Native American Review Videos

I had the pleasure of co teaching a lesson with Mrs. Ferguson at Pinchbeck Elementary a couple of weeks ago. During our planning meet Mrs. Ferguson discussed how she didn’t want to do the same old thing for her second graders when it came to the Native American unit. We decided to have students make videos where they ask their classmates a review question on Native Americans.

The students choose one question to ask and then did research to answer that question. Mrs. Ferguson’s class then designed a backdrop to their video.

The students then used the webcam on the laptops and recorded two videos. The first video was the question being asked. For example, “What type of homes did the Pueblo live in?” The second video was the answer to the question.

We then took those videos and imported them into Windows Movie Maker. The students placed a slide in between the two clips to give their classmates a chance to answer the questions. Check out some of the videos below.

Native American Review Questions from Jim Covais on Vimeo.

Would you like to plan a lesson similar to this? Set up a planning time with me and let’s make it happen!

Plickers is a Super Easy Response System

Learner response systems are fun and engaging, but can be a hassle to setup. You have to make sure each child has a device, and that the battery is working and fully charged. Then you have to make sure the students all go to the correct website and sign in. Once all of that happens, 15 to 20 minutes has passed you’re ready to start your lesson. Too bad your lesson is half over at that point.

I learned of a new response system that doesn’t need any of that from Julie Smith. All you need is a computer, projector, cell phone, and some computer paper. Plickers stands for paper clickers. When you sign up on you will need to create a class. Once you create a class you will be able to print off half sheets, that lets the app read the student’s choices. All that is left is for you to download the app onto your phone. It’s free in the Apple App Store or in the Google Play Store.

So how does it all work? Students hold up their piece of paper with the answer choice they want pointed to the ceiling. You open the app on your phone and scan the room. Plickers reads the choices and displays the results on your computer. I know it sounds too good to be true but it honestly works wonderfully. Check out the YouTube video below to get started. Click here if you can’t see the embed video below.

VSTE 2014 Recap!

This past Sunday and Monday several Elementary ITRT’s traveled to Virginia Beach to attend the 2014 Virginia Society for Technology in Education’s Annual Conference.


While there participants were given the opportunity to sit in on various concurrent sessions, listen to awesome keynote speakers, visit various exhibits, see student work from around the state and collaborate with other teachers from numerous other counties. We even got to see some Henrico County students be recognized for their awesome work this past year!


Your ITRT’s are excited about some of the new things they’ve learned and can’t wait to get into your classrooms and share these things with you! Here are a few highlights of what they saw.

Google Tour Builder
Teachers from Fairfax County Public Schools had their students read the book Around the World in Eighty Days. After completing the book they created a Google Tour based on the cities that Phileas Fogg visited. The students inserted images using Encyclopedia Britannica Image Gallery and added facts about each location. Lastly the presenters shared Jerome Burg’s seminal and evolving collection of Google Earth Literature Trips. These ready to go lessons incorporate various picture books and novels that the students read prior to creating their Google Tour.

Google Classroom: Join the Paperless Revolution
Most of your ITRT’s have been pushing Google Drive this year! In August, Google recently unveiled Google Classroom. An interactive Learning Management System that allows you create a virtual classroom, have your student join, add assignments and announcements and collaborate with your students. Contact your ITRT if you’d like help setting up your own Google Classroom.

15 + Tech Tools You Can Use Next Week
Niki Jones, Prince William County, presented on 15 awesome resources that are ready for implementation in your classrooms immediately! Check our her handout from the session!

Powerful Primary Projects Combine Creativity and Content
As most of you know Pixie is a software program already loaded onto our new Dells. Many of you have already been using Pixie with your students and have created some awesome projects. This session focused on some of the new features of Pixie and how they have implemented Pixie in Hanover County classrooms. Jennifer Hicks, an elementary ITRT, shared her Pixie wiki with us. It has some awesome lesson ideas.

Google Apps for Education Add-Ons
Henrico County’s very own Jon Wirsing presented at the VSTE conference. He shared some awesome features found within Google. Since there is a big push for Google this year he showcased some samples from HCPS classrooms and discussed the various add-on featured within Google Drive. Some of these included: Awesome Table, Flubaroo, Doctopus, Goobric, DocApender, Formmule, Autocrat, Google Moderator-polls based on popularity, Cultural Institute: art projects, historical moments and Google Keep.


X Marks The Spot: Digging Up Tech Treasures
This session sent participants on a scavenger hunt to locate various QR codes. Each code was linked to a digital resource such as Kahoot!, Educreations, Symbaloo, Poll Everywhere and Socrative. Symbaloo quickly became our favorite! This free resource functions much like PortaPortal but is more visually appealing to the eyes! It allows your to create bookmark “tiles” that link to various resources!


Lastly, she showcased the features of Educreations. HCPS already has Educreations loaded onto our county iPads but we were most impressed with Educreations on the computers! If you haven’t had a chance to give it a try get with your ITRT!

Makey Makey
MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. It allows student to turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple invention kit for beginners and experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between. Our ITRT’s were excited when they were able to make a banana piano! There are tons of MakeyMakey resources available on the internet. The kits run about $50 and students are able to create all sorts of projects and inventions. Check out this video explaining MakeyMakey.


Meaningful Technology for Our Youngest Learners
This session was led by a kindergarten teacher, Jenn Orr, who shared some wonderful resources about ways to include technology in the classroom for younger learners. Some great websites to visit for read aloud books besides Raz-Kids and Tumblebooks include: StorylineOnline, Unite for Literacy and Toon Book Reader. Toon Book Reader reads aloud graphic novels as it highlights the text. The books can be read in multiple languages…great for your ELL students! Also, be sure to check out all of the fun math games found on Illuminations.

If you are interested in any of these new resources please contact your ITRT and they will help you get started!

Facebook Template for Students

Click Here for the Template

Here is a Facebook template made in Google Presentation that you can use with your students. Just open it up and copy it to your Google Drive.

Some ways you can use this template:

  • Have students create a Facebook page of a famous American.
  • Create a Facebook page of a book character.
  • Write status updates as an animal for a research project.

What are some ways that you can use it in your class?

Tech Takeout Delivers Some Piping Hot Learning to Kaechele Elementary

The ITRTs kicked off the session with a brain warm-up by using the classroom response system, Plickers. Plickers is a POWERFUL tool that allows teachers to collect real time formative assessment data WITHOUT the need for student devices.

The Tech Takeout crew then divided the students into groups. Each group of 5th graders worked on a different Social Studies project.

Julie Smith’s “app smash” station was conducted on the ipads to review the five US regions: West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest. Students navigated to the site, Comemories, to select one of the preloaded US map images to save to the camera roll. Next, they imported their selected image into the app, Skitch, to label the different regions of the US map. The students saved their labeled map to the camera roll and then imported it into the app, Shadow Puppet. Here, students presented their creation and turned their mini project into a video. Check out some of the final products:

Jim Covais and Matt Caratachea had their group make short videos on one of six important geographical areas in North America. Each student chose an area, then used Dell Webcam Central to share facts and easily saved it by dragging the video clip out of the program onto their desktops. Every member of the group then imported their video along with some pre-selected pictures into Windows Movie Maker. The students added their recording and at least two pictures to their project. To add a little spice the students put transitions between pictures and the video clip, added titles, and even recorded voice overs within Windows Movie Maker. Check out an example:

Stephanie Wright and Jessica Robinson had their groups create their own Henrico Instagram selfies. The students started by opening an Instagram template on their laptops. This template opened in ActivInspire. They plugged in their “pretend” usernames and locations and then accessed images of Henrico located on the HCPS Virtual Share. They dumped their chosen image into their template and sized it accordingly. After their image was set they used the Dell Webcam to take their own selfie. We then used the point-to-point tool in ActivInspire to trim around their image. After sizing their image they placed themselves into the Henrico image. We wrapped up this activity by adding a description and creating various hashtags. Check out this flipsnack with some samples of their work!

Garry Marshall had his groups use Google Virtual Tour Builder to create a tour of the Northwestern United States. Students included locations, images, and descriptions for locations in this region. Looking to do this activity with students? Try these short directions.

Check out some more awesome pictures of the day! We’re coming to you next Adams Elementary!

Multiplication with Padlet

I had an awesome time co-teaching a lesson with Ms. Clark at Adams Elementary a few weeks ago. We sat down for a planning meeting and Ms. Clark discussed how she would like her students to come up with different picture representations of multiplication problems. We decided that we would use Padlet as a way for students to collaborate with each other and show different pictures representing multiplication problems.

Students used white boards to draw their pictures of the multiplication problem. They then used the used the webcam tool to insert their picture on the Padlet wall. The best feature of Padlet is as soon as a student posts to the wall every other student can see what is posted.

It was extremely powerful when students saw each other’s picture representations. The majority of students showed their problems in groups. One students showed the multiplication problem in an array. I overheard two students talking and one said to the other, “I forgot about arrays. I’m doing that next.” Nothing is better than when students learn and are guided by their peers in the classroom.

Check out some pictures of the awesome time we had in Ms. Clark’s Class.