Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

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…

A Learning Station – Is That What Awesome Looks Like?


EdTechTeacher has another great free resource that I came across… an eBook entitled “What Does Awesome Look Like?” This book focuses on iPad activities in the classroom.

Therefore, for those who are looking for more ideas, you’ve hit the jackpot again!

Personally, I’m very excited to view the book under the lens of making student work stations. In other words, does every student have to be working on an iPad at the same time? My answer: absolutely not! I am interested in leveraging the power of iPads as a student learning station.

Let’s be honest… usually there are not enough devices to go around the entire school, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it. We just have to be a little more creative on how to use what we do have. Also, a station model allows for more individualization and differentiation of the learning objective.

Unsure how to get the ball rolling? I’d love to chat… and if you’re at Abbot, I even can be another set of hands as a co-supervisor of a station, helping building student independence.

We have more iPads on our cart than our largest class size, so let’s get creative!

Please share your thoughts about stations below.

Making Video Assignments More Interactive for Students (and More Informative For Teachers)


For demonstration purposes, I am a student in many real Google Classrooms. Therefore, I often will receive emails to assignments (since I’m an adult in our school domain with email privileges activated).¬† I don’t mind receiving these emails as they keep me in the loop of how people are using Google Classroom. I have noticed a trend lately. A lot of assignments revolve around students watching carefully selected videos for curriculum topics. This is an easy way to have students access videos. I, myself, have had students access videos in Classroom and then complete reflections about the videos on a Google Doc. I now think it’s an appropriate time to share a tool that can take this video watching to a different level: EDpuzzle.

EDpuzzle allows a teacher to insert specific questions into a video. The video actually will stop playing at the desired point and ask the watcher to answer a question. The student does not have to wait until the end of the entire video. Even better, EDpuzzle collects the answers for the teacher. Here’s a straight-forward example I found on the site:

If you sign up for EDpuzzle (It’s free!), you can look at lots of examples there. (I discovered that some people made their own videos first and then used EDpuzzle to insert questions… those are quite advanced! Most videos, however, were educational ones that people found on the Internet.)

The service also is easy for students to sign up for… they just use a class code that you give them.

The EDpuzzle site is very supportive and takes you through the steps of using the service, including video cropping and adding your voice. I also found some great tutorials  from Richard Byrne. (His blog, Free Technology for Teachers, is a tremendous resource that you should check out!) Why recreate the wheel? Embedded below are his step by step screencasts. The first one takes you through the basics, and the second shows you how to integrate this tool seamlessly with Google Classroom. Win-win!

Creating & Distributing Flipped Lessons Through EDpuzzle by Richard Byrne

How to send lessons from EDpuzzle to Google Classroom by Richard Byrne

(Videos too small? Click on the YouTube link to watch them.)

Google Apps Directions


I have been promoting the power of watching videos for how to do things lately. Most of the videos are only a Google search away as most people are making screencasts these days to share their knowledge (often from frustrations). I wanted to pass along another great resource that I have come across: The Google Apps Learning Center.

This Center has step by step written directions with screenshots on all the Google Apps products.

Sometimes you want to cut to the chase… I know I can be a bit wordy in a screencast, and quite honestly I have been focusing on specific troubleshooting topics. Having the basics available from Google can help you and your students get started with a product like Docs, Slides or Forms. The Center is a tremendous resource to share with students in your Google Classroom assignments. Instead of asking you how to do something, they can click on the link that brings them to the “manual” on Google Apps (which will always be up to date by Google).

Now, that’s a nice way to teach some independence.

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