Thursday, August 31, 2017

Create Study Groups with Slack

Slack is a free tool that allows users to create a digital workspace for groups to share information and ideas. To get started, sign up for a free account and create a Slack workspace. Next, invite members to participate in the group. Finally, let the members know you have added them to a workspace. Slack consists of several components and tools; teams, workspaces, channels, messages, and notifications. The workspace is comprised of channels and is the digital space where teammates communicate and share ideas. For more information about Slack, check out

Social Media Isn't a Fad...

"Social Media isn't a fad, it's a fundamental shift in the way we communicate."

Eric Sheninger, author of Digital Leadership, Learning Transformed, and other publications focusing on leading learning in the digital age recently tweeted this video:

A US Department of Education study revealed that online students out performed those receiving face-face instruction.  We can no longer hide from social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.  Banning it from classrooms and schools will not make it go away.  Social media is here to stay (until something more disruptive takes it's place), and face it, we all use it in our personal lives daily.  We must embrace it educationally.  It is real and relevant.  It is online and engaging.  It enhances communication with students, their families, and the community.  Students need to learn to navigate and use social media tools appropriately, and schools are the best place for this to happen.

Below are some links to learn how other educators are leveraging social media and some how-to guides to get started.  Just choose one today and see the difference it can make!

Memes, Emojis, and GIFs, Oh My! Teachers Tell How They Use Social Media
Making the Case for Social Media in Schools
An Introduction to Twitter Education Chats
Education Chats
Instagram for Teachers

From, ways to use social media in the classroom:

  • Class updates posted on Twitter and Facebook
  • Student blogging
  • Connecting with other classrooms, local and around the world
  • Real-time feedback for projects
  • Student podcasting
  • Using Twitter for research
  • Getting world stats instantly
  • Student reviews and comments on articles
  • Project-based learning with use of social media

Your Digital Learning Team is here to help you get started!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sharing the Teaching Load in BISD

Memary Pilkinton and Haley Fogarty, 4th grade teachers at The Academy at Carrie Frances Thomas, recently teamed up to teach math content...but in a very unique way.  They wanted to be able to teach math lessons to one other's classes but did not have a large enough space to accommodate all the kids. Then they discovered Skype for Business loaded on their computers.  Skype for Business allows for web conferencing between classrooms in BISD.  With Skype for Business, you are able to share your webcam image, your desktop, and more. So the two teachers connected their classrooms through Skype and Fogarty delivered the math lesson for the day for both classes at the same time.  See the video clip below!
Pilkinton says, "Having taught 4th self-contained for the first time last year, I recognized a need to collaborate with teachers who are strong in specific content. I was lucky to have teachers willing to collaborate with me through the use of technology. Using Skype for Business we are able to leverage the expertise of the teacher without disrupting their class by bringing in my class or disrupting my class by hiring a substitute while I visited another campus or teacher. I am finding this to be a great resource to assist in scaffolding my ability to teach a new subject while gaining the support from a more experienced teacher. As a kinesthetic/visual learner, I am already piecing together different ways that I can implement instruction while staying true to my desire to integrate technology into the classroom."  Soon the pair will be teaming up with Jennie Wasserman at Binion so she can show how she implements 7-up Sentences and grammar fails in Writing.

If you would like more information about connecting with other teachers around BISD, contact  your campus Digital Learning Specialist.  They would love to come work with you!

MiddleWeb: All About Teaching and Learning in Grades 4-8

MiddleWeb.Com: All About the Middle Grades

MiddleWeb All about Middle Grades website logo

Click here to access MiddleWeb, a great website/blog that is all about middle school & the middle grades — with a sharp focus on teaching and learning in grades 4-8. Find ideas, resources, blog posts, guest articles, book reviews and interviews specifically targeted to students in grades late elementary through early high school. Some great resources to check out now:
Also, check out the very timely post that relates to our Birdville Building Opportunities for Literacy Everyday (BOLD) initiative, "Why Teachers and School Librarians Should Unite!"
In the post, Rachel Grover, discusses specific ways librarians and teachers can partner to increase student achievement.
Multiple studies have shown that students who attend schools with certified school librarians achieve more than those who attend schools without librarians (AASL, 2013) - Click here to open & download the infographic
In addition to supporting and enhancing instruction across the content areas with informational texts and research databases, librarians can make the difference in the reading success of each student.
Check out this story from middle school librarian, Nora Murphy:

Soon after I became a school librarian, a teacher came to me about Mario, an eighth-grader who had never read an entire book. Mario struggled to read at all, and English was not his first language, but he was a bright kid whose teacher believed in him. I recommended a short, funny, mysterious book that appeals to reluctant boy readers. Mario took it home, read it in a week and came back with his friends in tow to check out the remaining titles in the series.
When he was ready to tackle more challenging content, I started him listening to audiobooks while following along in the text, a strategy helpful for building fluency and comprehension. Mario would come to the library even when his track was on vacation, and he'd sit for hours, headphones on, reading. Soon, he was able to transition into reading the books on his own. By the end of that one school year, Mario had read 42 books, exceeding the goal set by the state of California for eighth-graders. He was ready for high school.

Are you "Uniting With Your Librarian" - an expert teacher -  for maximum student success?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Make Learning Visual Using Clips

Clips is a new app that makes it easy to create videos you can share with students, colleagues, and the world. Create a video to quickly share an idea with animated text, graphics, and music. Or record multiple clips that explain a topic or outline steps in a process to create powerful learning opportunities. Clips for iPhone and iPad is available free on the App Store. 

A Texas teacher uses Clips to pose an essential question to her biology students as part of the inquiry learning process. She creates Clips videos, ending with a bit of mystery to pique her students’ interest.  Here are some examples on YouTube:

View the Apple support website to learn how to create your own Clips

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Shannon High School Blend Ed Camp

As a part of Shannon High School's implementation of the Blended Learning model, the students at Shannon High School are taking part in an online Blend Ed Camp. The Blend Ed Camp is the first part of a year long series of Student Digital Essentials Modules that are being delivered through the Canvas Learning Platform. The tasks in the camp were designed to help students familiarize themselves with Google Drive and Google Docs. By the end of the camp, the students can create shared Google Drive folders, complete assignments in Google Docs, and can submit assignments to their teachers in Canvas.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Welcome Back - News from the BISD Technology Department

We hope everyone had a restful summer break and that you are ready for an awesome school year!  The Technology Department wants to make you aware of some exciting changes that will be happening!

Each teacher will need to set-up the technology in their classroom. We have provided Classroom Tech Set-up Resources to guide you in this process.  Please click for the Welcome Back Technology Checklist.

Skyward logins are now the same username and password as your computer. Click this link
to access a Quick Start Guide to Skyward.
K-5:  Each school year, student computer passwords (Kinder-5th) will be reset to Bisd1234.  
At the first login to a computer, students will be prompted to create a new password for the year.
This password will need to be created before accessing district resources. The new password
must have at least 8 characters, with one capital letter, one lowercase letter, and one number.  
6 - 12:  6th-12th grade students will continue use their password from the previous school year.
If 6th-12th grade students need to reset their password, they will fill out the 6-12th Grade Student Computer Password Change Form. (
New students:
Passwords for new K-5 students will be Bisd1234
Passwords for new 6-12 students will be b(birthday)$  For example, a student born on Jan 1, 2008
would have a password of b01012008$
Please click here for more information about student usernames and passwords.

The old “BISD-Secure” wireless network is being decommissioned. We will now be utilizing the newer “BISD 5G” and “BISD” networks. Windows computers should automatically be updated to point to the newer networks. On mobile devices such as cellular phones and iPads, you will need to manually add either the “BISD 5G” or “BISD” network, choose BISD 5G first, if it is available (it’s the fastest!). If you need help connecting to the new networks or just need more information about the change, take a look at our Knowledge Base article WiFi BISD5G.


The new single sign-on portal is COMING SOON! Our new single sign-on portal will be
accessible at This portal will allow you to sign in once and access many online resources without having to login to those individual applications - less passwords to remember! We will have several programs in the portal available for use in the next few weeks,
with even more being added throughout the year.

BISD Technology Department strives to support all staff in the efficient and effective use of technology.  Please visit the BISD Technology Knowledge Base to access helpful information  
and how-to instructions for support, setup, and the use of technology.  If you are unable to find a solution in the knowledge base, please submit a helpdesk ticket.
Helpful hint: Bookmark this link on your Chrome Browser Bookmarks Bar!

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.