Monthly Archives: November 2015

Math and Art – A Perfect Combination

Creativity and Innovation is ISTE’s first technology standard area for students.  This standard asks students to “create original works as a means of personal expression” and “use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.”

The Functions and Trigonometry classes, led by Chris Lucas and Greg Zupek, used the free online graphing calculator Desmos to create works of art.  The students used equations to create lines on a graph that came together to form beautiful works of art. (I apologize if my math terms are incorrect in describing this process!)

Each line and curve is created with a different equation.  The Dia de los Muertos skull below by Alison Pogorelc was created using 158 separate equations!

Desmos Skull

After the artwork was created, the classes came together for a gallery walk to view and critique each other’s work.  The class culminated in a fast -paced quiz game of Kahoot.

This is an excellent (and fun!) example of students using technology to learn content, exercise creativity, collaborate, and communicate with one another.


Learn More from Video with

Information is available to us in all formats – text, photo, video, audio, interactive graphics, social media, and more.  Most of us are comfortable with consuming information in text form, taking notes, and organizing our thoughts. provides a simple platform to simplify the process of learning from video. is an app that connects with your Google Drive account.  It allows you to import a video from from a variety of sources (e.g. YouTube, Kahn Academy, Vimeo) and take notes that are time stamped as you watch the video.  The entire file – video with notes – is then saved into your Google Drive.

This brief video gives an overview of the process:

Give it a try or share this tool with your students!

Pixlr Promotes Creativity

High school French and German classes have begun a unit titled “Beauty and Aesthetics.”  To help students learn and practice new vocabulary, French teacher Danielle Schoenwetter planned an activity in which students made an ugly picture beautiful and a beautiful picture ugly.  Using the new vocabulary, they then had to explain what they did and how that changed the aesthetics of the images.

The students used Pixlr, an online photo editing program similar to PhotoShop.  The benefit to an online program like this is that students can add it to their Google drive and do all of their work on a Chromebook.  The image is saved directly to their Google Drive and can be shared easily with the teacher.

Both teachers reported that the students were highly engaged in this activity and produced creative images.  For example, one student found a photo of an oil field for her “ugly” image and turned it into an ocean. The explanation of that change used quite a bit of new vocabulary!

Technology Integration – A Huge Topic!

What is technology integration?

Teaching with a SmartBoard? Students using iPads? Skype? Chromebooks?

The answer is yes and no.

Those are all tools to provide the best learning opportunities for our students, but it is HOW we use them that matters.

Technology standards used to focus on the tools themselves.  Now the focus is on skills and knowledge students need to thrive in a digital society.  The International society for Technology in Education (ISTE) provides a well-recognized set of standards for “what students should know and be able to do to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital world” (ISTE NETS for Students)

The six broad categories:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

The emphasis here is on cognitive skills requiring students to plan, create, and innovate. When integration is done right, the technology itself falls away.  It is what you are able to do with it that is in the spotlight.

Students can now explore the Taj Mahal using google Street View. They can learn about other cities, countries, and cultures through a Mystery Skype with another classroom.  They can write for an authentic audience through an online newspaper or personal blog.  They can quickly and easily research the answers to their own questions.

This is a big task, but it’s an exciting one!  We are all at different levels of expertise and comfort with technology, and that’s ok.  Let’s try something new together.

So this year, I challenge you to ask yourself what small step you can take to give your students an experience that was never possible before.  Then let me help you make it happen.

Google Tool Thursday

google appsApps, extensions, add-ons, yikes!

There are so many Google tools to choose from – where do I even begin?

Just like adding apps to your smart phone, there are a ton of options – some great, some not so much.  How do you decide what to use?

I can help with that!  Each Thursday, I will highlight a Google tool that you might find useful.  When you see something that looks interesting, give it a try!

Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of Google tools:

What are Google Chrome Extensions?

Extensions add on to your Google Chrome browser and provide additional functionality.   They are designed to make tasks easier, more visible, more interesting and save you time!

How do I add extensions?

For extensions to save, you have to log in the the Chrome browser.  Click here for help on logging in. The login button is in the upper right-hand corner and will either have your name or will be a person icon. Extensions can be added from the Chrome Web Storehere’s how.

What are Google Apps?

Google Apps are simply web applications.  The basic ones are Docs, Sheets, Slides, Mail, and Calendar, but there are many more that you can add into your Google drive.  Just like the apps you add to your phone, these are created by all different companies.

How do I add Google Apps?

You add apps directly to Google Drive.  Check out this tutorial for step by step directions.

What are Google Add-ons?

Add-ons are tools built by third-party developers for Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms.  They add additional functionality that isn’t built into those apps.

How do I install add-ons?

Add-ons are app specific (some are for docs, others are for sheets), and you add them from the menu of an open doc or sheet.  Take a look at this help documentation for step by step instructions.

There’s the run-down!  Watch for a featured tool next Thursday!