Saturday, November 28, 2015

an easy way to group your students

This spreadsheet will help you create groups for your classes very quickly. Watch the tutorial video below to learn how to get the most out of this spreadsheet.

Click here for a link to the spreadsheet

Super Grouper Tutorial from Michael Matera on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Freebie for my Fashion Forward Teacher Friends

Hey teacher friends! I know I usually share technology tips with you, but this something that I've fallen love with and wanted to share it with you! While teacher manicures might not be traditional teaching tips, I feel anything that makes you feel better about yourself, looks professional, and won't break the budget on a teacher's salary is a great tip. :)

Plus, you have a stressful job! The simple step of taking care of you can not only make you feel better about yourself, but will also translate when working with others and even teaching in the classroom.

In case you haven't heard about Jamberry Nails, they are the newest trend in DIY manicures!

They are special adhesive-backed vinyl that "shrink wraps" to your nails when heat and pressure are applied - and that part is super easy too!

You only need a few items that you probably already have sitting at home!

I wasn't sure about them, when another teacher blogger offered a free sample (get yours here) I figured I had nothing to loose. After trying them I knew I loved them.  I love having my nails done, but hate dealing with chipped nail polish. I actually HATE painting my nails most of the time because I hate the smell, the dry time, and they tend to last for about 2.3 seconds until they chip on my hands.

But Jamberry was different!  I had a gorgeous manicure that lasted about 10 days on my hands (although some people are able to get up to 2 weeks of wear). When I tried them on my toes they lasted well over a month.

There is no dry time, no smell (they aren't made of polish like other nail strips), and there are over 300 different designs!

I know that you are wondering about getting a sample for yourself.  Click this link and request one right away!

I know living on a teacher's salary can tough, so if I come across a product or opportunity to help - I honestly want to help. It might not be for you, but you can always try a sample to see if you are addicted as much as me. lol!

Have a wonderful school year and stay stylish!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

PowToon $10Million Dollar Classroom Account Giveaway

I have mentioned PowToon before, but in case you missed it PowToon is a way to create short animated videos. It's a really simple way to introduce things to your students or at a presentation. Well PowToon is Giving Away $10 Million Dollars of Classroom Accounts for The New School Year. All you have to do is go this link and create an account.

This won't last for long, so hurry up and sign up today!

This post also appears of my Science Blog - Savvy Secondary Science

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Computational Thinking for Educators from Google

I just learned about a new free course that Google is offering online.  It's called Computational Thinking for Teachers. Computational Thinking (CT) is using things like patterns and algorithms to help your teaching.   T

The description from their page says:

"The goal of this course is to help educators learn about computational thinking (CT), how it differs from computer science, and how it can be integrated into a variety of subject areas. As a course participant, you will increase your awareness of CT, explore examples of CT integrated into your subject areas, experiment with examples of CT-integrated activities for your subject areas, and create a plan to integrate CT into your own curricula."

The course is going on from now until December 20th and you can sign up here.
Below is a video that gives a quick overview of the course.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Step up your Google skills

If you are looking to take your Google knowledge to the next level take a visit to the site below. It will give you a few things to try to help you learn more about using Google. Alice Keeler's blog is fantastic and I suggest that you subscribe to it!

Are you looking for more? Try these!

3 Docs Tips to Try:

3 Slides Tips to Try:

3 Sheets Tips to Try:

3 Drive Tips to Try:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Internet Safety - Hover before you click

If you hover your mouse over a hyperlink you can see what website the link goes to in the bottom left of your window. It’s a great way to check to make sure a link is legitimate before you click on it.

Alice Keeler has a great post on her blog about this and I suggest that you check it out!

What tips do you have to keep safe on the internet?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Multi-Owner Classes in Remind

Multi-Owner Classes in Remind

Remind just launched a new feature that allows for multi-owner classes. This is great for those who coteach classes or who have two advisors or coaches for a sport. If you aren't familiar with Remind it's a way to send text messages and/or e-mails to students in a safe way. There is also a feature, that you can enable, to allow students to send you messages as well.

Here's an overview of Remind, plus some handy quick-start guides and fact sheets -- and this video of a principal talking about how he uses Remind.

Increasing parental engagement and satisfaction:

Principal Adam Welcome uses Remind schoolwide and surveys parents re: engagement and satisfaction: on his last survey, 99% of parents agreed that his Remind messages were helpful and useful. One teacher Remind to ping parents about end-of-year conferences, and had 100% of families show up for the first time ever. See here for a case study.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Renaming a file on Mac

Alice Keeler created this simple video and explanation about how to rename a file on Mac.  You can find her post here.  Her video is embedded below as well.

What other little tips and tricks would help you out as you begin this new school year? 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Plickers - paper based "clickers"

I love the idea of student response systems such as Socrative, but my students don't have individual devices to use.  I came across Plickers and tried it out right away.  To use Plickers in your classroom you only need one device (apple or android).  Students each get a card (that you can print) that looks like a QR code.  Depending on the orientation that students hold the card they are presenting a different answer.  All it takes is a quick pan across the room with your device and you'll get all of the students responses.

I will admit the the setup is a little cumbersome if you want to track individual students.  It's not as easy as some of the other apps, but it's great low tech option.  A couple of notes to help you use them in the classroom.  Make sure that when the students hold up their cards their fingers aren't covering any of the code.  Also, resist the urge to laminate the cards.  Yes they will last longer, but the glare will prevent the camera from properly picking up the image.

What quick assessment techniques do you use in your classroom? 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Top 10 Posts of July and What I've been up to

Summer is half over, but I don't feel like it's been going by fast.  This has been one of the most relaxing summers I've had so far.  I have been doing a lot of blog stuff (as you can I updated the look of this blog and my other blog).  I'm still tweaking it, but I like the way it looks so far.  I have also been working on some side projects.  I've started doing fundraisers and parties with the company Jamberry.  It's a nail wrap and lacquer store.  Other than that I'm doing some updating on school stuff and taking some time to relax.  I hope your summer is going well!

Top 10 Posts of July

  1. StudyBlue Pro - give it a try!
  2. PowToon - Animated Videos (free upgrade to premium)
  3. StudyBlue - flashcards and quizzes
  4. PowToon Slides - Animated Slide Shows
  5. Drive it Home with Chrome
  6. Online Planbooks
  7. Fun Socrative Quizzes
  8. State Standards Reference Apps
  9. Quizdini - online review games
  10. use Google as a timer

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Separating and Combining Columns in Excel

Many student management systems have the ability to download an excel file with student information.  WE often need to manipulate the file to meet our needs.  

This video will show you how to take text that is one column and split it into two columns as well as taking two columns and combining them into one.

I hope this little trick saves you some time.  What other little tricks would help you?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Drive it Home with Chrome

If you are Google obsessed like me you may have heard of the Google Summits run by the EdTechTeam.  I have yet to attend one, but I have found the next best thing!  EdTechTeam has been live streaming and recording some of their sessions.  One session that I recently watched was all about the Chrome browser.  Many people don't give the browser they use a second thought, but you can really do some great things.  Check out this video to learn more about all of the great things you can do with the Chrome browser.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

a little change

I'm working to update the look of my blog a bit to take it to the next level.  The first thing I've done is get a domain name!  You can now get to this blog by going to  You can still use the blogspot address as well.

I hope you like the upcoming update :-)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Setting up Right Click on a Mac

When my school switched over to Macs a few years ago many people struggled to make the conversion from PC.  One thing that was a struggle was not having the right click that they were used to on their PCs.  After realizing that years later coworkers were still struggling with it I have made a short tutorial on how to set it up on your mac.  I hope this helps you out!

What other tips would you like me to share?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Top 10 Posts of June and What I've been up to

I'm sure it can't be just me, but June was a crazy busy month.  My classroom is always a mess and packing everything up at the end of the year is always a challenge.  I share a classroom with another teacher and between the two of us we teach almost every science subject you can think of.  So, as you imagine, we have a lot of stuff.  My goal for next year, as it almost always is, is to get the classroom super organized.  Does anyone has really struggle with organization?  I have tried every tip and trick, but I always feel like the absent minded professor.  I guess we all have something we are always working on.

Top 10 posts of June

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Google Tips from ISTE

This past weekend was the ISTE conference.  For those of you who aren't familiar with ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education, is an organization around EdTech.  Each year they have an annual conference and I wish I would have been able to go.  While I am enjoying the beginnings of my summer break I can't totally leave school behind.  Luckily EdTechTeam has recorded some of their sessions.  Two session really stuck out to me.  The first is a short video about all of the variety of research tools that Google offers.  This is a great video to show students when beginning a research project.  The second is a collection of Googlieness (as they call it).

What are your summer plans?  Do you take a total school break or continue to do stuff?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Top 10 Posts of May and What I've been up to

Well, the school year is winding down and it's been so busy.  In NYS our 8th graders take a science state test at the begining of June.  It was crazy preparing for it, but now that it's over the next challenge comes.  I am preparing my 7th graders for their final exam and my Biology students for the Regents exam that will also serve as their final exam.  Plus I'm trying to prepare myself for the change in my schedule for next year.
 How is your year ending?

Top 10 Posts of May
  1. StudyBlue Pro - give it a try!
  2. PowToon - Animated Videos
  3. ChemThink
  4. Top 10 Posts of April and what I've been up to
  5. Canva - a graphic design program for the design challenged
  6. StudyBlue - flashcards and quizzes
  7. Online Planbooks
  8. Bird Brain Science - science meets the common core
  9. Remind 101 gave me a Badge!
  10. How to temporarily make your Mac dock smaller

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Canva - a graphic design program for the design challenged

If you are anything like me, you see all of the cute graphics and signs on pinterest and wonder by you can't do that.  I have discovered Canva and now I can pretend that I have awesome graphic design skills that I don't really have.

Canva has premade templates that allow to make designs for flyers, posters, invitations, Facebook covers, business cards and so much more.  It's basically drag and drop, so it couldn't be easier!  For the most part Canva is free, but if you want to use any of their premium elements you'll have to pay $1 for each one you want to use.  You can also upload your own images to really personalize your designs.

Canva has just announced that are launching a Canva for Work branch of their website.  Right now I"m still not clear how it's going to be different, but who doesn't like to get in things first, so I signed up to be on the list for the beta release (you should too!)

You can use this program to make posters and decorations for your classroom or students can use it for presentations. You do need to log in, so if students don't have their own e-mail addresses I would suggest you make a generic e-mail address that you can sign up for a an account with.  This way students can log in with that account and you always have access to what they have created.  I have done that for my classes with a simple Outlook e-mail address (I use it for anything that needs to have an account created, plus it also gives you online cloud storage.  More on that in another post).

Do you have a program that you or your students use for creating and designing? 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Top 10 Posts of April and what I've been up to

I can't believe it's May already!  Have the weeks just started flying by for you too.  We have had our state testing the past month, which has certainly become an experience.  I'm getting ready to finish up my school year - I have about a month and a half left.  I'm teaching a new class next year that I haven't taught for a few years so I'll be using my "vacation" to plan for that.

What are your plans after your school year ends?

Top 10 Posts of April
  1. StudyBlue Pro - give it a try!
  2. PowToon - Animated Videos
  3. Augmented Reality in the Science Classroom
  4. StudyBlue - flashcards and quizzes
  5. Google Classroom Updates
  6. Online Planbooks
  7. Spotlight to search your Mac
  8. Sharing Resources with Google Docs
  9. Flubaroo - automatically grade online assignments
  10. how to use GradeCam

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Google Classroom Updates

Have you heard the great news?  Google Classroom has made some updates. Now you can have a co-teacher in Classroom.  That means both of you can post updates and assignments.

You can also create assignments and save them in draft mode.  This is something that I have wanted (and put lots of feedback in for).  Now I can create a bunch of assignments when I have time and save them as a draft.  Then I can make them go live when I'm ready.  I'm very excited about these changes.

These, and past updates, came to be because teachers like you submitted feedback to Google about what they wanted to see.  In the bottom right corner of the website you will see a little question mark.  Click on it and submit feedback and let Google know what you want.  Do it everyday!!  (that's what I do).

Now that drafts have been implemented, I have started to submit feedback about "forcing" a turn in.  I would like a way to turn in assignments for students who just never do it themselves.  At some point I am just going to grade what they have done and it needs to be turned in for me to do that.

Subscribe to this blog

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Augmented Reality in the Science Classroom

This weekend I made a presentation about Augmented Reality in the science classroom.  Everyone seemed to really be excited about using these apps in their classroom.  I've posted my presentation below that you can benefit from it as well!  Most of these apps are available for both Android and Apple.

For those of you who aren't familiar with augmented reality, it's a way to superimpose a computer generated image onto a real world experience.  I know this doesn't explain it very well, so I suggest you download one of the apps and try it out.  Here is a quick video demonstrating one of my favorite apps Anatomy 4D.

This post also appears on my other blog Savvy Secondary Science

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spotlight to search your Mac

Have you ever went to look for a file but couldn't remember what you called it or where you saved it? You are going to love the Spotlight feature. Searching the spotlight will search your computer for apps, documents, images and other files. In addition, it also gives your suggestions based on other things, such as e-mail and your dictionary.

You find the spotlight in the top right corner of your mac. It looks like a magnifying glass.

Below is a screenshot that shows what it looks like when I searched for "periodic table".

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Top 10 Posts of March and what I've been up to

Overall I would say that this month went well.  For some reason, I've been really organized and that helps a TON!  I have been planned more than two days in advance and have had copies made for the whole next week.  I know that this is so important, but it doesn't always come easy to me.  It's something that I've been working on and now that I feel that I'm caught up it's something that I think I can maintain.  If you have have any strategies to stay organized and stay on top of things, please send them my way!

Top 10 Posts of March
  1. StudyBlue Pro - give it a try!
  2. PowToon - Animated Videos (free upgrade to premium...
  3. how to use GradeCam
  4. PowToon Slides - Animated Slide Shows
  5. Online Planbooks
  6. Random Name Picker
  7. Fun Socrative Quizzes
  8. Chat comes to Remind
  9. How to temporarily make your Mac dock smaller
  10. Flubaroo - automatically grade online assignments

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How to temporarily make your Mac dock smaller

The next couple of posts will be a mini-series about quick tips for using your Mac computer.  If there is something that you've always wanted to know how to do, now's the time to ask!

If there is ever a time when the Mac dock is getting in your way then this tip is going to going to help you out!

On your dock look for the vertical line separating your dock. It is usually near your documents folder.

When you hover over it, your mouse turns into a line with arrows on each end. You can then click in drag your mouse up or down to enlarge or shrink your dock.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fun Socrative Quizzes

Socrative is a great program that allows you to collect feedback from student.  If you don't know about it yet, go on over to this post.

Socrative has created several quizzes that you can import into your account.  They are great to use if you want something fun to use to teach kids how to use the app or if you are demonstrating it to other teachers.  Some of the topics of the premade quizzes include 80s Trivia, State Facts, Subject Verb Agreement and 2004 Red Sox.

To see the complete list and find out how to import them into your account visit this page.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Random Name Picker

Random Name Picker is a great tool on the ClassTools website.  Two great features that I love about it is that it doesn't require any log in credentials and will run on an iPad.

Once you are on the site, click on edit/save and edit the list to include your students' names.  Once you have done that you can save your spinner.  The site will ask you for a password and then create a URL for your personal spinner.  Be sure to save that URL or make a bookmark.  Now you can access your spinner any time by going to the website and entering your password.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

how to use GradeCam

I've talked about GradeCam before and how much I love it!  To help everyone use this great tool I've made some short screencasts on how to use it.  If you aren't familiar with GradeCam, I recommend that you check out my previous post about it. In short, GradeCam allows you to print out your own bubble sheets for an assignment and then grade them with any camera on your computer or tablet or a document camera.  A great bonus that I love is that students don't need to have a number 2 pencil (one less issue to deal with!).

setting up your class

creating your first assignment

grading your assignment

Do you use GradeCam?  Is there something else that you use to grade assignments?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chat comes to Remind

You may have read a previous post of mine on Remind.  Today Remind announced a new feature that they are rolling out.  CHAT!!!!  I am so excited about this as this will finally give my students a chance to respond to the messages that I send out.  While some people may not like this feature, the best part is that you can turn it on or off.  In addition, if you choose to turn on chat you can pause the chats at any time.  I was on a hangout with Remind to preview this new feature and it looks great.   I'm really excited for this feature and I hope that you will check it out.  You can go to the Remind website and put yourself on the waiting list to get this feature as soon as it is rolled out.  You can also read some more about this feature.

Do you think this will be useful in your classroom?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Top 10 Post of February and what I've been up to

Is it spring yet?  If your are living in the Northeast I know you must be sick of the snow like I am.  I'm sure other areas of the US have a bunch of snow as well.  Being that this was a short month I don't have much to report.  We had a week off for February break so that was a great chance for me to get ahead in my planning.  I am so much more relaxed when I'm planned far ahead, but my procrastinator nature doesn't always lend to that.  Oh, how could I forget the best part of February?!  My students finally got school Google accounts and I can't wait to explore all of the uses for them.  We have already been using Classroom and I can't wait to get my students set up with their CK12 account.

How was your February?

Top Posts of February

  1. StudyBlue Pro - give it a try!
  2. PowToon - Animated Videos (free upgrade to premium...
  3. Triptico - newly resigned website makes the resour...
  4. PowToon Slides - Animated Slide Shows
  5. Online Planbooks
  6. Flubaroo - automatically grade online assignments
  7. Keeping your Google Account Safe
  8. Shelf Life - videos from AMNH
  9. Remind 101 gave me a Badge!
  10. Instantly grade multiple choice tests and quizzes

Friday, February 27, 2015

Triptico - newly resigned website makes the resources even better!

I just received the e-mail below from the creator of Triptico.

A New Triptico Website
New Website, New Blog, New Features and Lots of Brand New Interactive Resources

The new Triptico website has arrived:

This new website replaces the existing site and app and will hopefully have lots of benefits:
  • Nothing to install
  • Access the resources simply by visiting the site
  • Create anywhere and save to the cloud
  • Create groups and shared folders for easy sharing with colleagues
  • A new activity stream of ideas and updates
  • New and improved interactive learning resources
  • And much, much more.

There is also a new blog which I will fill with tutorials and ideas (such as a guide to the new version of the popular 'Word Magnet' resource).

If you have (or have ever had) a Triptico subscription then you can visit the site and sign in immediately.

If you are a free user, you can visit the site and sign up for a free account to access the many free resources and features.

I hope that you will enjoy visiting the new website.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Shelf Life - videos from AMNH

Shelf Life is a new monthly video series from the American Museum of Natural History.  The AMNH is sharing its vast resources with everyone, and you don't even have to go to New York to see them.  Most of the videos are on rarely-seen items from their collection.
"Dive deep inside the Museum's collection to discover the past, present, and future of its approximately 33 million artifacts and specimens in this new series with original monthly videos." - AMNH

Right now there are 3 episodes out, with a new one being posted each month.  Episode One is entitled 33 Million Things and gives you a glimpse at all AMNH has to offer.  Episode Two, Turtles and Taxonomy, talks about the science of classification.  Six Ways to Prepare a Coelacanth is the third episode.  This one focuses on prehistoric fish.  Episodes to come include: Skull of the Olinguito and How to Time Travel to a Star.

This post is cross posted on my science blog, Savvy Secondary Science.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Keeping your Google Account Safe

Do you use Google for almost everything like me?  I'm sure you want to protect all of your data.  Google has a great way to do this called Two Step Verification.  Basically this is a way to make sure that even if someone figures out your password they can't get into your account unless they also have the authentication device (such as your phone).

Basically the way it works, is that the first time you log into a new device you'll need your password and a code that you can get via text or phone call.  It sounds like an extra step, but you only need to do it once per device and it's an added layer or protection for your account.

Check out this link to learn more.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Top 10 Posts of January and What I've been up to

Happy February! I hope all of your are staying warm.  If you live in the Northeast you are probably trying to deal with all the snow that we just got and the snow that we are supposed to get.  I'm trying to think positively about it and think that this extra time off from school is not going to stress me out that I need to catch up on things, but give me a time to work on plans and get ahead.  My school is going Google this year and I'm piloting it with my students starting this month.  I'm so excited to utilize all that it can do!

Top 10 Posts of January 
  1. Flubaroo - automatically grade online assignments
  2. Instantly grade multiple choice tests and quizzes
  3. StudyBlue Pro - give it a try!
  4. PowToon - Animated Videos (free upgrade to premium...
  5. ITL Wearable Technology: What are you wearing in 2...
  6. how to use any phone (including "dumb" phones) to ...
  7. Online Planbooks
  8. Remind 101 gave me a Badge!
  9. BrainPop meets Primary Sources
  10. ChemThink

Sunday, January 25, 2015

ITL Wearable Technology: What are you wearing in 2015? Webinar

ITL Wearable Technology: What are you wearing in 2015?
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 8:00:00 PM EST - 9:00:00 PM EST

In January, Intel Engage welcomes Naomi Harm and Maya Georgieva as they showcase the latest and greatest wearable technology. Wearable tech is the hottest thing in technology today bringing together programming with "the Internet of Things" to allow you now to be a designer and a maker related to STEM, health, fashion and much more. Learn how you can make a fashion statement with innovative wearable technology.

Visit this link to register for this webinar

Saturday, January 24, 2015

BrainPop meets Primary Sources

Take a look at this post from BrainPop about how they are connecting primary sources to their movies.  Right now about 20 of their videos have primary sources attached to them, but more are being added.  To access the primary sources simply click on the activities icon from the main topic page and then you'll see a tab for primary sources.  Once you are on that page there is a worksheet that you can print out and then a link to the primary source.  If you take a look at the images below you will see the link on the Galileo page to the primary source, which in this case happens to be another quick video to watch.  I think this is a great way to connect subject areas.  Many students associate primary source documents with Social Studies, but now they can see that primary sources are in all subject areas

This post is cross posted on my science teaching blog Savvy Secondary Science

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Physics interactive simulations

I wanted to share an exciting new product launch on CK-12. They have taken the next step in digital learning by building high quality free Physics interactive simulations - all free! These simulations encourage students to explore, engage and learn by blending the physics, abstract and real world experiences around them. Check them out here:
You can also learn more about the free, editable textbooks that CK-12 offers by looking at this post.

What types of simulations do you use?

Friday, January 9, 2015

PDF to Word [video]

Last year I wrote a post about a site called PDF to Word and I wanted to remind people about it.  In addition, I made a quick video showing how this site works.  I hope this helps you out!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Top 10 Posts of December and what I've been up to

Happy 2015!  I hope that all of you enjoyed your winter vacation.  I had a nice couple of days off at home before I went away on vacation with family.  Now it's back to work time.  The only bad thing is that I have to wake up early again, LOL.  For 2015 I am going to continue working on new ways to integrate technology into my classroom.  I'll keep trying new things and sharing them with you!

Top 10 Posts of December
  1. PowToon - Animated Videos
  2. Online Planbooks
  3. StudyBlue Pro - give it a try!
  4. Bird Brain Science - science meets the common core
  5. URL shorteners
  6. PowToon Slides - Animated Slide Shows
  7. State Standards Reference Apps
  8. Top Posts of November and What I've been up to
  9. Remind 101 gave me a Badge!
  10. Bill Nye Worksheets