Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Student Google Doc sharing? My Google Drive is Out of Control!

Is your Google drive out of control because of your students sharing assignments and documents with you at an alarming rate?  Are you having difficulty keeping all of these things organized?  Well here are a few easy steps that will help you with these issues.

  1. Create folders for each class or subject that you teach.  For example, name a folder Period 1 or English Class.
  2. Have your students create a folder in their drive and have them name it using their first and last name.  
  3. Have your students share that folder with you.
  4. These folders will show up in "Shared with me" in your drive.
  5. Highlight all of the student folders that were just shared by clicking on the first one and then while holding down the shift key, click on the last one. This should highlight the entire list for you.
  6. Right click in the highlighted area and select "add to my drive."
  7. The shared student folders will now show up under "My drive."  You no longer need to go to "Shared With Me" to see them anymore.
  8.  Now drag each of students' folders into the correct Period or class folder that you created in step 1.
Once you have completed these 8 steps, you will now have a shared folder with student names, they will be organized in the correct class/period that you have them.  Students will no longer need to share each and every assignment with you.  They only need to either ,create the assignment inside of the shared folder, or drag the assignment into the shared folder on their drive.  It will  then automatically be shared with you because it is in the already shared folder.  You can have them title each document the name of the assignment.  Now when you view each students' folder, you will see a list of docs with the assignment names.

If students forget to type their names on the actual assignment, you will still be able to tell who's paper it is because it will be in the shared folder with the student's name on it. This will also eliminate all of those crazy emails inviting you to see the shared document/assignment.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me via email.  I hope you found this helpful. 

My next blog post will be about creating Google forms to use for assessments.   I will talk about the best way to share those "live forms" with your students plus how to install Flubaroo and what it can do.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

1:1 In Our Schools? What Do You Think?

This post is a response to a local doctor's newsletter.  To view it you can click here.

Feel free to read his side first and then read this post.  I would love to hear your opinions, research, and comments.

First of all, the title is incorrect.  I don’t think any one of us said that 1:1 IS the answer.  I have taught in many sessions that technology enhances good teaching and amplifies poor teaching.  Putting a computer/device in front of a student does not make all problems go away.  The thought of that is ludicrous.

The author describes what he calls visions of cutting edge classrooms.  He says, “This is a place where students instantly can access information and be transported to experiences never imagined before while their teacher navigates them through an unbelievable world of learning and growth.”  He then says that this image never mirrored reality.  My question to him is, when is the last time he has been in a classroom?  Maybe he visited the wrong classroom.  Just last year I witnessed a room full of 7th grade students that got to meet, talk to, and listen to an amazing story from a Holocaust survivor.  That sounds like they were transported to an experience never imagined before to me.  I have also observed students being creative and designing digital greeting cards that they sent to their mothers for Mother’s Day.  Students were engaged and were learning skills required for digitally enhanced questions on standardized tests.  I am still not seeing the downside here.

In the next paragraph, he makes a bold statement by saying, “Higher rates of technology use consistently leads to poorer outcomes.”  I would say that it depends on the type of technology use.  If the technology was used a fancy game machine, then that may be the case.  If the technology was used as a tool for learning, then I totally disagree with that statement.  Going back to what I said before, technology enhances good teaching.  It amplifies poor teaching.  In other words, technology is only as good as the people that are using it.

In paragraph two, he says that screens contribute to inattention, obesity, poor consumption of produce, noncompliance, aggression, negative mood, creative play, and academic progress.  Again, this depends upon the type of screen time the students are engaging in.  If they are sitting around eating pizzas and Twinkies and playing video games, then he may be right on.  If the students are creating and curating presentations for a class project, then I would say his statement does not apply.  I taught in a middle school classroom for 18 years.  I cannot think of the last time that a worksheet didn’t produce a little negative mood and reduce creativity in my students.

In the fourth paragraph he does state something positive.  He says, “Used strategically, it appears that technology can provide definite advantages. “  Isn’t this the whole point?  If that isn’t what is happening, then the technology is being misused.  He also says in the same paragraph that a teacher’s role may be changed.  Instead of teacher/motivator/inspirer, it will change to more of a
proctor/facilitator/moderator.  Has not heard of project based learning or student centered classrooms?

In today’s World, our culture uses technology more than ever.  I recently spoke to middle school students about being good digital citizens.  The first thing I said to them is that we can drop the digital.  Technology is so integrated in our lives these days, this lesson is really just about being a good citizen.  The article talks about texting.  He complains about teachers sending reminders via text.  Is he really complaining about teachers communicating with students?  This is bad?   Really?  He also mentions that schools are demanding online formats for assignments.  My response is that there is a reason for this.  In the last 20 years of my married life, things have changed.  For example, I get emails regarding my utility bills instead of paper bills in the mailbox.  I pay those bills online instead of sending in a written check.  I can transfer money from one account to another and send people money via my bank’s website instead having to go in and withdraw money or fill out a transfer slip.  I can communicate with just about any one of my friends in just a few seconds via text or social media.  I know more about what is happening at the schools I work at and in my friends’ lives because of social media.  Before, I had to call and hope they were home or write them a letter because long distance calls were expensive.  I can take photos and share with family and friends in seconds.  I no longer have to hope a took perfect photos, wait a week to get them developed, put them in a photo album, and go visit friends and show them.   I can rent movies at the click of a button.  No need for trips to the video store.  My daughter is completing online applications for colleges and universities.  I now complete my taxes, you guessed it, ONLINE!

What I am saying here is that we don’t live in the 80’s anymore.  This is 2015 and our culture has embraced technology.  Commercials for businesses ask to “Like” them on Facebook or “Follow” them on Twitter.   My favorite TV show has a hashtag in the corner and if I want to, I can see what people around the world are saying while watching.  That is the world we live in today ready or not.  It is OUR responsibility as educators to prepare our students and equip them with the skills they need for the world today and not the one of 20 plus years ago.

Lastly, in his second to last paragraph he mentions students misusing school technology for illegal and illicit affairs.  THIS IS NOT THE FAULT of the technology.  These are behavior issues.  He acts like that all students were angels and never did anything wrong before they got devices in their hands.  I hate to burst his bubble, but things were not perfect before the technology.  These behaviors need to be dealt with.  Before 1:1 in schools, we didn’t take textbooks and pencils away when students wrote in the books, passed notes, or were off task.  The behaviors were dealt with and we went on with class.  I will admit, the wrong way is out there, but it always has been.  We are responsible to help our students know the right way.  I will also say that technology doesn’t and won’t fix education.  It is up to us to guide our students and teach them how to be good citizens whether they are online or offline.  Please understand the following misconception: 1:1 is not screens up from school start to the end of the day.  There are also many learning opportunities without the use of technology.  There is a happy medium.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tech Enhanced Items: The New Buzz Words

In the state of Indiana, the new buzz is all about Tech Enhanced items that will be on our standardized tests this spring.  Students not only will have to figure out the answers to the questions, they will also have to know how to input their answers on the test.  We will be seeing questions such as drag and drop, drop down menus, select text, multiple select, matching (using a chart), expression and equations, and plot points on a graph.
Example of matching via a chart.
McGraw Hill has provided three ELA and three math practice tests.   One set is for third and fourth graders, the second set is for fifth and sixth graders, and the third set is for seventh and eighth graders.  Other than that, our students do not have any other way to practice these types of questions. Many of our teachers would like to create their own tests and quizzes using these Tech Enhanced items, but have limited resources for creating them.  After students take the same practice test two or three times, it is not much of a practice anymore.  Students stop taking it seriously because they have already seen the same old questions.

Practicing the Tech Enhanced items would be more meaningful to students if teachers could create their own daily tests and quizzes that include tech enhanced questions.  My team of ICATS and eLearning coaches have found a couple resources to do this, but they are not ideal.  One is LearnClick and the other is Straight Ace.  Feel free to check these out and if you know of any tools that can be used to generate these tech enhanced items, please share them with me.

Let's collaborate and equip our students with the 21st Century skills they need for the tests and the future.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Get Instant Feedback From Your Students With Plickers!!

If you have a tablet or smartphone, then you can do quick formative assessments with your students by using Plickers.  What is incredible is that it does not require your students to log-in on a computer or to a website.  In fact students don't even need a device at all.  This is a great tool for the one tablet classroom.  It works with a simple card set that you print from the website.  Each one has a unique design on it for each student in your class.  Each side of the design has one of four letters A, B, C, or D. 

Here is how to get started.  First, you need to download the Plickers app.  It is available at the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android.

 Go to the plickers website your your computer by clicking here.  Once there, click on the sign-up button in the top right.  Create an account with your email address and a password of your choice.  Once you have created your account go ahead and sign in on both your mobile device and your computer. 

Once logged in, you will need to create your class.  You can do this simply by clicking on the classes tab and then choosing add new class.

Enter the information for your class and then you will be ready to enter the student names.  It will assign each student a card as you type in the name.  You could enter the names alphabetically or according to how they sit in your room.  If you have more than one class, when you finish with the first one, just go back and click add new class and repeat. 

Now it is time to create the question or questions.  Click on the library tab and then click on the box that says type your question here.  

Type in your question and answer choices.  Be sure to select the correct answer.  You can choose multiple choice or true/false. 

To assign a question or questions to a class, simply click on a question, click on the calendar icon, and choose add to plan.  After you click on add to plan, you will need to pick a class to assign it to.  You can add the question to more than one class.

To print out a card set for you class to use, go to the cards tab and click on it.  Choose standard Plickers card set.  This will open a list of cards in another tab that you can print out.  Each card has a number on it in addition to the letters.  The number of the card should go to the student that was assigned the number in your class list that you created earlier.  For example, this card below should go to Mickey Mouse in my class.

On your mobile device, open the app.  Choose your class and then pick a question to ask.  On your computer, go to the live view tab.  It should appear if you are logged in.  On your mobile device click on the camera icon.  Now you are ready to scan.  Have your students hold up their cards with the correct letter at the top or in the up position.  Scan the room with your device and you will see the results start to populate on your computer.  If you have a whiteboard or projector attached to your computer, you can hide the names by clicking on the graph tab and the class can see the results instantly. 

That is pretty much it!  This would be great for exit tickets, a quick comprehension check, voting, or a short quiz.  If you need more instructions or help, the Plickers website has a help tab that has a great tutorial.  If you use Plickers or plan to do so, please comment on this post and tell me how you used it.  Thanks and enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mix It Up with Voki!

I have heard teachers say, “To be a good teacher these days, you have to tap dance and put on a big show.”  That is probably what it takes in this day and age.  Just like my mechanic told me about my rough running vehicle with 180,000 miles on it, “That is just the nature of the beast.”  That is just the way it is.  Today’s learner is surrounded and bombarded with devices, distractions, and constant entertainment from the time they leave school until they return the next morning.  We have to put some effort, creativity, and fun into our lessons.  Remember, if you do what you always have done, then you will always get what you have always gotten.  Teachers, as well as students, will become more engaged in a lesson or project if we are all using our imagination and creativity.
Voki enables users to express themselves on the web in their own voice or text-to-speech using a talking character. You can customize your Voki to look like you or take on the identity of lots of other types of characters, animals, monsters, anime etc. Your Voki can speak in a variety of methods including your own voice which can be added via microphone, upload, or phone.

How to Get Started

  •  Go to
  • Teachers and students 13 and older could register and create an account.  I recommend this, because having an account will allow all Vokis that you create to be saved, edited, and retrieved easily.
  • To create your Voki, click the create tab.

  • Under Customize Your Character, click on the head.
  • From here you can look through categories of characters such as oddballs, randoms, and VIPs.  There are more than three categories, you can go through them by clicking on the arrows at the end of the row.  Any characters where you see a graduation cap, is not free.  Once you choose a character, you can click on the hair and lips to customize those.  For example, if you choose a character with a mo-hawk, it can probably be changed to some other hair style.  Then, you you can click on the clothing and bling tabs to change out the clothing and add jewelry, sunglasses, and other items.  When you are finished with all three tabs, then click done at the bottom of this menu.  NOTE: All characters do not have the same options.  Some characters have more clothing, hair, and bling options.

  • Skip the Give it a Voice section and go down to the player and backgrounds.

  • Just like when you chose your character, you can choose from several categories of backgrounds such as, city views, landscapes, beaches, and others.  The players button allows you to change the color of your frame that your Voki is in.
  • If you want your Voki to be futher away so that you can see him/her better, click on the magnifying glass to the bottom right of your character.  It will then allow you to to click on a plus or minus sign that will bring him/her forward or backward in the scene.  If you want to move the character left or right, then simply click and drag your character to the position you wish.

  • In that same area, you will see color and tweak tabs.  The color tab allows you to modify the colors on your mouth, eyes, skin, and hair.  The tweak tab allows you to change the size of your mouth, head, and body.
  • Once you have your character looking the way you like, then lets add the voice.
  • There are a few ways that you can add a voice.  You can call in and record your voice with your phone.  If your device has a microphone, then you can just record that way.  You can do a text -to-speech method where you can choose from several male or female voices from the United States, Britain, and Australia.  Lastly, you can upload an audio file that you have already created.

  • When you get your character looking and sounding the way you like, then click on the publish button.  From that point it will ask you to give it a name.  If you have an account that is how you will identify it, if you have several saved. If you do not have an account, then it really does not matter what you name it.  If you do not have an account, it may ask you to create one.  If you’re not 13 years of age or over, then just X out of it.

  • Whether you have an account or not, you can share it out multiple ways.  You can share on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Word Press, and Blogger by just clicking on the buttons.  You can copy the permalink and paste it in your browsers URL bar.  From that point you can bookmark it or make it a favorite.  You can email it to a friend.  Lastly, if you have a webpage, you can copy and paste the embed code onto your site.  Your Voki will come to life for visitors of your website.

  • That is pretty much it!  It is one of the most user friendly sites I have used.

Suggested Uses

  • Students or teachers could use this tool to introduce themselves to the class.
  • Teachers can use this tool to make announcements or ask weekly questions.
  • Students can create an Avatar of a famous person and use the information in a report to have that person tell about themselves.
  • Students can use Voki to read their reports and other writing assignments.
  • To aid resource students, teachers can record oral pronunciation of vocabulary words as a review-guide for upcoming assessments.
  • Foreign language students can use Voki to speak “in character” for different assignments.
  • Students can compare and contrast between themselves and their avatar.
  • A student could create two Vokies and each Voki could tell a different point of view about a topic.
  • Science teachers could use a Voki to give instructions for each step of an experiment.  If anyone needs instructions repeated, just replay the Voki.
  • Students can create a Voki for different characters in a book or novel and have them report on parts of the book from that character’s point of view.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Skype Provides an Unforgettable Experience for Students and an eLearning Coach

Today was an incredible day.  I am 43 years old and have always been fascinated with World War II. I have had the pleasure of meeting several WWII veterans and listening to their stories, as well as, collecting uniforms and artifacts from the time period.  I have seen many movies, documentaries, and even read books about the war.  I have been to museums and seen the tanks, planes, weapons, and pictures of the men and women that helped win the war.  I feel the WWII generation is the greatest generation.  In my opinion that group is full of heroes that served, fought, and even died which has allowed me to experience the life of freedom that I have today.  I am grateful and will not take for granted the sacrifices they made.

I have read many stories and novels about the Holocaust and the greatest evil I think this world has ever experienced.  Most of the novels that I read were with my middle school students when I was teaching ELA and Social Studies in my classroom.  At that time, finding a Holocaust survivor and having them speak to my students was just a dream.  Several years later, in my current position as an eLearning coach I had the honor of assisting a teacher and her class to make that dream a reality.

Sonya Farmer, a 7th grade teacher at Perry Heights Middle School in Evansville, Indiana, asked if I could help them Skype with an author of a book they were reading titled, Surviving The Angel of Death.  It was written by Eva Mozes Kor.  It is her account of her and her twin sister and how they survived Auschwitz death camp.  When I found out that she not only was an author, but a Holocaust survivor, I couldn't pass up this awesome opportunity.

The students gathered around my laptop, which we had connected to our Promethean Board.  Before we connected, we made sure most of the group was in the frame of the picture via the built in web camera.  We had the sound running through the classroom speakers and were ready to go.  I opened Skype and made the video call.  As soon as we connected we were greeted with a friendly, "Hello, can you see and hear me?"  We responded that we could and for the next 60 minutes about 30 seventh graders were riveted as they watched and listened to an amazing story of survival of twin sisters in a Nazi concentration camp.  I cannot imagine the horrible things that she and her sister overcame.

She finished up with three life lessons: 1. Never give up on your dreams.  If you don't do anything, nothing will happen, but by the same token, if you press on and take steps toward your dreams you will reach them.  2. Overcome being prejudice.  It leads to a life of hate and negativity.  3.  Learn to forgive others, even your enemies.  She felt like she was finally free when she forgave the Nazis for what they did to her and her family.  She said, "Anger is a seed for war. Forgiveness is a seed for peace!"

Eva is on the far right.
In conclusion, she answered some of the students' questions and told us about her museum  and website.  The site is and the museum is located in Terre Haute, Indiana.   On the website, there will soon be a countdown to the 70th anniversary of when she and her sister was liberated from Auschwitz.  She not only Skypes and has a website, she also asked us to follow her on Twitter.  I am impressed!  Her Twitter handle is @EvaMozesKor

This will be an experience that I will never forget.  I want to thank Eva Mozes Kor for sharing her story and Mrs. Farmer for asking for my assistance.  I am a life long learner and learned as much as the students did today.  If you would, follow Eva on Twitter and help her reach her goal of followers before the 70th anniversary.  Check out the website and I encourage you to read her book.  The students really enjoyed it.  I borrowed a copy from them today and will start it tonight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Prezi, It Is Now Easier Than Ever

My colleague, Tim Wilhelmus and I presented at the Indiana Connected Educator conference last week.  One of our sessions was on creativity tools from our Teacher Fun Park website.  While at the conference, I found out that one of our presenting tools, is no longer free.  I did some exploring and found that Prezi, which is very similar, is much easier than it used to be.  In fact, I feel that it is very teacher and student friendly and encourage you to give it a try!  A public Prezi account is still free.