HSTRY Launches Real-Time Collaboration

I’m so excited for HSTRY’s latest update, real-time collaboration. It’s perfect timing, as digital collaboration and communication are my top 2 goals for all of my campuses this year. I started using HSTRY’s amazing interactive timeline platform back when they were still in beta. And yes, they are the reason that I have memorized the HTML code for formatting text and inserting links. They’ve come a long way and now it’s easier than ever for students of any age to create engaging linear presentations.

It was difficult narrowing down my ideas on how to use the collaboration feature. Data results from last year’s district technology survey identified digital writing as a needed area of growth. HSTRY’s integration with Google sign in, the ability to add a variety of digital content, and intuitive interface are the many reasons why this tool is perfect for the task. Last year I wrote a blog post featuring a few integration examples, so I have chosen Digital Storytelling with Epic Citadel as my “test” lesson. After introducing students to the app, they can make a copy of the template and then work collaboratively to finish the story. I’ll make sure to share the finished student products when complete.

Please visit their blog for more information on this new feature.



Rock the Lab: First 9 Weeks

I know most of you are already setting up your rooms even though the year hasn’t officially started. This profession seems to attract dedicated individuals that go above and beyond. Here’s one thing you can check off of your to-do list…the first 9 weeks of Rock the Lab is complete. The purpose of this website is to provide students and teachers meaningful technology integrated lessons that support the NEISD Scope and Sequence. There are 2-3 lessons per content area and several lessons for keyboarding and coding skills. 

One of my most favorite moments during the Summer Olympics was when the women’s gymnastics team won gold. The gif below expresses the perfect attitude for the beginning of the year. Just take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I got this”.

I Got This 2

Thinglink 360/VR Summer Challenge

It’s summer! This time of year always gives me the opportunity to learn new skills, explore new tools, and collaborate with new people. Once again, I am participating in the Thinglink Summer Challenge. We will be exploring a new feature they recently added that allows you to upload and annotate 360 images. This is a great way to create engaging and immersive experiences for students. My first attempt was a virtual field trip to the Alamo that provided students with a guided tour and interactive activities that taught them about the significance of the battle during the fight for Texas Independence. I’ve created a channel to showcase the submissions from various Thinglink Expert Educators and teachers from around the country. I will continue to add on a weekly basis, so please check back often for more Thinglink inspiration. Make sure to join the Thinglink 360 Facebook page and visit the #Thinglink360 feed on Twitter. As Susan would say…Happy Tagging!

Wanna Go to The Alamo?

Talk about immersive experiences… The new Thinglink VR editor gives you and your students the opportunity to interact with 360-degree images and (coming soon) video. I thought I would give you a sneak peek of the image I will be discussing during the Interactive 360/VR Image Slam on Thursday, June 2nd. Sign up to view live at 8:00 pm EST or to receive a copy of the webinar in your inbox. You can also participate in the ThingLink Summer VR Challenge that begins on June 26. 


Click on the video below to view the webinar that walks you through the image above (51:00). Check out all of the other great panelists for even more ideas on how to utilize 360 images. 

Explore this updated Bindr collection for even more inspiration.

End of the Year HyperDoc is Here!

STAAR Testing will be over with by the end of next week, so this is the perfect time to plan a tricked out “End of the Year” Technology project. Have your students reflect on a year’s worth of learning through various Google Apps. I’ve created a HyperDoc to house all of the activities and provided how-to gifs that will walk you and your students through the needed skills to complete the project. For more information on GAFE Smashing, check out Matt Miller’s blog post. Interested in becoming a #hyperdocaholic? Begin by exploring this folder of examples. The creators of the HyperDoc movement, Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis, have a new website dedicated to taking up all of your free time. Enjoy!

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The Educator Hive is Live!



Smore has launched a new collaborative community called The Educator Hive. This awesome space Smoreallows you to share your flyer templates and adapt others as your own. The navigation makes it easy to sort by type of resource (presentation, newsletter, assignment, etc) to find exactly what you need to support classroom instruction. You can duplicate a flyer that you like, which copies a modifiable template into your account. You will need to have an educator’s account in order to have access to this community.


End of the Year Ideas to Keep Students Engaged

You’re tired. You should be. Fortunately, there are plenty of educators willing to share lessons and Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 11.02.44 AMresources you need to keep students engaged and learning until the very last day of school. This happens to be an exciting time in our country with the upcoming Presidential elections and Summer Olympics. It’s the perfect opportunity to embed current event themes into review activities or end of the year research projects. Matt Miller from Ditch That Textbook has created some amazing end of the year review activities with an Olympic theme. He utilizes Google Drawings and Kahoot and gives detailed explanations as to how the review games work. Visit his blog post to read more.

PBS Learning Media created an entire site dedicated to teaching students the process of U.S. elections. It includes information outlining debates, an interactive map that shows the amount of electoral votes allotted to each state and the current location of the candidates, and virtual field trips to important destinations in Washington D.C. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 9.46.07 AM

I’ve added both of these resources to my list of End of the Year Tech Ideas that you can view below. Let me know in the comments section if you have a great lesson or resource to add to the list.


Comparing Virtual Spaces for Curation

Showcasing student work is a vital part of the content creation process. I’m constantly looking for the easiest way to curate examples or have students submit work without having to login to yet another account. My usual go-to tool is Padlet, however, sometimes it does not play nice with some of the tools I work with. Here is a specific example:

Screenshot of Voki uploaded to Padlet.

Screenshot of Voki uploaded to Padlet.

Recently, Sherry Philippus, librarian at Northwood Elementary, had her 4th grade students create Vokis on Lone Star Legends. She needed a way to embed them all in one place, but Padlet would not embed or link to the original Voki. Bindrs is a website I discovered about a year ago when looking for a way to curate Thinglinks along with a written description for each example. When I tested embedding a Voki in a Bindr, it worked perfectly! I’m including a quick video showing how to make it work. You need to make sure to check the box that says               Use HTTPS to embed in a secure page.”

Voki and Bindrs

It would be wonderful if there were that one perfect tool that was compatible with all online platforms, but alas, it still eludes me. Here are the ones I use on a regular basis along with some comparisons of what I think are the most important features and examples. Hopefully this will help you match the perfect tool with your project.

Some additional information on the chart above:

  1. Logging in for elementary students can be very time consuming and distract from the content of the lesson. If a website does not offer the ability to sign in with their district Google account, it’s a deal breaker for me. I say move on and find something else.
  2. HSTRY, one of my most favorite sites ever, has new features in development. Here is what Thomas Ketchell shared with me the other day, “We will have collaboration integrated by the beginning of the next school year and hopefully the embedding of other content will be ready sooner than that over the next couple of months. You will be able to embed iframes and resources such as Thinglinks and Google Slides to a timeline!” I’m a happy girl.
  3. I included uploading files in my chart, however, with GAFE (Google Apps for Education) this feature may not be as necessary as some of the others. 

HyperDocs Make Me HyperExcited

I want to personally thank Lisa HighfillSarah Landis and Kelly Hilton for introducing me to my newest obsession, HyperDoScreen Shot 2016-03-25 at 3.37.57 PMcs. Ever since I read this blog post about using GAFE to facilitate a learning adventure, I’ve lost sleep, ignored my family, and recorded copious amounts of favorite TV shows on my DVR. Needless to say, I have put their HyperDoc Template to good use. Below you will find my fledgling attempts that I recently posted on my Rock the Lab website for students. To learn more about HyperDocs, check out their HyperDoc Tour.

Rock the Lab: 4th Nine Weeks

The final grading period is here and Rock the Lab is open for business. All of the K-5 grade level buttons have been flipped over to the new lessons that support the 4th nine weeks grading period. All lessons follow the NEISD scope and sequence. If you are not a teacher within North East, check them out anyway. You might be able to use some of the lessons located in either the current or last 9 weeks. Just click on “9 Weeks” in the main navigation toolbar at the top. I will be working on the rest of the lessons over summer break. Many of the activities require student accounts, so please check out the teacher section of the website for tutorials. Please let me know if you have any questions or need in person assistance.  

May the lab be with you.


Collaborative eBooks Using Book Creator

One of my all time favorite apps for student created products is Book Creator. Recently I worked with 2 IMG_4453of my campus librarians to complete a collaborative research project. Rosa Roberts (@RivitingReads) from Encino Park Elementary worked with all of the 1st grade students at her campus to learn about different animals that live at the San Antonio Zoo. This project was done before their field trip in order to build prior knowledge about the animals and how they interact with their natural environments. Before they used the Book Creator app, Rosa provided them with a research recording sheet so they could plan all of the components on their page. Each student added text, an image of the animal from Encyclopedia Britannica, and a picture that they drew of their animal living in their habitat. Once all of the pages were complete, Rosa and I combined them all on 1 iPad using Air Drop. 

Jennifer Oldham (@battyforbooks) from Cibolo Green Elementary helped me with a similar 2nd Grade research project on the different states that make up our country. Students learned how to add text, images and audio to complete their class ebooks. Below is a quick video that will walk you through the combination process. I did experience a couple of scenarios you may run into:

  • The iPads need to be on the same network in order for Air Drop to work. (Either iTouch or WPA2)
  • You may want to turn Air Drop off with the exception of the 2 you are working with. Otherwise, it gets confusing as to which device you want to select for transfer.
  • Make sure you are aware that the free version of Book Creator allows for the creation of only 1 book, however, you can add as many pages as you need. Fortunately, all of our campus librarians have the paid version. Please contact them if interested in co teaching a lesson.