Google Templates and More

Teachers do not have tons of time to create templates for student use. Between recess duty, parent meetings and the surprise fire drill, finding time to create anything can be difficult. Fortunately, we can collaborate to build a collection of resources that can engage students and save time.

In this particular post, you will find resources curated and created by educators. These resources are accessible because teachers shared what they were using in their classrooms. In order to utilize each of these templates, you will need to make a copy for your own use. To do this click on “File” and choose the “Make Copy” option in your Google account.

Elementary Templates-Use these templates to engage students and work with primary students. Thanks Laura Wilson for curating these great resources.

Google Templates from TCEA-Loads of templates sorted by subject and topic.

Alice Keeler Templates-This teacher is amazing and has created tons of templates you can use with your own students. There is even a tutorial on how you can create your own templates using Google Drawings.

Also, consider submitting your own creations for others to share!  To submit templates others can utilize, simply put a link to your template (view only mode) in the comments below. Once we have a number of templates, I will create a spreadsheet and share them with all of you. The more we can work together, the more we can accomplish.


One of the questions that was asked is how you might assign work to individuals in a classroom document. I have created a quick tutorial on how you might use Google Slides to create a collaborative activity or assign students their own pages in a collaborative Google Doc.

Class Introduction Template

As always, please let me know if you find this information helpful or if you have any ideas for future posts.

Adding a Rubric to a Google Classroom Assignment

Last week I had an opportunity to work with teachers from Jackson, Tennessee on implementing Google Classroom within their building. It was such a joy to spend time with these amazing educators, their excitement and passion for teaching made me want to stay all week, instead of one day. During our time together a question arose on how you could add a rubric to Google Classroom assignments to give feedback and make grading a bit simpler.

This request is pretty straightforward, but for someone new to Google products the solution can be a bit tricky. There are a number of products out there that allow you to create and attach a rubric to a Google Doc, however, the two that I find most reliable and recommended by teachers is a combination of two products called Doctopus and Goobric.

Doctopus is a feedback and grading program that allows you to easily share documents. Goobric is a rubric assessment tool that works with Doctopus to attach a rubric to a student assignment. In order to use Goobric you must have Doctopus and first-time setup isn’t super intuitive, but it yields good results.

I wanted to answer the question but knew that probably the best way to do this was via video. Normally I have a hard rule about keeping any video to a five-minute limit, but due to the complexity of this particular tool, this was a tad longer…my apologies.  I’ve also included a link to a handout. Hopefully, this resource will be helpful but please, share any other tools that could also address this need.

As always let me know if you have any questions or comments. I love hearing from all of you! a Rubric in Google Classroom


Chopped Challenge, Blended Learning

One of my goals for this year is to become more transparent about my own personal growth. In my role as a developer of professional development, I often try to think of ways educators can explore and reflect on their own learning especially in regards to blended learning.

Along with my passion of learning, I also have a love of food. One of my favorite shows is Chopped which can be found on the Food Network. Chefs compete against each other to create a dish using mystery ingredients found in a basket. This got me thinking about how we could add an element of fun to professional development.

In one of our workshops we asked participants to be transparent about their learning, we asked them to create a blog to share ideas and reflect on their experiences. One of the requirements is to write a post about blended learning, but with a bit of a Chopped twist. We asked participants to use items from a mystery basket we provided (see picture) to write a blog post describing what blended learning means to them using all of the “ingredients” from the basket.

Last week I had the opportunity to listen to a keynote from the Global Read Aloud creator Pernille Ripp. One of the big take-aways for me was to do the homework you assign to students, to see what works and what doesn’t. So with that in mind, here is my attempt at doing my own homework.

Blended Learning, Recipe for Success


Mystery Basket Items: Marshmallow, Legos, sunglasses, string and pencil

When I’m asked what blended learning means to me, I think about the importance of building on what you are already doing in the classroom. Similar to Legos, we start with our basic blocks, the things that have stood up over time. We don’t throw things out that are working, but think about how you might modify or change things that are challenging and are not working for our students.

There will always be traditional ways of teaching that work best, just replacing a pencil with a device doesn’t change the learning, using a device doesn’t mean the experience is any better.

Blended learning also challenges us to be pliable, think of a marshmallow, sometimes you will try an activity and it will go well, but at times you may need to manipulate and change that activity- make a Smore! For those students that need a challenge, push them to think deeper.

Finally, blended learning challenges us to make learning applicable and authentic. How can we string together all of our content areas and experiences in a way that has students deepening their own thinking as well as challenging other’s ideas?

Blended learning is a journey, sometimes things will be messy, but in thinking about how blended learning is personalizing and supporting all students, I have to say, the future is so bright, I think I might need to wear shades.




New Year’s Resolution

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One of my resolutions for this new year is to write and share. It has been a year since my last post, so as you can surmise this whole resolution thing doesn’t always pan out for me, but if given the choice of “give up cupcakes” or “write” I will definitely be writing more, I’ll probably be eating a cupcake while doing it.

When working with educators I get asked frequently about how I keep current on all the changes in the world of educational technology. My answer is always, “It’s my job and I have time”.

Most teachers can barely eat lunch during the day, let alone search the web for resources. As a teacher I could never find time to learn about..well anything! When I wasn’t in my classroom I was preparing for being in my classroom.

I loved teaching, but decided I really wanted to work and learn from other educators. As a blended learning coach, I have an opportunity to see how teachers are using technology to change learning. It’s amazing what students are creating and how teachers are changing the traditional classroom landscape.

One set of tools I can’t live without is Google G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Education).  Below you will find a presentation with a correlating handbook on different ways to use Google products in the classroom.  In each of these items I have added screenshots and ways you can use Google products in your classroom. You will also find resources from other bloggers and educators who I think do a great job of sharing.  I hope you will find this useful and as always let me know what you think. Happy New Year!

Click here for copy of the handbook that supports this presentation.

Not a Box, Resolution


Happy New Year! Hopefully, you have had some time to relax and are ready to head back to school.  In thinking about the past year I had the chance to reflect on some  of the great things I’ve seen from local educators. Below is an article I wrote for the MACUL Journal. If you haven’t heard of MACUL, this is a non profit organization that supports teachers in the effective use of technology. Check out their website for resources and information on their yearly conference.

Every April, the Jackson County ISD Ed Tech team hosts the Connected Educator Un/Conference. It’s an incredible opportunity for educators to get together to learn from the unique classroom experiences each has to offer. During the morning kickoff, I had the honor of talking with participants about a book I had recently read to my son called, It’s Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. The book is centered on thinking about seemingly ordinary things in an imaginative or innovative way – what might be a box to one person can be something very different to someone else, it’s all a matter of perspective. In the story, the main character is repeatedly told he is sitting in a box, standing in a box, or wearing a box, but to this he repeatedly responds, “It’s not a box.” To him, it is a rocket ship, a racecar, or a mountaintop he has reached. Throughout the event I was struck by the number of educators who create magic in their classrooms – those teachers who think about things differently, those “not a box” thinkers; teachers who face obstacles and challenges, yet can engage and enhance learning with what they have been given.

For example, I had the incredible experience of building my own Brush Bot thanks to Micheal Mendvinsky, a music teacher from the Bloomfield Hills school district. A brush bot consists of a toothbrush head, a watch battery, pager motor and wires. The idea is to get your bot to move in one direction. This is an activity that he has used in his own classroom to inspire and engage his students. Mendvinsky gives no direction for creating brush bots, but allows his students to play, ask questions, and explore. Students work together to create their own bot, which will then race against other bots in the classroom. This opportunity to work together effectively builds lasting relationships in his classroom and teaches the importance of failure and redesign, and the technology is neither cutting-edge nor expensive. Interested in creating your own bot? Check out these instructions from PBS Kids.

It wasn’t only educators sharing ideas Joanne VanRaden brought her Manchester fourth grade students to teach all of us how to build our own green screen videos, and they had the room full of teachers completely energized! Do-ink is an iPad app that allows you to easily design videos using images with live video or make an animated video. Students presented on how they used Do-Ink to produce their own how-to videos. Along with green screen videos, students shared their electronic books designed with the app Book Creator. Book Creator allows students to invent E-books that can be shared with others or saved as a PDF. VanRaden’s students took pride in sharing their knowledge with the adults in the room and made sure we played and created.

With a new year upon us, I challenge you to think about what is your “not a box?” Think about the tools you have in your classroom or in your building. How might you utilize what you have available to create opportunities for learning? What will your students see in a different light? Instead of thinking outside the box, think about what types of possibilities that a box can hold. Remember it’s not about the technology, but the learning.

Auto Creating Letters using Google Forms and Autocrat

A numbeunnamedr of schools are sending home “caught you” notes. These notes let parents know when a student was caught doing something good, some examples might be helping others or showing leadership.  Most of the time these slips are filled out and sent home in the student’s backpack where they live in a dark, sometimes a wet (eww) place until they get thrown away. The obvious problem with sending home a paper copy  is that it doesn’t always get seen by the intended recipient.

So, that got me thinking about a Google add-on that I had used years ago and forgotten, Autocrat.  This add-on allows you to create a form where submissions can populate a Google Doc. For example, in the case of the “caught you note” a teacher could fill out a form by selecting a list of behaviors and a letter to parents is automatically generated through autocrat. Not only could you use this with for student behavior, but you could create missing library book lists or create lesson plans.  Click this link for more examples from Jessica Johnston at Synergyse.

Below is a video showing how to set up Autocrat, as always I would love to hear your feedback and how you are using this tool.

Beginning to Blend

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Ever want to embed a document easily on a website? What about write your own book and share it online? Scribd is a free service that allows you easily to upload a document and share it in book form. Simply upload your document from your computer, Dropbox or Google Drive and Scribd. does the rest.  Not only can you share your writing you can also see how many people have viewed your document and get feedback.  Create your classroom handbook and embed it on your website for parents or have students create ebooks they can share with an authentic audience. Below is an example of how I uploaded a PDF to Scribd and turned it into an ebook, the process was super simple and it was free.

My Scribd. Example

Blended learning can mean many different things, but the fact is a number of teachers are blending in their classrooms and not even realizing it.  Combining face to face instruction with online learning to provide rich learning opportunities for students is really what blended learning is all about.  There are so many tools you can use with students to provide instruction beyond the classroom and the restraints of time. Because there are so many tools it can be hard to determine which you should use, recently I have created a blended learning handbook to outline what I think to be the best resources.  I wanted to share this book with all of you as a guide for starting your adventure in blending.  Its nothing fancy, but you may find it useful.  Let me know what you think.

Beyond the Classroom, Skyping With Students

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As an instructional technology consultant I have the opportunity to see first hand how teachers are collaborating in their classrooms. I get to see lessons in action, the things that go well, the things that don’t go well, and the things that make educators cringe when it comes to using technology with students.

One of the biggest challenges with technology is the ease of use. As a teacher, it can feel like technology is one more thing to add to an already overflowing plate.  Who wants to run around trying to figure out how to log everyone into their accounts?  What if there aren’t enough devices?  These questions can dissuade, even the most seasoned educator, from implementing technology.

So what is a good option for a teacher who wants to collaborate beyond the four classroom walls, but doesn’t want the hassle of multiple accounts and devices? Is there a tool that you can use right away without having to spend hours learning how to use it?  Why yes, yes there is! By using a free tool called Skype you can have your students connect with other classrooms around the globe, you can ask professionals to speak about careers, or invite guest readers to read a book virtually.  Students can hear and see speakers they may not have had access to in the past due to distance or funding. Students can ask questions and can share ideas or how about connecting with another classroom virtually? Skype is surprisingly easy to use and best of all it’s free.

To connect on Skype for your lesson you will need to create a Skype account at and  a webcam on your computer or device. If you don’t have a built in web camera you can purchase them online for as little as $10.  That’s it, you are ready to Skype. Still feeling a bit hesitant? Click here for how to set up your account.

Looking for other classrooms to collaborate with? Check out Mystery Skype where students from two different locations attempt to identify where the other classroom is located based on given clues his isn’t just for geography –you could create a book club where students discuss books they are reading in the classroom, or for the younger students you could play guessing games where students use clues to identify a mystery object. Other classrooms have teamed up on a science experiment…you get the picture…the possibilities are endless!

There are classrooms everyday, everywhere looking for a Skype partners.  If you are using Twitter, follow the hashtag #mysteryskype to find classrooms looking to connect or you can access to find lessons and other educators interested in classroom partnerships.Want to bring an author into your classroom? Check out this website for a list of authors that will Skype with your classroom for free broken down by grade level.

As always, I would love to hear about your Skyping ideas or experiences.  Please feel free to leave a comment!

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 10.35.58 AMOver the past few weeks I have been thinking about how difficult it was as a teacher to find and implement technology tools.  I would hear about wonderful online resources I could use with my students, but finding time to implement and think of ways to fit it into my curriculum was a daunting task. As an Educational Technology Specialist, I have time to research and think about how teachers might utilize some of these resources, the past couple of weeks I have been working on creating technology projects that align with the Common Core and are practical for teachers.  I haven’t been at this long, and my plan is to create content K-5, but I wanted to get your feedback and see if these lessons might be useful. The link below will take you to my Tackk Boards for Kindergarten, if you haven’t checked out Tackk I highly recommend this tool. Please take a look and let me know what you think, as always I would love to hear how you are using technology in your classroom.

App Mash-Up Aurasma, Flipgrid, and Videolicious


Over the last seven weeks I have been on maternity leave.  This time has offered me the opportunity to get to know my new little one, but also given me the opportunity to go a little stir crazy.  My husband was very excited to see me return to work, as my time spent on Pinterest caused him great grief.  While making our own soap and mason jar travel mugs, sounded like a wonderful idea to me, he saw this as added work and frankly an allergic reaction waiting to happen.

Along with my diy project plans, I also had time to play around with a tool called Aurasma.  Now Aurasma has been out for awhile, but I was trying to find a way to tie together technology and a birth announcement.  Since the birth of our first child, lots of new tools have provided opportunities to share life’s moments in new and exciting ways.  While pictures are great, I really wanted to convey some emotion about this joyous occasion. I also wanted family and friends to be able to share their thoughts and words with Charley through video.  This was a tall order, but with a little playing, and with what my friend Brad (@dreambition) likes to call an app mash-up, I think I achieved my goal.

Using the site called Snapfish I ordered birth announcements, with directions for viewing a video of Charley on the back of the card.  Snapfish is a great site , you can save pictures in albums and share those albums with others, order printed pictures, cards and much more for a reasonable price.

I wanted to create a video of Charley easily without a lot of work, remember I had to make all that soap!  I decided to use an app called Videolicious.  This app is free and the best part, lets you create amazing little 60 second videos that you can save to your camera roll. They do have a paid option if you want to create longer videos. I choose a few pictures from my iPad, recorded my voice over the pictures and added music in less than ten minutes. Videolicous would be a handy tool for creating book trailers in the classroom or having students create videos showcasing understanding, lots of uses with this one.

Using Aurasma I used Charley’s announcement as a trigger image.  Aurasma allows you to scan an image and a video pops up, now when someone scanned the announcement they could see a short video of our new little lady. I was thinking this would be a great tool to use with students.  You could share reflections of work with parents and much more.  Check out this site from Two Guys and Some iPads to learn more about how to use Aurasma and augmented reality in the classroom.

Finally, in Aurasma I added an option to tap on the video to add a video message using Flipgrid.  Flipgrid is a paid tool, but they do have a free 21 day trial to test out their product.  Flipgrid allows you to put up a question and collect video responses, it is designed by teachers and has a lot of potential for having students share their ideas and understanding. It also has management options to view videos before they are posted and password protected video pages.

While this project took a bit of time and manipulation, I wanted to share my experience with all of you. Each of the tools listed here have classroom applications, but that you can blend different tools to create what you want is something I enjoy exploring. If you have an idea for using any of these tools let me know, I love to hear from readers and share ideas.

Below is the final project with instructions on how to view.


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Steps to view Aurasma:

Download Aurasma on your device
Sign up
Click on ‘A’ at the bottom of screen
Click on magnifying glass (search)
Search for (type in): schuh or schuh’s channel
Click Follow
Click on brackets at bottom of screen until camera shows up
Scan picture to view video