Month: October 2017

Tech Tip Tuesday: Scan QR codes with iOS 11

by Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Cyber and Blended Learning

Starting with iOS 11, you can use your iPad’s or iPhone’s camera to scan QR codes so that you no longer need a QR reader.

It’s simple to do.  Open up your camera and point it at the QR code. iOS 11 will automatically read the QR code and a notification will drop down from the top of the screen with a preview of the link.

If your students do not have iOS 11 but they’re using Snapchat, they can also use it as a QR reader.  Once Snapchat is open, students can point the camera at the code and hold their finger over the image to read it!

Thank you to Amanda Friedman, Downingtown East Spanish teacher, for sharing these tips!




Food for Thought Friday: School Culture Killers

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Future Ready Regional Summit in Philadelphia. One of the keynotes was by Jimmy Casas.  Jimmy served fourteen years as principal at Bettendorf High School in Iowa.

His keynote was exciting, invigorating and motivational, mostly because he didn’t sugarcoat his experiences working in a public school. One important focus of his keynote was on how complaining kills the culture. He challenged everyone in the audience to think about how often they complain during the workday.  He asked us to think about the following:

  1. Do you use the word “they” too frequently? Do you say things like, “Well, they said that we have to…” or “they are always…”  Jimmy persuades the audience to only use the word “they” when it’s followed by a positive comment and replace it with “we” to model teamwork.
  2. Do you ever gossip about others?  Jimmy has written on his blog that, “gossip is one of the biggest culture killers that exists in all organizations today. In fact, gossip says more about the person actually sharing the gossip than the person they are gossiping about.”  He encourages us to model better behavior.
  3. How much do you complain? Jimmy encouraged everyone to try for the next 24 hours not to complain about anything. (If this task seems monumental, that should indicate that there is a problem!)

Jimmy recently wrote a blog piece on this topic called “12 Things School Leaders Should Stop Doing Today” and he emphasizes that anyone can be a school leader by action instead of title. If you’ve chosen to take the 24-hour complaint-free challenge, ask a colleague to hold you accountable…and good luck!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Build a Jack-o-Lantern to Demonstrate Writing Skills

By Michelle Curcio, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach

This post has been copied and shared from an original activity created by Eric Curts on his blog, Control Alt Achieve.

Your students can complete this fun, and educational, Google Slides activity. This is a great way for students to be creative and to work on their writing skills by describing or writing about their Jack-O-Lantern.

jackHere’s how:

Make a copy of the Google Slides “Build a Jack-O-Lantern” template, found further down in the blog post.

  • The template has a blank pumpkin and several slides full of items to add to your Jack-O-Lantern including eyes, mouths, hats, arms, feet, and more.
  • Copy and paste the items to build your Jack-O-Lantern.
  • If you need different pictures, you can search for more.
  • You can even add or draw your own shapes as needed.
  • When done building, write about your Jack-O-Lantern in the textbox. You can describe it, tell a story about it, or explain who it is.
  • When all done you can download a picture of your Jack-O-Lantern and writing to share with others.

See below to get your own copy of the template, as well as more detailed directions on how to do the activity.

Building your Jack-O-Lantern

To build your Jack-O-Lantern, simply copy and paste images from the items slides onto your blank pumpkin. You can copy and paste in several ways.

To copy an item:

  • Click on the picture and press “Ctrl” and “C
  • Or click on the picture and click “Edit” then “Copy” in the top menu bar.
  • Or right-click on the picture and choose “Copy” from the pop-up menu.

To paste an item, go to the pumpkin slide and:

  • Press “Ctrl” and “V
  • Or click “Edit” then “Paste” in the top menu bar.
  • Or right-click and choose “Paste” from the pop-up menu.

Once your item has been pasted in you can adjust it in many ways:


  • Drag and drop it to move it around.
  • Press the arrow keys on your keyboard to move it around.
  • Hold down the “Shift” key and press the arrow keys on your keyboard to move it one pixel at a time.
  • Click and drag the blue circle on top of the image to rotate the image if needed.
  • Click “Arrange” in the top menu bar, then “Rotate” and “Flip horizontally” or “Flip vertically” if needed.
  • Click and drag the corners of the image to change its size if desired.
  • Click “Image options” in the top menu bar, and then “Recolor” to adjust the color (works better for lighter colors).

Adding your own images

Although the template provides a large variety of items to use for your Jack-O-Lantern, you may still want to add some more of your own. You can add more images as follows:

  • Click “Insert” in the top menu bar, then click “Image”.
  • You can add an image in several ways including “Upload” or from your “Google Drive” or with a “Search
  • If you use the “Search” option, you may want to choose “Clipart” from the “Any type” drop-down menu to limit your results to clip art style pictures.

Drawing your own shapes

If you want, you can also draw your own shapes to be as creative as you want. You can do this by using the “Polyline” tool in Google Slides.

  • Click “Insert” then “Line” then “Polyline“.
  • Click endpoints to create the shape.
  • Color with the “Fill color” tool.

Writing about your Jack-O-Lantern

When you are done creating your Jack-O-Lantern, you will want to write about it. You can type in the textbox to the right of your Jack-O-Lantern to enter your own writing. This could include:

  • A description of your Jack-O-Lantern.
  • A story about your Jack-O-Lantern.
  • An explanation of who your Jack-O-Lantern is and/or what he or she does.
  • Be sure to include your name at the bottom of your writing.

Downloading your Jack-O-Lantern

When you are completely done, you can download a picture of your Jack-O-Lantern and your writing as follows:

  • Make sure you are on the slide that has your completed Jack-O-Lantern and your writing.
  • Click “File” in the top menu bar.
  • Choose “Download as” from the drop-down menu.
  • Choose “PNG image” from the sub-menu.
  • This will download an image of just the slide you are on and not any of the rest of the slideshow.

You can now share your image in several ways:

  • Email it to someone.
  • Post it on your class website.
  • Share it through social media.
  • Combine it with others to make a new slideshow with everyone’s creations.


The “Build a Jack-O-Lantern” Google Slides activity can be a great way to let kids be creative and to improve their writing at the same time. One of the great things about creativity, is you never know what students will come up with. Feel free to email me images of your students’ creations. I would love to see what they make and will be glad to share some examples here to inspire others.

Have fun!

Curts, Eric.  Build a Jack-O-Lantern with Google Slides. Control Alt Achieve.  September 30, 2017.













Food for Thought Friday: Less Work, Deeper Learning

by Christine Digiovanni, Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center Instructional Coach

It’s no secret that teachers spend long hours both inside and outside the classroom fulfilling the demands of our jobs.  Our days are filled with planning creative and engaging lessons, grading student work, communicating with parents and school personnel, evaluating student data, and researching effective ways to improve student achievement.  Some think that the integration of technology has brought on even more work for teachers.   

There are many days where we all experience that overwhelming feeling that there just aren’t enough hours in a day to get it all done.  How do we change this?  George Couros makes some great statements worth thinking about in a recent article titled “Less Work, Deeper Learning:”

  • “We need to work smarter, not harder.”
  • “What am I doing for my students that they could be doing for themselves?”
  • “The efficient use of technology in a classroom is not in how the teacher uses it, but in what the students do with it.”

If we change our thinking to reflect some of these ideas, perhaps we can lessen our workloads while creating more meaningful learning experiences for our students at the same time? Click here to read the whole article.



More Ways to Use Remind

remindby Travis Orth, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach

School-to-home communication shouldn’t be so hard! With Remind, there is no excuse for “not getting” the message! Remind is a free text messaging app that helps teachers, students, and parents communicate quickly and efficiently. Messages are sent in real time to an entire class (parents for our elementary friends) a small group, or just a single person. You can also schedule announcements ahead of time and attach photos and other files. Here is a quick review of how it works.

There are some parts of Remind that are underutilized.  For example, you can send out more than just text messages; you can attach pictures, links, voice recordings, or documents such as a pdf to your text and schedule them to go out when you want them to.

Another underutilized feature is the stamps. Stamps include the symbols ★,✓,✘, or ?. Some ideas for using stamps in Remind:

  • Use these stamps to quiz your students – ask a multiple choice or true/false question and see the response.
  • Find out who is attending an upcoming event.
  • Ask parents to ✓ if the students have done their homework.
  • Get kids to vote on an item for class.

Send quick, simple messages to any device for free!

Website Wednesday: Smore

By Jackie Longan, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach

smoreDo you love sending a weekly newsletter home to parents?  Enjoy reading a monthly bulletin from your amazing literacy specialists while you sip a cup of tea?  Have you ever considered creating your own?

Well, is your one-stop-shop for a simple or bedazzled newsletter or bulletin creator.  It has easy to edit templates and options to add links and videos. Unlike paper newsletters, Smore has an analytics page to show you how many people have viewed your newsletter, how long they spent viewing it and how many clicked on the links!   Smore also manages your mobile views, so the newsletters and flyers look good, regardless of the device the viewers are using.



Monday Mentions: Bloomz at Lionville Elementary

by Nicole Stulak, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach

Today’s “Monday Mentions” features Elaine Guyer, an Elementary Technology Innovator and first-grade teacher at Lionville Elementary. Mrs. Guyer is no stranger to implementing technology in her classroom. However, she has been quite creative with her use of technology with her first graders, especially when it comes to connecting home and school through an all-encompassing communication app called Bloomz.

Mrs. Guyer discovered Bloomz as a way to increase engagement, create digital portfolios of student work, schedule meetings and share what is happening at school with parents and family members at home.

The app has several features that engage parents and keep communication open between your classroom and the families that support you:

  • FREE App
  • Private and secure communication to parents/families
  • Updates can be sent through email for those who do not wish to sign up for Bloomz
  • Ability to document projects and build a digital portfolio of student work
  • Classroom behavior component
  • Schedule and confirm conferences
  • Content translation is available in many languages

Video Link about how Bloomz Works:

If you want to learn more about integrating technology into your teaching and learning, or would like to discuss how to extend learning and open the lines of communication with families, reach out to your Instructional Coach to set up a collaborative meeting.