Showing posts from 2015

New speech-to-text tool for Google Docs

Have you ever had a student who is great at speaking but has difficulty writing down his or her thoughts? If so, read on!

Speech-to-Text Tool: Google Docs Voice Typing Google Docs just added a new tool that will convert your speech to text in a Google Doc, so you can speak and it types for you. In any Google Doc, just click on Tools>Voice Typing to get started. Here's a one-minute video showing it in action.

I hope these tools will help your students access web-based content and reduce barriers for them to create and collaborate in Google Docs. Let me know how you and your students use these tools and what's working/not working for you. 

Schoology's Calendar: An Essential Organizational Tool

Every teacher fields questions like these almost every day of the school year; answering them individually can take a lot of time away from more important instructional activities.

Schoology's calendar feature provides a simple way to show students what's happening in your class on a daily or weekly basis. And for students, the Schoology calendar displays dates for all their courses in one place. This is a powerful tool to help students stay organized, be prepared for class, and find out what they missed when absent.

It's easy to get started with Schoology's calendar. Here are a few tips to help answer common student questions:

Tip 1: To answer "When is it due?"
Anything that you date in Schoology will automatically appear on your students' Schoology calendars. This means that when you create an assignment, discussion, quiz, or even a folder in one of your courses, if you give it a date, it appears on the calendar of every student in that course. Dated item…

Getting Started with Schoology

Ready to get started with Schoology, our learning management system? Here are some resources to help you dive right in.
What is Schoology? Schoology is a learning management system designed to make it easy for K-12 teachers to interact with their students online. As our 4th-12th grades approach 1:1 Chromebook adoption, Schoology provides a central platform where students can access learning materials for all of their courses from any device. Teachers can post assignments, give quizzes, facilitate collaborative discussions, and give students feedback using Schoology's intuitive interface. Students can see upcoming due dates, submit Google Docs to teachers for grading, and connect with their teachers and peers in a safe online learning environment.
How do I get there?
We have our own Schoology domain from which RFSD teachers and students can access Schoology. Go to and you will be prompted to log in with your rfschools Gmail credentials (the same email…

Blogging in Middle School

Carmen de Tata's 8th graders at Basalt Middle School didn't just write a persuasive paper about an environmental topic this year.

After writing their papers in Google Docs, Carmen challenged them to use Google Drawing to create a logo and slogan, then use PowToon to create a public service announcement, and finally pull it all together into a blog post on EduBlogs.

The integration of multiple tech tools added authenticity, engagement, and relevance to a traditional writing assignment. Students learned to communicate and collaborate using 21st Century skills that empower them to reach a wider audience.

This project was based on a Springboard embedded assessment that recommended a multi-media campaign. At first Carmen thought they would use Prezi, then we considered VoiceThread, before landing on the combination of PowToon and Edublogs.

Carmen was determined to find a tool that allowed students to collaborate and to get comments and feedback from an authentic audience of parent…

Documentaries with WeVideo

When Denise Wright wanted to keep her 10th grade English students engaged in meaningful learning right up to the last day of school, she decided to have them create documentary videos about environmental issues using their phones, Chromebooks, and the WeVideo editor. They started by choosing issues and writing position papers, citing sources and gathering evidence to support their claims. Then they created storyboards to convert their position papers into an outline of a video, and finally it was time to shoot and edit their videos. The project concluded with an in-class film fest on the last day of school, allowing students to view each others' videos and vote on 'People's Choice' awards.

Why did Denise invest the extra time and energy into a project that could have ended with a traditional position paper? Was it worth it? What would she do differently next time? Find out by watching the short video (created in WeVideo!) below.

Below is a example of a student-created…

Free Online Google Conference

I just found out that Google for Education is hosting a free two-day online conference tomorrow and Saturday (May 8 and 9). You can register free and even if you don't attend in real-time, you can access all the resources and watch the recorded sessions when you have time.

Friday's sessions appear to be big picture thought-oriented sessions, while Saturday's sessions are more how-to and teacher-oriented. So even if you can't attend anything on Friday, you could spend some of your rainy Saturday learning more about Google Apps for Education.

There are about five sessions to choose from during each time slot, so you're likely to find something relevant any time of day.

Please let me know if you attend so we can share what you learn!

Making interactive maps and timelines: Tools for history and geography fun!

I recently came across two great tools that you can use in any class to engage students in chronological or spatial analysis...aka history and geography.

The first is, a very intuitive and engaging timeline creator. With a free account, you can create an interactive timeline (or use one from their Gallery) to introduce students to a historical era. You can include interactive questions, videos, images, links, and other features to make learning active.

Then your students can create their own timelines and share them with the class, all in your free classroom account. This would be a fun way to engage students in your final unit of the year...divide up the main concepts and have students teach each other by creating interactive timelines with at least one question, video, image, and link. Then have them learn from each others' timelines prior to a summative assessment.

Here's an example of a timeline created on this site:

The second tool is ArcGIS Online, a web-based i…

Flipping the Classroom

Should you flip your classroom? What is a flipped classroom? A flipped classroom is one where the traditional homework and in-class activities have been 'flipped,' so students watch video lectures for homework, then solve problems and work on assignments during class.

What's the point? Many teachers have found that students needed their support most while working on homework, not during direct instruction. Furthermore, many teachers have determined that whole-class direct instruction is often ineffective, as some students need to go slower while others are ready to speed ahead. Providing direct instruction via online videos allows students to watch them at their own pace, pausing and re-watching, or skipping ahead, to meet their individual needs. This approach frees up class time for more individualized support, as students apply what they learned from the lecture video to solve problems individually or collaboratively, with help and facilitation from their teacher.