Microsoft Translator

translatorA free program provided by Microsoft that allows you to speak or type in your native language to communicate in real-time with other participants in the conversation in their language.

How it works: 1. Start – Click on “Start conversation”, log in and enter your name and language. 2. Share – Share the conversation code with other participants, who can join using the Translator app or website 3. Speak – Speak or type in your language to communicate with other participants in the conversation.

Go to – to start a conversation by logging in with your district’s Microsoft Office 365 account. Or, you can use the free mobile application

Watch my short demonstration video below on how my voice can simultaneously be translated into both Spanish and Russian in real-time using the web version of Microsoft Translator.



Canvas Updates – Fall 2019

In the month of October, there were several updates to our instance of Canvas. Some of the updates may already be noticeable to instructors, while others may not. Below is a summary of three of the recent updates: Canvas Navigation Menus, Grading Periods, and New Analytics.

  1. Canvas Navigation Menus have been updated to include color and visual indicators to define active menu items. Additionally, the Course Navigation Menu includes ‘tooltip’ indicators to clarify inactive menu items. Pages are not visible to a student in one of two cases: a page contains no content, or a page is hidden via the Navigation tab in Course Settings. Tooltip content clarifies the hidden state appropriately. —From Canvas release notes.  Below is an image that shows the old vs. the new menu vs old
  2. The 2019-2020 Elanco Grading Periods have been added to Canvas. Teachers are now able to filter the view of their Canvas gradebook to only show assignment in the specified marking period. For more information, visit How do I use grading periods in a course? grade periods
  3. The New Analytics tool has been enabled for our instance of Canvas to allow teacher to better visualize and analyze how students are interacting with their online course content. New Analytics can be accessed from Course analytics

Use Canvas’ New Analytics to:

    • View average course grade analytics as an interactive chart graph or a data table
    • Compare the course average with an individual assignment, course section, or student filter using the chart graph comparison or data table comparison
    • View average weekly online participation analytics as an interactive chart graph or a data table
    • Compare the course average weekly online participation analytics with an individual student or section using the chart graph comparison or data table comparison
    • Send a message to all students based on specific course grade or participation criteria
    • Send a message to an individual student based on specific course grade or participation criteria
    • View course grade and participation analytics for an individual student

Visit the What is New Analytics? page to learn more.




For the remainder of this school year, our school district will be piloting the use of an online video editor called WeVideo.  Unfortunately, Microsoft discontinued their support of Windows MovieMaker in Windows 10 this past year. Since then, our students have been without a good video editor on their school laptops.  This has also been the case at our elementary schools where students have Chromebook laptops that only run web applications.

WeVideo is a completely web-based video editor with even more features than Windows MovieMaker. For example, students can collaborate with other classmates on any video project, teachers can upload media content for their students to use in their projects, and their is a green screening feature built right in.

What is WeVideo?

Learn to use WeVideo

  • Here is a quick overview of the WeVideo Timeline editor.

  • Here is an even shorter overview of the simpler WeVideo Storyboard editor mode.


Getting Started

We are very interested in teacher and student feedback of the program. If the feedback of the pilot is positive, there is a good possibility of purchasing a subscription to the program for our district for next school year and beyond.

If you are interested in setting up a teacher and/or student accounts for your classroom, please contact Tim Leister at the secondary campus or Adam Geiman at the Elementary schools. Either of us can quickly create a project group for your class and send you a custom join link to be sent to all of your students to setup their accounts.


Adobe Spark

sparkAdobe Spark is a free online creation tool that allows students to create online posts, web pages, or videos. However, previously our students had to setup their own accounts and students under the age of 13 could not even create their own Spark logins. Now with Adobe Spark for Education, our students can log in with their Elanco email address and Elanco Google Account. Teachers and students can follow these simple directions to log into their Adobe Creative Cloud account. There is now a tile on the student and teacher Gateway page with the link to login to Adobe Creative Cloud.


The Adobe Spark tool is very easy to use and creates a professional looking finished product. Adobe Posts allow for the creation of an online graphic from text and a photo. In Adobe Spark Pages, students can design and create one-page websites from a variety of themes that include text, copyright-friendly images, and embedded videos from YouTube. In Adobe Spark Video, students can insert images, and then record an audio narration while selecting from a list of background music options.

Meet Adobe Spark

Ideas on how to use Adobe Spark

Learn to use Adobe Spark

  • The method of login is different than is explained in the video, but the use of the tools is the same.

Spark Video Examples:

  • Below is an example of an Adobe Spark Video created by Mrs. Soper as an example of assignment that she created for students. Mrs. Soper asked students to “create a public service announcement about a theme from the novels they are reading now, instead of just making a theme college.”


Looking for a review game alternative to Kahoot, Quizlet Live, etc.? Take a look at Gimkit.  This game site was actually developed by a high school student who wanted to add some fun to the ‘traditional’ classroom review games.

Just like many of the online review game sites, Gimkit can be played individually or in groups. What makes Gimkit different is the strategy involved within the game. As questions are answered correctly or incorrectly, students or groups gain or lose dollar amounts. As teams or individuals accumulate money, they have the ability to decide how to utilize that money by changing the dollar per question value, by removing money from other teams, by getting insurance for incorrect answers, or some other fun ideas.

A real-time class scoreboard can be projected onto a classroom screen and games can be played to finish in a few minutes or when a certain dollar amount is reached.  The Gimkit games can be built quickly by making your own review questions or by importing study sets from Quizlet.


 Video Tutorial on how to setup and run a Gimkit game


Windows Take a Test App

“Teachers want to feel confident that students can focus on the tests they’re given, free of distractions, whether it’s an important standardized test, unit exam, or a quick formative assessment.  With the Take a Test app, teachers can create a link that takes the students directly to the test’s page where they are restricted from accessing their computer.” The link below provides a space for teachers to insert their online test link and have a custom link created that places students into a secure test environment.

Windows 10 – Create a Take a Test link

“When a student clicks the new link to the ‘Take a Test’ assessment, an application opens and shows just the test and nothing else. The computer’s clipboard is cleared, and students can’t:

  • Go to other websites.
  • Open or access other applications.
  • Share, print, or record their screens.
  • Change settings, extend their display, see notifications, get updates, or use auto-fill features.

When students are finished and need to stop taking a test, they press the Ctrl+Alt+Delete keys.  Be careful—if students do this before finishing and submitting the test, they won’t be able to go back to where they left off in the test.” This application only works when accessing the custom test links on Windows 10 computers.

— Directions are modified from Microsoft Education


Video Tutorial: How to use Microsoft Take a Test


Google Tour Creator

Tour creator

The new Google VR Tour Creator website allows anyone to create virtual reality tours using their own 360 degree images or 360 degree images already available on Google Street View. This easy-to-use website, allows for the creation of 360 degree scenes with several points of interest where text, still images, and narrations can be included. When completed, these tours can be published for anyone to view on the Google Poly website.  The Google Poly site allows for anyone to publish their own vr tours, while the Google Expeditions mobile app is for those vr and ar (augmented reality) tours that have been submitted to Google, reviewed, vetted, and then approved to be made available to the public. The video tutorial at the bottom of this post explains how to create, edit and publish a vr tour of your own.

Here at GS, we have recently purchased several Ricoh 360 cameras for students and teachers to use to capture their own 360 degree images that can be uploaded to the Google VR Tour Creator website.  The cameras also record 360 degree videos with sound that will eventually be able to be viewed using the Google VR Goggles once our devices are Internet enabled at the start of the 2nd semester.  You’ll notice in the image below that the cameras have lenses on both sides which allow for the capturing of 360 degree digital images.

360 camera

Google VR Tours created at GS

In Jill Hackman’s Pathways Co-Op course, students were assigned the task of creating a vr tour of their co-op job placement during this fall semester. Take a quick interactive tour of GSHS seniors Jacob Good’s work place,  New Holland Custom Wood, and job sites from Joe Royle’s family Royle Plumbing business.  Below is a 16-scene interactive tour created by Bob Schneider and I on the recent Civics & Government field trip to Philadelphia. The first scene of the tour is from Google Street View, but the other 15 images were taken by us using our 360 degree cameras.

Click and drag on the image below. On the bottom of the image, click on the arrows to view other tour scenes. Some scenes contain points of interest targets to click on.


How to Use Google VR Tour Creator

Below is a video tutorial from Richard Byrne’s Free Tech for Teachers Blog on how to create, edit and publish a tour using the Google VR Tour Creator. Currently, the tours that are published to the Google Poly website are only visible in full, immersive virtual reality using Android devices, such as the ones we have here at GS.

Canvas Updates – December 2018

There are two new features in the December 2018 new feature Canvas release that I think Garden Spot Teachers will enjoy: 1) manually ordering Canvas course cards on the dashboard and 2) a new, more user-friendly media recorder.

Card View Course Ordering on the Dashboard

“Course cards can be manually ordered in the Card View Dashboard. This change allows you to place course cards in a specific order. For a course card, you can select the Options menu and move the card to another location in the Dashboard. Depending on the placement of the existing card, cards may be moved to the top of the Dashboard, ahead or behind a specific card, or to the bottom of the Dashboard. Cards can also be manually dragged and dropped to another location in the Dashboard. Once a dashboard card has been reordered, new courses added to the dashboard always display at the end of all existing courses.” – From Canvas Release Notes

Watch the very short demonstration video below.


New Media Recorder

“HTML5 is used instead of flash within the Rich Content Editor in Firefox and Chrome browsers. This change allows recorded media without requiring flash within the Firefox and Chrome browsers. When in the Rich Content Editor, the Media window displays an improved interface. You can confirm your microphone and webcam, and if more than one device is supported, select which device should be used. If you do not have a webcam, the audio option will be selected automatically.” – From Canvas Release Notes.

By no longer using Flash, the recording of teacher and student videos on Canvas content pages, discussions, media submission assignments, etc. will be much more user-friendly and work with more devices.

Leister media window
Leister approved!!!

Undelete in Canvas

When developing the content of a course, you are likely to be deleting as well as adding pieces of content. So what do you do when the Page (or File, Announcement, Assignment, etc.) you need has been accidentally deleted from the course? Rather than try to rebuild from scratch, consider using Undelete. – David Gray’s Canvas Blog Post

Apparently, Undelete has been around since Canvas first started, though it is not officially supported so they don’t advertise the feature. This Undelete-in-Canvas Guide.pdf guide demonstrates how to navigate to, and use, the Undelete tool within Canvas. Also, it describes some of the feature’s limitations.

 Video demonstrating how to use the Undelete feature in Canvas

Microsoft Photos App for Creating and Editing Video

photos appUnfortunately, Microsoft has made the decision to discontinue their support of Windows Movie Maker in the latest upgrade to their Windows 10 operating system. Therefore, the application is no longer an option for our students on their school-issued laptops. For many years, Windows Movie Maker has always been the best option for editing and creating student videos.

Now, the best option is for students to use the Windows 10 Photos app that is already installed on their computers to create a video from photos and other video clips. The program is a bit limited and does not have all of the same functionality of Movie Maker. However, it does allow for the easy creation of videos by combining video clips with still photos while also adding titles, captions, music and narration.

Also, the addition of 3D video effects is something that many students will enjoy. If students need to record video using their computer’s webcam, they’ll now use the Camera app in Windows 10.

Take some time to watch the five short tutorial videos below to quickly learn how you and your students can utilize Microsoft Photos for simple video editing.

Video Tutorials on How to Create and Edit Video in Microsoft Photos


Importing Footage and Starting a New Project


Sequencing and Trimming the Video


Adding Titles, Captions and Text


Adding 3D Objects and Effects


Adding Narration and Music