Developing all employees' capacity to embrace and adapt to evolving technology.

Archives for 8-12

Makey Makey in Middle School Science

Posted by dhollowa on April 16, 2016

Creating Inquiry with Makey Makey Circuit Boards

For Grade 8 Unit on Electricity and Magnetism the students used Makey Makey circuit boards.  This generated a great deal of excitement as well as questions about open and closed circuits as well as insulators and conductors.  The students used fruit, candy, their friends, pencil graphite, rubber hosing and other objects to test how well the material allowed electricity to flow and complete a circuit.  The students had to translate and analyze their Makey Makey boards to create electrical schematic diagrams. Students interpreted the connection of human to human as a switch, the computer as a battery, and various resistors.
I gave the students a set up chart and a task sheet to complete. This task sheet informed the students on how to set up the Makey Makey as well as which apps worked best for with the app.


Makey Makey Set Up 

Makey Makey Task Sheet

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.


Research Skills with Diigo

Posted by sducharm on November 6, 2015

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I’m a Diigo evangelist: I absolutely love this tool for saving bookmarks and so much more.

For our middle and high school students, it’s also a powerful research tool.


Here’s how Diigo aligns with several key research skills:


Skim and scan for information and discern which text is most relevant to the information need


In Diigo: Highlight the text you wish to clip and it goes into your Diigo library automatically. You can even color-code the clippings of text (up to four colors). Since all highlights get clipped, students are careful to choose just the most relevant information, lest their library get filled up with too much information.


Summarize, Paraphrase, Analyze information


In Diigo: Use digital sticky notes to track your thinking. Write questions about the text. Practice summarizing and paraphrasing. Show understanding of the difference between these two skills (use one color for summary information and another color for paraphrases?) Show your analysis of the information: what are the deeper connections you can make? The possibilities for annotating are endless!


Evaluate Sources


In Diigo: Add description to each link to help yourself remember what was best about the site. Evaluate the source in a few sentences. The list of sources can be shared with teachers or fellow students easily.


Organize Information


In Diigo: Create tags for saved links. Use tags from broad to narrow to create a network of information for yourself. For example, the grade level, the course, the topic, sub-topics, the format…. Tagging requires students to think about informational hierarchies and how they might categorize information for later use.


Cite sources


In Diigo: All links you highlight or annotate are automatically stored in your library. You can easily see the clipped text and your notes. This makes it easier to see which sources you used for various pieces of information.


Check out some Screenshots!

Here we see a webpage with highlighted text and an annotation. The highlighted texts gets clipped and stored in the Diigo library. The annotation is saved underneath the clipped text.

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Here we see the same webpage as it appears in the Diigo library. The link in blue, the description of the site, the tags, clipped text, and annotation are all saved.

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Grade 9 and 10 Humanities classes are using Diigo!

Students are learning to create tightly focused research questions and find resources that will answer them. Thanks to Diigo, a student shares his or her list of resources with the teacher, who can easily see the quality of the site, the text the student thought was relevant, the student’s thinking about that text, and which question that site answers.

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Diigo integrates seamlessly with Google Chrome as an extension. Search for “Diigo Web Collector” and install it onto the Chrome toolbar.


To get started with Diigo, log in with your Google account, create a username and password (the same as your other school accounts) and install the extension. Note: The username can’t start with a number.

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