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Write for Authentic Audience with Common Sense Media

Posted by kparedes on March 9, 2016

One of my top bookmarked websites as a Technology Integration Specialist is Common Sense Media.

It is a great “go to” tool for quickly assessing whether an app, game or video is good or a safe choice to use in school.

But besides being a content tool, it can also be used as a Cybersafety teaching tool, or a curation tool.

Students can use the a variety of reviews and ratings to synthesize a Big Idea statement. They can use data collected from the website to write persuasive essays on whether or not an app is worthy of the ratings provided by Common Sense and/or their review writers.

Or students can sign up and writer their own reviews. Thus giving back to a larger community and helping parents and teachers make better decisions to what constitutes as a fun or educational app, game or website.

Writing for an authentic audience is a great way to increase motivation for our young writers and Larry Ferlazzo posted many other great resources to use to help promote writing for authentic audiences.

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Digital Citizenship Policies & Curriculum for Students

Posted by xnunezdp on November 5, 2015

In addition to the Digital Citizenship Agreement (DCA) awareness sessions covered with all students at the beginning of each school year, there are curriculum frameworks that help teachers cover the DCA with more depth and better understanding for the students. Here are a few resources: (© Google for Education Training Center)

Schoolwide Policies

Schools are helping create safe environments by creating policies and procedures to guide student and adult behavior.

Digital Citizenship Curriculum

Several organizations have developed support materials and full curricula that can be used when planning instruction.

Fostering Positive Conversations

Within your classroom there may be times when the conversation naturally turns to topics of digital citizenship. These are not always the easiest topics to discuss, but they are extremely important for keeping the lines of communication open. Students need to feel comfortable and safe talking with adults about digital citizenship and their experiences. This discussion is one thing that can help build resilience in our students.

  • has created a playlist of quick tips videos designed to help teachers prepare for these discussions.
  • CyberSmart is a resource site set up by the Australian government to help students, teachers, and families be prepared to talk about topics.
  • Common Sense Media’s family outreach program includes resources for holding a teen panel with guiding questions and strategies.
  • also has resources to raise awareness and undestanding of digital citizenship for teachers, parents, and students.

For an extensive list of resources, visit the Cybrary Man’s Digital Citizenship Resources.

( ©

Share Bookmarks with Symbaloo

Posted by eciliott on November 4, 2015

Ever found yourself battling with your bookmarks? Bookmarks here, bookmarks there, bookmarks everywhere! And then when you try to find one, or you need to share it with a colleague or a student……’s not there! Well, actually, it is, but it’s in that hidden place in your computer where you can’t find it when you need it!


Symbaloo is a free social bookmarking service in the cloud. Symbaloo for Education is a visual aid that allows you to manage AND share your favorite bookmarks with colleagues or students. Using SymbalooEDU, you will create a Webmix with all your links of a related topic.  Symbaloo will generate a link for you to share with others to take them straight to your webmix. Or, you can embed your webmix into your own webpage, creating a tool with live links students can use.


Here’s a link to the webmix I use with my students during the How the World Works UOI. And if you’re a bit curious now, check out this short introductory tutorial.





Limit Distractions: Show videos with Safeshare

Posted by sducharm on October 29, 2015One Comment

You Tube videos are the bomb, we know. But when we show them via the usual You Tube link, students may get distracted by suggested videos and comments along the sides.


Instead, paste the you tube link into SafeShare and post the SafeShare link for your students. When they open the link, they can even “dim the lights” so that the video shows on an all-black screen.

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Setting a Good Example with Grammatically Correct Report Comments

Posted by ssweeney on October 19, 2015

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When writing up her report comments Rae found the tool Grammarly (, which Dale had recommended to her, to be very helpful.  An extension on your Chrome Browser, this tool helped assure that her spelling and grammar were on pare for her interim report comments prior to sharing them with parents and students.

How does it work?  Grammarly is a free tool that asks you to sign in.  Once you have signed in, it will check up on all of your online writing, whether it is an email in Zimbra or comment writing in ManageBac.  If it is happening in your Chrome Browser, Grammarly will give you the instant feedback you need to avoid embarrassment.

Aside from helping you look good as a professional, how else can Grammarly be integrated into the classroom to improve the student learning experience?


  • Open Chrome Browser
  • Visit
  • Click on the red “Get Grammarly its free” button in the top right corner
  • Accept “Add Extension”
  • Create your free account
  • Follow the steps in their welcome tutorial to learn more

Engaging, Formative assessment with NearPod

Posted by sducharm on October 15, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 10.49.24 AMWhat is NearPod?

  • interactive slides
  • gathers student responses in a teacher dashboard
  • a bank of pre-made lessons for popular topics


Is it free? NO, but FDR has a school-wide subscription! This allows you to grab any of the pre-made lessons as well as create your own.


What information can I collect from students?

  • In between any your content slides add questions, quizzes, polls, or drawing tasks
  • As students answer, their responses go into the teacher view. You can then share back “best” responses or simply see what students are understanding.


How do I start?

  • Email Sarah to get your school account!



Use “Preview” to see the lessons AND log into the sessions with the PIN code to see the student view.


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Posted by cmattiso on October 15, 2015

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FlipQuiz is a free website for educators which allows you to create games using the classic “Jeopardy”-style format. I like to use this site when reviewing for math tests using Everyday Math tests as my guide. I create my categories at the top, and make easier questions reflecting part A of the test for 100,200,300 points, and use the 400 and 500 point questions those that reflect Part B of the Everyday Math tests. This site could be used in any subject. You can also add images to the questions, by copying and pasting the image URL when selecting the image icon during the creation stage (editing mode). When you are ready to play, you select “presentation mode”.

You can try a demo here.

Or check out some examples of FlipQuizzes I have made below:

Unit 3 – 4th grade Everyday Math

Unit 4- Decimals

Sharing Ideas and Reflections – Through an “Online Sheet of Paper”

Posted by mvaldez on October 14, 2015

In today’s networked world, sharing ideas is not an option, is a required skill. Students need to get used to be part of a group or teamwork, learn from others and work in a collaborative environment.


Padlet allows students to express their thoughts in any language.

For example, in our Spanish class, whenever is brainstorming time, when introducing new concepts or during reflection time, this “virtual wall” enables our students to leave a “sticky” note with their own thoughts, which then generates classroom discussion.


Seeing others’ work or responses in this “visually organized mode”, inspires and helps students’ thinking. They also learn and develop their spirit of inquiry, encouraging themselves to ask questions.


You can access this application from any device so it is very easy to do it in our classrooms or send it as homework.


Using an online sheet of paper for sharing ideas and reflections, improves students’ learning experience, communication and collaboration.


Going crazy organizing your student pictures in your shared Ipads?

Posted by gtori on September 30, 2015

Why not try EASY CLASS CAM app?  Easy Class Cam is the ultimate camera app for classes or families with shared iPads/iPods. Photos taken by students/children are automatically placed in an album belonging to them, making them super easy to find later on. Folders are easily created. Pictures of your students can even be included on your folders, for those younger kids that still do not know how to read their names. 




Ela Ciliotta

Posted by eciliott on September 30, 2015

2015-02-12 21.00.14I clearly remember my first weeks at FDR 15 years ago. I was coming back to my Alma Mater as a part-time Teaching Assistant, I was definitely under my new supervisor’s scrutiny, and I really wanted and needed the job. Sure, I was fluent in English; sure, I had taught before; yes, I had experience with children (my own); I definitely had enthusiasm, but…I had never seen a Mac before in my life! My only experience with computers was writing letters and itineraries using Word on a PC and using a computer to make flight and hotel reservations -Yes, I used to be a Travel Agent!- and a pretty darn good one too. But then when I was asked to My face must have turned as white as the computer itself, which, by the way, did not even have a CPU……….so where was the memory, the motor, the running parts?

As an adult at a new job, (I might’ve written in my CV I knew how to operate a Mac) there was no way I was going to let my new colleagues into my “little secret”. I clearly remember my feelings of ineptitude, of incompetence, unskillfulness and inability, of frustration, even of stupidity, faced with a challenging task that, at that time, seemed only fit for brave young minds.

Reminiscing and reliving all these emotions, I would like to help my adult colleagues avoid feeling as inept members of a society that demands and requires that teachers become experts in technology. I want to help others who, like me, were afraid to hit the delete button, thinking that all my work would be gone forever. I believe we can do it. I know that it requires a bit of organization and time, and I know we need face our fears and tackle technology with and open mind and a big smile.