September 10, 2015

Zulama and Meet our New "Learning Commons" Specialist

Have you heard about the "Zulama" room?  High School Teacher Rachael Fryman has taken this project on with gusto. Zulama is the new high school course that offers project-based learning while students develop portfolios and skills they need to be successful in today’s global workforce. What skills you ask? We are using something students love, video games, to "hook" them.  They are developing problem-solving and thinking creatively skills they need to earn jobs in a digital world.It’s the perfect blend of technology and creativity, and it’s what employers are looking for.

So, there is good news and bad news and good news. Stay with me. 

Good News!

I am excited to tell you that Rachael Fryman has agreed to take the position of the Edgewood District "Learning Commons" Specialist.  I know this is a new term for us. However, it is a great phrase to add our vocabulary. A Learning Commons is a full-service learning, research, and project space. The library of the 21st century!

Rachael is BEYOND ECSTATIC! Anyone who knows Rachael knows that this has been her dream job since her Mom and Dad took her to the public library when she was a child. She has so many fabulous ideas to transform our High School media center into a 21st Century Learning Commons. 
She will be designing and maintaining a place that will encourage exploration, creation, and collaboration between students, teachers, and possibly the community.


Rachael will be stepping away from the Zulama Classroom.


Kris Korty has agreed to take over the Zulama Classroom. We were a little worried about who could fill the shoes of Rachael, and then Kris stepped forward. Kris will be GREAT. His tech skills are high, and growing every day. I have to study nightly just to keep up with him.

Good Luck Rachael! 

Good Luck Kris!

I promise to keep you all posted on what is going on with these projects over the year!

August 22, 2015


Formative assessments are an important way to meet our students' learning needs. When we can see what our students know (or don't know) we can better adjust our teaching to meet them right at their level. Beyond giving feedback, the best formative assessments help students recognize and value the process of learning, not just the outcomes. These reflective, metacognitive moments can foster kids' genuine excitement, engagement, and lifelong learning.
You and I have visited several sites that offer digital assessment methods.  However, this week I have what I believe to be the very best online assessment I have ever seen

Can I just say "Wow"? 

  • It's FREE
  • It can be used on ANY device that has an Internet connection 
  • Students do not need to log in! (No wasted class time!) 
  • You see real time results of all of your students at one time. Yes, you can watch all of your students work on the same problem at one time. 

Let me introduce you to Formative.

I can already hear you.  "Robin, I don't have time to create an assignment." I saved the best part for last.  You just drag any assignment you have in!  Still don't believe me?  Well, spend the next one minute and eleven seconds watching this: 

I suspect (hope) there will be several Edgewood teachers signing up for Formative this week.  I hope you will let me know how it is going.  You know I am here to help if you need me! 

May 13, 2015

Ms. Brooklyn Johnson

I believe this is going to be my favorite post on "Talking Tech with Robin".  I am not only going to get to brag on an Edgewood graduate, but also two faculty members.  It's a three for one! 

Ms. Brooklyn Johnson, daughter of High School teachers Sandy and Ben Johnson, has been selected to do her student teaching in Liverpool, England!  How exciting for Brooklyn!  

The best part is that Brooklyn has decided to blog about her adventures.  You can read Brooklyn Goes To Europe here. 

PLEASE take some time this summer to check in with her and encourage her through the comment section.

*Attention High School ELA teachers: This would be an excellent blog to show your students.  I believe we should encourage our students to blog. When students are asked to write for an audience outside of their class, they are more motivated, learn more and they write better than if they only wrote for their teacher.  Please contact me and I will help you set up blogs for your 2015-16 students.  

From Brooklyn's Blog:
"Hello! I am a senior in college at Ball State University working towards my bachelors degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in reading. This summer I am taking my passion for education over seas. I am from a small town in Ohio called Trenton. I am going to be attending Liverpool University in England this summer as well as doing my share of backpacking across Europe! Growing up as a kid I have always listened to my Uncle and relative tell stories about all their time spent traveling in Europe, so needless to say this trip is something I have been wanting to do since as long as I could remember. Thank you for taking the time to read about my experiences in Europe. "
Who do you think cried at the airport? Ben or Sandy?

April 28, 2015

Talking to Students about the Violence in Baltimore

The violence in Baltimore has hit close to home for Middle School teacher Andrea Hobson.  Her sister, Christi, lives less than a mile away from where some of the most dangerous activity is happening. Christi is a teacher and was forced to stay home today, and Andrea was able to have her speak with her classes through Google Hang Out.  What a great activity this was to bring the realization of what is happening just a few states away from us. 

Google Hang Outs are a simple thing to do.  We can connect with anyone who has a Google Account. Check out this website for ideas for your class.  Let me know and we can set up a hangout for you and your students. 

March 10, 2015

The Learning Continues with Plickers ...(Even Through This Crazy Test Time!)

As we approach the PARCC Assessment finish line, I hear a huge sigh of relief.  I was talking to some students, and the test is receiving mixed reviews. 

"I loved it. There were not as many questions."
"Give me back paper-pencil." 
"I really liked the ELA on the computer, but would rather have my paper-pencil for math."

I'm anxious to speak to you to see what you thought.

Do you want to see something impressive?  During this crazy test time, the learning is still continuing in Rachael Fryman's room. ( I am sure it is in your room also.)

Rachael and her student teacher Becca Maddox busted out some new technology called "Plickers".

Plickers is a great student response system that is perfect for classroom that do not have clickers. Let me explain.  Each student is given a piece of card stock that has a QR code printed on it. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app (App Store or Google Play) to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses. Teachers can create and save as many questions and responses as they like. The data collected can be viewed in a web browser or the mobile app.

I n this photo you can see that Rachael has just asked a question.  Her students are holding up their cards and Rachel is using her iPhone to scan the class and collect the answers.  How cool is that? 

After class, Rachael asked her students how they liked using Plickers.  They loved it. They liked the fact that they all had a chance to be a part of the class and could not see others answers.   Some even liked it better the Kahoot! 

Would you like to try Plickers in your classroom?  It is easy.  Let's work together and make it happen. 

February 21, 2015

Have you seen Grammarly?

I believe getting our MS/HS students to proofread and edit their own work is a big challenge?  Do you agree?
Even if they try ,many times, your eyes miss errors because your brain knows what you meant to say and skips right over the mistakes.
So, how can we help students to see their mistakes so they can correct them? Take a look at  Grammarly (, a free Chrome extension, to help students catch their errors as they compose anything from emails and write assignments online.
Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.59.45 AM
Grammarly checks contextualized spelling, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and style. The number of mistakes will appear in the lower right-hand corner in red. Each individual mistake will be underlined in green. When you hover over the underlined section, a small window pops up to help you identify the type of error you’ve made and Grammarly suggests an improvement. You simply click on the suggested improvement and it automatically changes!
Grammarly catches errors as students compose messages almost anywhere online! (They need to be on Google Chrome.)  Students can (should) also create a FREE Grammarly account and begin writing directly on that document to catch errors as they write. 
Because our students (should) use Google documents for all of their written assignments, I recommend that they copy and paste their work into a Grammarly document to check it before submitting a final draft. Students are amazed by what Grammarly catches! Most don’t even realize their writing has errors until they use Grammarly.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 10.11.19 AM
From the Common Core  Common Core Standards, this simple tool offers an easy way to support students in developing a “command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing.”  
If students begin to recognize the types of mistakes they typically make, it will be easier for them to look for and identify those mistakes in their own writing in the future. This also makes it easier for them to “develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, [and] editing.
I would imagine some teachers feel programs like this give students the answers, but I disagree. Often students cannot identify their own errors and need support to develop as writers.  This is a 21st century tool that is available to all, so I believe it is our responsibility to teach our students to use it. 
Here is my challenge to you: Install Grammarly on your own computer. (Make sure you are using chrome.) Use it for a couple of days and see how good your grammar is without using this plugin. 

February 18, 2015

A Google Time Line

Take a look at this very cool timeline generator I have found. You really need to take a few minutes to look at In short, students use Google Spreadsheet to collaborate and build a rich and intuitive timeline, incorporating all sorts of media: Youtube videos, Flickr pics, Tweets, Google Maps, Wikipedia articles – the list goes on. It honestly hits every EdTech-related Common Core state standard, from publishing and integrating digital media, to utilizing proper citation and sourcing skills.

It’s collaborative; it’s media-driven; it’s authentic; it’s engaging.  It's amazing!  
Take a look at these samples: 

Leave a comment and tell me how you are going to be able to use this tool in your classroom. I can't wait to hear what you come up with!