Friday, January 27, 2017

Student Guest Post! 8 Reasons Why Kids (and Adults) Should Blog.

In October I was introduced to the blog Glass Half Empty written by Miles, a 10 year old blogger from the San Francisco Bay Area. I have known Miles for a few years now and after reading a few posts I was immediately hooked. Not only is his blog laugh out loud funny but it also gives readers a VERY honest view of the world from his perspective. Check out his posts on Writer's Block, School and his awesome advice column called "Dear Danger" (Danger is quite literally his middle name). I asked him to write a guest post and here is his take on why he thinks kids (and adults) should blog.

Hi I am Miles. I am 10 years old and have a blog called Glass Half Empty. I am the only kid I know who blogs and I think it is a shame that no one else my age blogs because it is a great way to express yourself in lots of ways. Have you ever had a time where you feel like you are on the verge of going ballistic or like the whole world is against you? Well, I know that I have felt like that. I tried tons of ways to relieve my stress; I tried sports, I tried TV, I tried eating, I tried cooking, I tried lifting weights, I even tried eating junk food (but I got busted by mom) and nothing worked until I started blogging. Blogging is great for kids my age and adults!

Here are some reasons people of all ages and gender should blog.

1. It improves typing and vocabulary skills.

2. It is a great source of stress relief.

3. It makes a darn good hobby.

4. It is a great way to express your feelings.

5. There are no rules to blogging.

6. It is fun.

7. I can tell you firsthand there is no feeling like when you break your view record, get a subscriber or get a comment.*

8. Do you have any idea how accomplished I feel to have over 1000 views and to have gotten invited to guest blog?  Thank you Karly!

So get out there and  
*Bloggers love getting new subscribers and reading their comments. Miles is no different so be sure to subscribe to Miles' blog and don't miss any of his new posts!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Five Totally FREE Ways You Can DITCH That Textbook!

DITCH That Textbook made its Amazon debut on April 13, 2015 and right away that bright yellow trash can cover had us hooked! I bought my first copy on May 2, 2015 and officially became a DITCHer. I connected with Matt Miller on Twitter and was totally starstruck. He was the first author I had ever actually talked (well, tweeted) to and I thought it was so cool that he was out there connecting with his readers. Since then I have become a proud member of Team #DITCHbook and love to share all the awesome that Ditch that Textbook has to offer!

Although I HIGHLY recommend buying a copy of DITCH That Textbook, there are some totally awesome FREE ways to revolutionize your teaching by making it Different, Innovative, Tech-laden, Creative and Hands-on. Here are five totally free ways to DITCH.

1. Register for the Ditch that Textbook Digital Summit. A completely FREE online conference happening THIS December featuring nine presentations from incredible educators who are doing and sharing amazing things. Session presenters include Dave Burgess, Alice Keeler, Lisa Highfill, Sarah Landis, Kelly Hilton, Kasey Bell and TONS more! Check out the video below to learn more and visit the link above to get your ticket.

2. Matt's blog is chock full of incredible resources, ideas, tips and links that he shares at! Subscribe to his blog (click here) so that you get all of his resources delivered right to your inbox.

3. If you are on Twitter join us for Ditchbook chat every Thursday evening from 7-7:30PM PST. Follow Matt and the #Ditchbook hashtag on Twitter to find out the topic and moderator and to join the conversation! 

4. Download Matt's FREE ebooks 101 Practical Ways to Ditch that Textbook and "The Digital Pirate," Tech and Pirate Teaching. Two awesome ebooks that offer tons of great ideas for integrating technology, using PIRATE hooks and bringing the DITCH mindset into your lesson plans.


5. Subscribe to Ditch That Textbook on YouTube. Lots of great how-to videos and information from Matt and other awesome educators. Check out this one about creating infographics with Google Drawings!

Looking forward to DITCHing with you!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Forms + HyperDocs! Putting the FORM in Formative Assessment

A few weeks ago my colleague, Ashley Richardson an amazing and innovative teacher, asked me to come into her class to brainstorm ways to work digital math lessons into her combo class. She wanted one grade level to be doing something productive and meaningful on their chromebooks while the other grade level was working with her. We even brought in our director of innovation and technology, Adam Welcome, one day to help us brainstorm. As we discussed ideas we immediately thought of HyperDocs and as we worked through the effectiveness of simple, short, daily lessons that are easy to implement, recreate and share with colleagues we finally decided on HyperForms*! (Shoutout to Claire Simon for bringing this idea up in one of our EdCamps and planting the seed for how powerful forms are for HyperDocs!)
*The HyperDoc girls have always been very clear that HyperDocs are not just docs and can be in the form of slides, forms, sheets or even drawings (that's a future blog post for sure!) So this is not a new idea, just a spin on how to use it. Credit for the "Hyper" always goes to Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis =) 

HyperForms allow us to integrate the powerful lesson design of HyperDocs into one manageable place to view results and provide feedback. The value of using a HyperForm for these short one-day lessons is that it allows the teacher to see all of the work in one place (on a spreadsheet). With the ease of the integrated self-grading quiz feature students were provided instant feedback on the questions and can then go back to review, reflect and then retake the quiz! These lessons assume that the content has been taught in class and this is an extension on the lesson. This lesson could easily be used to flip your class and provide you with a preview of what your class already knows coming into the lesson. This is an example HyperForm Ashley and I used with the third graders.

We wanted to incorporate the lesson design that make HyperDocs so effective in our form so we included sections that we hope do that. Here is how we designed our HyperForm and have included a template for you to copy and use to get started. Of course, as with any template, use what you want and change it to make it your own!


After the Name short answer question (which we highly recommend making required) we embedded videos that reteach and/or reinforce the lesson. Check out 30 Great YouTube Channels for Teachers for inspiration or record and upload your own!

Adding a YouTube video to forms is easy peasy!

Show What You Know!

This section offers students an opportunity to apply their knowledge in a standardized test format. You can create multiple choice, checkboxes and multiple answer questions with the embedded quiz feature that will automatically give students a grade after they submit. They can view their score then review, reflect and retake their quiz. A few tips Ashely and I learned along the way are below =)

*Make these questions required and the others (except name) not required so that students can go back and easily retake this section of the assessment without needing to retype in their longer answers or resubmit links to activities. 

*Be sure the box for "Limit to 1 response" is unchecked so that they can take their quiz multiple times. You can also collect email addresses (just incase someone decides to put a funny name instead of their real one ;) and restrict responses to your GAFE domain users.

*Finally, uncheck the box that allows respondents to see "correct answers" under quiz settings so that students don't get the answer key when viewing their score!

Share Your Thinking

This one question section asks students to explain how they arrived at their answer. In math this could be describing what method they used to solve the problem. In reading it could be justifying their answer with text evidence. One question that really goes deep and gives them the experience of explaining their thinking through typing on the computer. 

Apply Your Skills

Here you can add some sort of activity where the students are creating or manipulating something in order to show what they know. It could be an activity like a in a Google Drawing or a quick creation of a Google slide that utilizes images to capture their thinking. Once finished students will click the share button then "get shareable link" to copy the url to their creation.  They will paste the link into the form and once submitted the teacher will have all of the links to the students' work on the spreadsheet in one place.

Connect and Extend

Although not a part of the actual form, we include a link to a game or activity that reinforces the skill in a fun way under the form in Google classroom. ABCya! has some great ones to check out.

Information for the teacher. What do you see?

Whole Class Summary:
When you click on responses in edit mode of your form you will see a summary of your whole class (or at least of those who submitted the form). If students took the quiz more than once you will see all of their results in this summary so take that into consideration when viewing the data. The information you get from the summary can give you valuable insight into what holes you may have as class and inform your whole group instruction.

Individual Data:
You can view your student's' individual results either by clicking on "Individual" in the responses summary or you can create a spreadsheet. On a spreadsheet you can view their "quiz" section answers and by sorting by name you can see how many times the took the quiz to get their desired score. All of their long answer questions are in one column and the links to their drawings are in another. You can give students feedback on their work through private comments in Google Classroom or on their "Apply" activity such as a Google Drawing. Verbal, face to face, feedback works too!

Ready to Get Started?

Ready to create your own HyperForm? Make a copy of this template or go to and select "Blank Quiz" to get started! Once you are finished you can share your form by creating a forced copy link so that others can use it too. 

To create a link that will make a forced copy follow the steps below: (thanks Sean Fahey for showing me how to do this!
  • Click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner and go to "add collaborators" 
  • Then change the sharing settings to "Anyone with link can edit"

  • Finally change the end of the URL from "edit" to "copy"

Have you tried HyperForms? Do you have suggestions for how to make them work for your students? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

HyperDocs were created by Lisa HighfillKelly Hilton and Sarah Landis and they are such a game changer! Check out my previous post HyperDocs! Need I Say More???, their incredible website and definitely get your hands on a copy of their book The HyperDoc Handbook today! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

How May We #GAFEhelp You?

Do you use Google Apps for Education (GAFE)? Are you a connected educator on Twitter? (And if you are not, then why not? But that is another conversation to have later.) Have you ever had a question about GAFE and so you Tweet it out only for it to get lost in the abyss of Twitter and never get a response? Or if you do get a response, it is completely random and really doesn’t help? 

Well, we hope this will be a solution to that dilemma. We would like to introduce to you a new Twitter account, @GAFEhelp.

Eight GAFE using educators connected on Twitter and have teamed up to manage this new handle. Our goal is to be a resource to other GAFE using teachers and help provide a quick answer to any type of GAFE related question you may need help with.
In addition to this new Twitter account, we will be using the hashtag #GAFEhelp to also facilitate communication of any questions that may be out there.
We don’t see ourselves as experts, but just a group knowledgeable teachers wanting to help provide answers to your questions. If we don’t know an answer, we will try to help you research a solution and provide resources to help you get going in the right direction.
So if you need help with Google Apps, just tweet us @GAFEhelp and/or use the hashtag #GAFEhelp. So, How may we GAFEhelp you?
Meet the GAFEhelp Team:

Justin Birckbichler (@Mr_B_Teacher) - 4th grade teacher in Virginia. Teaches with 1:1 Chromebooks. Google for Education Certified Innovator and Trainer.
Ben Cogswell (@cogswell_ben) - TK-6th Educational Technology TOSA in Salinas, CA. Google Educator Level 1 and 2. 1:1 iPads & Dell Venues implementing GAFE in 12 schools with 380+ teachers.
Sean Fahey (@SEANJFAHEY) - 4th grade teacher in Indiana at a Google Apps for Education School. Teaches with 1:1 ChromeBooks.
Ari Flewelling (@EdTechAri) - Staff Development Specialist (Technology Integration and 1:1 Support), Google Certified Trainer & Innovator, CUE Affiliate President
Kelly Martin (@kmartintahoe) - K-8 Educational Technology and Curriculum Coordinator in South Lake Tahoe, California. Google Educator Level 1 and 2. Supports 60+ teachers in a 1:1 chromebook environment in grades 3-12.
Karly Moura (@KarlyMoura) - Instructional Coach & Educational Technology Support Teacher in California. Supports educators in a Google Apps for Education school teaching with chromebooks and ipads.

Mari Venturino (@MsVenturino) - Middle school science and AVID teacher in California. Teaches with 1:1 iPads. Google for Education Certified Trainer & Innovator.
Joe Young (@jyoung1219) - Math & STEAM Instructional Coach in Palo Alto, California. Taught 1st, 2nd, and 5th grades in a GAFE district, 1:1 iPads, 1:1 Chromebooks, and served as a tech lead teacher.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Five Things You Didn't Know About Participate Learning

If you have ever been a part of a Twitter chat then you probably know that Participate Learning easily creates a transcript of the chat and will even do it for you if your chat is one that is regularly scheduled. That feature alone is what got us frustrated storify users hooked. Add in the AWESOME curated resources automatically collected during the chat and you have a chat moderator's dream come true. I recently got a chance to chat with Brad Spirrison from Participate Learning and I found out that there is a lot about that you might not even know about!

  • There are over 10K expert-vetted resources (apps, videos, web, oer) scored and tagged for common core. You can browse resources and collections by grade, category, and of course common core.  
  • They have incredible customer service. If you are interested in capturing resources tweeted to any hashtag, not just chats, let them know. They will will create it for you. You can the capture collections/transcripts for up to 72 hours. Resources can be captured for up to 30 days before.
  • Participate Learning recently created pages for upcoming EdCamps. That means that ANY resource tweeted alongside an edcamp hashtag will be curated on Participate Learning.
  • There's an extension for that! Participate Learning has an easy to use chrome extension that makes it super easy to save online resources to Participate Learning Bookmarks, then add them to collections from your profile!
Check out and follow them on Twitter @participatelrnFacebook or Google+There are a TON of 90-second tutorial videos available on their YouTube Channel making it an incredibly easy to use tool for finding resources, connecting and collaborating.