Month: October 2016

Using Grammarly to Improve Writing


by Jen Hervada, LMS Instructional Coach

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with Grammarly. It’s a new Google Chrome Extension that checks for misspelled words and makes sure that everything I write will be error free. It’s different from other spell checking software because Grammarly sends a weekly notification to my email about my writing progress for the week.  Sometimes the notifications make me feel proud about my writing.  So it made me wonder if students might also like this feature too.

Grammarly keeps track of the total amount of words written throughout the week.  It identifies and reports information about the particular type of error that is being made during the writing process.  Also, it totals the mistakes for the week and delivers them as the “Top 3 Grammar Mistakes.”  Grammarly’s weekly writing updates encourage writers to write more often

Grammarly keeps track of the total amount of words written throughout the week.  It identifies and reports information about the particular type of error tgrammarly_2hat is being made during the writing process.  Also, it totals the mistakes for the week and delivers them as the “Top 3 Grammar Mistakes”.  Grammarly’s weekly writing updates encourage writers to write more often and improve their writing.

Another great feature of Grammarly is that it will spell check whatever is in your Chrome browser, including Facebook posts, discussion posts in Schoology and a blog like this one!


Schoology will now allow you to export portfolios

by Kristie Burk

Starting tomorrow on October 28th, students and teachers will now be able to export their Schoology portfolios as .zip files so they can archive their work and continue to access it if they graduate or transfer out of the district.

If you haven’t started using Schoology portfolios, you should check them out.  Portfolios are housed outside of students’ courses on their profile page and can contain assignment submissions, files, Web links or Web pages.  Since portfolios are not tied to students’ courses, they are accessible to the students every year.

What I love about Schoology portfolios is that you can share your portfolio using a private link that will allow the recipient to view your portfolio even if they are not logged into Schoology (or don’t have a Schoology account).  For example, our blended AP art students house their artwork in their Schoology portfolios that they use to submit to the College Board at the end of the school year as part of their AP exam.

And don’t forget that teachers can create their own portfolios, too!


Website Wednesday: My Simple Show

by Sara Brosious, DHSE Instructional Coach

Visit  to transform text into simple “explainer” videos. The program guides you through the process of creating a video based on your audience and the script that you provide.  Simpleshow will generate an illustrated storyboard that you can edit and perfect into a video.

It’s easy to follow because there is a little video tutorial that plays before each step. You write a draft of your script, add some images that are pre-selected for you, and add some audio.  Here is a video about phishing attacks that was created with Simpleshow:

Contact an instructional coach if you have any questions on or how to implement it in your classroom.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Custom Wallpaper Numbering for iPads

nicole.pngby Nicole Stulak, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach

Managing a class set of iPads and assigning students a designated device is as easy as creating a custom wallpaper design to set on your lock screen. The design can be student or teacher created by taking a photo or uploading pre-made wallpaper designs.

Many educators are creating their own classroom themed or color coded iPad wallpaper designs, which you can find all over Pinterest and Instagram. This can be done in PowerPoint, Google Slides or Keynote to name a few. However, if you are looking for a super time-saver, Pat Carroll, the Library Media Specialist at Shamona Creek Elementary School, taught me about Tony Vincent’s already created and ready to use numbered wallpaper images. On his site, Learning in Hand, you will find detailed directions on how to download and use any of Tony’s wallpaper designs.

Follow these steps to add a custom wallpaper design from your iPad Photos:

  1. Go to Photos.
  2. Select your image.
  3. Select the Actions Icon.
  4. Select Use As Wallpaper.
  5. Choose Set Lock Screen, Set Home Screen, Set Both.

Reach out to your Instructional Coach if you are interested in learning more about how you can manage and identify your devices easily with custom wallpaper numbering.

Food for Thought Friday: What does the future hold for our students?

by Kristie Burk

A few weeks ago, I read an article in the newspaper called “America’s Dazzling Tech Boom Has a Downside: Not Enough Jobs” by Jon Hilsenrath and Bob Davis.  The statistics in the article are amazing, but here are some numbers that really caught my attention:

“The five largest U.S.-based technology companies by stock-market value—Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook and Oracle Corp. —are worth a combined $1.8 trillion today. That is 80% more than the five largest tech companies in 2000.

Today’s five giants have 22% fewer workers than their predecessors” – Jon Hilsenrath & Bob Davis

This reduction in labor is due, in no small part, to the automation of many tasks to robots. These robots could take away “as much as $2 trillion worth of human economic activity in coming years,” writes Hilsenrath and Davis.

What does this mean for our students? What kind of future are they facing? I think the authors summarize it well when they predict:

“The spoils of growth go to those few people with skills and luck and who are best positioned to take advantage of new technology.” – Jon Hilsenrath & Bob Davis

And so what does that mean for us, the educators? We need to know and to understand this reality.

Hilsenrath and Davis say that it takes “luck,” but we need to focus on the skills to make sure that our students are well-prepared, including the 4 C’s — critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration.

…a little food for thought this Friday!

Is it a Project or Project-Based Learning?

by Khristina Hunt, DWHS Instructional Coach

Happy Monday!

So maybe you’re faced with the same question that I have had with some assignments — are the students doing a project or is it project based learning?

If you, too, are not sure, Director of eLearning at Education Closet, Brianne Gidcumb, shares a handy chart to identify whether or not what you’re doing is really project-based learning:


And don’t forget to reach out to your instructional coaches if you want any help!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Quickly Lock Your PC!


13334048894 (1).pngby Kristie Burk

Don’t ever walk away from a logged in computer.  It’s just too big of a liability. Someone could send an email in your name, access your files, get private student data or worse.

Today’s tip is a quick and easy trick if you need to leave your laptop quickly. To lock your PC, press the Windows Start symbol + L buttons simultaneously. Your PC will immediately lock and require a password.