Thursday, January 31, 2013

What Do I Use?

I have been asked this question quite a bit lately so I thought I would break down the classroom technology that I have and how I use it.

Interactive projector - I have an Epson BrightLink projector with an interactive pen that allows me to use anything on my computer in front of the classroom. This gets you up and out away from the desk and interacting with students. I try to find interactive websites like and to create interactive activities for my students. Quia lets me make challenge boards (jeopardy), matching, rags to riches and even battleship games, which the students love to play and come to the board.

4 student computers
Document camera
Small iPad cart (11)
Big iPad cart (20)

My Big Campus - This is the Learning Mangement System (LMS) that is adopted by my district. I started out last year using a free trial of Brainhoney, but it was greatly lacking in features and functionality. My principal turned me on to edmodo, which we used with moderate success for about half of last school year. Then our tech guy told me about My Big Campus and it was a no brainer to make the switch. My Big Campus offers SO much more functionality that edmodo simply didn't have. One of the biggest problems we had with edmodo was the fact that Youtube videos would come up blocked on the site. Because My Big Campus is part of our Lightspeed system we get access to videos and content that we otherwise had problems accessing with edmodo. 

Discovery Education

LEGO Mindstorms kits - Who doesn't love STEM learning? With a class set of LEGO Mindstorms kits, students are able to explore real-world concepts. When we studied alternative energy sources, students were able to build working wind generators and solar panels. This hands on learning is the key to students success in Science.

Google Docs for Educators

Google docs offers teachers and students the ability to work collaboratively in the cloud!
  • Forms can be created for students to answer questions (like a test), and/or to submit work.
  • Forms can be used to create anonymous surveys
  • Groups can collaborate by working on the same document
  • Students and teachers can create slideshows (presentations like PowerPoint) that can then be easily shared and embedded on websites.
  • Buddy Edit (make changes in red or another color)
  • Reading Responses, then share with your teacher so they see them.
  • Use instead of Word for cloud computing (so students have their files anywhere)
  • Student assignment tracker (spreadsheet)
  • Google drawing (shapes, arrows etc) to create flow charts and word clusters
  • Create shared folders for handouts/worksheets/presentations for absent students

Useful links to get started with Google Docs:
Getting started with Google Docs
Sharing and editing documents
Integrating Google tools for teachers
Tips for teachers
Richard Byrn - - A Guide to Google Docs

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Going Paperless

This week I started a new adventure. I am going paperless. I teach science and this has been an interesting week thus far. The first thing that I realized is that paperless for me doesn't mean paperless for the students. Students are able to turn in assignments to me online through our LMS MyBigCampus.

In addition students still take notes and occasionally they will need paper, this is just part of life. But right now I am able to have the assignments digitally, and we are working towards our student created digital portfolios. This is exciting right now and we'll see how it goes or if I am pulling out my hair at the end of a while. We shall see.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


The end of this week is spent at a technology conference in Pocatello, Idaho, put on by Idaho State University. This conference is filled with great information and TONS of resources. I'll post some tips and tricks later, but it's definitely not something to miss.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Creating a Digital Portfolio with Evernote

This step-by-step guide will walk you through creating a portfolio in Evernote. Remember Evernote has all the basic word processing functions.

  • Open Evernote
  • Click on File -> New Notebook (ctrl +shift + N)
  • Name the notebook Yourname Portfolio
  • Your portfolio will consist of several components which illustrate your mastery as a teacher. 
    • Each of these components can be a page or a "Note" in your notebook.
    • If you have physical papers that you need to incorporate you can take a picture/import them directly with your iPad's evernote app
  • When you have finished compiling your portfolio information you'll need to share it.
    • Right click on the notebook
    • Select share notebook
    • Select invite individuals
    • Enter the email address of your administrator
    • Type in an optional note if you'd like
    • Click invite
    • Click Done