Slides Carnival

Slides Carnival is a wonderful free template gallery for Google Slides users that scaffolds the process of creating an effective slide show for users. All Slides Carnival templates contain the same slides and options, but different formatting, colors, fonts and layout. They are also all customizable. Unfortunately, Slides Carnival shows advertisements and does not allow downloads when on the iPad.

So, I added all the templates into a Google Folder and am happy to share them with anyone in the district. Please just click “Add to Drive” and once you have selected a Slides template that you like, go to File, Make a Copy.


Nearpod Collaborate

Nearpod has recently come out with a new feature allowing students to engage in an online conversation within the Nearpod presentation, called Collaborate.

Want to learn more? Check out Nearpod’s blog to find out more.

Collaborate can be used to ask students questions, and see each other’s anonymous responses in real-time. Students can respond to a teacher prompt either in writing and/or with an image.

If you’re a regular Nearpod user this can add another element to allow student voice in the presentation of information, without having to leave the app. This is also a feature that can be used for teachers wanting to engage students in an online discussion, with the safety of a closed community.

We’d love to see a presentation you create using this feature.

This week 5th grade students at Burlington Elementary were busy creating books about the early explorers.  They spent time examining who the explorers were their aims, obstacles and accomplishments as well as the impact exploration had on Native Americans. In this learning activity students worked on the skills of paraphrasing and using textual evidence.  Students were broken into groups of three to create a section of a book, once each section was complete Ms. Rovnak compiled the work into two class books. Check out their creations below!


Kapow! Remixing the Superhero Myth

LiamThe dashing and muscular young man flying in to save a damsel in distress is an image that has woven its way into the fabric of American culture.  Karen Ranglos of NHS challenged her students to think about this myth and the significance it has in modern day society.  After studying various parts of Marvel comics she challenged her 9th grade students to change this myth by remixing an existing hero and story to better represent a part of American culture that is under-represented.  Students both worked on changing the physical stereotypes of their superhero as well as remixing a part of the story.  Students then spent time analyzing the complex question of, so what?  How did these changes alter the story and why does that matter?

Stay tuned to see examples of the students’ remixed comics.



Schoology round-up

schoology logoIt has been a pretty remarkable first year for Schoology in St. Vrain. In this post I’ll go over some of the highlights and what to get ready for next year.


End of Year Best Practice (BACKUP YOUR COURSE)

It is time to start thinking about packing up your Schoology course and getting it ready for next fall. Bradley Kemp at Schoology made a very concise video explaining the process and you can use this Google Doc to step you through the process as well.


The gradebook in Schoology got an overhaul this year, and added some nice features. But, the biggest question is ‘will the Schoology gradebook sync with the Infinite Campus gradebook’? Unfortunately, that answer is still no and that isn’t going to change for next year either. While there have been some positive steps in that direction, Schoology doesn’t plan on having a working demo ready before 2017 and even then, there questions about if this could be a nightly sync or just and end of term sync.


Here are some numbers from the last 7 months:

  • 743,132 assignments have been turned in via Schoology
  • 542,637 file uploads
  • 43 Million page views

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 2.34.09 PM

All Grade Courses

Next year each school will have the option to establish an ‘All Grade’ course. This course would have all the students for a particular grade enrolled in it for that school year. These courses were created to meet the needs expressed by our counseling staff to reach students on time sensitive items and to deliver specific resources. The All Grade courses also address the issue in our Elementary schools of teachers needing to have access to students not assigned to them in their AM Attendance of Infinite Campus. The elementary grade level teachers will be instructors of these courses and the building counselors will be the instructors in the secondary courses.

To establish these courses next Fall the Secondary registrars will need to use the IC ‘Scheduling Wizard’ and Elementary registrars will need to contact Lorraine Baxter or Karen Edwards at the helpdesk.

MacBook Summer Care & Learning

Before you head off to some grand adventure, we hope you’ll pause and consider how to best care for your MacBook over the summer. Also included in this post are resources to learn more about using your laptop.

Considerations to best care for your MacBook:
  • Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 1.49.55 PMIf you’re not going to be using the laptop for awhile we suggest you shut it down with at least 50-90% of battery power.
  • Just like our bodies, MacBooks don’t like to be in extreme temperatures. If you need to leave the laptop in your car shut it down first.
  • When traveling, ensure that you are keeping the laptop in it’s case.
  • If your laptop is lost or stolen over the break you’ll need to contact your administrator, they might need a reminder that they’ll need to submit a ticket for it.
  • To best care for the content on your MacBook, back up your data.
Here are some resources for you to learn more about navigating your MacBook:



5 Links Monday on Tuesday May 10th, 2016

So somehow it is May, and there are only 11 days with students left in the year! Here are my favorite links from this week:

1.) Collin Rickman and Mike O’Toole team up to bring low cost microscopes to his science classroom!Using the lens from a laser pointer and some plexiglass, Collin’s students build microscopes with the same magnification of $300 models for a mere $11! Video below!

2.) 5 Ways to Put Students in the Driver’s Seat
Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 1.24.50 PM
This blog post is a great summer read as you think about ways you can structure your class next year to give students more agency!

3.) After hearing that he was going to be replaced on the $20 bill, I did a google search for “Andrew Jackson” and found this gem: Andrew Jackson had a pet parrot that had to be taken out of his funeral for cursing loudly. Great article confirming this story here!

4.) Nuzzel!

While I really love Twitter when I have time to stay up on it, I often get overwhelmed by all I “missed” when I go a few days without checking it. That is why I’ve been so impressed with a free new service (and iOS App) Nuzzel. Nuzzel was created to “solve the problems of social overload.” It aggregates links shared by your friends and serves as a “finely honed news filter.” Link it to your twitter and give it a shot!

5.) Blue Origin’s landing! This GoPro footage of a spacecraft descending through earth’s atmosphere and landing 300,000 feet below was awesome! Check out this video here to see how fast it was coming in from another point of view.

5 Links Monday (on Tuesday 4.26.2016)

Happy last week of April!! We all know what that means…testing should be close to completed and about a month left of school!

Link 1: Due to the fast approaching end of the school year, my first link will be about Summer 2016 Tech Camp for all SVVSD educators. Your fellow teachers will be sharing how they are integrating technology into their daily practice – please come collaborate, plan and share your ideas with them!! Camp will be hosted by Longmont HS the first week in June. Click on each of the links below for more information and registration.

Link 2: I thoroughly appreciated this 11 minute podcast hosted by Vicki Davis titled THE JOURNEY FROM “JUST AWFUL” TO GREAT TEACHER: Taking the Leap of Faith with 39-year Veteran Teacher Lou Zulli. I found it refreshingly honest and motivating and I encourage everyone to listen. He reflects back on his experiences and feelings about transitioning from a very traditional teacher (Bueller…Bueller…) to Project Based Learning.

Link 3: How do you grow hydroponic spinach? You were wondering that too, particularly during times of e-coli outbreaks where it is impossible to find spinach anywhere? Well, now you know. Be forewarned: there is a recipe provided at the end that you can ignore. How can we get more students involved in knowing where their food comes from as well as creating food sources in areas depleted of nutrients?

Link 4: Having students explain their thinking was critical to me as a science teacher- it helped me determine what pre-conceived notions were insides students’ brains and what scientific concepts they understood or needed more work on. While this post from David Wees is for making mathematical ideas explicit, I find that it applies to many other content areas.

Link 5: Quiet Hour. I love this so much. What can we do as educators to ensure that students with specific needs can feel safe in the classroom or outside at recess or the library or cafeteria?