Friday, November 8, 2013

A Guide to creating “Flipped” and Blended learning resources

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Scott:
If you are thinking about Flipping direct instruction or creating blended learning resources that students can access independently but still have accountability for doing the work then I recommend using Google Forms or Moodle Quizzes for getting started.

Google Forms

The fastest and easiest starting point (in my opinion) is to use Google Forms to create what I call a “Fast flipping form”. I often use this example to demo the idea of a Flipped Form. Students open the form link, watch the embedded video, and answer a few formative questions. The teacher gets a spreadsheet that is time stamped, shows their user name, and provides data on their level of understanding. You also have a summary graph view for visualizing the aggregate scores on the assessment questions.

Here’s my visual guide and video tutorial for creating the “Fast flipping form”.  You can put the form link on a Moodle page, Weebly site, etc. It can also be embedded so that the form is viewable right on the Moodle page and not as a separate link.

Pros: Google “Flipped” Forms are fast to make, simple for students to access and use, and provide a quick at-a-glance dashboard (the spreadsheet) for checking who did and did not do the assignment and what they did or did not understand.

Possible Cons: The only videos you can embed currently are YouTube videos (the workaround is to put a link to any video or any web content in the description field), also the summary view graph for your data will reflect all students and isn’t able to be broken down by sections.
A few other suggestions:

  • I recommend collecting student names using two fields (last name) and (first name) to assist with sorting in the spreadsheet
  • Create a drop down or multiple choice listing for separate section hours. Again this is to assist with sorting the data.
  • Force students to be logged into the school’s Google Apps Account to view the Form to ensure that the data is tracked to the actual student.
  • Optional. Use Moodle to deliver the form and embed the form on a page. This would give you the ability to check if a student(s) are viewing the video resource fully by looking at the activity data which tracks the amount of time spent inside an activity. It’s a way to say “Look, I can check if I think you are opening the form and clicking through the questions without watching.” Also, constructed response questions that require some understanding to write the response can help with accountability.

Moodle Quizzes

Another way to structure a “Flipped” assignment based on video and assessment questions is to use the Moodle quiz feature. You create a quiz question and embed the video in the first question (see below), or use the “Description” option for displaying video content. You then add any additional questions that will help you assess student understanding.

Pros: You can provide automated feedback, remediation, or extension activities based on student answers. You have another question styles including matching, Cloze, and mathematical response. You have the ability to sort data by sections and to have longitudinal data of individual student activity because of Moodle’s grading and database features. It also automatically calculates a score (there is a way to do this with scripts in Google Forms). A quiz can be completed over multiple login sessions and automatically force the student to retake if they don’t master the material.

Cons: Not everyone has or uses Moodle. Moodle quizzes take longer to create and the construction of quizzes and analyzing the results is sometimes less intuitive.  

I’ve included a couple of screenshots to help you visualize what a Moodle “Flipped” activity would look like.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Quick Guide to Collaborative Google Presentations

Collaborative presentations can be a great way to start using Google Drive in the classroom because “slides” act as a personal workspace for each student or group of students but with the added ability to view and even co-edit the slides of others. It’s also a great way to demonstrate the power of collaborative cloud based document creation. But remember! - Collaborative means that some decisions can affect the whole group. For instance, changing a theme impacts everyones’ slides. This is a great opportunity to discuss digital citizenship norms  and respecting the work of others. Some of the suggestions below will help you to manage a collaborative document and consider the best approach for your classroom.

Step 1 - Create a presentation

Click on the create icon from the Google Drive homepage and select Presentations. You’ll be prompted to pick a theme.

Step 2 - Create a title slide that includes directions for the activity and specifies the slide criteria

Step 3 - Make a model

I find that it’s helpful to have a slide that the teacher creates ahead of time modeling the format and content examples. You can even make a template slide and use the duplicate slide feature to provide each student with a scaffolded workspace.

Step 4 - Pre-number or Pre-name the slides (optional)
You may want to pre-create the slides and label these ahead of time to designate whose space is whose. This is handy especially for first time users.

Step 5 - Sharing

Share by email - if you have a list of every student’s email (Google Forms are great for collecting these) then you can add individual students to the presentation. Click on the blue share tab in the upper right hand corner of the presentation or right click on the file from the Google Drive homepage.

The advantage to this method is that students will have access to the document via the “shared with me” tab of their Google Drive homepage and that all changes to the presentation are tracked to the user who made them. Students who tamper with the presentation can be identified using the revision history and unwanted modifications can be reversed.

Share by weblink - if you can’t add students individual via their email address you can create a public or semi-public link that allows students to access the document anonymously.

The advantage to this method is that it does not require your students to even have a Google Account. The link can be easily shared if the teacher has a webpage or uses a service like Edmodo or Moodle. A URL shortener like or are helpful for making the links shorter in the case of teachers who do not have a classroom website. The disadvantage is that anonymous can sabotage a project if expectations are unclear and monitoring is minimal. The good news is that the revision history may allow you to restore work that was mistakenly or purposely modified.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Digital Citizenship Week

You may or may not have been aware of the fact that October 21-25th is Digital Citizenship week. Helping our students become good digital citizens is a responsibility that we all share. Displaying posters, having classroom discussions, and practicing netiquette in online educational environments is a great way to model the behaviors and attitudes we want to see reflected by our students.

One of my favorite resources for Digital Citizenship is They have a great K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculumresources for families and parents, and even some games for teaching concepts of Digital Citizenship to students. 

Not sure where to start? I recommend reading this blog post from Common Sense Media about Digital Citizenship week and the many resources available to educators looking to integrate Digital Citizenship instruction into their classrooms.

Edmodo and Common Sense Media have also partnered up to offer several Digital Citizenship resources including a Webinar on Oct. 23rd and an Edmodo Community dedicated to supporting Digital Citizenship in classrooms.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to enable "Offline" access and editing in Google Drive and protect against lost work during a wifi outage

Yesterday a student came to me with a Google Drive issue due to intermittent wifi connectivity at home. Sometime during the night as she was composing her essay she lost wifi connectivity on her Chromebook and subsequently lost all of her work during that period of time.

Fortunately, there is a solution to protect against this type of data loss in Google Drive and as an added bonus have the ability to edit Google Docs, Presentations and Drawings even when there is no internet connection available.

Please note that you can only enable "offline" access and editing in Google Drive on a Chromebook or on a computer using the Chrome browser. 

How to enable "offline" access and editing in Google Drive
  1. Open the Google Drive menu (Inbox)
  2. Click on the "more" tab on the left hand side menu 
  3. Click on "offline" 
  4. Syncing should begin immediately for Chromebook users
  5. If you are using the Chrome browser on a computer you will need to click on "enable offline
Be patient when switching between offline and online mode. It can sometimes take a few seconds for changes to be updated when syncing between modes.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Universal Design for Learning tip: Audio recorded reading accommodations using is the simplest free audio recording tool I know of. It's not perfect (no editing and no permanent storage) but it works well and it works fast. It also has simple tools for downloading, linking, and creating QR codes for the audio you've recorded. This makes Vocaroo great for quickly adding audio supports to any instructional resource.

Unlike verbal reading accommodations, I've noticed that students are more engaged by audio recordings and tend to pause and review the recordings more than they would ask me to repeat myself. The recordings also provide students greater autonomy over the pace of the reading. 

In my old school we even started providing screencast and audio recordings as an option for all students. It became a universal support, destigmatized the accomodation, and became an embedded practice for supporting all instruction, not just assessments.

Universal Design for Learning tip: How to screencast reading accommodations and scaffold reading strategies with screencast-o-matic

Screencasting is a great way to make test reading accommodations more visual and engaging. Screencasting can also be an effective way of scaffolding a reading assignment by previewing the text, demonstrating a reading strategy, and modeling how good readers attack a challenging text. 

My favorite free tool for screencasting is With just a few clicks you'll be recording your voice, your cursor movements, and all the action on your computer screen. 

Unlike verbal reading accommodations, I've noticed that students are more engaged by the screencast recordings and tend to pause and review the recordings more than they would ask me to repeat myself. The recordings also provide students greater autonomy over the pace of the reading. 

In my old school we even started providing screencast and audio recordings as an option for all students. It became a universal support, destigmatized the accomodation, and became an embedded practice for supporting all instruction, not just assessments.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Quick Tip: How to spell check in Moodle 2.5 in Chrome or on a Chromebook - #mpsedtech

I had a little surprise a few weeks back when I discovered that  Moodle 2.5 changed how you can activate spell check. In the past, you were able to right click on a word that was misspelled to activate and view a spell check menu. Now you must do one additional step by holding the "ctrl" key while you right click. This is definitely a quick tip you will want to share with your students if you are using newer versions of Moodle. 

And just a quick reminder that the right click option on a Chromebook is activated using a soft double finger tap.

Video Link

Jackson ISD's Must Have K-5 iPad Apps

Must have iPad app lists are a dime a dozen these days, but sometimes you encounter a list that is compiled by trusted individuals who put care and time into the curation of their list. I would like to recommend the Must-Have Elementary Apps page from the great edtech folks at Jackson ISD as one worth checking out. 
cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Kaity Hemgesberg: 

I also have a couple of Elementary apps lists that you may want to look at if you are in the browsing mood.

An Interactive Menu for Student Project Technology Tools

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Dean (leu)  .:
Today I'd like to share a resource to support digital student projects in your classroom. The premise behind this menu is to provide "voice and choice" (an essential component of Universal Design for Learning) vs. a one size fits all product of learning. Not every tool listed in this menu will be appropriate to the task you've assigned your students but many offer flexible formats for organizing and representing learning.  The key here is to have a clear set of learning targets, aligned to standards that avoid strict formatting criteria like "12 point Times New Roman font" or "10 slides with 3 facts" and instead focus on content specific criteria like "demonstrates a thorough understanding of the main character's motivations based on evidence from the text" or "draws relevant connections between the historical event and a current event impacting society today". 

As teachers, we can't expect to learn every digital tool out there but our students are often capable and motivated to learn and teach each other (and us) given the chance. Some of the guides, video tutorials, and student examples that I've located are better than others. Some of the resources may be better suited to older or younger students. For that reason you may also want to look at other menu type resources out on the web that are directed toward a specific grade level as well.

This menu can be presented to students in full or can be modified by cutting and pasting a smaller selection together if limiting certain choices is needed. If you would like to contribute to this Student Project Technology Tools Menu or have a tool that you'd like to see added to the list please feel free to contact me with your request. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

4 new resources for Elementary Math instruction

Over the past two weeks I've bookmarked four new resources for Elementary Math instruction that I believe are worth sharing. Two of these are more focussed on instructional practices and CCSS are not strictly technology resources but are in my opinion well suited to a technology enhanced classroom. 

Common Core Standard: Third Grade Math Strategies - The first resource is from Edutopia, a great resource for every educator and well worth a look. In this article the author looks at one of the 3rd Grade CCSS for math and shares how an inquiry based, student-centered exploration of patterns and relationships between addition, multiplication and division can not only foster critical thinking and a deeper understanding but also collaboration skills.

Ready to use fact family iPad station - This post by Mrs. Wideen outlines precisely how she sets up and structures a math iPad station that promotes student application of fact family strategies. It's a great example of how to utilize a limited number of iPads, monitor student work, and develop a bank of student created "think alouds". One tool I might suggest in  lieu of the Draw n' Tell app which is $2.99 would be the free Educreations app and to use a generic classroom account for collecting student work.

Maths Frame - 170+ Free Math Games - Richard Byrne who blogs over at Free Technology for Teachers shared a good resource for Smart Board and Interactive Whiteboards or for the computer lab. There you can find tons of interactive math practice games geared to the K-5 classroom. - Math playground is another smorgasbord of math practice games but has a couple very nice iPad apps the mirror their web based tools. In particular, I recommend taking a look at the Thinking Blocks activities for modeling word problem strategies using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and subtraction.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

QR Code Make n' Take Professional Development Workshop #mpsedtech

This week I offered two face-to-face PD workshops focussed on using QR Codes in the Classroom. One of my main goals was to ensure that everyone left the session with a QR code that could be used immediately with students to help meet a learning outcome in their classroom. 

Here are the learning targets I set for this workshop.

  1. Know and understand what a QR code is, how to scan a QR code, and how QR codes are being used in education.
  2. Evaluate examples of how QR codes are being used in education to determine a classroom use specific to your classroom and record this as a goal.
  3. Create a QR Code that targets a specific classroom outcome and implement with students.

And here is a link to the Agenda and support resources I used.

Moodle 2.5 Group Enrollment Process (One course, multiple sections) #mpsedtech

Moodle 2.5 Group enrollment process

If you are using Moodle to create a blended or online course but teach multiple sections of the same course throughout the year, you will probably want to set up separate groups for each section (or class hour) to facilitate group specific forum discussions, assignments, and for querying grades and user reports by class hour. The video tutorial and step-by-step guide below will help you set up your groups and group enrollment codes. Note: This process should be completed prior to enrolling students. A separate process is needed for manually sorting students into groups who were enrolled manually or through course self enrollment.

Watch the Video here -


1.   In the Administration block choose to Edit settings
2.   In the Groups section, select Separate groups
3.   Set Force group mode to Yes and then Save your changes


Step 1: Go to Administration Tab and locate “users” under Course Administration

Step 2: Click on Users and then Enrollment Methods

Step 3: Enable “Self-Enrollment by clicking on the open eye icon

Step 4: Click on the setting gear icon for Student Self Enrollment

Step 5: Create an enrollment key. This should be different from the enrollment key(s) you will give to students. You will not tell this enrollment key to others.

Step 6: Check “use group enrollment keys” as yes and scroll to bottom to click save changes

Step 7: Go to Administration Tab and locate “groups” under Course Administration

Step 8: Click “Create Group”. In the Group editor give the group a name and an enrollment key specific to the group (ex. am1 or mrhard1). Click Save.

Step 9: Repeat step 8 for each group or class section you need giving each group a unique enrollment key.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Did you know? Test reading accommodations using the Chrome Browser or Chromebook

In this video demonstration I show how students can use either the Chrome Speak app or the iSpeech Select and Speak extensions to have questions read aloud in either a Moodle or Edmodo quiz.

Both the text-to-speech tools are available for the Chrome browser and Chromebook.

Video Link

Monday, September 30, 2013

How to print a Moodle quiz

Directions for Printing a Moodle Quiz

This is not a “perfect” print solution but it should give you a print copy that could be used with students and a printable version for submitting as part of an assessment evaluation portfolio.

  1. Go to the quiz settings and change the Layout setting for New Page to “never, all questions on one page”

  2. Click on Save and preview

  3. Highlight the test questions

  4. Right click and select print

  5. Adjust Print settings as desired

  6. Go back to the quiz settings and change the Layout setting back to your desired view.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Using the Pic Collage App as a Graphic Organizer for Vocabulary Instruction

Pic Collage is one of my favorite iPad apps. In the short video demonstration below I show how to use the frame tool to set up a basic vocabulary template and look at some ways to use Pic Collage with students as a graphic organizer. 

Tip: The frame tool may not work for every graphic organizer layout you would like students to use. Take a picture of a Venn Diagram, Character map, etc. that you've used in the past and set the image as a background using the background tool instead of the frame tool. 

Video link

I'd also highly recommend this blog post by Joe Bower on the importance of direct vocabulary instruction tied to best practices. Pic Collage fits nicely with Step 3 (non-linguistic representation) of Marzano's vocabulary strategies. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Opening and editing Word and PDF documents on the Chromebook

In a somewhat ironic follow up to my last post, I want to share a resource I put together for our 1:1 Chromebook program at Marysville High School which outlines some steps for making the opening and editing of Word and PDF documents on the Chromebooks a little less painful. As I mentioned to my staff, the process that I'm sharing is not the only solution, merely one that I hope will reduce some of the steps normally involved. And as I also shared with my staff, this process may be changing soon if Google releases the Quick Office viewer and editing features to Google Drive later this Fall. 

Even though I don't advocate asking students to complete digital worksheets, there are sure to be times when viewing and marking up Word or PDF documents found on the web is necessary and helpful. 

Opening and editing Word and PDF documents on the Chromebook

Click here to watch the video tutorial

  1. Immediately after installing a Docs PDF/Powerpoint Viewer Options tab will open, displaying the file types that will be opened in the Google Drive viewer.
  2. Check the PDF option (Option 1) at the top and then click Save at the bottom of the screen

  1. Click on a word document on any website
  2. The document will now open in the Google Drive Viewer
  3. To open and edit Word or PowerPoint click on the “Edit Online” icon
  4. This will make a new editable copy for the student to work on
  5. For PDF documents click “Add to Drive” icon
  6. Locate the PDF file in the Google Drive inbox, right click on the file and select PDF Zen
  7. In PDF zen use editing tools to mark up, click on “Actions” icon to save changes back to Google Drive or to get URL link for sharing or submitting in Moodle/Edmodo.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Problem with Paperless

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Wesley Fryer:
As I've been in and out of various classrooms this week a recurring theme has emerged - going paperless. While I applaud the intention of saving trees and making classroom resources accessible 24/7 across a variety of devices, there is a problem. There is a problem with digitizing worksheets and the convoluted workflow that inevitably ensues. This is especially true of worksheets that come from textbook providers, but also teacher-created worksheets in many cases. I want to be clear. I don't really have a problem with worksheets - they can be instructive and provide meaningful practice and application of ideas - at least in theory. And, yes, their are many worksheets that are worthless, time-killing, busy work that barely scratch the bottom of Bloom's taxonomy. But good or bad worksheets pose a particular problem in digital learning environments. You see, a worksheet was designed to be completed, submitted, assessed, marked-up and handed back by hand. Pen, pencil, crayon - doesn't matter, but most worksheets were not DESIGNED to be completed, submitted, assessed, and marked-up or handed back on a Chromebook or an iPad. I know what some of you will say next. But, Kit! We have done exactly that. We scan and upload every worksheet to our [fill in the web presence tool of your choice], the students download and open the worksheet on their [fill in the personal computing device of your choice], and they [draw, type, record] on top of the worksheet and submit it electronically to their teacher's [email, blog, LMS, Google drive] where the teacher then individually opens each worksheet on their [fill in the personal computing device of your choice], where they [draw, type, record] on top of the worksheet to provide feedback and submit it electronically back to the student with a grade [that they then must re-enter into some separate student grading system that the district uses - one that definitely did nothing to aid or facilitate the "simple" steps described herein] Are you kidding me!? I challenge you to find me a teacher out there who not only follows those steps but then provides students with the opportunity to fix mistakes or improve their initial submissions. It doesn't happen. More importantly, I don't want to teach others how to inflict this kind of worksheet hell upon themselves or our students.

Like many of you, I've been working with the SAMR model of technology integration to help myself and others redefine learning in a technology enhanced environment. I contend that digitizing the workflow for worksheets isn't Substitution. In fact, it doesn't even land on the SAMR continuum in my opinion. Not only are there a ridiculous number of hurdles to making worksheets paperless, hurdles that interfere with the basic intent to "be instructive and provide meaningful practice and application of ideas", but it makes the most important elements of timely feedback and fixing mistakes nearly impossible. 

Here is what many of my conversations have started to sound like or will sound like going forward.

  1. If the worksheet is worth doing (i.e. it is instructive and provides meaningful practice or application) feel free to make copies and hand it out.
  2. Feel free to put a digital copy (within copy rights) online for students and families to access as a reference and for printing.
  3. Allow a student to annotate and submit the work electronically if needed (long term illness or travel) and take the time to give feedback.
And here are my tips for transitioning toward digitally enhanced forms of practice and application that take some cues from or extend the activities found on the worksheets.
  1. Add QR Codes or weblinks to the top of the worksheet that link to support resources, audio recordings of the directions and questions, challenge questions, or online group discussions.
  2. Take questions that have fixed responses such as True/False and multiple choice and use a digital assessment tool like Socrative, Edmodo quizzes, or Google Forms to automatically grade student responses and provide immediate feedback.
  3. Take one or two open ended questions that require higher order thinking skills or application of knowledge and ask students to submit digital responses, electronic projects, videos, etc. in response to these questions.  
  4. Challenge students to develop questions that fall across Bloom's taxonomy and then distribute these to their peers using a tool like Google Forms or a discussion forum in Moodle.
  5. Consider Project Based Learning (PBL) as a way to move away from textbooks and worksheets and into authentic and purposeful learning driven by meaningful "driving questions".
How would you add to this list of tips and what suggestions do you have for teachers hoping to transition away from traditional worksheets using effective teaching methods and digital tools? Oh, and if you happen to be riding the Unicorn of Digital Worksheet Love share your secret to success.