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Monday, February 12, 2018

Internet Safety Lessons + Grammarly + Google Image Search Tools

Common Sense Media Lessons

A recent blog from the online resource Common Sense Media highlighted 4 great lesson plans for internet safety. These are fantastic, ready-made lessons that can help you continue conversations around digital citizenship with students of any age.

There is a quick summary of each below, and you can click on the title to access the lesson itself. You do need to create a Common Sense Media account, but it only takes moments to do so.

Going Places Safely (K-2)

It is never too early to start talking to students about being safe online. In this lesson, students can learn how to think of using the internet as going on a field trip. This metaphor helps drive discussion built around 3 smart rules to keep them safe.
    • Always talk to your parent (or teacher) first.
    • Only talk to people you know.
    • Stick to the places that are just right for you.

Talking Safely Online (3-5)

As students grow up they will most likely have more unsupervised time using technology at home and/or at school. This lesson hits home the idea of personal information, and how we should never give it out online. This lesson helps students think about the difference between online and in-person friends.

Safe Online Talk (6-8)
Bullying can be amplified on the internet with social media, chat rooms, and other online messaging forums. This lesson is built around a video called, “Perspectives on Chatting Safely Online,” in which teens share personal advice to help drive the discussion.

Risky Online Relationships (9-12)
This lesson for high school students offers tips and guidance on staying safe in the digital world. It points out the potential risks and encourages thoughtful online behavior when dealing with relationships online.

Grammarly Chrome Extension

We all write important things each day. E-mails, feedback to students, or other forms of communication. Grammarly is a great Chrome Extension that can help you make sure everything looks good before you hit send. The extension can fix hundreds of complex grammatical errors with ease. I know it has saved me multiple times.

Add it from the Chrome Web Store by clicking here.

Google Image Search Tips

Many of us or our students use Google Images for all sorts of different reasons. Did you know that there are a bunch of built-in tools that can help find exactly what you are looking for?

When searching, if you click on “Tools” in the bottom right of the search bar, some different options will become available.

  • Size: You can search for large, medium, icon (perfect square pictures), or set the exact dimensions you need.
  • Color: Find images of a certain color, black and white, or transparent so you don’t have those pesky white background squares.
  • Type: You can filter to only see images that are faces, photos, clip art, line drawings, or animated GIFs (yes please!)
  • Time: Find a photo that was recently published or on a certain date.
  • Usage rights: This one is you can filter photos that you can legally reuse or modify. It's how I got the images for this tech tip :-)

Please contact your Digital Learning Specialist if you would like additional information on anything mentioned above.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Hyperdocs and Seesaw

Hyperdocs are not docs with links! They are an amazing tool for differentiation, scaffolding and student choice. Here is a video explaining hyperdocs. Here is a website with samples of hyperdocs.

Here are some WBL hyperdocs being used in professional development and in 5th grade work.

5th Grade Word Work Hyperdoc- Thank you Megan Hibbard
5th Grade Food Webs
Teacher Questioning Professional Development Hyperdocs- Thank you Kim Rasch

Wait Time HyperDoc
Follow-Up to Deepen Thinking HyperDoc
All Respond HyperDoc
Capability to Answer HyperDoc
Hyperdocs are an effective teaching practice for all grade levels and for professional development. Have a hyperdoc you would like to share? Please provide a link in this form. If you would like to see other WBL hyperdocs click on this link. Check back often.

*Want to learn more about HyperDocs?

The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps by Lisa Highfill


Elementary Teachers:

WBLAS has purchased the paid version of Seesaw for Schools. Seesaw is a learning journal that our students will use to capture artifacts of learning in real time as well as a way to communicate with families. This version also has opportunities for assessment and data collection.

We know many of you have already been using Seesaw as your student learning journal and parent communication story. The excitement among teachers has been amazing!

If you had a SeeSaw account setup with your email your SeeSaw class and roster have been merged over to the paid version of SeeSaw. If you DO NOT have a SeeSaw account one will be created for you this week. When you sign in to Seesaw, all your class information will be ready for you to view as well as your class roster.

Among many of the benefits of the paid version is that student portfolios will travel with our students year to year, class to class.

Important details: You will receive an email from Seesaw with directions to sign in to your Seesaw account. It’s important that you click the link in your email and are able to sign in. Please use your staff email address and set your own Seesaw for Schools password. Please make this your google sign in. Sign in with Google whenever possible. Download the Seesaw Class iOS or Android app on your devices. On your desktop or Chromebook please sign in through the Classlink app.

You can visit for getting started tips and ideas for any grade level. Your DLS would love to meet with you and talk about how you can best use Seesaw in your classroom. Check out the Getting Started Guide for your grade level for ideas on how to introduce students to Seesaw.These interactive guides were created to help our teachers and students be successful and learn to use Seesaw independently. Watch for additional WBLAS PD opportunities.

This is an exciting opportunity for our students to enhance their learning through Seesaw’s built-in tools. I hope Seesaw will help continue building our school community and strengthen our connection between the walls of our classrooms and home.

Monday, January 29, 2018

5 Communication Tips for Educators

The Technology Department in White Bear Lake Area Schools uses the Four C’s as a lens for transforming classrooms and preparing students for the 21st century workforce. Communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking are important skills for both teachers and students and this week’s Tuesday Tech Tip is all about communication.

Quickly Link to Other Pages

Have you ever created a hyperlink? Don’t you hate highlighting the words you’d like to turn into a link, right-clicking, and selecting “Link” from the dropdown menu? Isn’t there an easier way?

Good news, reader! There is!

CTRL+K is the keyboard shortcut for creating links. Highlight however you like (double-click on a word to highlight it or triple-click on a word to highlight the whole paragraph), press CTRL+K, then paste (CTRL+V) the web address you’d like to link to.

It’s that easy!

Store Pre-Typed Responses in Gmail

Do you find yourself typing the same message over and over in emails? Do you get a question all the time that always has the same answer? Then canned responses are for you!

  1. Go to your Gmail Settings (gear icon in the top right), then select Settings
  2. Click Labs at the top of the screen
  3. Scroll to “Canned Responses” and click the “Enable” radio button
  4. Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page
Now that you’ve enabled canned responses, it’s time to create and use some of them.
  1. In a new email, click the “More options” arrow in the bottom right corner
  2. Select “Canned responses,” then “New canned response…”
  3. Type the message you’re tired of typing all the time and click “OK”
Whenever you’d like to insert this message, click the “More options” arrow and select it--no more typing that phrase!

This article has pictures of the process if you’d like those as well.(Fun fact: I triple-clicked on that sentence, pressed CTRL+K and CTRL+V and made it into a link. So easy.)

Safely Call and Send Text Messages to Parents

Does your work with students sometimes require you to call or send text messages? Do you want to keep your cell phone number private?

Fret no longer! You can send and receive text messages and phone calls with a Google Voice phone number that is not your actual cell phone number! Please only use your district account--never a personal Google account!

Set up a Google Voice account
Use Google Voice with Hangouts

There are more than two steps, but it’s relatively straightforward. If you run into any issues along the way, you can always contact your DLS!

Create Simple Animated Instructions

Do you have a short set of instructions you give all the time? Do you wish you could play it endlessly in a loop forever and ever?

Now you can!

With FlipAnim, you can create flipbooks for fun and function. Are you teaching a sequence in math? Put each step on a different frame. Are your students taking a test and silently reading at the end? Remind them of the steps with an animated GIF (pronounced however you want, I won’t fight you on it). Are you making a flipbook? Make a flipbook! Here’s a simple animation I created:

Boost Your Typing Speed

Do you still hunt and peck with two fingers? Do you stare at the keyboard? There’s no shame in it! It’s not too late for you to learn--just bust out that growth mindset! is a wonderful resource for you and your students to practice your typing skills. You can create a free account to show you where your fingers go and sequentially introduce new keys as your skills improve. Plus it’s full of fun typing games you and your students will love. If you really want to make it fun, consider creating a Typing Speed Leaderboard with your school’s staff. Students get a big kick out of being able to type faster than their teachers! You can all take the same typing test to see how you stack up.

That’s all for this week! The next communication lesson will be on brevity. But not today.

Monday, January 22, 2018

MAP scores in Illuminate, Instructional Reading Levels in Illuminate, and Camera Option back in Google

Searching for MAP scores in Illuminate
Here are two ways to access MAP scores now that they are getting integrated into Illuminate.

Method 1: Access all of your students’ scores at once
Step 1: Click on “view reports” tile.

Step 2: Search for the report called “2018 MAP”.

All of the students you have access to will display their name and both MAP scores (as they're entered).

Method 2: Access individual student scores

Step 1: Click the Search for a Student tile.

Step 2: Search for your student by name, ID, etc. and click Search. Click on the student's name.

Step 3: Click on Quick Nav, then select Student Profile.

Step 4: Scroll down the screen until you see the Custom Report widget.
It should default to MAP Scores 2015-2018 and your student's scores will show up there as they're entered.
Note: this student's math score is in Illuminate, but his reading score is not.

Here is a document that was sent out to elementary principals that explains Data Walls and MAP Reports. Reports called Data Walls have been created to enable elementary teachers to see side-by-side seasonal interim assessment data.

Instructional Reading Levels in Illuminate

Did you know you can enter your own data into Illuminate?
These are instructions for entering your students’ Instructional Reading Level into Illuminate.  
Once this data is in Illuminate, you may pull it into other reports or data walls.

1. From the main page of Illuminate (not dashboard) select View Assessments
2. Search for “Instructional Reading Levels”
3. Select Instructional Reading Levels, Winter 2018
4. Under Responses, select Enter / Edit
5. Select Current Year 2017-2018
6. Press Find Students
7. Enter your Winter Instructional Reading Level for each student in your class
8. Click Save

Here is a document you can save to your Drive that will walk you through the steps.

Taking a picture in Google
You can once again take a snapshot photo right from your computer in Google Docs, Slides and Drawings!

Please contact your Digital Learning Specialist if you would like additional information on anything mentioned above.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Increasing student engagement with Poll Everywhere + Upgrading your digital assignments by adding comments

Image result for poll everywhere

Audience response system

Poll Everywhere is an audience response system that fits seamlessly into the Google Slides presentations that you're already using. Audience submissions appear live in Google Slides, so teachers can check for understanding or gather data in the moment.

Great ways to use Poll Everywhere:
  • Use poll everywhere as a warm-up by asking a question like, "In three words or less, what is occupying your brain right now?"
  • Encourage collaboration and promote higher-level thinking with a crowdsourced Q&A that lets the students upvote the best entries to the top.
  • Add live audience engagement to your direct instruction and give all students equitable access to a response.
  • Gather the main ideas of a large audience with divergent solutions to complex problems by generating a word cloud response. 
  • Check for comprehension, gauge the temperature of the room, or host a real-time voting ballot. 

To see other ways to amplify the functionality of Google Slides, check out our previous post on recent slide updates, the Pear Deck add-on, and the Unsplash add-on.

Image result for g suite

Make a copy (with comments)

Google Docs has a new feature that, with a little tweaking, can give teachers new ways to provide support for students in their assignments. When you make a copy of a Google Doc, you are now able to also copy any comments that are in the document. This can be a creative way to proactively provide additional resources, links, and assistance to your students in their projects. Teachers may include comments with additional directions, hyperlinks to resources, voice recordings from the teacher, or a checklist of items for the student to resolve. 

For more details, including step by step directions, check out this blog post from Eric Curts

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Alternatives to Flash + The New Google Calendar

Find Alternatives to Flash Websites and Applications

The Chrome browser is progressing towards not supporting Flash in favor of supporting HTML5. This means that websites and applications that run on Flash will not function well or at all on the Chromebooks. Please begin finding alternatives to these websites and applications. You may also contact the publisher of the content and request that they switch to HTML5. Your DLS will also support you in finding solutions.

Google provided this statement:

Adobe Flash Player played a pivotal role in the adoption of video, gaming and animation on the web. Today, sites typically use technologies like HTML5, giving you improved security, reduced power consumption and faster page load times. Going forward, Chrome will de-emphasize Flash in favor of HTML5.

For the full statement, click here.

The New Google Calendar

A fresh look and new features have arrived to Google Calendar to help you manage your time more efficiently and get more done. Click here to learn more about the new layout and features or watch this video!

Finding Calendars in New Calendar

You can add resource calendars (like the GOOGLE EXPEDITIONS calendar) in your Google Calendar. Here are 4 simple steps:

  1. Select the “+” to “add other calendars”. 
  2. Select “Browse resource.” 
  3. Choose your school or “Other.” 
  4. Select the calendar you wish to add.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Student Data Privacy and Winter Reading List

Data Privacy Reminder
We all play a crucial role in student data privacy. Recently, a neighboring district had a data breach scare which comes as a reminder of how important taking a few simple steps can be.

We do not want this to happen in White Bear Lake. Please work hard to protect your passwords and lock your computer whenever you step away.

To lock your computer, simply press ctrl+alt+delete. Your computer will bring up the screen below. Select lock, and your device will be password protected.

On a Chromebook all you need to do is shut the top, and it will automatically lock.

The protection of student data is also why computers are set to go to the password screen after a certain amount of inactivity.

Winter Reading List
The cold winter months can be a great opportunity to grow as an educator. Below you will find some great professional reads along the innovation and educational technology avenue. Click on the title of the book to learn more about it!

by Heather Dowd and Patrick Green

by Dave Burgess

by Alice Keeler and Diana Herrington

by Trevor Mackenzie

by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke

by Matt Miller

Please contact your Digital Learning Specialist if you would like additional information on anything mentioned above.