Monday, December 30, 2013

Social Media Advisor and Branding

In addition to my responsibilities as a Technology Integration Coach, I am pleased to announce that I am also the Social Media Advisor for the William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing, New Jersey.  I assist my building principal, Stephen Santilli @SPSantilli with this task on a daily basis.

The William Davies Middle School is on several social media platforms.  Most of our school community is on the top three platforms, which are Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. In addition, I post school related videos to our YouTube account and interesting articles to our Pinterest account.  (The William Davies Middle School Instagram account will be arriving soon.)

Here is a list of our social media platforms.

Twitter:  @WilliamDaviesMS
Google Plus:  +William Davies 
YouTube: +William Davies 
Pinterest:  WilliamDaviesMS

Every day, I post school news, school events, daily messages, such as yearbook information, spirit week themes, activity buses schedule, assemblies, etc.  I get this information from the school calendar.  Also, Steve will post information from classrooms, emergency information, achievements, etc.  In addition, to posting, I will reply to comments or Like comments that are from parents. 

The Workflow:

Since time is precious, one of the first items I created was a Social Media Request Form, which is a Google Form, to help me keep track of requests from staff in the building.  This form will allow the staff to type the post exactly how they want it to appear on social media.  

Once the form was completed, I created an email filter that will notify Steve and I on when the Social Media Request form is modified.  This email notification gets sent to our school email accounts.  Once I receive the email notification, I click on the link provided to open up the Social Media Request form, and the new entry is automatically highlighted on the spreadsheet.  This workflow is very simple and I have become dependent on it because it prevents me from having to "babysit" the responses from the Social Media Request form. Plus, it saves me a lot of time.

After I post the information on social media, I highlight the information on the response spreadsheet in green to signify it was successfully posted.  If there is a discrepancy with the information, I obviously do not post the information.  I highlight the information on the response spreadsheet in red and state the reason why the post was denied.  

Many of our posts contain pictures of staff and students in our school.  However, before posting student's names and faces to the Internet, I always check their AUP's, (Acceptable Use Policy), to make sure they have permission from their parents to do this.  If they do not have their parent's consent, then I do not post their picture and/or name.  In some instances, the student can get a written note from their parent giving them permission to be posted just for that time.  

Furthermore, to continue our efforts to brand our school, the hashtag, #WeAreDavies is included on every post.  This will allow staff and students to be able to participate in many conversations at our school.  In addition, Steve creates a Storify every week to demonstrate a week of review at the William Davies Middle School.  Here is an example of our storify feed.  

I am very fortunate to have a building principal that is willing to take the risk to implement social media into our school.  Although it is not the only way of communicating to parents and the community, I feel the social media connection has been very successful.  It is rewarding to see how many people we reach on a daily basis and to see the positive reactions from parents and other community members.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Google Apps for Education and Screencast-o-matic

As a Technology Integration Coach, it is my responsibility to encourage and support teachers to implement the use of technology in their classrooms.  This year, I am piloting Google Apps for Education with an academy of 6th grade teachers at the William Davies Middle School @WilliamDaviesMS, in Mays Landing, NJ.

In the beginning of the school year, I introduced Google Apps for Education (GAFE ), to the students which included modeling to them the procedures to login to the domain, the apps that are available in the domain, Google Drive, Google Docs, and file/folder management. In addition to my classroom lessons, I created documentation for them and showed them where they can access it on my website.  A few weeks after the introduction of GAFE, I decided it may be a better idea to create short screen casts for the students using Screencast-O-Matic.

My videos are about a minute long which allows the students to watch the videos at any time and at their own pace.  The screen casts that I completed are for 6th grade students who are using Google Apps for Education, but they can be used from middle school grades and up.  I intend to create several videos on document sharing.  For now, this is what I created so far:
Screencast-O-Matic, is a free screen capture tool that will allow you to record your navigation on the computer screen while you record yourself at the same time.  The free version will allow you to save your recording to the computer, or to YouTube.  However, if you make a mistake during the recording, you must start over again.  I recommend that you have a script or an idea of what you are going to say prior to recording.   The paid version will allow you to edit the video so you do not have to start from the beginning. This tool is a powerful one and is not difficult to learn. 

I recommend anyone who provides professional development and/or documentation for teachers and students to try using Screencast-O-Matic instead of typing their documentation.  It can save you a lot of time.  
These videos, and other Technology Integration resources can be found on my school website.  I

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hour of Code - Computer Science Week Follow Up

Last week, 12/9/2013 - 12/15/2013, was Computer Science Education Week, which is a national campaign to encourage students to learn how to code or write a program.  

I had the opportunity to teach middle school students at the William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing, NJ how to code.  I am so proud to have been a part of this campaign.  My students were excited, engaged, and enthusiastic about coding. They all did a FANTASTIC job and I am proud of each of them!

The first day, I asked them, what is a computer program and what is its purpose? I explained to them that it is a set of instructions with a purpose. Some examples are to create an alarm clock app, create a game, or to produce a report.  I compared a computer program to a recipe, in that each ingredient is vital and must be completed in a sequence.

In addition, I introduced proper terminology  and provided an explanation of them.  I spoke to the class using these terms so they would become more acquainted with the vocabulary and use it appropriately.  A few of the terms are listed below:  

            • Source code
            • syntax
            • tags and commands
            • execute and run
            • debug and troubleshoot
            • editor
            • inequalities and special symbols
            • program
            • backslash
            • GUI (graphical user interface)
The Hour of Code campaign gave my students the opportunity to experience the following:  
  1. learn to code complex instructions using logic
  2. pay attention to small details because every detail counts
  3. collaborate and communicate with each other to help write and debug their program
  4. use critical thinking skills
  5. ask three classmates then ask me
I wanted to teach the students how to code HTML. I feel this is important because most or all of the students use the Internet and may have seen HTML code in their experience.  (It is important for the students to connect to the lesson.)  I compared the tasks I had them code to Microsoft Word.  I instructed the students to use Notepad as their editor to write the code.

The students learned how to code the following tasks in HTML:
  • a title on the title bar
  • insert a line break
  • insert a horizontal line
  • insert an image and size it
  • insert a comment
  • insert an ordered list with numbered items
  • formatting text such as; color, size, center justify, underline, bold

They learned that HTML commands are called tags, and that many of the tags have a begin tag and an end tag.  In addition, they quickly learned the importance of using the correct syntax in programming.  After they coded, they seemed to like the fact they were able to execute the program and see immediate results.  If their results were correct, they helped other students who were having difficulties.  If their results were incorrect, they were able to troubleshoot and debug their source code.  

Furthermore, students learned about file names especially file extensions. They needed to save their program as a .html file or else their program would not execute. I explained to them that each file type or extension is unique and is identifiable to a specific application.  I explained to them it is important not to include spaces in the filename or else the program would not execute.  That was the perfect time to mention the importance of details.   

The last day of the week, we were able to complete our program.  They had coded a simple webpage using Notepad that had horizontal lines, formatted text, an ordered list, and an image.  I challenged them to continue with their quest using HTML and other GUI interfaces, such as Scratch 

In conclusion, Computer Science Education Week, the Hour of Code was AWESOME!!!! I am so proud of all of the students who learned and wrote HTML code.  I do believe the students were proud of themselves too! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hour of Code Computer Science Education Week

The week of December 9th - December 15, 2013 is Computer Science Education Week, where students should have the opportunity to learn concepts of Computer Science, such as computer programming and coding, for at least one hour. Having a  Bachelors Degree in Computer Science/Information Systems and being a former Computer Programmer, I am so excited to have the opportunity to share this experience with many 7th and 8th grade students at the William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing, NJ.

Prior to this week, I have persuaded two of my peers, Malika Green and Meghan Fitzgerald to participate in the Hour of Coding Challenge. I found resources for them and we brainstormed some ideas to implement this important concept into their classrooms.  Instead of allowing students to learn about coding for just one hour, we have decided to teach this concept for the entire week.

In Literacy Media Technology class, taught by Meghan Fitzgerald, she is having the students learn how to code using Scratch.  They will create an animated holiday card that allows students to include sprites, which are avatars, images, animations, sound effects, background scenes, and text.  When they are completed, they will be able to share and send their holiday cards with their teacher.  All of these effects are done using coding.

In STEM class, taught by Malika Green, I will be integrating technology by teaching computer programming for the entire week to her classes.  Each day, I will be presenting a different tool to code.

Since students may be familiar with embedding HTML code from webpages, I thought it would be a good idea to teach them HTML, Hyper Text Markup Language.  They will use the Notepad application that is installed on their netbooks to type their code.  I will introduce several concepts such as HTML tags (these are commands), syntax, and debugging skills.  They will learn about the required tags that are needed in an html file, plus learn about formatting tags and others that are listed below.  

            • font style
            • text color
            • text size
            • center justify
            • bold
            • underline
            • page break
            • insert an image
            • line break
            • numbered list
            • horizontal line

They will also learn how to save their file as an .html file and execute it immediately to view the results of their code.  If the results are incorrect, they will troubleshoot and debug the code accordingly.  The purpose of teaching them HTML is for them to understand the complexity of creating webpages.

On the second day, I will allow them to play the Angry Birds Maze Challenge on The Hour of Code website. This is a GUI interface so the students may find it more user friendly then coding HTML.  Students will program the bird by dragging the pieces that are labelled with the command  to the work space.  This will allow the bird to move through the maze to find the pig.  When they execute the code and it is correct, the bird will find the pig and the student will move on to the next maze.  If the code is incorrect, they will have to debug it and try again.  They will complete as many levels as they can.  The higher the level the more difficult the maze becomes.

The third day, I will allow them to play the Light Bot Challenge on The Hour of Code website.  This is another GUI interface that will allow students to program the robot through the puzzle to change the color of the blue tiles to yellow.  Again, they have to program the robot by dragging the pieces that are labelled with the command to the work space.  This will navigate the robot to jump to the space and change the color of the tile.  If the code is correct, the student will move onto the next puzzle.  If the code is incorrect, the students will have to troubleshoot it and try again.  They will complete as many levels as they can.  The higher the level the more difficult the puzzle becomes.  

The last two days, I will teach them how to code using Scratch.  This is a GUI interface that will allow them to drag pieces that are labelled with the command to the work space to control the sprite.  The sprite is an avatar on the scene.  The application offers a few short tutorials on how to get started.  They will go through the tutorials and create an animated card.  When they are completed, they will share their animated card with me using a Google Form.    

In conclusion, this is my lesson plan. However, I will make adjustments if necessary.  If needed, I will have students learn computer programming using Khan Academy.  I am anticipating a successful week of computer programming!  However, I will follow up with my experiences after I complete these lessons.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

EdcampNJ at Linwood Middle School

I attended EdcampNJ at Linwood Middle School in North Brunswick, NJ and all I can say is WOW!  What a day!  It was outstanding!

Edcamp is FREE professional development offered to public educators, administrators, etc.  Although it was not my first time attending an Edcamp, it was my first time attending it in Northern New Jersey.  In addition, it was my first time Co-Presenting with Steve Santilli, about our school, William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing, NJ.

The first session I attended was, Bringing engagement to any device using Nearpod, with Dan Gallagher, @gallagher_tech.  What a great presentation!  I learned so much about Nearpod that I decided to show staff at my school this great tool.   Nearpod is a tool that will allow teachers to present their lesson to students on ANY device.  It allows students to interact with the lesson by answering different types of questions.  Teachers can use this information for exit tickets, quizzes, monitoring, etc.  It will allow teachers to report on their responses.  Students can follow along with the lesson directly on their device.  They do not need an account to join Nearpod.  All they need is a code to join the lesson.  Very simple!


The next session, I co-presented with my building principal, Steve Santilli @spsantilli on, From Our School to Yours, Social Media at the William Davies Middle School. In our session, we used a Google Presentation on how we implement the use of social media in our school. The presentation explained the purpose, implementation, workflow, and the feedback from the parents and the community.   We were both very excited about presenting this topic because we wanted to share our experience while portraying a positive message about using social media in schools.

I am the social media adviser for the William Davies Middle School. It has become part of my daily routine to post school news and events to our Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus, and YouTube profiles and pages.  In addition to posting, I created a workflow for staff members so they have the opportunity to post as well. I created a Social Media Request Form using Google Forms.   Staff members fill out the request form and essentially they are creating their own posts in a spreadsheet.  I am just copying their statement into our social media accounts.  

Since this form is associated with my personal Google account, I set up an email filter and notifications for us to be alerted to our school email account.  The purpose of this is so I do not have to monitor the Social Media Request form.  Every time there is a new entry in the form, a notification is immediately sent to our school email account.  At that point, I check the form and enter the post into social media. The workflow is simple.  Currently, we are working on creating a Pinterest account and an Instragram account.  I am anticipating these accounts to be ready by the New Year.  

The last session I attended was, Google Chromebooks and the Cloud, by Rich Kiker @rkiker. Excellent!  He is passionate about Google and wanted to provide as much information to his audience as possible.  I was so happy I attended his session.  Rich recommended the use of 3d technology using Chrome Experiments.  He stated, "Immersive Technology, a way to Put students in the place of learning."  He gave information on Google training, Google Art Project, Virtual Field Trips with Google Connected Classrooms, Google Books, and Google Cultural Institute World Wonders.  I honestly felt like a little kid with a bowl of chocolate!

My assessment of EdcampNJ, outstanding!  It gave me the opportunity to connect with my PLN, make new connections and have great conversations with many people.  If you have the opportunity to attend an Edcamp, I would highly recommend you attend.  It is well worth it!

I want to say thank you to all the organizers at EdcampNJ for providing free and quality professional development.  I learned so much while having so much fun.  I can't wait to share what I learned at my school.  See you at the next EdcampNJ!  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lights Camera and Save!

A few of my eighth grade math classes are working on creating an innovative video about financial literacy. The students who complete this assignment will be participating in a contest called, Lights Camera and Save from Ocean City Bank in Ocean City, New Jersey.  Each person must  complete an entry form and follow the rules for the contest and create a video that demonstrates the importance of saving money.

Knowing the video will be the final product of the contest, I transformed this contest into a PBL (Project Based Learning).  I included a "big picture" scenario and an essential question into the project, which will help students make real life connections.  I introduced the project using a Google Presentation.  At the end of the presentation, the students were excited to form their groups and start to brainstorm their ideas.

In a true PBL, students have to create their final product, from their point of view, using a technology tool they prefer.  During this process, the students have the support and guidance of their teachers.  I gave the students suggestions and showed them samples of videos from last years contest.  This would give them an idea of  what is expected from them.

One of the requirements the video must have is to include a theme.  The theme must include three concepts: how to save money, how to save money and spend it wisely, and how to save for college.  Another requirement of the video is it cannot be longer than 90 seconds. The video must be innovative, creative, have originality, and display a clear message.

The classes have two weeks to complete the videos. Myself and the math teachers will review the videos and I will submit the videos into the bank, by November 30th, that portray the rules and message clearly. I can't wait to see what the students created and to hear what they learned from this project.  I will keep you posted on the results.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy

As the anniversary of this historical storm approaches, Superstorm Sandy, please remember, there are still many people that are still trying to rebuild their lives.

Here is a short slideshow of the destruction from my community and other shore town in southern New Jersey and New York.  

God bless all of you and Stay Strong!

A short slideshow of the devastation from Superstorm Sandy, October 29, 2012.
jkmatt27's Story

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mystery Skype and Google Docs

Today, myself and another teacher,  Mrs. Steinen, performed a Mystery Skype session.  It was our first time participating in this type of lesson and I have to say, I was pleased with our students and learned a lot.

First, Mrs. Steinen's class is a 6th grade Social Studies class and we connected with a Ms. Janine Craine's @jcrainrue 5th grade class in Iowa. Prior to our session, I introduced video conference calls and proper classroom etiquette during a video call.  When this was completed, I went over classroom jobs and responsibilities and assigned jobs accordingly.

The students worked together and shared documents using their Google Apps for Education account.  Some of the documents that I shared were:

In addition, students created and shared their own documents with other students who had the same jobs.  

All of the students in the class was assigned a job and had to stay focused on the task at hand, which was, to try to guess what state the mystery class was from by asking 20 questions that had yes/no answers.  The students shared information with each other to try to ask more informative questions.   Students stayed focused on their job responsibilities and finally narrowed down the mystery location.  I am happy to say, our class guessed the mystery location in 7 questions.  Our mystery class, was experienced with Mystery Skype and guessed our location in 6 questions.

During the session, the students were engaged and were interactive with their peers and teachers.  They were not afraid to ask questions, and share facts with the mystery classroom.  They were respectful, polite and helpful to each other.  They learned that Iowa has no mountains, is in the central time zone, (which is 1 hour behind the eastern time zone), west of the Mississippi River, they have many farms and harvest corn, and the nickname of the state is the Hawkeye State.  Most importantly, they made a global connection with another class in the United States and are eager do it this again.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Google Apps for Education for Students

This week will start week 2 of introducing Google Apps for Education to 6th grade students at my school. When I am teaching the lesson, I am scheduled for 80 minutes for each class.  (We have block periods, so this definitely is an advantage).  I need every  minute of the period to go over what I need to teach.  The students are responsive and engaged during my lesson and are able to follow my instructions successfully.  In addition, the classroom teacher is in the room which is very helpful, especially if there are technical problems.

The students are not only learning Google Apps, but they are learning additional concepts such as:

  • using Google Chrome
  • Bookmarks
  • Minimize and Maximize the window
  • tabs
  • refreshing the browser session
  • their login information 
  • the purpose of each component in their email/username
  • the URL address of the domain
  • cloud storage
  • Troubleshooting concepts 
Because the student's email/username is so long, it seems like the login procedure takes up the most time. Some issues are, students may not typing the correct information, students may not added into the domain, or there is a conflict with the email/username due to a sibling in the system. Once they are logged in, the lesson seems to go rather quickly.  I briefly go over the apps that are available on our domain. However, the majority of my lesson is using Google Drive and creating documents.

When the students login to their Google account and go to their Drive, they will have 3 folders assigned to them by each teacher.  This folder structure was created using a script called gClassFolders.  Each student has a Subject -View folder, Subject- Edit folder, and a Subject - Name Assignment folder.  

The Purpose of each Folder:
  • The Subject- View folder is a folder the teacher uses to give out worksheets, assignments, rubrics, etc.  Anything that you needed to copy and hand out to students, can simply be copied into the view folder and all of the students will receive the file.  It will be read-only and it is shared with the whole class.
  • The Subject - Edit folder - is a folder the teacher uses to allow students to collaborate with each other as a whole class. The files will be shared and updated during real time collaboration.
  • The Subject -Name Assignment folder - is a folder used as a dropbox, or the bin for the students to turn in completed work.  The folder is only shared between the student and the teacher only.
In addition, they have to create a Work in Progress folder, which will contain all of their files they are working on, or not done with yet.  When they complete the work in this folder, they will have to move the file into the assignment folder, in which the teacher will grade. 

During my lesson, I allow the students to create a document in the Work in Progress folder, and move it to the assignment folder to hand in to their teacher. I also have the teacher create a practice assignment, and allow the students to view it, make a copy of it, modify it, then move it into the assignment folder.  I model these instructions so the students understand the workflow.

In addition to this workflow, I teach them to make sure their Drive is organized by modeling deleting files, moving files, creating folders and sub-folders, renaming files, naming conventions, and much more.

After I introduce the domain to the rest of the pilot classes, I will re-visit the classrooms again to go over more concepts such as, sharing documents, real time collaboration, presentations, spreadsheets, drawings, and Google Calendar. 

Since my school is a 1:1 environment, I will be able to introduce the offline version of Google Drive.  This will allow them to learn about about syncing their files if they are not able to connect to the Internet.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Etiquette and Mystery Skype

During a TeachMeet NJ conference I attended this summer, I was lucky enough to attend a Mystery Skype session. The connection was with Paula Naugle @plnaugle, a 4th grade teacher, from Louisiana.   She participated in a professional development workshop for teachers at TeachMeet NJ and demonstrated how the Mystery Skype lesson is implemented.   I was intrigued to see how much the students were engaged with this activity.

I typed a document on Mystery Skype Information.  During my documentation, I decided to create a presentation on Video Call Etiquette for students to follow.

In addition, I am happy to say that I will be assisting with the implementation of a Mystery Skype connection in my school in October.   A 6th grade Social Studies class in my school will be making a connection to another middle school class in Iowa.

I will ensure the technology components of this lesson works successfully by testing the equipment (webcam, microphone, audio, projector), making a test connection with the other teacher, (without the students),  introduce video calls and  proper etiquette during, and introduce the student roles and responsibilities.

Please refer to the document and presentation.  I am happy to share these documents with you.  I hope you find them helpful.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Professional Development for Google Apps for Education Pilot

At the end of August, I completed professional development for the teachers who will be piloting GAFE.  It was a two day session for 3 hours.  I am happy to say that it was very productive.

The first day, I introduced the domain to them.  They logged on to the domain and we explored many apps, such  an Calendar, Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Forms and Presentations.  We also explored many apps that were installed in the domain such as:  LucidChart and Voicethread.  The second day, the teachers were able to set up their classroom by creating groups, classroom folders, (using gClassFolders script), and create a form to gather a class roster.  

While I was preparing for these sessions, I created documentation for the teachers.  If necessary, please refer to these user guides for detail documentation:
Since the school year has begun, I have been meeting with the pilot teachers once a week to help them prepare and better understand the domain and all it offers.  

These mini-sessions or meetings have been productive, especially explaining the gClassFolder script and the folder tree structure it creates for the teacher and the students.  I am able to focus more on a specific tasks, explain and model it to the teachers so they have a better understanding of the concept.  

Also, I am allowing the teachers to experience hands-on mini exercises by having them create an assignment or rubric, and hand it out to the class, which includes my test student.  They are able to understand the flow of a paperless classroom by putting the assignment in the appropriate folder.  They are also able to see how a student will hand in the assignment for grading.

Although there are many ways to complete this, the pilot teachers and I are trying to make this process very simple and productive at the same time.  I am finding the gClassFolder script to be very helpful.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

TeachMeet NJ 13

I attended TeachMeet NJ in August which is a FREE technology unconference with sessions that are usually 20 minutes long.  It was amazing! It is always a great experience to meet with new people who have similar job responsibilities, who are using technology in their classrooms, who are willing to share ideas, provide professional development and information to others and so much more!

I met some amazing people who were from Southern Regional School District in Manahawkin, NJ, Liz Calderwood @Liz1544 and Kate Baker @KtBkr4.  Others who I met with were William King @wkingbg, a principal from Kentucky, Paula Naugle @plnaugle, a 4th grade teacher from Louisiana, Ross LeBrun @MrLeBrun, Meredith Martin @Geekyteach, Jeffrey Bradbury @TeacherCast, Alicia Mackall @AliciaMackall, Regina Schaffer @ReginaSchaffer, and so many others.  I enjoyed speaking with each and everyone of them.  They provided me with so many ideas.  If you want more information about these people, you can follow them on Twitter.  I provided their twitter name as well.

I wanted to share some of the tools and concepts with you.  Here is a list of apps/websites that were demonstrated in the Appsmack Down:

  • VisibleTweets
  • Elementary tech teachers
  • Mediacore  - makes a cleaner version of youtube without ads
  • ipevo - free whiteboard that you can save as .jpeg files
  • Blendspace - formally known as Edcanvas
  • Toonoisy app - monitors the noise in your classroom
  • Zite app - collects articles on your interests
  • Polleverywhere - gets your audience to participate in a discussion using their mobile device
  • Remind101 - allows you to send text messages to remind students about events/tasks, etc
  • 121writing - will allow you to highlight and create comments on papers, no red ink
  • Gobstopper - will allow you to post articles to your students, an e-reader 
Other sessions I attended were, Mystery Skype, an awesome idea!  The students have to guess where they are skyping to.  Programming in the math classroom, Digital Portfolios using Google Drive and shared folders, How to become Google Teacher Certified, No Red Ink, Track Evidence on your iPad, Introduction to Inforgraphics, and much more!

I also would like to thank Kyle Calderwood @kcalderw, for creating and organizing this wonderful event! 

If you are in the southern New Jersey area, I would highly recommend you attend this unconferernce.  I plan on attending and even apply to be a presenter next year!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Google Apps for Education

Over the summer, I decide to train myself and take the online training modules to become Google Certified.
Just one of the tasks that is recommended to complete before taking the certification exam.  I am about half way done with it.  They are very time consuming, but definitely worth it!  I feel more confident using Google Apps and more confident to share the information with my peers.  I am planning to complete the online training modules within the next week or two then off to take the exam!

Another reason I decided to take the training modules is because I will be piloting Google Apps for Education this school year (2013-2014) with 6th grade students.  The pilot consists of ten teachers who specialize in Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Special Education, and Related Arts and about 40 students.

I will provide the teachers with 2 half days of professional development and the students will be introduced to GAFE when I coordinate a date with the classroom teacher.  Since I am the Technology Integration Coach, it is my responsibility to introduce GAFE to the students and the teachers during this pilot.

Although the teacher's technology skills vary, I decided to provide them with the basics which include, Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive.  After that, they will setup their classroom by creating forms, contacts, and groups.

My role in this pilot will be to make sure the teachers are using and implementing Google Apps in their daily classroom routine, and troubleshooting any issues that arise during the pilot.  In addition, I will provide them with ongoing professional development in a supportive role.  One thing I already did was create a collaborative document that all the pilot teachers, including myself, can share ideas, technical issues and more.

Implementing GAFE will allow the teachers to become a paperless classroom, provide teacher/student collaboration, provide cloud storage and docs, allow students to create digital portfolios, have access to apps that are installed in the domain, allow them to have email accounts, and more!

I am very excited to be a part of this pilot!  I look forward to working with my peers, students, and with the administration.  Team work is what will make this pilot a success!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

End of the year Digital Portfolios

I would like to post a follow up on my pilot of digital portfolios.  In June, I completed my pilot with my 8th grade students who used PowerPoint to complete their portfolios.  The students seemed to enjoy this assignment and really did take ownership of it.  PowerPoint provided them with many options to showcase their work.   For example, adding pictures, links, screen shots, animations, slide transitions, uploading files, etc.  However, I did have a problem with embedding HTML code into PowerPoint.  The students were not able to copy and paste HTML embed code from a web 2.0 tool into PowerPoint.  Instead, they had to hyperlink it.  I did test this using Voki and I had no issues, but when the students wanted to embed other tools, such as; Meograph, they encountered an error.  Other than that error, I felt the pilot for the 8th grade students went well and was successful.  I would definitely use this template again next year and hope to find a solution on the HTML embed code error.

In addition, in the Google Apps for Ed domain, I had my 6th grade students pilot an app called Digication and a digital portfolio template I created using Google Presentations.  Again, the students took ownership with this assignment and was able to complete their portfolios.

Although, Digication was a learning curve for me and the students, this application went over well.  The students adapted to it quickly and easily.  I modeled to them how to add pages for each subject, upload multimedia and content to the pages.  They were able to take pictures with their webcam and upload the picture into their 'All About Me' page.   When the class was over, I felt the students did not want to leave to go to their next class.  So, I scheduled a follow up visit with the classroom teacher to make sure students were on task and were able to complete the portfolio.  Once they were done, they had to fill out my Google form and submit their portfolio to me. In conclusion,  if you are using Google Apps for Ed and want to create digital portfolios, I would highly recommend downloading the Digication app to your school domain

With another class, I did pilot a template I created using Google Presentations.  Although, the students enjoyed the assignment, I felt the application was not sufficient enough for a portfolio.  I did not like the 'clunky' interface, meaning, everything had to be a hyperlink.  There was no way, (that I can find), to use the HTML embed code into the template.  For this reason, it was more work for the students because they had to upload all their files to their Google Drive, then go into the share settings, obtain the web address, then create the hyperlink in the template.  Click here for a sample digital portfolio I created to share with my students.  I would not recommend using Google Presentations for a digital portfolio.

Finally, all of my students worked well on this assignment and was able to complete it with success.  I am proud of each of them.  They learned the purpose of a digital portfolio and they were able to apply their knowledge and complete their own portfolios using their creativity and their imagination.  Their portfolios truly reflected themselves.

I would like to thank the 6th grade and 8th grade teachers who allowed me to pilot these applications, my co-worker, and my building principal and vice principal for all of the support they gave me throughout this process.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Edmodo Time Zone

Many of my students use the calendar option in Edmodo.  A few students noticed the calendar events were not displayed on the correct date  on their calendar view, but on the teacher's calendar view, the events displayed correctly.

If you are experiencing this problem in Edmodo, have the students go into their account profile settings and change the time zone.  Once my students did this, the calendar events adjusted to the correct time zone and they had the correct calendar view.

Digital Portfolios

I am getting ready to assess students in 8th grade on the New Jersey Technology Assessment for Proficienty and Integration rubric (NJTAPIN).  They need to be proficient in certain technology skills, before they go to high school,  and the NJTAPIN rubric measures this progress.

The students need to create a document, spreadsheet, database, multimedia presentation, and a graphic organizer that includes a range of skills.  For example, students need to create a spreadsheet with a formula or function.

Grading students on this rubric can be very tedious because there are over 300 students in the 8th grade and they do not have digital portfolios.  As the administrator of this process, I need to go through their files to determine if they met the requirements of the rubric and grade them accordingly.  This procedure will be very time consuming, that is why I am starting now.

So, to make this process less painful, I created a NJTAPIN student checklist which will give the students the list requirements needed for each tool.  I had the students fill out the checklist in February.  This gave them an idea of what they completed and what they still needed to do.  Within another week, I will have the students revisit their checklist and complete it.

The checklist requires them to provide me with the filename, location, and the application they used to complete the skill.  At this point, I can easily find the files with the requirements by using the checklist as a guide.    In addition to that, students must complete an Internet Links Template.  The purpose of this template is to provide me with the links to their web 2.0 projects, (if they used any).  After I grade the students, I have to enter their total score into a spreadsheet, which will determine if they are proficient in technology literacy.

In addition to this, what I am getting ready to implement is a pilot for students to create digital portfolios.  I created a template using Microsoft PowerPoint and I uploaded it to my Google Drive, so the students have the option to use Google Presentations or Microsoft PowerPoint to showcase their work. The template will contain all of the requirements for the rubric, and I will only have to look at one presentation, as opposed to several files for one student.

Since this is my first year implementing digital portfolios, I wanted to use an application that students are familiar with and comfortable using.  That is why I chose PowerPoint and Google Presentations.

I am optimistic that my students will be able to complete this task successfully and be proud of their digital portfolios!

Monday, April 8, 2013


If you are looking for a great web 2.0 timeline tool, you can stop searching because Meograph  is your solution.  

With Meograph, you can create moments (or events) which will allow you to include pictures, videos, and a Google Map.  To include a Google Map, all you have to do is enter a location of the place, ie: Las Vegas, NV.  In addition to all of these features, Meograph allows you to narrate your moment, so you can add a personalized touch to your timeline.  It also includes a cover and a conclusion for your timeline which you can also narrate and add a picture too.

In addition, you can create an account and save your timelines or you can use Meograph as a guest.  However, if you use Meograph as a guest, your students must finish their assignment within the class period then take the embed code and upload it to a website, such as Edmodo.  

Please note, if you are using Meograph as a guest, your timeline may not exist because they clear out their servers.  Meaning, your timeline will not be saved for a long period of time.  I would recommend you create an account.  If your students are older than 13 and they have permission, then they would be allowed to create an account too.

I highly recommend this tool.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Help 'Sandy' Students from Pinelands

Please vote for Pinelands Regional High School in Tuckerton, NJ in a contest to win a Dream Prom for our seniors!.  The Pinelands community, along with its students, was one of many schools in the state of New Jersey who provided assistance for Superstorm Sandy victims in Little Egg Harbor, Tuckerton, Manahawkin, Toms River, and many other towns.

While other schools resumed their schedule after the storm, the Pinelands School district remained closed for an extra week after Sandy.  The district allowed the American Red Cross to setup a shelter for many people who had evacuated their homes during the storm.  Many people from neighboring towns stayed in the shelter.  The school also ran a donation drop for food, clothes, toys and household items.  During this time, many of our students helped with the shelter, food donations, clean ups and people in the community to try to come to grips with the devastation.

In addition, to these tasks, our students organized Halloween Trunk or Treating for the the younger children who were displaced from the storm.  They also assisted with moving donations from the school to a local store, had a benefit concert at the High School, and focused on collecting donations at Christmas.  These are just a few things our students did during that difficult time.

I am proud to live in this community and I am proud to say my children participated in many of these tasks.

Please vote for Pinelands, Go to Rent the Runway , create an account, click on 'Prom', then scroll down and click on 'Win a Prom for your School.'  Voting takes place once a day from March 25, 2013 through March 29, 2013.  The winner will be announced on April 2, 2013.


There are many bibliography and work cited tools that you can use to teach citations.  It is much easier to use an online tool to assist teachers and students with this task.  Here are a few online citation creators you can try:

Infographics made with

I have been introducing infographics to middle school students using easelly.  This tool is very simple to use and easy navigate.  With easelly you can upload images, add and format objects, add shapes and text boxes, create your own theme or modify an existing theme.  The best feature is, the students do not need to sign up for an account.  Once they completed their infographic, they can use a screen capture tool, such as, Windows Snipping Tool, Jing, or Screen-o-matic, to save their infographic.

Windows Snipping tool is an application that comes with Windows 7.  It should be in your accessories folder, if not, you can perform a search from the start menu and Windows will find it.  Jing and Screen-o-matic are tools that you can download from the Internet and they are FREE!

Download these tools, they are FREE!

Jing Screen Capture Tool

Monday, January 21, 2013

Windows Photo Story

As an alternate to PowerPoint, one of the tools I have been introducing to middle school students is Windows Photo Story.  To much to my surprise, many students are not familiar with it.  They tend to use PowerPoint because it is familiar to them and they know they can complete their assignment without any technology difficulties.  I found this tool to be much easier then PowerPoint, yet it still is able to challenge students to create a storyboard and a sequence for their presentation.

First, Photo Story is a free tool from Microsoft that has to be downloaded.

Once it is downloaded and installed on your computer, it is very simple to learn.  It takes you through the different parts of the storyboard such as:  importing pictures, customize motion, include titles and captions to the slides, narrate the slides, include music and sound effects and finally save and publish your story.  You can always go back to any of these parts to modify your story.

When the story is completed, the story board will be saved in a Photo Story project.  Once it is published, the program creates an .wmv file, which allows the story to be played on any computer.

Enjoy using this tool!  You will be glad that you tried it!!