YouTube Playlists and Canvas LMS

Last week’s blog post showed how to create a YouTube playlist and load it into Google Classroom.  This week shows how to load a YouTube playlist into Canvas Learning Management System.  I hope you find it helpful.


What a Mess! Unorganized Media

When I began this blog, my goal was to blog once a week.  I managed that goal fairly easily.  I would like to begin blogging every day.  The biggest hindrance to that goal is unorganized media.

I use photos in all of my blog posts.  I have several videos I would like to begin using.  I have learned since I began this blog that file names are an essential aspect of success.

This is what some of my personal photos look like in my album.

It takes quite a while to find photos, video, and other resources when you haven’t given them a file name.  I have been diligently working on naming all of my files.

Files and photos with names.

My Google Drive was just as messy.

Another mess!


Creating folders and giving those folders file names enables you to find what you are looking for more quickly.

Organized Google folders

You can even create folders within folders when you have a multitude of photos and files available.

Folders within a folder

The advantage of naming photos and files is that you can find what you are looking for when you need it.

Don’t be like me, organize and label your photos, your videos, and your documents!

Book Tasting with iPads

Today my second grade team hosted a book tasting for our students in the Library.  We are using author studies and genre studies to teach our Reading and Language Arts TEKS this year.  We wanted to give our students some choice in the authors we will be studying for the rest of the semester.

We chose 6 authors to present at our Book Tasting.  We decorated the tables with some colored paper, fall leaves, books, and QR codes.  The QR codes were to YouTube Book Trailers of books by each author.



Each class had a turn visiting the Book Tasting.  We put the kids in small groups and rotated them to each table.  They watched the YouTube videos with iPads.  There was only one minor glitch.  One of the book trailers wouldn’t play on every iPad.  The students had a wonderful time watching the book trailers and reading the books by the various authors.





Each group visited each author table.  Then we finished with a Google survey.  We made a QR code for our survey.  The students scanned the QR code with their iPad and logged into their Google accounts to complete the survey.  They told us about their favorite authors and book characters from the Book Tasting.  We will make a giant graph in our hallway to graph the results of the survey.  We will choose our next author study based on the results of the Book Tasting survey.

Our students are excited to see which author was the favorite.  They can’t wait to find out who will be the next author we study.

Here are two of our author QR code posters.

robert-munsch                      tedd-arnold





What is Digital Literacy?

Digital Literacy is a broad topic.  What does it encompass?  What do we need to teach so that our students are digitally literate?

For me, Digital Literacy, has two parts, Digital Citizenship, and Digital Fluency.  I begin addressing digital citizenship with my students the first week of school.  There are some key criteria I want my students to know and embrace about responsible online behavior.

I always start with Common Sense Media’s K-2 Scope and Sequence.  The first lesson in this series is a video of a young boy telling about online Safety.  He teaches 3 rules for online safety.  After the video and lesson I have my students create posters for online safety.




These rules are a great place to begin teaching basic online safety rules and procedures.

The essential understandings of online safety I want my students to fully understand are:  Never share personal information.  We have a lesson on what personal information is:  name, address, phone #, birthday, school, town, etc.  I want them to understand that they shouldn’t share information that will allow someone they don’t know to know who they are and where they live.

We also talk about who we know and don’t know.  Online you can chat and play games with someone.  You might recognize their profile photo or avatar.  You might know their online name or handle, but you don’t know that person in real life.  This is someone we have to be especially careful of revealing information to.  This is tricky and a hard concept for some young children to understand.  We have to have many discussions about this issue over the school year.

The third key criteria I want my students to grasp is:  Always login to an account or game and logout when you are finished.  This keeps their work, information, and projects safe and secure.  This one is easy to teach.  The first time my students go into the computer lab and discover someone has altered their avatar or changed something they were working on, they suddenly “get it”.  I always point out that those things happen when we forget to logout of our Google accounts or our RAZ Kids accounts.

Online safety and digital citizenship are ongoing topics that we visit in my classroom weekly if not daily.  There are so many more important areas to cover.  Visit Common Sense Media for more information.  Here are some links to some other great resources for teaching digital citizenship.




Technology is everywhere.  Our kids live in a world where anything is possible at the click of their fingertips.  I them to know how to be safe in this 21st century in which they live, learn, and play.


Getting the Word Out

Parent communication – the bane of a teacher’s existence!  Each year teachers strive to find a means to communicate with parents that will reach all, engage all, and inform all.  There are so many forms of social communication available.  How do you know which one to choose?  How do you even know if you should just choose one?  How do you decide if your communication with parents is effective?

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, email, Google drive, blog posts, e-newsletters, the list can go on and on.  I’ve used just about every form of communication a teacher can think of.  I usually determine what is best on a year to year basis.  Two years ago I used Instagram successfully.  Last year, the parents of my students (overall) were not interested in Instagram.  I made my own newsletters in Google and sent them via email.  I had more than one parent request they be sent in PDF form as not all parents had a Google account.

Creating a newsletter in Google isn’t difficult.  You can make your own template that can be re-used each week.  You can send these newsletters directly from your drive through a Google email account.  I did that, and also downloaded the newsletter in PDF form for those parents who requested a PDF format.  Here is a screenshot of my Google newsletter.  I made it using drawing tools.  It only took a few minutes to create my own template.

news examp 1

Creating a newsletter through Google or as a Word document and sending it to parents via email is a quick and easy way to keep parents updated.  It is basically a newsletter, conveying through written word, information parents need to know.

Instagram is another quick and easy way to stay in touch with parents and for parents to feel as if they are staying in touch with their child’s classroom.  Create your own Instagram account.  It’s free!  Take pictures of what’s happening in your classroom and post them!  You can even teach kids to take pictures and post.  (We’ll talk about teaching kids how to post soon!)  Parents who are Instagram users themselves generally love following and responding to your classroom.

This year I’m using Twitter and Smore to reach out to my student’s parents.  Twitter is much like Instagram;  take and post pictures with brief descriptions of what your kiddos are doing throughout the day.  You don’t have to post throughout the day, but any and all activities are usually twitter worthy.  Parents can follow you and see your tweets throughout the day as well.  These types of daily communication allow parents to feel more connected to their child’s life while at school.  Remembering to take those photos and tweet them can be a bit hectic at the beginning of the year.  Here is a screenshot of a tweet from a few weeks ago.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 9.35.30 PM

Smore is an e-news platform that allows you to create all sorts of flyers to keep your parents informed and connected to your classroom.  I’m using it as a newsletter each week.  I can post information about upcoming events, what we’ve been learning, and anything else I want parents to know about.  Photos can be added throughout the flyer.  This gives each flyer a personal and relevant touch.  Smore also lets you see how many viewers have accessed the flyer.  There is a free version and a paid version.  Here is a screenshot of the free version.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 9.38.33 PM

I’m also creating a flyer with important information about my classroom procedures.  I plan to keep these flyers available all year so parents can go back and access them if necessary.  I will be doing that by creating folders within my Smore account and saving each flyer instead of re-using each flyer.  Once a flyer is complete and ready to view, you just send the link to parents through email or a Learning Management System.

I enjoy taking photos of my students as they are learning and growing.  Keeping parents abreast of what is going on in our classroom is a treat and a privilege.

How do you communicate with parents?  Please share in the comments.  Don’t forget to click the Follow button in the bottom right hand corner to journey with me through classroom technology.

All Things PicCollage


I love PicCollage.  It is a versatile app that can be used in your classroom in multiple ways.  PicCollage is one of the first apps I teach my 2nd graders.  Every year about half of them are familiar with PicCollage and about half are not.  For this reason, I always start with a simple lesson on how to use PicCollage.

We have been learning about Science.  What is science?  What are scientists?  What do scientists do?  What tools do scientists use?  We are preparing our 2nd graders for becoming scientists and STEAM learners.  I used PicCollage to let my students showcase what they learned about science topics.

PicCollage is an app that allows users to take photos or upload photos from the web.  Students can add text, background, and stickers to their collages.  These are simple and easy to use.  There are also templates available.  I always begin in freestyle mode.  I show students how to use the web search feature to find images they are interested in using.  I show them how to add text and change the font.  I show them how to add background.  PicCollage is so user friendly that “how to” lessons take a very short period of time.  Students catch on quickly.  PicCollage becomes a favorite app for use in the iPad station.  Students will create collages for friends, family, birthdays, favorite sport teams, and all sorts of topics they find  interesting.  Very soon, I will be teaching them how to email these collages to the family members for whom they’ve been created.

I love PicCollage for the simple fact that it allows my students who avoid paper/pencil tasks like the plague, a quick and easy way to show me what they have learned.  Many children have fine motor skill issues that make completing paper/pencil tasks pure torture. Many children are so 21st century oriented that they would truly prefer to use technology to show what they know.  I have had students in the past that I truly didn’t see from their paper/pencil activities what they were capable of.  Those students often excel at iPad activities such as PicCollage.  I like to see higher level thinking in my students.  PicCollage allows kids to shine in ways that paper/pencil activities often do not.

Take a look at a few of our first PicCollage assignments.  This is a simple, easy way for kids to show what they have learned and for teachers to assess that learning.



As our skills in PicCollage grow, and we become more fluent digital learners, I will be updating and sharing the many ways we will be using PicCollage in my classroom.  Please share in the comments the ways you and your students apply PicCollage to 21st century learning.

Click the follow button in the bottom right hand corner to join my classroom journey in creating digital fluency in today’s learners.

Making Friends with Teligami

The beginning of every school year brings new adventures, new opportunities, new beginnings, and new friends.  Elementary school teachers spend much time helping students renew old relationships and develop new ones.  We always read stories about friendship and search for new activities to create bonding experiences for our new students.

I love random pairing.  I also prefer to put my students into groups of 2 for partner activities.  I like 2 kids to a group for the simple reason that participation tends to be higher in smaller groups.  With groups of 3 or more it seems like someone is always sitting and observing instead of actively participating.

This week, our first week back in school, we spent a lot of time doing partner activities.  I use a random drawing process to partner my students.  There is always some shock at first.  There is usually some trepidation when someone ends up paired with someone they don’t really know.  Girls and boys who end up paired together usually give each other some strange looks.  By Friday, the kids understood how the process works and for the most part just grinned at their new partners.  I truly believe this random pairing goes a long way in forging new friendships within my classroom.

We undertook all of the usual first week activities for early elementary grade levels.  We read a series of Kevin Henkes books.  Chester’s Way, Wemberly Worried, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and of course, Chrysanthemum are just a few of the books we used this week.  He is my favorite author and the perfect author for a Back to School unit.  We played Getting to Know You games.  We prepared activity after activity for partners to come together, work together, and in the process, get to know each other.

On Friday, we had another random partner drawing.  This time we were drawing for friends to interview.  Each student had a brief interview sheet with some basic questions such as age, favorite food, favorite subject, etc.  The two partners then set about interviewing each other.  After the interview process was completed, we watched a YouTube video on how to create a Teligami.  We also watched a 33 second Teligami video that had been uploaded to YouTube.  All of this preparation took about 10 minutes.   A few of my students had used Teligami before, but most had not.

Their task was to create a Teligami introducing their new friend.  They could create an animated character for the introduction.  They could use a Teligami background or they could take a photo of our classroom for the background.  I didn’t let them download from the internet for background images.  We haven’t had that lesson yet.  They could record their voices introducing their friend or they could type the text and let the Teligami app generate a computer voice.  Everyone chose to make their own voice recording of course.

Teli 1

The kids had a great time interviewing friends and creating  Teligami characters.  I got to know my kiddos a little better by observing their tech skills and their creativity.

Teli 2

How do you use Teligami in your classroom?  Please comment to share your ideas.  If you like my blog please click on the follow button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.










Camp Invention

This summer I participated in Camp Invention.  This is an amazing program designed to engage kids in STEAM activities.  Kids will participate in challenges and activities designed toward problem solving and 21st century skills.  I was the facilitator of the Maker Studio of the Epic Park series.  Students going into grades 1-6 rotated through the activities every day.  In Maker Studio the kids bring a machine from home to take apart.  The idea is to learn how the item works by reverse engineering.  As kids take the machine apart, hopefully they are learning what each part is and what each part does to make the machine work.

Camp Invention 3

Camp invention 2

Camp invention 4

These youngsters learn how to use tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, pry bars, and allen wrenches. They learn about power sources with batteries of different voltages.  They learn about manual power sources such as a hand crank.  They watch videos of inventors that challenge their problem solving skills as well as their creativity.  After a few days of taking apart the machines, these young inventors get to start planning how they can re-purpose the parts into new inventions.  The Camp Invention program supplies all materials needed.  The kids bring take-apart machines from home and recyclable materials to use in various projects and inventions.  Campers brought old VCR machines, flashlights, radios, DVD players, mixers, and many other types of machines to take apart.  One camper brought an old sewing machine.  They also brought many, many, many different recyclable materials:  egg cartons, boxes, carpet squares, legos, puzzles pieces.  You name it, someone probably brought it.  It took two large classroom to hold all of these materials.  On the last day of the week long program, campers showcase their inventions and parents visite the showcase to see all of the wondrous learning that has taken place.  This was an exciting week!  There are many different kinds of summer camps:  baseball, football, soccer, and just about every other sport camp imaginable.  Some communities offer various music camps.  Camp Invention is a place for those kids not interested in sports to go for a week of summer fun.  Don’t get me wrong though, Camp Invention is for all kids!   Every child who participates will walk away with new ideas, concepts, creations, and inventions.  Every child will walk away with a sense of accomplishment and a keenness to keep inventing!

Here is a link to the Camp Invention website.  Check it out, you won’t regret it.