Wednesday, March 21, 2018

And Then I Was Like... Let's Gif it!

The following post is a chronicle blog post represented through Gifs.  It tells the story of my reactions as I learned how to use the website a Gif making tool online. 

Here it goes...
"Hey check out this Tweet that has information about Gifs"

"What!? No!"

All you have to do is click on the link and then you can create Gifs using your laptop/Chromebook's built-in camera!

Looking Confused

Seeing How Easy the tool is...

Laughing Out Loud

The feeling of playing with this tool...


Let the Gif-olution Begin!  Happy Gif-ing!

P.S.  Check out this awesome tweet that was shared with me by Rashel about creating banners for your Google Classroom!  


I Dare You To Try It!

Real Life Math with Google Classroom

Real Life Math with Google Classroom

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

New Ideas and Tools for STAAR Review

Springtime in Texas can bring beautiful weather, meals on the patio, sprucing up the garden and for some, STRESS. It's STAAR time in Texas where even the best students and teachers can feel nervous and troubled. Many educators have spent years perfecting review materials and test-prep methods. Be that as it may, times have changed, students learn differently and resources have evolved. If you are looking to add a little something new to your STAAR review toolbox, take a look at these ideas.

  • - A website many educators know for useful tools in the classroom. Try Dustbin, this free tool allows you to create a drag and drop game. Teachers title each bin and include terms or phrases that correspond to the bin in the space below it. When finished, embed the game into a blog or website, share by email, and more! 
  • Educaplay - Make and share your own learning resources. You can practice with other user activities. Free!
  • Flipgrid - A flipped classroom approach to using video for igniting student discussion and engagement. Use this tool for interactive student reviews. 
  • - "Easily turn a Google™ Spreadsheet into a Set of Online Flashcards and Other Cool Stuff."
  • GooseChase EDU - "Blend together the tried-and-true fun of scavenger hunts with mobile technology and create a learning experience like no other."
  • Pear Deck for Google Slides - Pear Deck for Google Slides is the #1 Slides Add-on making it effortless for educators to add interactive questions and formative assessments to their presentations.
  • Quia - Create your own educational games, quizzes, surveys, and web pages. Search millions of games and quizzes created by educators around the world.
  • Quizalize - Allows teachers to pinpoint classroom STAAR progress in real-time. 
  • QuizBean - "Quizzes are fun! Give your users a chance to play with their knowledge, or challenge them to tackle tricky puzzles. We all learn better when we have a solid sense of our own progress. Get a handle on how well your students are learning, and help them do the same."
  • 10 Classroom Review Games (tech and low tech) - Reviewing material can be so boring. Not only is it boring for you to teach, but think about how your students feel! When reviewing for a unit or state exam, try to incorporate activities and classroom games that engage students, not bore them. The trick is to make it so much fun that the students don’t even realize they are reviewing material."
Your Digital Learning Specialist is happy to assist with more information or help in implementing any of these tools.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Coding With Elementary

Coding with Elementary

Kinders Using QR Codes

students using qr codes

QR codes really are amazing!  These funny looking images allow teachers and students to be more efficient in the work they are doing.  Teachers can create QR codes that display websites, pictures, video, answers to problems, students' published work, and more.  Students use QR codes to quickly access content, view student work, check their work, and more.  Recently, the kindergarten students in Lisa Mais' class used QR codes to explore their Author of the Week.  Dr. Seuss was the author the kids were learning about.  Students scanned QR codes to watch videos of Dr. Seuss books read aloud.  In Math class, students scanned codes that allowed them to check their answers after solving problems.

If you would like more information about QR codes and how to utilize them in your classroom, please contact your campus Digital Learning Specialist.  We would love to come help!

Book Breakout!

Book Breakout!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Edcamp Birdville 2018

Are you ready for Edcamp Birdville 2018? Register now at

Edcamp Birdville - ARE YOU READY?

BreakoutEDU Extravaganza at Birdville High School!

Check out the Winners and Losers of the Birdville High School BreakoutEDU Extravaganza!
It didn't go well for everyone!

Get Your Official Edcamp Birdville T-shirt - Orders close this Friday

Get your own official EdcampBirdville T-shirt!

Hurry, orders close on FRIDAY MARCH 5-9.  

Adding Voice Comments into your Google Slides and Docs!

As an educator, our greatest weapon for success is feedback for our students.  Maybe weapon isn't the right word.  When I think about my school experience, the infamous "red pen" was not a sign of encouragement and excitement but rather an action to my work to see what I had done wrong.  Thinking about my experiences as a teacher and a student, feedback could have helped so much more than what I was sharing and experiencing.  That is why I am so thankful for technology tools!

Quote, "Leadership is not about being in charge.  Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge." by Simon Sneck
Talk and Comment (click here for the link) is a Google Chrome Extension that allows you to insert voice comments into Google Docs and Slides!  The BEAUTIFUL part about this extension is that it places the recordings directly into the comment boxes on your Doc or Slides as a playable file.  Students do not have to go to another web page, sign up for another tool or have an opportunity to get distracted by following a white rabbit like Instagram or Facebook. 

To see how Talk and Comment works, check out this video and talk to your DLS about how this could innovate your feedback!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

DL Spotlight: Mr. Phelps Cuts Failure Rate in Half with Workstations

Jack Phelps is a second-year teacher at Haltom High School. Mr. Phelps has implemented small group pull-out and workstations in his freshmen World Geography class. We had a chance to sit down with Mr. Phelps and ask him a few questions about his decision to change from lecture style delivery to a student-centered model.

Question: What was your motivating factor for moving to workstations?
Mr. Phelps: I wanted to be able to work more with my ELL students and the students that are struggling. Workstations allow me to work with students in a small group setting and for one-on-one instruction.

Question: What were the results of shifting your instructional strategies?
Mr. Phelps: My failure rate was slashed in half, from 12% in the third six weeks to 6% this six weeks. I have noticed that the students who were struggling and would become frustrated are now: receiving one-on-one time, have improved their grades, and are more engaged. The students have told me they like that I am now more available to help them one-on-one.

Question: I see you currently have five extra Chromebooks. What have you been able to accomplish with 10 Chromebooks compared to five Chromebooks?
Mr. Phelps: I can create another station with the extra technology. I chose to use LearnSmart to increase student ability to analyze and annotate text, which aligns our district and campus literacy strategies. At the same time, I'm able to reinforce TEKS by having students use Google Maps 360-degree street view to view biomes and other places we are covering.

Question: What improvements or strategies do you plan to implement this year?
Mr. Phelps: After speaking with Mike Wilson I would like to implement more pillars of the blended learning model. I would also like to find more digital resources that will deepen student understanding of countries and vocabulary.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Augmented Learning and the Merge Cube Frenzy!

Merge cube in package
Image from Merge
Recently, social media has exploded with what is being called the Merge Cube Frenzy! (@MergeVR) For some time, Walmart has been offering a relatively low cost option to augmented reality in the form of a $15 foam cube called the Merge Cube.  When the retailer decided to put these items on sale for $5 and eventually clearance for $1 at some locations, teachers rushed to stores and shared their successes on social media. 

Twitter post Merge Cube Frenzy
Twitter post Merge Cube Frenzy

What is a Merge Cube?

Man wearing Merge goggles and cube
Image from:
The Merge Cube is described by it’s developer as “The hologram you hold in your hand.” It’s a foam cube with different designs on each side. When held in front of your device’s camera while using a variety of Merge Cube apps the cube is transformed into digital 3D objects and scenes. You can move and rotate the cube in your hand to see things from different angles. It’s a truly amazing experience! - Michael Fricano II, An Educator's Guide to Augmented Learning with the Merge Cube

What can you do with Merge Cube in the classroom?

Merge Cube student holding the solar system 
Image from
  • Explore the solar system
  • Interact with essential body systems
  • Explore an augmented reality story where you decide the ending
  • Solve 3D puzzle games
  • Plus so much more
  • Check out other Merge Cube Experiences

Merge cube student holding animated human body system
Image from

No Goggles Required 

Merge Cubes can be used with VR Headsets but they are NOT necessary to create an experience for your classroom. For BISD teachers all you need is your district issued iPad, a free VR or AR app, a Merge Cube and your multimedia projector. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Digital Breakouts Hit the Library!

Graphic of students working on computers

Betty Carter, librarian at Richland Elementary, and LaNelle Polak, librarian at Smithfield & Mullendore Elementary, recently partnered to create their first ever digital breakouts.  The pair attended the TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) conference in February where they were exposed to tons of digital resources and ways to use them.  While at TCEA, they attended a session on digital breakouts.  Digital breakouts do not require boxes or locks, but rather take participants on a digital journey of clues and puzzles to find answers and 'break out.'  After much debate, the librarians decided to create breakouts surrounding three book awards:  The Newbery, Caldecott, and Bluebonnet Awards.  They used Google Sites to house each of the breakouts.
During the breakouts, students were asked solve puzzles, take quizzes, and place answers into an embedded Google form in order to reveal the book awards.  Students worked in pairs and were provided a 'clue' card that allowed them to ask for help if they needed it.  After the breakouts were completed, several positive outcomes were noticed:

  • Students were truly engaged and active in their learning
  • Students showed their grit...they would try several ways to solve the puzzle rather than give up
  • Students received immediate feedback on their answers allowing them to adjust and move on
  • Students at all levels of learning succeeded!
If  you are interested in learning more about digital breakouts, please contact your campus Digital Learning Specialist.  We'd love to help!

New Apps to the BISD App Catalog

The following apps have been added to the BISD App Catalog. 
These apps are available FREE on BISD devices with access to the BISD App Catalog.


Osmo Coding Jam
Kids love music, right? Now they can compose their own by arranging Osmo’s Coding Blocks into patterns and sequences. So it’s happy, hands-on play, and an awesome way to introduce Coding. Rock On!
*Requires the Osmo Base and Coding Jam blocks which can be found at

Osmo Tangram
Arrange puzzle pieces to match on-screen shapes. Play with a friend or challenge yourself to increasingly difficult levels as your handiwork lights up with each victory.
*Requires the Osmo Base and Tangram blocks which can be found at

Balloon Stickies Plus
Balloon Stickies Plus allows you to add speech bubbles to pictures by intuitive and simple steps.
Just double-tap a photo to add a speech bubble and double-tap on it to edit.
In addition, speech recognition makes it much easier to convert your spoken words into text!

Math Kid
Math Kid gives your 4-12 years old child the foundation needed to excel in math at home and in school.

The StoryBots iPad app makes learning fun for kids 3-8 with 250+ educational books, videos and games featuring characters from the Netflix original series, “Ask the StoryBots" and "StoryBots Super Songs." Used in more than 45,000 classrooms around the world, StoryBots helps your child practice literacy and math skills and explore science, history, behaviors and more.

iMindMap Kids
iMindMap Kids is the perfect first step into the wonderful world of Mind Mapping! It’s their own visual thinking space, proven to develop literacy, creativity, and problem-solving skills in children.

Osmo Newton
Solve creative physics puzzles by drawing lines or placing items in front of the screen.
*Requires the Osmo Base found at

Osmo Words
Explore the land of Words, a magical place where characters challenge you to guess and spell the on-screen images. Play collaboratively or competitively with your real-life friends or our loveable characters!
*Requires the Osmo Base and Words tiles found at

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Play & Explore
Early learners will love playing with The Very Hungry Caterpillar™, Mister Seahorse and The Very Quiet Cricket, along with other characters from Eric Carle's best-selling books Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Mixed-Up Chameleon and 10 Little Rubber Ducks. And while your little ones are having fun, they'll also be practicing their counting, sorting, and memory skills, learning about healthy eating, and discovering amazing facts about caterpillars, seahorses, chameleons and other animals.

Princess Fairy Tale Maker
MAKE A FAIRY TALE: create personalized fairy tales with princesses, fairies, ballerinas, animals and more. COLOR: decorate with animated sparkles and glitter; SHARE: narrate stories with the self-record feature and share with family and friends.

Math with Balloons
Learn and improve math skill with the math game. With 5 levels of difficulty from really easy to really hard. Catch a balloon and match it with others to solve a question before they all flew away.

Counting Coins
Counting Coins lets you practice working with U.S. pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. You can play in four modes:

(1) Match the Value: Try to make the same value as the coins shown using a different combination of coins.
(2) Make the Total: Use coins to make the total shown.
(3) How Many Cents?: Type the value of the coins shown.
(4) Show Values: Drag any amount of coins and show or hide the value.

Spanish Fun Adventure
Spanish Fun Adventure App (SFA) is a tool for kids to learn Spanish through exciting story games. It teaches basic grammar structures, vocabulary and verbs offering an immersive environment of mysteries and adventures. Complete the entire game to earn a “Diploma de Superaventurero”!

Osmo Masterpiece
Draw anything you want with Masterpiece. Take a picture, search the web, or use one of the images from our gallery. Then using the Osmo stand put a piece of paper in front of your iPad and begin drawing. When you're done you can save and share your creation.
*Requires the Osmo Base available at

Turn any picture into funny animations that you can save, email or share. Make the picture say funny things. Adjust the pitch of the voice.

Superhero Comic Book Maker
Create personalized animated comic books featuring monsters and superheroes. Build comic strips and narrate the story using the self-record feature. Includes 55 scenes and coloring pages with 170+ stickers.

Draw & Tell
Use the tool to draw, color, decorate with stickers, create animations and record stories.

Sight Words: Kids Learn
Combine fun, easy-to-follow activities with hands-on and audio features to jumpstart the learning process.

Free Kids Counting Game
FREE and fun picture math games for kids designed by the iKidsPad team. This free iPad math app dynamically generates thousand of beginning counting games with different themes and number levels. Great interactive and challenging games helps young children build up basic counting skills and number recognition.

ABC Letter Tracing
ABC Letter Tracing is a fantastic and completely free application for children learning to write and recognize their ABC’s. Intuitively trace both uppercase and lowercase letters with the touch of a finger. Hear and see English alphabet letters and real world objects that relate to them.

Inspire Pro
With no instruction manual or handbook required, whether you are a beginner, expert or somewhere in-between, you will enjoy the simplicity and power of the most intuitive and compelling illustration app for iPad, Inspire Pro.

Letter Quiz Lite
Letter Quiz Free is the preview version of Letter Quiz.

Tiny Chicken Learns Currency
Help Tiny sell items at the Farmers Market and learn about currency.
In this game, people from the village come down to the Farmer's Market which is run by you. They buy goods and pay in cash and it is your job to tender the correct amount of change.

Word Wagon
Word Wagon is a fun, award-winning app teaching letters, phonics and spelling.

Osmo Coding Awbie
Osmo Coding Awbie uses hands-on physical blocks to control Awbie, a playful character who loves delicious strawberries. Each block is a coding command that directs Awbie on a wondrous tree-shaking, strawberry-munching adventure.

*Requires the Osmo Base and Coding Awbie blocks which can be found at

Princesses Learn Sight Words
Princesses Learn Sight Words exposes children to high frequency words in English. Sight words provide an excellent base for reading at an early age.

Instantly weave together interviews, videos, photos, music and more into a sophisticated video production—in seconds. Just talk and tap—or watch and tap—to make the perfect video.

1. Write a text conversation in TextingStory
2. Create a video from your story
3. Watch your creation and share it with your friends

Apple Clips
Videos made easy
• Clips lets you create videos in real time with simple controls — no timeline, tracks, or complicated editing tools
• Record video, take photos, or add them from your library
• Easily mute audio, adjust the length of your clips, and reorder them
• Drag and pinch while recording to add smooth pan and zoom animations to your photos and videos
• Add a music track from your library or choose from more than 60 built-in soundtracks that automatically adjust to the length of your video

Osmo Pizza Co.
Run your own pizza shop! Train your real-world math, money and social skills in this fun hands-on game.

*Requires the Osmo Base and Pizza Co. tiles, found at

SUM! is a fun math game that teaches the concept of addition and subtraction through play. In the app, the nature of the numbers is represented as the personality of the characters.

Osmo Coding Duo
Play challenging coding puzzles with the Ultimate Osmo Duo
See what’s next in the world of Coding with advanced coding puzzles and cooperative settings, starting with your favorite duo of Osmo Characters, Awbie and Mo!

*Requires the complete Osmo Coding package (Includes tangible pieces from Osmo Coding Jam, Osmo Coding Awbie, and Osmo character blocks) and the Osmo Base to play. Each can be found at

Osmo Numbers
Add, count & multiply tiles to pop the number bubbles. Popping enough will free 
fish & unleash a lightning storm! Learn to be the numbers master.

*Requires the Osmo Base and Numbers tiles, found at

Eyebomb It
Make googly eye pictures with Eyebomb It. Safely “eyebomb” anything and post it on leading sharing sites or print it as postcards or greeting cards and mail them anywhere!

Metaverse AR Browser
Metaverse is the easiest way to create Augmented Reality experiences. Create experiences using the Metaverse Studio, and watch them come to life in the Metaverse app browser.

Toontastic 3D
3… 2… 1… ACTION! With Toontastic 3D you can draw, animate, and narrate your own cartoons. It’s as easy as play. Just move your characters around on screen, tell your story, and Toontastic records your voice and animations and stores it on your device as a 3D video.

Loopideo is an app designed to play videos in a constant loop.