Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Birdville Teachers Use Mentimeter to Share Their Word of the Year! is a great website where you can ask all kinds of question types to your audience.   In this example, we asked new teachers to Birdville to choose a word that would represent them this year.  Check out the results!  You can add your word of the year too.  Just follow the directions at the top of the embedded menti below or click here to submit your word.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Search Google Drive in the Same Manner in Which You Speak

Google Drive search is now using Natural Language Processing (NLP). This means you can search in the same manner in which you speak. For example, you could say “find my budget spreadsheet from last December” or “show me presentations from Tiffany.” Google Drive will understand what you mean and give you the option to click for those specific search results. Google Drive NLP will learn more as you use it and will get better with each query. #skynet

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Haltom High School Set to Pilot Student ePortfolios

Haltom High School students will be using their Birdville ISD Google accounts to create ePortfolios. The ePortfolios will be used as a place to create and store student exemplars. Inside their main folder, there will be folders for each of the students' classes. Students can then share their ePortfolios with teachers and other staff members via a link. The program is scheduled to begin this Fall. 

Texas Gateway: TEA Digital Resources for All Content Areas

Texas Gateway is a Texas Education Agency web portal that provides“just-in-time” resources that educators can leverage during a particular lesson, sequenced binders of instruction that you can assign to students, and provides additional PD training courses to earn CPE credit hours. Content can be searched by content area, grade level, and by TEKS. Educators can also subscribe to a newsletter to learn about featured resources.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

4 Free Keyboarding Resources

There are many free options available to educators to teach keyboarding and prepare students for online environments. Resources that increase speed and accuracy ranging from drills to games are available for keyboarders at any level. Here is a list of 4 resources you can explore with your students.

ABCYa-Keyboard Challenge is an interactive activity putting missing keys in the correct places on a keyboard. Great for remembering the keys on the keyboard and lessons can be sorted by grade levels Pre-K-5. is a free resource in which students of all ages can participate in engaging exercises, interactive games, and uses positive reinforcement. This resource includes a free Teacher portal in which teachers can monitor their class and access powerful reporting features.
Good Typing is a free online typing skill development program appopriate for secondary students. Good Typing provides 27 graduated lessons designed to help students learn to use their entire keyboards correctly. Unlike some free online typing programs, Good Typing offers support twenty different keyboard styles including US style, Japanese style, and several European languages.

Typing Adventure is a fun game that elementary students can use to practice their typing skills. To play the game students just have to visit the game site, read the directions, and press start. The game scenario presented to students is a character leaping from stepping stone to stepping stone. To move along the path students have to type the letters of the stones they want to jump to. Students earn points based on speed and accuracy.

3 Digital Differentiation Tools for ELAR Teachers: Newslea, TweenTribune, & Rewordify,

Newsela is site that provides current event articles that are provided with different lexile reading levels. Spanish is also an option for some articles. Newsela has a free sign-up for educators.Teachers can assign articles to students with a class code or print off articles at different lexiles. In addition, historical speeches and primary sources available. Newsela's YouTube channel has many resources for learning about the functions of the site.

Rewordify is a site that simplifies difficult text. Students can copy and paste difficult texts into a box that will simplify it. This can help ELL students access complex content tasks at their comprehension level. If students have access to online textbooks, this can be helpful for higher-leveled texts. It also works with archaic language (think Shakespeare or the Gettysburg Address) and incorporates vocabulary into the "translation".

TweenTribune is a Smithsonian site that provides current event articles that come in different lexile levels. It provides grade ranges along the top, as well as lexile ranges within the articles.The visuals are great supports for ELLs and media literacy TEKS. Resources can be viewed in both English and Spanish. Technology-related articles are also a category.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Podcast: Digital Literacy and Diversity

The Value of Search via Digital Learning Lounge

BISD's Digital Learning Lounge, ( is a collaborative resource populated by Birdville's digital learning community. The Digital Learning Lounge provides a platform in which users can SEARCH keywords to locate latest announcements, best exemplars of digital learning (In The Spotlight) resources, technology tips (TechTips), podcast (Listen & Learn), and access social media platforms to include Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Users can subscribe to the Digital Learning Lounge by filling out the Subscribe By Email box. In addition, educators can submit content to the Digital Learning Lounge. 

Contribute to the Digital Learning Lounge via Spotlight

We are always looking for new ideas and encourage you to join in contributing to our community. This can easily be done from a smart phone right in a classroom, so remember to take the time to share digital learning successes with your BISD colleagues through the Digital Learning Lounge. How can you spotlight yourself or someone on your campus?

  1. Start a new email message.
  2. Type in the "To" line.
  3. Type the Title of your blog post in the "Subject" line of your email.
  4. Type what you want to spotlight/share - which will become your actual blog post text - in the body of the email. Note: everything in your email will become part of your post so you may want to edit/delete extra information from your email signature.
  5. Attach the images you want to include in your post to your email message.

Digital Learning Lounge in Action:  Jenna Henderson, an elementary teacher located at Watauga Elementary, contributed to the Digital Learning Lounge on how she is using Google Forms Quiz Feature to provide immediate feedback. Jenna worked with her campus's digital learning specialist to learn how to implement the feature. Student motivation and accountability improved as a result of implementing this program. 

Digital Learning Platform: The Digital Learning Lounge provides a best structure to share best practices, exemplars, and resources as a community. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Increasing Student Engagement via SMART Learning Suite

The SMART Learning Suite is a collaborative set of applications that can be used with an interactive whiteboard and/or a mobile device. The SMART Learning Suite now combines the new SMART Notebook 16 with a game-based learning application, SMART Labs. Additional features include a strong formative assessment application, SMART Response 2,  and improved mathematics applications SMART Blocks and GeoGebra.

Smart Learning in Action: Pam Starnes, teacher at North Oaks Middle School,  used Kagan Structures via her SMART interactive  whiteboard to facilitate her students' interactions and discussions of word roots.

Digital Learning Platform: The Smart Learning Suite provides an interactive learning experience that can be leveraged to increase engagement using SMART Notebook 16 and SMART Lab as well as provide improved student feedback through the SMART Response 2 system. 

To learn more about how to best leverage SMART Learning Lab, please contact your campus's digital learning specialist. Use this link to learn more about SMART Notebook and SMART resources.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Collaborative & Visual Notetaking with Edji! is a new collaborative and visual note taking tool for teachers and students. Highlighting tools that are identified by popular emojis make annotating an engaging and social discussion of a text. Teachers can quickly create and manage groups to assign different readings to, which helps with differentiation. Visuals and interaction with PDFs also support language learners. Students can add questions or observations to images and charts, as well.

Curious about how this could work in your class? 
Check out their demo page by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Podcast: Thinking Globally

Summer Learning Continues!

July is coming to an end, but the summer learning isn't over yet!  

The Digital Learning Team has 25 more face to face sessions before school starts.  Some sessions have been added or expanded to allow for more participants.

See you soon!

Online Digital Learning Summer Professional Learning Courses

Birdville ISD's digital learning team is offering three self-paced online professional learning courses in Canvas. Courses have been added to our summer digital learning course offerings. Birdville educators can now enroll in Google Basics, Screencasting for Flipped Instruction, and Formative Assessment in Canvas. After completing course activities, participants will be awarded 1.5 hours of credit. Course descriptions and enrollment links can be located below. 

Title & Link
Course Type
Would you like for your campus, department, or team to work more productively and efficiently? You can use Google GSuite applications to help make work easier and bring teachers and students together. In this session you will learn to navigate, create, and share files including Docs, Slides, Forms, and Sheets, all located in your Birdville Google account. This session is best suited for beginner and intermediate Google Drive users.
Self-Paced Online Professional Learning. Select title link to enroll in Canvas.
Learn how best utilize screencasting to flip instruction from any device. Explore tips, tricks, and tools that make curation and creation of digital, cloud-based content easier. Discover how screencasting and flipped learning help you be more effective and maximize face to-face time with your students. This session will introduce screencasting applications such as Explain Everything, ShowMe, Educreations, Screencast’o’matic, Screencastify, and MySimpleShow.
Self-Paced Online Professional Learning. Select title link to enroll in Canvas.
Fast and frequent formative assessments give teachers the information and data to personalize learning. Learn how to use several digital learning tools to gather student learning data to help you make instructional decisions for your students.
Self-Paced Online Professional Learning. Select title link to enroll in Canvas.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Signing Students Out of the Google Drive App on an iPad

When using shared iPads in the classroom, having multiple students log in with their Google accounts can be an issue.  Teach your students the simple steps below to solve this problem for good!

Step 1. Tap on the 3 line menu symbol located near the top left of the screen.

Step 2. Tap the triangle next to your account name.
Step 3. Press Manage Accounts.

Step 4. Select Manage.

Step 5. Press Remove.

Step 6. Finally, tap Remove from the pop/up box.

g drive final step.PNG

Print Multiple Google Docs with a Single PDF

PDF Mergy is an online tool that will let you merge multiple documents into a single printable PDF.  This can be very helpful if you have students turn in assignments in Google Classroom, and you want to print them all at once!

To use this online tool:

  1. Go to 
  2. Click "Select Files from Google Drive"
  3. Open the folder containing all of the documents you need to print. Note: Google classroom automatically creates a folder in Google Drive for each assignment.
  4. Select all of the files in the folder. Click to select the first file, then use Ctrl+A to select all.
  5. Click the "Select" button.
  6. Click "Merge".
  7. Wait for the web tool to merge.
  8. Click "Save PDF to your Computer".
  9. Open the saved PDF.
  10. Print!
Check out these great resources:

Friday, June 2, 2017

Create VR Experiences via CoSpaces

CoSpaces is an easy VR tool that allows users to create virtual reality experiences on a computer or tablet. Users begin by creating an environment or setting and adding customized objects to build their own world in the browser app. Users can add photos, text boxes, audio files, and speech bubbles. Objects can be made interactive through coding using both scripts or visual blocks, which is a good introduction to coding.

After creating in VR experince in a browser, users can utilize the CoSpaces app on their mobile device to experience their VR creation. Users login to the app to access content. Content can also be shared with others. CoSpaces is available in the BISD apps catalog.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

HyperDocs in a Blended Classroom

In order to help meet the needs of today's learners, Birdville is making a cultural shift towards the blended learning model. Three components of the model are flipping instruction, flexible grouping, competency-based learning and a HyperDoc can be a great plan for either one. A HyperDoc is a term used to describe a Google Doc that is used as a springboard that allows learners to hyperjump to a multitude of online resources, such as short videos, journal articles, online textbooks, and any other supplemental resources that can be accessed by a URL link. With a HyperDoc, it is all about hyperlinking.  When it comes to delivering a HyperDoc, you have several options. With Google Classroom you can make an assignment set for the students to make a copy of their own automatically. There are a couple of options with Canvas. You can share with a link set as view-only and attach the link on a content page or on an assignment page. If you are not using Canvas or Google Classroom, you can copy the share as a view-only link and use sites like, or to shorten the link and then project it on a screen or simply write it on the board. For more information on creating HyperDocs please contact the Digital Learning Team.

Birdville Blended Hits a Homerun!

Yesterday I met Payge Scoggins, freshman at Richland High School.  Payge and the freshman class at the three Birdville ISD High Schools are the first group of students to experience blended learning in their English Language Arts classrooms.  Blended is being implemented in Birdville ISD as a result of being awarded the Raising Blended Learners grant in April 2016.

This spring rather than completing a traditional research paper project, teachers Kate Chambers, Heather Palmer, and April May, instead engaged their students in a research-based Passion Project.  A focus of blended learning is to personalize learning for students and engage them in relevant learning experiences.  Kudos to all Birdville teachers striving to do exactly that each day!

Payge says, "I decided to put together this softball game event at first for a school project but soon it became even more special and meaningful to me.  My dream for my future career is to work with kids and adults who are disabled or have special needs.  My passion is to play softball so I thought I could put the two together and create this charity softball game.  All the donations we receive will go to the Special Olympics foundation."

Each member of the girls' softball team partnered with a special needs student and all enjoyed a fun game of softball - batting, running the bases, and playing the field.  One of the special needs students sang the National Anthem just before Laura Holt, Director of Special Education, threw out the first pitch.  NBC-5 covered the event and you can see the story here:

Payge saw an opportunity and hit a homerun by planning and coordinating the first Richland Charity Softball Game, raising $448 for Special Olympics.

See the Richland High Facebook story here:

Posted by: Cheryl McKnight
Coordinator of Digital Learning, Blended Learning Project Manager

Thursday, May 25, 2017

That's a Wrap! Video Production at Haltom Middle School

Haltom Middle School Theater students in Deanna Davis’ classes are wrapping up their final production of the year. Mrs. Davis longed for a new way to cover several of her content TEKS that would be engaging and allow students to show mastery of semester-long concepts. Deanna teamed up with her digital learning specialist to try to think of some ideas. To begin, they unpacked the TEKS that would be driving the lesson activities. In the next step, they discussed the different ways students could demonstrate their learning in a manner that would be engaging, personalized and would demonstrate mastery of the standards. The decision was made that the final production would be either a commercial or theater promo advertising the theater program to incoming 6th grade students. Student tasks were created using backward design; breaking down the tasks into each of the key stages of film production.
After careful consideration of the campus' available technology, it was decided that iPads would be the best tool for the job. Students worked collaboratively within their small groups, with the goal of creating a group production.
When it came to filming, Mrs. Davis added the element of green screen recording, which was very popular with the students. Smiles and giggles were abundant. When asked about green screening the students replied with comments such as: “it is really cool.”, “I really like it.”, and “how can I do this at home?”
Since the students already had iPad's, video production rolled brilliantly into iMovie. It was the perfect tool for the students to engage in authentic, creative work while covering the essential content. Students were also given the freedom to use their own devices and apps if they preferred. Based on the passion students had when discussing their projects you could feel their sense of ownership. Upon completion, the students turned their productions in via Google Classroom. Here are two of the promo videos that were used to help grow the Theater program.
Video 1 Video 2

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

OER Commons: Open Education Resources

OER Commons (Open Educational Resources) is a free K-12 collaborative network that offers educators access to a large digital library of open education resources. Resources can be searched by subject area, grade level, or by material type. Educators can also enjoy joining one of the many OER network hubs or education groups and connect with other educators. Finally, educators can create open educational resources to create media rich documents and interactive lessons. OER Commons integrates into Google Classroom.

OER Commons in Action: Teachers utilize OER Commons to locate video content and interactive games to add as an enrichment activities in Google Classroom.

Digital Learning Platform: OER Commons provides a best structure for educators to locate open educational resources, connect with other educators, and create open educational resources.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Green Valley Elementary Students Learn About 3D Printing From Middle School Students

Students at Green Valley Elementary celebrated Art Day today in 3D. North Ridge Middle School student council students that participate in NRMS makerspace  taught Green Valley Elementary students how to use Tinkercad, a CAD (computer aided design) application. Students learned how to manipulate 3D objects, scale objects, create holes in 3D objects, create rings and letters, and export objects to print on a 3D printer. Scholars spent time creating a 3D object with a partner and learned how to export files for 3D printing and share files on Thingverse. Students also learned how industries such as the medical, fashion, aviation, and construction industry are using 3D printers to create objects to solve real world problems. Finally, students learned about local library programs that can assist students and provide 3D printing access.

North Ridge Middle School 3D Printing Scholars

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and screen

NRMS students teach elementary students how to use Tinkercad.

NRMS students introduce the 3D printing process.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Podcast: Birdville ISD Pre-K Parents Share About STEM Literacy Kits

New Apps in BISD 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.

Flocabulary is a learning program that uses educational hip-hop to engage kids and teens of all ages to expand their vocabularies and learn about school subjects and life skills.
Contact your Digital Learning Specialist or Library Media Specialist for our Birdville username & password.
Little ABC Alphabet Phonics
Fun and easy to use ABC tracing app.
Periodic Table Game
Periodic Table Game is an educational game, designed to teach and test the player’s knowledge of the periodic table.
Meet Beethoven
"Meet Beethoven" from, is an elementary music education resource designed to send your child's excitement about music and learning into overdrive!
Math Olympics
Start out as a preschooler and work your way up to become a mathematical genius, were you could become the next Einstein. For each math level you achieve, by finishing math puzzels, you will earn Math Brain points and your Math Brain will grow.
MathMaker is a state-of-the-art visual math tool, which is engaging and fun to use. Gain a deep understanding of math concepts, develop visual strategies, and explore spatial representations of the procedures taught in school. MathMaker allows kids to create visual representations that help them explain their work. The app offers ease of use, a fun set of tools, and a pleasing environment to make it a “go to” tool in math classrooms and at homework tables.
Fractions with Trains
The student's task is to help the cute panda get to the bamboo forest. This is achieved by repairing gaps in the railroad. To repair the gaps it's necessary to select the right rail lengths, and this it where the students learn the meaning of fractions.
Spelling Slam
With over 1500 words and 30 challenging levels, Spelling Slam is a great way to improve your spelling skills.
Sage 3D Modeling and Printing
Sage is an artist's tool that you don't have to be an artist to use. You can make one-of-a-kind sculptures including vases and figurines right on your tablet.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Teaching Media Literacy: A 2nd Grade Persuasive Writing and Green Screen Media Campaign

Green Valley Elementary students are learning about media literacy in Ms. Rhodes 2nd grade class. Recently, students have investigated media's influence in economics under the free enterprise system and completed a persuasive writing activity.


Students individually designed a cereal box and formulated a marketing campaign. Afterwards, students were placed in groups to write a persuasive commercial script, selecting one product to market. An example of a script can be seen below.

Using the Green Screen app by DoInk, students filmed a commercial using Birdville's district mobile green screen unit.  Students were very excited to have the opportunity to be creative, with some groups even securing a sports sponsorship. Props were encouraged. Ms. Rhodes used her Birdville Google account to upload video content in YouTube, which she can now share with parents. Contact your campus's digital learning specialist to learn more about the Green Screen app or to reserve the mobile green screen unit. Example products can be seen below.

Digital Learning Platform:  Students create an authentic task or product using the Green Screen app by DoInk. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Creative Common Resources for Research and Creation

As the year comes to an end, many students and educators are completing research projects and creating end of the year presentations. Presentations serve as an excellent opportunity to reflect, model best practices and teach good digital citizenship. Educators should be conscious of six different types of copyright uses in the classroom: reproducing, recording, preparing derivative works (such as a new arrangement), distribution, performance, and display. To learn more about copyright and fair use guidelines, check out the following Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines for Teachers Chart. Here are a few resources to ensure that students have access to applications to assist with following good digital citizenship protocols during the creation process.

Search via Creative Commons

Creative Commons licensed resources are resources in which an artist shares media specifically for reuse with some rights reserved. The Creative Commons organization created a metasearch engine, an engine that queries third party search engines to populate results, to help users locate a range of different creative commons resources. Searching via the Creative Commons metasearch engine provides users with the ability to search audio, images, and video using Google, Flickr, Open Clip Art Library, Google Images, YouTube, SoundCloud, Wikimedia Commons, and other engines.

Google Slides enables users to search creative commons within the application. Users select insert, image from the top menu to access a search feature. 

Access Royalty Free Music

PurplePlanet Music offers royalty free usage for personal projects. Users are asked to credit PurplePlanet Music to creations prior to posting on social media sites, websites, blogs, or YouTube.

YouTube Creator's Studio not only offers all BISD Google users the opportunity to create within YouTube, it gives a platform to search creative commons video to add to your videos and embed thousands of royalty free music tracks to your video content. Videos can be shared with the world or set as private and only shared with certain users. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Keep Learning Alive

Hashtag Database Infographic

Grow your Professional Learning Network (PLN) this summer. My favorite “Google Guru”, Kasey Bell, has been hard at work collaborating with teachers to create an educational hashtag database. The database is searchable and can be filtered by grade level, subject area and more. To access the database, go to Kasey's blog. ( See her blog-post titled The Educational Hashtag and Twitter Chat Database”.

Facebook Search field
There are over 90 hashtags at this time. Identify a few good Twitter Chats, open your favorite social media application and plug in one of the interesting hashtags from the database. Now, sit back and watch the information come to you. Think of it like a funnel for the Internet where all of the content is curated specifically for you or your interests.

Educational Hashtag Database Screenshot
Since summer break provides a little extra free time, consider participating in a Twitter Chat. Kasey’s database lists the days and times of each chat, so pick one that fits in best with your vacation schedule. It’s ok to just watch the Twitter Chat if answering questions makes you a little terrified.

By August you will have expanded your PLN and your MIND!  Thanks @shakeuplearning.