Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

Welcome to my technology blog.
Follow me on Twitter, @noelerskine
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πŸ’₯ Tech tools - TIPS - tricks, math apps, free ebooks and more!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Misc. websites and web tools:

How To Create Digital Portfolios with Spark Page. (We love the Adobe Spark tools!) 

Google Keep - Norris staff- You should be using this great tool! 
With our new staff Acer Spin Chromebook units...  this tool is awesome!

Here is our Norris tips and trick doc: Google keep--- Now integrated with Google Docs!

Some great Math Apps, sites, and tools:

The Math Learning Center has these free IOS, Chrome and Web apps. Check them out!  (All of these have been added to the student approved list of Chrome apps/extensions. 

Care of Chromebooks & iPads 
Remember to never leave your electronic devices in a cold or hot car.  It's very hard on the device as well as the battery in these devices.  (A great thing to remind your students about!) 

Turn your Google Doc into an online flip book!

Great project for kids too!  Export your Google Doc as a PDF and import into Issuu

A few Free Kindle eBooks:

Great list of free eBooks located here and a second list located here and a third list here.   Grab them while they are free.   (Make sure you check the price since some do jump back to regular prices.) 

Here is another list - but a few of these are no longer free, so check the price before you "buy". 

If you really like reading --- 2-Month Kindle Unlimited Membership for $1 until March 11, 2018. 
Note: Existing Kindle Unlimited subscribers are NOT eligible.

πŸ’₯ Tech tools - TIPS - Google classroom, docs, Chroembooks, sites, add-ons, and more.

Monday, February 19, 2018

GoGuardian adds a lot of features - are you using them! 
With GoGuardian for Chromebooks - You can now feel comfortable as a teacher using the Chromebooks for testing and other activities in your classroom.

As one teacher stated, "I can now give them online tests without worrying about them opening up another tab and cheating."

Every classroom teacher that is using Chromebooks on a regular basis should be using this tool!  It's simple to use and easy to set up! 

If you need help getting started with GoGuardian - Contact Jason to help get you started.

This may be the simplest video recorder you will ever use!  (Great for Chromebooks and desktops with your webcam.  (Thanks to our very own Jason Cullison @cully11 for reminding me about this great tool.) 
Online video recorder right to Google Drive. -
They also have a Chrome app - School Video Recorder for Google Drive. (And it is on our approved list for students already.)

Google Sites:

Are you using your staff Chromebooks to their fullest?

Google cast is a must!  Allow students (and yourself) to cast their Chromebooks to your desktop computer.  Our how-to sheet will get you started.  

You can walk around your classroom and control your computer from your Chromebook using Chrome Remote Desktop.

Google Keep is a tool every teacher should be using!  It's great with our new staff Chromebooks with stylus inputs.  Check out our help sheet on Google Keep to get started. 

If you need help to maximize the impact of your Chromebook - Drop Jason an email, he is awesome to work with or give this old dog (AKA ... Erskine) a shout out too!  We love working with staff! 

Misc. tech tools and sites:

If you're wanting to convert an image into text, Google Docs has a powerful Optical Character Recognition feature built right in. Here's how to make it work.

Google Classroom resources:

Check out these from the list above: 

cK-12 - CK-12 Foundation provides a library of free online textbooks, videos, exercises, flashcards, and real-world applications for over 5000 concepts from arithmetic to history.

 EdPuzzle - Make any video your lesson. Pick a video, add your magical touch and track your students’ understanding. With the EDpuzzle integration, teachers can automatically import all Classroom courses and students at sign up.

GeoGebra - GeoGebra’s K-12+ STEM curriculum materials can be inserted into Google Classroom as tasks with just a few clicks. More than 700,000 materials (plus more added daily!) are available to meet the STEM needs of students and teachers.

Go Guardian - GoGuardian Teacher allows teachers to mirror the classrooms they’ve set up in Classroom, syncing student enrollment, class period, and subject across platforms. Students and teachers can benefit even more from their Chromebooks with streamlined setup and use.

Google Cast for Education - Google Cast for Education is a free Chrome app that allows students and teachers to share their screens wirelessly from anywhere in the classroom. Cast for Education has built-in controls for teachers and seamlessly allows them to easily add students from Classroom.

Khan Academy - Khan Academy supports teachers with rigorous personalized learning tools and data-driven insights – all for free. Now, teachers can import their Google Classroom rosters into Khan Academy and directly assign Khan Academy content to their students through Classroom.

Quizizz - This integration makes it seamless for teachers to assign Quizizz games to their class. Students can join a Quizizz game with one click and all their performance data is sent back to Classroom.

PBS Learning Media - PBS LearningMedia™ is your destination for direct access to thousands of classroom-ready, curriculum-targeted digital resources. PBS LearningMedia builds on the strength of public media and is designed to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Resources are aligned to Common Core and national standards and include videos and interactives, as well as audio, documents, and in-depth lesson plans. You can browse by standards, grade level, subject area, and special collections. You can also favorite and share resources with your class and colleagues. Best of all, PBS LearningMedia’s basic service is free for PreK-12 educators. 

Quizlet - Quizlet makes simple learning tools that let you study anything. Start learning today with flashcards, games and learning tools — all for free.

Share to Classroom Chrome Extension - With the Share to Classroom Chrome extension, teachers and students using Chrome browsers can instantly share web pages with one another. In addition to sharing to students’ browsers, teachers can also attach a webpage to a Classroom post. (Check out these other Google Classroom Chrome Extensions.)

We LOVE Google Chrome and Chome Extensions - BUT ..... 

Only use the ones that you need! 

If you are an extension junkie - use this great extension for turning them on and off. (Works great for those extensions you only use a few times a year but still love.) 
The more you have actively running the more it may slow your computer/Chromebook down.
Only install trusted or common ones. We are starting to see more Malware extensions. 

Tip - Yes - Google classroom (And Google Photos) in the first-grade classroom!
Bringing Students around the World with Google Photos
I recently attended the FETC conference in Orlando and shared pictures and videos of the trip with my 1st graders using Google Classroom. This way, students who have never traveled outside of Nebraska could see what I was doing on a daily basis. When I returned, I showed them even more pictures from Google Photos.” - James Reed, Southern Valley Schools (@JamesReedsv)

Some Math apps/tips.  From our very own Lenny VerMaas @LennyVerMaas 

Great tips for parents. I would add  for younger children and 

Looking for some math games try some of these

Google Docs add-ons.

Just like Chrome extensions add functionality to Chrome... Google Doc's add-ons add functionality to Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms.   This website is a great resource for showcasing the new add-ons that are announced.  The new ShapeApp for slides along with many more are featured in this month's release. 

Create a List of Rubrics – Automagically with this Google Sheets add-on.  Alice Keller has created a lot of other great add-ons and classroom resources. Check out her home page for more.  

Google Docs Tips:

17 Google Docs Tips Everyone Should Know - Via Techworld | Google offers one of the best word processors in the market with its Docs app. But like most technology, it can also be infuriating, tricky to use, and sometimes limited. To make your overall editing experience a bit better, here are some tips on how to get the most from Google Docs.

πŸ’₯ Tech tools - is Google going to charge $, Audio feedback in docs, Google slide tips, and more!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hey - I just heard a rumor that Google is going to start charging schools for Gsuite! Is this true? Say it's not so! 

Google is adding a new enterprise edition to its GSuite tools that will have a subscription price.  I do not see very many schools moving to this edition because most of these features are really not needed by most schools.  (There may be a few schools that do a lot of video conferencing that may decide to purchase this edition for a few staff members.)

My thoughts???  Nothing to worry about!  Google has added a few features to it's business GSuite product line the last 12 months and are now offering those to schools if they want them.  I believe Google will always keep it's core suite free to schools. 

If you are interested here are the new features in the Enterprise edition.  

Note - The Google tools for Gmails users will always be free.  (Everyone has Google docs, sheets, slides, etc... with your personal Gmail accounts as well.) 

Misc websites and tech tools:

Cool new tool. Free and integrates with Google Classroom!  Recap is question-led chat tool augmented by the power of video that makes it easier to start deeper, more empowering discussions with students and teachers.

81% of @TheEIU survey respondents agree: Teachers need to consider future skills to better prepare students for the modern workplace. Some top teaching strategies to achieve this: active learning &  personalized learning top the list. Learn more: Fostering exploration

3 Incredible Science Field Trips That Don’t Require Permission Slips. Perfect for grades 3–8; watch them in your classroom, anytime!

This How Computers Work series by @codeorg is EXCELLENT!  - Check out the video playlist here. 

Create Your Own Google Expeditions!  Nice article here.  Apply here

A Free Teleprompter - Nice site for use with any of your video projects!  (As our very own Andrew Carlson states, "I've used this one before and it works well.") 

6 Google Translate tips you need to start using - Google Translate is so overflowing with features, you might not even realize everything it can do.

Add audio feedback to a Google Doc - 
With the new Kaizena Google Doc add-on you can!

Kaizena as a Google Docs Add-on means: 

Fewer steps for you to provide feedback and a more integrated workflow
Students will be able to edit their work immediately after receiving your feedback, instead of referring to a separate copy on Kaizena
Easier for peers to provide feedback - any Google Doc collaborator can provide feedback!
In addition to voice comments, you can also save time providing high-quality feedback with:

Lessons: re-use common feedback and embed youtube videos to explain common concepts
Skills: track evidence of skills students demonstrate in their work

Note - I have not tried this one, but based on the comments, guessing this new add-on was developed to address the prior shortcomings.  (Let me know how you like it if you use it.)  Nice article by Richard Bryne here

Google Classroom:

Did you know? The Google Classroom iOS and Android apps have the ability to markup assignments. A teacher can use a finger or a stylus to add colorful annotations, handwriting, and highlighting. (Staff - remember your personal Chromebooks run Andriod apps, so the Android classroom app runs on your device!) 

Google Slides:

Google Slides: Animate Items Together - NOTE - As it says in this short tutorial -- Use animation very very sparingly.!

COOL - Create a talking head animation with Google Slides + Screencastify. Brilliant idea from @joshchoward. Check it out here

Google Docs:

Google Sites:
Some sites aren’t for everyone. That’s why Google is making it possible to specify exactly who can view your content in the new Google Sites.

Thanks Norris Staff!

I do not always get a chance to say this... but thanks for everything you do!  We have such a great district and it's because of people like you!  Teachers, support staff, administrators, custodians, transportation, kitchen staff... the list goes on!  We are blessed to have you serving a great student population.  There is a reason Norris is a special place to be.  Thanks again. 

Summer Technology Grad Classes and tech opportunities will be offered again at Norris!

I am starting to get emails about these, so I figured I would let everyone know the schedule for the 2018 Summer.  Here are the classes that will be offered.  (Normally I offer 4 classes, but I will not be offering one for the week after Memorial Day since there is a pretty good chance staff members will still be in school.) 

More information will be coming out on these, but we will still be offering the following summer opportunities:
  • Google Summit
  • Google Certification for staff. 
  • Tech boot camp (Prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year.

πŸ’₯ Tech tools - Some great video and audio tools, YouTube EDU channels, tech tips and how to donate to the Norris Foundation for FREE! All in this weeks tech tips.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Misc. web tools and sites:
Excellent site to prompt discussions with students about properties of objects. Which one does not belong.   (A nice tip from our very own @LennyVerMaas)

ApplicationStop Motion Animator - Nice creativity tool for projects. 

Reclipped allows you or students to add notes to videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Kahn Academy, TED and more.  Nice notetaking and snippet tool/website.  Great for Chromebooks!  (Currently in Beta, so not sure what the future costs could be.) 

Are you stuck in that routine of providing instruction, giving an assignment, correcting the assignment, and then going to the next lesson? Are you looking for a different way to do homework? Here's one from the #YorkMLK18 day.  (Pretty cool hyperdoc and great resources!) 

Not a tech tip, but so true for student engagement - 5 Powerful Questions Teachers Can Ask Students

Shop at Amazon?  DUH!  Donate to the Norris foundation for free!

While shopping at -Amazon donates part of your purchase to a charity of your choice.  Same Amazon - Same price - Same experience - Nothing changes but the free donation!  Set the Norris foundation as your charity and start shopping at

Creating Digital Storybooks with Google Slides
“I use Google Slides with students to create digital storybooks. We create the text and visuals on Google Slides, and then use the Screencastify extension to screencast the slideshow while reading the text!” -Allie Schultze, Baldwin County Public Schools (@AllieBCBE)

Audio recordings:
Want to record audio (Or have your students record audio) Vocaroo is a nice option.  (Recordings stay on the web for several weeks, but you can also download them.) 

Soundtrap is a great site for creating audio online. Like Audacity or Garageband... but works on the web.  You can collaborate as a group on the audio file.  I know I mentioned this last year, but it's worth mentioning again.  It is a great content creation tool. 

Video feedback tool for the classroom - Flipgrid. (Kids send short video feedback clips to the teacher.)

Flipgrid - Created as a "Social learning for everyone" product, but great for getting video feedback from students on a topic the teacher chooses.  Totally web-based. (Works well on Chromebooks.) 

The teacher creates an account and then completes the following steps:
  • Create a Grid (Think Class) (They also make a landing page for this grid for you.) 
  • Create a Topic  (Set moderation, set video response length - Max. 1.5 minutes for free, and set other parameters.)
  • Send out the topic for kids to respond with their video feedback.  (Can send out via Google classroom, link, etc...
The student creates an account to respond to the above topic that the teacher sends out. 

Side note - Thanks to Becky Wilhelm @WilhelmBecky for the great suggestion!  She would be a great resource if you have questions.

Math teachers - great extension!
Easily create mathematical equations, formulas, and quizzes. Intuitively type or handwrite, with no tricky math code to learn. Works great with Google Docs and Chromebooks,  ExtensionEquatIO - Math made digital

One more for the Math teachers - 10 Good Resources for Math Teachers and Students 

Some great presentations chocked full of resources from the York MLK day inservices:

Google Sheet tips

Digital citizenship is important to pass along to our students!

Our students are getting phishing emails and we still see forms of the Nigerian scam letter  (Samples here.) finding its way into our student's inbox.  

We are always stressing to staff to be careful of phishing emails.  We are trying to protect and educate you. - Heck, we even bought a product to help with this... but as teachers are you mentioning these things to students and imparting your wisdom to them?  If not, I would encourage you to always educate your students about the dangers of scams, phishing emails, social media behaviors and other dangers that our students face. 

A few from the Google for Education Newsletter:

One for the Music teachers:

Flat is a cloud-based software that allows music students to collaborate together in real time. Students can work on the same composition from any device, including Chromebooks and tablets. Use it seamlessly with Google Classroom to create your music education assignments and worksheets.  Their free version gives you quite a few features, but they do have paid plans as well. 

Discover your Favorite new Educational YouTube Channel
Looking for a new educational channel for your students in 2018? This YouTube playlist from We Create Edu has videos from dozens of up-and-coming educators. The playlist includes videos on a variety of subjects including biology, pop culture, and history, so there’s something for every type of educator.

πŸ’₯ Tech tools - Creative apps, Great screen sharing tool, and more in this weeks list!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Web tools, tech tools and sites: 

15 Free Web Tools and Apps to Amplify Your Audio Projects - This is just a great list! Free sound effects, recording tools, stock music, and more!  All FREE. 

The BEST Blog Posts of 2017! - Here is a list of the BEST and most popular Shake Up Learning blog posts from 2017.

Soundtrap Collaborative Music and Podcast Tool for Education 
This is a great audio tool that adds so many features and works on any device from anywhere! Pretty simple!  Check it out. 
SoundTrap's Free plan is pretty good for small class projects - $ 0 - Free
5 projects  - 800 loops - 190 instruments & sounds. Other plans are on their pricing page

Great creative tool for Chromebooks!  Book Creator for Chrome.  

3 Easy Steps to Create Scan and Read QR Code Listening Stations

Do you use QR codes in your classroom? Check out Monica's tips to get rolling

Great Screen Sharing tool! (Limited to 25 uses per month on free plan) 
This was a great new find for me!  This Chrome extension allows you to easily share your screen! CrankWheel Screen Sharing.  Seems to work really well. After your 30-day free trial, it goes to a free account, which should be fine for about 95% of teacher use. This video will get you started. (It's simple enough, you probably will not need to watch it.)

Question from this pricing page: Is there a free plan?
We offer a free plan for use by an individual for up to 25 meetings per month. On the free plan you lose out on all customization and branding, you can't handle Instant Demo requests as a team, and access to many advanced functionalities is disabled.

If you do not choose a paid plan when your trial ends, your account will be downgraded to the free plan. If you prefer to sign up for the free plan directly, please click here.

Creating Classroom Posters with Adobe Spark Post

What type of visuals hang on the walls of your classroom? Whether you create anchor charts, graphics, or classroom posters for your students, there is a free, easy-to-use tool for teachers (and students) you can use to create classroom posters. With this awesome, open-ended creation tool, the possibilities are endless! Spark Post is a simple… check it out.

How to Embed Music in Your Google Slides Presentation
Via Digital Inspiration | Google Slides does not support audio files but you do have the option to embed videos inside the individual slides. The workaround, therefore, is simple–place the video file on a slide, make it invisible, and turn on the auto-play mode. Check it out

How to re-enable quick access to Google Photos in Google Drive
If you've noticed the Google Photos link missing from Drive, Jack Wallen shows you how easy it is to get it back. 

You should be doing this - If you are not using the Google Photo's app on your phone - you are missing out!  It backs up your photos to Google - FREE and UNLIMITED.   Andriod App  IOS App  TIP - You can change your Google account within the phone app to backup your photos to multiple accounts. (It will only live sync to one account at a time, but this does work for getting your photos to two accounts.)  I also use the Shutterfly app to back my photos up their as well. 

πŸ’₯ Tech tools - Free eBooks, Amazing Templates, SeeSaw, Free Turkey -NOT, and more!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

BeCareful with Phishing emails!  - Yes... this tech guy clicked on a phishing email! 
I love the KnowBe4 product.  It keeps all of us on our toes with phishing emails.  Well, I get them just like you do... and BAM - this tech guy was not careful enough.  I am a Costco Business Member and get several emails a week... so when I got an email that looked like it came from Costco and a free turkey... hey I clicked on it.  (Like WOW - a free turkey!) A good reminder to us all - they get us at our busy time, our weak moments when we are expecting a package, or just another typical email you may receive, or even a free turkey!  (Guess I am the turkey on this one, LOL.) 

Have a great holiday, but do not expect a free turkey this season... and always be careful with emails, software downloads, and your personal information! 

All About Me Projects for Google Classroom (made with Spark Video!) 

GREAT EXTENTION for Chromebooks and webcam! - Alice Keeler Webcam Snapshot<---

8 Adobe Spark Poetry Activities for Chromebook & iPad Classrooms. 

How to annotate your photos with iOS 10's Markup feature  Works on iPads and iPhones.  Must be IOS 10 or above.  (Note- the old iPad2 units will not run IOS 10.) 

One for the K-6 teachers - (We have Book Creator licenses for the iPad carts.)  - 7 Favorite Apps to Use with Book Creator

Some great resources from one of my Favourites - Richard Byrne - @rmbyrne  Always good stuff from this guy! 

Seven Ways to Create Screencasts on Chromebooks  - Try out the Screencast-O-Matic public Beta too.  (I love Loom as well as serval others in this post.) 

ADA Project - An Open Multimedia Mathematics Textbook 

Keeps kids learning over Christmas break with these tools:

You have to check out these templates! WOW
These teacher and student templates (FREE) will show you what you can do with Google Slides.  Gone are the days of "I wish I had Publisher" and in are the days... WOW, I did not know you could do that with Google Slides. Some great templates for class projects and awesome examples of what can be done with Google Slides. 

Create G Suite Templates with This Mind-Blowing Hack (Cool tip) 

Elementary staff - Have you tried out SeeSaw?  If not, give Jason a call to get you rolling!
New - New Features in SeeSaw

Google has added more templates.  (They still need more!) 
Visit the home page of each to see them; Docs Home ** Sheets Home ** Slides Home

HS & MS staff - Get ready for a great new product for Chromebooks!

Hope to see all of the MS & HS staff at our January 5th training on GoGuardian. Jason has a great program lined up for you! 

Free Kindle eBooks:

Twas The Night Before Christmas [Kindle Edition] Free ~ Amazon 

Quick and Easy Recipes: 30 MINUTE MEALS: Quick Recipes You Will Love (Quick and Easy Cooking) Kindle Edition

More from the site: is offering Select Customers$5 Kindle eBook Credit for FreeNote, click "Continue with Offer" then sign into your account and if you are eligible, you will see a message that that the $5 Credit applied to your account.

Subscribe to Kindle Daily Deals Newsletter Get $1 Kindle eBook Credit 

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King Kindle Edition by E. T. A. Hoffmann []
Shakespeare: The Complete Collection []
The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales []
Ben-Hur []
The Complete Sherlock Holmes []
The Canterville Ghost []
Peter Pan []
The Jungle Book []
The Virginian []
The Man of the Forest [] 
The Charterhouse of Parma []
Selected Short Stories Kindle Edition by Rabindranath Tagore []
The Red and the Black []

AmazonClassics [] pre-orders
A Doll's House (AmazonClassics Edition) []
My Ántonia (AmazonClassics Edition) []
North and South (AmazonClassics Edition) []
The Piazza Tales (AmazonClassics Edition) []
A Study in Scarlet (AmazonClassics Edition) []
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (AmazonClassics Edition) []
Silas Marner (AmazonClassics Edition) []
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (AmazonClassics Edition) []
Shakespeare's Sonnets (AmazonClassics Edition) []

Dear Santa: Children's Christmas Letters and Wish Lists, 1870 - 1920 []

Thanks for a great year!

From the tech department, I would like to wish each of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy NewYear!  As one of our tech staff just mentioned yesterday .... It’s a pleasure to work for such a progressive district with passionate teachers and leaders.  Yes, this tech guy feels really blessed this year.  (Even though there was no free turkey.)  