Monday, May 27, 2013

Find Sources and Add Citations with the Google Research Tool

When writing a document or creating a presentation, many times you need to go to another website to find sources of information or images to use.  Within the google document or presentation, you can actually find resources and automatically add the citations to your document or presentation.  When teaching Common Core skills, this is a great tool to show your students as you are teaching them how to write claims and add citations to their work.

Watch the short video below to learn how to use the Google Research Tool.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Using ThingLink to Organize Student Projects

This year, when my AVID students researched different colleges, I didn't want to have to sit through 30 boring powerpoint presentations.  I have done this project for years with my students, and honestly, it is not fun listening to the same presentations over and over again.  I decided to have my students create videos instead.

We used iMovie on the iPad and students created trailers.  The trailers are only about one minute long, so they wouldn't be able to fit all of the required information in the movie.  So I had students use ThingLink to be a home for their video and then they could also use the tags to add the extra information.

To begin with the project, I had students fill out a google form with their top college choices.  I then created an instruction document that also would be their document that they took their notes on.  I sent it out to all my students using the google script, autocrat.  This allowed me to personalize each document with the college name they were assigned, student names, etc.  It also named and shared the document with me so I didn't have to worry about the students forgetting to do so.  

Students took collaborative notes in a Google doc, planned out and created their iMovie, uploaded it to YouTube, and then made their ThingLink.  Creating a ThingLink on an iPad is not ideal, many times it would get a little buggy.  But it was possible to do using the Chrome browser, with a little frustration of having to shut down the iPad and logging back in to ThingLink.  

In the last few days, ThingLink just released an iOS app.  It looks like it will have great potential for an iPad classroom.   As of right now, you can only add videos and text to your image.  You can't add URL links, pictures, etc.  Hopefully that change will be made soon.  But the current version of the app works really well on the iPads, it is very easy to find a picture and add text or a video.  

I think that this is a great tool to curate information and to be a "home page" for student multimedia projects.  Instead of having to give the teacher multiple links to different parts of a project, they can all be embedded on the ThingLink.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Using Flubaroo to Self Grade Google Form Quizzes

Do you have a multiple choice or fill in the blank test that you want to give to your students?  Although they are pretty easy to grade, who wants to spend the time?  Sure, you could use scantrons or iPad apps where you take a photo of the bubbled in sheet.  But why waste paper or your valuable time?  

Flubaroo is a script that you can add on to your google spreadsheet/google form which will automatically grade quizzes, and even send an email with the grade (and even answer key) to your students.

It is easy to use.  Just create a form.  Fill it out with the correct answers to make the answer key.  And then run the script. 

This video shows how to use the Flubaroo script.  I also demonstrate how to add an image into a google form and how to search for Creative Commons images.  (Creative commons images are liscensed by the owner for to be allowed for public use if they are given attribution.  Find out more at

Here is a sample quiz, it is the one I made in the video:  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Using Scrible to Teach Common Core Reading, Researching, Collaborating, and Publishing

The Common Core Standards have been approved by 47 of the 50 United States.  Here in California, many schools have piloted programs incorporating the new CCSS, while others are still learning about how the new standards will impact their teaching practices.  I personally still have a lot to learn about the Common Core State Standards, but I am excited to be able to help prepare my biology students to be better scientific writers and to be able to understand and decipher arguments, claims and evidence from scientific papers, labs, and writings.  Scientific literacy has always been a strong interest of mine, and the CCSS strongly supports incorporating this in my classroom.

Today I was able to attend Connect U, North Bay CUE's annual conference.  I learned a lot about google spreadsheets, vlookups and pivot tables (which I am so excited about, thanks to Alice Keeler!), but also was introduced to my new favorite web tool, is a free site which allows students to annotate web resources, write notes, analyze what they read, get citations, collaborate with others, and then write and publish their work.  I have included some of the 9th and 10th grade reading and writing standards at the bottom of this blog post.  These standards need to be taught not just in English, but history and science courses as well. I believe that Scrible can be used as a tool to facilitate meeting these standards in each subject area.  

Here is a sample of a webpage I annotated using  (Click on the link to see what the entire document looks like, this pic below is just a small portion.)

Annotations using  These can be shared with others,
and multiple people can edit or annotate the document.

While Scrible doesn't find articles for students, or teach them how to find and analyze the important information or arguments within them, Scrible provides the tools necessary for students to annotate, summarize, and work with the text.  Scrible is an amazing tool because it makes the whole process of reading, researching, and writing easier.  All the annotations and notes that the students take are saved in the cloud, can be shared with others, and then incorporated into the final report/writing.  Scrible is a powerful tool that all students should be using in all of their classes to meet Common Core Standards.

Bibliography created using webpages annotated and saved in your Scrible library.

Students can write reports using notes they took, quotes they highlighted,
and add the bibliography info to the bottom of the document.

I wish that I would have had this tool when I was in college (and high school!).  I hated having all those note cards, figuring out how to format a bibliography, and carrying everything around. is one of the best tech tools I have seen to help students become college ready.  Today I sent a note out to all of my AVID Class of 2012 grads who are finishing their first year of college, and many have signed up for Scrible.

Scrible can be used on any computer as well as on the iPad using the Safari Browser.  (Not all Scrible features are available on the iPad and I found it a little challenging to use on the device.  Scrible will be working on updates and a native app for the iPad in the future.)

Here is a video which shows how to sign up for Scrible and how to use it.   Right now, Scrible is in beta form, but the developers are very responsive to questions and feedback.  Try it out!  I am sure you and your students will love it!   Use this link to sign up for your free account & a storage upgrade:  Scrible.

Click here for a tour of Scrible.  Click here for a demo where you can play around with it before you sign up.  (But you will love it and sign up anyways!)

CCSS:  English Language Arts Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.5 Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.6 Analyze the author’s purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, defining the question the author seeks to address.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.8 Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claim or a recommendation for solving a scientific or technical problem.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.9 Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources (including their own experiments), noting when the findings support or contradict previous explanations or accounts.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.1a Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among the claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.1b Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counterclaims in a discipline-appropriate form and in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Curating Online Content for Your Students Using Mentor Mob

In the past, when creating online web quests for students, teachers had to set up elaborate websites, or just give their students a bunch of links on a handout. Creating websites took too much time and was too difficult for most teachers to do.  And when you give students a bunch of links, they inevitably type the URL in wrong.  Now there is an easy answer.

Mentor Mob is a great online tool which allows teachers (and students too) to curate websites, documents, videos, etc. into playlists.  You can even add quizzes to the playlist.  

Teachers can embed their Mentor Mob playlists into a website or blog, and students can get to all the links and read descriptions or instructions that you leave for each one.  You can also give students a link to the playlist that contains all the websites.

Here is an example of a playlist I used for students in my biology class.  They were learning about how drugs interact with the nervous system.  There is a lot of information about drugs on the internet, and I didn't want to let them loose and find inappropriate material.  So I curated a list on Mentor Mob of websites I wanted them to use.

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Here is a video explaining how to use and set up a Mentor Mob playlist.  

Be sure to install the Google Chrome Mentor Mob extension to be able to easily add websites to your playlists.

I have seen other teachers have their students set up playlists as portfolios of their work.  I haven't tried that yet, but it sounds like a great idea.