Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hour of Code at Green Valley

Last Friday, Green Valley Elementary celebrated the Hour of Code in style! The high-school students from the Computer Engineering Academy at Hoover City Schools came and went to each grade level to help the students complete the Hour of Code Star Wars module. The school also gathered for an assembly complete with videos explaining what Hour of Code is created by Mr. Elliott and his fifth grade students (see video below). There were special visitors including Darth Vader and a fun coding dance led by Mr. Moore, the music teacher. The students were treated to a dance at the end by the Hoover High School Buccanetts and surprise guests...their teachers....who joined the Buccanetts in a dance. The day was so much fun and the students really enjoyed getting to meet the high school students.

Mr. Elliott's Students explain what coding is

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Veteran's Day and Technology

Last Tuesday I was asked to help out with a special surprise for one child at Riverchase. Every year Riverchase has a big assembly to celebrate veterans and what they do for our country. Each grade level prepares something to contribute including poetry, art work, and research on the different branches. Mrs. Tanner, the counselor at Riverchase, wanted the program to include a veteran to share with the students. As a surprise she arranged an overseas service man to call during the program using Google Hangouts. The serviceman, Lt. Rutland, currently stationed in Cuba has two children at Riverchase. As a surprise Mrs. Tanner asked fifth grade child to interview an overseas serviceman but did not tell him it would be his dad. Parker did a great job asking many questions about what it is like to be a serviceman and having to serve in Cuba away from his family.

Technology at its best - connecting us to places and people from around the world.

Maker's Studio at TCES

I was visiting a fourth grade classroom at Trace today and ran into a great kid named William. William and his friend Angel were researching how to create a synthesizer with Little Bits in after-school care. With the help of Dana Joyner, Trace's STEAM Facilitator, William and Angel created a speaker system for a mini iPad. He was willing to demonstrate how loud it amplified with the Whip and Nae Nae. He was can amplify pretty loudly! :)  

I was very impressed because this project was something William had a passion for-music- and was able to make it come to fruition with the Maker's Studio. Mrs. Joyner wasn't in the studio when he took me down to see his creation, and you could tell he knew the studio was there for him. A piece was missing from his creation, and he went over to the extra pieces, carefully looked around to find what he needed, and returned it to the proper place when he was done. 

Way to go, Trace & Mrs. Joyner! I can't wait to see what William and the many other Trace kids make next!

From K. Darroch's Newsletter: 

Hour of Code Is Coming!

Hour of Code week is coming up December 7-13. This year the Hoover City Schools Foundation is sponsoring Hour of Code by providing iCode stickers to every student who completes Hour of Code. If you haven't already, please click the link below and sign up your classroom. added two fun coding activities centered around Minecraft and Star Wars. This will be exciting for your students! 

Thank you Hoover City Schools Foundation for your support!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

PollEverywhere and Google Slides Join Up

PollEverywhere is a tool many teachers have used in the past to quickly assess what their students understand. Now it can be added directly into a Google Slide (as an extension) so teachers can quickly poll students while presenting using Slides! Download and check it out! you will have enable the lab for it to work: everyone will have to enable the lab for it to work:

Polling in Google Slides Extension
Poll Everywhere Website
Information about Google Slides polling - create and embed live polls

Explain Everything - Simple Interface for Younger Students

Carol McLaughlin, 2nd grade GSES, shared this:

If you think Explain Everything is too overwhelming for your class, you can change it to a simple interface to simplify the options. This makes it as easy as Educreations but keeps the features I love like being able to save in progress and being able to rerecord.  

Saw this on twitter and thought some might like it. 
Inline image 1

Thursday, November 12, 2015

SAMR with Examples

Kelli Lane shared this recently with the tech coaches. Great examples of SAMR integration!

Sharing a Doc to Automatically Copy and Spreadsheet Formulas

Great advice from Jamie Nutter!!!

Use the following “trick” to easily share the spreadsheets, Docs, and Slides
Overview of Trick:
  1. Create a Google Doc, Sheets, or Slides document.
  2. Share the document.
  3. Get the “shareable” link (URL).
  4. Within the link, change the word “edit” to “copy”.
  5. When you share the “new” URL, it “forces” students to make a copy!

Google Spreadsheet Trick
Google forms are fabulous for gathering information, but sometimes, the data in the spreadsheet can be difficult to view. In this post, I’ll share a simple-to-implement formula that will make it much easier to deal with (and even print) form-fed data!

 The Original Data:
When you collect data into a Google spreadsheet from a form, it will look something like this:
If you have a large amount of questions (and especially if some of them are essay questions), it requires a lot of side-to-side scrolling to view the data.

Transpose Formula to the Rescue!
By using the “Transpose” formula, you can easily make the data look like this:
Notice that the information is now vertical instead of horizontal, making it much easier to view individual responses.

How to do it:
Transpose FormulaChanges data from rows to columns
  1. Create a new sheet.
  2. Enter the following formula in cell A1 of Sheet2:
    Note: Adjust A:H to the desired range of columns. If you don’t want the timestamp to show, enter B:H.
  3. Press the enter key and watch the data fill the sheet!
Jamie Nutter
Hoover City Schools
Technology Integration Coach

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Global Math Challenge

Written by K. Darroch: 

Carol McLaughlin's Class Takes on a Global Math Challenge

Students in Carol McLaughlin's second grade classroom are participating in a yearlong Global Math Challenge using Twitter. Her class signed up to challenge other second graders across the world with a daily math problem for a week. In response, classrooms from all across the world tweeted their answers explaining their strategies using the hashtag #gmttc2. Classrooms from Kindergarten through High School may sign up to participate at

Monday, October 26, 2015

Chromebook Troubleshooting

As I'm working in the classroom I'm noticing a few 'glitches' with the Chromebooks. When the Deer Valley wallpaper accidentally got pushed to all students a few weeks ago, there are a few students whose wallpaper is stuck on the DVES's wallpaper.

Also, the Save to Google Docs and Share to Classroom extension is not working on some students' Chromebooks. The extension might give an error that it can't authenticate.

To fix both of these 'glitches', do the following:

  • Have the student log off of their Chromebook
  • Hover over their badge (the square with their icon where they type in their password)
  • A black triangle will appear in the top-right corner of the badge.
  • Click the triangle,
  • Then, ADD A USER by clicking on the bottom in the bottom-left corner of the screen.
  • The students will be prompted to enter in their email address ( and their password.
  • This should fix it!

Global Read Aloud 2015

I  mentioned in many team meetings last month about the Global Read Aloud for 2015. This is a global event began by a 7th grade teacher to connect students and books around the world. The 'official' sign-up for the event has passed, but that doesn't mean you can't jump in on the fun! Your class can still read the book of your choice and connect to other classrooms around the world by filling out this form: . You can also follow #GRA15 for more information and connections.

Check out this video by the creator of GRA:

The books that were chose for this year are:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hour of Code Webinar with Laura Kline

I recently participated in a webinar about the Hour of Code. Below you will find the email from Jeff Gray, a professor at the University of Alabama. There is a webinar embedded below. There is great information here! Be sure to check it out?

Are you and your students participating in Hour of Code? Comment below about what you plan on doing.

Hour of Code with Laura Kline

Attached is the Lesson Plan and slides from Laura’s talk. Below are links Laura mentioned in the webinar.

Upcoming Hour of Code webinars: 

How To:

                Template Lesson:
                HoC Teacher Forum:

For Students:



Link to pair programming video:
Link to find a CS Fundamentals Workshop:
Link to last year's tutorials (new tutorials coming mid-November):
Link to beyond an Hour of Code tutorials
Link for engineers to match with classrooms:

Jeff Gray, Ph.D. - Professor
Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year (Alabama)
Department of Computer Science, University of Alabama

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Top 10 Tech Tips for Teachers

I love this graphic!  What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree?  Comment below.

RES in the News

Great article about Riverchase Elementary!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Great List of New Apps and Extensions

Here's a quick list of new apps and extensions a presenter shared at the AETA conference. Lots of great tools in one place!

Article on SAMR

The focus for September in team meetings was on SAMR. Below is a great article on transforming your lesson plans through SAMR.

Friday, October 9, 2015

NPR and Math App

I was driving in the car this afternoon and heard a segment on a math app called Bedtime Math. The premise is that often parents sit and read with their children before they go to bed but how often to parents sit down to solve math problems with their children? Check out the article below:

I downloaded the app, and I liked what I saw!  Check it out and comment below what you think (positive and negative).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


I'm RES's principal, Alice Turney, along with a committee of teachers and parents, has been working hard getting Riverchase's new STEAM lab up and running! After receiving a grant, the school outfitted the science lab with STEAM related materials including: a digital microscope, a skeleton, bottle rockets, Bee-Bots, Osmos, Makey Makey, Little Bits, magnets, and many more science, technology, engineering, art, and math materials. The grand opening was the week of September 28- October 2 with each class vising the lab.


II had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer Friday at Trace for their STEAM-A-Palooza. This fun-filled event was organized by Dana Joyner and Amanda Stone with the help of a committee of teachers and Samford students. The event was amazing! Students from grades K-4 were invited to spend a Friday evening exploring all types of STEAM activities including: creating and testing paper airplanes, creating structures and sculptures with cardboard boxes, creating art work with paint and recycled objects, flying a drone, and constructing with Rigamajigs. The entire night's theme was on the book, Rosie Revere, Engineer, simple machines such as rivets, flight, and creating. To see more pictures, follow me on Twitter at @carpese.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Google Classroom Extension Added

Jeff Richardson shared with his schools and thought you could benefit too.

Here's a quick video explanation of the Share to Classroom extension. It's been pushed to all of your chrome browsers* as well as your students' chromebooks. It allows you to quickly PUSH websites to your kids (open tabs for them like Hapara does) & create announcements/assignments related to a specific website without ever opening classroom. 

Check it out for yourself:

Inline image 1

*If you don't see the extension, it's most likely that you are signed into Chrome with your hcs-students account. Look up at the top right corner of your browser where you should see your name or something showing you are signed in as you see here.
 Inline image 2
If there is a small yellow triangle in the box with an !, then you are not correctly signed into chrome. Click that box with the yellow triangle, choose "Switch Person" and in the next box, you will see a box with that user info in it. Mouse over it, click the triangle that will show up in the top right corner of the little user card and select "Remove this person" and then sign back into Chrome with your @hoover.k12 credentials. You should then see the Share to Classroom Extension. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

2nd Grade Rock Stars!

The second grade teachers that serve as school tech facilitators got together to share and collaborate. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Rubrics with Google Sheets and Forms

Another Darroch goodie :)

Tech Tip

Google Sheets Add-on

When using a rubric for grading projects, I often wondered if there was an easier way. I would have a stack of printed rubrics, and shuffled those around with me until all projects were graded. Now that I am out of the classroom, I have discovered a Google Sheets Add-on that solves the problem and makes a teacher's life easier. Online Rubric is a Google Sheet add-on that enables you to create rubrics, enter scores, and email scores to parents all from one place.

To add Online Rubric simply,
1. Go to Google Sheets
2. Select Add-ons
3. Search and select Online Rubrics
4. Add

Apps and Common Core

Karen Darroch shared this in her weekly newsletter. Thought you might be interested:

Check This Out!

Selecting the perfect app for your classroom can be overwhelming. Below is a link to a website which suggests apps by grade level, subject, and common core standard.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cool Things You Can Do with Sheets

Two cool tools I'd like to share about Google Forms and Sheets....

1) Melanie Haynes shared with us the new feature in Google Sheets called Explore.  Check out this video. If you send out a survey to your students on their interests, you can quickly look at the resulting data. I used the Explore feature to analyze the data collected from your beginning of the year survey.

2) Another cool tool is a Google Add-on called RowCall. Ever do a survey and want a separate tab for each child?  This tool will do it!!!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dot Day and Quiver app

Blue Horn, art teacher at Greystone, recently shared a really fun iPad app called Quiver. International Dot Day happened on September 15th, but don't worry- you can celebrate Dot Day any day! Dot Day is based on the book, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. It's a great book which follows a young child and her ability to see beauty from a dot. Check out a webpage about Dot Day here:

With, you can download a dot color sheet the kids can use to create their own beautiful dot. After downloading the free Quiver app, a student can scan their dot and it will come alive. Check out this video Blue made.

Time to Share!

What are some of your favorite apps and how do you use them in the classroom? Please add your favorites to create a resource for all K-5 teachers. There is a tab for Math, Reading, Social Studies, Science, and Creative. Select the link below and share!

Sara's Schedule for 9/21-10/2

Monday, 9/21- Discovery Edu Training
Tuesday, 9/22- TCES Team Meetings / GVES
Wednesday, 9/23- TCES Team Meetings / RES
Thursday, 9/24- TCES Team Meetings / TCES
Friday, 9/25- Tech Team Meeting

Monday 9/28-Wednesday, 9/30  Conference
Thursday, 10/1-Friday, 10/2   RES STEAM Lab opening

Monday, October 5   Resume normal schedule with RES Team Meetings

Friday, September 11, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Upcoming PD

The last after-school PD opportunity was such a success, we are adding more!  Please see this flyer about two upcoming opportunities to learn about Google Sites and the Epson Interactive Board.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Seesaw App

Sally Shackelford, 2nd grade at Trace Crossings Elementary, shared a great app with me recently. It's Seesaw, a digital portfolio tool which can be used with any age but will be of particular interest to K-2 because of the ease of use with the iPad.

Check out this video of Sally telling us about the app.  

Here is a description of the app from the company:
Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio that empowers students to independently document what they are learning at school.

Easily Capture Student Learning in Any Form
∙ Students can use photos, videos, drawings, text notes, links to show what they know. 
∙ When students add to their Seesaw journal, content is uploaded, organized by student, and immediately accessible to teachers from any device.
∙ Teachers can browse work from the entire class or for a single student.  Optionally, use folders to organize work by subject area or project.
∙ Teachers can flag items for follow up or to review at parent-teacher conferences.

Sign In Options that Work for All Ages
∙ Younger learners or classrooms with shared devices can sign in with a QR code.  Older students can sign in with their existing Google Account.
Encourage Reflection and Provide an Authentic Audience
∙ Seesaw helps capture the learning process not just the end result.  Students can use Seesaw’s built-in audio recording and drawing tools to reflect on what they’ve learned or explain how they got their answer.
∙ Seesaw gives students an authentic audience of their peers and parents, encouraging better work and real feedback. Teachers can control who can see what, and what feedback options are available, such as likes and comments.
Strengthen Connections Between School and Home
∙ Include families in the learning process by inviting them to view updates to their child’s Seesaw journal. Seesaw’s immediate, visual updates actually get seen by parents, provide encouragement for students, and cross language barriers.
∙ Teachers approve all new additions and comments before anything is shared with parents.

Teacher Resource Center 
∙ Getting started tips, professional development resources, FAQ.
∙ More than 30 Common Core aligned activity ideas.
∙ Personalized customer support if you need help.

Note:  It's important to remember anytime you create a login for a child, you must have parent permission. You can view Seesaw's privacy policy here.  Also remember to discuss with the students what they can and cannot share online. Only the parents who you share the link with will be able to access the portfolio which makes this a great, safe app for young children.

Ways to Enhance Google Slides

Ways to Enhance Google Slides (Thanks Jamie Nutter for this information!)
  • How to organize research with Google Slides
  • How to create an eBook with Google Slides
  • Friday Information 9/3/15

    Useful Information:
    • Locking computers: Make sure to lock your computer when you walk away from it to protect any sensitive information.  To do so, click the windows button on your keyboard and L.  You will be asked to type in your password to unlock it.
    • Help! Where are those instructions for ___? : As a reminder, you can find the Beginning of the Year Information here.
      • Information includes: how to find logins, getting started with Typing Club, and many other useful tidbits.
    • Polka Dot page: A shortcut for the computer lab home page is:  The lab home page from last year has been moved over to our new domain.  Some of the kids who had the old page bookmarked will need to add a new bookmark.  You can tell if it’s the old page because there is a sunshine on the top right-hand corner.  The new page has Typing Club in its place.
    • Shortcuts for Icons: Would you like to have handy icons on your PC’s taskbar for Google Drive, Calendar, and Gmail?  Here are the instructions. (Also found on Teacher tab- Tutorials and How To’s- Gmail.)
    • Pearson Successnet-  Remember K-2 teachers, we have access to some great, already-made, interactive board resources through Pearson Successnet.  To get started visit Teacher tab- Tutorials and How To’s - Pearson Successnet OR ask your math coach OR ask me!
    • Voice feature in Google- New feature that allows users to speak into a microphone and it will type the text.
      • 1. Open a Google doc
      • 2, Click "Tools" menu
      • 3. Select Voice Typing from drop down and that's it*
      • *You need to be on a Chromebook OR have a mic hooked up to your desktop for this to work.
      • This is going to benefit so many of our kids!
    • Team meetings for Sept- Your tech facilitator will be discussing the SAMR model. I'll be tagging along for support.
    • Dates are:
    • GVES 9/7-9/11
    • RES (postponed until) 10/6-10/8
    • TCES 9/22-9/24
    • Do you have a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark beside your name when you are signed in to Chrome?  That means you are still signed in to Chrome with your account. To fix this, follow these instructions. (Also found on Teacher tab- Tutorials and How To’s- Chrome.)
    • If you haven't already, please take a minute to fill out this survey for all teachers and staff. This will help me create goals and PD opportunities for the year.
    Upcoming PD Opportunities:
    • Google Sites- Round 2 (all levels welcomed), October 6, 3:15-4:15, Old Berry Library.  STI-PD number will be released soon.
    Fun Extras:
    • Great tip from a teacher in the district: Isn't it frustrating to have to "wake" your Chromebox so often? Go to the chrome web store download the Keep Awake extension. It keeps your Chromebox on until you turn off the extension with just a click! 
    • How to insert a bookmark in a Google Doc (your Frequently Asked Questions has this feature) WONDERFUL