Spark-Presentation Alternative

Give your students a different option for presentations with Spark.  Spark is a free online tool which is accessible on student Chromebooks and lets them use their Google login information to sign up.  Create a Post (ie poster), a Page (ie webpage) or a Video from scratch or use one of their creative templates available to edit with your own content.  It’s very easy to use and presentations come out looking very professional.  Students can use text, photos, video and voice recordings to create their presentations.  It comes with some basic features but beginning in April, premium features will be free for schools.  I’ll let you know when that happens.

Important  for 6th grade and under:  Under your supervision, students can create their account using their Google account but they must enter 2003 as their birth year when signing up.  This will be irrelevant in a couple of months when the upgrade  happens.

Implementation ideas:

  • Presentations in any subject area
  • Video lessons: students teach other students how to do something.
  • History timeline
  • Digital portfolio
  • Multimedia timeline
  • Images to tell a story
  • Posters or Memes

How can you use it in your classroom? Class projects coming up?  Leave a comment.



Google Voice Typing

Google Voice typing is a great feature to use in Google Docs.  To access it, click on Tools > Voice typing.  You and your students may get a pop-up window asking for permission to use the microphone and you will click on Allow.  When you are ready to start speaking, click on the microphone.


Why use voice typing?

  • Voice typing supports those students who still don’t know how to type or still don’t know how to spell all words.  For certain assignments, getting their thoughts on paper is more important.  This can help young writers feel successful.
  • Voice typing can accept dictation in other languages.  This can help you support ELLs or students learning a new language.  Students can compose in their native language and then translate their document, helping them learn English.
  • Support students with special needs such as dislexia or can’t use a keyboard or mouse.
  • Saves time on all types of writing and projects.  It will even add punctuation, formatting and correct mistakes.  See the support page for Voice Typing to see all the commands it accepts.


Take your students on a virtual field trip

While visiting a couple of 5th grade classes today, I found out that they are going to be studying the weather.  Students can learn what the weather is like in various parts of the world by viewing webcams set up all over the world.  Your students can also take 360 trips and explore different cultures.

Some websites to explore:

Earthcam – live webcams all over the world

AirPano – 360 Panoramas and 360 Video



Tech Tools to help students who struggle with ELA

Help your students access information by using some of these tech tools to assist them.

Anouncify, and Speak It Chrome extensions will read text aloud for students from any webpage.  Read&Write Toolbar  will read text on a Google Docs or Slides.

Dictionary Bubble will define and pronounce the word.

If your students are reading from a website and have too many distractions on the page, simplify it for them by using Readability.

PBS LearningMedia

This is a great resource for digital media.  PBS LearningMedia has 100,000 digital resources aligned to Common Core State Standards.  Resources can be searched and sorted by grade level, subject or CC Standard.  Assignments and Projects can be assigned to students who join your class with a code.  Support materials are provided with some of the media resources.

“… PBS offers digital content and services for teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS LearningMedia, a partnership of PBS and WGBH Educational Foundation, is a free and paid media-on-demand service offering educators access to the best of public media and delivers research-based, classroom-ready digital learning experiences to engage students in exploring curriculum concepts that align with National and Common Core State Standards.”

Partipate in the Hour of Code

Computer Science Education Week (Dec 8th-14th) is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to bring a little programming into your classroom!

What is the Hour of Code?  The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 30 languages. No experience needed.  The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.  Watch this video and more info on this page:

Interested in having your students participate:

  1. Go to this website and sign up to Host an event: The hour can be anytime during that week.
  1. Send students to this website and have them watch the new video to explain Hour of Code.  Then they can click on Try it.  Students can sign up with their google accounts, so it’s very easy.

This website is self-guided so students can go at their own pace and choose their level.  Teachers don’t need to know how to code.  There are several websites to teach coding.  If you’d like to explore, check out my Coding Livebinder.

Why teach coding?  This article has good facts:

Coding is more important now than ever before. With computer related jobs growing at a rate estimated to be 2x faster than other types of jobs, coding is becoming an important literacy for students to have and a more integral part of education and curricula. The handy infographic below takes a look at some of the interesting statistics about coding and computer science jobs.

The goal of teaching coding is not to make every student into an app developer, just like teaching writing or art does not make every student a journalist or a painter. Coding empowers students to think logically and critically, to collaborate, and to create meaningful learning.

Coding: The Job of The Future

  • It is estimated that by 2020, computer related employment will increase by 22%
  • This will mean about 1.4 million jobs in computer science
  • The strongest demand will be for software developers
  • Computer programming jobs are growing at a rate estimated to be 2x faster than other types of jobs
  • Less than 2.4% of graduates graduate with a computer science degree
  • If current job trends continue, US citizens will only fill 30% of our country’s computer science jobs
  • Beginning in September 2014, England is implementing a compulsory computer coding in schools at all grade levels
  • A new bill has been introduced in the US which would qualify computer coding as a foreign language, and allocate grants for schools to teach coding as early as kindergarten
  • According to one CEO, an employee who understands how to code is worth $500,000 to $1M towards a company’s acquisition price

Google Classroom for Google Apps

Once you start using Google Apps such as Google Docs, Slides and Sheet, with your students, you will assign writing or presentation projects.  Google has just released a great new tool for distributing, assigning and collecting these projects.  It is called Classroom.  You can get all the info on their Introducing Classroom Page and here

Classroom will allow you to create classrooms, which your students will join with a code uniquely generated for each class.  Once you have created your classes and your students have joined, you will be able to post announcements, send out documents, or post assignments.

When a student is ready to turn the assignment in, they attach the document and Turn In.  The document they attach can be any type of document, not just Google Docs.  So if students use Office, they can still turn it in here.  Classroom will create folders to organize your student work and set up the permission on the document for you to view, edit and comment.  Once the document is turned in, the student will not have permission to edit the document.

If you are using Edmodo, Edmodo already does this so no need to switch over.

Google Classroom Tips Infographic:

Classroom Tips

Introduction to Google Drive

Most of you are already familiar with Google Drive because you attended the training or because you are already using it.  But in case you haven’t, first thing you want to do is Get familiar with Google Drive:  This Google page will give you the basics of Google Drive.  This was covered at the training so for those who attended, this can serve as a refresher.

Getting Started with Google Drive is a document you can keep handy to reference some basic Drive information.  Remember that Google Drive can be accessed on any computer, not just the Chromebooks, using the NCLUSD Google account.

Important Feature of using Google Apps as you implement Common Core Standards:

One of the major features of Google Apps you might want to implement in your classroom is the Sharing capability of Google files.  Students will be able to collaborate on projects using Google Docs, Slides and Sheets.  The feature is easy to access with a SHARE button on the document.  Students will be collaborating using their new nclusd email address.  When they share the document, they have the option of letting the other collaborator viewing rights, editing rights and commenting rights.  Start out with a simple assignment where they can see each other edit a document.

As you begin to use Google Apps, I am sure more questions will arise on how to implement it in your classroom.  Please contact me if you have questions on any of the features of Google Drive and Google Apps.  I can schedule an appointment with you to guide you through how to implement Drive and its features into your lessons and be in your classroom the first time you use it with students.

Welcome to the NCLUSD Instructional Technology Resource Page

As your Instructional Technology Coach, my goals are:

  • To facilitate the integration of technology into teaching and learning to increase student achievement and student engagement
    • by providing staff with training on integrating technology into the curriculum
    • by helping you acquire technology skills to enhance your teaching
    • by assisting staff with technology use in the classroom with your students.
  • To research and provide staff with emerging instructional technology tools and strategies to innovate the classroom and enhance student learning.
  • To provide you with material and resources to ensure students are acquiring technology skills and digital citizenship skills to make them 21st century learners.
  • To facilitate our Educational Technology Professional Learning Network in order to distribute and share resources, tools and strategies.