A Coaching Win…The Story of Kelly Lee

Recently I read a post, one in a series, by Adam Schoenbart titled ‘The Coaching Chronicles: Small Victories, Big Impact‘. It reminded me of a “victory” I had the pleasure of hearing about this week.

A little back story, right around the time I posted ‘A Teacher Inquires…‘, a different teacher in my building, Kelly Lee, reached out to me about doing badging in her 6th grade Science class. She wanted to connect this to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) where the students would answer open-ended questions around Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs). She organized all her materials through a ThingLink, the end step being a Google Form (only accessible to our domain) where the students would answer two questions:

In your own words, how would you describe what makes living things, living?

What evidence can you provide that you, yourself, meet the requirements of something that is living? Explain.

She would then go into the Google Sheet of responses each day, review the answers, and in a column enter a 1 or 0 to signify to FormMule (a Google Sheet add-on) which email template to send.

Earlier this week, she showed me the next badge the students could earn, “Cell Savant”. But she also changed the management side. On her own, Kelly explored how to have the process completely automated. Utilizing the Quiz feature in Google Forms, students answer a series of questions which get automatically graded. An additional column is added to the Google Sheet of responses which utilizes CopyDown (another Google Sheet add-on) to insert a formula [=if(C_=12, 1, 0)]. This 1 or 0 would again be the trigger for FormMule to either send an email with the badge or an email informing the student as to what their score was, resources to look at for a refresher, and the link to submit the Form again. Both email templates also include .gifs of encouragement or congratulations. Hearing this process, which was completely self-directed on Kelly’s part, made this tech coach beam with pride!

So to Kelly, I include your .gif here to show my congratulations to you:


Have you had any coaching/teaching wins this week? I would love to read about them below.

Google Cast for Education

From time to time, I like to recommend different tech tools which I feel can easily be incorporated in classrooms and change the instructional practices of teachers.

One such tool is Google Cast for Education. I can’t describe it any better than the video they created:

In a classroom setting, I can now have students wirelessly share their chromebook screen to my device connected to a projector and guide the class through what they are working on, researching, discovered, created, etc.

Below are screenshot directions I created as a resource (click the link for your own copy) for my teachers:

Have you used Google Cast for Education? Please let me know about your experiences in the comments below.

Halloween Hack 2016

This year’s Halloween Hack, sponsored by CMS’s PRISM Students saw many a variety of activities. They had a maze for you to guide one of their Dash Robots, you could create with candy and toothpicks, a station was setup with a Makey Makey connected to a chromebook, another station was setup with littleBits so students could try connecting various circuit blocks and create. I was even asked to setup a Green Screen station. We used the app Green Screen by Do Ink and placed attendees wherever their heart desired. Embedded below is a sampling of the photos created.

(names and faces have been changed to protect the innocent)

Make sure to check back on the PRISM site to see if they post an after-hack wrap-up.  What did you hack today?

Here’s an Equation: Nearpod + Verso = Engagement

Lately I’ve been working closely with some sixth-grade math teachers.  One upcoming lesson is on ‘Combining Like Terms’. After a previous lesson using Nearpod, one of the teachers wondered would it be possible to combine tools…

She loves how Nearpod allows each student to engage with the material and interact through open-ended responses, multiple choice questions, and draw-its. She wanted to also be able to pose a question and have the students engage in an anonymous dialogue, which Verso allows you to do. So we “smashed” the two tools together! Take a look at the embedded lesson below (one thing to keep in mind, this is set to ‘Homework’ mode which allows you to complete it self-paced; we would be delivering this lesson asynchronously as whole class instruction).

Have you ever smashed tools together for a complete learning experience? I would love to read about it in the comments below.

Taking it to a Whole New Level: Tweet from Class…

Just over a year ago, I posted about streamlining a way to have students post to Twitter via a teacher moderated account. Now this has been great for just text-based posts, but what about images?

Two different teachers reached out to the team (Teacher Resource Specialists for Technology) asking about how they could share images from students through social media. The first one was an art teacher who wanted to share images of student work. She wanted her students to take ownership of submitting the info for a tweet. The second teacher, HS English, wants to have students share book recommendations with the cover of the book.

After some modifications to the original Form, Sheet, & FormMule email template PLUS the switch from posting directly to Twitter, to now using a third party tool TwitShot, anyone can submit a tweet w/ link to an image. ***Must note: this hasn’t worked 100%, some links to images are not readable by TwitShot***

Embedded below are the Form, Sheet, screenshot of the email template through FormMule, an email, the data imported into TwitShot, and the tweet. Now, the teacher only has to read the email message and to approve, click the link in the email to Tweet it out.


Could this be useful for you? Reach out to me if you are interested.

A New Tool (at least for me) to Try!

This year, in addition to being building based (I’m at a middle school) the members of the Teacher Resouce Specialists for Technology (TRST) team and I are also department based. This means I will also be coordinating with the Math & the Science Supervisors to help integrate technology at department meetings, model effective use, and discover new tools with them.

Our Math Supervisor heard about a web tool and wanted to feature it at the next department meeting. We (myself & my colleague Jessica) put together some resources for how to set up a teacher account as well as how to integrate it into instruction. One of my teachers wanted to try it out with her students. So we met ahead of time and developed a lesson. I then came in and team taught the lesson utilizing the tool; we debriefed after the period, and then I stayed for the second period to coach her so she could do the last two periods on her own.

The tool we were using is called Verso, which if you haven’t tried it, take a look (heck it’s free). It allows students to view content then respond to a posted question. The students are viewing everything anonymously while the teacher sees exactly who posted. The students, once they have submitted their response, can then view, reply, like, or flag their fellow respondents. The teacher has a feature where they can group similar responses which could be good for differentiated grouping.

It can be hard to find edtech tools which incorporate into math, but I feel this tool easily fit in. The teacher was amazed by how well the students took to the tool with minimal instructions. We planned this for a lesson on Order of Operations. I created a screencast (below) which the students watched and then they needed to respond to:

When the student looked in the back of the book to check his homework answer, why was it incorrect? Explain using mathematical terms.

A teacher can either respond to students as their self or go into “student mode” and appear as an anonymous classmate. Here is a screenshot of first period’s responses in the Verso dashboard:

1st Period's Verso Dashboard

This gave the teacher the opportunity to see each student’s prior knowledge of Order of Operations. We were able to push the students who understood the topic with questions that delved deeper (i.e. “Is there ever a time where you would do addition before multiplication?”) We also knew which students were going to need a refresher or individualized attention on this topic.

Verso is definitely a tool to check out! Have you used the tool before? If so, please comment below on your experiences with it.