Tips and Tidbits


posted Nov 2, 2017, 9:25 AM by Christina DeBello   [ updated Nov 2, 2017, 9:36 AM ]

GoGuardian, a provider of Chromebook management and protection software for schools, has unveiled GoGuardian for Teachers, a classroom management tool designed for Chromebooks.

GoGuardian Teacher: Classroom Management Made Simple

GoGuardian is designed for schools with 1-to-1 Chromebook initiatives. It provides teachers with a portal to direct students' attention to specific online resources and close off-topic tabs on one or more devices. The goal of GoGuardian for Teachers is to help keep students on-task and away from inappropriate content.

Key features of GoGuardian for Teachers include the following:
  • Screen Viewer, which provides a live stream of students' screens in a single window
  • Activity Timeline, which includes real-time history of students' device activity
  • Tab Control, which allows teachers can open a site in a new tab on one or more student devices
  • Attention Mode, which lets teachers close tabs, darken screens and lock devices to help direct students' attention
  • Scenes allow teachers to set a customizable set of rules to push out to one or more of their GoGuardian classrooms including; opening a tab automatically for the entire class, limiting the number of open tabs allowed, and setting a range of approved or blocked websites for a session

Important information and tips:
  • Since our schedule rotates the times and days of a class you can use the advance schedule feature to automatically set up your classes to record sessions even if you're not logged into GoGuardian---keep in mind any schedule changes will require you to manually start a session
  • Google Classroom classes can only be uploaded to GoGuardian once---if you share a class with another teacher you will want to have your co-teacher add you to their GoGuardian class  as a teacher to allow you monitoring access (found under Settings)
  • Once you have uploaded a Google Classroom to GoGuardian it will be updated every hour to ensure any new students will be added to GoGuardian
  • You can exclude students from sessions when absent so you are not recording their activity if they aren't even present in your room
  • Once you end a session a summary will be sent to your email address--you can access and review to double check what your students were doing during the recorded session, but will no longer have access to view their screen in real time
  • If your session is not running long enough, you can extend your session by selecting update session and add more time by selecting how many more minutes you'd like the session to run

         GoGuardian Teacher Support Website                                                                                        GoGuardian Teacher Training Course

Read&Write for Google Chrome

posted Nov 2, 2017, 6:53 AM by Christina DeBello

Boost reading and writing confidence across all types of content and devices, in class, at work, and at home! 

Wonderfully intuitive and easy-to-use, Read&Write for Google Chrome™ provides personalized support to make documents, web pages and common file types in Google Drive (including: Google Docs, and PDF) more accessible. It’s designed to help everyone engage with digital content in a way that suits his/her abilities and learning styles.  

Read&Write offers a range of powerful support tools to help you gain confidence with reading, writing, studying and research, including:

• Text-to-speech to hear words, passages, or whole documents read aloud with easy-to-follow dual color highlighting 

• Text and picture dictionaries to see the meaning of words explained 

• With speech-to-text, dictate words to assist with writing, proofreading & studying 

• Word prediction offers suggestions for the current or next word as you type 

• Collect highlights from text in documents or the web for summarizing and research 

• Create and listen to voice notes directly inside of Google Docs 

• Simplify and summarize text on web pages to remove ads and other copy that can be distracting

Introduction to Read&Write

Read&Write: Speech Maker

Read&Write: Practice Read Aloud

Read&Write: Voice Notes in Google Docs

Read&Write: Simplify Page

Read&Write: Support for Google Docs

Read&Write: Word Prediction

Read&Write: Screenshot Reader

Read&Write: Speech Input

Read&Write: Everything You Need to Know

BrainPop and MyBrainPop

posted Sep 20, 2017, 10:20 AM by Christina DeBello

BrainPop is a group of educational websites with over 1,000 short animated movies for students in grades K-12 (ages 6 to 17), together with quizzes and related materials, covering the subjects of science, social studies, English, mathematics, engineering and technology, health, and arts and music.

BrainPOP was founded in 1999 by Dr. Avraham Kadar as a creative way to explain difficult concepts to his young patients. Since then it has been expanded into a wonderful collection of short, succinct educational videos presented by the characters Tim and Moby that allow students to be more engaged with their own learning.

Teachers for years have been showing BrainPop videos to their students, either in a whole-class setting or by sharing video links individually to students as enrichment and supplementally activities.

BrainPop videos often contain a quiz to help evaluate comprehension of the materials introduced in the video or activities that can be completed to further enhance the students' knowledge of the topic. 

In the last few years, BrainPop has been expanded once more to include a new feature that allows educators to assign specific videos, quizzes, or activities and track students progress. The new platform is called My BrainPop. Educators can log in using their school's educator code and set up classes to enroll their students in using a class code they create. Once the classes are populated with students educators can then begin to creating assignments. Those assignments are automatically tracked and recorded through the educators My BrainPop account.

Additional features included in the My BrainPop platform include:


This tool allows students to create concept maps and connect and develop ideas as they explore our resources. Students can include a written explanation of their thought process and submit maps to a teacher for feedback. 
BrainPOP · BrainPOP Jr. · BrainPOP ESL


The newest addition to our suite of creation tools empowers teachers and students to make their own BrainPOP-style movies! Build scenes using images from our library or your own drawings. Add narration then submit and share. This tool cultivates planning, organizing, writing, collaborating, and analyzing skills. 

Google Classroom

posted Sep 7, 2017, 7:24 AM by Christina DeBello   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 7:41 AM ]

Google Classroom is a blended learning platform developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing and grading assignments in a paperless way.

20 Things You Can Do with Google Classroom

1. Sharing Resources: Google Classroom allows you to take a document, video or link and push it out to your students.

2. Create a Lesson: More than simply assigning work to students, Google Classroom allows you to build an assignment. Include a description and attach multiple documents, links and videos. This puts the entire lesson in one place.

3. Make Class Announcements: Google Classroom gives you a place to post your announcements. Unlike a website with one way communication, students can comment back on the announcement.

4. Go Paperless: Using Google Docs you no longer need to collect and pass out paper. You can assign students a blank Google Doc or use a template that your students will fill out. Google Classroom creates a copy for each student and gives them a turn in button for when they are done.

5. Simplify the Turn In Process: When using Google Documents, notoriously students forget to change the sharing settings or to turn in their work. Google Classroom eliminates this issue by placing the document in the teacher and the students Google Drive immediately. Students simply need to “turn in” within Google Classroom to signal the teacher they are ready to have their work assessed.

6. Protect Privacy: Rather than creating a global folder shared with all of the students in the class, Google Classroom restricts access to the documents to the teacher and the individual student.

7. Reduce Cheating:
Since the entire classes documents are not in a shared folder the temptation to copy another students work is eliminated.

8. Classroom Collaboration: When sharing a document the teacher is able to choose if the students can view the document or can edit it. Creating a document and giving all the students in the class editing access to that same document allows every student to contribute their piece to a class project.

10. Create a Discussion: A spreadsheet can be utilized to collect student opinions on a discussion topic. The ability to have multiple tabs allows for multiple discussion questions. Sharing a single Google spreadsheet with student editing access gets everyone on the same page quickly and gives every student a voice in the discussion.

11. Organize Assignments with Due Dates: In creating an assignment in Google Classroom you are able to assign a due date that is clear for both you and the students.

12. Capture the Middle of the Process: An important shift in the teacher student relationship is to get away from evaluator and focus on being a coach to your students. Google Classroom places all of the students work into a folder that is easily accessible from your Google Drive. While students are in the middle of working on their assignment you are able to go in and insert comments and guide them through the process.

13. Email Students: No longer do you need to create a group of student email addresses, Google Classroom allows you to email everyone at once.

14. Notify Students Who May Need Help: Google Classroom show you who has and has not completed an assignment. Send an email notification providing tips for success and encouraging the student to work on the assignment.

15. Assignment Q&A: When an assignment is posted to Google Classroom the students have the ability to comment on it. No longer do students have to wait to be called on to ask a question. This transcends the walls of the classroom to allow students to ask questions outside of class. When the teacher posts the response it is available to all of the students.

16. Create an Ad Hoc Playlist:
Google Classroom allows you to attach multiple YouTube videos to an announcement or assignment.

17. Email Feedback: When returning work to students you can provide a global note to all the students or individually provide feedback. Google Classroom provides the ability to post a note to the assignment from the teacher, and allow the student to comment back. This replaces the one sided note in the margin of the students paper, providing a more dynamic experience.

18. Create Folders:
What was once a cumbersome process in Google Drive is now done automatically. The teacher has a folder in Google Drive that contains a folder for each assignment. This makes locating student work a snap!

19 Link Directly: While Google Classroom places the student work into a folder for the teacher to find, a student list with a link to the students work is easily accessible directly from Google Classroom. This reduces the need of the teacher to dig through their Google Drive to find the work a student has completed.
Multiple Files in an Assignment: Google Classroom allows you to assign more than a single document. This means students can create a multi-stage project and submit all of their pieces in one place.

20. Easily View Student Submission: Google Classroom clearly counts how many students have and have not submitted an assignment.

Keeler, Alice. “20 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom.” Teacher Tech, 7 Sept. 2014,

New Google Chrome Features 8/17 

YouTube Video

Flippity and Classtools

posted Dec 6, 2016, 9:27 AM by Christina DeBello   [ updated Dec 6, 2016, 9:31 AM ]

There are many different sites out there to help teachers create digital resources for their classroom, the problem is knowing which ones to use. I have found a few easy to use, yet still engaging digital resource sites. has been around for awhile, and it was something I used in the past, but recently stumbled upon again at a conference. uses a Google Spreadsheet as the basis for flash cards, random name pickers, badge tracker, quiz games and several other useful digital resources.  By simply selecting the activity you'd like and filling out the template to fit your specific fields you have laid the foundation for a fun, entertaining activity.  

I recently used to create flashcards to review internet vocabulary terms.  Once I filled in the template I was able to share the link via classroom and my students could practice using the flashcards and play review games to see how quickly they could match words with their definitions. Flippity flashcards also has a few extra features teachers enjoy like the ability to print word lists as well as both digital and print options of vocabulary quizzes.


Classtools has a wide range of digital resources, some of which are a bit easier to use than others. In the past I have used to create games or activities that allow the students to get up an interact with my smart board. For example I made a Connect Fours game, but unlike the board game where students drop tiles to get four-in-a-row this game requires students to find four items that related and figure out how they are related to create four-in-a-row. It was easy to type in a list of words and how they were related and the game took care of the rest, randomizing the order of the words and timing the students. Students were able to come up and use the stylus to manipulate the board and it was a lot fun.

There are many other digital resources available through, for example there are retro-themed review games like pac-man, a projectable timer, puzzle makers, timeline creators, and many more options I have not even explored yet. Most of the review games include a few examples, which I encourage you to play around with to see if you find it easy to use and entertaining yourself.   


Britannica ImageQuest

posted Oct 27, 2016, 10:00 AM by Christina DeBello   [ updated Nov 2, 2016, 8:59 AM ]

I was just recently introduced to this feature in Britannica. Mrs. St. Jean discovered Britannica ImageQuest while reviewing the invoice for the program. Apparently we have been paying for this amazing resource and never even knew it existed. So I decided to do a bit of digging on my own.

Britannica released ImageQuest five years ago, with the intention to provide educators and their students with millions of rights-cleared, pre-sorted images in one easy-to-use site. Currently there are over three million images within the ImageQuest database that come from over 45 well-known, respected resources, including the British Library, DK Images, Getty Images, and the National Portrait Gallery, as well as Encyclopedia Britannica.  The images collection contains high-quality photos, maps,and drawings on nearly everything in the world and all have been cleared for noncommercial, educational use.  Britannica has even made sure to review the graphics carefully to ensure they are appropriate and meet the standards of their database to ensure safe and easy access for students of all ages.

This fabulous resource will allow us to assign digital projects and make it even easier for students to find appropriate, rights-cleared images without wasting time browsing through the world wide web.  All they need to do is access the Britannica database, just like they would when completing research, and in the top right corner on the home page you will see ImageQuest highlighted in yellow.  If the students click on that it bring them to the homepage of ImageQuest and they can begin their search.



Once a student has found the images they'd like to use they can download them and insert them into any digital project they are working on. Students can modify their search for specific collections, horizontal versus vertical images, or even search for clipart only. Britannica ImageQuest also provides citation information that can be copied and pasted into your students' work cited pages to ensure they give credit when using the images. 

ImageQuest is an excellent resource and in my opinion needs to be used all the time. Our students waste too much time scrolling through hundreds of images found in a Google search, only to find out they can't use the image because it isn't licensed for reuse. ImageQuest has already taken the time to scan through millions of images and gather ones together for our students to find and use with efficiency.  So as you plan future projects, whether it's a video, slideshow, or even a poster, please keep in mind this fabulous new resource is only a click away.

Britannica's Image Quest Winner of:

2014 ISTE “Best of Show” Award 
2011 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers 



Making Infographs Using Piktochart

posted Oct 20, 2016, 5:40 AM by Christina DeBello   [ updated Nov 2, 2016, 8:52 AM ]

Piktochart is an online tool (website and Chrome app) for creating infographics. Combining charts, graphs, text, and graphics, users can easily assemble and present information using the drag-and-drop interface. Although it's generally geared toward adults in the workplace creating business presentations, Piktochart clearly lends itself
to student use.

Students can learn concepts of grouping, graphing, and visually representing pieces of information here. While putting together an infographic, they will interpret info, then create a combination of text, images, and charts or graphs to share with others. Kids can easily integrate them into in-class reports or projects. Discovering what's visually appealing to their audience will improve students' awareness of how other people learn and will help them with future presentation endeavors.

Users choose a template, or theme, and then fill it with their own info. Using Piktochart's bank of icons, images, fonts, and other design tools, organizing and sharing information can be pretty fun. Icons and images are organized by subject, including education, entertainment, people, and shapes. Once completed, each template can be saved for future editing, and the finished pr
oduct can be exported as a PNG, JPEG, or PDF file. Unpaid users can work on up to five themes at a time.

Piktochart templates are set up to work well with all kinds of data, and students will be excited once they see their own research looking so slick and professional. The design is fantastic, with modern, charming icons and fonts, and it's not too difficult to make seriously high-quality infographics with Piktochart. That said, it's not totally intuitive, and the guidance offered can be confusing. But if they poke around enough, students will figure out how to use Piktochart for school projects, class presentations, and maybe even just for fun.

Last year, Ms. Atherton approached me looking for a way to share the students' Dream Vacation travel projects they completed in FCS. I took the projects, as well as the guidelines and explanations and created an infographic using Piktochart. We then posted a link on the school website for parents to access and view.

I personally found the app easy to use. I found a template I liked, modified to allow for all the sections I wanted to include, used many of the preloaded graphics from the existing back and even uploaded several others. Once the infographic was created Piktochart made it easy to save, share, and access from any device. But my favorite aspect is that the students can sign in and access the app with their school issued google account. This means they can work on their infographic from anywhere, anytime, on any device that has access to the internet.

Ways to use infographics in the classroom:
1. Get students to present a topic or an issue through an infographic.2. Encourage the students to create a timeline infographic. It’s a great way to remember important historical events.
3. Ask students to present the past, and present of a place using a map and other graphics4. Ask students to use an infographic to present a news article or even a book review

(Click image to access step-by-step instructions)





posted Oct 14, 2016, 10:36 AM by Christina DeBello   [ updated Nov 2, 2016, 8:53 AM ]

There are many teachers in the building who like to have their students create video projects. This could be a trailer for a book they've read, a presentation for a class, or even movie scene for an event recently studied in class. Unfortunately, the school has a limited number of iPads so making a movie using iMovie gets difficult at times. Especially when multiple students have been using the same iPad and it is already in use, leaving one student with no access to their project.  Well, I have a solution to that very problem...WeVideo.

Now may of you have no idea what I am talking about at all, or maybe only have a fuzzy recollection of me 
mentioning it before. WeVideo is a powerful and easy-to-use. cloud-based collaborative video editor, available through the chrome web store as well as online. Students can use their school issued google account to sign in and begin working on their video project. The best thing is that they will be able to access, edit, add to, or modify their project anytime and from anywhere they have internet access.

WeVideo is very similar to iMovie and many students have found it easy to use when they get in and explore a bit.  WeVideo has several similar features that iMovie has, including storyboard themes that allow users to drag and drop media into a theme based layout, which includes color backgrounds, theme-based frames, existing text boxes, transitions, and even background audio at time. Users can easily upload media to be used in their video, record mini clips to include, as well as audio for voice overs. The program also includes several editing features that allow students to manage the length of time an image is show, the speed the items run, as well as many different media transitions.  

WeVideo is linked to the students accounts once they sign in with their google account, so once they finish creating a video they can download it to their drive (in their new WeVideo folder) and can either share with others or even turn in through the Classroom.  

There are a few things to keep in mind though. We are currently using the free version of the program and there are a few limitations.  Students can only create up to 5 minutes of video and can only keep 2GB of media stored in the cloud.  Also any movies they make and either download or upload will have a restricted resolution quality and will contain a watermark indicating it was made using WeVideo. These minor inconveniences are not, in my opinion, a deal breaker but are something to keep in mind.

So the next time you think you want to assign a video project, or want the students to create a visual 
                                                                                                                    representation, think about using WeVideo.


Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Know

posted Oct 4, 2016, 10:52 AM by Christina DeBello   [ updated Sep 5, 2017, 10:18 AM ]

I am always surprised when I ask students to save an image. Many drag the image with their mouse onto their desktop, while others go up to file, select save as, etc. I am shocked they don't simply use the shortcut and get it done with a few keystrokes.  However, I have come to realize that the students aren't the only ones who don't take advantage of keyboard shortcuts; many of our teachers do not use them either. It may be because they didn't know they existed, but it is most likely because they can't remember what buttons to push or whether or not it is COMMAND or CONTROL for the device they are on.  Well, we're going to remedy this either way.  

Work smarter, not harder people!

Below I have attached a few documents and images detailing the specific keystrokes for shortcuts. 
Many of us know cmd+C for copy and cmd+V for paste, but there are several others that are just as useful. 
Feel free to browse through the images, print the handouts, or even bookmark this page for easy access.

Keyboard shortcuts may seem hard to remember, and learning one keyboard shortcut doesn't seem like it saves you a lot of time. But once you learn the lot of them, you'll definitely notice a boost in productivity because you're not unnecessarily reaching for a mouse.


Additional Resources

25 Basic Mac Keyboard Shortcuts



Did you know that by using a keyboard shortcut you could get a visual popup of all the keyboard shortcuts on a Chrome laptop? 

Here are a few basic keyboard shortcuts

(You may notice they are the same as Mac keyboard shortcuts, but with ctrl not cmd)

Additional Resources

Using Your Interactive White Board

posted Sep 30, 2016, 11:07 AM by Christina DeBello   [ updated Oct 24, 2016, 9:00 AM ]

“The whiteboard is not a magic carpet. It will not float into your classroom and whisk your troubles away. It is more like investing in a new house, certain things are in place when you agree to the purchase, not all of it is organized as you would like, but with the careful gathering of the things you need, and a few new installations, it soon begins to feel familiar. However, it will need continued love, investment and maintenance to ensure that it remains adequate to be your C21st home.”  
---Diana Bannister

After years of interactive whiteboards being touted as the next best thing for engaging students, the unfortunate reality is that while they have become common in many schools, they are often used as glorified projector screens. Interaction may take place with the board, but more often than not it’s being directed by the teacher and students merely consume the interaction in a passive way.

It doesn't have to be this way!

I hope that with a bit of guidance and a lot of patience we can begin to take advantage of the technology we already have in our classroom....the interactive whiteboard (IWB).  

I realize that many teachers have not had any formal training on how to use their Eno Board and I will admit mine was limited to an afternoon workshop, on the last day of school, before I even got my Eno Board. However, I have found that if I really wanted to learn to do something I had to put the time and effort into researching how to do it.  Thankfully I have already some of the leg work and have found several easy to use online IWB resources.

First things will need to make sure your pen/stylus works. A few teachers have an older stylus that requires batteries, you are going to want to replace those with a new one. The rest of the staff have newer rechargeable stylus, that will need to be charged. 

In order to actually use the pen, once it is charged it must by paired with your computer. This can be done using bluetooth on some of your computers, but many will need to use the bluetooth receiver that comes with your pen. Once it is paired you can start using your Eno Board.

You do have to have your computer connected to the projector in order to use your Eno Board. You can do this using your dongle or Apple TV.  Once you have turned on your projector, verified it is connected, and paired your pen you will be prompted to set up the display. Simply tap each target as it appears on the screen to set the parameters for your Eno Board display.  

Basically your stylus acts as a wireless mouse for what ever is displayed on the screen. However it can do more than just that.  The Eno Interactive Whiteboard magnetic icon strip can be used to interact with anything showing on your computer screen, including a Word document, the Internet, or the image under the document camera. The different icons allow you to interact in a variety of ways. Click on the images below to access a key for your icon strip.

A list of some great interactive whiteboard resources and activities guaranteed to stimulate learning.

User friendly and interactive software for the smart board with many fun and educative lessons and activities.

Scholastic Interactive Whiteboard Center

Online interactive learning and reading activities for interactive whiteboards, computer labs, and students PreK-12.

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