November 6, 2015

Todays Meet: Use It In Your Classroom Tomorrow

We have talked about Today's Meet before.  If you need a  refresher, click here. Let's talk about some new and refreshing ideas you can use it in your classroom tomorrow.

1. Have a conversation. Students can talk about anything in a TodaysMeet room, and often you’ll draw out the shyest, quietest students — the ones who would never raise their hand in class discussion.
2. Share links. Post the URL for a website you want everyone to visit. Links you post are clickable in TodaysMeet.
3. Ask questions. During a lecture, presentation or movie, if students are unclear about something, they can ask questions and get answers without interrupting.
4. Give examples. Looking for students to show how something relates to their life? Or how they would apply a new concept? Participation is immediate and much faster than raising hands to answer.
5. Take a poll. Ask for a vote among a couple choices and the results will be visually obvious in a matter of seconds.
6. Check for understanding. Ask a comprehension question and have students type the answer WITHOUT clicking “Say” (the button you use to submit your answer to the room). Then, if they all click “Say” on the count of three, you’ll see who understands and who doesn’t.
7. Gather feedback. Did your presentation make sense? Do students like changes to the school? What is really working in class? What would they like to see more of?
8. Gather anonymous feedback. If you want participants to be REALLY honest, ask them not to type their names (maybe just a letter or character, or the same thing for everyone) when they answer.
9. Create “rotating stories.” Create a TodaysMeet room with a story starter. Have each student add a new sentence to the story. (Or, have every student create a TodaysMeet room and start their own story … then have each student visit every other student’s room to add a sentence.) See where the story goes.
10. Discuss an event. The State of the Union speech. A movie relevant to class. A presentation in the auditorium. Host a behind-the-scenes quiet discussion.
11. Hold online office hours. Tell students you’ll be available at a TodaysMeet room at a certain time to answer questions.
12. Crowdsource details. When my Spanish classes and I make up stories in Spanish, I like to ask them for details to add — a character’s name, where the character goes, what a character does next. I can get suggestions from everyone in about 15 seconds (or less!).
13. Connect with other classrooms. Extend a discussion beyond the four walls of your classroom. Invite a class from down the hall, in another city, in a different country.
14. Connect with experts. Find an expert in the subject your class is discussing and see if he/she will engage with your students in a TodaysMeet room. You can have a guest speaker without the hassle of travel.
15. Host a contest. The first person who correctly posts in the TodaysMeet room wins!
16. Teach brevity. Students can easily get too verbose and use unnecessary words. Expressing thoughts in 140 characters is an exercise in simplicity.
17. Practice digital citizenship. TodaysMeet rooms are online spaces for discussion much like many social media sites. They are a safe place to post and then talk about the do’s and don’ts about engaging online.
18. Facilitate group projects. Students can post links to useful articles, relevant information and ideas they want to include in a group TodaysMeet room.
19. Create a club/team communications site. Post meeting cancelations and changes. Connect with parents. Save yourself tons of phone calls or text messages if everyone checks the group TodaysMeet site.
20. Have asynchronous staff/committee meetings. Host a discussion where participants can discuss when it’s convenient for them. Let everyone pop into a TodaysMeet room throughout the day (or week) and wrap up the meeting at a predetermined time.
Which of these ideas sounds the most useful? What other ideas would you add to the list? Share them in a comment below!
Ditch That Textbook,. (2014).  TodaysMeet in schools. Retrieved 6 November 2015, from

November 4, 2015

Google Add-Ons

Have you taken the time to explore Google Add-Ons?
These tools are built by third-party developers for Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms can be really helpful for you and your students. (YES! Have your student add them!)  Once add-ons are installed, you can manage each one individually, and turn them on and off at any time.

Google Add-ons are easy to find.  From any Google Doc, Sheet, or Form, just click "Ad -Ons" found at the top of the page. Click here for instructions.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Google Docs Add-ons:
The Tag Cloud Generator Add-on will create a word cloud in the right-hand margin of any of your Google Documents that contain more than one hundred words.

One of the most useful Add-ons for Google Documents is the EasyBib Bibliography Creator. The EasyBib Bibliography Creator makes it easy to properly cite resources and format a bibliography in APA, MLA, or Chicago style.

Knowing the right keyboard shortcuts to type the accents and characters is one of the challenges that students face when learning and trying to type in a new language. Easy Accents is a Google Docs Add-on that can eliminate that challenge. Easy Accents provides a virtual keyboard that enables students to quickly insert the letters and accents found in French, German, Spanish, Māori, and Sámi.

g(Math) is an Add-on for Google Docs that enables you to easily insert graphs and equations into your Google Documents. The Add-on opens in the right side of your document and from there you can insert the parameters of your graph and or generate equations.

Google Sheets Add-ons
Save As Doc is a free Google Spreadsheets Add-on that enables you to select a series of adjacent cells and turn them into an easy to read Google Document. The Save As Doc Add-on takes just a minute to install. Once installed select the Add-on from your "Add-on's" drop-down menu and click "start." After clicking "start" you can choose a set of cells or all cells to be converted into a Google Document. The document will appear in your Google Drive dashboard (it might take a minute or two to appear if you have selected a large set of cells) where you can then view it, edit it, or download it as a PDF.

Flubaroo is a popular Google Sheets Add-on that enables teachers to grade all at once all of their students' responses to a quiz created in Google Forms. Flubaroo offers automatic grading and emailing of grades. The autograde option in Flubaroo allows you to have students automatically receive their scores after submitting their responses to a quiz you created in Google Forms. The autograde feature will send students an email with their scores and the answer key (you can exclude the answer key). With autograding enabled students do not have to wait for you to run the grading process or wait for you to send emails.

Google Forms Add-ons:
FormLimiter is one of my favorite Forms Add-ons. FormLimiter allows you to set a time for a form to automatically stop accepting responses. You can also use FormLimiter to set a limit on number of responses a form will accept.

g(Math) is a also available as a Google Forms Add-on that allows you to insert graphs and mathematical expressions into your Google Forms. To insert graphs and equations into your Form select g(Math) from your Add-ons menu and follow the directions that pop-up on the right side of the screen.

Form Notifications allows you to create triggers for emails to be sent to you when submissions are made through one of your forms. You can set the Add-on to send you an email alert after a specified number of responses are received or after every submission. The Add-on also allows you to have an email sent to Form respondents after they have completed your Form.

Believe me...this is just the tippy-top of the iceberg.  I can't wait to see what you can find.

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.