Simplicity & Power of Authentic Learning…


This week I stumbled upon Wanda’s Terrel’s Tweet about Day 2 of #SketchCue &  at first thought, “what an opportunity for me to further explore using Google Drawings”. The focus of #SketchCue supports the tenets of learning to create Sketchnotes. A sketchnote is exactly how it sounds. One uses the creative power of drawing and design to capture notes from lectures, research, and etc…  Sketchnoting supports an individual with expressing their content knowledge in a visual format. I found this opportunity to share my Google Drawings Sketchnotes to be engaging and motivating. It was then when I realized a simple activity such as this has the ability to develop into a  “Powerful Authentic Learning Tool” supporting student engagement.

I found myself exploring clipart designs along with examining the meanings for the #SketchCue word topics. After sharing my first sketchnote and receiving a “Like” it dawned on me how this simple use of social media could engage students with further developing vocabulary skills. It always amazes me how a simple activity shared in an authentic manner has the power to motivate the creator. I found myself wanting to contribute new creations every day as well as enjoying reading the creative shares of educators from around the world. It became evident to me authentic learning opportunities are engaging and leads to furthering one’s content knowledge base.

My #SketchCue Day 1 Entry

Word: Arrows

#SketchCue Arrows (1)

My #SketchCue Day 2 Entry

Word: Banners

#SketchCue Banners (1).jpg


Let Sphero & Google Slides Support Math

Sphero MIni Angels.jpeg

Today I’m reminiscing upon my time spent in an Elementary School Math Class, and the teaching of angles. I wonder what would happen in this classroom if the students first watched the teacher model drawing acute, obtuse and right angles. Then the students draw their own angles on paper followed by working in a group where a Sphero Mini is remotely controlled  to move along the rays around the vertex of an angle.

I see this as a group center lesson where one student is responsible for capturing a video as another student formed the angle using a tablet device to move the Sphero bot along the drawn pathway. Once the videos are captured the students would share them in a group Google Drive Folder. They would use this folder to insert the videos into a Google Slide deck. One video for each slide in the deck. This is where the student would write their reflections about each angle type.

The teacher might ask questions to jumpstart the students with writing their reflections.

  • Did the Sphero Mini have difficulties navigating the vertex formed by the two line segments or rays?
    • Why or Why not?

NOTE: The students may answer the questions individually or collaborate in a small group.

Once the angle slide deck is completed this may be embedded into a Classroom Maintained Google Site showcasing student creation and exploration.

Why I’m Passionate about Using Tech…


Technology devices can be seen everywhere these days. People of all ages are using digital devices for both learning and entertainment. What I like most about using technology supports is the magic it may unfold for those with both learning and physical disabilities.  Many moons ago it was this very reason I fell in love with using technology. I had this dream of unlocking doors for students who were challenged by fitting into inclusion classrooms.  When looking at a whole classroom community one should not be able to distinguish the challenged student from their peers. This is where technology may be used to assist with supporting student’s independents during certain classroom activities.

Present day schools have a tendency to integrate 1to1 devices. This doesn’t necessarily mean one device per student all day to take home at the end of the day. However what it does is provides the opportunity to use a digital device throughout the day during certain activities. Thanks to this students with disabilities are able to interact with classmates without an adult hovering at their side. Independents maybe one of the best esteem builders for some challenged students.  Due to my position as a teaching assistant one of the most common statements students have made over the years is, “I can do this by myself.” Students often state this because they feel uncomfortable and zeroed out by their peers for having an adult assist them all the time.

Digital devices may unlock a student’s freedom by reading or writing for them. There are applications such as Google Calendar, and Keep which may be used to support student organization. These tools may also be used as a way to quietly communicate with a student. This is due to the sharing ability of calendars and Keep Notes. It allows an adult to indiscreetly edit the information a student types in. These tools also allow teachers and support staff to provide interactive links, videos, visuals, audios and etc… to help the students with learning the information presented in the classroom. I view using technology as a tool to bolstering a students esteem by helping them to independently interact within a classroom community. What better tool to use then one which empowers students to independently participate within a classroom community.

Create Illustrated Stories w/Google Slides

Students can now easily smash together drawing and writing talents within a Google Slide. Google recently added access to Google Keep from within a slide.  This allows students and teachers to drag drawings, lists and notes onto a Google Slides’ canvas. Over the last couple years I’ve heard both students and teachers requesting the need for a whiteboard feature built-in to Google Slides. Now thanks to Google Keep’s drawing capabilities this is possible to do!

The whiteboard built into Google Keep will allow the user to draw illustrations, graphs, write math equations and etc.. with ease. This provides another method for students to use for explaining content knowledge by using visual creation.

Tweaking Questions & Collecting Data…

Thanks to the NJ Ed Tech Team Google Summit  I’m now a proud owner of a Google Home. After playing with the Google Home for a few weeks I started to think about the value an inexpensive tech tool like this could have in a learning environment.

My husband and I noticed the Google Home has a hard time answering “Open Ended Questions”. Due to this one is forced to learn how to ask  “direct questions” to receive answers. It is amazing how quickly question formation changes in avoidance of hearing “I don’t know the answer” or “but I’m learning new things everyday.” 

Google Home

Once this artificial intelligence device started answering  the questions it was easy to understand how it could assist us.  The Google Home can provide the time of day, not only at home but anywhere in the world. It tells about the weather in one’s area, remembers a shopping list, solves math problems, answers factual questions, plays music, looks up recipe ingredients and etc… It can even play trivia games! This helps to hone our knowledge banks for factual information. I have mentioned just a handful of the interactive capabilities a Google Home may provide.

So you may be thinking how might this be used in the classroom? One of my goals is to support students with becoming independent participants within a classroom community. Everyone needs assistance at different times in their life. When a child explores and asks questions to discover answers their communication and critical thinking skills are nurtured.  This sets an environment where the Google Home may be used to provide a correct answer.  A Teacher would jump upon the opportunity to facilitate a classroom discussion about the answer.  This fosters an environment where student esteems are built rather than destroyed. Learning isn’t about spitting out facts but understanding the relationships of the factual information.

One way this may be used in an elementary classroom is though the tracking of daily weather. This is a common routine for most kindergarten classrooms. The student will still look out the window and share observations about what they see. After the information is added to a Google Sheet the student may ask the Google Home about today’s weather for the school’s location. This information may be added to the Google Sheet as well. A quick classroom discussion may occur if the Google Assistant provides a different answer than the physical observation.

This same lesson may be built upon for upper grade levels. It is one way to collect data which could be transferred into scientific or math discussions. This not only hones communication, and critical thinking skills but adds the reinforcement of using data for solving problems. The Google Home is a relatively inexpensive tool which allows the teacher to integrate technology in supportive ways for whole class usage.