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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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Google Apps in the Classroom

Posted by ssweeney on February 18, 201659 Comments

Now that you have had time to process your learning from the Google Training, take a minute to comment on this blog post to share ideas you had during your learning for how you could use your learning in the classroom.  Try to follow the format on the example below to make them easy to glance through.



6-12 – After seeing that the new forms has templates, I plan to use them as exit tickets everyday.  This will provide me with quick an easy to read and organize information about how well the students were doing with the content allowing me to inform my instruction for the next day.



grade your idea would work for – Description of what you want to do.  How it will help student learning


When you have finished, read through some of the ideas of your colleagues.  You are encouraged to use the REPLY button to comment on their ideas.  Help them grow or share your experience.

iPads in the MSHS Classrooms

Posted by ssweeney on February 18, 2016

Reviewing and Selecting Apps

  • Teachers can check out iPads for planning and app review from the library
  • Find Apps using the Apps Store
  • Read Reviews
  • Look for Award Winners
  • Use the App Review Rubric

How do I checkout iPads for my class to use?

Google Calendar Reservations Please only reserve the iPads for the periods you will be using them.  Do not block entire days or weeks.  These are shared devices.

How do I get the app I need on them?

At least 48 hours in advance, complete the App Review Rubric

Where are the iPad carts stored?

The room that the grade level team selected.

What happens if one is damaged?

Please complete a tech request and send the device to the IT office

What happens if an iPad is lost?

Please email the IT ASAP.  We have Find My Device setup to locate missing devices.

How do I get student work off of the iPad?

We recommend uploading to Google Drive into a shared folder.  Students and teachers have unlimited storage in Google Drive through their accounts.  It is important to test the app you wish for students to use before hand to ensure that it allows for students to export their content.

How do I distribute the iPads?

Each iPad has a number on it, please know which kids has which iPad, so if the project lasts more than one day, you know who has which device.  Also, incase one iPad is missing we know who has it last.

Who is responsible for counting the iPads?

Each teacher that uses the iPads with a class should ensure they have recollected all of them.  We have numbered the iPads to help with this.  Please also ensure that they are all plugged in and charging so that other classes are able to use them when they need to.

What additional resources do we have for use with iPads?

  • 2 class sets of styluses can be checked out from AV
  • microphones can be checked out from AV
  • Film Studio in the PAC can be checked out using Google Calendar for green screen filming


Merge Magic: Outlines into Essays

Posted by sducharm on December 4, 2015

The Problem

Students skip the outlining step in a writing task because they feel it’s redundant. (“Why outline when I can just write?”)


The Result

The essay is unorganized.

The essay takes longer to write because the student is trying to organize while writing.

Missed opportunities: Students don’t see gaps in their arguments ahead of time and realize, too late, that they don’t have enough information.


The Solution

Make the outline meaningful: Make it match the structure of the essay and make it copy-paste-able.



Set up the outline to mirror the structure of effective paragraphs.


Two structures our teachers use…

S.E.E.C – State, Explain, Example, Connect (sample here)

M.E.A.L – Main Idea, Evidence, Analysis, Link (sample here)



Use a table in google docs to complete the outline. This has the advantage of eliminating formatting issues and it allows us to merge…



When the table is complete, MERGE the cells to create a paragraph. (BAM! Essay is nearing completion without having to ever look at a blank page!)


Here’s part of the outline filled in:

(Public) SCI 8 SEEC Outline Template - Google Docs


Now we MERGE some cells so we can view the information as a paragraph. (Highlight cells to merge > choose Table > Merge cells > Copy/paste into essay document)

Blogger- Try Curiosity! - Edit post


Merged text looks like a paragraph!

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One step further…grab the source number and put it with the example. This makes in-text citations easier to do later on.

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When kids first see this, it’s like a load off of their minds. They see the value of organizing ahead of time and see how they can use it directly in the essay.


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