Archives for March 2014

Google Tip: Shortcuts Rule!

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 5.51.27 PMHave you ever wanted to know something really, really fast when doing a Google search? I know I have! The thing I’ve been most curious about is earthquakes. My husband always feels them and I rarely do. When he asks, “Did you feel that? We just had an earthquake,” I never believe him. But now there’s a quick and easy way for him to prove himself right! Not only that, but there’s a quick and easy way to find information about many different things in Google using these shortcuts.

Give it a Try

Go to Google in your favorite search engine. My favorite happens to be Chrome. Type in earthquakes, and you should see this!

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Traveling soon? Type in your flight information. You can also find out what time it is in your destination.

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Need to know money conversion rates for upcoming travel?

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Do you cook or bake? I love cooking but sometimes I can’t find my teaspoons. I always wonder how many teaspoons I’d need to make a tablespoon. Check this out— and the little arrows allow you to change any of the value types so you can convert any measurement (not just in the kitchen!).

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Type in an arithmetic problem (or the word, calculator) and, guess what? You’ll get a calculator.

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Wondering how your stock is doing?

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Feeling bored? Type in the name of any celebrity and “bacon no.” You don’t need the quotation marks. I have yet to find any celebrity that has a Bacon number of more than 2. That’s insane! (and no, I won’t tell you how long I spent doing this today…)

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Is This All?

I could go on and on. You can use find the weather forecast, sports scores, upcoming movie times at your favorite theater, word translations, driving directions, health conditions, restaurants in the area, anything! I was reminded of these shortcuts this weekend at the Annual CUE Conference. Thanks to Brandon Wislocki, who demonstrated these awesome shortcuts at the Google in Education West Coast Summit and at the CUE conference.

What Do You Think?

Do you know of any other shortcuts that aren’t listed here? More importantly, have you found a celebrity that has a larger-than-two Bacon Number?

Fair Use and Copyright– Day 1 Standout Session at #cue14

I attended a couple of sessions today at the Computer Using Educators (CUE) Conference. The standout of the day for me was ,“Can I Use That? Teaching Fair Use to the Remix Generation,” presented by Gail Desler of Elk Grove USD and Kelly Mendoza of Common Sense Media. I know it doesn’t sound like much fun, but the session was entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking.

What Is Fair Use?

The Constitution of the United States provides the government the right to create a copyright system to “promote creativity, innovation, and the spread of knowledge.” In 1976, Congress passed the Copyright Act, which provides rights to copyright owners. The Copyright Act includes Section 107, The Doctrine of Fair Use, which states that “fair use of a copyrighted work is not an infringement of copyright.” Fair Use actually promotes a more creative society. However, teachers and students need to understand what is considered Fair Use of a copyrighted work. Now, I could go on and on about Fair Use and how to determine whether a student’s work (or your work!) falls under Fair Use, but there are others that do a much better job than I can. Presenters Gail and Kelly provided a Google Site with a great number of resources from their presentation. You can see all of their resources here:

I would suggest visiting the website. It provides an overview of how a creator licenses his or her work, which basically means little icons that tell others how they can use what they find on the Internet.

Also—did you know that you can do a Google Image search and filter results by level of permission? Check this out:


What Does This Mean for Teachers?

It is absolutely critical that we teach students to be Digital Citizens. There are curricula that help to guide your lessons, so you don’t have to start from scratch. We live in a file sharing, copy-paste age and it is so easy for students to just use someone else’s work. Students need to know how to provide attribution to sources when they use images or music. They need to understand how much of a work they can use and for what purpose. They also need to be able to find channels to ask permission of the people who created the work they want to use. This is tough—but if a student is going to create a project that gets shared on the Internet, they must follow Fair Use.

Common Core Connection

Technology is embedded in the Common Core State Standards. There are some standards, however, that explicitly state what students need to do using technology. The level to which students must do this varies by grade level, but starting in Grade 5, students need to begin adding multimedia components to their presentations. The Anchor Standard for Speaking and Listening states the following:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

If students are required to do this, students and teachers alike need to understand and practice Fair Use.

What Do You Think?

What curriculum do you use to teach your students about Digital Citizenship? How in-depth do you go? Would you say that your students are good Digital Citizens?

Listen to Students with SoundCloud

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 8.44.39 PMI recently came across some old cassette tapes from my very first year of teaching. Surprisingly, I was able to find a cassette player so I could discover what was on them. It turns out, it was recordings of my ESL students reading. Such nostalgia!

I believe it was always beneficial for my students to record themselves reading so they could listen and reflect on their fluency, but cassettes are so 1997. I’m glad that I can now recommend apps to teachers for this purpose, and the app I recommend most is SoundCloud.

Why SoundCloud?

I have a few free apps on my iPad for recording audio. There are several reasons why I like SoundCloud:

  • When a recording is made, it doesn’t take long before it is available on the web for others to listen to.
  • The recording can be private or public, and it is given a URL so that it can be easily shared or embedded into another website.
  • SoundCloud works seamlessly with Thinglink, as well, so it allows students to easily create multimedia projects on the iPad.

How Does it Work?

Using Soundcloud is as simple as pushing record. Students open the app and at the bottom is a small orange “rec” button.


As soon as they press the button, a larger record screen opens. There are instructions on the page that tells students what to do.IMG_0696

Students can pause if they wish, and then continue recording. IMG_0698

After the recording is finished, students can save it privately or publicly. It will save under the menu called “You.” When you click on that, you will find your recording under “Your Sounds.” Students are able to send their private sound via email or they can share the private link on Web sites such as Thinglink. Saving privately allows students to control what happens to the sound; it isn’t shared on anyone’s sound stream. IMG_0699

Students aren’t limited to sharing their own sounds. They can also listen to sounds that others have made public. Here’s a blog post by Nick Grantham( with some examples of what students might want to listen to.

Common Core Connection

The Common Core State Standards include Reading Foundational Skills for students in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. You can read the fifth grade standards here: I chose to include fifth grade, but at each grade level, the standards state that students need to read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. Reading aloud, listening back to oneself, and then reflecting on the fluency can help students improve in this area. SoundCloud is an app that helps students do this.

SoundCloud also helps students develop the following Speaking and Listening Anchor Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Students are also able to work on the following Anchor Standards for Language:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3: Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

What Do You Think?

How have you used SoundCloud in the classroom? How do your students share their Sounds?


Photo Fun with Pic Collage

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 7.15.57 PMI’m sure you’ve seen photo collages on Facebook or on Instagram, and you may have wondered what app the person used to put together the collage. There are a few collage apps in the App Store. The one that I think works best for students in any grade level is Pic Collage. If you are unfamiliar with Pic Collage, it’s like a digital version of an old-school collage where you took a bunch of photos and glued them down to a poster board in a fun and artsy way.

How Is It Used?

Pic Collage is easy for little fingers to use. It starts by choosing a blank canvas. Students can also check out the template gallery from this view (see the cat?).

IMG_0641 Students can add photos from the camera or from the photo roll, or from the Web. They can also add text and stickers.IMG_0643

At any time, the layout can be changed from free-form to a pre-determined layout or vice-versa. Students can also change the background at the same time. Students can add up to nine photos to any collage and there about 14 different layouts available. That doesn’t include the pre-designed templates that students can also use. IMG_0644

Students can save their collages to the camera roll (in addition to posting it to Pic Collage, Facebook or Twitter), which means they have control over how it’s used. They can import it into a different app for “app smashing” or they can send it to someone special.

Common Core Connection

There are a couple of standards that Pic Collage helps students to address, but more than the standards, it helps students develop a number of the 7 Cs. Using Pic Collage helps students meet the following Speaking and Listening Standard:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5: Make strategic use of digital media and digital displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

It can also help students achieve CCSS.ELA-Writing.CCRA.L.5: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

In addition to the Common Core Standards, Pic Collage is a great tool for communication, creativity, and critical thinking. It also helps students develop their visual design skills. Feedback on student work can center around content or the visual design of their collage (especially if they use free-form).

What Do You Think?

How have you used Pic Collage in the classroom?

Safety First! How to Filter Google Searches on the iPad

Attachment-1It’s pretty safe to say that teachers want to keep their students safe while they are on the Web. We teach our students appropriate online behavior, we teach them never to share personal information on social networks, and we teach them to be good digital citizens. In addition, school districts have filtering systems that help keep students from inappropriate content when they are searching on the computers. Sometimes, though, unsavory images and content get through filters. This video shows how to set up another level of safety when using the iPads by turning on Safe Search in two different Web browsers.