Friday, January 29, 2016

Using Symbaloo to Share Resources & Differentiate Instruction

This post is shared with you by John Cochrane, 6th grade Social Studies teacher at Grover Middle School

Symbaloo describes itself as a “visual bookmarking tool,” with the accent on visual. So why do you need another bookmarking tool when you already have one? Part of the answer is the visual component and the other major component for me is the shareable nature of Symbaloo. My use of Symbaloo as described here does not take full advantage of Symbaloo’s functionality, but I use it for a very specific purpose that it accomplishes quite nicely. If my brief description arouses interest, go to the Symbaloo website for a more in depth view.

Symbaloo is perhaps the major resource for my sixth grade curriculum. Given the limited usefulness and quality of our textbook and the disappearance of the Calliope database, we need to use outside sources to make the ancient world come alive. Just as importantly, we need a portal to this information that can be easily built, shared and updated. Symbaloo makes all this happen in a simple, efficient and reliable manner. Since most material on the ancient world is written at a level far beyond most sixth graders, Symbaloo also provides a connection to material that hits the students “between-the-eyes.” No more searching for that needle in a haystack.

Symbaloo is also a big contributor to my differentiation methods. There is space to combine a variety of topics, both text and video, while targeting learners at various interest and reading levels. Students can often use the posted websites (i.e. the British Museum) to branch off from the specific topic and go where their curiosity leads them.

The “tile” portals can be colored coded or use the source logos (or a combination of the two) to make the various topics and media immediately recognizable. The students like Symbaloo so much that they often recommend sites they have discovered to be added. I’ve never experienced this phenomenon before, and the Symbaloo’s ease of use makes updating a disseminating a revised version a really quick fix. These collections are especially useful for creating standard and enrichment “matrix” type assignments that students can really enjoy.

Posted below is a recent version of one of my Mesopotamia oriented screens
Symbaloo webmix

If you would like to explore using Symbaloo in your classroom, reach out to the Teacher Resource Specialist for Technology in your building.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Smart suggestions in Google Calendar for event titles, places and people―now in more than 30 new languages

Posted: 28 Jan 2016 03:07 PM PST
Starting this week, you’ll be able to quickly create events in Google Calendar with smart suggestions for event titles, places and people, in more than 30 new languages. Available on Android and iOS.

Getting started
§ When you begin typing an event title, you’ll see matching suggestions―choose one or keep typing. 
§ Tap “at...” to add a location to your event and later get directions.
§ Tap “with...” to add people to your event, so you can easily call or message them from the event. This won’t send them an invite.
§ English only: Tap “on…” to easily specify the date, time and duration of the event

Visit the Help Center to get the full instructions for web, Android, and iOS.

The newly supported languages are:

Arabic (ar), Chinese (Simplified) (zh-CN), Chinese (Traditional) (zh-TW), Dutch (nl), English (UK) (en-GB), French (fr), German (de), Italian (it), Japanese (ja), Korean (ko), Polish (pl), Portuguese (Brazil) (pt-BR), Russian (ru), Spanish (es), Spanish (Latin America) (es-419), Thai (th), Turkish (tr), Bulgarian (bg), Catalan (ca), Croatian (hr), Czech (cs), Danish (da), Farsi (fa), Filipino (fil), Finnish (fi), Greek (el), Hebrew (iw), Hindi (hi), Hungarian (hu), Indonesian (id), Latvian (lv), Lithuanian (lt), Norwegian (Bokmal) (no), Portuguese (Portugal) (pt-PT), Romanian (ro), Serbian (sr), Slovak (sk), Slovenian (sl), Swedish (sv), Ukrainian (uk), Vietnamese (vi)

Launch Details
Release track:
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Rollout pace:
Full rollout (1-3 days for feature visibility)

54 new country-based holiday calendars added to the Google Calendar app

Posted: 28 Jan 2016 03:03 PM PST
This week, we added 54 additional country-based holiday calendars to the Google Calendar Android and iOS apps. In total, you can now get 143 holiday calendars directly on your mobile calendar.

To add or change the national holidays you see on your calendar:
1.     Open the Google Calendar app
2.     In the top left, touch the Menu icon > Settings > Holidays.
3.     Touch the name of the current country.
4.     Touch a new country to add it, or touch the currently selected country to remove it.

Get the latest version of the Google Calendar app from Google Play or the App Store, or visit the Help Center to learn more.

Launch Details
Release track:
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Rollout pace:
Full rollout (1-3 days for feature visibility)

What the Tech? January 28, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Support for more formats, languages, and filtering functionality in the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps for Android

Posted: 27 Jan 2016 01:19 PM PST
Updated versions of the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides Android apps are now available on Google Play. These versions include the following new features:
§ Import and export additional file formats in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides - As long as you’re online, you can now import and export the following file formats in and from the Docs, Sheets, and Slides Android apps:
§ Import - .txt, .rtf, and .html (in Docs)
§ Export - .docx, .rtf, .pdf, .txt., and .html (from Docs), .xlsx, .pdf, .html, .csv, and .tsv (from Sheets), and .pptx, .pdf, and .txt (from Slides)

§ Open CSV and TSV files in Google Sheets - In the latest version of the Android app for Sheets, you can open, view, and edit spreadsheets that are formatted as .csv or .tsv files.

§ Read from right to left in Google Sheets - If you use a right-to-left language (e.g. Hebrew) in Sheets, you’ll now see an option in the Android app to format your spreadsheet in that same direction. Once enabled, your columns will progress from right to left (starting with “A”), and your row numbers will appear on the right-hand side of your screen.

§ Filter data in Google Sheets - You can now apply new filters to spreadsheets in the Sheets Android app, as well as view and change existing ones. (NOTE: This feature became available in the app’s previous release.)
Check out the Help Center articles below for more information.

Launch Details
Release track:
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Rollout pace:
Gradual rollout (potentially longer than 3 days for feature visibility)

Quick and easy commenting in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Posted: 27 Jan 2016 12:54 PM PST
Work with others, with ease. Today’s launches make it super simple to comment on your colleagues’—and your own—Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files on the web and mobile. Check out what’s new below:
§ Instant comments in Google Docs on the web - Highlight text or hover over the edge of a page to surface a small commenting icon, then click on that icon to quickly add a comment to that area of the document.
§ Instant mentions in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web, Android, and iOS - Start typing someone’s name or email address in a comment, and a list of suggested contacts will appear. Select anyone from that list to trigger an email notification to them—there’s no need to type “+” or “@” before their name!
§ Comments in the Google Sheets and Slides apps for Android and iOS - Add new and reply to existing comments in the Sheets* and Slides mobile apps—just like you can in the Docs apps for Android and iOS.

§ Comment swiping in the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps - Simply swipe to move from one comment to the next in the Docs, Sheets, and Slides iOS apps, as well as the Slides Android app (you can already do this in the Docs and Sheets Android apps!).

Try out these new features in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, and collaborate with fewer clicks!

Launch Details
Release track:
Mobile features - Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release
§ Instant mentions in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides on Android and iOS
§ Comments in the Google Sheets and Slides apps for Android and iOS*
§ Comment swiping in the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps for iOS
Web features - Launching to Rapid release, with Scheduled release coming on February 10th
§ Instant comments in Google Docs on the web
§ Instant mentions in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web

*NOTE: Comments in the Google Sheets Android app launched on November 12th, 2015.

Rollout pace:
Full rollout (1–3 days for feature visibility)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Increased control over Google Drive file sharing

Posted: 25 Jan 2016 01:30 PM PST
When you share Google Drive files using Google Apps, we try our best to ensure that your recipients can actually access them. For instance, if you link to a Google Slides presentation in Gmail and that presentation hasn’t been shared with your recipient, we show you an option to share it before sending the email.

We also do this if you “+” someone into a comment in Docs, Sheets, or Slides, if you add someone to a protected range in Sheets, or if you attach a Google file to a Calendar invite (provided the person on the other end doesn’t already have access).

We’ve heard from many Apps admins, however, that they want greater control over the sharing options their employees have in these scenarios. In response to that feedback, today we’re introducing new Access Checker settings in the Admin console (Admin console > Apps > Google Apps > Settings for Drive > Sharing settings).

If an admin allows external, public file sharing (i.e. they’ve checked the box next to Allow users in XYZ domain to publish files on the web or make them visible to the world as public or unlisted files), that admin will now be able to say which of the following three options their users will have when sharing files in the scenarios described above:
§ Option 1: Recipients only, their domain, or public (no Google account required)
§ Option 2: Recipients only or their domain
§ Option 3: Recipients only

For example, if an admin chooses option 1 and an employee in their domain attaches a Google Sheets spreadsheet to an event in Calendar, that employee will be asked if they want to share that spreadsheet with guests of the event only or one of two additional options: (1) anyone in their domain with the link (if all guests are in their domain), or (2) anyone with the link (if any guests are in different domains).

At launch, for admins who allow external, public file sharing, “recipients only, their domain, or public” will be the option selected by default.

Alternatively, if an admin prohibits external, public file sharing, that admin will be able to choose which of the following two options their users see when sharing files in the scenarios described above:
§ Option 1: Recipients only or their domain
§ Option 2: Recipients only

For these admins, “recipients only or their domain” will be the option selected by default.

It’s important to note that the sharing options shown to users will be determined based on the settings in the document owner’s domain, which may not be the same as the settings in the domain of the person sharing the file. If someone tries to share multiple files and different policies apply to each (e.g. because the document owners are in different domains), we'll abide by the least permissive policy when showing options to users.

Consider this example: a user tries to send an email with three files attached—one file allows public sharing, and two allow sharing with recipients only. In that case, we’ll only offer the option to share with recipients, as that option abides by the least permissive policy associated with the files being shared.

Launch Details
Release track:
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Rollout pace:
Full rollout (1–3 days for feature visibility)

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Books at HSS! from Sarah Mustoe

This post is written by Sarah Mustoe, Media Specialist at High School South

A new shipment of books arrives only once or twice a year in our library, so it’s a pretty special event. We now have over 100 new books of all kinds, primarily fiction, but also a few graphic novels and some non-fiction. A few classic titles were replaced because our titles were well worn or had gone missing. Kurt Vonnegut continues to appeal to teens, for example, and our copies were falling apart.

Most of the new fiction is high interest YA, including series titles, in some cases, an entire trilogy, such as the one that begins with “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” by Michelle Hodkin and the “Clockwork Angel” series by Cassandra Clare. An attempt was made to purchase any missing titles from a series and/or to get the latest title in a series we already have on our shelves. Some new books by authors that followers of YA fiction will recognize: Patrick Ness, Sarah Maas, Marissa Meyer, Meg Cabot, Maggie Stiefvater, M.T. Anderson, Matt de la Pena, and Neal Shusterman, to name a few. These books tend to fall into the following genres popular with teens today, including genre “mash-ups”: fantasy, dystopia, cyberpunk, re-told fairy tales and myths, and sci-fi. Realistic fiction that does well with teens often has elements of the magical or fantastic (or is by John GreenJ). “The Trouble in Me” by Jack Gantos and “I Crawl Through It” by A.S. King are two recent titles in this category. “Freakboy” by Kristen Elizabeth Clark is about a boy with transgender leanings, and “The Emperor of Any Place” by Tim Wynne-Jones is a mystery novel that develops out of the diary left by a stranded Japanese WWII soldier.

Authors of books for “advanced readers,” but of high interest for teens, include titles by Jonathan Franzen and Haruki Murakami, some of the most popular “literary” authors writing today. We have several new books by the ever popular and prolific James Patterson, titles for YA and adults, both.

High interest new non-fiction titles include “The Mathematics of life” and for the college bound, a guide to getting into college, as well as “Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be.” The author of the immensely popular “The Devil in the White City” has a new book out: “Dead Wake” by Erik Larson about the Lusitania disaster. Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” covers a topic potentially interesting to teens --  the 100,000 hours (of practice) theory of success with many colorful real life examples. Nathaniel Philbrick’s outstanding and very engaging books about historical topics, such as “Mayflower,” has a new book out about the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Ada’s Algorithm is a new biography about, to quote the subtitle, “How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age.” Noted journalist, author, and food writer, Michael Pollan, has a young reader’s edition of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” This condensed, illustrated version of the best-selling original is like a cheat-sheet to the much longer tome. The final NF book I’ll mention: “The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way” by Amanda Ripley challenges certain assumptions about education in profiling the highly successful education systems in three other countries from the perspectives of American students on exchange programs. 

Come and see the new books for yourself. They are already flying off the shelves!

As a reminder, we also have an initial collection of fiction and nonfiction ebooks available through our Follett Shelf account.  If you or any of your students prefer reading an ebook, or want to try it out for the first time, please come see me about setting up your Follett Shelf accounts.

Some current ebook titles on our Follett Shelf include:

  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Encyclopedia of Revolutionary America by Paul A. Gilje 
  • Emma by Jane Austin
  • The Great Depression by David F. Burg

For some of our ebook titles, we have multiple copies (up to 20 per book, and others are even unlimited). We expect to be adding to our current list of titles in the near future.

If you have any requests for either print or ebooks, please let me know.


Thursday, January 14, 2016


#SixtyBooks is a reading movement.
It’s a simple pledge that we can all make by stating:

“I will make reading
a regular part of my daily routine.”

Teachers, parents, students, and people all over the globe are joining this reading challenge using the link above.  We are communicating through blog posts, Twitter, and Goodreads as well as 

We also have over 150 elementary students at Millstone River involved who are joining through a Google Classroom created specifically for their age group.  

As they read, they are also learning how they can track their books through many digital tools such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Maps. They are having conversations with their peers in person and using Google Classroom as a backchannel for the discussion. Students are also being introduced to blog memes, vlogging, and sites to create their own stories or book trailers such as Powtoon and Animoto.

At all levels, both students and adults are joining together to make reading and sharing their reading experiences a priority in their lives. 

If you would like more information about #Sixtybooks to find out how you can join or get your students involved, please contact the Teacher Resource Specialist for Technology in your building.  :)

What the Tech? January 14th

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Content previews, new languages supported with the latest version of the Google Drive iOS app

Posted: 07 Jan 2016 09:18 AM PST
A new version of the Google Drive iOS app is coming to the App Store. New features include:
§ Peek and pop: Use 3D Touch to preview a file or folder and take common actions before opening or sharing it (iPhone 6s and 6s Plus only).
§ Support for the following new languages: Hindi, Indian English, Canadian French, and Chinese (Hong Kong) 

Launch Details 
Release track:
Launched to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Rollout pace: 
Gradual rollout (potentially longer than 3 days for feature visibility)

What the Tech? January 7th

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Periodic Table of Education Technology from Debbie Cohen via the Daily Genius

Debbie Cohen, PRISM teacher at Grover Middle School, recently shared this resource of favorite educational technology tools from the Daily Genius with me. It's an awesome collection of educational tools, organized into categories such as:
  • Social Networks
  • Online Learning
  • Multimedia
  • Coding
  • Classroom Tech
  • Hardware
  • Education Conferences

The constantly updated image can be found at

Also, you can visit a "clickable" version of the table, made by Kathy Schrock, where you can hover over any of the resources and click a link that will take you directly to the resource's main web page, here:

If you are already using one of the tools in a particular category, you might like to see what other, similar resources are available. Or, if you are in need of a resource in a particular category, this table provides you with several options so that you can choose the one that will best fit your needs. You might even want to share the resource directly with students, especially if they are specifically looking for study aides (green section) or coding resources (yellow section). 

For more information about Daily Genius and how they came up with this particular resource, visit this page: 


Do you think you and your students could make a similar list with your favorite resources? Reach out to your teacher resource specialist for technology to collaborate on building your own customized educational technology catalog of resources! 

We'd love to share them here on our WWP learning blog!


Monday, January 4, 2016

On Being Connected and PBS LearningMedia from Sue Totaro

This post is from Sue Totaro, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction

Thanks to the efforts of our technology team, I’ve been much more conscientious about connecting to other educators through Twitter over the last few months. I’m constantly amazed at the wealth of information, the unbelievably tech savvy teachers and students, and the digital repository of resources at our fingertips. 
image credit:Milken Educator Awards

I sometimes, however, fall into the black hole of the internet, jumping from site to site, search to search, looking for the best video, best article, or best app. What I’ve found is that the more I am connected to great sites that compile and integrate digital resources for teachers, the less time I spend blindly searching. 

Two resources I happened upon over winter break are designed to both connect teachers and share lesson ideas. PBS LearningMedia© allows PreK-12 teachers to search their videos, lessons, and links by grade, subject, resource type, and language for digital media that can be incorporated into classrooms. Many of the links include lesson summaries and an overview, grade level, suggested time, links to media resources and materials, as well as the activities and assessments, and all of the resources are aligned to standards. The site also has “Productivity Tools for Teachers” and a free PBS Student App for the iPad.

In addition to the site, PBS LearningMedia© has an active Twitter feed @PBSLrnMedia with over 12K followers. The tweets have links to the site’s collection of 100,000 free resources for teachers. What really interested me about the feed and site was the opportunity for teachers to be recognized as “Digital Innovators.” 

The program recognizes educators nationwide who are
image credit: PBS LearningMedia
incorporating digital media in classrooms and serving as leaders in educational technology. According to the site, “Over the course of the 2016/2017 school year, PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators will be part of a robust professional learning community that will foster new ways of thinking, while leading the way in using technology to drive student achievement. 54 applicants, one from each US state and territory will be designated as Lead PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators and will also receive a three day, all-expense paid trip to Denver, CO to participate in the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Summit and the prestigious ISTE Conference from June 25-27, 2016. Plus, each Lead PBS Digital Innovator will receive a Samsung Galaxy® tablet.” 

The application period for the 2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators program is open and anyone interested should apply by February 8.

~Sue Totaro