Thursday, April 9, 2020

Have you used Google Jamboard? It is a free web application that you can use as an interactive whiteboard. You can access Jamboard through the Apps launcher, visiting, or accessing the iOS or Android App.

With a simplistic interface, Jamboard is easy to use for anyone who would like to try it out! Users have a variety of tools at their disposal, such as:

  • Pen, marker, highlighter tool
  • Eraser
  • Virtual post-it notes (much like Padlet)
  • Upload images
  • Laser pointer

How Can I Use This Tool?

You could easily use this tool live through Google Meet or through a recorded screencast. You can easily share your Jamboard with students, much like a Google Doc or Slideshow, to make it collaborative too. 

Here are some ideas:
  • Solving math problems
  • Marking up text
  • Venn Diagrams
  • Annotating processes
  • Tutoring 

Want to See it in Action? 

Check out my tutorial below: 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Gimkit Takes Learning to the Next Level

I'm really starting to like Gimkit! There are so many great tools out there to assess students, like Kahoot and Quizizz; however, Gimkit takes a different spin on assessment.

It provides a gamified approach, where students earn fake money in order to buy and implement certain strategies, such as increasing point values and throwing a monkey wrench into your competition.

Gimkit can be used as a live game (much like Kahoot) or as an assignment (much like NearPod). Plus there are many accessibility features, which makes it easier for students of all abilities and disabilities. Students learn through repetition and at their own pace!

Want a tutorial on how to use it? Check out my crash course below:

Monday, April 6, 2020

7 Proactive Tips for Keeping Students Safe on Zoom

Zoom has come under fire in many school districts and systems around the world, due to reports of hackers and students viewing inappropriate content. Here are some tips to help you:

1. Enable the Waiting Room

The Waiting Room feature is very helpful because it is much like using a Ring Doorbell. It shows you who would like to enter your room and then you can accept or deny their access.

You can find this by visiting your profile and visiting the Meetings section. This is where you can check this item.

2. Disable Joining Meeting Before Host

It's best to leave the "Enable join before host" box unchecked. This will prevent anyone from joining your room before you. This is a default setting in Zoom.

You can find this by visiting your profile and visiting the Meetings section. This is where you can leave this item unchecked.

3. Require a Meeting Password

To restrict who can and cannot access your Zoom chat, enable passwords. Zoom recently made this a default setting on all Zoom accounts to prevent unauthorized attendees.

You can find this by visiting your profile and visiting the Meetings section. This is where you will find the password.

NOTE: Be careful where you are sharing this password too. If you are sharing this on a school webpage, then anyone can access it. If you are sharing this via Google Classroom, Remind, etc. it limits who will have exposure to this password and your link.

4. Mute Participants Upon Entry

There have been reports of inappropriate comments that have been made by participants. You can use the Mute Participants Upon Entry Tool to mute participants when they come into your classroom. They will have to turn on the microphone in order to talk.

You can find this by visiting your profile and visiting the Meetings section and choose Mute Participants Upon Entry.

5. Turn Off Screen Sharing for Participants

There have been reports of people inappropriately sharing pornographic and inappropriate images via Zoom. How can you remedy this? A simple solution is to open your profile, visit the Settings menu and visit Screensharing. Choose Host Only! This will change your default settings for new meetings and prevent others from sharing their screen by default.

NOTE: It might also be helpful to disable desktop/screen share for users too!

6. Lock Your Meeting 

Lock your meeting once everyone arrives so that you don't have any unwanted visitors. You can do this by:

  •  Click on the Manage Participants tab at the bottom of your screen
  • A side-panel will pop up. Choose More
  • Choose Lock Meeting

7. Remove Users Who Cannot Abide by the Rules

Did you know that you can remove participants who are distracting? You can do this by visiting the Participants Panel at the bottom of your screen.
  • If the Participants panel is not visible, click Manage Participants at the bottom of the Zoom window.
  • Next to the person, you want to remove, click More.
  • From the list that appears, click Remove.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Stop the Madness! Keep Your Kiddos Organized with Google Keep

Everyone and I mean EVERYONE is turning to online learning in K - 12 education right now. It's tough enough for our teachers, but what about our students? My daughter is in middle school and she has 8 different subjects, 8 different teachers, 3 different learning platforms, and 4 different ways she receives information about her assignments. It's insane and hard enough for parents to stay organized!

Google Keep is a helpful tool to help your student (or child) keep all of their assignments organized and check-off completed assignments as they occur. Here is a quick video on how it works:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Screen Recording on an iPad! Plus 2 Visual Tools to Help You Reach Students

Need to screen record on an iPad? It's very simple to do. Check out my brief video on how!

Here are some additional tools that you might want to use to enhance your screencast!

1. Keynote - use the drawing tools in Apple's version of PowerPoint, to make your iPad a whiteboard!

2. Photos - use the editing tool in photos to annotate pictures. For example, why not take a picture of a worksheet or text and annotate it?

How You Use Topics in Google Classroom Could Impact Your Sanity!

If you are like many teachers that I am working with, you are trying to adapt to the new online style of learning that most schools are going towards. If you are a Google Classroom user, simple tips and tricks can mean the difference between increased or decreased frustration.

Many teachers that I am working with are saying that using topics to organize content by the date is making life so much easier!

Here is how it works:

Step 1: Visit the Classwork Section of Google Classroom

Step 2: Choose the Create button and select "Topic"

Topic are used to organize your content in the Classwork section of Google Classroom.

Step 3: Give Your Topic a Name!

Many teachers use labels to organize by chapter, unit, topic; however, it may be a good idea to organize content by date. This will help reduce any confusion for students.

Step 4: Drag and Drop Your Assignments and Content

Last but not least, you should drag and drop any assignments, materials, etc. underneath your label! This will help everyone stay on the same page.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

10-Minute Crash Course on Edpuzzle

Edpuzzle is a great way to create interactive video experiences for students. You can easily embed discussion questions, open-ended questions, and other interactive resources like links, notes, and voice-overs.

It is easy to set-up and works very well if you have an existing Google account. Check out my 10-minute crash course on using Edpuzzle.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Create a Checklist in Google Sheets and Force an Individual Copy

If you are not used to online learning, it can be overwhelming for students, parents, and teachers. How can you help students complete assignments in a virtual environment?

It may be helpful to create a visual for students to keep everything organized for the entire week. Google Sheets is a great tool that you can use, plus it uses checkboxes. How could it work?

Check out my video below on how to do this and tips / tricks for forcing an individual copy in Google Classroom:

Step 1 - Create Your Document

It will be important for you to put together a list of assignments / activities, plus additional scaffolds and supports for students, such as websites, videos, screencasts, and virtual office hours.

Step 2 - Add Checkboxes

Add checkboxes to your Google Sheet for students to check off their progress. How do you do this?

  • Select the cell (or cells) that you want to place a checkbox in
  • Choose the Insert Menu
  • Choose Checkbox

Step 3 - Distribute to Students

Send your checklist to students using your favorite learning management system or tool. Google Classroom allows you to make a copy for each student, which could be very helpful for students to use the checkbox feature in Sheets. 

Don't have the ability to make a copy for each student? Here is a simple trick for creating a link that forces a copy of any Google Document. 

Bonus Idea: Force a Copy of Any Google Doc

Need a quick and easy way to force students to make a copy of any Google Doc? This is a great trick to force a copy and make a "template" for students.

Here is how it works:

1. Open up your item (Doc, Sheet, Slide, or Drawing)

2. At the end of your item's URL, you should see the word "edit." Change the word "edit" to "copy."

3. Make a copy of your URL and share with your audience

Now you have a quick and painless way to help your viewers make a copy of a document, presentation, spreadsheet, or drawing.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Crash Course on Doing Screencasts

Are you new to screencasting and need help? Check out my free webinar below on how to screencast. You will learn a variety of different tools like Screencastify, Screencastomatic, and QuickTime.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Take Classkick to the Next Level with Virtual Manipulatives

Want to take your Classkick use to the next level? Why not try out the virtual manipulatives feature? This tool provides students with hands-on learning opportunities to manipulate virtual objects. How does it work?

Check out my brief video below:

3 Things to Keep in Mind

First, it may be helpful to choose a background, upload a graphic organizer, or draw your own object for a location that students can drag, drop, and categorize objects. Classkick has some amazing pre-made Venn diagram and t-chart backgrounds that you can choose from!

Next, it might be helpful to provide instructions for students by drawing a textbox. Do your students need additional scaffolds and supports? It might be helpful to include links to helpful websites or videos. You could also add a voice recording explaining the directions or giving hints. If you have students that require accommodations, this is the perfect tool to have on tap; however, it may be helpful to think that the accommodations for one student may benefit other students too.

Finally, create your virtual manipulatives. You will need to have an already created PDF, JPG, or PNG file available with your objects. I would recommend using Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Google Drawings to create your graphic. I created the following in Microsoft Word. Notice how I changed the color of the text and added a picture. This can be helpful for some students to process and categorize information. I saved the document as a PDF and took pictures of each object using the manipulatives feature in Classkick. See my video for more information.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Virtual Morning Meetings with Flipgrid

Morning meetings are an important component of building a strong classroom community. In a virtual environment, it can be difficult to maintain a strong sense of community; however, Google Slides and Flipgrid could offer a good solution.

Need a video? Scroll down to the video below to see this in action! 

What are the Components of Morning Meetings? 

Morning meetings are generally comprised of several different components:

  • Greeting
  • Sharing opportunity for students
  • Group activity
  • Announcements / Teacher Message
Step 1: Create a Slide with Your Meeting Information

I tend to use Google Slides to communicate information; however, you could use PowerPoint, Keynote, etc. to share your agenda or information with students. 

Step 2: Create Your Morning Meeting in Flipgrid

Next, you will want to create a new topic in Flipgrid to create your morning meeting. It may be helpful to title your meeting as the date and set a 1 - 2-minute time limit for students sharing. You will also want to include a description, instructions, and shareable link to Google Slides in your Flipgrid too! 

It may be helpful to use Flipgrid to record a sample video greeting students and explaining how the meeting will work. 

Step 3: Share with Your Students

Finally, you will want to share the link to your FlipGrid with your students. You can do this a variety of ways. If you already have a tool like Google Classroom, Schoology, or another LMS, I would recommend sharing the link directly through that. 

Want to see it in action?  Check out my how-to video: 

Need a tutorial on how to use FlipGrid? Check out my video below:

Monday, March 23, 2020

Have Students Create Their Own Music Through Google Song Maker

Looking for something for your students or your own children to do while they are out of school? Google Songmaker is a great tool for creating your very own music on any device that can access the Internet!

I have to admit that I am not the most musically talented person in the world, but this platform is made easy! When you are finished, you can record and share your music via a link.

This might be a perfect resource to give students something to "create" instead of mindlessly using technology.

Check out a sample song of "Bad Guy" below:

Sunday, March 22, 2020

5 Minute Crash Course on Google Classroom

Google Classroom is an excellent platform for virtual learning to take place if you don't already have a learning management system. Is your school using it, but you are unfamiliar with how to use it? No sweat! I have created the following 5-minute crash course on Google Classroom.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Crash Course in Classkick!

Classkick is an excellent interactive tool that you can use for students to type, draw, highlight, and take quizzes. You are in control as a teacher, as you can watch and monitor student progress in real-time through self-grading tools, student feedback tools, and the ability to answer student questions the moment that they happen.
Need a crash course in Classkick? Check out Matt's video below:

6 Minute Crash Course in Flipgrid!

Want to use Flipgrid, but don't know how? Here is a 6 minute tutorial on how to use this powerful video response tool that can be used on any device that has a webcam and Internet connection.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Create Booksnaps with FlipGrid

Booksnaps take a literacy twist to the idea of Snapchat! Students will be using FlipGrid instead of Snapchat for this activity; however, the idea is that they do the following:

Step 1: Take a Picture! 

Have students use their camera to take a picture of a passage from their book. 

Step 2: Create Your Booksnap

Booksnaps should have the following three components:
  • Identify - Highlight or underline a sentence or phrase that stood out to you in the text.
  • Reflect - Add a sentence or phrase with a brief comment on what stood out to you from your highlighted sentence.
  • Graphic - Add graphic, drawing, or additional photo that represents something about your passage. 

Step 3: Present! 

Record a brief 15 to 30-second video of yourself presenting your book snap. When you are ready, post to FlipGrid! 

Need a video explanation? Check out Matt's video below:

Create a Booksnap with Seesaw

Booksnaps take a literacy twist to the idea of Snapchat! Students will be using Seesaw instead of Snapchat for this activity; however, the idea is that they do the following:

Step 1: Take a Picture! 
Have students use their camera to take a picture of a passage from their book. 

Step 2: Create Your Booksnap

Booksnaps should have the following three components:
  • Identify - Highlight or underline a sentence or phrase that stood out to you in the text.
  • Reflect - Add a sentence or phrase with a brief comment on what stood out to you from your highlighted sentence.
  • Graphic - Add graphic, drawing, or additional photo that represents something about your passage. 
Step 3: Present! 

Record a brief 30-second video of yourself presenting your book snap. Read the sentence and explaining what it means to you in 30 seconds or less. When you are ready, post to Seesaw! 

Need a video explanation? Check out Matt's video below:

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

5 Minute Crash Course on Google Classroom

Everywhere I turn, it seems like we are all learning about virtual learning on the fly! I have had several questions from teachers, asking how do I use Google Classroom? Here is a quick 5-minute crash course on getting started with Google Classroom!

Don't Forget About Forms! Create Exit Tickets and Self-Grading Quizzes for Virtual Instruction with Google Forms

Don't forget about Google Forms as a way to assess students for virtual instruction!

Need a refresher on how to create an exit ticket or self-grading quiz? Check this out:

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Google Meet: 4 Tips for Teaching Virtually

Many teachers across the country have been forced to teach virtually due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Need some help with establishing protocols and getting started? Here are some quick tips:
  • Tip # 1: Proactively Set Your Expectations for Students
  • Tip # 2: Reduce Distractions
  • Tip # 3: Virtual Learning is Interactive
  • Tip # 4: Image is Everything

Want more of an explanation? Check out my video below: 

Getting to Know the Google Meet Dashboard in 3 Minutes

Class not in session and need a virtual option for working with students? Google Meet might be a good alternative for you, especially if you are a G Suite School.

Need to get up to speed on how to use Google Meet? Here is a 3 minute tutorial on the Google Meet dashboard.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Need an Online Whiteboard for Live or Recorded Instruction? AWW App is a Great Tool

Need a whiteboard option for live or recorded instruction? AWW App may be a good tool for you to use. Whether you need to write your own content (much like Khan Academy videos) or upload a picture, PDF, or PowerPoint, this could be a good tool for you to use.

Need more help? Check out my quick tutorial video here:

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Storyline Online: Celebrities Reading Children's Stories

While many schools are closing due to the Coronavirus, many parents and teachers are struggling for things for children to do while they are out of school.

Storyline Online is a free literary resource, where you can listen and watch celebrities reading some of your favorite children's books on your computer or mobile device. The service is free and safely plays videos through YouTube, SchoolTube, or Vimeo.

Not only do celebrities read books, but there is a study guide for parents to facilitate discussion about the book. It is also a great resource for teachers, who may need to facilitate online learning with students.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Create Your Own Custom Maps with the Project Feature in Google Earth

Google Earth recently unveiled a really cool feature called Projects! This feature allows you to create your own custom maps and presentations using the power of Google Earth. Users can add placemarks of existing places, create their own placemarks, add lines or drawings on their map.

The best part is that you can add additional text, custom icons, and embed photos or videos. This is the perfect tool for students to:
  • Map out historical places in Social Studies 
  • Create a tour of the Civil Rights Movement and embed historical video clips and descriptions of key places
  • Show the different settings in a book
  • Outline points along the Great Barrier Reef
  • Mark out distances in math class
  • Showcase cultural areas in the foreign language class
  • Create a guided tour of Rome

Because it is powered by Google, students can share their creations with a link, save their maps in Google Drive, and collaborate with other students on their project!

Want to see how it works? Check out my tutorial below:

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Free Virtual and Interactive STEM Activities with PhET Interactive Simulations

Do you find that some students need hands-on opportunities to interact and experiment with concepts and content?

Simulations are very powerful tools for students to transform knowledge into action. I recently came across a great site designed by the University of Colorado called PhET.

The site is home to free and interactive research-based science and math simulations typically designed for older grades! Many of the simulations are designed with HTML5, which makes it perfect to use on any device! Just keep in mind that there are some simulations that still run off of Java.

Here is the link to a database of all of the free simulations available for all to use and categorized by subject, topic, grade level, and language.

Worried about accessibility? This tool is perfect for learning environments designed to meet the needs of all students! The following link provides a list of accessibility features and simulations containing these features.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Dotstorming: A Free Tool to Poll and Offer Choice

I'm always looking for ways to add choice into the classroom or professional development. There are a variety of great strategies and tools out there to enhance student choice, such as Google Forms, assignment menus, and choice boards.

One of my favorite free tools is called Dotstorming, which combines the power of polling with virtual post-it notes like Padlet.

Create Your Board

First, create a Dotstorming board. Your board will contain a variety of cards and images for participants to vote on. There is even an optional chat feature, which you have the choice to enable or disable.

Create Your Cards

Second, you will add cards (containing text) or images (containing images and text) for participants to vote on. You can even add links to YouTube videos. For example, you might want to provide descriptions of the topic that you would like to vote on.

 Share Your Board

Finally, you will share your board with participants. Simply, click on the share button and you will receive a URL and embedding code to place on your website. When participants receive this link, they can instantly have 3 votes to start the voting process!


There are a variety of other features and settings, which make this tool amazing! Want to learn more or see it in action? Check out my tutorial video below:

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Knowt - Notes, AI-Generated Quizzes, and Awesome Way to Retain Information

Want a great way for students to take notes and better retain information Knowt is a free note-taking tool, which uses the power of AI to help students review notes in a quiz format!

I am always amazed at how AI is changing the way we do things. Its use in education is changing the way that students learn and how we address their needs. This use of technology can be useful in a variety of ways. Let's check out why I love this tool!

What do I like about it? 

There are many things to love about this tool. First, it syncs across multiple accounts and devices. Whether you are using a Macbook, Chromebook, iPad, or Android device, you can use this tool!

Secondly, it connects to your Google account, making it easy to import notes from Google Docs. Plus, its simple interface makes it easy to use and access for students of all grade levels and abilities.

Finally, there is nothing that you have to do to generate the quiz. Simply choose the Quiz button in the top and Knowt automatically generates multiple-choice or fill in the blank questions. Don't like a question? You can give Knowt feedback so that it can generate better quality questions.

Want to see how it works? Check out my brief tutorial below:

Monday, February 3, 2020

Infuse Google Keep into Slides and Docs to Save Time!

Did you know that you can easily integrate Google Keep into Slides and Docs? Imagine taking a few notes that you want to add to an upcoming presentation or agenda later. Use Google Keep to jot down your ideas and transfer it to Slides and Docs to make your ideas come alive.  Instead of copying and pasting, you can drag and drop!

The Google Keep icon inside of Docs and Slides will allow you to open up your notes in Keep and embed them directly into a document or slide. It's effortless to use and could save time for you and your students.

Want to see how it works? Check out my 2-minute video:

Monday, January 27, 2020

Make Your Life More Efficient with #iOS13 Reminders

The Reminders App is a great tool for iOS users. Did you know that you can use it for more than just a checklist? You can have reminders set at specific locations or specific times? You can also add notes and websites to your item! Check out my brief tutorial below:

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Need a Free QR Code Generator WITHOUT Limits? Try QR Code Monkey

QR Codes are extremely helpful in any classroom with mobile devices, because they provide quick and efficient access to any type of website or URL. I recently found out that one of my favorite QR Code sites had imposed limitations on the number of times the QR Code was accessed.

This made it extremely difficult for a teacher of mine. They had large groups of students access a Google Form that was linked to this QR Code. I was able to find a nice alternative without limits called QRCode Monkey.

I like this tool because it is free, easy to use, and imposes no limitations on the number of times a QR Code can be accessed. Like most QR Code generators, you are also able to link to text (perfect for discussion questions), social media, email, YouTube, text messages, and even phone numbers.

This tool also provides you with ways to customize the color and design of your QR Codes in order to make it more attractive and accessible.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Do More With Your Screenshots on iOS: Full Screen Screenshots

Did you know that you can do more with a screenshot with iOS 13? You not only can use annotation tools to mark up your image, but you also have the ability to take a full-page screenshot. This might be extremely helpful if you wanted to take a screenshot of an entire article or page. How can you do this? Check out the video below:

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Scanning Feature in iOS 13

I love finding new tips and tricks for using technology. I am going to focus on some helpful tips and tricks for using your iPad or iPhone's latest version of iOS 13.

Need a place for all that paper that you still get? Check out the Scanning feature in the Files App to save, store, and edit your scanned documents.