Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cherry Creek Bright Spot: Using Technology to Create a Positive Classroom Culture

Creating a positive climate and culture in your classroom at the beginning of the year is essential. April Wurtsmith, a fifth grade teacher in her second year of teaching at Independence Elementary, really wanted to start the year right last fall, making sure she and her students got to know each other well to create a positive, inviting classroom for the year. Check out the video below to see how she accomplished this, along with introducing her students to technology skills they would use throughout the year in her class.  

If you are interested in learning more about WeVideo or Google Classroom, or you would like purchasing information about WeVideo, click here to contact your Tech and Learning Coaches. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: 2016 Summer Learning Opportunities

If you are searching for opportunities to brush up on your technology integration skills and learn about new ways to be innovative with technology, here are some conferences and classes to think about attending/taking over the summer...

CCSD SLA- (Cherry Creek's Summer Learning Academy) June 6-10, ISF (Instructional Support Facility) and Thunder Ridge Middle School

This is a conference with sessions taught by Cherry Creek teachers, coaches, and leaders. Sessions focus on English/Language Arts,
Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, English Language Acquisition, Technology, and World Language. On Wednesday, June 8th, SLA will host a featured speaker, Dr. Sue Brookhart.  

ISTE- (International Society for Technology in Education)- June 26-29, Denver, CO

The ISTE conference pulls in educators and educational leaders from around the world, and it's being hosted right in our backyard at the Denver Convention Center this year. Expect engaging sessions, fantastic keynotes including Michio Kaku, Ruha Benjamin, and Michelle Cordy, and countless vendors showcasing their newest, most exciting hardware, software, and apps. The video below explains why you should attend ISTE 2016.

InnEdCO's Google Apps in Education Learning Academy- June 25, Denver, CO
This year there is no InnEdCO (Innovative Education Colorado) conference in Keystone this summer, since ISTE is in Colorado. However, InnEdCo is hosting a Google academy to kick off the ISTE conference on Sat, June 25. Keynote speakers include Alice Keeler and Jamie Casap. Choose a learning pathway that meets your needs within four strands: Intro to Apps for Beginners, Advanced Apps for Googlers, Google Apps for Leadership, and Google Apps for Admins. 

BLC- Building Learning Communities- July 20-22, Boston, MA
If you have ever heard Alan November speak, or have read one of his books, you know why this conference is a recommended one. There will be multiple, excellent keynotes including Eric Mazur and David J. Malan, and Alan November will serve as the host of the conference. This conference focuses on creating and enhancing relationships for "more meaningful teaching and learning enhanced by technology."

Schoology NEXT- July 11-13, Miami, FL

If you are using Schoology or if you are interested in using Schoology, this is a fantastic conference! This year's keynote speaker is the one and only Bill Nye, "The Science Guy." One of the highlights of the conference is learning about upcoming additions and improvements to Schoology before anyone else. In addition to learning about Schoology and what it can do for you, you can improve your knowledge in the areas of Leadership, BYOD and Mobile Learning, Integrating Technology and Content, and Hot Topics in Education.

There are many online courses 
being offered this spring and summer through eNet Learning Online. These courses can be taken for graduate credit, but every participant will receive CEU credits. Some of the courses offered include Designing Blended Learning, Curate, Collaborate, and Create: A Wealth of Resources, and Creativity in the Mobile Classroom. Click the link above to learn more about the courses offered. 

Dominican University Online

Are you switching grade levels or content areas next year? Do you want to integrate more technology with your curriculum next year but have trouble finding the time to plan and do your research? If what you need is time, and you want to earn credit for it, then check out the Dominican University Online course, Developing Curriculum to Engage All Learners for 2016-2017. Through this course, you can earn up to 6 credits this summer doing what you already do, planning to help engage all learners in your classroom.

Hopefully you have found something here to pique your interest and save yourself from boredom during the summer months. If your summer is already full of travel and family time, stay tuned to learn about more learning opportunities when we return in August.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: Noteworthy Collaboration with OneNote & Class Notebook

While we use Google Apps heavily in CCSD, our district has access to Office 365 as well, which also provides an entire suite of online collaborative tools for students & staff.  In addition to familiar apps like Word & PowerPoint Online, Office 365 gives us even more collaborative possibilities with OneNote and Class Notebook.

Worth a mention: kids already have access to Office 365 and can use all of these apps on a Chromebook. Staff users can currently access Office 365 through

So what makes OneNote worth, well, noting?  Why would we choose OneNote when we already have Google Apps?
  • Organize, curate, & create content in one spot:  an online digital notebook with different color-coded tabs or sections and unlimited pages give students a better way to interact with multiple files, pages, and multimedia content than we currently have with Google Drive.
  • Insert Recorded Audio directly into pages:  you can record audio anywhere in OneNote, and if you're using the free software on Mac/PC, you can also record your webcam.  We don't have a native way currently to insert audio into Google Apps.
  • Insert Elements into a Page (Anywhere):  the ability to upload files, insert images, add video or text boxes anyplace in a page makes this a very flexible tool.  We can add images in Google Docs, but we are restricted in the layout, and we can't insert other file types (like PDF) right into the Doc.
  • Auto Filtered Image Search:  the online image search is already strictly filtered for safe content and copyright usage when in OneNote.  A Google image search doesn't always filter out the inappropriate stuff and you have to change the setting to find copyright-free options.
  • Tasks or Checklists:  checklist options for keeping track of tasks or to-do lists are built into OneNote.  Google offers Google Keep, but it isn't embedded into the other apps, which isn't great for students who are doing projects or multiple steps or self-evaluations.
  • Adding Drawing or Handwriting onto Pages:  You can freely draw or handwrite using a touch-enabled device (or the free app for iOS and Android).  We don't yet have a good option for student drawings in Google Apps for iOS or Android, nor do we currently have a way for a teacher to provide handwritten feedback.

OneNote Class Notebook

While you can create individual or personal notebooks in OneNote, teachers can also create a class notebook that contains individual sections for each student, a Collaboration Space for the class to work together, and a Content Library for read-only content.

Teachers decide when setting up the notebook which sections to put into each student's area, and other sections can be added or pushed later.

Students see only their own section, the Collaboration Space, and the Content Library, but teachers can see all student sections, can provide digital worksheets for students, and can give feedback on the student pages.  For those using mobile or touch-enabled devices, you can draw directly on the pages.

Possible uses in the classroom:
  • journals or reading logs where all entries are collected in one place 
  • pages where students can record themselves thinking through a problem, reading text aloud, or interviewing each other (video recording is an option using a PC or Mac, but audio can be captured on the web)
  • snapshots of student work for digital sharing and peer review
  • project notebooks to track group work, tasks, and ideas/notes
  • multimedia pages built by students to support background knowledge for new units or concepts
  • a collaborative written or audio storybook with drawings and images (drawing requires using the tablet app or a touch interface)
  • a virtual binder for different subjects or content areas that can be used throughout the year
Class Notebook also can integrate directly with Schoology.  If added in a Schoology course, students will be added to the notebook automatically when first accessing it.  If using OneNote on a Mac or PC with the free plug-in, a teacher can also create & send assignments or pages to students.  Very handy!

We have many great tools for collaboration in CCSD.  If your students could benefit from having organized pages and sections along with options for audio & drawing, OneNote is definitely noteworthy!  To learn more and/or get started, check out the OneNote in Education Blog and the OneNote for Teachers site.

Tuesday Tech Tip: Taking It With You

If you're leaving the district, there may be some digital items that you want to take with you (or need to make available for others).  If you use Google Apps or Schoology, here's how you can share, keep or take your stuff.

Google Apps

The most important thing to remember about items that live in Google Drive is that once your account is deleted, all of your items become inaccessible, even if you've shared them.  Additionally, you can't transfer ownership to an account that lives outside of the district (in our case, an address that doesn't have "").   Here's how to handle your Google files:
  1. Transfer ownership of files that others still need to access.  If you have shared files that in-district folks will need to continue using, be sure you transfer ownership.  You can either do this on an individual or folder level (using the "Sharing" options) or you can submit a ticket our HelpDesk and they can transfer all files that belong to your user to another in-district account.
  2. Use Google Take-out to download all of your Google data.  If you have files that you want to take with you, you can download your files (the default for Google Docs is to convert to MS Office equivalents but you can change those options).  To get your Google account data (including your docs, drawings, slides, forms and spreadsheets), go to and select the services for which you wish to download your data.  Google will create downloadable archive files and email you when they are ready to be accessed.

Schoology Materials & Resources

If you created content in Schoology, and you still would like to access & use it, you have a couple of  options.  You can create a free, personal account and share your collections with your personal account or you can export items from your Personal Resources if you will be using a different Learning Management System (LMS) in the future.
  1. Continue to use Schoology with a personal account.  You may be leaving our district, but that doesn't mean to have to stop using Schoology.  While we have the Enterprise version in Cherry Creek Schools, Schoology also has free accounts that you can use as a teacher.  
    1. Go to and signing up for a free teacher account, using a personal email address (like Gmail or HotMail).  
    2. Make a "connection" between your personal account and your CCSD account (see this support article for directions on making a connection).
    3. Create a collection in your Personal Resources and share that collection with your personal Schoology account.
    4. Go into your personal Schoology account and create a new folder, moving the shared collection items into it for continued access.  (* Use the collection sharing directions above to share items with in-district colleagues or use an existing Schoology Group to make sure your shared items are still accessible by others.)
  2. Export your Personal Resources into a Common Cartridge format for import into another LMS.  If you will be moving to another district that uses a different LMS than Schoology, you can export your items into a Common Cartridge format.  Most LMS platforms allow for import of CC formatted files.  
    1. Go to your Personal Resources area and use the arrow pull-down to choose "Export."
    2. Select the folder or collection you wish to export.
    3. Schoology will create the export file for you in your Transfer area (, notifying you by email when it is ready for download.
If you have any questions about this (or how to get other items you own, like items from your CCSD server), contact our HelpDesk or check the Backyard.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: RealtimeBoard = Real Awesome!

RealtimeBoard is not a new app here on our blog, but since it has had so many helpful updates since the last post (Dec. 2014) it�s worth sharing again as we continue to look at collaboration in the classroom and beyond the classroom walls.

What is it?
RealtimeBoard is an online collaborative whiteboard space that can be saved, edited, and shared. Students can work together on a project/brainstorm/design by adding pictures, videos, drawings, notes, comments, stickers and more at any time from any computer. Instead of giving each group a limited amount of whiteboard or poster space to do their work, why not give them UNLIMITED whiteboard space?! Check out the presentation below for some ideas on how to use it in the classroom.

Awesome features
1) RealtimeBoard can connect with your Google Drive so sharing files is as simple as adding any other type of file for the rest of the group to see.
2) Announcements and notification can happen with @mentions in the comments or chat feature with other collaborators. Never miss an update and get your questions answered!
3) Boards can be shared with a link (or attached/uploaded into Schoology)
4) Tags can help organize stickie notes and other elements on the board for quick organization
5) Lots of pre-made templates to choose from, or students/teachers can start building from scratch!
6) Frames (their version of slides) allow creators to create a presentation for viewers that highlights different areas of the board rather than sharing the whole thing with limited navigation control. (A lot like how Prezi works, if that is a tool you're familiar with.)

What now?
Ready to get started with an educator account? Click HERE! The educator account includes all the premium features and unlimited collaborators.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: The 4C's...Collaboration

Collaboration is �when members of an inclusive learning community work together as equals to assist students to succeed in the classroom� (Powell). Friend and Cook (1992, pp. 6-28) explain that collaboration has six defining characteristics: (a) collaboration is voluntary, (b) collaboration requires parity among participants, (c) collaboration is based on mutual goals, (d) collaboration depends on shared responsibility for participation and decision making, (e) individuals who collaborate share their resources, and (f) individuals who collaborate share accountability for outcomes.

What is collaboration?

Although this is a fine and detailed definition, sometimes it is important to simplify an often well-known, but misunderstood concept.

Yes, true collaboration needs to be voluntary, with mutual goals and a shared responsibility and accountability, but at its heart, collaboration is when people (teachers, students, administration) work together toward a shared goal. This applies to students in a classroom and leadership within a school district or building. True collaboration require an interdependence �characterized by trust, norms of give-and-take, shared responsibilities, consensus-building and conflict resolution mechanisms, shared power and authority and shared information and decision-making systems� (Anderson-Butcher, Lawson, Bean, Boone, Kwiatkowski, et al., 2004, p. 2).

Why is collaboration important?

Collaboration is such an important skill, both for students and adults, because we live in a world of design-thinking. Although human beings are social creatures, collaboration isn�t necessarily easy for everyone; however, true innovation comes from being a part of a learning community where there is time to think critically, and re-energize our love of learning. Whereas some teachers are used to working in isolation because they are a content specialist, effective schools and organizations establish a culture of collaboration where students are the responsibility of all teachers, not just one. Collaboration improves teacher efficacy, through professional development and learning opportunities, which in turn, improves student performance. Having a professional, innovative culture reduces teacher burn-out because teachers are willing to share with each other, support each other, and learn together.

How does one foster collaboration?

Fostering collaboration comes from a structured process for exchanging ideas and insights, content and curriculum, with colleagues. So, how does one design structures that support collaboration? Design principles and strategies for collaboration and collaborative leadership are numerous; however, here are the three I find most important: (a) environment, (b) structure, and (c) purpose. Creating an environment of trust is the first priority for anyone wanting to collaborate. The ability to compromise will be difficult for some; however, in order to obtain a common goal, teachers must be unified in a single purpose. Collaborative teachers must agree to this purpose before they can

Having a structure for collaboration is the best way to ensure that you and your teammates are able to continually collaborate across a variety of topics/problems. Luckily, educational technology tools are built for cooperative learning and collaboration. Honestly, I can�t remember what collaboration looked like before Google Apps. I think we used colorful sticky notes, index cards, markers, and chart paper. The great thing about Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is that you can create online documents, presentations, drawings, forms, calendar events, and spreadsheets that you can share with other people not in the same room or building or country, all editing simultaneously. Your content is automatically saved and stored for remote access from any device. If necessary, you can also export an content you create online and use it offline. Google Hangouts allows you to bring remote groups of people together to communicate and collaborate. In the end, remember the importance of everyone working toward a shared goal. With that in mind, it doesn�t matter which digital tool you use. In fact, it might be worth breaking out the markers and chart paper in order to reconnect with your colleagues!


In case you are on the lookout for new tools for collaborating, here are a few of my favorite. These free applications can enable a variety of collaborative teaching and learning.

Slack is an online communication tool that allows you to collaborate with your teammates. You can follow various conversations that are sorted into �channels�, as well as integrate other services (e.g.: IFFTTT, Dropbox).


Dropbox is an online tools that allows people to access various documents, files, and articles. You can access Dropbox from any browser by creating �shared folders� that are visible to every team member who has access. Although I prefer Google Drive to Dropbox, I have used both and can appreciate the ease of creating a new folder on your computer, inviting others to view, and having it appear on your teammates� computer.

Realtime Board
Realtime Board an online whiteboard for visual team collaboration. Collaborators can add pictures, flowcharts, drawings, videos, sticky notes, office documents and Google Drive files on an unlimited white canvas. Teachers can discuss any posted content with colleagues as they are brainstorming and co-creating group projects.
CCSD Instructional Technology Blog

Padlet is a digital bulletin board, which lets you "post" notes that can be rearranged, organized, collected, and shared. Images, links, and other information can be inserted into the posted notes. This is a great tool for creating exit tickets or other formative check-ins with students.

CCSD Tech Blog Posts: Collaboration

Learning is a social act. Student collaboration and discussion are essential elements of an engaging classroom and promote deeper understanding. By focusing on creating collaborative student learning communities, teachers promote STEM-foundational thinking.  Students, in turn, will take responsibility for their learning and �feel responsible for each other�s learning� (Walker, 2012, p. 86). A classroom that promotes and facilitates collaboration is one that promotes positive classroom behavior and a shared determination to achieve.  

For more information, here are some fantastic TEDx talks by Zak Olmsted Heimerl and Jim Tamm.  


Anderson-Butcher, D., Lawson, H., Bean, J., Boone, B., Kwiatkowski, A., et al. (2004). Implementation guide: The Ohio community collaboration model for school improvement. Columbus, OH: The Ohio Department of Education.

Friend, M., & Cook, L. (1992). The new including: How it really works. Instructor, 101(7), 30-36.

Walker, E. N. (2012). Building mathematics learning communities: Improving outcomes in urban high schools. New York: Teachers College Press.

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

When Technology Teacher Jen Sevy from Fox Hollow Elementary kept hearing her 5th grade students explain how they learned to do things they...