Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

Summer PD


Looking for some free summer PD to help you make progress with student and professional practice goals?

Here are a few places that may help:

SimpleK12 Educational Webinars

(Don’t forget that Westford has accounts if something is not FREE, and you can make an individual professional development plan to earn PDPs from the District!)

Verizon Mobile Learning Academy Course Webinars

Education Week Webinars


Inspire: Virtual Community of Practice Course

(For Westford educators through the “University of Westford”)

EdTechTeacher Webinars

(Subscribe to find out when they will become available!)

Happy Summer!

Digital Lesson Creator


Recently, someone shared Blendspace with me.

If you want to create stations, differentiate instruction and/or preview, enhance or review topics with students, you’ll want to check out this quick demo of this service:

Using Google Classroom? Blendspace lessons may be a perfect match for organizing links and online content for access via a Classroom Assignment. It also will work on Chromebooks. (Win-win for us!)

I know it’s the end of the school year, but that often is the time when teachers will look for new ideas. Perhaps, you will have the leisure of putting together new lessons or approaches during the summer? Just something to think about and play around with (if you choose) during your time off!



I love the way Google Classroom organizes student work.

Life has never been easier for a teacher. Create an Assignment: either give students a copy or Google will make them one right in Docs. No more naming files and then misplacing on the local server. A teacher can view finished and unfinished work all via the Classroom, too, from anywhere… at home or at school. Convenience at its best!

I think I was at a digital learning conference and someone referred to this beautiful system that Google had created as “automagic”! Truly, it is!

However, over the course of this year, I’m beginning to wonder if there are some drawbacks to this magical automated system in the sense that students really don’t have to think.

Of course, they have to think about the curriculum content, and that’s the most important thing. Hey, that’s another perk! The other stuff that held up student’s from getting down to work (naming files, finding files) is no longer a part of the equation. But should it be? Maybe, that stuff that can be annoying to us is really good for them to know how to do?

Is it important to know how to create a file yourself?

Is it important to know how to make a folder yourself and to be able to organize and move files?

If we want students to understand the process and to be able to troubleshoot for when the going gets rough, the answer to both questions is “yes”.

I have witnessed on several occasions this year when students are outside of Classroom trying to do a task using a digital device that they come to a complete halt when having to connect to another service and then save and create a file. Then to have to move or copy that file has continued the pain.

I don’t think we should stop using Classroom. I want to be clear: I am not advocating that solution at all! However, I do think that it would be very wise on our part to create situations for students to work on their digital organization skills.

My suggestion: have students go directly to Google Drive and My Drive and create a folder. Perhaps, a folder called Grade _ Projects.

Then have students open finished projects (Docs, Slides, etc.) from within Classroom and go to the file menu to Make a Copy. This will give students the experience to rename the file (as Classroom automagically names things, right!). When the copy of the file opens up on the screen, have students click on the folder icon to organize the file. In other words, now students can move that copied file to that newly created Projects folder in his/her My Drive. You then can show students how to access this folder via Google Drive instead of Classroom. All of this experience will be very helpful, especially since life does not exist entirely in Google (yet).

I’m looking forward to a portfolio project with grade 3 students next year. The endeavor will give them opportunities to select and reflect, but also very importantly, students will have to organize. A skill, in my opinion, that we can’t afford for them to lose.

Just some thoughts over my lunch time today… please share your thoughts below! Thanks!

Google Custom Search


A real concern for teachers is having students search online safely. I have had this conversation with many of you. Three suggestions that I have given are:

  1. Use a kid-friendly search engine, like KidRex.
  2. Supply the websites for students, for example, use our shared resources on a district curriculum links page.
  3. Keep your eyes peeled and circulate when students are on devices!

I was very excited to see a post by SimpleK12 over a week ago about making a Google Custom Search. It seems like this service marries my usual suggestions.

Check out the straightforward, brief, easy-to-follow video on how to set up controlled search for your students from websites that you want them to use:

What I really like about this approach, is that it keeps students focused on sites that you approve with the functionality of doing a “real” search. I know many of you are supplying links in your Google Classroom which is fabulous! (And you don’t have to wait for someone to put your link on a district page.) In Google Classroom, students easily click on each individual site as they are seeking information. However, you can stream line and pull the process together by supplying students with the link to a Google Custom Search you create. Students then can search all of your given sites at once, giving them an authentic searching experience.

Of course, there is no substitute for being a physical presence while students are online searching. Reality, though, is we are not always there, especially if we are asking students to do research at home. Then it all comes down to making sure that we have conversations with our students about being good digital citizens, but that’s another post…

Let me know what you think… I’d be happy to help you give this potentially better way to search a try!

Preparing for the Station Rotation Model


So you want to make stations in your room… and want one to be technology infused…

I have been thinking about how I can support people who are contemplating this endeavor. I did a little searching around and came across a blog post by Catlin Tucker about the Station Rotation Model. I found it most helpful in how to plan and prepare for making stations in a classroom. The author carefully outlines what questions a teacher should consider in order to make worthwhile stations. Please check it out here. It’s worth the read.

Tucker also makes an excellent point about why you should even be considering these stations: the power of the small learning community. This school year, I have some of the largest classes that I ever have taught. I now can see why the lecture hall approach has been a traditional way to address and control large bodies of students. Yet, it’s such an impersonal, teacher-centered approach that doesn’t foster the 4C’s (communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking) or take into consideration different learning styles and preferences. Not to mention – I find students are less apt to take a risk in a large group. I’ve learned over the years that trusting relationships go a long way in making students available to learn.

It’s time to start looking at our carts of devices differently. A cart of 30 devices has at least 6 stations of different opportunities.

Time to do some planning…

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