Friday, December 11, 2015

Language Immersion Extension to Support Learning a New Language

The Chrome Extension called "Language Immersion for Google Chrome" is a free service that changes a certain number of words on a website, blog, etc to any one of 64 languages Google currently translates.

It's easy to install and has five settings (novice to fluent) to differentiate the difficulty for the learner.

At the novice level, a few phrases in each paragraph appear in the chosen second language. At the fluent level, entire paragraphs are translated. On top of that, the translated phrases are highlighted and toggle on click between English and the translated language. The extension works on any webpage that is not https - generally, any webpage that is not password protected or requires a log-in.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Scaffold-Blasting" - Differentiate on the Fly in Google Classroom

Being able to differentiate assignments in Google Classroom is an oft-requested feature. We know that differentiation done well is one path to creating an equitable learning environment for all of our students.

Currently, there are work-arounds such as attaching multiple versions of a google doc and directing students on which assignment to choose or using a google sheet add-on such as Doctopus to manage the differentiation. But like most work-arounds, those choices come with an added layer of complexity for the teacher and/or the student.

How about a solution that's quick, easy, and most importantly, instantly responsive to the student's needs in the moment?

Erich Ball, Social Studies teacher at Aurora Hills Middle School, came up with a method he has termed "Scaffold-Blasting."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hour of Code

Looking for a great way to engage your students?

Consider participating in the Hour of Code. This event is held during the Computer Science Education week, December 7-13, 2015. This event for students of all ages, even four year-olds.

To join over tens of millions of students from over 180 countries, click on the Hour of Code Link and sign up. You and your students can view a map of all the locations that are participating. Check out the Hour of Code guides, handouts, posters, videos, and other Teacher Resources

The site provides one-hour tutorials at all different levels. The tutorials range beginning with Frozen to advanced JavaScript and Robotics. There will be something to fit the needs of each of your students. Students can even participate without computers.

In the spirit of the forthcoming Star Wars movie, has also created two apps one for 11 and younger and one for over 11. Minecraft has also joined the Hour of Code. Read this blog for details. Minecraft and the Hour of Code.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Great Professional Learning Opportunity

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is coming to Denver next summer. This event is one of the largest and most popular professional learning experiences in the world when it comes to technology in education.  It's time to start thinking about your registration and plans to attend now so you can get the most out of this experience.  Registration for the 2016 conference in Denver, CO. opened yesterday so you can get set up at anytime.  If you're interested in attending this world class professional learning event, you'll find all the details below.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Engage Students in Digital Learning with NHL Hockey

In partnership with the Colorado Avalanche, Everfi has released a powerful new tool to engage students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning.  This new tool is entirely free and web-based so it can be used on any device.  It involves incredible interactions with the game of hockey from the engineering of skates to the area of the ice to finding angles of puck passes.  It's also perfect for second language learners as it has great audio directions to accompany the text.  If you are interested in using the great new tool to enhance student learning, check out the additional information below.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Customize Your App Launcher in Chrome

Along with bookmarks, your app launcher in Chrome can save time and frustration by giving you quick links to oft-used apps and websites. However, the default app launcher however contains google apps that you might not use. Wouldn't it be cool if you could customize it? Enter "App Launcher Customizer."
Super simple to install, easy to configure, and wham-o-presto, you have a customized app launcher. Below is a link to a help sheet to walk you through it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Supporting Students with Reading and Writing Difficulties

One of my favorite Chrome extensions is Read & Write for GoogleThis extension has been added to all the APS Chromebooks, so students using these devices, automatically have this extension. Although students have the free version and do not have as many features, Read & Write provides text to speech and dual highlighting (yellow & blue) for any text on any website, PDF, or Google doc. It also provides an in the text translator.

As a teacher, you can get a free premium account for this extension by completing the form on this linkThe premium version provides the same text to speech, dual highlighting, and translator features.  It also includes supports for Google Docs, specifically, multi-highlighting options for active reading, extracting highlights, a vocabulary chart, a regular and picture dictionary, and word prediction. This Quick Reference Guide will provide more details about the features.

In order to download this extension, you need to be logged into your Chrome account in the account. Next, you can go to the Chrome Web store or click on this link to download it.

Check out this Read & Write for Google Presentation for more details on how this tool can help you in the classroom. Feel free to contact your Ed Tech Coach if you need help

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Want to go to ISTE for free?

+Kevin Riebau is our blogger this week.  He is sharing an opportunity with you to help leverage effective, innovative instructional methods and tools with APS students.  Deadline to submit your proposal is September 30th.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

MOOCs Starting on September 28th!

Have you ever found yourself wanting to take part in some learning, but without having to commit to meeting the instructor or classmates at a particular time and place?  You have until September 28th to register in a MOOC, a Massive Open Online Course, through the Friday Institute.  Upon completion, the course could be used towards licensure renewal.  

Monday, August 31, 2015

Using EDpuzzle to Create Interactive Videos

Lately, I have been sharing a great site named EDPuzzle. This site can be used by teachers to turn videos into interactive lessons. Teachers can crop videos, add to them, and embed questions in order to check for understanding.

Create and Manage Accounts
  1. Teachers create a class. Here is how your students will be able to identify which class to go to. This is also how you can know where to put the videos and assignments that you create.
  2. Once you create a class, this menu will appear. EDpuzzle automatically gives you a class code so your students can easily find your class and complete the assignment you have prepared.
  3. Assignment Page is where you can get creative. You can either have your students simply watch a video you created, or write out specifically what you want them to do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chromebook Starter Kit Best Practices


Chromebooks are fast becoming one of the more popular devices in education for a number of good reasons.  They are designed to be shared among multiple users and can easily be customized by each person.  They are also one of the least expensive laptops on the market and run only Google Chrome as their operating system.  This makes them virtually trouble free and easy to use in a variety of ways within educational environments.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Untether Yourself From Your Whiteboard!

If you routinely project work/lessons/interactive websites for students (whether on a Promethean board or just a screen), you know the frustration of having to be tethered to the board or to your keyboard. With an iPad and an app called doceri, that frustration is gone forever!

Doceri installs on both your iPad and the computer attached to the projector. Once that is done, the two devices connect, and your computer screen is then mirrored on the iPad, giving you control of your computer from anywhere in the room.

Friday, August 14, 2015

APS Launches Teacher Leadership Academy: Apply Today for the 2015-16 Pilot Cohort

+Jessica Cuthbertson is our guest blogger this week.  She is creating and facilitating teacher leadership pathways in order to recruit, support, develop, and retain effective educators.
This school year APS is piloting a Teacher Leadership Academy in order to recruit, support and retain effective educators and develop a teacher leadership pipeline across the district. Twenty P-12 emerging teacher leaders will be selected to participate in this experience, which includes job-embedded coaching support and blended professional learning opportunities. All participants will develop a learning lab classroom by the end of the school year and gain confidence and expertise hosting colleagues and reflecting on their practice through videotaping and supportive protocols. Participants will also select one of three pathways within the Academy: National Board Certification support, graduate coursework and completion of the Teacher Leadership certificate through CSU-Global, or re-licensure credit.

Questions? Contact Jessica Cuthbertson, Teacher Leadership TOSA. 

Click here to apply today! Applications are due 8/21/15.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Logistics and agency- an important model of classroom organization

When a classroom teacher first gains access to a cart of Chromebooks (or laptops, or iPads...) she also gains a number of untold logistical challenges. Even before a teacher thinks about how to support students in working and collaborating efficiently and effectively online, she has to think about how to establish routines in the classroom so that students can take out and put away the devices without a creating a learner logjam at the beginning and end of class. Strong logistical systems can help establish a culture of responsibility and translate to on-task behavior. When students play a part in strong systems, they develop agency.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The World's Largest Lesson

What kind of learning are your students engaging in during the week of September 27th?  The countdown to connect with colleagues across the world who have created lesson plans across disciplines in order to help student develop big ideas around human rights, poverty and environmental issues begins today...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ways to Use Google Drive to Engage Parents

Looking for ideas to increase parent engagement this school year? Here are some ways you use can use Google Drive to collaborate with parents.

Benefits of Google Drive
  • All staff and students already have a free Google account.
  • Parents don't have to pay for Microsoft Office in order to read what you send them digitally.
  • Parents use the same username and password they use for their Gmail account.
  • Google Drive can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets, so parents can access every document without having to own a computer or pay for Internet at their house.
  • Google saves everything you're working on, so you won't have to start from scratch when your computer restarts for updates halfway into creating your monthly newsletter.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Professional Development on your Schedule!

Promethean Board...check
Student Devices...check
Now...How do I use it all????

Your Ed Tech Coach is ready to help you with using these tools and more.

Did you know that you can have an Ed Tech coach come to your school and teach a group technology class?

There are many topics to choose from. Your coach can design a class to meet the specific needs of your group. Whether you want to improve your skills with Google or start using an online environment to blend your instruction, Ed Tech is ready to help you meet your professional development goals.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Google for Education on Air

Did you know that Google puts on a live conference that you can join or later access on your own time?  This year's Education on Air conference was hosted in May over the course of two days.  Take a look at what you can access at your fingertips today, tomorrow or whenever...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tap in by Twitterizing your PD this Summer

How would you like to take part in discussions and guide your own learning with colleagues and experts on your own time, wherever you are - a cruise ship, at the office, or on your patio?  Though Twitter may not be new to most of you, using it to enhance your learning and build your professional network might be something to explore.  Here are some ways you can get started:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chrome Tips and Trips

It was my pleasure to attend and present at the Google Apps for Education Summit in Breckenridge last month. One the topics I presented was How to Personalize and Differentiate Instruction with Add-ons, Apps, and Extensions. There are many, many helpful Chrome Tools that can be used to help students and teachers. This session focused on helpful educational add-ons, apps, and extensions for supporting reading and writing for all grade levels.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

On the GOogle for Summer

Great teachers are experts at integrating real-world content or realistic experiences into their instruction.  With a summer full of activities, travel, and fun experiences, teachers can easily use their mobile devices to capture artifacts and experiences that can be used for instructional purposes during the upcoming school year.  Integrating real-life experiences into instruction provides sustainable and lasting impressions on students that create connections to solidify learning.  Here are some suggestions on easy ways to collect great experiences and moments using Google mobile apps.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Free Professional Learning on Your Schedule

Have you ever found yourself wanting to take part in some learning, but without having to commit to meeting the instructor or classmates at a particular time and place?  This summer and throughout the school year, you may want to take advantage of a MOOC, a Massive Open Online Course.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Google Apps For Education Summit - autoCrat by New Visions Cloud Lab

Google Sheets addon - "autoCrat" - New Visions Cloud Lab

Our EdTech team had the pleasure of attending a two-day action packed Google Apps For Education (GAFE) Summit 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  This summit included two keynote presenters, 8 breakout sessions, a demo slam, and a closing session.  The sessions were beginner through advanced levels based on the uses of Google Apps in the classroom.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Free Professional Learning Tools for Google Apps

Google is fast becoming one of the tools of choice within education.  With summer break arriving, there are a number of great opportunities to start/continue your learning around Google Apps for Education and the incredible ways they can be used in your classroom.  Many teachers may be traveling for the summer or have personal projects that prevent them from attending the various conferences/face-to-face professional development opportunities.  With unprecedented access to technology, the learning can occur at your own pace, on your own time, and in any location.  Check out some of these great resources that allow the learning to continue wherever your summer plans may take you.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ed Tech Unconference May 28!

Mark your calendars for May 28, 2015! From 9 AM - 1:30 at Columbia MS, your APS Ed Tech team is hosting a district-wide unconference.

What's an unconference? Glad you asked :)

An unconference is a professional learning event where the agenda is created by the participants on the day of the event. Anyone who attends can be a presenter because the underlying assumption is that all teachers and administrators are professionals worthy of sharing their expertise in a collaborative setting.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Nearpod or Pear Deck?

If you are getting comfortable with your classroom set of  Chromebooks or iPads and are ready for the next step, Nearpod and Peardeck are waiting for you. No longer do you need to present a lesson on your whiteboard and then have students complete the related assignments on their devices. Nearpod and Peardeck allow you to connect with your students in innovative ways. These powerful, web-based tools allow teachers to present information to the whole group or individuals. Then students show their understanding through quizzes, drawings or responses that are sent back to the teacher during the lesson.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

APS Girl's Tech Camp Was Awesome!

Girl's Tech Camp Students Listening to Keynote Speaker, Nancy Felix of DaVita, Inc.
The ladies of our Ed Tech department, were fortunate to be able to help with the Aurora Public Schools Girl's Tech Camp last week. This empowering and educational event was hosted by APS Information Technology and Educational Technology. Each middle school and K-8 school was invited to send one teacher and five 6th grade girls to this one-day camp.  If given the opportunity, which of the events would you and your students have liked to participate in?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chromebooks: An Educator's Perspective on Set-Up and Procedures

Our guest blogger is +Ellen Lewis, an 8th Grade Literacy teacher who has been with APS for a little over 10 years and teaching for 7 at East Middle School.  She enjoys engaging students and staff in personalized, blended learning opportunities.  Click here to connect with her on our district's G+.

Just received your first set of classroom Chromebooks?  Do you want to know how to make sure this is a terrific experience rather than a disaster?  The difference between the two experiences comes down to; 1) how you set up of the Chromebooks, and 2) classroom procedures implemented. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Padlet for Instruction

Want to increase creative and innovative practices in your instruction?  Check out this great free tool called Padlet.  Padlet is an incredibly easy, web-based tool that teachers can use for free in any instructional environment.  Padlet offers a platform where teachers and students can post information, ideas, or create projects.  The basic structure of Padlet is a digital "wall" where anyone who has the URL for that "wall" can post based on the settings.  If you're looking to enhance creativity and innovative practices in your instruction, consider using Padlet as an instructional tool. Click HERE to check it out now or watch this quick video that showcases some of Padlet's features for instruction.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Overcoming Writer's Block

Ever struggle with students saying that they don’t know what to write? They know they have the story in their head, but they are struggling to get it down on their google doc. We can debate whether or not "writer's block" is real, but that debate won't change the fact that some of your students are struggling to get started and you really, really want/need them to start writing.

Or maybe they know what they want to write, but the typing process is so painfully slow that they get frustrated and quit? While typing skills are important and should be worked on in context, sometimes you just want all of your students to have their writing to work on so that they can start the real learning of revision, receiving feedback, and more revision.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

iPads as a Teacher Tool


So, you’ve got a brand new iPad...or maybe it’s not brand new, but you’re not sure how you could use it in your classroom. Your iPad can be a transformative tool in your classroom: it can free you from your whiteboard, free you from your laptop during lessons, take pictures of student work and project them instantly and then allow you or a student to annotate the work from anywhere in the room.

iPads a great mobile devices for monitoring notes - not only can you create handwritten notes, but you can add pictures, annotate on the pictures, and quickly send the file to cloud storage such as Evernote, Dropbox, or an email account. The recording features allow you to capture video or audio in your classroom directly, or even create a tutorial video to share with students who are absent. Your iPad combined with a video you’ve created is a great tool to put in front of a group of students that might need to hear a lesson again for reinforcement.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Let's empower APS students to design school & campus public spaces!
I like to tell those close to me how Minecraft empowers people to change the world, which usually leads to eye rolling and the occasional snarky remark to get a life as it's just a video game. In reality though, it is so much more than a video game - I posit that it is a tool to connect people to collaborate and create for fun, but also for positively impacting communities.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Common Core Math Practice by Front Row

As we near 3/14, I was thinking about ways to integrate math and technology.  Click this link for some ideas for celebrating Pi Day from Edutopia. What will you do on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53?

A math program I recently learned about is Front Row. Common Core Math for Teachers by Front Row is an amazing free app. It is a math program written by teachers for teachers. The focus of Front Row is Common Core aligned math practice for K-8.

It includes more than 28,000 math questions aligned to the Common Core that are assigned to students based on their performance on a pre-assessment and that are automatically graded.
The teacher must first create a free account on the app. Then s/he can set up classes, create student log ins, and make assignments. Students may either use the iPad app or log in to the web version in the Chrome browser.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Digital Learning Day: Lesson Plans, Tools & Ideas

What will you do with your students on March 13th?

If you need ideas about how to enhance learning and student engagement by embedding technology into your instruction, take a look at what one of our teachers does with her literacy students. We've also included links to social studies, language arts, STEM lesson plans and tools to help you try something new on Digital Learning Day.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Got Clickers?"

"Got Clickers?"

We all know formative assessment is important: checking for understanding, on-the-fly adjustments in class, and planning for differentiated and relevant lessons is part and parcel what teachers do day-in and day-out. A few years ago, "clickers" came on the scene and transformed the classrooms lucky enough to have a set. However, having enough money to purchase clickers for every classroom is a huge challenge.

Enter "Plickers." This free tool is an amazing alternative to expensive multiple-choice clickers.  All a teacher needs is an iPhone/iPad or Android device, the cards from the Plickers website, and a few minutes to create the questions.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Finding Possibilities in New Standards

Recently, a small group of APS school leaders met to read and discuss the new standards which require students to use digital texts and tools. Using some documents that highlight these standards, the group discussed which of the standards seemed most important to them and how these standards connect to the work that happens in classrooms at their schools.

I got to listen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Using Google Docs to Support Digital Literacy and The Writing Process

Literacy skill development for students continues to be an increasingly important task that teachers should focus on.  Regardless of the content area, students should develop and maintain the skills necessary to effectively communicate through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  These skills will be vital to the success of students in the 21st century workforce.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Reflecting on the Hour of Code at Murphy Creek K8

The following reflection was submitted by guest blogger, Patty McCool, who teaches technology at Murphy Creek K8.

The participation of Murphy Creek P-8 in the Hour of Code Week in December of 2014 was exciting, challenging and tons of fun. The students in grades K-8 spent at least one hour that week in coding sites that challenged them and encouraged them to participate with peers. We involved approximately 550 students in the school during that week using 5 different coding sites:, Tynker, Scalable Game Design, Kodable and Hour of Python. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reflecting on CS Ed Week and the Hour of Code (for credit!)

Two girls engaged in Scalable Game Design and mobile computing at Mrachek Middle during Computer Science Education Week. Photo by Joe Dillon 
For teachers who engaged students in any kind of coding activity during the week of December 8-14, your reflections on what went well, and what you would do differently are important for you to consider and for the Ed Tech department to know. By sharing your thinking you'll help us be smarter as a system about how we introduce computational thinking skills and strategies to students in order to provide more equitable education in APS. With equity in mind, it is also important that we think together about the equity issues that drive Computer Science Education week and the Hour of Code.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Beyond the Face-to-Face

After having just left a stimulating and productive meeting/professional development/conference, you come away with a list of ideas to implement, follow-up meetings with colleagues to schedule, situations to troubleshoot and not enough time in a day to get from point A to point B.

Q. Which adventure do you choose?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Meet the New Google Drive

Although Google launched the New Drive in June, many people have chosen to stay with old Google Drive. Therefore, I wanted to introduce the New Google Drive so you are prepared to use it when the Old Drive is no longer available.

If you are just introducing your students to Google Drive, I recommend having them use the New Google Drive so they do not have to learn one and then switch.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Using Primary Sources in a Digital Classroom

Blending the Old and the New

Technology moves us into the future at a breakneck speed.  In our rush to move forward, we may forget where we have been.  Use technology to show your students history and interact with it in ways that were not possible just a generation ago.
How can you bring valuable and sometimes rare objects into the eyes and minds of your students? Look no further than your fingertips. Browsing through the Library of Congress can make history real. It is one thing to read a speech given by past orators, such as Martin Luther King Jr. but wouldn’t it be better to invite his voice into the room?

A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study.  Sources present during an experience offer an inside view of an event.

Go to to begin your search.

In a few short clicks you can read Dr. King's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, listen to him as he spoke in Oslo, and then see the telegram sent by Senator Edward Kennedy congratulating him on his award.  Share these documents with your class for a writing assignment, discussion, or to build background knowledge.  With the Internet, these amazing artifacts of history are literally at your fingertips.

Follow this link to see for yourself:

From the Library of Congress homepage, follow the education links ( for full lesson plans that align with the CCSS and thematic unites.  They even have free e-books for iPad classrooms here.

If you just don't know where to begin, start following the Library of Congress on twitter @teach with LC.  They have quick facts, documents or links to spark your class discussions.

As As we head into the fast-paced future, the Library of Congress lets us keep our past in the rear-view mirror.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Purify Your Videos in 2015

Tired of videos filled with ads and related links? Want to use YouTube videos in your instruction but concerned that students will get distracted by all the related video options or be exposed to inappropriate content?  Purify your videos in seconds to use them in your instruction on a daily basis.

Monday, January 5, 2015 Online PARCC Practice, Aligned to CCSS

Looking for a way to incorporate the PARCC technology skills of drag and drop, highlighting, manipulating graphs, and writing free response answers?

What if there was a free, web-based option that will do all that AND said option was aligned to Common Core Standards?