Sep 242013

InfuseLearning – This is a newer platform to me, but it has some powerful features: Multiple language support, response options including text, sort, MC, open ended, numeric, Likert and even drawings! Ask questions on the fly, or set up a series of quiz questions. Sign up and use for FREE! Once you have an account teachers login here, and students head to your class here.

Socrative – Free online web-based student response system for quick quizzes that can gather student responses from anywhere they have a computer, laptop or any web-enabled device. Once you sign up for an account, students will access your quiz questions by going to & entering your room number.

Poll Everywhere – Also a type of student response system, also free to educators, but allows students to respond to questions or vote with a text/SMS message from any cell phone (standard text message rates apply for responses). Poll questions can be embedded into a PowerPoint slide show as well. Head to my page to vote online:

Sep 182013

OnTrack Section #: 66444, Course #: 59223

Thanks for having me at E-Valley today to work with you on your Chromebooks and implementing and paperless workflow with you and your students. Take a look at the links below for the needed resources for this training:

Sep 182013

A colleague of mine has been asked to help a school out with writing on the iPad, and asked if I had any suggestions for great writing apps. It’s a good question, and there are MANY options to consider. It all depends on your budget, what features you need, and what sort of experience you are looking for.

As far as any apps that will help with the mechanics of writing, I don’t really have any suggestions. I would be interested to see if anyone knows of any apps out there that would help with that.

Evernote is a first obvious choice. It’s not just a note taking app, and it has a lot of great features that students can utilize for research and writing in general. I’ve written about it on my blog – check it out for more info. Evernote and an Evernote account are free. There may be an issue if the writers are under 13 years old…

The next obvious choice is Pages, Apple’s word processing and page layout app. This one is expensive ($9.99, $4.99 for 20+ copies through Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program) but it is the best thing out there for writing on the iPad, hands down.

Google Drive is a fantastic (and free) solution if the district/school you are working with has adopted the Google Apps Domain for teacher/student email and all of the other great additions that come along. If not, this will work if students can create and access a regular GMail account as well. You can do some amazing collaborative things with Google Drive. The one big drawback for Drive right now is that you can not create or edit a presentation on an iPad. I’m sure that ability is coming soon.

I’ve not used it, but many are suggesting PlainText for a free, stripped down, bare bones writing app on the iPad. Sometimes a simple bare bones app is a good thing. I think many times teachers and students get hung up and focus too much on what the document looks like, and less on the content and ideas. It’s much easier to fuss with fonts than to perfectly phrase a thought, and so that’s what they spend time, focus and energy on. PlainText also saves/syncs with Dropbox, so that’s nice.

CloudOn would not be my first choice, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. It’s basically Microsoft Office on the iPad for free. You can save documents directly on the iPad, or you can connect to other Cloud storage systems (Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, & SkyDrive). The drawback is that you must have an Internet connection to use it – you are basically connecting to a virtual server running the desktop version of Office somewhere in the cloud. I personally don’t like the clutter of Word/Office, but many people love and want Office on the iPad.

I’ve really been enjoying Drafts lately for it’s ease of use and flexibility, but it costs as well ($3.99). When you launch Drafts, you are presented with a blank document and a blinking cursor – no hoops to jump through to start writing. Each ‘draft’ is saved, listed in the left sidebar, accessed by a swipe. Then, when you are ready to do something with your draft, swipe from right to left to show the myriad of sharing/saving options.

The last one I’ll mention is Quip. This is relatively new and I have not had much of a chance to put it through it’s paces. It comes from some very smart people (developed by ex Facebook CTO) and has been built from the ground up to work with mobile devices. It’s a little quirky with some new gestures and such, but looks like a really good tool.

Sep 102013

A good friend of mine suggested that I take a look at the learning platform that TED-Ed ( has developed for teachers. It is a powerful platform that helps teachers (or administrators, or students – anyone, really) to take ANY video from TED or YouTube and easily turn it into a flipped lesson that learners can view and do anywhere, anytime they have access to a browser.

Take a look at the TED-Ed Overview video.

First, TED-Ed offers pre-made lessons on just about any subject for you to use with your classrooms. You can also browse by Series to see other thought-provoking lessons. You can use each lesson as-is, or you can flip them to customize the instructions, questions and resources to fit your lesson.

If you can’t find something there that you need, you can ‘Find & Flipany video on TED or from YouTube. Search for the video you need, preview it, and then Flip it!

You will now start to build a lesson based on this video:

  • Give it a title of your choice
  • Let’s Begin… – State the learning objective or intended outcomes, introduce the topic and video
  • Watch – Students watch the video
  • Think – Create up to 15 different multiple choice &/or open answer questions about the content. You can even set video time code hints to help your students out.
  • Dig Deeper – Point your students to other web content, provide notes, or link them back to your class Web site or any other online resource.
  • Discuss – allows for interactive discussion on the video

Once you are done, Finish the Flip and you’ll get a custom URL to your lesson. This will allow you and your students to track their progress and how they have done on each lesson.

This learning platform is incredibly easy to use and has some amazing potential. It would even be a great tool for students to build their own projects to peer-tutor other students on any topic.

And… If the video does not exist on TED or YouTube, you can always record your own to upload and use for a lesson!

Sep 042013

Quite often, questions that teachers ask me turn into great ideas for a new blog post. Today, I was asked how to embed an existing PowerPoint presentation into a Google Site. Excellent question!

The screencast below will show you the steps to do this. The bullet points are:

  • Upload your existing PowerPoint presentation file to Google Drive, converting it to the Presentation Drive file type
  • In your site, create a new ‘Web Page’ type page, or edit an existing page of the same type.
  • Under the ‘Insert’ menu, select Drive –> Presentation and choose the newly uploaded and converted presentation.
  • Edit the settings/properties to your liking, Save the insert, then save the page.