Instructional Technology Newsletter December 2017

Tis the season for technology

How time flies, it is hard to believe December is here! There is a lot going on with technology district wide. The learning management system Schoology is being piloted by various teachers at the middle and high school. Additionally, Classlink, a single sign on application, is in the midst of its roll out at each building at the elementary level. These are exciting tools that have great potential to support instruction and student achievement.

A reminder to those teachers working on their Google Certification to continue to make progress and jot down notes as you go. There is a lot of information and links that will be helpful later on as you begin to apply some of the skills you have learned during your training. It was helpful to have a doc or notebook to catalog many ideas or copy links for future use. Reminder: the goal is to take the exam by February. Congrats to those teachers who have already passed! Please contact me if you need additional support.

Before visions of sugar plums go dancing through your head take a look at some of the apps and ideas you can try in your classroom before the the year comes to a close! Best wishes to you and your family for the upcoming break, and have a wonderful holiday!

*If anybody at the secondary level is still interested in joining the Schoology pilot please send me an email.

Reminder: Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code 12/4 through 12/10!

Brief video on how computer science is changing how our world works and the value of this knowledge for students. Great video for a discussion with students.

Many excellent resources for coding at various levels can be found at Code.org


Social Learning video APP for engagement and Formative assessment

With Flipgrid the teacher creates a question or topic of discussion from their free Flipgrid account and shares the link with students. Students respond to prompt or question using the webcam on their Chromebook or laptop, no app installation or downloads for students. This is a highly engaging way for students to share their knowledge with virtually any subject matter.

Create ebooks with Google Slides

Have you ever used Google slides to have students create presentations? This same tool can be used to create ebooks. Students at all levels can use their written content (fiction or non-fiction) to create their own ebook with all of visual options and features slides offers to enhance the text, all saved as a PDF file. Have students create their own individual ebook, or use a shared slides presentation to create a class book with each student assigned a page. This is a great way to add engagement and ownership to any writing assignment as a culminating activity. Easily post ebooks on websites for parents or students to view.


A free online tool and modern iteration of a dictionary and thesaurus!

An excellent tool for ELA and word study. To use Visuwords just type a word into the search box and Visuwords will generate a web of related words. Place your cursor over any of the words and the definition appears. Use the color-coded key to understand the connections between the words. http://www.snappywords.com/ offers a similar tool slightly better suited for younger students.

Use NEW Google sites to create class or individual websites using files you already have in Drive!

  • Easy and intuitive, beautiful themes and layouts
  • Use content students have already created in drive and upload seamlessly
  • Try collaboration features for class or group pages
  • Embed forms for feedback on each site or have students use forms to quiz others after visiting their site.
  • Easily share any site via url link

How this tool is being used in PDSD!

"I began using Google Sites in September after a 7th grade student approached me and asked if I would advise a newspaper club that she and group of friends wanted to start. I began looking online and found Google Sites as an option. The “NEW Google Sites” is so user friendly. Students come once a week to our computer lab and once I add them as collaborators, they begin working on their pages of the newspaper. I recommend Google Sites for a way for students to express their creativity, individuality, skills and interests and to contribute to a positive school environment!"

-Mr. Kevin Siegel 7th Grade Guidance Counselor NMS

Please take a look at our first newsletter (you must be logged into pdsdstudents to see it). https://sites.google.com/pdsdstudents.org/northley7thgradestudentnews/home.


Teachers or students can take images and link sections to other media, sites, or videos by tagging. This is can be an engaging tool for instruction or have students curate their own thinglinks as a project or to review content showing their knowledge. All thinglinks can be easliy shared via url. Currently free, but it seems terms may be changing for student accounts for a modest fee.

Tech up your Twitter feed with some of these edtech must follow handles

Tech Tip


When looking for a YouTube video to show you how to do something, especially using a program or something technology oriented, use the advanced settings in the Chrome browser to limit results to the most recent posts. There is nothing worse then watching outdated how to videos on programs that now look very different. Save time, stay current with advanced search!

Here is how

Once you type in your search, choose settings on the right hand side.

Choose advanced from the drop down options under settings. Look for the line last updated. Highlighted in yellow below. I recommend not allowing results older than 1 year.

Click advanced and results will appear based on the time or filters you chose.

Happy HOlidays!

As always, let me know how I can help with technology and your classroom. I know there is a lot of information to explore in these newsletters, all newsletters are achieved on my site, click the button below to view

Cgorniok@pdsd.org or call x8318

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday break!

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