Archive for March, 2013

Going Green & Paperless Infographic

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We received an email last week from our principal that the copy paper was about out, and no more would be ordered for the rest of the year.  As you can imagine, it’s been mass hysteria around here since.  I’ve been a little confused as to how we’ve run out of paper early since three of our grade levels are 1:1 with iPads.  I mean, having all of this access to technology should reduce the amount of paper we use, right?  I guess we’re still in the “getting used to using the tech in new ways” stage.  Anywho, I decided to do share some tools and tricks with our teachers to help them reduce the amount of paper they’re using on a daily basis.  Below are the tools I shared.  Be sure to check back, as I’ll be adding more to this list! Please leave a comment as to how you have reduced the amount of paper in your classroom.

Edmodo:  This is probably my favorite website right now. Do you have iPads? It’s an app too!  Edmodo has been described as Facebook for school, but it’s so much more than that.  Edmodo allows you to create classes with small groups, create assignments and assessments that students can submit, link your Google Docs account, assign badges to your students, connect with like-minded professional teachers from all over the world, and much more.

How can this reduce the consumption of paper in your classroom? With the ability to provide feedback and create assignments and assessments within the program, you are saving copies.  By being able to link Google Docs accounts, students can complete writing assignments within Google Docs and submit them on Edmodo.  Edmodo automatically generates a parent code, which allows parents to create an account to see only what their child is doing.  Rather than sending notes home, simply use the parent code for communication.

Google Apps for Education

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Google Apps for Education: These include Gmail, Google Docs/Drive, Google Calendar, Google+, and much more.  I could go on and on about how these apps can reduce the amount of paper in your classroom.  To give you just a quick overview, you can use Gmail to communicate with students and parents.  See my blog posts about using filters in Gmail to keep your inbox organized.  You can use Google Docs to create shared folders in which you share lesson materials and assignments, and in which students submit assignments.  Do your students have iPads? The Google Drive App is a MUST!  Google Calendars can be shared with students and parents to notify them of upcoming assignments and announcements.  Click here to see how you can use Google Calendars to lesson plan.  Google+ is the social side of Google, where you can create communities for your students and parents.

Socrative:  Socrative, like the previous two resources, are both web-based and app-based.  Socrative allows you to create MC, T/F, and short answer quizzes.  I love that you can even ask “on the fly” questions as you move through a lesson.  Once an assessment if finished, you receive an Excel or CSV file with the responses.  If it was MC or T/F, it’s already graded for you!  Socrative is also nice because it has a pre-made exit ticket for your students, as well as a competitive review game your students can play in teams.  If you’re classroom is 1:1, you’ll need to download both the Student and Teacher apps.  No iPads or Andriod devices?  No problem.  Teachers simply sign in at and students sign in at Like Edmodo, the ability to create quizzes and assignments that are taken and submited online or on a device, should greatly reduce the amount of paper you use in your class.

Want more information?  Check out these two Prezi’s I found for a presentation I did this past summer on the topic of Going Paperless in the classroom.

Paperless Classroom by Steven Katz

Learning Online 24/7: Motivation to Get Digital by Keith O’Neal


gmail folders image

My past few posts have focused on the “HOW” of setting up filters in Gmail and a neat Google Gmail trick for creating student logins on websites that have an age restriction. Now, I’d like to focus on the “WHY”.

If you are lucky enough to have a 1:1 classroom, or if you’d just like to help save the polar bears and go as paperless as possible, you will see that you have many opportunities to have students submit work to you digitally (via a computer, mobile device, etc.). If you have students email you their work without setting up filters, you will quickly see your inbox explode! More than likely, you will miss or delete an email, put something in the wrong folder, and get stressed out when you see “243 New Messages”.

If you’re at all like me, you like to keep you inbox at less than 50 unread emails. Setting up filters will allow you to relax because Gmail is doing all of the work for you. You don’t have to worry about manually moving emails into folders based on assignment or class; you set up the filter once, and it’s done! This means that when you’re ready to sit down and grade the assignment, all you have to do is open the folder/label in Gmail and get to it. Life is simpler because you have used one of the FREE tools at your disposal to stay organized. Let’s face it: teachers have enough to worry about, and more than enough duties to be worried about a crazy email inbox. Do yourself a favor and set those filters up now. Kudos to those of you attempting to go paperless!  It’s pointless to have students use technology to produce work, then have them print it out…that’s not paperless,people!

Recap: Setting up filters in your Gmail will:
*Save you time when you go to grade the submitted assignments.
*Keep your Inbox nice and organized.
*Prevent those lost or deleted emails that contain important student work and messages.

pi dayTomorrow, March 14, 2013 is Pi Day.  This day is in honor of that amazing irrational number 3.14yadayadayada.  Pi represents the circumference of a circle divided by it’s diameter.  What makes Pi such a cool number is the fact that it is an infinite number with no pattern of repeating numbers.  Check out for more cool facts and a brief history of Pi.


Teachers across the globe are planning fun activities to celebrate this international “holiday”, so I thought I’d put a techie spin on things.  Below are some activities to help you bring Pi Day to life in your classroom, with a tech twist.

1.) Pi-ku using Haiku Deck iPad app: This is a mathematical form of the Haiku poems we all remember writing in grade school.  Instead of using the format 5-7-5 (syllables), use 3-1-4.  After writing the Pi-ku use the very simple, yet beautiful presentation app, Haiku Deck, to showcase your poem.  An example Pi-ku would be:


I love pie


its chocolate.

2.)  Learn Pi:  This free app allows you to practice, then test yourself to see how much of Pi you can memorize.  You also have the option to see the number to the umpteenth decimal point.  Are you ready for the challenge?


3.)  Use the free app Tellagamiand have your students create a video of the history of Pi.  To take it up a notch, have students create a background for the Gami that illustrates something to do with Pi.


4.)  Play Pi Attack2.  In this free app, you are racing against the clock to stop the Pi Alien from reaching the bottom of the screen by manipulating numbers based on their place value.  Sound complicated?  It’s really not.  Great practice for understanding place value!


5.)  Travel around your school and classroom and take pictures with your device of numbers 1 through 9 from different places.  Use the free Calculate Pi app (free for today!) to put the pictures together to represent Pi in an Animoto video.

In the last post, I shared with you a neat little trick for creating student accountsgmail filter image

for websites that have an age-restriction.  At the end of that post, I mentioned how you can keep your Gmail Inbox organized, neat, and clean by setting up filters to catch all those email confirmations and other correspondence.  Below, I’ll show you how!

Step 1:  Log in to your Gmail account.  Click on the drop-down menu with the image of a cog wheel on the top, right-hand side of the page.

gmail cog





Step 2:  From the drop-down menu, choose Settings.

gmail settings









Step 3:  In settings, click “Filters” in the top toolbar.

gmail filters


Step 4:  At the bottom of the “Filters” box, click “Create New Filter”.

gmail create new filter








Step 5:  When you click Create New Filter, a search box will appear.  This is where you will put in the parameters of what you want Gmail to search not only your incoming emails, but the emails currently in your Gmail account.  For example, if your students have just started creating Educreations accounts, you would put “@educreations” (or something like that) in the “From” field.  This means that Gmail will sort all of the emails already in your account as well as those incoming emails into whichever folder you designate.  Once you have set your parameters, click “Create Filter with this Search”.

gmail saving filters











Step 6:  After you have created your filter, you need to tell Gmail which folder you want to put all of those emails into.  Remember from my previous post that Gmail doesn’t refer to them as folders.  Instead they’re called “labels”.  Once you’ve created the filter, you will see this menu screen:

gmail applying filters










For the purposes of this blog post, you would click the radio button beside “Apply the label”, and then you’d choose which label/folder to send the emails to by clicking the drop-down box.  If you want the email to go straight into the folder and not make a stop in your inbox first, make sure to click the first option, “Skip the Inbox”, as well.  Haven’t set up your label yet?  No problem; you can do it straight from the drop-down box.

Viola!  Your filter is set up, and your Gmail Inbox will be kept clean and organized.  How else can you use filters in Gmail to stay organized?  Please leave a comment below and share how you’re using or want to use filters.  My next post explains why setting up filters is important in a 1:1 or paperless environment.  Click here to read it!


Gmail Trick

I have been learning and sharing at NCTIES this week. NCTIES is North Carolina’s Technology in Education Society’s yearly conference, and it has been awesome! One of the neatest tricks I’ve learned this week is how to use your Gmail account to get around that typical age restriction for many websites elementary teachers use with their students. Here’s what you do:

1.) If you don’t have a Gmail account, create a free account.

2.) Assign your students a number 1 – 99.

3.) Students use your Gmail account + their number to create accounts on websites of your choice. Example: Your Gmail may be Student #4 will use

4.) Students can choose their own password or use one you give them.

5.) All emails from websites, like confirming the registration, will come to YOUR Gmail account.

How can you manage all these emails coming into you Gmail account? Set up a filter so that any emails coming in from the website you registered with go into a “folder” (called a “label” in Gmail) automatically.


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