The New Google Sites Tutorial for the HW Site

#mamatechnology #laurablair #edtech #newgooglesites #tutorial


2016 -2016 school year

At the beginning of this school year, I filled out a pink card and a blue card.  Or at least I was supposed to.  On the PINK card were some targets and on the BLUE card I finished these prompts:

  1. this year I’m going to do more of….
  2. this yea, I’m going to do less of…

Since I having many moving targets that materialise through the year, I guess it doesn’t matter so much I can’t find my cards.  Here are the moving targets that continue to emerge in my professional life;

  • Student Reflective Blog Portfolios
  • Makerspace
  • Developing a Tech Resource Website
  • Coaching teachers and students
  • Transitioning teachers to Google Classroom as their Learning Management System

Things I did plenty of:

  • Creating resources
  • Offering PD
  • Generating ideas
  • Planning
  • Walking

Things I should have done more of:

  • Meet individually with teachers
  • Help teachers use tech in better ways
  • Keep more up to date on Social Media professionally
  • Blog and Share
  • Yoga
  • Relax

Things I did less of:

  • Meeting with PLCs
  • Sleep

Things I should do less of:

  • Eat and Drink
  • Worry

#reflection #school #endofschool #edtech #mamatechnology



Is Moodle Causing Stagnation in Education?

A couple years ago I helped implement Moodle at my school in Chennai, India.  In 2012, they decided to transition from a god-awful Sharepoint site to Moodle for their LMS, Learning Management System.

This was a great decision back then and to implement the plan I had to dive into Moodle.  To teach myself this new system, I watched countless youtube movies and just clicked around until I was familiar with most of its many features.  The thing is that Moodle easily gets confusing because there is too much functionality.  When I gave my weekly Moodle PD sessions, the teachers would groan and roll their eyes… saying “God why do we have to learn this.”

Moodle has a big learning curve.  Most teachers just don’t have enough time to really discover its potential uses.  They are too busy coming up with creative lessons to spend hours editing their Moodle courses.  It’s clunky, it doesn’t always work perfectly and most school Moodle sites are pretty ugly.  And despite being such a versatile tool, I think it leads to stagnation of content and instruction.

To get teachers to use Moodle, it has to be a mandatory requirement.  Most teachers would not use Moodle if they had a choice.  It just takes too much time to learn and build courses.  But once a teacher builds a course, it’s there for years to come.  Teachers put so much effort into putting their material on Moodle and creating quizzes, that they rarely ever want to go back in a modify it.

I believe that successful teaching and learning needs to be dynamic.  For me it’s a continual work in progress as I tweak lessons, update material and personalize my course to the needs of my students.

When comparing Learning Management Systems, Google Classroom supports contemporary learning much better than Moodle.  You build your course as you go in Google Classroom, allowing a better opportunity to personalize your course.  You can reuse old posts from previous courses in Google Classroom, but just going through and choosing those old posts will help you decided what you should keep and what to change.




Teacher’s Reflecting in Blogs

We have 9 days of school to go and at this last faculty meeting we were asked to reflect on the goals that we made at the beginning of the year.  At the beginning of the year, we wrote these goals on index cards and put them in envelopes.  Instead of reflecting on paper this time, teachers posted their second blog post to their professional blog.

Though having teachers reflect in a blog was not one of the goals I wrote down on the index cards, starting a student digital portfolio blog program was a huge goal of mine when I took this job.  Getting the teachers on board with this initiative is imperative for this program to be implemented well.

I’ve tried before to have teachers start their own reflective professional blogs with mixed results.  But time is up, I will have to finish my reflecting next year.

Creating an Audio QR Code

Today a teacher asked me for a simple solution to creating an audio QR code for her Foreign Language class. is the simplest way that I found to make one.  There are other ways like uploading an MP3 file to Google drive, or recording on Soundcloud.  But for a very easy and quick solution, I would recommend Vocaroo.

Here’s a little tutorial I made on how to make an audio QR code with Vocaroo.

Here are some cool ways you can use Audio QR codes in your class.

  1. Give students directions for a center or an activity
  2. Speaking word wall
  3. Showcase student spoken word poetry
  4. Include Audio QR codes in a scavenger hunt activity
  5. Label parts of a Foreign Language classroom with audio QR codes.

8 Tech Solutions to Help Reduce Paper Consumption in Schools

This morning I was in a meeting and we were discussing the next 2 year Destiny Plan at JIS.  As we ‘unpacked’ the last destiny plan, one item really stuck out; Environmental Stewardship.  We are making progress in this area at JIS but there is still so much more we can do.  Jakarta is a huge, polluted city that needs all the help it can get in this area.

Our environmental club, ‘The Green Dragons,’ have made huge strides in reducing our lunchtime garbage by encouraging students to choose reusable plates instead of the plastic-coated cardboard containers that the cafeteria offers.

This is wonderful but we just can’t stop here.  I recently received the printing data for the Middle School and High School and in my opinion we print way too much.  If stacked, our printing for a year would be as high as a 30 story building!   We are a massive institution but that isn’t an excuse.  Students, teachers, admin and staff need to be more mindful about printing.  With Google Apps and other digital tools there is really no reason to print other than convenience or to showcase work. Most printed assignments end up in the trash at the end of the day anyway.

This photo is from 2011.  I don’t want to know what it looks like now.  Here you see an Indonesian man collecting plastic among the garbage floating on a polluted river in Jakarta.  Picture: EPA


We need to start tackling the environmental problems in Jakarta and in the world unless we want them to get even worse.  It’s a message that’s been said endless times; “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”…. but we need to keep repeating it and making people aware that their actions are effecting the future.

So here are 8 tech solutions for teachers to reduce paper consumption in school.

  1. Start running your class on Google Classroom and stop making students print out assignments.
  2. Check out the Suggesting Mode on Google Docs for correcting your students work.  You can also use the comments feature to comment on Google Docs.
  3. Use or Linoit to have students brainstorm using digital sticky notes instead of paper sticky notes.
  4. When assessing students, give them digital choices in how they will show their learning.  Not all assessments have to be printed out tests or printed out essays.
  5. When you do give a test, use Google forms to collect student answers.  You can even use Flubaroo to automatically grade it.
  6. Have students showcase and reflect on their work in a blog instead of posting papers around the room.  More people will end up reading what the students wrote online than flipping through papers stapled to your wall.
  7. Set up bins in your classroom for Scrap Paper and Paper to be Recycled.
  8. Instead of worksheets, use (a student response system) to have students answer questions.  You can tell in a couple seconds if your students are getting a concept instead of waiting until after class and grading a worksheet.

Alternatives to Glogster

Every year I get requests from teachers if we have a subscription to Glogster.  Though I am sure the Glogster has some uses in the classroom, it’s not a tool that I would pay for.  There are too many other free tools that do similar things.

To give Glogster the benefit of the doubt, I signed up for their 7 day trial.  Some features it offers are adding photos, videos and audio to an online poster (basically a website).  The site has library of images that students can use and you can take pictures, audio and video using your computer.  One feature I think teachers would like is the Class Feature. Teachers can add student accounts in the EDU version.  This feature gives you access to student projects.  I guess this would be good if you are having students all use the same tool; however, I am not a big fan of assigning everyone a project where they must use a certain tool.  Allowing students to choose how best to present what they learned is definitely best practice.  You will be amazed at what students can do if you don’t limit the tools they can use. 

Here’s another great article about some Pros and Cons of Glogster.

Here are a few alternatives to consider.