Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Google Expeditions & HyperDocs. A Perfect Pairing.

A few weeks ago I had the honor of being a guest on the new Google Teacher Tribe Podcast hosted by Kasey Bell and Matt Miller. In the episode I shared a few of the exciting things we have going on at my school (Sun Terrace Elementary) with respect to integrating technology. I decided to share two big game changing tech tools that happen to pair perfectly with one another to create an exciting and truly engaging learning experience, HyperDocs and Google Expeditions.

HyperDocs, are "a transformative, interactive Google Doc replacing the worksheet method of delivering instruction, is the ultimate change agent in the blended learning With the HUGE community of educators sharing resources all the time there are tons to choose from to edit and share with your class. Just go to "file" then "make a copy" and an editable copy is saved to your Google Drive. Check out lots more information and resources I shared in a previous blog post HyperDocs! Need I Say More?  and at

Google Expeditions are virtual field trips that take students to places like outer space, national parks, museums, underwater and even back in time! They link virtual reality with engaging background information to guide students on a memorable visit to places they may never be able to see physically. There are tons of expeditions available and they are adding more all the time. New to Google Expeditions? Check out this smore flyer all about using Expeditions with any class even if you DON'T have a VR viewer!

Now put them together for an eduawesome adventure in learning! Here are some HyperDocs & Expeditions pairings. Have others? Please share them in the to this crowdsourced spreadsheet.

Maybe you have found a really great Expedition but can't find a HyperDoc to go with it. Well never fear, a Google Expeditions HyperDoc template is here! Use this HyperDoc template (complete with an Explorer playlist) to guide your students as you explore amazing places all over the world and beyond!

Google Expeditions HyperDoc Template
Have other ideas or resources for making the most of Google Expeditions with your students? Please share them in the comments below!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Is It Meaningful? Is It Manageable? Reflections & Takeaways from the 2nd Annual MDUSD & East Bay CUE STEM & EdTech Symposium

The annual Mount Diablo Unified School District & East Bay CUE STEM and EdTech Symposium, sponsored by Tesoro is the brainchild of awesome Shauna Hawes who has put on an incredible event two years in a row. Shauna was deservingly our 2016-2017 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year, finalist for the 2017 California teacher of the year and most importantly a very valued colleague and wonderful friend. She works tirelessly to put on this event that makes us ALL #MDUSDProud. Shauna says that her job is to find her students' bests and help shape their visions of what their own bests can be. What she doesn't realize is that she does this for her colleagues as well.

The second annual event was a Saturday in February filled with wonderful sessions led and attended by fabulous educators around the East Bay and even from afar. The day began with a Keynote by a wonderful friend of mine, Nick Zefeldt, who spoke about his journey as an educator and how he guides others as they integrate technology into their classroom. Nick and I have known each other for awhile now and was my first call when I became a Teacher On Special Assignment. His guidance and support has been invaluable as I have muddled my way through supporting teachers with educational technology. His advice to keep two questions in mind when choosing what tools or strategies to use with your class resonated with the audience. He encouraged all of us to ask ourselves. Is it meaningful? Is it manageable?

My first presentation was with an awesome, and super funny, colleague of mine, Mark Tobin. I learned SO much from working with him and planning our session. He encouraged us all to get our students asking the questions and for us teachers to get out of the way. Mark modeled how he does this by using Dan Meyer’s 3 Act Math with his students through Google Slides and Robert Kaplinski’s problem solving framework. He also created a digital breakout that we used as a fun way to begin and for teachers to understand how important it is for our students to experience productive struggle. Mark’s advice is simple, teachers need to talk less and students need to do more. His goal is that when teachers come in to observe his class they don't see him teach, they watch his students learn.

For the second session of the day I had the pleasure of presenting with THE Joe Young to a group of amazing educators on Google Expeditions and we had so much fun. The question of how to really use this technology in your class and whether or not this was just a "gimmick" came up in the beginning of our session. This was a great question and led us to a valuable conversation about beginning with what you want your students to learn and discover then find an engaging way to bring it to them. We took them on some exciting virtual field trips, shared resources and brainstormed ideas on how to use this technology in a meaningful and manageable way. Joe is such an inspiration to me and to so many others. I feel honored to have been able to present with him and hope to do so again. He wrote an amazing reflection blog post that captures the day and our session perfectly!

The final session of the day was a presentation with my pal Chrissie Cattalini on using Green Screen in the classroom. This was the second time Chrissie and I have presented this session together and as usual I was in awe of her ability to bring creativity and fun into her classroom while still keeping the rigor high and addressing the standards. Chrissie is a fabulous educator and wonderful friend and I am very lucky to work with her on so many of our passion projects. On Saturday we had a small but mighty group of brilliant educators who created some fantastic images and videos using Green Screen. This session was very hands-on and just like we should often do with our students Chrissie encouraged the attendees to just play. They learned through exploring the app and came up with great ideas for using this technology in their classrooms.

A HUGE highlight of the day was rolling out our STEM Lending Library! The tools available for checkout were on display all throughout the day and educators and students got a chance to try them out. The idea for the MDUSD STEM Lending Library came from the CUE Rockstar STEAMPunk Mobile Lab. Craig Yen had the idea to bring it Mount Diablo Unified School District. After the first STEM and EdTech Symposium in 2016, Tesoro allowed MDUSD to use the remaining funds to establish the STEM Lending Library of products that teachers would have seen at the Symposium, but needed to use and practice using in the classroom before finding the funding to purchase for themselves. In the spring of 2016 Shauna Hawes, Craig Yen and I came together along with Jonathan Eagan to put together a list of tools to purchase for the library. Since then the Valley View MOUSE Squad (led by Shauna Hawes) has been working hard to create the website and check out system for teachers and administrators to get materials and return them. The Library has tech tools like Dash, MakeyMakey, Raspberry Pi, Drones, VR Headsets, 3D Printers and more for ANY educator in the Mount Diablo Unified School District to check out for two weeks at a time and use in their classroom or with their staff.  It was so exciting to see the STEM Lending Library be fully rolled out successfully a year later!

It was a wonderful day and once again made me incredibly proud of my district and the amazing learning community we have created. There were tons of highlights are resources shared throughout the day. Check out the storify of tweets and the padlet of shared resources from #STEM17 below.

Made with Padlet

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!