Monday, April 3, 2017

The 2017 Aurora Borealis Student Film Festival

It is with sincere pleasure we invite the entire APS community to the 2017 Aurora Borealis Film Festival on Tuesday, April 11th at 5pm.  The festival will showcase the best student films from middle and high school students across the district.  All are welcome to attend and there is no cost for admission.  All student submissions accepted this year will be screened at the event followed by an awards ceremony and photos.  All students with accepted submissions will have their photos taken on the red carpet in celebration following the screening and awards ceremony.  This is a FORMAL EVENT so please plan you wear your best and look sharp, it will be a great celebration.  We are very happy to announce the location of this year’s Aurora Borealis Film Festival will be the Sie Film Center on East Colfax.  The Sie Film Center has been host to the Denver Film Festival for 40 years and has hosted a large number of famous stars.  We are very excited about providing students the opportunity to engage with the center as well as show their films in an authentic theater where great films have been screened throughout the years.

You are more than welcome to share this information or pass along to anyone you think might be interested. If you would like more information you can visit the Aurora Borealis Film Festival Website at or contact the film festival team at  We look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Free Technology Curriculum from Google

Looking for Lesson Plans to Teach Google to Secondary Students? 

CS-First from Google has the answer

CS-First from Google has recently published video-based lessons for teaching Google to grades 7-12 students. This course uses instructional videos and creative projects to teach students how to use G Suite applications. Students will develop digital literacy through creative projects.

Getting Started as a Teacher:

  • Click this link CS-First from Google to sign up.
  • Click on Get Started 
  • You need to sign in as a Teacher first.
  • You will be prompted to connect to your Google account (use your and school. 
  • Next you will create a class and be given a class code for students.

Benefits and Features:

  • Prepares students for future careers. Prepare them with practices like communication, collaboration, and research
  • Contains project-based curriculum that allows students to apply their new skills to real, relevant problems.
  • Teaches students to behave ethically online. Digital citizenship is embedded in the lessons and encourages student to use technology tools safely and responsibly.
  • Utilize the videos for a blended learning model in order to give individualized attention and foster student growth.
  • Personalizes learning for students by giving them the opportunity to explore their interests, use their strengths, and develop important skills and ideas.
  • Students gain computational thinking and programming skills along with creative problems solving.
  • Lessons are more than "how-to" use an application. Students express ideas, collaborate with others, analyze and solve problems, and create.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Last Call for Film Submissions to the 2nd Annual Aurora Borealis Film Festival

Today at 11:59pm MDT marks the deadline for all student film submissions to the 2017 Aurora Borealis Film Festival.  The festival is open to any APS student in middle or high school grades. Students do not have to be enrolled or taking a film class to be eligible and they can submit films they've created on their own.  The maximum time limit for all films is 5 minutes, they can be as short as 30 seconds if a students wants to send a quick message.

For more information, the Aurora Borealis Website has all the details and it can be easily accessed at: http://bit.lyapsfilm2017 from any device with an internet connection. There are a few rules and restrictions to take note of as well as opportunities to view the accepted submissions from 2016. Any submissions for the 2017 festival can be entered through the website until 11:59pm MDT today.

The 2017 Aurora Borealis Film Festival will take place on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 with a start time at 5pm MDT.  The location for the 2017 festival will be the Sie Film Center at 2510 East Colfax Avenue in Denver, CO. which is home to the Denver Film Society.  The festival is open to anyone and is free of charge so feel free to come join us if you are interested in seeing the student films.

If you have questions or need information not contained on the website, you can email the film festival team at We hope to see you there!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Use Edulastic for Interactive Formative Assessment as Well as PARCC and CMAS Practice

Edulastic is a free website that instantly shows who's on track and who needs help so teachers can
determine which students need further instruction.

Online assessment tools with technology-enhanced items like CMAS and PARCC give you a complete, instant view of student learning and growth.

Edulastic has an Assessment Library with assessments tied to standards for grades K-12. In addition to English Language Arts and Math assessments, this site also includes Science and Social Studies. Teachers can choose Common Core standards for ELA and Math. Although Colorado Science is listed, there are not any assessments available for this one at this time. However, there are some for the NGSS standards. There are also general Social Studies standards by grade level.

Teachers can assign the assessments are they are, or make create a new version in order to add, delete, or edit questions. In addition, it is possible to assign different point values to questions. Teachers can also create their own assessments if they do not find one that fits their needs.

There is a Report Section that allows teachers to view Mastery of Standards, Score, or Percentage
Teachers and students can use sign in with Google so there is not another login to remember. In addition, Edulastic syncs with Google Classroom for easy creation of classes and assignments.

Another good free site for interactive assessments with PARCC practice is EdCite. Click below to read Jan Parker's post: Online PARCC Practice, Aligned to CCSS


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Interactive Training and Walkthroughs, Right within G Suite

GAFE (Google Apps for Education) has changed the name to G Suite for Education. In addition to changing the name, Google has added several new features to some of the apps included in the G Suite. These features use "machine intelligence" to facilitate and add more functionalities to Google Apps. You can read Google's education blog to learn more about those new features.

In order to help APS staff, the G Suite Training extension (formerly Synergize) has been pushed to all staff. 

When staff login to Chrome with their APS Google credentials and utilize any G Suite core app (Google Drive, Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Hangouts, etc.), the following icon will show up in the top right hand corner of their screen:

The G Suite training extension is a tool for staff to use for self-guided training on how to use Google core apps; this will be helpful in the transition to Gmail/Calendar. When the icon is clicked, popular “how to” topics for that app will automatically populate. The option to search for specific content will also be available. After a topic is selected, an interactive based video will be presented within the app the person is in showing them exactly how to perform the function or feature they searched. For additional information on how the G Suite training extension works, got to the following link:

Please let your Ed Tech Coach or IT Help Desk know if you have any questions or need support.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Coding in Kinder at Murphy Creek

I had the pleasure of observing Marla Berkheim’s kindergarten class at Murphy Creek P-8 last week. I was amazed by the activities in this class. Mrs. Berkheim decided to include a STEM component this year. She researched to determine what her students would need for Coding and Engineering. Next, she used Donor’s Choose to help fund materials needed for Coding and Engineering lessons.

Last week the students started learning about Coding. Mrs. Berkheim created posters to help explain coding concepts to the students. The posters included real-life connections, definition and explanation of coding, terminology used in coding, and images of the Robot Mouse and controls.

After the Mrs. Berkheim and the class reviewed the posters and the rules of coding, the students paired up and explored using either the Robot Mouse or  Think and Learn Code-a-pillar.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Have a Hoot with Learning & Assessment!

I was recently able to use the online tool Kahoot when facilitating some professional learning. I had heard about the tool over a year ago but never tool the chance of using it when leading a session. The feedback I received from the use of the tool was extremely positive. Users were incredibly engaged with the experience and had tons of fun while going through a simple quiz game I had created.  There was laughter and excitement which made the learning fun and interesting.  I found it incredibly easy to use the tool and engage my audience which provided an atmosphere of genuine learning.

Kahoot is a simple and easy to use tool in any learning environment. You can sign up for free and create assessments quickly and easily which is a crucial component to any learning environment. Kahoot works on any device with internet access including all mobile devices. One of my favorite features is the ease of use for participants. There is no need for them to create accounts to participate. Each "game" or activity that you create has a special pin and the only thing your participants need to get started is to enter the game pin and their name.  Another great feature is the ability to override or "veto" any inappropriate or misused names. If any participants enter names that aren't correct or are inappropriate, you can immediate reject them and they are dismissed from the game.

It's incredibly easy to get started with Kahoot. This VIDEO allows you to get started using Kahoot in under 3 minutes so there's no need to worry about spending hours learning a new tool. You'll need to visit to sign up and create your first game/assessment as well as facilitate it.  Your participants will go to to play and enter the game pin. I created my first interactive experience with Kahoot in about 15 minutes and we were off and running. Participants earn points for correct responses but it doesn't end there.  Points are also awarded for how fast they respond which means the element of competition is very clearly present at all points of the game. The person who responds first gets the most points awarded and so on. I loved watching the looks on participant faces as they worked to respond as quickly as possible with the correct answer.  After each question a summary of the leader board is displayed allowing the competition to grow even stronger. Life involves competition and participants love fun, friendly competition so let's incorporate more opportunities in our learning environments.

Kahoot will provide instant feedback to the participants in terms of right or wrong answers.  It also will provide you a summary of participant responses to each question so you can easily collect great data to reflect on at a later time or when the game is finished. The data can be downloaded as an excel spreadsheet for easy analysis or you can also save it directly to Google Drive if you prefer to utilize your Googliciousness.  Either way, you can have access to instant data and make real-time instructional decisions to support your learners. You can even replay any of your previous Kahoot's at anytime so learners can challenge themselves to beat their previous score(s).

The next time you're thinking about assessing learners or want to have a conversation with them that involves data collection, check out Kahoot and watch the engagement soar.  Learning can be fun and Kahoot is one simple tool to bring the fun and engagement into your learning environment.  If you have questions or would like support with additional strategies for utilizing Kahoot in your instructional practice, contact your APS EdTech Coach.  It will certainly be a hoot!