Category Archives: Web 2.0 Tools

Flexibility through Mirroring

As teachers across Gwinnett County use eCLASS C&I tool to assist in reaching the transformational level of teaching, they are seeing the benefit of offering students choice of the best strategies and tools to show their learning in their classrooms.

ForresterIn innovative classrooms, Gwinnett teachers at all levels –  elementary through high school campuses –  leverage available technologies to facilitate collaboration. Students are encouraged to bring their own devices, and schools are investing in numerous digital resources.

In such transformed classrooms, technology tools are seamless. At Grayson Elementary, a 2-year investment in digital streaming media players and tablets for classroom teachers is helping to infuse technology to improve instruction.

Spencer, a kindergarten student in Christa Fernandez’s homeroom, checks his math problems alongside his classmates as his teacher stands to the right of the classroom holding an Apple iPad. Mrs. Fernandez has taken a photograph of a recording sheet and completed sample problems for her students using a notes application, which is projected on the whiteboard.

She hands the iPad to Spencer, who works a problem using the same notes app his teacher just used. Spencer’s classmates are listening to him explain his process, while looking at the projection on the whiteboard. The iPad that Spencer uses is mirrored on the board via  Apple TV. By this time, Mrs. Fernandez has crossed the room to assist another student, who has raised her hand.

“With the Apple TV I am not tied to my desk and can walk around and hand the tablet to one of my students to demonstrate their learning,” explains Mrs. Fernandez. “It is a great way to introduce whole group what I want a student to do in a small group or independent technology center.”

landtroop-apple-tvThis school year, Grayson Elementary’s PTA purchased a 3rd Generation Apple TV unit for every classroom. Teachers at Grayson received iPads in 2015, and the Apple TV provides opportunities to make the iPads even more useful in the classroom.

Teachers actively using media streaming devices say that having access to a mirroring application is incredibly helpful and allows students the flexibility of showing what they know and expressing their ideas with a touch of their finger.  

“Anything you can pull up on your tablet can be projected onto your screen, so it frees you up from always using your teacher computer, and since the tablet is small, it allows students to pass the device around,” notes Sara Forrester, a 2nd Grade teacher. “The use of a whiteboard app allows students to draw, write, and solve equations from their tablet.”

Teachers and students have projected tablets in their classroom for demonstrations, to show examples, to explain concepts, and for simulations.

While Apple TV is a popular media streaming device choice for many schools, especially those with larger inventories of iPads, other mirroring device options exist in the marketplace. (One caveat, and definitely a reason to consult with county technology support staff when exploring options, is to insure that the WiFi networks – school system’s network and tablet – will be integrated. If the WiFi networks are segregated, the devices and/or streaming applications likely will not communicate. Test any options before investing).

For teachers who are OK with keeping their tablet in one location, then a VGA adapter (for a 30-pin Dock connector), or other adaptor for the type of tablet owned will permit them to display their tablet’s screen via the classroom projector. Even a document camera might work in some situations.

Robbie Dunn, a 5th Grade Special Education teacher, values the freedom from his computer that a streaming media device gives him.

Since having the ability to mirror, I have been free to roam around the class during a mini-lesson or whole group dissemination of information,” Dunn said. “It also gives the opportunity for students to show their understanding to the class easily, without the transition time needed for students to get up from their seats to go to the board.”  

The familiarity that most students have with tablets and finger operated apps makes mirroring devices a natural complement to the students’ way of learning.

“My students love when I use it for the student selection wheel (an app that randomly selects a student),” said Amanda Poole, a 1st Grade teacher. “Also, researching and streaming videos on the board is highly engaging for my students, especially since they are so familiar with technology.”

Teachers agree that a major advantage of mirroring devices in the classroom is that it is easy to use and quick to get started.

“Its main advantages in my opinion are accessibility and ease of use,” said Dunn. “If I’m sitting with a small group and see a need for a mid-workshop teaching, I can pull up whatever I need to project and students can view it from the center they are in. Plus, I never have to move!”  

Such technology occasionally can become “finicky” with a school’s wireless internet connection, teachers note, such as when the connection between the streaming box and the tablet is lost. While this issue doesn’t happen often, it requires the user to reset the connection or reset the mirroring device all together.

The uses of media streaming devices can be many. This includes watching YouTube or Vimeo videos without having to use a separate device; seamless transition between video clips; annotating documents live with students; displaying pictures of student/teacher work; demonstrating apps; playing review games; using the tablet as an interactive whiteboard (whiteboard apps); using the Khan Academy app; using as a document camera; and creative project presentations. Content within eClass that generates on a tablet can be shown through the mirroring device.

“It’s been a great tool for modeling the use of student devices brought from home as well as applications for student selection and games,” says Poole.

Fernandez, for example, uses her streaming box with BookFlix and Epic to read non-fiction texts. Since her mirroring device pairs with her tablet via WiFi, she appreciates that she can walk around and navigate and check for understanding without being tied to her computer.

During mini-lessons, Grayson teachers say, it is preferable to bring their iPad down to the floor and project from their meeting area instead of having to get up to switch the computer every time they need to show something on the projector.  

With younger learners, says Fernandez, “Apple TV and similar devices are a great way to introduce different technology activities that they will later work on independently.”

Adds Forrester, “I think the streaming device is a very beneficial tool and the more we use it and become more comfortable with it, the more ways we will find to implement it into the classroom.”

Rocking Adobe Spark Video at Pinckneyville Middle School

This article was written by Lisa Kasko, a 7th Grade Language Arts Teacher from Pinckneyville Middle School.

Sherrie Disco, Pinckneyville Middle School’s Local School Technology Coordinator, popped into my room and said, “Kasko, you just have to try Adobe Spark Video. I just learned about it and think you could rock it!” and left a post-it note on my desk with the website and log instructions on it.


We had recently talked about using student-brought devices (BYOD) to supplement the one laptop cart we had available to focus on collaborative learning via technology. Intrigued by how Adobe Spark could help us, we decided to have students use either the free Adobe Spark app they could download to their devices or the website itself. 

Adobe Spark Video lets you share your learning or growth in a really slick, professional way. Our plan was to have students cite textual evidence of a literary device in action, record themselves reading the quotation from the text,  and analyze the author’s purpose of using that literary device. Differentiation is endless with Adobe Spark Video: students can start with templates like show and tell, promote an idea, or tell what happened, or they can start from scratch.


My favorite component is hearing them record what they have to say in their own voice. Using touch recording, they easily capture their voices and use their voice style to connect with their audience in their own unique way. Then they bring the project to life by finding the perfect imagery: icons, images–they can even upload their own photos–to match their story’s mood and message to help create the theme of their project. To top it off, they select the perfect soundtrack that enhances their presentation. The BYOD option allows them to use music they already have stored in their devices and make even more of a personal connection.


They don’ t know this yet, but these Spark Videos are going to be the “sparks” for their next writing piece. Their prewriting phase is done: they already have cited facts accompanied by recordings of their own voices arguing their support and analysis. But, their prewriting doesn’t stop there–they have visualized the author’s purpose of their piece with the imagery they selected and topped off the mood of their argument with music. I’m pretty excited to see how this impacts their writing!




Quizlet Live–Fantastic Formative Assessment

Quizlet Live: An Overview

How can we know what students really know about the lessons we’ve been teaching? Aren’t quizzes and major tests enough for teachers to evaluate where students are? Absolutely not! Formative assessments allow teachers to quickly check where students are during the learning process, enabling the teacher to meaningfully modify the lesson (if necessary) so students can master the concepts they’re supposed to be learning, not just being assessed on and moving on to the next lesson.

There are many formative assessment strategies out there, both low tech and high tech. We recently put Quizlet Live to the test. Quizlet Live is a new twist on a beloved tech tool that allows both teachers and students to understand what the students do and don’t know.

Quizlet Live utilizes already existing Quizlet sets to create an engaging assessment for students. It’s teacher and kid friendly and is easy to set up in a few steps. To begin, teachers choose a Quizlet set for the topic the class is studying. After logging into Quizlet, teachers can either access others’ Quizlet sets or create their own. A join code is provided to share with the class, and students are randomly assigned to teams. Then it’s time to move! Students physically move to join their randomized teammates and bring their devices (laptops, phones, tablets) with them.

The game is ready to start as teams compete for the ultimate bragging rights. Since students are able to see the leader board as they are playing, they know exactly where they stand. But students have to be careful….one wrong answer makes the team start over at 0 and begin again. This encourages students to be thoughtful and deliberate when choosing the correct answer– it’s better to be correct than quick in Quizlet Live. The game ends when the first team has a perfect score. Students can play again in the same teams to try and make it to the top of the leaderboard, or teachers also have the option of shuffling the teams so new groups of student can try to make it to the top.

From elementary students to high school students to even adults, the feedback is the same–they love this engaging formative assessment tool. For a demo to see Quizlet Live in action, click here.

Quizlet Live with Elementary Students

Third graders in Ms. Roberts’ class at Mulberry Elementary were up for the Quizlet Live challenge this past April. In an effort to pinpoint specific vocabulary the students needed to review to prepare for Milestones testing, Ms. Roberts chose several Quizlet sets. The topic for review was famous historical figures in the 3rd grade social studies curriculum. In a few clicks, Ms. Roberts created the Quizlet Live set and shared the code with the students. Using a variety of technology devices including laptops and tablets, the students were ready to begin.

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The excitement in the room grew as students watched the leaderboard to see where they stood compared to their classmates. Groans of frustration could be heard if a team answered incorrectly and had to start over at zero. However, these talented students persevered and began again. Since students have to work together by talking about the answers and looking at each other’s devices to search for the correct answer, every student was engaged and on task. The collaboration and communication among the groups was amazing, and they supported and encouraged each other to reach their common goal.

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Quizlet Live with High School Students

Middle and high schoolers love a good review game just as well as elementary students, which can be seen in Ms. Radloff’s ninth grade biology class at North Gwinnett High School. Students had recently studied viruses and bacteria, and Ms. Radloff wanted to make sure they were ready for their test in a couple of days. She took the Quizlet set she had used with the students, followed the steps found here to create a Quizlet Live game, and students were immediately engaged by getting up and forming their teams. See the students, along with some guest eCLASS Instructional Specialists, play below.

Ms. Radloff had the students play several times with several different Quizlet sets to touch on all the terms they needed to know. Not only did the students see what they didn’t know, they also had the chance to learn by repetition the things they hadn’t quite mastered yet. By working in teams, they discussed the merits of one answer over another (quickly!), clarifying why an answer was or wasn’t correct within the team.

Additionally, Ms. Radloff was able to look at the data provided by Quizlet Live to see what students missed the most so that she could re-teach those concepts before the summative test. In the end, she said, “Students fared much better than my other classes had in previous years.The information in that unit is usually very hard to grasp, but they had it down pretty well. They had so much fun that we played Quizlet Live the rest of the year before tests.”

Quizlet Live has proven to be an easy-to-use, engaging, and useful formative assessment tool that gets high marks from both students and teachers!

Bored with your presentation?

Try Movenote for your and your students’ presentations.  Movenote is a free Google Chrome extension that you add to your browser.  Simply add your “slides” (JPG images, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations) and you can opt to use the webcam or not as you teach from the slides.  When you’re done, you get either a URL or an embed code to put neatly on to your eCLASS C&I course page!

*Please note: PowerPoint slides do not animate in Movenote.

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