Learning.com: great for subs, and E-Rate compliance

My lovely fiance gave me a virus last week, and I’ve been out of school a couple of days recovering. Luckily, preparing for a sub isn’t too taxing, especially with my learning.com rosters and assignments already set up for just such an occasion. Post the link on Google Classroom, and bam, finished.

Learning.com offers online lessons with auto-grading. (It also has discussion and journal options). Students watch an animated story and answer questions (multiple choice, fill in the blank, drag and drop) as the plot progresses. Lessons include Cyber-bullying, Blogs, Internet Essentials, Composing Emails, Sending Emails and more. Having students do this while I am away is ideal, because it is easy for any sub to manage, and doesn’t require technical expertise or content knowledge. I know I can’t be the only technology teacher that isn’t comfortable leaving plans that rely on a unknown substitute!

The Ohio Department of Education has purchased this program for use in all pubic K-12 districts (and non-public charters). You can find out if your district has already registered, how learning.com complies with E-Rate and CIPA, and more here. I suggest getting your roster put together and assigning lessons ahead of time, so that when you get sick, it will be quick and easy to get those sub plans finished.

UPDATE: 2 days after publishing this post, I got the following email, which I have permission to share.


There is still time to get your students started with the Easy Tech Online Safety Curriculum. Whether you are preparing for a possible E-Rate audit, needing to offer standards based lessons on cyberbullying and online safety, or just wanting to send additional district personnel to a workshop to learn how to implement it, this upcoming March 7 hands-on workshop is for you.

INFOhio is hosting an additional workshop March 7 from 9-2 on this powerful curriculum and its new mobile app, available for free to ALL Ohio schools, public and private, through the Ohio Department of Education.

Learn how your AUP needs to be revised and about the 3 key pieces of data you need to collect to be ready for an eRate audit! Since 2012 schools have been required to

  • provide education for Appropriate Online Behavior and Cyberbullying for students,
  • state that they are providing the education in their AUP and
  • be able to provide documentation for the lessons to be compliant for eRate requirements.

Learn how the EasyTech Online Safety Curriculum provides the lessons, resources and documentation for these changes at no cost to Ohio schools. Join Tricia Kluener from Ross Local Schools to see how these changes can be implemented in your district.

The Easy Tech Online Safety curriculum not only meets but exceeds those requirements, covering topics on appropriate online behavior, keeping personal information safe and cyberbullying awareness with lessons, journaling and discussions. All the assesments and reporting necessary to meet the national E-Rate requirements for student Internet safety training are included along with a learning management system, a mobile app, and numerous resources for teachers and parents.

In the first semester of this school year 309,876 students across Ohio have been enrolled in the EasyTech Online Safety Curriculum for K-12? There’s still plenty of time to enroll your students!

Find out how you can successfully implement the curriculum in your school the upcoming hands-on workshop, March 7, at OhioNET, 1500 W. Lane Ave., Columbus.

 Register yourself and additional district personnel now at http://onlinesaeftymar72016.eventbrite.com/

To find information on the curriculum and the E-Rate requirements, go to https://www.infohio.org/educators/eptools/internet-safety

To sign your district up for the EasyTech curriculum, go to http://resources.learning.com/acton/form/1499/0144:d-0001/0/index.htm

We recommend that someone in technical support be your district’s key contact on the registration form.

To learn more about this curriculum and see if it’s right for your district before registering, check out INFOhio’s recorded webinar on EasyTech at http://bit.ly/1ECrVt1.



Pixabay: An oasis of lovely, free images

So, something cool happened this weekend. A children’s book, Mother Goose and Her Goslings, was published on Amazon, and one of my images is in it! You can download it today, for free.

How did this happen?

my Pixabay images

In September 2014, I uploaded 14 photographs to Pixabay. Creating, rather than always consuming, is a value of mine. I shared some photos because I though that other people might want my images to create their own works. Through Pixabay, it is sharing in the truest sense of the word, because the images are copyright-free, using the Creative Commons license that allows for use without attribution. It was very kind (but unnecessary) of the author to ask permission to use my gosling photo, and mention me in the acknowledgements. I am so glad I was able to provide a useful image!

How can I use the site?

  • Download, modify, and use high-quality images
    • without worrying if you are violating copyright law
    • for personal, educational, and commercial purposes
  • You, and/or your students can upload and tag photos for others to find and use
    • Watch that download count go up. It’s so fun! I’m amazed that I have 1,722.
    • Try to predict which photos will be viewed or downloaded most
    • Adjust the tags to make your photos easier to find



EasyBib Extension Makes Citing Sources Simple

Teaching middle school students how to do the research process is tough, but important. They are unfamiliar with almost every aspect–using advanced search techniques to find relevant information, evaluating those sources, putting facts in their own words without inadvertently plagiarizing–but properly citing sources in MLA format is not only an alien concept, it requires a meticulousness that few adults possess. Thankfully, EasyBib extension is available to automate and break down creating a Works Cited page into manageable bits.

Here’s the intro video from the makers of EasyBib:

And below is my first attempt at showing my students how to use it. I redid this video for my quarter 2 students, and I’m hoping to nail it for quarter 3. (I don’t have my mic with me today, so I can’t record Q3’s video with good or even reasonable audio quality, although I would like to.) In any case, though it isn’t perfect, my video walks through getting on a website, using EasyBib extension to create a citation, and then exporting the formatted Works Cited.

If only this existed while I was in college, I’d have used more sources when writing my papers. Anyone else avoid using more sources because citations were so time consuming/fear inducing? That doesn’t need to be the case any more. Please share this valuable (but free!) extension with teachers and students alike!

NEOTIE Magazine, Issue 2

Still looking for a gift for your favorite technophile, technophobe, or techbetween? The new issue of NEOTIE Magazine, Simple, but Effective Technology Ideas, is out in time for the holidays! I can think of no better theme.

I’ve got an article in there on page 12 titled Making Use of Color Coding that is applicable for teachers K-12+. Check it out! Shout out to John and Mac for modeling in the pictures, Megan Cameron for her quote, and @JaelitheRuss for her legit and timely editing.

There is a lot of good information in there, so browse away to find what’s relevant to you. I personally love the hilarious pictures in @SeanWhelanTech’s Rule the Device, and the curated lists in Who To Follow?? on Twitter.

Most unexpectedly, I am pretty sure I can say I’m a centerfold now…along with my fellow Ignite Speakers, the smart, beautiful, and talented @AnnRad21, @PHS_STEM, and @AmyRoediger.NEOTIE Magazine Issue 2 picture

Evaluating Websites

Digital Citizenship. What does it mean? Well, part of it is being able to navigate the online world with a sense of place, getting out of the seedy spots quickly and being aware of when you’re in the right neighborhood. A week and a half ago, I was helping out at the first meeting of the Ohio Technology Standards Revision Work Group. There, educators from across our great state agreed:  evaluating websites, apps, etc. is a skill that every student will need in order to succeed.

This past year, I helped my middle school students think about the quality and credibility of the websites they wanted to use for research by giving them a list of Yes or No questions to ask themselves about the site. They highlighted in green or red, to get a visual summary of the positive and negative points. Then they added up the Yes’s and wrote a short paragraph explaining why they think the site is good or bad for their research.  Below’s an example image, and a link to the updated, blank Google Doc. Feel free to copy this, and modify it for your own students. It is adapted from Common Sense Media’s lesson on Identifying High Quality Sites.Yes no questions highlighted green or red


Next year, I’d like to share those same questions with students, but allow them to choose more options for providing me with their thoughts. Two options are voice annotation, and screen capture video.

For recording voice in a Google Document, there’s an add-on called Kaizena Mini. I haven’t tested it out with my students yet, but it seems easy enough to use. If you go into the Add-On menu, then click Get add-ons…you can search for it there.Get Add Ons in Add Ons menu

Once your students get it all set up, they select some text, click +New Feedback, and then click the microphone button to start recording. Kaizena Mini interfaceAfter they share their document with you, you can open Kaizena Mini from your Add-Ons menu to listen to what they have to say. For students who choose this option, I will have them also insert screenshots of the website showing what they are talking about in their recordings.

Screen capture videos are the next level of this same idea. While researching screen capture on our Chromebooks, I found that Screencastify doesn’t work due to low internal memory. (I like to use Screencastify for my own recordings, and if you have laptops or computers that can handle it, it’s a nice option). What did work, was TechSmith’s Snagit App and Snagit Extension.

Once your students get Snagit all set up and they are ready to use it to share their screen and their voice, have them click the Snagit icon in the extension bar, and then screen.


They may have to click Allow to let the camera and microphone power on. Then once they finish giving their virtual tour of the website they chose to evaluate, they click stop capture and then have these options to choose from. What’s great about Snagit, is that it is integrated with Google Drive. Videos save there automatically. Students can share them just to you, put them out there into the world on their own YouTube channel, or some intermediate option. Here’s an example I made.

Snagit share options


There is no shortage of information in the world today. I believe we must teach our children to sift through all of that, to critically consider what’s worth paying attention to and what’s not, and to communicate why. We should not expect our students to be thrown into the swirling cacophony of digital voices and not drown in it. Helping them learn to evaluate websites and other digital information gives them the craft to navigate past the dangerously irrelevant rapids and into the source of learning.