Category Archives: Uncategorized

Book Creator – Chrome!

One of my favorite iPad apps for creating and sharing ebooks, and that of teachers too, is Book Creator. It costs $4.99 and is worth it! However, now Book Creator is available online – free for 1 library, up to 40 books (costs $$ for more libraries and books)! Nothing to download. Not only can students write, illustrate, add photos AND video to their stories, they can also narrate them (fluency)! There is a template for students to create comics. And students can collaborate and combine books from multiple authors! Young Girl Doing Homework And Using LaptopTeachers can become authors too – create an ebook with class photos from field trips, holiday parties, sports, and other school activities. Then share the book with the community and parents with the simple click of a button! I’m writing a book for my Granddaughter this weekend!

Here is an overview video by Book Creator!

Create Your Own 3D World with CoSpaces

This summer, 7 students and I spent a week learning and creating with CoSpaces at our local public library. This site lets you imagine, create, then virtually “walk around in” your created world (with a mobile device and perhaps 3D VR glasses.) You can simply create a space, or tell a story by creating several different scenes and adding narration. To take it even further, you can use the integrated Blockly coding app to make objects move, fly, and more! Imagine the classroom applications for this: creativity, STEM, storytelling, modeling, virtual exhibitions, and much more! You can create and view the worlds on any device! CoSpaces has an excellent YouTube channel with easy to follow short tutorials so students can learn this program even if the teacher is not an expert!

You can choose from CoSpaces Maker (single user) or the new CoSpaces EDU for classroom/student licenses, lesson plans, and more. There is a cost to the EDU version.

Here are some “worlds” from a few of the students this summer, who, by the way, LOVED this program and would go home in the evenings and keep working. Click and drag to look around 360 degrees. Click on some of the objects to make them move. Enjoy exploring their worlds! Thanks to Zach, Grace, Justin, and Ernie!

Google Earth Online – Made for Chrome

Finally, Google Earth is available for Chromebooks (or in the Chrome browser on a Mac or PD) and is totally online! Go to, click “Launch Google Earth” and off you go! Obviously, this is a great move by Google to support all our students with Chromebooks. Students can now see and experience their neighborhood, state, country and the world from their desk or home. There are also some new features of Google Earth that you and your students will want to explore:

  1. Post Cards – By “sharing”, you can now send a ‘postcard’ just like you were really there! You can also share an image right to your Google Classroom!
  2. Voyager – Visit places with a guided tour from experts –  info cards that take you between locations as you click through. Click and drag “Peg Man” to go to Street View down to ground level. Awesome!
  3. I’m Feeling Lucky – The “random” button, which looks like a dice, takes you… anywhere – randomly to places you may never have thought to visit otherwise. What fun!

Here’s a nice tutorial to share with your students!

AR vs VR

Augmented Reality – Virtual Reality? How can I use these to enhance and extend student learning?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that is “immersive” – in other words, it requires your complete focus on content that is most often found using a headset of some type (Google Cardboard, Samsung’s GearVR, and View-Master VR are some of the most popular ones.) VR changes the way we watch and interact with content. YouTube now has a Virtual Reality Channel with more content being added every day – not all of it “school appropriate”, however. Simply pull up one of the videos on your SmartPhone, insert it into your VR headset of choice, and enjoy! Luke Symonds, CAM High School social studies teacher from Iowa, had his students experience the Revolutionary War using Google Cardboard viewers and students’ phones and earbuds. Thanks to Google Expeditions, many students have been able to go on Virtual Field Trips to places they never could visit otherwise!

Augmented Reality (AR) enhances reality and the “real world” rather than taking us out of it. AR adds a layer of information (text, images, video, 3D) to something that is tangible and real. This tangible thing is usually called a target and could be a photo in a magazine or a photo that you’ve taken, student artwork or other creations, a world landmark, the sky or even a package of Oreos!!

There are many AR apps available in the education realm: Aurasma, StarWalk 2, Anatomy 4D, Start Chart, Google Translate, Google SkyMap, AR Flashcards, Spacecraft 3D, Osmo (play beyond the screen of an iPad), and more! Here is a chart with links to many educational AR apps available – most are free.

I see the future of AR and VR for enhancing educational experiences for students growing exponentially! You and your students don’t have to wait – the future is now!!

Google Keep just joined Google Docs


For those of you out there who like using sticky notes and can’t get enough of Pinterest, you will love Google Keep.  It is virtual sticky notes and so much more.  I was not a fan as I am a list person, not pictures.  It is always good to take a second look and now that Google Keep is integrated with Google Docs under Tools, I am feeling enthusiastic.  It does sync across all types of devices.  So let me share some of the features and end with a YouTube Video from the Ditch the Textbook blog.  

First of all, it works on all devices and syncs your resources.  I really like the audio notes because it records your note and transcribes it.  

You can add collaborators to your Google Keeps and you can organize them with labels and color coding.  

An amazing feature which you will see in the video is how Google Keep turns a text picture into editable text.  

Of course, it sets reminders and has checklists.  The reminders can be the usual ones based on date and time or it has another fantastic feature where the reminder is based on your location.  Works with GPS.  

You can search your Google Keep.  No more, ‘where did I put that note’.  It has a Chrome extension so it is easy to add a website to your Google Keep.  This could be a great way to save your favorites.  

10 ways Google Keep can streamline your life at school by Ditch That Textbook

Adobe Spark Post, Page and Video!

Adobe – long known for their excellent digital creativity products like Creative Cloud, has created and offered FREE Adobe Spark Post, Page, and Video to make blogs, websites, and videos that are easy and eye-catching! You can either create them online (yes, for Chromebooks too) or using the iOS mobile apps.  These three tools are easy enough for elementary students to use but are so “professional” looking that many businesses are using them!

Go to Adobe Spark in the Classroom to see student examples, lesson plans, and teacher work.



Many think that a PDF is static… you can’t do anything but read it. But here are two Google Chrome Apps/Extensions that allow you to copy text from a PDF, annotate, draw on, comment, “white out”, underline, and more: Kami and DocHub.

To start, open a PDF from your Google Drive. Above the PDF, click on “Open with…”, choose “Connect More Apps” and search for Kami and/or DocHub. (You may have to ask your GAFE administrator to ok these extensions in your domain.) Allow it to connect to your Google Drive. Now, click open with… and choose either Kami or DocHub. They both allow you to do basic annotations but they also each have tools that the other does not. For example, DocHub will allow you to insert blank fields (text, checkboxes, signatures, initials, etc) and Kami does not. DocHub’s free version allows you to legally digitally sign up to 3 documents a month and you can have others digitally sign the same document as well. Of course, there are Pro (paid) versions of both Kami and DocHub for anyone who wants more than the basics.

Here is a quick overview of Kami:

Here is a screencast for DocHub to get you started:

Spotting a “fake”


I rarely say, “what happened to the good old days?”, because I do firmly believe these are the best of days.  However, in the field of information and access to information, I do long for the days when I used a book, an encyclopedia, a textbook, a magazine and/or Walter Cronkite to get information which I could be confident was accurate.  The present day allows access to information resources 24/7 most of which are not vetted for accuracy.

Fake news has been around since of the invention of the printing press.  These stories are always sensationalized, use people’s prejudices and often incite violence.  The late 1800’s and early 1900’s saw newspapers use ‘yellow journalism’ to sell papers.  It was not until the 20th century that news reporting took on a professional and ethical cloak.  Is that being threatened now by free internet pseudo news outlets?  Yes; it is!! This can be attributed to how easy and fast news can travel via the Internet.  It is disturbing to see how eagerly people accept these fabrications without question.  news-1729539_1920

So what is the role of education to arm students with the tools they need to spot a fake?  “Digital literacy is the ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information.”  The key verb is ‘evaluate’.  According to a study from Stanford University, “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning” ‘student’s ability to reason about the information on the internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.’

What can educators do?  Teaching evaluation skills usually is a one class/year event.  

The good news is that teaching students to evaluate content isn’t all that hard to do.  

Have students Ask these questions when reading non-fiction content:

  1. How believable is this story to me?  
  2. What do I know about this news source?
  3. Can I spot any loaded words in the piece I am reading?

Here are some tips on how to spot ‘fake news’:

  1. Stay away from sites with suspicious-looking web addresses, like those ending in .lo or
  2. Pay attention to the article’s author. If there’s no byline on a story, or there is only one author for every post on the entire website, watch out. It may be an imposter.
  3. Check if there’s an “about me” section on the website. This makes it easier to spot whether the news source is legitimate.
  4. Get your news from a variety of places. The best way to ensure that you’re not scammed by fake news is to read from a diverse array of news sources, and not just what pops up on a Facebook feed.

Resources for teaching “Evaluating the Internet”.  


Critical Evaluation by Kathy Schrock

The Advanced Google Searches Every Student Should Know by Alan November



Literacy and Tech Webcast

Green Hills AEA (Southwest Iowa) Digital Learning Consultants, Maryann and Judy, met with Lynn Hockenberry, one of our expert Literacy Consultants creating a combination webinar/podcast. (See recorded video at end of this article.) We discussed the K-5 Iowa Core Literacy Standards and the technology embedded within those standards. Some of the vocabulary that definitely alludes to using technology to meet the standards includes: digital text, electronic menu, multimedia, icons, sidebars, hyperlinks, digital tools, dictate, research, digital sources, keyboarding, create engaging audio recordings, publish…

Here is a Google Slide presentation listing each kind of standard (Writing, Speaking and Listening, Reading, and Language) and some more suggested tools for teachers and students to meet those standards.

The tools that Lynn shared included:

  • Newsela – Free leveled news, primary sources, and more, with standards-aligned formative assessments.
  • Glogster – create multimedia posters
  • Blabberize – fun way to combine writing and fluency
  • ComicLife – get kids writing with this comic maker!

Check out Lynn’s Blog, Lynn’s Literacy LINCS!

Maryann summarized an article entitled: Strategies to Help Students ‘Go Deep’ When Reading Digitally and even better, showed an example of how to do it using Google Docs – according to suggestions in the article.

Hope you find this short webinar/podcast helpful!

OpenEd – Assessment, Videos, Homework, Lesson Plans


OpenEd offers over a million assessments, homework assignments, videos, games, and lesson plans aligned to standards including Next Generation Science, Common Core Math and English Language Arts, TEKS, and more. Teachers will find any online resources their students need at this one stop shop! The formative assessments and “homework” are graded automatically. If a student misses a question, OpenEd connects them with a video or game to help them master that skill.

OpenEd resources can be shared via Google Classroom, Edmodo, Schoology, and many other LMS’s. There is also an app from OpenEd called Common Core Quest that is available from Chrome Web Store, iOS app store, or Google Play. This is a resource perfect for your Blended or Flipped Classroom!