OER: Open Education Resources

OER or Open Education Resources are resources that are useful for teaching and learning.  These resources could be a variety of media and documents that support blended learning. The Office of Educational Technology has a #GoOpen campaign to increase equity of openly licensed educational resources.  Michigan has launched the #GoOpen initiative statewide.  Some places to go for OER include OER Commons, OpenEd, Smithsonian Learning Lab and cK-12.

Thing-a-ma-jig, thing-a-ma-bob, thingmy, ThingLink!

ThingLink is a great tool to use to spice up presentations, lesson materials, handouts, you name it.  It allows you to annotate video, images, and 360/VR content to make them interactive.  Things that you can link to (ba-dum-ching!) could be maps, text, other images and videos, links, and audio.  After a thinglink is created, it allows you to view statistics on engagement with your particular thinglink.  Images are free and the video and 360/VR are features of the paid versions.  These are a great way to share thinking and learning that is happening in your classroom.  To push your thinking, I’d like to challenge you to think about how you could make a tool like this work for you in your context.

Here are a few examples of ThingLinks I made…

My journey of global opportunities.

I created this ThingLink to show the amount of information you can gather from 140 characters.

This is a ThingLink I made when I presented on AR at MACUL with Mary Wever.



Google Cast for Education

Google Cast for education allows teachers and students to share their computer screen wirelessly with one another.  In West Bloomfield, most grade levels are 1:1 with chromebooks, so this would be a good tool to use to project any chromebook screen onto the teacher computer, which can be projected bigger on screens and interactive white boards in the room.  This is a feature for G Suite Edu accounts.  When you are in your chrome browser, you can locate the cast feature by clicking on the three dots in the upper right hand corner of the screen.screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-7-01-59-am


Hour of Code is almost here!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are just 2 weeks away from Computer Science Education Week which means the Hour of Code is upon us.  Below I’ve listed coding resources for you to look at ahead of time so that you can plan.  Keep in mind that you are not limited to coding during this specific week or to these resources.  Code can be integrated at any time of the year and there are TONS of tools out there!  This list just scratches the surface.

  • CS Ed Week has a plethora of resources for computer science education week.
  • Code.org has a TON of information for educators, doing the hour of code, and code courses for all levels.
  • CS For All allows you to search for resources on computer science.  For instance, I could do a search for “I am a teacher interested in middle school CS education” and it will populate resources that fit your needs.
  • Pencilcode.net lets you draw, jam, or write adventure stories.  This could be great for art, music, or writing.
  • Many of the robots on the market have lessons or activities to foster learning how to code.  Ozobot, SpheroDash and Dot by MakeWonder lessons
  • Scratch can be used to make interactive stories, games, and animations.  My kindergarten students coded holiday greeting cards to email to their parents a few years ago.  There are also a ton of scratch games that work with Makey Makey if you want to be extra fancy.
  • Hopscotch works with iPhone or iPad that lets you make your own games and art.
  • The Foos by CodeSpark turns computer programming into play.  I would recommend this for younger students.
  • Code Monkey is an online game that teaches you to code.
  • Osmo has a coding game manipulative.  This is more elementary.
  • Code a Pillar is a toy for Pre K-K age kids.  I just learned about this new toy on the news last night!
  • Snakify helps you learn Python
  • Cs first by Google has lessons and activities for 4th-8th grade students.
  • Made with code by Google has many different projects to choose from such as this personalized emoji project I made.  I especially loved the option to have a Hawaiian shirt and laptop.

How does this relate to the classroom? Students are reading, sequencing, writing, scaling, counting, measuring, giving directions, following directions, and problem solving when they code.  It’s not just a technology thing!  Below you will see how I scaffolded coding at my school last year.  In the end, it’s all coding.  Please do not think these tools are exclusive to the grade I taught them too.  Anybody can code using any tool.  Explore them all!

Kindergarten-Bee Bot
First Grade- Kodable
Second Grade-Daisy the Dinosaur and Lego Fix the Factory
Third Grade- Scratch Jr
Fourth Grade-Scratch and Hopscotch
Fifth Grade-Mozilla Webmaker, Codecademy, and Cargo Bot


In today’s classroom, video is used to teach, flip, blend, hook, whatever you want to call it.  Bottom line is, teachers use videos a lot.  They assign them to students to watch.  But do the students really watch them? How can educators hold students accountable to watching the video?

I learned about a tool last week at the miGoogle conference called VideoNot.es.  This tool allows you to view videos and take notes in real time on the same screen.  It then saves your video notes to your Google Drive.  Each note you make has a time stamp to the video.  I wonder if this would change video assignments at school.  What do you think?

From Pixel Press Floors to Bloxels

Bloxels is a a new fun manipulative that kids can use to design their own video games.  In the past, I used Pixel Press Floors to have students design video games.  Both are great for fostering design thinking.  Both Bloxels and Floors have open source lesson plans available on their websites.

2nd Grade Pixel Press Reflection from KSH Kula Ha’aha’a on Vimeo.

My Maps

One of my favorite Google tools that is My Maps.  This tool is so underused and it has so much potential!

First things first. How do you access My Maps? Visit mymaps.google.com OR you can get to it from Google Drive by clicking on New > More > Google My Maps

My Maps is a different from Google Maps that many of us use on a regular basis for GPS and navigation.  My Maps allows you to create custom maps to share and publish online.  These maps can serve many different purposes.  I personally use My Maps when I travel to pin landmarks, restaurants, hotels, and other places I’d like to visit.  This helps me organize my routes and look at different landmarks and their proximity to each other so that I’m covering my ground efficiently.  I can also add links to each of these locations that are associated with those locations, such as a hotel reservation.  I can also create several layers in one map and color code them.  This helps me plan out routes for each day of my trip and more.  I can view all my layers at once or specifically only look at my layer that has everything I need for that specific day on it.  My Maps saves your maps in Google Drive and also syncs up with Google Maps under the label Your Places.

Educationally, I like to use this tool for several different purposes.  A way I recently used this tool was for a clue for a Breakout EDU game I made on regions of the United States.  Google maps has a measuring tool that allows you to measure distance between two cities.  This is particularly useful when teaching students about scales on maps.  My Maps has features that allow you to draw lines and shapes.  You could draw a shape around Michigan, for instance, and pull that shape down to Hawaii to really see the actual size of Michigan in relation to other states.  Another good example of the shape tool is making a shape around Greenland and pulling it down to the equator to see the actual size of Greenland in relation to other countries.

I can see this tool being used to create blended or flipped lessons surrounding a certain topic because with each pin you add to a map, you can also add an image and write a little blurb that could include a link.  That little blurb could be information about that pin, instructions for a task surrounding that place, etc.  Some of my students used this tool to plan their Dream Vacations for a PBL project I did with them last year.  Each pin shows latitude and longitude.  These pins can be customized by color and icon, too.  With all this flexibility in My Maps, can you imagine what kinds of maps students would make?  Have I convinced you to try out this tool yet?

Common Sense Education

Common Sense Education (formerly known as Graphite), is a website that evaluates different edtech tools you can use in your class.  You can filter through by platform, subject, grade level, price, etc.  For instance, if you were unsure about an app you found in the Chrome Web Store, you could check out what other teachers have said on Common Sense Education.  Check out the Top Picks to see Top Tech for Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, messaging, videos, student collaboration and more!

1-Click Timer Chrome Extension

1-Click Timer is a great extension to get for google chrome because it allows you to bring up a timer on the spot that hovers over any screen you already have open.  One example of a way to use it is to project your computer screen on the board so that students can see how much time has passed and how much time is left for a certain task or activity.  In Tiffaney Emert’s class, she uses this tool to help with transitions.  This is a simple tool that can help with classroom management.  Check it out!

Google Arts & Culture

The Google Cultural Institute has curated several collections from around the world that you can dive into with your students.  You can experience these digital collections through Google Cardboard and they are also accessible on any device.  With Google Arts & Culture, students can learn about historical figures, events, places, art movements, mediums, artists, and various projects.

This tool also lets your explore nearby places.  Can’t make it over to the Henry Ford Museum?  No worries, just take a virtual field trip.  Use the Google Streetview feature to pretend you are actually standing there.

Doing a study on JFK? Explore his online exhibits.

Teaching about World War II? Check out artifacts organized in a timeline.

These are just a few things you can learn from this amazing resource.  What a great way to supplement learning goals in your classroom!