Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Introducing Chromebooks to Littles & Beyond!

As we are getting back into the full swing of things over here... many teachers have already jumped head first back into Google Classroom! Here are some tips that I'd like to share from my experience of working with many primary teachers in my own district:

Practice #1

  1. Signing into their Google Accounts on a Chromebook: Yes, this can seem painful at first, but trust me... it only takes practice and within a week or two, even the youngest students will master this step! To help make this a little less painful, make sure to prepare cheatsheet cards for each student so they can quickly access their email and password information. To help you, make sure you keep a master list of their emails and passwords so you can quickly help students who misplace their cards. If you're in our district, remember we have to help a student reset their password, if their default account information isn't working or they forgot their password from last year. 
  2. After students successfully sign into their accounts, have them sign out and practice signing back into their account. This repeated cycle will help give your students extra practice, while you're helping the students who are struggling to sign into their accounts for the first time. 

Practice #2 (Same day or the next day)

  1. Joining your Google Classroom! I highly recommend and encourage teachers to set up and have their students join a Google Classroom, even if they don't envision using it right away. Google Classroom allows you to assign, create and manage digital activities for your students. Once students are connected to your Google Classroom, you can quickly share links, resources, templates and pull your student names to create classes in other online tools such as Epic! Books
  2. How can students find Google Classroom
    • Open Chrome and start typing Google Classroom... before they even finish Google Classroom, it will show up in the drop-down options for students to click on. Even if they misspell it, Google will know that they meant Google Classroom and it will usually show up as the top option in the search results. 
    • Or they can go directly to to access this tool. 
    • Have students click on their App Launcher on their Chromebook (white circle in the bottom left) and look for Google Classroom's icon or search for Google Classroom. 

Pro Tip: You can personalize the shelf on a Chromebook with a two-finger tap on the icons on the shelf to remove them OR add new ones from within the App Launcher. This can be very helpful for students and can be used in addition to or instead of bookmarking websites in Chrome! 

    • Once they reach Google Classroom, if it's their very first time, they will be asked to confirm their Google Account by clicking "continue." Next, they will have to select their role. This year, this step became much more student-friendly because Google added pictures to help identify their role as a "student' or "teacher." This really isn't as important for students as it is for teachers. The only difference between accounts is the fact that only TEACHERS can create classes. Teachers can create and join Google Classrooms as students, but students can only join classrooms. So if your teacher account isn't showing you the option to create a Google Classroom, then you need to reach out to your TSS/IT Department to switch your role in the Admin Panel. The last step for your students is to enter your unique join code to officially join your Google Classroom.
    • Finally, your students are connected to your Google Classroom and are ready for you to add an assignment or activity to complete once they successfully join your Google Classroom! 
      • Start with adding a question! These can be either short answer or multiple choice. Personally, I love multiple choice questions for opinion-based surveys. For example, what is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Then give your students 4-5 options to select from and then once everyone has submitted their choice, you can have a quick number talk about the data. Quick, simple and fun!! 

    Practice #3 Introducing Skills Through Google Slides

    After seeing the activity, Chromebook Skills created and shared by Ben Cogswell and Ryan O'Donnell on Twitter, I wanted to expand this activity to help our students focus on each of the key skills. Here are the three activities that I created based on this one Google Slides presentation:

    Hopefully, these ideas were helpful for you as you begin to introduce Chromebooks to your students! Please feel free to share these ideas with other teachers and add any ideas in a comment that you've found helpful in your own classrooms! 

    Wednesday, September 13, 2017

    Do you Google Slide?

    If you've created a presentation using Google Slides, then you already know the Google Slide. Just like a dance... Slide to the right. Slide to the right... Every time I hear those two words together I imagine a choreographed dance routine. Now you might be laughing or just thinking that I'm crazy but follow me for a second...

    If you think of Google Slides as a dance then everything to compose in your presentation should flow together like each step of an intricate dance routine. Right? Slides may contain words, images, links and videos combined together to showcase the author's message. Each slide should be related, each sequence should be well planned out, build upon each other and capture the audience's attention. 

    After attending one of Susan Stewart's Primarily Google presentations at Solano's GAFE Summit, my mind starting spinning. I began seeing Google Slides as a brand new tool to create engaging, interactive Slides for students to use in the classroom. When combined with my own knowledge, and a little bit of Lisa Highfill's HyperDoc concept, I began seeing Google Slides in a whole new light! 

    In working with a second-grade teacher, we used our district's adopted curriculum to create an interactive Google Slides lesson for her students. I've covered most the text from the lesson since the material is Copy Righted, however, I think you can grasp the concept of the lesson design and how the students were able to interact with the content and build a deeper understanding of the text than simply reading their textbook. 

    Click here to view full Google Slides presentation 

    Google Slides allow teachers and students to create beautiful presentations, digital books, and activities! Google Slides has taken off as a powerful tool that allows for innovation and creativity to blossom! (This post has been sitting in my draft for MONTHS! I cannot believe I forgot to hit publish! Better LATE than NEVER!!!) 

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017

    New Year, New Possibilities!

    It's been way too long since I've managed to post any updates on here... So much has happened that I'm not even sure where to begin.... But with the new year in full swing, it's time make writing updates on here a priority! I know... I've said that before but I haven't managed to devote time to writing throughout the week to consistently post. I'm hoping this year will be different!

    I feel this new school year will be my best one yet!! Here's a few reasons why I know:

    First, I've been lucky enough to participate on the NorthBay CUE's board!! Whoop-whoop!! I love CUE and everything they stand for... And I'm so proud to be apart of this great organization!! Our NorthBay CUE board has lots of fun and exciting events planned for this year. I'll get to share those events as they get closer, but for now, make sure to save the date of February 3rd for our annual #NBCUE event!

    Second, we finished off last year with a bang! I had so many teachers creating cool end of the year projects with technology! (A few blog posts are in drafts... Hoping to find time to review and publish these!) Many teachers created classroom video projects that were shared with families! I've had teachers reach out to me over the summer about ideas and I can't wait to continue to support these amazing projects!

    Third, my position within my district is evolving. I'm no longer "just" our kinder code specialist... Which in theory wasn't what my job entailed anyways, I'm now an educational technology specialist. Our team originally consisted of seven teachers on special assignment that supported teachers in our district for a three-year cycle. However, sometime last year our district decided to no longer continue our positions, however, since I was one of the last teachers to join our team, I have been given the opportunity to finish out my third year. This year, I am working as a team of ONE to support teachers in my district integrate technology! Working by myself seemed daunting at first, but I'm excited to continue to support teachers in my district and use my PLN on Twitter to continue to support me grow as an educator!

    This next year is going to be a busy one, but in the world of an educational technology specialist, that's a great thing!

    Friday, September 30, 2016

    Wiping Off the Dust... So to Speak!

    Where has the time gone? I can't believe it's been so long since I have found time to sit down to share any updates on here. Summer is long gone, and I can't believe tomorrow is the first day of October!

    We hit the ground running this year! My position has evolved from previous years. This year I am supporting less sites, however I am stepping outside of my Kinder Code bubble into the world of supporting entire school sites. I am excited about this change, however with any change, there has been an adjustment period. All four of my schools are Title 1 schools with 1:1 student devices. Two of the sites are rolling out their 1:1 program for the first time school wide this year. I found myself helping to quickly create rollout plans that best supported teachers and students. We are still adjusting these plans to make the process more efficient for next year.

    I'm looking forward to this upcoming month to start diving into collaborative and creative projects with teachers. I've already started hooking teachers by showing them Seesaw, and I can't wait to see how these teachers integrate Seesaw into their own rooms. This afternoon, I will be joining a Kindergarten teacher's classroom to introduce the "microphone" to her students. They have been capturing pictures this week in Seesaw to add to their journals, however today, we will use the voice recording feature to add a new layer to their items. Hopefully I'll find time this weekend to blog about it, if not, I'm sure it will at least be posted on Twitter. Please follow me @MsHorsma.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016

    Do your students like to chatter?

    Then you must introduce the free iPad App, ChatterPix for Kids!

    This has always been one of my favorite Apps to use with students. The name of the App hints at it's purpose... allowing you to make a picture talk! The art of creation is very simple, yet students can express themselves and information in very creative and unique ways. For example, students could take a selfie of themselves at the beginning of the year and record their voice talking for up to 30 seconds to introduce themselves to the class. This App allows any image to talk. 

    Here are some lesson ideas using ChatterPix:
    • Have students share their opinion on a given topic with supporting evidence 
      • Use a selfie to make themselves talk
      • Use an image related to the topic 
    • Have students use their selfie to share facts or things they learned about a given topic 
      • Use a selfie to make themselves say the facts 
      • Use an image of an important person or figure to share knowledge about them
      • Use an image of artwork or animal and provide them a voice to talk 
      • Use the camera to take pictures of shapes and share attributes about that shape
      • Use the camera to take pictures of stuffed animals/characters from a book 
    When looking at ChatterPix through these lenses the list of ideas start multiplying!! The possibilities are truly endless! What ideas are you thinking of now?