Friday, December 19, 2014

Blogging with Students

I am very passionate about blogging with students. I am sure this doesn't come as a surprise to any of you who know me. Teaching students to be proud of their writing, express themselves in an authentic way, agree/disagree respectfully, and have intelligent conversations are all benefits of teaching students to blog. Last February, I introduced a bit about how I blog with my students in this blog post, and this fall I presented about blogging with students at the miGoogle conference in Brighton.  You can view the presentation here.

This morning, I found these great little nuggets of insight from Kidblog.  Feel to add these great little articles to your files:

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's time to change your password!

It is always a good idea to change your password before going on break so that you do not get locked out of your computer, email or gradebook.  Here is how you change your password from the school computers.

On your Windows desktop computer, press the Alt, Ctrl and Delete buttons at the same time.
Click on "Change a Password" on the menu below:

Select your username and follow the directions on screen.

PPS Staff Password Guidelines

  • Passwords must have a minimum of 8 characters, containing both letters and numbers
  • Passwords expire after 80 days
  • Passwords should not be based on well-known or easily accessible personal information.
  • Passwords should not be trivial, predictable or obvious.
  • Passwords should not be based on the organizations's name or geographic location
  • Passwords should be treated as confidential information. No employee is to give, tell, or hint at their password to another person, including IT staff, administrators, superiors, other co-workers, friends, or family members, under any circumstances

Troubles with Chrome? Clear your browsing history.

Clearing the Chrome browsing history solves many issues you may experience in the web browser.  For example, if you change your network password, and store passwords in Chrome, you will want to clear your browsing history so that your new password can be "remembered" instead of the old one.

Here is a quick video on how to clear your browsing history. (If you see a puzzle piece below instead of the video, simply right-click over the puzzle and choose "Run this plugin".)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Looking for a fun video for coding?

In this PBS Cyberchase video, the CyberSquad must program a robot to rescue their friend and complete their mission. In order to get the robot to do what they want, they must program the robot so that it can follow their step-by-step directions.  This video really illustrates well the concept of needing to provide directions in the exact order you want the computer to do them.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Technology in Education is Evolutionary, not Revolutionary

This morning our good friend, Ben Rimes (@techsavvyed) over at Mattawan Schools, shared a great, thought provoking post  that really cut to the heart of what Paul and I have been preaching about in regards to technology in education for some time.  When we go in to help teachers with technology, usually the first thing we ask them is "What is your goal?"  We do this because education is about learning, not technology.  Technology is an ever evolving tool for learning, but it is only a tool. If teachers are trying to use technology in a way that is not going to be seamless and enhance instruction, then it is not the right tool for the job. Exceptional teachers are what really engage students and inspire learning.  They may use the technology to challenge prior knowledge, enhance instruction, encourage collaboration, and expand the walls of the classroom, but the act of learning must happen inside the learner, not on the tool in front of them.  Check out this great video by Derek Muller, he effectively illustrates the idea that technology is not going to "revolutionize" learning, but it will help it evolve.  It is seven minutes of well spent time!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Code the lights on the Holiday Tree in Washington DC!

Looking for a fun, simple project for Hour of Code week next week?  Why not get festive and code the lights on the Christmas Trees in Washington, D.C.  Check it out at:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How To: Write Math Equations in Google Docs

As a math teachers, one of the problems we run in to is how to add math equations to our documents.  Often our fractions look wrong, and don't even try to add a square root!  Thankfully Google docs has an equation editor built in.

Check out this helpful video tutorial from Ben Rimes (@techsavvyed) at Mattawan Community Schools on how to add math equations to your Google Docs.  Thanks Ben for sharing this great resource.

The Hour of CODE is almost here!!!!

Mark your calendars for the hour of code week! 

Computer science is foundational for all students today. Yet 90% of schools don't teach it. Last December, 15 million students tried computer science in one week, thanks to educators like you! Since then, over 40 million students have tried the Hour of Code. Please help this grassroots, teacher-driven campaign reach 100 million students by the end of the year. Sign up to participate in Hour of Code 2014 during December 8-14, Computer Science Education Week.

I participated last year with my elementary students at St. Michael's.  I knew absolutely nothing about coding before we began.  Let's just say that my mind was blown!  The kids absolutely LOVE this stuff.  They learn to think critically, problem solve creatively, and provide exact step-by-step directions in order to accomplish a task.  The first day of class this year, the #1 question I got from my 2nd-5th graders was "Are we going to do the coding stuff again?".  Now that's an endorsement!

Check out these resources here:
  • - Block based coding that allows anyone from preschoolers to centurions learn the basics of coding while programing angry birds, plants vs. zombies, or even Elsa and Anna from Frozen to follow simple directions.  If your kids really get into it, feel free to explore the curriculum I discussed in this blog post
  • - If you teach older students, you may want to check out CodeAcademy.  With CodeAcademy, students are walked through the steps of actually typing out their own code and seeing the magic happen all on the same screen.  They also offer a 1 hour "Intro to Coding" course, perfect for the Hour of Code.
  • Scratch - Created by MIT, this program allows students to use building block programing to write code.  Great next steps!
All these program are free!  So check them out today.  You are never to young (or old) to learn to code.  Let's all learn together!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Going Google #4: I have all this data from my form...what do I do with it now? Part 2

Make it visual!

Paste information collected with a form into a Wordle to see what the most common responses were for the survey.

Graphing your Data!

In a few clicks, you can graph data in a google spreadsheet.  Google has a great help document on creating a graph.  Check it out here.

Add Ons: Flubaroo - Self Grading Quizzes

Have you given a quiz with a Google Form and wanted a quick way to grade it?  If so, then the flubaroo add on is just what you are looking for!  Not only can it grade multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank questions, it can also compute the average score for the assignment, compute the average score per question and flag low-scoring questions, show you a grade distribution graph, allow you to email each student their grade and the answer key (optional) or send individual feedback to each student.  Learn more at: