Educational Bracket Template

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Over the summer, I spent a few days with The Buck Institute to learn how to build and sustain a program that encompasses HQPBL (High Quality Project Based Learning). It was a wonderful workshop that focused on the administrator side of implementing HQPBL school-wide.

A few months later, BIE returned for a follow-up workshop. This time I attended a teacher training. During this time, we were provided an activity using a bracket (similar to the “March Madness basketball brackets) in which we had to take BIE’s Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements and thoughtfully explain why each Gold Standard PBL Element made it to the next round. We continued to do this until we had a winner. The idea behind this process was to ensure our ability to articulate our reasoning behind each selection. It was intense. However, I turn everything int a competition.

BIE’s instructor, Eric White explained how his teacher/professor/instructor {detail that I cannot remember} used this concept to test his students. Wow. Simply wow. Instead of having a scantron sheet with the standardized A, B, C, answer format (when in doubt choose C), he and his classmates had to think their way through a concept! {Insert mic drop… and slowly walk off the stage!}

Months later, I introduced this concept to the faculty at my school via my in-house course that I provide on 21st Century Learning & Teaching. For this module, I used Mentoring Minds, Developing 21st Century Critical Thinkers, and their elements for developing and fostering this skill in students. Here is the video tutorial that I provided for the faculty:

Sample of Critical Thinking Resource

My staff fell in love with this concept {as did I. Big shout out to Eric White for introducing this concept to me!} I decided to then turn this concept into something digital, where it could be shared and be used in collaboration if necessary!

You can get your copy of the bracket here!

Follow these directions to edit it and make it your own!

  1. In Google Slides, go to Slide located in the menu –> Edit Master:

2. Double click each shape to change the label inside. These elements are strictly place holders (starting points) so the user understands how each element on the bracket moved its way down.

3. Click the “White X” to leave the Edit Master screen:

4. Under the normal editing mode in Google Slides, I provided each bracket label element  with 4 pieces (shapes with text) in which your students can move around the bracket. You will need to change the label to each of these shapes. {Double click each shape to change the text label.}

5. Distribute your edited version to your students using the “Make-a-copy” feature in Google Classroom or by adding the word copy in place of sharing. Basically everything past the last / is changed to the word: copy as seen here:

Changed to “copy”

Enjoy! Again, you can get your copy of the bracket here!

Google Cheat Cards for Students (and teachers)

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It’s that time of year again: Back to School! After taking a personal “break,” I am back and ready to share!

As the integration specialist, it is part of my responsibility to make certain that new students are up-to-date and ready to use their newly assigned Chromebook for the school year. Let’s face it, if you are new to using a Chromebook, or Google in general, it may be overwhelming at first to retain all of the information coming your way. To ease the new students into our 1:1 initiative, I created these Google Cheat Cards that they can use as a reference. Some parts may be very specific to my school, so please feel free to take a copy and change what you need!


Please grab your copy here!



Using Google Sites for Digital Portfolios

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I have to say that since Google updated their Website creation tool, Sites, I have fallen in love with how easy it is to use. Not only for me, but for my students as well!

Yes. There are some functionalities that are missing as of today; like the ability to change the html code, however, you can not beat the familiarity and functionality of the new Sites.

For the last few weeks I have been working with my first graders as well as their teachers about using this tool to create an online digital portfolio.

So far, the first grade students have:

  • Created a new Site from their Google Drive.
  • Renamed and shared their Digital Portfolio
  • Changed banner image and text to personalize their portfolio
  • Inserted pages and sub pages to reflect their current grade level and academic areas.
  • Inserted their Google Slides project from their Google Drive into the Digital Portfolio.
  • Used a Chromebook to take a first grade selfie, edited using Pixlr Photo Express,  and uploaded the image to their first grade introductory page.
  • Added a written piece describing an “All About Me” statement to their first grade introductory page.

The first grade classes have noted how much it reminded them of Google Slides.

I have been in the first grade classrooms to assist the teachers on implementing Google Sites with their students, and they were very excited to be using this tool as a digital portfolio! Below is a tutorial that I provided the teachers with at my school and how we have built their digital portfolios. You may grab a copy of the tutorial here.

Use Google Keep as a School-wide Initiative

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There are a lot of posts floating out there in the blogosphere about how teachers are using the much applauded infusion of Google Keep within Google Docs. Like this fantastic post about using Digital stickers as seen here.

Seriously awesome stuff.

In my small corner of the world, my principal and I began a mentor- mentee program with our students. We thought it would be of great value if we provided a school-wide mentorship program involving all of our faculty and staff.

I do have to give prompts to the forward-thinking on behalf of my principal.

On the flipside, we also felt that some students would greatly benefit if they became mentors themselves. What a boost of confidence on their part! Some middle school students became mentors themselves under the supervision of elementary teachers…. And then a lucky bunch of students were selected to be with me, as “students under special assignment.”  Under my wings, I had to not only advise them on how to be better organised, but also assist them on a collaborative school-wide initiative: creating an online assignment agenda.

First, I need to address my organizational methods: My desk.

Seriously, I know what goes on here. It is the equivalent to my 5,000 tabs open at once on my Internet Browser. First, we have a pile of things that I have to do because it is my right and responsibility as an educator, coach, and student and technology services coordinator. Then I have a pile of things that I would rather do, like play around with new apps, rewrite computer curriculum, and play Minecraft to create a lesson plan. And lastly I have a pile of things that I really want to get to but can’t because pile #1 takes precedence, and pile #2 is my “mind break” from pile #1. So pile #3 (which is usually me compiling my ideas for this blog) sits dormant. It’s complicated, I know.

Anyway, I was presented with the idea of having students create an online homework board so that both parents and students can easily access daily homework if absent or forgot to write something down. The thought was that it would also alleviate the stress of teachers having to do it all while giving a selected group of students more responsibility. So I thought about it for at least a minute about what tool I could use, and thought: camera, Keep, Docs. And just like that. the photogenic digital collaborative homework board was born using tablets, Google Keep and Docs. Oh and about 10 5th-8th grade students. They’re important too; I cannot forget about them.

At the end of each day these students meet in my room, grab a few tablets, and venture off into each classroom and take photographs of the teacher’s homework boards using the camera in Google Keep. My selected “students on special assignment” then import the photos from Keep into a “shared to the universe” Google Doc that is available on our school Website.

I have to say, the students love the responsibility and take it very seriously. The teachers love it as it alleviates the stress of them having to remember to post it each day and it helps bridge the gap between home and school. As an added bonus, my students on special assignment never seemed to mind my desk. Win-win!

Whether you agree with a school-wide homework board, or homework in general, or not, (whole other post for another day) is completely away from the fact that the students collaboratively come together each day and use two simple tools and turned it into a daily job. Which is really cool.

Think of the possibilities! Go outdoors (my favorite pastime) and have students use the Keep app to take photographic evidence and documentation to later be able to create a collaborative piece in Google Docs! Right? Yes!

I personally have used Keep a lot on my phone when I would go to conferences and/or workshops and was not interested in taking notes if a presentation wasn’t shared with me (yes, that happens occasionally). Now, I can put it all in one, convenient document! You saw my desk- my Keep app keeps me organised. In all honesty, you have to see how organised I am in my Google Drive, calendar and email. Give me paper, and I have no clue what to do with it.

BrainPOP Make-a-Movie Student Created Tutorial

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Since 1999, BrainPOP has been able to turn the not-so-explainable into perfectly explained animated movies. Throughout the years, the company has gone above their theme of movie clips by successfully adding features such as Make-a-Map, GameUp, and Activities in a variety of topics and subjects. Being an advent user of BrainPOP and a proponent of project based learning, it was easy to understand why I quickly fell in love with the concept Make-a-Movie. In a world where we are all about presentations, it is refreshing to see an out-of-the-box perspective on having a student present material. I particularly love the ease of use and the ability to use this tool across grade levels, all while using a character that the students adore, Moby.

Of course, when it first launched, my students and I jumped aboard; and by true Bloom fashion, we learned about this tool together. So, it would be unjust of me to create a tutorial all on my lonesome.

The students (and their awesome parents who allowed them to partake in this tutorial) who assisted me in this tutorial are the 6th graders that are also in my Vex Robotics Club.  Honestly, I am pretty boring compared to the group of students who created this tutorial. Unscripted, these students nailed their explanations of how to use this tool. Edited, because their giggles would have comprised an additional 30 minutes of video.

Additional resources:

The link as to where you can get the Beep:

Ten Resources for Making a Make-A-Movie:

Make-a-Movie Rubric:


Kids Computer Lesson: Business Cards and Social Media Advertising

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It’s been awhile since I shared a Kids Computer Lesson on here; especially since I have changed the name of the site and all that jazz. I feel like this year I have been taking some time to get myself acclimated to some STEM based projects (with a focus on the science and math). It’s been a lot of trial and error and a lot of playing on my part (yay!). I hope to be sharing my insights soon……{run!}

This lesson, in particular, is about going back to my roots. An art educator by trade, I often try to find ways to tie the arts into my curriculum. Honestly, it is not that hard, as a lot of what I teach (game design, web design, Flash animation) are easily intertwined. Even when I teach about Digital Literacy, by creating multimedia posters, movie editing, and blogging, much of the arts are tied to the foundation of those lessons. It is truly hard to escape not even having a basic understanding of the arts while teaching technology education. The big A is there; as it should be.

I teach a lot about Microsoft products in 7th grade. Some of my students who move on to high school have been known to successfully exempt themselves from entry-level computer classes, by completing an exam (where applicable). I’d like to think that I contributed to that. I really try to make the process fun, yet challenging. For example, instead of making a PowerPoint presentation, we create games and/or digitally animated stories. In Excel, my students go out and purchase cars, and receive bills, and pick a job from a hat (ironically how I got mine). I then teach them how to create a budget and what percentage is taken in taxes from your wages, and how much a mortgage costs, and then I hand them a tissue when they realize that “adulting” is not fun. Not fun at all. I also teach Word and Access. But you get my point. Keep it fun, keepin’ it real.

Sample of Advertising and Design kids computer lesson.

I then teach the attached lesson in Publisher. My students are hired by me, Bloom Industries, to be my assistants and embark into the world of advertising and design. We talk about the principles and elements of design. We talk about logos, and keeping the design elements simple. My students get to explore their creative side and, for a moment, it feels like home.

As stated, I use Publisher for this lesson. Canva would be another fantastic choice. Using Google Draw, and perhaps LucidPress, would work as well. I mean, who wouldn’t want to create a business card or a Social Media cover photo for Backstep Apparel, who specializes in one-hooked overalls, mood rings, skater tees, one-leg-up pants, chained wallets, wind jackets, and bandanas?

Sample of Advertising and Design unit for middle school students.

You can view the Slide-Deck Here

Or you can grab a copy of your own here
I hope you enjoy this lesson as much as I do. I have only had one student understand my 90’s references to the companies that I created.

Interactive Whiteboard Resources Infographic

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For one reason or another, I am called to do Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) professional developments quite often. Some are brand specific, while others are just a general overview. I created the below infographic to use as a reference for my upcoming training on IWB for a school that does not have IWB’s in place yet. I tried to be as versatile as possible. Feel free to share and use!

{Please note, if you click it open it will activate the hotpots!}

New Kid’s Search Engine: Kiddle

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Thank you. Honestly. Kiddle. If you could see my standing ovation right now it would bring tears to your eyes.

I really like to give things a whirl before I write about them and share them out in the crowd. So I went to work. I played with the site for myself and tested it with the students- so far I am highly impressed.

Can I tell you that it is sometimes a nail biting endeavor to conduct searches online with children? Sometimes, with all the best efforts (and Google Safe Search, and Web content filtering, etc.) somethings manage to slip through the cracks. In any event, teaching your students about Internet Safety and the proper procedures about reporting inappropriate material (for example, turn off the screen, tell an adult) is your number one defense to protect your students! Check out additional Internet Safety Tips from Kiddle here.

Thank you to all who made this search engine possible!

I had to ask: Why and not .com? And wouldn’t you know it, they had an answer. From their site “Why does Kiddle use a .co instead of a .com domain?: In Kiddle’s case “co” stands for “children only” – our focus and vision for Kiddle.” Source.


This is a must! Check it out here 

Google Sites Hack- From a 5th Grader!

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I will be the first person to admit…

I don’t know everything. 

No really I don’t…. and honestly, I don’t want to either. It means that I have nothing left to learn.

That, to me, is scary.

My role as a teacher has put me in the position as one who is viewed as “all knowing” or “with knowledge.” I believe that I have humanized my role as an educator and professional by confessing that  I don’t know everything, and that I yearn for information.

My students fully get it when I announce “Kids, I found this great piece of technology…XYZ…. I have NEVER used it before. I think it would be really great to use in this project! Let’s figure it out together!”

It gets me out of my seat- It disrupts the authoritative nature of being an educator, and being in front of the class- it puts me in the chair next to the student. Learning with them.

My room at any given time is much like organized chaos. My students are out of their seats. They are talking. To some, my classroom may seem very overwhelming. But they are excited. They are sharing. And most of all, they are in control of their learning process.

{A little side note, a back story before I fast forward to what I am trying to show you: A while back, I showed my students how you can access Websites “code source” on any given Website. Like, I mean a while ago….. Who knew it would come in handy for the lesson I have been working with them on?}

One of my 5th grade lessons that I am proud of is on the parts of the computer. In this lesson, students dissect and pull a part desktop computers, take photographs, edit them, and create a collaborative Website using Google Sites. This is out first year using the new Google Sites. I love the feel of the of it, but I still find it very limiting when it comes to creatively changing the appearance. I am an artist by trade. It bugs me.

My 5th grade students discovered a “hack” on how to change the look and feel of Google Sites. I was schooled. They taught me something that I cannot believe I didn’t think of myself!

Way to go 5th grade. Way. To. Go.

Without further ado: a 5th Graders Google Site Hack


Upon publishing the site we have determined that the code does not stick. Much attempts by my 5th grade students have erred this post to be only partially awesome. After many attempts and trying ctrl+alt+s, we still cannot get the code to stay. Rest assured- a class pizza party is at stake for the first student who can find (if one exists) workaround. Still, you have to admit that it is pretty cool that they discovered this. My students found this forum regarding this change. Do your part and make a suggestion to Google. This is going to my next lesson!