Expeditions into Virtual Learning at ELANCOK6


The district has recently purchased three sets of 30 Google Expedition virtual reality kits – one for each Elementary building. Now every elementary building has the ability to use virtual and augmented reality to immerse their students into the learning.

Google Expeditions allows teachers to lead students on over 700 virtual field trips with 360-degree views as well as the ability to use augmented reality that not only immerses students in a virtual setting but allows the setting to come to life right in front of their eyes.

Introduction to Google Expeditions

Watch this short introduction video to Google Expeditions to help you get started!


How To Get Started with VR

Perhaps the best way to get started would be to:

  1. Watch the video above. This video will give you a brief overview of Expeditions and help you understand how it works.
  2. Visit the website Tim and I created blog.elanco.org/vr – here you will find VR/AR Resources, classroom examples, as well as the Sign Out Sheets for each building. To sign out the VR kits simply click on the Sign Out Tab, select the building you work at, and select the dates that work best in your schedule and are still available.

Using VR does require some initial training before implementing it into your classroom. I will be periodically providing training on using the VR kits during my monthly Tech Tips throughout the year. If you are looking to implement them before the next Tech Tips, please reach out to me through email and I will be more than happy to train you how to use the VR kit.

All kits will be stored in your building tech’s office and will be delivered to your classroom on the day(s) of use. You are responsible during the week that you have the kits for keeping the charged. The kit will be delivered to your charged initially.

However, before leading your students through a Google Expedition Tour, teachers will need to participate in a training session or meet with Tim Leister or Adam Geiman to learn the skills of leading a lesson, as well as the proper maintenance of the devices.




It’s Connected Educator Month!


It’s October! You know what that means, it’s Connected Educator Month! You may have heard me talk about the power of connected learning and teaching and leading in the past… my stance on it hasn’t changed. Having a strong personal learning network (PLN) is vital to the success of any educator. Local networks and teacher communities are very important, but there is great benefit to connecting beyond the walls of our schools and district boundaries to collaborate and network with teachers and administrators from all over the world. Over the past five years, the number of educators using social media tools to connect with one another to share resources, provide support, and energize one another has increased exponentially.

It is well worth an investment of your time to find a network with which to engage to better your practice. Whether it is via Twitter, by joining a book club hosted by CEM or facilitating a global collaboration project such as Global Read Aloud in your classroom; through discussions in a Google+ community or posting to Pinterest boards, finding an Instagram hashtag to follow, or another connected learning endeavor, the possibilities are endless to get and stay connected with fellow educators!

Here’s the Connected Educator Month calendar. Check it out and see if there’s something in which you’d be interested in participating! These events are not solely focused on technology use in the classroom. Topics span everything from literacy to interventions to real-world problem solving to social-emotional learning! There’s something for everyone.

The focus of our November 18 Wired Wednesday workshop will be using Twitter and other social media tools to develop a personal learning network. Sign up in My Learning Plan to join us!

Follow the #ce15 hashtag on Twitter to read the latest and greatest contributions from educators around the world who are sharing their learning during Connected Educator Month…. and beyond!

If you participate in Connected Educator Month, please be sure to grab the CEM Credly badge! Along with all of the other badges you’ve earned this year thus far!

Some September Stuff

Aaaaaaaaaaaand we’re off. It’s been a fun few weeks thus far! Here are some updates for you from elementary tech! 


Our next Wired Wednesday is tomorrow, September 16, at Blue Ball Elementary, from 4-5 PM. Topic: Google Classroom! Come one, come all! Please register on My Learning Plan.    P.S. A whole slew of new Google Classroom features were updated in late August. Click here to learn more!


The Global Read Aloud is coming! This is an exciting, worldwide, collaborative event designed to bring together readers of all ages. Many Elanco classrooms participated last year. Books have been chosen. You can sign up here (see form on right-hand side), and you can make arrangements to connect with another class via shared blogs, Edmodo, Google Hangouts/Skype, or any other format that would allow you and another class to discuss the book you’re reading. See the book choices here and read more info about the event.  Here is the form to complete if you’d like to connect your class with another! Here is the link to important FAQ/info for participants. Let me know if you need assistance with this, I am happy to help! #gra15


Edublogs student passwords have now been updated. Please consider the following information when deciding how you’d like to organize student blogging this year:

Students are currently assigned to the blog class they used in 2014-15 until this year’s teacher alerts me that they will begin blogging in a 15-16 class.

How we set up and manage your students’ blogs will depend on a few things:

  • Do you want your students assigned to your “My Class” by homeroom and only you, as the homeroom teacher, will manage their posts?
  • OR by language arts roster, and only you, as the language arts teacher, will manage their posts?
  • OR does your team want to have all students involved with blogging across content areas and therefore all team members need access to every students’ blog in the grade level for moderating purposes?
  • OR do you want students to be added to a teacher/team blog so they can post and add comments, but not have their own individual sites?
  • OR a unique scenario, such as assign certain rosters of students to certain teachers for blog moderation? We can also set up group blogs for projects like literature circles and the Global Read Aloud!

Please discuss student blogging plans with your teammates and the options above. If not all members of the team are interested in having their students blog, you can certainly move ahead with plans for your homeroom or your language arts class.

When you are ready to begin blogging with your students, please complete this Google form so I can begin the process of building your student blog sites.


etcIU13   Home 2015

IU13’s Elementary Technology Conference is coming this December! Please consider requesting to attend this conference! Talk with your principal and register in My Learning Plan! It’s always a great event, with a lot of teacher-led sessions, specifically focused on elementary! The keynote speaker this year is an inspiring teacher from Illinois, Josh Stumpenhorst!  More info here.  WE NEED PRESENTERS FOR THIS CONFERENCE! Please consider submitting a proposal! The reason this conference is so special is because sessions are led by teachers, for teachers. Please share your expertise with colleagues by submitting a proposal! 

Enjoy the milder weather and hope to see you soon at an upcoming Wired Wednesday workshop!

Spring Happenings

3716278873_4b49212edaApril is Poetry Month!

It’s the perfect time to have your students compose and share their creative writing! Storybird is one way to support students’ literary creations. With Storybird, students can build poetry, longform, or chapter book creations. Sets of stunning illustrations will inspire students to include creative details in their writing. I can help you set up your classroom accounts and show you how to manage student projects. Learn more about how Storybird is celebrating Poetry Month! There’s even a #dailylark challenge so your students can participate in the literary fun!

See also these ways to get involved with Poetry Month via Edublogs!

Digital Citizenship Lessons

Digital citizenship lessons in grades 1-6 have begun this spring during computer lab special. It is always exciting for me to spend time with students and learn about the ways they’re using digital technologies to create, communicate, and collaborate in their personal lives. Through these lessons emerge important conversations that focus on safe and appropriate use of technology, respecting the rights of others, and crafting a digital reputation of which we can be proud! Our lesson materials are from Common Sense Media. You can see the full scope of the lessons they offer here. Remember, while it’s nice to offer these lessons in isolation to give students more direct instruction in these topics, it’s up to us as the adults in their lives to model and talk about respectful, empowering online behavior whenever we use technology with our students to support their learning!

Googly Goodness

Many of you were interested in learning more about Google Classroom to use as a platform for sharing digital resources with students during rotational learning classes next year. Click here to access resources where you can learn more about the features of Google Classroom and how it can support your work with students. Please email me to arrange a time when I can meet with you and/or your team to show you what this tool can to!

Looking for a quick start guide for Google Forms? Look no further!

Chromebook tips every teacher should know

Happy Spring! 🙂 I look forward to working with you and your students!

Photo Credit: Ken’s Oven via Compfight cc

Digital Learning Day is Coming! March 13, 2015

Gallery_DateNext Friday, March 13, is Digital Learning Day, a day each year where we celebrate the ways technology can enhance teaching and learning and provide students with agency and voice in the classroom.

Learn all about Digital Learning Day here!

We’d love if you could share your digital learning activities on the official DLD website by completing this form! I’d also love to highlight the work you and your students are doing on this blog, so email me with the details/summary of activities and I’ll spread the word!

Perhaps your students will be blogging next week, or using Plickers or Socrative or Kahoot! for formative assessment in the classroom, or are creating digital stories using Storybird or sharing their learning via Google Slides or PowerPoint. Maybe they’re engaged in literature circle discussions via Wikispaces or connecting with one another in Edmodo or Google Classroom! Maybe they’re trying some activities from the ConnectED Are your students reading their favorite stories online via Raz Kids or BookFlix. No matter what the activity, there is surely something worth sharing with your school community on Digital Learning Day!

There are also a number of professional learning opportunities available to you through the Digital Learning Day Live! and other activities. Check out the website and learn more about how you can get involved! You can follow the hashtag #DLDay on Twitter to follow along with the day’s events, too!

Participate in ConnectED Classroom Bingo!

Principal Brad Gustafson shared this exciting activity board for the month of February to celebrate “I Love to Read Month,” and I wanted to pass it along to you with the hope that you could plan to complete one or more of the activities on the board! The activities were proposed by various teachers and admin from Brad’s PLN. They incorporate a number of different technologies and can help enhance students’ literacy experiences! Do not be intimidated by the tools listed- if you are interested in one of the literacy activities, please contact me to plan for how we can engage students with the tasks in your classrooms. We can plan for alternate digital tools if the ones listed are unavailable or unfamiliar to you. Make it about the literacy learning, not about the tech component! This is not just for language arts teachers!! As Brad says,

We are striving to facilitate student-centered connections between authors, educators, and classrooms.

Please email me if you’d like to complete an activity (or two or three!) with your students! I will keep a master board and check off completed Elanco activities. Here’s hoping we can call Bingo!

ConnectED Classroom Bingo Game Board link


It’s Connected Educator Month!


Connected Educator Month officially kicked off this week, and there are many learning opportunities for you and your colleagues around the world all month long!

On the main CEM website, you can find a calendar filled with events to help promote connected learning. Events are hosted by organizations, schools, and classrooms around the world.

Looking to grow professionally through connected learning? The Connected Educator Month Starter Kit is a great place to start. It will provide you with background on the rationale behind this month and plenty of activities to help you begin connected or deepen the connections you already have.

Connecting with others via social media is one way to address just some of the following Spartan Digital Competencies:

SDC 2 – Communication and Collaboration with Colleagues

D. Shares and seeks ideas and resources from fellow teaching professionals.

SDC4 – Model Digital Age Learning

A. Exhibits a positive attitude and approach towards using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity within the professional culture.

B. Models and facilitates effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use digital information resources to support research and learning.

G. Models global awareness and cultural understanding by engaging with colleagues and students of other cultures using digital communication and collaboration tools (Skype, Google Hangouts, email, Global Read Aloud, Edmodo, etc.)

SDC 5 – Professional Growth and Digital Age Leadership

A. Creates a personal learning network (PLN) relevant to current professional responsibilities by:

  1. Participating in and contributing to learning with members of local and global professional learning communities through the use of blogging, RSS feeds, education portals, social media and virtual environments.
  2. Striving to become an innovative leader in professional learning environments

Interested in learning more about Twitter to form global connections, or using Google+ to participate in learning communities? Please contact me, either individually or as a team, and we will plan a learning event to help you get started! Don’t forget, while technology helps us connect on a global level, connections within your buildings and district and local colleagues should also be celebrated during CEM!

Other reads and resources:

Connected Educator Month on Pinterest

Edublogs published The Edublogger’s Guide to Connected Educators Month

Consider participating in the Global Read Aloud!

Via my connected colleague, Chris McCaffrey: “There’s nothing powerful about technology, the power lies in the hearts and minds with the people we connect. Social media just increases that circle of influence further than we could ever imagine.”

Get connected today! 

Global Read Aloud 2014

Global Read Aloud: "Making Connections, One Page at a Time"
Global Read Aloud: “Making Connections, One Page at a Time”

I hope you will consider involving your students in this global learning experiences focused on quality authors and works of literature! The Global Read Aloud was created by teacher Pernille Ripp who is an inspirational voice in the edusphere. (Her blog is a must-read!)

This year’s Global Read Aloud authors & titles are as follows:

Author Study: Peter H. Reynolds

Book Titles:
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
One For the Murphys by Lyndy Mullaly Hunt
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

To get your classes and/or literature circle groups involved and reading/interacting with other classes, visit the Global Read Aloud Info for 2014 page and the GRA wiki to learn more, and click here to sign up! 

The project begins October 6 and runs through November 14!

Please let me know if your classes or reading groups are participating – I would love to support you through connecting via blogs, Edmodo, or other networks as applicable!


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