How to Write a Quality Comment

Fortunately, there are quite a few apps that allow students to leave quality comments for instant feedback to classmates’ projects, work samples or blog responses. Timely feedback is extremely important for student learning. However, the quality of the feedback is equally as important.

We need to teach students HOW to leave quality feedback for their classmates in order for it to be effective. Simply stating, “Good job!” is not enough.

Students must learn to dig deeper and write comments that include some of the following:

  • Compliments: Praising the author for their ideas.
  • New Information: Connections, questions or new information not mentioned in the post.
  • Digital Citizenship:  Students are quick to share personal information such as phone numbers, family details or thoughts about school. Or, they may be overly critical of their classmates. We must remember to teach students digital citizenship during our daily lessons.
  • Editing/Revising: The world of texting has definitely impacted the quality of digital responses. Students must spell-check and proofread before responding.

The following infographic may be helpful for teaching or revisiting key points. (Click to access template for editing)

Commenting Etiquette (4).pngWhat Should Students Do After the Feedback?

Often, students receive feedback and that is the end of the learning experience. Students must have time to:

  1. Respond: Have a discussion with their teachers and/or classmates.
  2. Review: Was the feedback useful? Can they make changes?
  3. Reflect: How did the feedback help the student learn? What would they do differently next time? What goals can they set for themselves?

How do you teach your students to write a quality comment?

4 Easy Ways to Integrate Tech During the Global Read Aloud and Collaborate with an Authentic Global Audience

According to the Global Read Aloud‘s official website, the Global Read Aloud was created back in 2010 with a simple goal in mind; one book to connect the world!

Although it may be easy to purchase the books and participate in the readings during class-time, educators may find it difficult to determine how to use technology to connect with like-minded educators and collaborate with classrooms around the world.

Here is an easy to follow infographic filled with 4 easy ways to connect your classroom and participate in the #GRA18 this year! The event starts the first week of October and runs through mid-November.

Just click the image for a copy!

Copy of Global Read Aloud.png

Are you participating in the Global Read Aloud this year? Are you using technology to collaborate with a global audience?

10 Smart and Simple Ways to Kick off the School Year with the G Suite for Education

Educators across the globe are inundated with tasks they hope to accomplish prior to the start of the upcoming school year. However, thanks to the G Suite for Education, there are many smart and simple ideas teachers can do right now to streamline their workflow, increase communication and share learning.  This blog will explore 10 smart and simple ideas for using the G Suite for Education this school year!

10 G Suite Ways to Kick Off the School year (4)

Infographic for blog. Click image for PDF.

google-calendar-logo.jpg1. Keep Track with Google Calendar

Google Calendar makes it extremely simple for educators to share and organize their calendars, create and add appointment slots, schedule Hangouts, add important test dates or events, and invite collaborators or participants. Users may share their calendars by embedding it on their Google Sites website or by sharing the calendar using Google Classroom.  Google Calendar also makes it simple to add district or administrative calendars to your calendar allowing you to to view multiple calendars on one page.

2. Create a Community with Google Classroom


Sharing and posting assignments has never been easier! Google Classroom allows educators to set due dates, provide instant feedback, send and receive private comments, and update students and parents on missing assignments. Teachers may also  post announcements, blog questions, surveys, and quizzes all within Google Classroom. Students are able to join their teacher’s classroom by either an email invitation or a class code. Teachers may share administrative privileges with co-teachers and/or choose to keep parents involved by inviting them to join and see their student’s work as well.

3. Join a Community with Google Plus or Twitter

It took me a few months to get the swing of things using the social media platforms Google Plus and Twitter, but the payoff has been substantial. Use Google Plus to join a community of like-minded educators and find out about the latest practices, newest download.pngtools, upcoming events, or best resources. Post a question and crowd-source hundreds of answers within minutes! Personally, I have found Twitter to be my favorite resource for personalized professional development. Join thousands of educators online in Twitter Chats and save resources right into your Google Drive!

4. Take Inventory Using Google Forms and Sheets

google forms.jpeg

Google Forms makes it simple to share a survey with students using a link, QR Code, email, or Google Classroom. Take inventory in students interests, learning habits, goals, concerns, learning styles, and questions. Share a Form with parents and learn about their questions and concerns as well. Collect contact information, volunteer availability, and even have parents sign up for conferences using the Choice Eliminator Add-on which will allow parents to select a time while only displaying available slots. All survey results will be archived into a Google Sheet allowing you to sort, share and filter.

5. Create a Website or Portfolio with Google Sites

Logo_of_Google_Sites (1).pngThe new Google Sites makes it extremely easy for educators to add information directly from their Google Drive by dragging and dropping files. Add text-boxes, images, calendars, and more all while creating a fabulous website for your class. Or, use Google Sites to have students create a learning portfolio. Direct students to add required pages such for classes or topics, customize the colors and artwork, and embed video reflections. Privacy settings are customizable allowing students to share their site with the world or just a select few.

6. Unleash Your Inner Artist Using Google Drawings


Google Drawings is a perfect tool for designing and personalizing your Google Classroom or website header. Also, consider creating a business card for your email signature, favicons for your websites, memes for your social media posts, posters for your classroom, or edit and customize your favorite images.

google docs.jpg

7. Share News with Google Docs or Google Slides

Collaborating, sharing and receiving feedback has never been easier thanks to Google Docs. Create your classroom newsletter template first by adding columns, images, headers and footers. Share with a co-teacher or admin for feedback and collaboration. Make a copy of the template for editing each month while sharing and archiving past newsletters using Google Classroom. Or, you can embed the Google Doc right in your Google Site. Students and parents will be so excited to receive your newsletters.

8. Stay Organized Using Google Drive


Now that you have created all these amazing surveys, images, Docs, Forms, and Sheets you will need to stay organized! Google Drive allows you to create folders and drag and drop files with ease. Place files into multiple folders using Shift Z. Share files with co-teachers or administrators with privileges to view, copy or edit. Color code your folders and and emojis for that special touch!


9. Stay Connected with Gmail

Gmail is the perfect communication tool for educators. If you’d like to delay sending your emails, you can easily schedule the emails to go out at any time using the Chrome Extension Right Inbox for Gmail. Add custom signatures and auto-response messages using the Settings.  Or, request a “read receipt” to see the date and time important emails were read.


10. Class Introductions Using Google Slides

Google Slides is one of the most diverse apps in the G Suite for Education. While many people use Google Slides for presentations, it is also a fabulous tool for jigsawing information or gathering formative assessment data. One smart and simple way to use Google Slides during the first few weeks of school is to have students import a slide introducing themselves to the class using a collaborative slide-deck with editing permissions.

Example: A teacher shares a collaborative slide-deck in Google Classroom entitled “Class Introductions” with editing permission granted to all students. Students then create a new slide of their own introducing themselves. Once finished, they add their slide to the collaborative deck by clicking on FILE>IMPORT SLIDES. Now, students may read their classmates’ slides and offer positive feedback, comments and questions. Don’t forget to add your slide as well.

In Summary

The G Suite for Education has so many useful applications that may help teachers streamline their workflow, get organized, communicate information, take inventory, and stay connected. I hope a few of these ideas have inspired you to kick off your school year.   How are you using the G Suite to prepare this year? I’d love to hear from you!

Collaborative Poetry Snaps

Poetry Snaps

Looking for a new and exciting way for students to share and receive immediate feedback on their original poems? Curious how you can spark student motivation by providing an authentic audience? Or, are you interested in new ways for students to annotate poetry and share their thinking? Try giving “poetry snaps” a whirl by using Google Slides!

What are poetry snaps?

Poetry snaps are annotated snapshots of poems inserted into a collaborative Google Slides deck. It’s a spin off of #BookSnaps, the term coined by Tara Martin for annotating texts digitally.

Here’s how:

  1. The teacher creates the master deck in Google Slides. In this example, the master deck is titled Poetry Anthology.
  2. Teacher then shares the deck via Google Classroom with the permissions “Students May Edit”.
  3. Students may then create their own slide and insert an image of their original poetry by going to INSERT>PHOTO>CAMERA. (Or, of course they may just copy and paste digital text.)
  4. Once finished, students may go to FILE>IMPORT SLIDES to add their slide to the master deck, thus creating a collaborative poetry anthology.
  5. Students may then annotate their classmates’ poems by adding thoughts about the author’s craft, connections, imagery, or questions that may have arisen while reading. Students can add images, text boxes, thought bubbles, or even create their own annotated GIF’s using the Sticky AI app.
  6. Option: Have students type and illustrate their poems using Google Drawings! Then save file as a JPEG or PNG file to import into Slides! This would look fantastic.

Example Poetry Snap Template

Click image to Make a Copy

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 2.07.10 PM

Not sure how to import slides? No worries, there is an animated GIF included in the slideshow.


Poetry Snaps are a fabulous way to provide instant feedback! And, the authentic audience may help motivate reluctant students to try and write some quality poems. Of course, you do not have to use original poems. Students could annotate any poems you provide! Have fun snapping!

Have you or your students created and shared Poetry Snaps?


Add Student Checklists to “HyperDrawings” Using Newly Integrated Google Keep

HyperDocs have been all the rage for the last couple years. My favorite G Suite tool for hyperDoc creation has always been Google Drawings. I create text boxes with opportunities for students to activate prior knowledge, engage, create, reflect, self-assess, and extend their learning within the margins or “gutter” outside of the canvas. However, there are so many steps in some of my hyperDocs that I have noticed students may accidentally skip part of their assignment. Alas, Google Keep came in to the rescue when it became fully integrated within Google Drawings!

Why Google Drawings for “HyperDocs”?

HyperDocs is the umbrella term for any tool within the G Suite Application that allows you to create inquiry-based, self-paced, differentiated student assignments. I really enjoy Google Drawings as it allows students to manipulate shapes and images in order to create a visual presentation. It also allows teachers to add video clips, directions in the margins or “gutter”, and Google Keep Notes. This really makes Google Keep a “one-stop-shop” for many of my activities.

Why Use Google Keep with HyperDrawings

Here’s an example of a hyperDrawing I created for students to learn about and create line-plots. Notice how Google Keep appears along-side the right margin. Immediately, I started integrating Google Keep as a simple way for students to track their progress as they complete their hyperDrawing. Students may check off each step or activity as it is completed. Once finished, students may then save their image as a JPG and upload their final product to the Google Keep Note. Finally, I can archive my feedback by creating hashtags for the assignments and student names.


Step 1: Create the checklist in Google Keep

Step 2: Label the student and assignment name

Step 3: Add the student as the collaborator

Step 4: The student opens Google Drawings and then goes to Tools-Google Keep

Step 5: The student checks off tasks and assignments as they are completed.

Step 6: The student saves their Google Drawing as a JPEG and then uploads the image to the Google Keep Note.

Step 7: The teacher provides feedback and archives the notes.

In Summary

There are so many innovative and amazing ways to use Google Keep. Sometimes you just need to use the tool for what it was originally created for…….a task list 🙂

Do your students use a checklist while completing hyperDocs?

Digital Hall Passes using QR Codes

Monitoring student activity in and out of the classroom can be tedious using a traditional sign-out sheet. Sign-out sheets can go missing, are difficult to share, and may take up valuable classroom space. But, QR codes make it simple for students and teachers to use technology to monitor student activity by creating a digital hall pass while archiving data into a Google Form.

Why QR Codes?

By linking a Google Form to a QR code, students can scan the correct code whenever they need to leave the classroom. All data is then stored into a spreadsheet if it needs to be reviewed.  The information can then be sorted and shared with parents, co-teachers or administrators.

How it works

Many teachers having been using QR codes linked to a Google Form. However, I have been using a method that allows students to sign out of the classroom without having to answer questions within the Google Form. Students can just scan the code and go!

Step 1: Create a Google Form.

The first thing to do is create a Google Form. Create a question for every QR code that you would like to create. For example, you could have a code for the bathroom, nurse or principals office etc.

You could list the students names or go with a generic numbering system as seen below. If you go with a generic numbering system, you may then reuse the form each year without having to edit student names or codes.


Step 2: Create a “Student Name” Tab

If you used a numbering system in lieu of student names, then create a tab within Google Sheets listing each students name and their corresponding number. This way, you can easily reference student names when viewing the Google Form.

Step 3: Create a “Code” Tab

This tab will be used to create the QR Codes. You want to put the URL for the code in the 1st column and the name of the code you are creating in the 2nd column. For example, “Bathroom-Out” or “Nurse”.  Then, list the student names or numbers in the 2nd column.


Step 4: Copy the link for each student from Google Forms

Go into Google Forms and get the pre-filled link for each student response. In this example, I am creating QR Codes for “Bathroom-Out” and “Bathroom-In”. That way I can quickly create codes for students to scan when they leave and enter the classroom. Here is how to get the link for each student. And, also note that if you are creating a generic numbering system you will only have to do this once and not every new school year.


Step 5: Edit the link in Google Sheets

Now that we have the link, we are going to paste it into the Code tab in Google Sheets. But, we are going to edit the link and change it from “viewform” to read “formResponse”. Then we will copy the code for the remaining students. (Note: Google Forms will automatically change the code to read Student+1, Student+2 etc.)


Step 6: Add QR Code Generator Add-On

Once you have finished copy, pasting and editing the codes, you will now add the QR Code Generator Add-On for Google Sheets. This allows you to highlight the URL for the Code, along with the student names, and create a printout of all the QR codes for your students. It’s pretty simple to use. Just go to Add-Ons, select “Get Add-ons” and add the QR Code Generator.


Step 7: Test your QR Codes

You now have a QR Code for every student. Try scanning a QR Code and see if it works by logging the information into your form response tab in Google Sheets. When you scan the code it should timestamp the activity and place the student name in the appropriate column.


Step 8: Distribute Codes

Determine how you’d like to distribute codes to students. Some teachers may use a binder and provide a page for each student. Other teachers use keyrings and place a code on the ring for easy access. One teacher created a laminated nameplate to go on student desks.


Step 9: Explain routine to students

You did it! Student QR Codes are ready to go and all student activity will be logged into Google Sheets. Now, explain the routine to students and you are ready to go!

Do you use technology to monitor students?

10 iPad App Recommendations for Elementary Station Rotations/Centers

Many educators try to integrate technology into their station rotations. Yet, many popular applications may not allow students to unleash their creativity or demonstrate their learning. Sometimes it may be appropriate for students to simply consume information, but many educators may be unaware of applications that promote student productivity. There are so many FREE and inexpensive applications that enhance and redefine learning.

Why iPads?

If used correctly, iPads can not only promote creativity but also empower and engage students. Many applications provide a platform for students to share their ideas and creations with an authentic audience which then leads to increased motivation.

Rotation Stations/ Student Centers may include:

  • Creating videos
  • Screencasting
  • Creating animated presentations
  • Communicating using video response platforms
  • Maintaining digital portfolios
  • Providing feedback to classmates
  • Blogging
  • Goal Setting
  • Reflections
  • Formative assessments
  • Jigsawing ideas
  • Brainstorming
  • Revising and Editing

Do you need new ideas for your iPad stations?

Here are 10 amazing and apps that can be used for all content areas across the elementary curriculum. And, integrating these apps into your stations requires little to no preparation!

  1. Seesaw– Seesaw is a student-driven portfolio system that makes it incredibly easy to engage and empower students. Students can access teacher activities and notes, annotate images, create videos, blog, make screencasts, and give feedback to their classmates.
    • Center Ideas: Have students add artifacts to their portfolio, share their thinking about topics, comment on a classmates’ work, or complete a shared activity.
  2. Flipgrid– Flipgrid is an educational video response platform used by millions of educators across the world. Students may create a video in response to any topic and then reply to their classmates’ responses. The stickers and social media features truly engage students.
    • Center Ideas: Have students share their thinking about any topic. Or, add a topic directly from the Discovery Library into your classroom. When students are finished responding they may reply to their classmates’ ideas.
  3. Explain Everything– Explain Everything allows students and teachers to collaborate and create presentations that show their ideas. Presentations may include text, audio, video, and images.
    • Center Ideas: Students collaborate and create a presentation to demonstrate their understanding of an important concept.
  4. Book Creator– Book Creator as a wonderful app for student creativity. Students may add images, audio, text, and video to create a variety of books, manuals, portfolios, reports, or comics.
    • Center Idea: Students create a short book or comic strip about a topic to demonstrate understanding.
  5. Sock Puppets : Sock Puppets allows you to create your own video while syncing your voice to an adorable sock puppet. Add images and scenery from the gallery or import your own!
    • Center Idea: Student creates a short video explaining a topic, reviewing a book, or sharing an idea.
  6. iMovie Book Trailer: iMovie’s Book Trailer feature allows students to create short trailers just like you would see in the movies. Students may add images, narration and animations to their trailers.
    • Center Idea: Students may summarize a book they read, retell stories and share ideas about any topic by creating these fun trailers!
  7. Doink: Doink allows student creativity to reach new heights as they record short video clips while using a green screen.
    • Center Ideas: Record a news broadcast using a content related photo as a backdrop. Or, students can illustrate their own backdrops using art supplies and then take a digital photograph of their work.
  8. Shadow Puppet EDU– Even Kindergarten students can easily create a video using Shadow Puppet EDU! Students import photographs , record voiceovers, and add text that they may interact with while recording!
    • Center Ideas: Create a video sharing your ideas about a topic.
  9. Google Slides– Google Slides allows students to create and collaborate on a slideshow by adding text, video, images, and animations.
    • Center Idea: Create a slideshow about a concept learned in class. Or, collaborate on a slideshow as a class to jigsaw ideas or use as a formative assessment.
  10. Google Keep- Google Keep allows students collaborate while adding ideas or annotating images on a virtual sticky note. Students may add audio to share their thinking and a transcript will be provided.
    • Center Idea: Take a photograph of an assignment and annotate the image to show corrections. Then, use the audio tool to record your thinking. Edit the transcript to practice revising work.

But, how do students share what they create?

There are also many applications that will allow students to share their work. Some popular applications include Google Drive, Seesaw, Padlet, or Google Classroom. Of course, students can share all G Suite for Education apps simply by clicking the SHARE button.

In Summary

If you have access to iPads in your school you are extremely fortunate. There are hundreds of applications out there that will promote creativity and productivity. The next time you plan a center consider selecting an application that will allow students not only to learn, but also to demonstrate and share knowledge. And, as long as the app has been approved for student use, don’t be afraid to give it a go even if you don’t feel like you are an expert user. The students will show you how it’s done!

How do you integrate iPads into your student centers?



Integrating Flipgrid Across All Content Areas

There are so many different edtech tools out there that it can be difficult to prioritize which are worth investigating. However, with Flipgrid educators across all content areas and grade levels are easily able to integrate this tool into their curriculum. Flipgrid is a video discussion platform used by millions of students and educators across the globe! Teachers post a topic (alongside any resources) and students leave detailed video responses.

Why Flipgrid?

Flipgrid is a fabulous tool for promoting student thinking, offering instant feedback and providing students with an authentic audience. Students are so engaged by creating these video responses. Paired with the digital stickers and the social media features (such as the many different “like” buttons and video replies) it’s a guaranteed success!

How can I integrate Flipgrid into my curriculum?

Here are some ideas for integrating Flipgrid in your curriculum. I used Google’s Autodraw program to create the images.


Note: You may use this image for presentations/workshops, as long as you link back to this website and give me credit. You may only post this image to your blog with permission.

Have you tried using Flipgrid? How are you using it with your students?

Getting Students to Evaluate the Authenticity of Websites: Grades 3-12

There are millions of websites and our students are looking for instant gratification when it comes to finding answers. But, students are often using websites that are either not credible, erroneous or not current. So, how do we teach students how to find accurate and solid information in a world where anyone can post anything?

The Lesson

I like to start by playing a little trick on students. The two websites that I often use while teaching students how to evaluate websites are All About Explorers (created by teachers) and the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.  Both of these websites are not only safe to use with students but also very entertaining!

This week, I started my  lesson by asking students to review one of the assigned website and to share interesting facts with their classmates. It always amazes me when these 4th and 5th grade students shared their learning while stating obvious impossible facts such as “Wow. I never knew an octopus could steal dollar bills!” Or,”I had no idea that they had email back in the 1400s!”

These type of statements tell me two things:

  1. Students continue to believe what they read online is TRUE. We need to make sure they understand that anyone can make a website. It is up to the AUDIENCE to evaluate the website for authenticity before we use it for a reference.
  2. Students need to think for themselves.  We need to urge students debate questionable information. I believe every student knew that electronics were not around in the 1400s and that an octopus cannot climb trees. Yet, not one student in the 4th grade classroom debated the statement. And, only half of the 5th grade students were challenging the ideas. We need students to become independent thinkers.

After explaining the objective of my lesson (and getting quite a chuckle out of the students’ reactions), I introduced the 5 W’s for evaluating the authenticity of websites using this Google Drawing. (Click to make your own copy.)

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 12.27.58 PM

Then, we used these two hyperdocs to continue learning how to evaluate websites.

All About Explorers HyperDoc

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 12.17.18 PM

Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 12.18.50 PM


We need to teach students not only to be independent thinkers, but also to evaluate the millions of online sources at their fingertips. There are so many websites out there that look like they are credible, but are either filled with erroneous or dated information.

How do your students evaluate the authenticity of online sources? Do you use any “fake” websites such as All About Explorers or the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus?

The Hour of Code and The Hechinger Report!

The Hour of Code

This month, thousands of students in my district participated in the Hour of Code. The Hour of Code is a global movement by and Computer Science Education Week to inspire millions of students across the world to learn how to code and learn about computer science. I always get excited this time of year, as’s Hour of Code reminds me of the time my father taught me how to code when I was in second grade.

Students in our district participated using various robots such as Dash and Dot, Robot Mouse and Beebots, games such as Code Master and Bloxes, and  websites such as to complete coding courses and activities. I tried to empower students by allowing them to choose their tools, devices and activities.

Hechinger Report

After sharing my article detailing my thoughts and experiences with Wonder Workshop, it was officially published in the Hechinger Report, and ASCD’s  Smart Brief on December 13! I am extremely proud to share the article with you. And, I am extremely proud to continue sharing my passion for The Hour of Code with students and educators whenever possible.

How will you continue to engage students past The Hour of Code?