infinitec App Search:

Looking for just the right app for reaching your student’s individual needs? The App Search at Infinitec (which we get through PAWN) is the perfect place to search! The Infinitec Mobile App Searchable Database is a new tool which can guide your decision-making by identifying the features found in apps for Writing, Reading, Math, Organization and Study Skills, AAC, Language, Daily Living, and Fine Motor. Soon they will add Classroom Tools, Social Skills/Behavior and Visual Perception/Visual Motor.

By using this tool, you will be able to select apps based on the criteria important to you, as well as view and compare the features of a specific app before you buy. You can then match those features with the needs of your students to make better selections.  When you find an app you’re interested in learning more about or purchasing, you can click on the link to the vendor’s app store or marketplace to be taken directly to the page for the app.


Powerpoint Changes:

Our Office 365 licensing allows us to use the most current updated version of Powerpoint and Word (and more!) which is fantastic! Did you know there are new changes to Powerpoint that make it even better for teachers? This blog post highlights the best of the new changes to Powerpoint. These include add-in tools, great new charts, sharing and co-authoring, exporting your presentation as a video, and creating closed captaining. So, even if you only use Powerpoint a little bit, it is worth looking into these new features. Read through the article and learn some new tricks today!


Communicating with Families

A recent parent survey conducted by Speak Up Research Project, may help schools and educators determine how to communicate different kinds of information with parents. Overwhelmingly, parents still prefer to be texted or emailed about important happenings at school and with their children. While many schools have moved to social media platforms to communicate with families, the recent study found that many parents view this form of communication to be less reliable and less credible. Food for thought as you continually examine your communication tools and their effectiveness (HarperEducationDIVE).

Google Keep:

Google Keep is not just for teachers! I hope you’ve taken a look at this great little tool. It allows you to grab lists, images, webpages, and more, and save them for later use. It works seamlessly within Google Docs and Google Slides. But there’s so much more than it can do!

Vicki Davis has been exploring how students can use Google Keep for research. You can watch the YouTube Video or view the Edpuzzle if you want to be guided along. Students can use Google Keep on their phones for lists and notebooks, and then have easy access to those while in any Google program. You are going to love how this tool supports you and your students! If you haven’t taken a look at it yet, you certainly need to do so now.


Through My Window:

Through My Window is a multimedia curriculum that uses story to integrate STEM and literacy, and frame engineering in innovative ways. It is geared for grades 4-8 and could make a fantastic addition to your PLtW, STEM, and literacy activities.  What can children and young teens do on

  • read Talk to Me, a young adult mystery novel
  • follow the adventures of the Talk to Mecharacters in a graphic novel
  • explore engineering concepts such as artificial intelligence, engineering design, and engineering ethics in imaginative learning adventures
  • share and imporve ideas about engineering in interactive forums
  • listen to the audiobook

October 24, 2017



Participate Twitter Chats:

Ready to be brave and try out a Twitter chat? They’re a great way to connect with other educators and join in the conversations! By going to the URL above you can see what Twitter chats are coming up in any category you’re interested in. You can try one out on the fly or see what your schedule will allow. This is a terrific way to get involved in Twitter in a non-threatening way!


Teaching about Climate:

Explore these great resources from PBS Learning Media that provide fantastic information about global warming. Or just want some weather activities as we progress into fall? Check out these resources for any grade level:

Clue into Climate (Grades 4-12) How does the greenhouse effect work? How do changes in climate affect the distribution of organisms in ecosystems around the world? Explore these questions and more with your students using Clue into Climate!

Climate Change and the Pacific Islands (Grades 6-12)  The resources in this collection examine ecosystems on volcanic high islands and low-lying atolls and the climate-related threats to these ecosystems.

Peep and the Big Wide World: Weather Factors (Grades K-2)  Your class will discover some of the key characteristics of different weather patterns with this fun resource. Students will explore the weather characteristics of rain, snow, wind, and a sunny day.


Inside the Vietnam War:

You and your students are invited to join filmmaker Lynn Novick for an interactive Q&A about the Vietnam War, on Wednesday, November 8th at 12PM CST. This is a LIVE event that is being streamed for classrooms across the US! Throughout the conversation, you and your students can pose questions to Lynn, participate in polls, and screen segments from The Vietnam War film. It is NOT being recorded: you can only view it live! Register today!



The world’s simplest video maker is here…in Biteable!  Biteable uses templates to create beautiful and eye-catching presentations. If you have your students making advertisements, videos, presentations of any kind…Biteable is a great tool to take a look at. Students can log in with their Google accounts and typical use is free. There is a premium version, but students can do so much with the free version that it is well worth a try!


Seesaw’s new Activity Library:

If you aren’t using Seesaw yet, it is definitely time to start! Seesaw continues to add features and it gets better every day! The newest tool in the Seesaw toolkit is their new Activity Library. This library features activities that are pre-created and ready for you to share with your class. Yay! Another reason to LOVE Seesaw!

  • Use the Activity Library: Get inspired with grade-level specific activities from our library that are ready to use right away, or create your own!
  • Simplify Classroom Workflow: Share activities with the whole class or specific students to differentiate instruction. Students respond with any of Seesaw’s tools or edit a template you provide.  Student responses are organized on one page.
  • Save Time: Activities can be shared between classes and school years. Add folders or skills to activities to keep student portfolios better organized.


SpEd Staff – Morning Meetings:

Cool Cat Teacher  Vicki Davis visits with Dr Felicia Durden about how morning meetings in special education classrooms can be a powerful way to begin the day. Dr Durden wrote the book Morning Meetings for Special Ed Classrooms: 101 Fun Ideas, Creative Activities, and Adaptable Techniques.  You can listen to this podcast with Dr Durden, or simply read the transcript. Either way, I know you will enjoy her great ideas. Want to know more about Dr Durden? Visit her blog at, or tweet her @drdrdn.


Everfi K-12:

In addition to all the great free resources for teachers on their website, you can find much more available on Everfi K-12’s Facebook page. There you will find excellent posters work conflict resolution, information about teen substance abuse, and resources for all of Everfi’s FREE programming. Take advantage of these free materials today!


Digital Citizenship Resources:

Edmodo is a terrific tool for teachers to locate resources for their own professional development. Sign up for a free membership, and these Digital Citizenship materials are yours. In addition, you can connect with other Edmodo users for a great networking experience!



Infinitec is not just for Sped staff!! I am excited to share with you all the resources available for teachers on this site. One example: free video presentations (with built-in quizzes) are available for all of Minnesota’s State Licensure requirements, including this year’s addition of Suicide Prevention. The range of educational courses and presentations included on Infinitec is amazing! All of you have an account that is supported through our school district. If you need CEU credits – or just have a topic of interest you’d like more instruction on – you already have the resource you need! Create your account and begin using it today! PLCs: This resource can be a fantastic addition to your regular meetings!!


Using Augmented Reality in the Classroom:

Curious about how you can take advantage of virtual reality to provide virtual field trips or STEM lessons? This article from Commonsense Media is sure to help. Here you will get some great ideas on how virtual and augmented reality can create deeper learning experiences for your students.


National Day of Writing:

Rats – I missed it! NCTE held their annual day of writing back on October 20th. However, it’s not too late to celebrate! Check out the resources on the National Council of Teachers of English {Why I Write}. There are still some great podcasts you can listen to and ideas to incorporate into your writing classroom.


CLICK: Technology Tips and How-To’s created by students:

CLICK: Collaborate, Learn, Instruct, Create, Know. The tutorials on this amazing website were created BY students for anyone to use. They focus on using Chromebooks, Creating/Editing Graphics, Digital Citizenship, File Management, General Technology How-To, Google Chrome, Google Drive/Docs, and Sketchup. They are organized beautifully, easy to locate, and clear and easy to understand. If you need help with anything related to technology this is a terrific site to check out…and if you want to have your students create tech tip videos they are always pleased to accept submissions!