Friday, November 23, 2012

52 Tips and Tricks for Google Docs in the Classroom

This is a great resource to understand the possibilities of Google Docs - click on the image below:

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I stopped by the lab yesterday and observed the Pre-Algebra work being done using our VUSD Google Apps accounts in combination with Khan Academy interactive tutorials. Our Math department at Rancho has implemented a powerful solution for our students. Aaron Keeping and Ron Ferreirae are our champions. Please contact them if you wish to find out details.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Flipping the Classroom

Again from Mrs. Garcia's e-mail:

"Heard of the "Flip Your Classroom" phenomenon sweeping the country?

Well, the Eagle has landed at RBV. Check out Ms. Carr's lesson, flipped for her students:  Writing Assessment 

If anyone wants to borrow this book, I have a couple copies out on loan. A quick easy read; it’s sweeping the nation! Read more about the Flipped Classroom below:


Never Late! Key ISTE Info from Shannon

Shannon attended ISTE this summer and recorded some key information for your perusal, she has made it available to us:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Audio Files in Blogger

This comes out of necessity! :) I found an easy way to post audio files and gather then in one spot - I wanted to share the technique with you:


Monday, August 20, 2012


Any champions ready to explore?  The address:

It has quite a list of sponsors and users - it is internationally recommended. If there are any users in our district that have experience - please let us know.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


This is worth exploring. Similar in concept to Khan Academy.  English, Math, Science, Social Studies.  Great tool to help you Flip your classroom.


Start of school - VUSD investment for teachers!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Find our new Superintendent in Twitter...recommended:

Here is the link address: Twitter

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ISTE 2012: Moodle & Google Together

Perfect Marriage: Harnessing the Partnership of Google Apps and Moodle
Presenters: Christina McKinnis, Sarah McFarland, Visions in Education,
*See for more Educational Training

Moodle is a LMS.  It is like the trunk of the tree; the foundation that parents and students go to.  We then need to use it to link out to everything Google.  Moodle is where things are organized; Google Docs presentations, forms, surveys, sites, etc. are where we go from there.

The Power of Moodle

  • Curriculum repository: learning guides, pacing guides, how-tos, project instructions, etc.  
  • Uploading all of your documents into Moodle is dangerous because backing up Moodle every night would be a nightmare!  Instead, link your Google Docs to Moodle and to your website (using Google makes it easy--you update once and it updates everywhere!).

The Power of Google
  • Student assignments
    • Teachers can comment on mistakes, etc. and teachers and students can audio conference or SKYPE to pull up the document and look at it at the same time while modifying together (instead of having multiple copies going back and forth).
  • Curriculum
    • Linking to Google Docs keeps all projects in one place.  Hyperlinking from Moodle to Google Docs is much easier to manage (especially if you’re putting curriculum on a website AND on Moodle! Stop doing twice the work!)
    • Google Docs can be very dynamic!  It can look or feel like a webpage, and you can even link to places further down in the document like you would for a web site.
  • Resources
    • How to name documents should be a decision that is made as a site, department, etc. and taught to students as well.  Organization is key!
    • Google Forms can be used like Survey Monkey, as well as for sign ups, evaluations for teachers, courses, etc. and reports can be created via spreadsheets.  
    • Google Forms can be used for contact information, homework help, tutoring programs, etc. (A Google Form can be set up in a website and as soon as students/parents sign up for contacts, an e-mail is sent and help is provided.  Tutors, teachers, and admin can track these contacts to collect data about failing or struggling students.  Could be especially helpful for summer school, students who are out sick, etc.)
      • “View”-->”Summary of Responses”-->Provides a graphical overview of the data from your form.
      • Could be used as a scantron for test practice--Flubaroo can help with this.  Ex: CAHSEE released test questions.
  • Collaboration
    • Presentation templates can be found online where teachers can access them
    • Students can do a Google presentation or Prezi instead of a Power Point.  It is more engaging, dynamic, and online all the time.

ISTE 2012: Moodle Best Practices

Best Practices in Moodle Course DesignPresenter: Michelle Moore, Chief Evangelist,, a Moodle Partner (@michelledmoore;
For a copy of the slide show on Best Practices, go to:

*Also see or to view other teachers’ Moodle sites and share your own!

Best Practices

  • Don’t use more than 5 font styles per page (this includes bolds, italics, fonts, sizes, underlining)
    • It’s not “fun” and “colorful” or “interesting”; it’s difficult to navigate, distracting, and unprofessional.  
    • Do not use underlining for emphasis-be mindful that this indicates a hyperlink or title of a text.
    • Do not use animated GIFs, etc.! These can trigger seizures.
      • By having too much on your page, you are increasing the cognitive load for your learners as they try to process through your web page instead of processing through the actual assignment.
  • DO maintain consistency
  • Don’t use the course page for content
    • Students need to be able to see the “big picture” of the course or unit--don’t make students back track or navigate unnecessarily.  Make it easy for them to figure out what it is you want them to do.
  • DO use the course page as a launch page
    • Guide students to a webpage, article, etc. if they need more information--again, don’t use the course page for content.
  • Don’t be the one doing all the work
  • DO let students participate and collaborate
  • Don’t make your users scroll side to side
  • DO make sure your content fits
  • Don’t forget about the value of the logs
    • Activity logs can help teachers save time on grading
  • Don’t overdo the activity names
  • DO keep the activity names short and sweet
  • DO use labels to guide students
  • Don’t be afraid of white space
    • Incorporate white space into your Moodle page--don’t fill all spaces!  This makes it easier to navigate the course.
  • DO use topic summaries for titles
  • Don’t force users to scroll and scroll and scroll
  • DO use images to enhance your course
    • Be consistent in where you place your images and what your text wrap looks like
    • Flickr has free images for teacher use (though they may not be appropriate to direct students to)
  • DO simplify delivery
    • Learners should be focused on the content and not the technology.  This is especially important if learners are accessing content on a mobile device!
    • MS Word documents may be difficult for students to download (if they have Word), they are not accessible on some mobile devices, can spread viruses, and students can alter or plagiarize your original source document.  Instead, use a “book module” or “lesson module” (Free Moodle Plug-in can be installed!).  Research suggests also that students will not take the time to download something and may just skip over it.
      • Google Docs can be embedded (we need to figure out how to do this)
      • Repository through Moodle (grab embed code from youtube).  New plug-ins will embed without the embed codes and various clicks it takes to do it the old way.
  • Don’t be afraid to branch out!
  • DO dock the blocks.
  • DO give your learners completion tracking
  • Don’t overdo the conditional activities

ISTE 2012: Conversations About Change

From the ISTE 2012 San Diego Convention:
Seminar: Spreading the Word: Eight Ways to Start Conversations around Change
Presenters: Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli, Classroom Teachers, Bloggers, and Authors or @willrich45 or @robmancabelli

The Main Message:
Moving from assessment and critique to change; moving from scarcity to abundance; we can't wait until everyone is connected to start understanding tech changes. It’s not that face to face classrooms are going away; just that what schools are doing will change. They have to in order to keep schools for the public good (as opposed to catering to only individual preferences)
Bottom line: technology is going to disrupt us and there’s nothing we can do about it. 

Check out this video on herding cats (what we all feel when trying to initiate change!)

Tips for Initiating Change Conversations

  1. @ School--Have a Parent Tech Night. Ex: "Create a Positive Digital Footprint" (Research Burlington HS for an effective example)
Other Ways: Facebook Info, Parent Blogs

    • Why? Schools that parents envision are not the schools of today’s world.  Using technology in the classroom may be interpreted as a negative disruption to students’ learning.  No textbook could = upset parent (they can't help students at home-could be putting students in danger w/online predators, etc.)

  1. @ Home--Book Study/Blog for Parents: Research "The Wired Superintendent"

    • Why? Parents want to be involved. Suggestions of texts to look at: The New Culture of Learning, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology, Personal Learning Networks

  1. @Online--Use social media to open your blog and engage readers.  Check out  "Wright's Room" blog

    • How? Twitter feeds (parents sign up) for entire school; Storify (diary type); also apps for school sites so that parents can view info on mobile

  1. @Other--Share the language.  Don't "teacher speak" but include teachers, parents, and students. Contextualize!  Where is your use of technology going in the big picture?  Tell them!  A tech night or tech endeavor is not just showing parents, but reiterating the big picture of 21st century schools and the future of education.

Sustaining Change Conversations
Look for leaders in the classroom, in the school, and in parents
Remember, change is hard: Look at "Change or Die," a book by Alan Deutschman, where 10% of patients changed their life habits despite the threat of death from doctors. Change is hard. If only 10% of people choose to change despite life threatening habits, how do we work toward change on a smaller, less threatening level?

  1. Address the emotional, as well as the rational (A study was done on why sick kids refused to take meds--because they didn't want to be sick kids! Ironic.)

    • NCTE skills
      • Role of teacher in 21st century classroom-it’s not PD days for learning Twitter, etc. but who am I in today’s classroom? What kind of kids do I want to teach? What skills do they need to have? Address the emotional needs of teachers to teach and it will be impossible for them to ignore the change or regress.

  1. Book: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. A study was conducted on college campuses re: those identified as saints and jerks.  8% of “saints” donated to charity while 0% of “jerks” donated when asked the first time. The second time the charity asked for 1 can of beans at a specific, conveniently located drop off location, as well as a time of day students might be dropping by that area. 45% of saints and 20% of jerks donated the second time around; a significant increase! 

    • Pave the path! Don't just say, " Let's have a conversation".  Set specific goals for the PD and for what specifics teachers should be able to do.  Do NOT let them come and take what they may.  Make it a school-wide initiative to change!

  1. Book: Influence by Cialdini discusses the psychology of why people change. For example, a study was done asking homeowners to display a small sign in their windows supporting a particular initiative before asking them to display a 4x6’ sign in the yard.  Those who displayed the small sign first were much more likely to display the large sign--people need reassurance in small steps.  

    • Get people to make a small commitment in being someone different before expecting them to make large scale changes.  Create tipping points to drive change out, rather than up (more ppl)

  1. Other

    • Get consensus. Or 49% will look for the opportunity to overthrow the 51%
    • Have students and teachers record their experiences and report them to staff (more and more will jump on board!)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Google Chrome for iPad and iPhone

From ComputerWorld: "Google Chrome, released yesterday for the iPhone and iPad, has already snatched the top spot in Apple's App Store. As of 11 a.m. ET Friday [6/29/2012] , Chrome held the No. 1 position on both the iPhone and iPad free app download lists."

This is great news for Google Apps users!

Try it, you will like it!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Google Sites - How to...

Sometimes teachers just need a quick introduction to the product to be very productive in Google Sites. A document was created for public use to illustrate some of the possibilities.

How to build a web site in four easy steps: Link

Monday, April 30, 2012

iPads in 1st Grade

This came to us from our principal - a friend of hers is a teacher in NY. Take a gander: iPad

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Google Groups

Google Groups is a powerful tool for promoting discussion between students, especially students facing language challenges.  Using Google Groups, the instructor can organize students by class, subject, grade, or area of interest.  The example below shows the use of the Groups App as a discussion board to explore a current event in Life Science.  This tool proves especially useful for students with disabilities and English Learners, providing a safe place to develop their expressive language skills.  This discussion board setting allows ample "wait time" for students to construct their responses, while also providing students with models of fluent writing from their peers.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Google Apps Sites

Here is the web presence of a Math teacher in Colombia - this illustrates some of the possibilities available to us! Try Google Apps Sites and explore the possibilities - there are many new templates available for you to create your web sites. Notice on this link the Khan Academy support references.

Reference LINK

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Introducing Tech TEDtalks for lifelong learners... Check it out at the iTunes store.

You can subscribe to these through iTunes - they are free.

and many more!

The original web for TED is at:  "Ideas Worth Spreading"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a resource that some teachers in VUSD are using to enrich their classrooms.
The Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization started in 2006.  It's mission is to provide "a high quality education to anyone, anywhere."  The website has available for teachers and students more than 3,000 free micro lectures and videos teaching math, history, medicine, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, civics, art history, computer science and more.


Watch this 60-Minute video segment on The Khan Academy and look for teacher testimonials from VUSD to come!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Google Drawing Module

One of the most interesting and powerful features in the Google Apps tool set is the Drawing module.

The module allows students to create concept maps, process flows, story lines and other relevant content diagrams either individually or using the power of live cooperative work... We attempted this two years ago at CSUSM with Middle School students in creating one common drawing. Wow!

Check it out at:

iQuest Brarinstorming using Google Apps

Since that time, the tool has become even more robust. You can save the images in a variety of formats so you can use them on presentations, word processing etc. Highly recommended.

Chrome is the suggested browser.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Blogger in Google Apps

“Blogger” is one of the primary, free, and powerful blogging tools available to all web users.  Google provides the Blogger feature to all VUSD Google Apps domain users. It is at our fingertips.

What is a blog? It is any reflective writing, posts, journal entries, thoughts, or ideas, for your private use or else shared with friends and peers or the world if you wish.  

How may it be used in a school setting? It can be used to create quick writes, reflections, essays, notes, etc. It can be a rich literacy medium for students and a great tool to for communication for teachers.

Give it a try!

Log in into the VUSD domain: and navigate to a module like mail.  From there go to the menu “More”

and select the Blogger module:
Selecting Blogger will take you to a re-verification - your user name should be in the email filed and all you have to do is put in the Password 

The example being used below is This normally would be the actual email of the individual as well as his or her proper name. 

The Display name is something you wish to use for identifying your blogs

Now you can create a New Blog:

You will get:

The Title is the title of the blog, it can be anything you desire. As an example:

The Address however MUST BE UNIQUE. Note above that it says “Sorry this blog address is not available.” and the one below has a check mark and says “This blog address is available.” Try to keep this short and meaningful and do not to use spaces in the Address:
You can select a Template, however if you are just starting, a suggestion is to use “Simple” you can always change the template later as your blog and confidence grows!
Your blog is ready! Select the pencil to create a new post:

Write! You are ready to create your first post!

You can write as well as insert images, etc. as shown below:

Now you are ready to publish: 

The summary comes up showing your first blog - remember you could have many blogs! This is just your first one. To see your blog click on “View Blog”

Here is the first blog entry!

It is recommended that the blog you created have the ability to receive comments - but they must be moderated - you have control as to what people post as comments on your blog.  

Here is how you wrap it up - go to Design at the top menu and change the Settings.

When you go back to the design you will select Settings select Posts & Comments and change them as shown below: Who can comment? User with Google Accounts, Comment Moderation? ALWAYS

Save your settings. That is it!  If you wish to share your blog with others just give them the blog web address:
If you wish to have a Google Docs copy of these instructions click HERE!