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 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 is just as 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!

Google Classroom for ALL!

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Just announced today is the availability to access Google Classroom through your Google Account!

Why is this awesome?

What a great way to create study groups outside of the G Suite Edu Domain. For instance, I will be teaching Google to the community starting in April. It would be an amazing way for me to share all of my resources in one valuable location.

Did somebody say MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) and the possibilities using Google Classroom?

Read more on Google’s Blog here.

Anyway, just passing this along.

Keep Calm and Tech On!

Digital Literacy: Padlet Tutorial and Global

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Technology is changing the way our students learn, read, and obtain information. We need to create a curriculum that nurtures this way of learning.

We need to help our students to learn how to close read both digital and print as well as close read video and imagery.
We need to teach students how to connect and collaborate on a global scale to create effective multi-media pieces that reflect the world in which we live.
Padlet is a great, free (with paid subscription) tool to enhance collaboration and communication by creating a digital wall of ideas to reflect about a particular topic.
For example, I have used Padlet with my 4th grade students and have connected with classrooms around the world to create a collaborative project. 
How do you connect with classrooms around the world? 
Sites such as ePals, Edmodo, Google+ are just some ways to connect! Or you can contact me personally- I am always up for a collaborative project!
Not familiar with Padlet. Help yourself to my tutorial here: Padlet Tutorial.

Certified BrainPOP Educator of March 2017

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Can I tell you how excited I am? It is such a great honor that I have been selected the Certified BrainPOP Educator of the month for March 2017!

If you have been following me on Twitter or this blog, then you probably already know how passionate I am about using BrainPOP! I love the many features, like Make-a-Map, Quizzes, the ability to assign movies, and so on that it provides. I am now in love with BrainPOP’s new feature, Make-a-Movie. {I will be demonstrating that feature for you shortly, as well as provide you with a lesson plan}

For my complete interview, hop on over to BrainPOP here.

Happy teaching!

Locate Google Keep within Google Docs and GSuite- Awesome!

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If you are an avid lover of Google Keep like myself, then you are really going to appreciate the fact that Google has embedded this note-taking app into their GSuite products! You can access Keep right from the “Tools Menu” of your Google Doc….

and easily embed your Google Keep notes and images.
Keep is now also available as part of the GSuite products and can now be found in the Google Apps menu.
This feature would be great to use with your students- especially if they are on a field-trip and they are using handheld devices to take notes and images about what they have learned using the Keep app. Later, they can document their adventure in a Google Doc!
Install the Google Keep extension and use as part of a students research project to bookmark various Websites and have them easily refer to Websites as they are typing their report!
What else could you use this tool for in the classroom?