Friday, November 13, 2015

Is your Chromebook touchy? I hope so!

Remember to model the simple things!
A neighboring school district recently shared their scope and sequence for technology skills across grade levels.  What really caught my eye was the tagline on the pages for each Essential Understanding: "All teachers will model all skills at all times." You might be wondering what this has to do with touchy Chromebooks.

We recently heard concerns from teachers about the difficulty some students were experiencing when using the touchpad on their Chromebooks. Then came the question "Can't they just use a mouse?"

My immediate thought was: does the issue lie with a user's lack of instruction or with the device?

Solid modeling plays a very important role in removing barriers to using technology in the classroom. When young learners need to be shown how to properly hold a pencil we introduce them to the  tripod grasp or the pinch and flip trick. So why wouldn't we teach them the two-finger swipe or two-finger scroll on their Chromebook touchpad?

Google provides a support page for everything you would want to know about how to be efficiently touchy with your Chromebook's touchpad: In addition to learning a few gestures, you can also slow down  or speed up the responsiveness of your touchpad.

So remember: be a good model in your classroom and model all skills at all times!

Chromebook Touch Pad

Friday, October 23, 2015

Speak Up about 21st Century Education and Technology

Calling all participants! Speak Up, a national online research project facilitated by Project Tomorrow®, gives individuals the opportunity to share their viewpoints about key educational issues, particularly concerning 21st century education and technology. Each year, findings are summarized and shared with national and state policy makers. Let your voice be heard!

 WHO TAKES THE SURVEY? Students, Staff, Parents, Administrators and Community Members are invited to participate. Let your voice be heard.

NEED HELP? View participant tutorials here:

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Show and Ask - Fun with a Mystery Object

There it abacus and I couldn't resist. I'm going to get a big bang from the buck I spent at a yard sale this weekend!

Remember Show and Tell..why tell kids what your object is, ask them instead! But instead of having one kid blurt out the answer and then everyone knows, use a Google Form to see who knows what the object is and what it's used for. Dig a little deeper and also ask how kids would find out what it is (if they don't know) and how they would learn to use it. It's a great way to get kids thinking about how they learn.

Add an  image to Google Form
Google Forms are great for surveys, but also lend themselves to a variety of other uses. You might or might not know that you can add images and videos to a Google Form. Look for the options when you click the "Add item" drop down. Inserting an image or video is a fun way to conduct a "Mystery Object" activity. Images can also serve as powerful writing prompts or story starters. Have a look at this simple Google Form:, a partial screen shot is below.

Google Form
Once kids know what the mystery object is and what it's used for have them figure out how to use it and then create a short video to teach others.

Need help getting started with Google Forms? Visit the Google support pages for Google Docs and look for "Forms":

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Come on in, the water's fine...but it's moving fast!
Jon Sullivan, Public Domain
Today is October 1 and is the first of 31 days of  connected activities during Connected Educator Month and I feel like it's time to get my feet wet again. A couple of weeks ago I came across a post on The Learner's Way by Nigel Coutts titled Why Build a Personal Learning Network.

Highlights from the post include the usual: building a case for collective knowledge, finding value in your own contributions, and getting past the day-to-day dealings that keep us gasping for more time as if were precious air.

We've heard it all before. But, there was something different here. Something so simple, yet so wise I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It was the the most straightforward explanation of the power of  building a personal learning through social media. Anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed, lost, or felt like they were going to drown in the torrent of information on Twitter, Google+, or other platform can's OK. Social media is not like a bucket for "collecting ideas that you will later sort through and make sense of". Instead, it's like a "fast flowing stream that you visit when you have time. You enjoy the ideas that flow past while you are there, you grab the best ones for use at a later date and you let the rest float by."

Yes, it's OK to let things just float by. We don't have to grab onto and feel compelled to hold onto and sort through every bit of information. We should, however, visit the river when we can to revel in the moment of a refreshing idea. There are times when we take a daily swim, but there are also times when we just have to sit it out and wait for another day.

As Nigel so elegantly states: "If you are not watching the stream you don’t think about it, you just know it will still be flowing when you next visit and most likely some new idea will float by."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tune in to nature with a little tech!

If you are finding yourself a little out of touch with tech over the summer, worry not...Camp Google to the rescue! These nifty ideas like creating a magnifying glass to examine objects found in your backyard make great projects for summer camp or summer school. 

Each week focuses on a new theme. You can check out the activities here: Don't worry if you're joining late in the game. It looks like Camp Google is keeping its gates open so you can complete activities at any time...maybe even after school starts in September! 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Takeout, Anyone?

Google Takeout
Google Takeout
Sorry - no, I'm not asking you over for pizza and wings. It's Google Takeout!

Google Takeout

June is right around the corner and it's the time of year when staff and students start wondering what to do with all of the stuff  in their organizational Google account.

Enter Google Takeout! You have the option to download the data associated with an organizational Google Account so that it can be transferred to a personal Google account, other service, or simply to keep a copy for your records.

Visit to create your archive. NOTE: you will be prompted to enter your Google user ID and password in order to create your archive. If you have questions you can check out the FAQ by selecting the "Learn more" link on that page.

About Transfer of Ownership for Google Docs

If you created and own documents that are shared to other users in the organization you can transfer ownership of items you no longer need to another user in the same organization.  (What this means is you can't transfer ownership of docs from your school Google Drive to your personal Google Drive.) Find out more about transfer of ownership here:

Calendars are Tricky!

If you are leaving your organization and own important shared calendars please read this to make sure that shared calendar data does not get lost:

Google Sites

If you created and own a Google Site under the Manchester School District Domain add your personal Google account as a Site Owner. Now log in to your Site via your personal Google ID and click the gear in to top right corner and then select "Manage Site". Under the General settings select "Copy this Site." NOTE: if any links point to items that were stored in your MSD Google Drive, you will need to add those items to your personal Google Drive and relink them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What would you do with an empty box?

I'm passionate about recycling to the point of tearing off the paper tag from my tea bag so it can be recycled. When we deploy hundreds of Chromebooks I work hard to find homes for hundreds of empty boxes. The first person I try to get ahold of is the art teacher. Art teachers understand how to take junk and turn it into something beautiful.

If I can't find an art teacher I look for kindergarteners.  Just give a kid a box and they'll know how to turn it into something magical. Who wouldn't want such a cute little box with a cute little handle?

But what if I'm in a middle or high school? No problem, I find a language arts or English teacher and show them my haiku box (see below) made from the trays inside the many rescued boxes. How about one of those projects where you have to decide what 10 things you'll need to survive on a deserted island? Start thinking and you'll come up with lots of things to do with an empty box...and the stuff inside it.

What would you do with an empty box?