Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

Welcome to my technology blog.
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My Christmas goodies list for teachers... Free iBook (or Kindle book), Free apps, and great web sites!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Web sites and web 2.0 tools:

QR Code Classroom Implementation Guide - from the Cool Cat Teacher

25,000 Images of Art That You Can Re-use for Free

Video - Three Ways Students Can Search for Creative Commons Licensed Images via Free Technology ...

math based websites to discover (again)

This is a great collection of free Web 2.0 tools for the classroom:

16 Best Free Mac Apps (If you happen to have a MAC) 

Google tools and tips: 
A must have app for templates in Google Docs -  <-- You need to add this one!

Envelopes for Google Drive via Free Technology for Teachers - Envelopes for Google Drive is a ...

Google Tips Helps You Do Cool Stuff With Google Products -Cool site!

Now there's a new way to manage folders in Google drive that you folder lovers will enjoy -- check it out!

Send files up to 10GB (that's a 600-page presentation, or a 10-minute power ballad) with one click. Find out how:  (This is from that new Gogole tips site... Cool!)

Google Apps Update | Guide to the New Google Sheets - 7 min. video - Worth the watch! <-- Great new features in Google Sheets! 

Gmail read receipts may not work as well now - FYI

Some of you use the Gmail, read receipt's feature.  It's functionality has changed when it comes to sending emails to other Gmail users. 

Here are a couple links as to why:

This one relates to Boomerang (Which many of us use as a great tool!) but relates to standard read receipts in Gmail:

It's interesting to note, that this change actually will improve some sucurity as noted from the article:

One side effect of Gmail’s new policy is that it is no longer possible for companies who offer less-ethical implementations of read receipts to report your IP address (and approximate location) to the sender of the email. Google now reports the location of all opens as their campus in Mountain View and that your computer is one of their servers.

This article is similar, if you want more background info. 

Android Apps and tips: 
OpenEd Releases an Android App for Sharing Educational Videos With Students via Free Technology ...

BlendSpace - This one deserves it's own heading!
Blendspace: Create lessons in 5 minutes. 

Here is how one Nebraska administrator (Brad C. Jacobsen (@BCJacobsen)) uses it for staff development.

Add the Blendspace Chrome app to your browser.

Free iBooks!
The wonderful iBook ... A Charlie Brown Christmas is free for a week beginning 12/18:  (There are several other free books, each week this season.)  (The android version for Kindle is free too, just search the Google Play store.) 

IOS (iPad/iPhone) apps:

Ten Good iPad Apps for Elementary School Math Practic

4 free Math Dojo Apps are free today! 

Seven Free Science Apps for Your Students' iPads

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!  May this posting find you in great health and spirits for the holiday season. 

A must have app for templates in Google Docs.

Monday, December 16, 2013

There are a ton of great templates in Google Docs, but earlier this year Google changed the way we access them.  See this short Google post for more info.

The new way is to open up a blank Doc, presentation, etc...  and then from the file menu, select New then From Template. I guess this works, but it does not make sense to me. (Create a doc first then select "from template" seems backwards!)

If you add the Drive Template Gallery chrome app, it then adds that selection directly to your create menu in Google Drive.   <------------  In my opinion, this is a MUST HAVE app! 

Here at Norris, we have a lot of templates for budgets, letterheads, etc... found in the document template section, under our domain.

Take some time exploring templates that are in the gallery.  You will find some that are good, bad, and maybe ugly... but there are some definite Gems in the group too!

My list of great tech tips, tools and sites for the week!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Some great web 2.0 tools and sites: 
Two great story telling tools from Google - add a new tools into you and your student's classroom presentations and projects! 

Use free service to easily share your PowerPoint with students on their devices. (Remember, in Google Presentations, you  can easily download the presentation as a PowerPoint to use with this display service.) 

Three Places to Search for Free Online Courses

Free Technology for Teachers: A Few Tools That Make It Easy To Analyze Your Writing

60 ways to use Twitter in the classroom, divided by categories so it's easy to use: 

5 Seriously Amazing Science Education Websites

30 Apps Perfect For BYOD Classrooms (Make sure you look at the Symbaloo at the button, that has all of the direct links.)

LiveSlide: Create decks from scratch or import a PDF. Send out live polls and see the results instantly.

Blend space - Create some great blended lessons is about 5 minutes with this free resources. They also have a nice Chrome app

Are you a Math Teacher -- this one's for you... A collection of free apps that support or align with the CCSS Math standards 

45+ Teacher Recommended Educational Apps : From Teacher Reboot Camp 

Great resources from our own Norris Twitter users!

Remember, it's all about who you follow. Twitter can be the best educational resource you have for your professional  development.  Set up your own PLN (Personal Learning Network.) today. 

From our own Lisa Spilker's Twitter feed (@LisaSpilker) -- Thinking about how to implement "Genius Hour" in our language arts block Inspiring! What a great idea-- give it a try in your classroom! 

20 Education Technology Tools Everybody Should Know About Thanks to out own @CAHutzler for this great Tweet.

Google Chrome
Ginger is a grammar and Spell checker extension that get some great reviews.  (Here at Norris, I have added it to our Chrome Web store of recommended apps.) 

AMESOME TOOL!!  This may be one of the best accessibility apps for Chrome.  You have to check it out, even if you do not need it. Announcify.  It reads the web page to you, and greys-out the area's it is not currently reading.  Really Cool!   Combine it with the Clearly Extension for simply cleaning up the web page for online reading and you have a powerful duo! 

Google Apps tools and tips: 
25 tips & tools to make Google Drive better 

Synergyse Blog: Top 10 Google Apps Scripts for Education  Thanks Charlie Hutzler (@CAHutzler) for this one! 

18 Google Earth Resources for K-12

Google Tasks: 
Do you use Google tasks to keep your task lists?
Did you know you can get a full page list of your tasks, by using this web address: 

Think YouTube is just about cute cats? Try these 197 different educational channels!

IOS apps:
USA Map Chart App (Free) is a powerful application that allows you to Create, Customize, Save & Share Map based (geographic) Charts on your iPad. With the Map Chart App, you can now present your ideas or information easily on a map. This app is ideal for personal use, school, business and other areas where data visualization is key.

Twitter tools
Some great apps for showing "Twitter Walls" in your class or educational events:

EDU Clipper - A nice free add-in to our Google Apps.

We recently added EDUClipper to our Google Apps Domain.  This product get a lot of great reviews, so if you have not looked at it, now may be the time to check it out. (It's located under the more apps here at Norris. If your school has not added it to their Google apps domain... Now would be the time!) 

EDUClipper, now has an app

Not a tech Post - But what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Where do I start... the list is so long, and I am sure I will forget something or someone with so many things to be thankful for.

I am thankful for a wonderful wife and family.  They are my strength, inspiration, and love of my life.  I am also thankful for my parents, including my wonderful siblings and their families.  It's easy to be thankful with so many wonderful family members in your life.

I feel blessed living in a free country where we can freely worship and live our lives in a free democracy because of the many sacrifices of our Veteran's.

I am thankful to work with so many great people within the Norris School district.  It is a special place, with so many great administrators, staff and students.  These individuals are molding our children and shaping our future. And from where I sit, I think the future looks bright.

It is easy to be thankful when God has blessed us with so much, but there are others less fortunate than us. I hope the warmth of the holiday season finds those in need.

Last, but not least... I am thankful for you... the readers of my words.  What a blessing for freedom of the press and words, that many of us occasionally take for granted.

I hope this posting finds you in good health and spirits this Thanksgiving.

Some web tools, apps, and tips for the Thanksgiving Week!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Web 2.0 tools and web resources:

TVO, like PBS, has tons of videos on topics like science, nature, business, tech, education, and culture:

Looking for a source of short videos to improve grammar and writing?

100+ GeoGebra Tutorial Videos

9 Amazing math websites you should explore 

Some great mapping websites:…

Five Visual Dictionaries and Thesauri for Students

This great Google apps add-in deserves another plug from me. :) 
eduClipper - Getting Started with Assignment Portfolios - See what can happen with this great tool! - Nice Video to get you started.  (Remember, all Google Docs are web links, so it's easy to collect assignments, etc...) 

Check out the lesson Photosynthesis on Blendspace -  There are a lot of other great topics on this site too! 

7 outstanding science based websites you may not know

Make your video's interactive - A great classroom flipping tool!
eduCanon - Awesome for flipping your classroom.  It allows you to stop a Youtube, insert questions or other content and really make it interactive.  Free web site too!  Here's a nice example of educanon - combining video with questions:… (Y9ou even get to see a cool Air Canon in this demo of Newton's Law.)

IOS Apps:
A Handful of Free iPad Apps for Creating Videos

How to Create an iTunesU class presentation

Have you seen the new features Google has added to their IOS seach app? Set reminders & be notified when you've reached the corresponding location and more!  <1 min YouTube shows you these highlights.

Trading Cards for iPad has been updated to work correctly with iOS 7!

Google Play Music is now available in the App Store…  (Remember, Google Music allows you to upload up to 20,000 songs for free!)

For $.99, Math Slicer – Is Fun Alternative to Flashcards  But 123 Ninja - The First Numbers Slicing Game for Kids is free and looks pretty good too. 

Google Now is here for Android and IOS devices, and has a ton of features. "Google Now's voice commands brought together in a useful infographic"

How about some math apps?
Both of these games allow you to connect two iPads (Via Bluetooth) and play agaist another person.  They get great reviews from classroom teachers. 
5 Dice, is a free math game intended for upper elementary and middle school students that works on practicing their order of operations.
4 Dice is not free ($1.99), but a similar game for fractions. 

Early Jamestown is a free program that is an interactive textbook exploration of the early days of the Jamestown settlement and the state of Virginia. Great for the heistory teachers who cover this subject. 

Comic Touch Lite is a free app for the iPhone that allows you to draw and annotate pictures on your phone (or iPad) There could be several classroom uses for this type of app.  

Google Apps Tips and tricks:
I do like Google's calendar appointment options, but here is one more way to do it... Calendly - Conveniently Schedule Meetings Through Google Calendar

Add Voice Comments to Google Documents With Kaizena

How to Add Attachments to Google Calendar Events

18 Google Calendar tips and tools for power users - via InfoTech article. Get the most out of Google Calendar with these 18 tips, tools, and tweaks for power users

Five Apps to Render your Google Drive Much More Powerful ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Major Updates to Google Plus Hangouts, Photos-Videos-SMS | Via Google Gooru

Do you use Google to Search Certain Sites? If so, this amazing little chrome tip, will save you a ton of time! Short 2 min. YouTube on how. 

CTRL+SHIFT+V will paste text without formatting universally to anywhere. But Google also adds a remove formatting button that works great.  Remove Formatting of Text in Google Drive and Gmail. 

 14 Google Tools You Didn't Know Existed 

Good collection of little-known Google tips:

18 Tips for Google Apps Users and Admins 

Online courses - Free from Google for teachers!
Learn how Google apps and other web tools can help you meet your teaching and learning goals.

Become a Spreadsheet Gooru  Here's the Hangout on Air


Google released a big update to their iOS Capture app this week. Nice run down of these features on PadGadget  <--- This is a great update to the IOS app! 

YouTube and Your Classroom - Nice handout to get you started with channels, playlists, and more.

8 Overlooked Useful YouTube Tools:… <--- This is a short must read if you are starting to upload and work with YouTube videos.

You can now restrict your YouTube video to only your school (Google Apps Domain).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Google Apps users who use their Google+ identity in YouTube now have the option to post videos that are viewable only by people within their domain. Domain-restricted videos can only be viewed through the web UI at this time.  (So IOS App or Android Apps will not view these videos at this time.)

This is a great feature for schools, since we now have the ability to limit the YouTube video to be seen by only our students or staff.  Prior to this, the video had to be either public, private or unlisted. If you wanted it to be restricted, using the private settings, you would have to list every person individually that you want to be able to view the video.  With over 2200 students and 150+staff at Norris, that would take a while!

Privacy settings include:

  • Public
  • Unlisted (Anyone with the link can view it.) (Similar setting in Google Docs.) 
  • Private (Only you and selected users can see it.)
  • Private Google+ shared video- New Feature!  Shared with Domain, Google+ Circle or other individuals. 

For more information, visit this Google support article:

Search Google Drive - With ease and power!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Google has added many great search features inside of Google drive that can help you find that file you need.

First off, use the power of the drop down in search. It's simple and no syntax to remember. This will allow you to quickly narrow your search by document type, along with a few other parameters.

Thankfully, Google is starting to add better search capabilities to their Google Apps too, by adding added syntax to your search.

You can stack your search syntax, just like when you use the Google Search Engine. 

The after:  syntax can limit by a date.  (Also before: works too.)

This blog article is also a Google Doc, created for staff development.

No tricks here only treats ... DropBox tools, Google Forms, great tech tools and more - My hot picks for the week!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Web tools: 
If your grandfather made $1.50/hour in 1945, how much would that be today? Wolfram Alpha knows:  (Have you seen the Wolfram Alpha search engine? Check it out!) (From the @tcea Twitter feed. Follow them, they are awesome!)

The 100 Best Video Sites For Educators… 

Want to create some nice timelines.... 

Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary — Look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.

JST Virtual Science Center - Excellent Online Science Lessons

Authors who Skype with classes for free:  (We love Google Hangouts, but remember Skype is another great resource for classes.)

Google Apps in the Elementary Classroom session presentation from a recent ed tech conference -… 

Looking for a way to make your images interactive? Check out ThingLink:

Some top live binders to check out:…   (The 2nd one on the list is from  Mickie Mueller - from Norfolk Nebraska!) 

Need to schedule blocks of time for parents to sign up on a calendar.... You can easily do this with a Google Calendar and appointment slots. Simple 2 minute video on how. 

149 Great Resources for teachers. 

Best of web 2013 slides by Richard Byrne @rmbyrne has some education resources!  (I have also downloaded the PDF/eBook of this and put it on the O drive under ebboks for staff to use as well.)

Your iGoogle page may be going away, but if you have not seen Symbaloo, you may want to check it out as an alternative to that page. More info can be found here:

Google in Education Professional Development Guide. The guide is a resource for training resources, use case examples, and best practices.

eBooks for your classroom:
Creating and editing flexbooks online:…

DropBox Tools: 
If you're a Drop Box user, you will love this:… (AWESOME List!) 

Google Form tips:
Quick tutorial on how to create a Google Form that will accept file uploads from

How to Automatically Close Google Forms at Specified Times

20+ Google Forms for teachers:…

Are we teaching the right way? 
Great 3 minute YouTube on how we should be teaching.  (Project based learning & problem solving.)  The Gapminder and Google Public data tools would be great tools to include within your classroom and student projects. 

YouTube tools: 
8 Overlooked Useful YouTube Tools

How to Create a Linked Series of YouTube Videos

WOW, no software required for this one ....Use to download and save YouTube videos for classroom use. (At Norris we install the DVD Video soft tools that can do this, and they are a great package. But you must install them, and you have to make sure you un-check some features or you will get some toolbar's and junk you do not want.) 

IOS apps:

Apple launches Apps for Teachers category:…

goREACT - Create Virtual Chemical Reactions on Your iPad (Free app)

45+ Teacher Recommended Educational Apps : Via Teacher Reboot Camp

Take 3D Photos on Your iPhone With This App [VIDEO]

Three Approaches for Getting Content to Elementary Students' iPads - No Email, No Problem

Gapminder and Google Public data Amazing tools that few know about.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Let's face it, data can be boring but we know there's a wealth of information to be found out by looking at it.  Well these tools can make it exciting, for you and your students.  You know me... here is the short version:

Gapminder - an amazing way to view data. 
Taken from their website: "Gapminder World is free and comes with built in data. You can use it online or download it, but you can not change the data or add your own. If you would like to create your own animating bubblecharts have a look at Google’s Motion Chart in Google Docs and Public Data Explorer, where you can visualize your own data."

Gapminder World project, is a non profit group that has collected over 400 indicators on global development that are available for you and your students to use. If you want to use your own data, look at the section below where I expand on the Google options mentioned above.

Just look at a sample chart and all of it's interactivity that is available for you to use: Adults with HIV (%, age 15-49)  Look at the Play button at the bottom of this graph, and also notice how you can select specific countries on the right.  Imagine the problem solving and in-depth discussions you can have with your students as to "Why" these trends may be occurring.

Gapminder is an online tool, but they do have an offline version that you can use when an internet connection is not available.

The Gapminder for teachers section, will be especially helpful for classroom teachers.

 Google’s Motion Chart and Public Data Explorer - Use your own data too!

Motion Charts: 
If your data is in a Google Doc, you can use their charting tools to visualize data in many ways. With your Google Spreadsheet open, select insert chart.

Google's Motion Chart help site has a sample of a simple motion chart.

Have students enter data into a Google Spreadsheet and have them play around with the different chart types that are available.  It will give new meaning to data and stats.

If you are a developer or like to play around with code, you can create your own charts to visualize data in a custom way.  Visit the Google Developers Chart site for more info.

Google's Public data site:
Google's public data site allows you to upload your own data or use tons of data from large government data sets that are available to use in your charts.

The easiest way to find out what's available and the capabilities are to play around with a few data sets. And then image the possibilities when you upload your own data sets.

Nice 2 minute video overview of the Google Public data. This 11 minute YouTube video has a few tips on how to use the Google Public Data Explorer to display data visualizations, with an emphasis on classroom possibilities.

Wrap up:
There are a lot of possibility with these tools for classroom use, as well as administratively looking at your school data. Drop me some notes with any ideas or comments.

Free apps, fonts, web tools, student cheating and more. My second set of Tools for the week.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Great web tools and sites:

Did you know there are hundreds of fonts available in Google Docs?  You can even install those fonts on your computer!  My tech doc should help with more information. 

Comprehensive beginner's guide to HootSuite for social media:  (I love HootSuite for my Twitter uses!)

Amazing American Civil War Photos Turned Into Glorious Color (Amazing what can be done with technology!)

From the Rumor Mill -- Google Hangouts 1.3 Will Reportedly Add SMS, Giving Android Its Own iMessage Equivalent and another great tool for educators. via TechCrunch

Student Cheating??
This came from a recent recent #nebedu Twitter chat on filtering: 
Check out  It basically is a place where students can register for an account, pick their text book, and the page they are on, and get detailed answers.  As one Tech person put it...We have some teachers that don't care as they grade on quizzes and tests only. And some that want it blown up :)

Erskine's Editorial... What can we take form this at Norris:  It's all about classroom management, how we access our students, and being aware of what is available to students 24x7. (I have mixed thoughts about the comment from the one school, who's teachers comment was ... " I grade on quizzes and tests only".)

Are you using IFTTT? Or maybe asking what the heck is IFTTT!  If that is you, you may be missing out on one of the best time saving tools out there.

As this guide says: "IFTTT is an automation that will enable you to connect 2 services so that, when something happens with one service, a trigger goes off and an action takes place automatically on the other." 

Visit the site, look over some recipes, and see what it can do for you!

IOS Apps:

goREACT - Create Virtual Chemical Reactions on Your iPad- Free App-

Some nice free apps for today Only 10-11-13:

4 Dice Fraction Games 

Pocket CongressPocket Congress  

Rhythm Cat Pro HD   

Puppet Workshop - Creativity App for Kids for iPad is free today and is a great app; normally $2.99:  

Remember, if there are any of these you think you would want on the iPads here at school... let your media center specialist know so they can get the free app on the iTunes account. 

PowerSchool apps:
powerSchool apps for the Android devices were just released. (IOS apps have been available.)  Links to these can be found on our Home page:

My web tools for the week - free apps, ebooks, web tools and more. 10-13

Monday, October 7, 2013

PowToons resource: 
Remember - All teachers at Norris can get the PowToons classroom upgrade Free for the year. (Prior email.)
PowToons - made a short video showing teachers how to get started with their classroom account.  This upgraded teacher license includes accounts for an additional 30 students, this means that as a teacher you'll be able to monitor your students work and share your Powtoons directly with them.

Socrative 2.0 just released - and it' awesome!

Who needs clickers? With Socrative... no one! and it's free.  Taken from their web site: "Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets." 
Want to know more?

Some Gems for the Pre-K to 6th grade crowd: has tons resources and games for every grade level. As described on their site: " was developed with the idea that crucial concepts, themes, ideas, and fact sets taught in the classroom can be enhanced over the internet through interactivity." 

Some iPad apps for the primary grades: Math time tables apps - all 5 of these are free!

Ten Good iPad Apps for Elementary School Math Practice

Tell Time – A Free iPad App to Help Children Learn to Tell Time 

Home KG – A Free iPad App for Learning to Write

Google apps resources: 

How to Create Image-Based Quizzes in Google Forms - Short 4 minute video tutorial (Since Google has added images to 

eBooks and info:
How to Create and Edit Flexbooks Online. I have promoted the ck-12 web site and ebooks in the past, this is a great tutorial you will want to look at if you plan on using the Flexbooks with your class.

History and Geography resources:

The Lincoln Telegrams project ( includes over three hundred digitized telegram memos written by President Abraham Lincoln between March 10, 1864 and April 12, 1865. Check out their free app.  (A great primary resource.) (This app is nice, and even "translates" the handwriting for you.)

Early Jamestown is an interactive textbook exploration of the early days of the Jamestown settlement and the state of Virginia. Enjoy the rich interactive graphics and the engrossing story of a key moment in the history of the United States. Nice free app, worth checking out. 

Atlas for iPad is a free app, that is recommended by many teachers. (It does have ad's, but is free.) 

Photopedia  is an app recommended by many teachers to find out more about the culture and landscape of a country. You can pick country's world map, etc...  

Miscellaneous web sites and resources for the week: 

How Does Duke welcome their Freshman? - With a Prezi, Check it out.  This is a great online presentation tool!  I know I have promoted it in the past, but thought I would put another shout out, about this great tool!  Student's and Teacher's get upgraded accounts for free. Find out more on the Prezi Education Site.

A nice comprehensive list of apps for flipping a classroom.

149 Great Resources for teachers. (I like this list, it has many of the tools we promote here at Norris!) 

40 Sites for Educational Games. (And you may notice from this site, they maintain a Pinterest.) Pinterest board on educational games click here

Make your own flip books with Ease! 
If you loved FlipSnack, you'll be super excited to discover FlipSnack Edu!
FlipSnack took their appreciated app flipping book creator and turned it into a safe environment where teachers and students can share reading materials, curriculum's and assignments.

Have you updated your iPad/iPhone to IOS 7?

If not, I would.  For all personal devices, I am recomending the update.  For school managed devices, we are waiting for a while based on management and apps. 

Great guide to iOS 7 for busy teachers and students —  Downlaod this eBook (PDF format)  Here at Norris, we have placed it on the O drive, under here: O:\eBooks -Free\iPad  called "Introduction to iPads iOS 7.pdf"