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?

5 Links Monday (On Tuesday 4/19)

Welcome back to 5 Links!

Link #1 – Autodizactic

Zac Chase and Ben Wilkoff, Director of Personalized Professional Learning in DPS, are engaging in a virtual discussion #LifeWideLearning16 about education, life and on simply being human. Each day Ben and Zac pose questions to each other and respond openly and thoughtfully on their blogs.  Their discussion is a great example of digital discourse.  See Ben’s responses to Zac’s questions at Learning is Change.

Link #2 – American Panorama 

The University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab created a set of digital maps for the “American Panorama” project.  Currently the set includes four maps, The Forced Migration of Enslaved People, The Overland Trails, Foreign Born Population and Canals.  A great way to get a dynamic and visual representation of various parts of American History.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 1.17.18 PM

Link #3 – PeaceCorp Lesson Plans and More

I wish I had known about this site when I was teaching world studies not only does it have lesson plans created by former volunteers but it includes rich photographs from the field and letters and stories written by volunteers during their time of service.  Each resource is equipped with great narrative and detail by the volunteer who took the photo, wrote the story or created the lesson plan.

Halloween Chadian Style - visit the site to see a more detailed description
Halloween Chadian Style – visit the site to see a more detailed description

Link #4 – Parallax News

Parallex News offers three differing viewpoints on current policy issues.  A great place to see how presidential primary candidates  or policymakers view different issues.

Link #5 – Erik Weihenmayer’s Journey to Everest

I have always been fascinated by those who have the physical and emotional strength to climb Everest.  In this video blog viewers can follow Erik Weihenmayer’s journey to summit Everest.  What makes his journey even more remarkable is that Weihenmayer is the first blind person to successful reach the summit.  Thanks to Science Coordinator Mike O’Toole for this awesome resource.



5 Links Monday (on Tues. 4/12/16)

Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope it was exactly what you needed. In these 5 links you’ll find the thing Erik Black recently printed, the biggest U.S data visualization site, an easy way to have online articles read aloud to you, teacher inspiration from Apple and more. Enjoy!

Link #1 – Adhesives Reference Chart (and a bonus link)

Erik Black, who “never” prints things out, did print this Adhesives Chart and shared it with our team. With this chart you won’t need to wonder if that felt cutout will fall off the styrofoam block, or if you can even make those two materials stick. This chart not only shows what materials can stay together, but the sticky stuff that will make them stay together. If you’d prefer a different way to find out this information, and more information about adhesives check out this site.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 1.29.31 PM

Link #2 – Narro – Listen to Articles

This link had me jumping up and down for joy! If you or your students would benefit from listening to an article use Narro to create a podcast playlist that will read the articles to you/them. Once you create an account you can paste the URL of the article you want to listen to onto your home page. This will add the article to your feed which you can listen to on the website or add the feed to your favorite podcast app to listen to on the go. If you add this address  to your podcast app you’ll see a couple of the articles I’ve added: Note: You must create an account, so you’d need to consider the District Guidelines for 3rd Party Services if you wanted your students to create their own list. The free version allows for only 15 articles per month.

Link #3 – Data USA

This link is also awesome! Data USA claims to be the most comprehensive website and visualization engine of public US Government data. It not only provides data, but provides stories through the intersection of this data. I can see this site being used to come up with questions about topics they might want to study, and creating a story about their findings. Do you know the most common occupation in the U.S.; clue, if you’re subscribed to this blog you might be in that position. Answer.

One of the interactive graphs.
One of the interactive graphs.

 Link #4 – Apple’s Teacher Inspiration

Many teachers have asked to see examples of how teachers use iPads in the curriculum, here’s a site they might appreciate. This new site provides ideas for teachers and students to get the  most out of the Apple products both in and out of the classroom. This site contains tech tips and videos, stories from the classroom, and several other resources. One of my favorites is using Siri to remind me of things throughout the day.


Link #5 – Collaboration Station

Looking to get your students to collaborate with classrooms beyond the district? Here’s a site recently put together by an educator that’s looking to help make that happen. You can start by filling out the form of what you’d like to do, or you can take a look at what other K-12 teachers are interested in  doing and partner with them.

5 Links Monday on a Tuesday (March 29th, 2016)

Happy last Tuesday of March! Here are my favorite links from the week. Enjoy 🙂

1.) Take a virtual field trip and explore amazing and beautiful satellite imagery from across the globe! While you can use it to quench your curiosity about how big Peyton Manning’s house is, it also has lots of educational uses as it features a “this day in history” portion.

2.) I don’t know what I find most surprising about this story, that there is a lollipop that is actually good for your teeth, that these lollipops were the only candy featured in the annual White House egg roll, or that these lollipops were invented by a 10 year old?!? This story gives even further proof that you can never be too young to start design thinking!

3.) We all know how important it is for our students to develop and master 21st century skills. Many oversimplify their definition of the 21st Century skills to the 4 C’s. (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking) Articles like this show how important grit is to future success! It also makes me feel awesome to know that even JK Rowling has faced rejection!

4.) Last week, Microsoft launched it’s artificially intelligent twitter robot named “Tay”. It was their goal to create a “chat bot designed to engage and entertain through casual and playful conversation.” Other than every Sci-Fi movie in the last 50 years, who could have possibly imagined that AI wouldn’t have stuck to the plan? Unfortunately, within 24 hours this chat bot was taken down, read why hereMicrosoft’s explanation here.

5.) As I finish this last link in the hospital after the birth of my son, I’m excited to think about how his life will be different than mine. One difference that is almost certain,  he will have access to 3d printing both at home and in school. Check out this awesome 3d printer that only costs $99 and uses the light from your smartphone.

5 Links Monday (on Tuesday 3.15.2016)

Happy mid-March teachers!

Link 1: Blogging with 6 year olds…wait, what? Yes. Here’s a great podcast from Kathy Davis about the work Kathy Cassidy is doing to connect her 1st graders in Canada to the rest of the world through Skype and blogs. She addresses great questions regarding internet safety and why young children need digital portfolios . Check out her classroom blog which links to all her kids blogs.

Link 2: This is best thing I’ve read about in months (thank you presidential primary season for destroying my hope in humanity). Creating free 3D printed books for Visually Impaired. Genius. I’m already thinking about ways we can have our students create books and then print them for our VI students. Boom.

better 3d prints for books



Link 3: Fair Use in media is complicated – here is a short video on some ways to appropriately use and credit work. Also, see the article that has a few other great resources for teachers and students.

Link 4: Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? And who doesn’t love David Attenborough’s voice (who is also, dare I say a dinosaur)? Check out this amazing Virtual Reality of the heart of a titanosaur- one of the largest animals ever thought to walk the planet.

For more, go here.

Link 5: How do you get kinder writers to write about something interesting? Use your iPad to take a picture of them doing something either in or outside of the classroom. Then they can go back and look at it, write about it and add more details. A great tip from my professional crush and fellow ADE Kristi Meeuwse.

student work









Image from Kristi’s blog

5 Links Monday on Tuesday March 1st!

1.) I remember learning about leap year in elementary school and immediately feeling sorry for anyone born on that day. As a child, it would be a major bummer to only have your birthday once every 4 years. As I get older, I envy the idea of only having 1 birthday every 4 years. The chances of having a leapday birthday are one in 1,461….better than the powerball I guess. I enjoyed this article packed full of tons of leap year facts.

2.) This picture of our Super Bowl winning QuarterBack will always be one of my favorites. A nagging ankle injury may keep others from studying film, but not the Sheriff!

Manning Studying Film

Peyton is the ultimate student of the game, devoting dozens of hours each week to learning from his mistakes by watching film. Teachers and students in our district study film just like Peyton! This video showcases a few champions in our district doing just that!

3.) Now that all teachers in our district have or are getting laptops- it’s time to share my favorite easy trick: AdBlock Plus! There is nothing worse than having the perfect YouTube video to show to your class, and being delayed by an ad before the video starts. Or how annoying is it when you have a great website you want to show students, but there is an inappropriate banner on the top of the page? Well those problems and more vanish when you install AdBlock Plus as an extension for the Chrome or Safari Browser.

4.)  This website is an awesome way to teach about other areas of the world! If it were my home– allows you to see how your life would be different if a country other than the United States were your home. For example, did you know that you would be 19 times more likely to die in infancy if Afghanistan were your home?

5.) This last link is for my fellow political junkies! Today is of course a Super Tuesday…it can be difficult to keep up with the race towards the general election. This site shows a lot of awesome ways to follow the election on your iPad/iPhone or new Mac. By subscribing to the primary calendars, I get notifications before each state’s primary or caucus. Vote early, vote often.