Thursday, December 1, 2016

Technology Newsletter - Hour of Code Edition

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Next Week is Hour of Code Week!

Where do I Start?

The easiest place to start is at You simply go to the url and start the process of learning how to code! Choose your challenge by grade level, experience, subject area, and difficulty. Then follow the on screen instructions to start the party.

You can pick any challenge you like. The important part is introducing the concept of code to your students.

How does this Apply to my Classroom?

Computer Science skills require computational thinking, creative thinking and problem solving. All of these skills are applicable to classroom standards. Giving students opportunities both on and off line to explore coding will allow them to develop these thinking skills and use them across the curriculum.

Unplugged Activity

Breaking news, you can teach the fundamentals of computer science without an actual computer. Don’t believe me? Check out this activity called My Robotic Friends. All you need to complete this activity is poster paper and plastic cups. Using these materials you can teach your students the basics of coding. Check out more fabulous Unplugged Activities from CS Fundamentals.

Lessons with a Computer has dozens of coding lessons for all ages. They have courses that anyone can go through or you can choose to code with some of the popular movie and game characters like Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, Star Wars, Minecraft, Frozen, Ice Age, and even from the new Disney movie Moana! Check out Star Wars Here! May the coding be with you!

Lessons with no Computer has already compiled full lessons that do not require a computer call “unplugged lessons.”  You can find the unplugged lessons here.  They range in grade, ability, and difficulty.  Each lesson has an accompanying lesson plan, teacher video, and intro video for students.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Technology Newsletter - Christmas Shopping Edition 11/15


Stocking Stuffers  $0-$10

Need something small as a stocking stuffer?  Look no further than:

$4.99 - Powerbank for Cellphone (Black Friday Price)
$9.99 - Virtual Reality Headset (Black Friday Price)
$9.99 - Wireless Mouse (Black Friday Price)
“Up on the Roof tops, Reindeer paws. Out jumps good ol’ Santa Claus”..Do you want to know what Santa sees from the roof, show your children how the Vatican Decks the Halls? Virtual Reality devices will be one of the hottest items for this Christmas. There are several low cost items to consider:    Google Cardboard ($14.99) and yes, it is cardboard;  SmartTheater Virtual Reality Headset ($19.99); *View Master VR ($29.99) *Ok, this may belong in the category below, but we’re talking $4.

Merry Christmas!

Keep this Christmas classic by streaming your favorite Christmas movies with devices like Google Chromecast Ultra ($69.99)  and Amazon Fire TV ($89.99)  or by reading your favorite Christmas classics on the Amazon Fire HD 8  ($89.99) or the 2016 Amazon Kindle ($79.99). Also, don’t forget to play your favorite classic games on the new Nintendo Classic NES ($60.00).

Want to get your kids coding in a fun way? Check out the coolest robot around, Dash and Dot! Coming in at $105 on Amazon, this robot will teach kids and adults the process of  how to code so they can build the future!  

Chromebooks! With everything being online, they are a great for any situation. The main thing to look for would be as much RAM as possible. A few of my favorite are:

iPad- The least expensive iPad rolls in at around $250. There are some great deals from Target and Best Buy if you are willing to fight the Black Friday crowds.  

Apple Watch - $198 at Target/$216 at Best Buy on Black Friday
Fitbit - Fitbit is doing amazing things. The Charge HR, around $150, is a great band but you can get all fancy pants and pay more for more features.

Be Careful of Black Friday TV Deals as a rule, but if you can get one of these, good on you!
Walmart will offer a 50-inch Samsung 4K TV for $398, a $230 discount on its sticker price.
A 55-inch curved Samsung 4K TV will be on sale for $698 at Target. The television typically goes for $1,100. Target will also offer a $70 gift card with purchase.

Navdy Mounted Windshield Projector
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Navdy combines popular Head-Up Display technology with your favorite phone apps, projecting your maps, calls, messages, and music directly in front of you, so you can keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. List Price: $799. Click HERE to find out more.

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Samsung 60" Class 1080p Smart LED TV - UN60J620DAFXZA at SAMS Club for $548!

Good through Dec 31st.

Also at Sams Club HP Envy X360 2-in-1 Convertible Touchscreen Full HD 15.6" Notebook 15-w110nr, Intel Core i7-6500U Processor, 8GB Memory, 256GB SSD, Intel HD Graphics 520, Bang & Olufsen Audio, Backlit Keyboard, Windows 10 for  $769

Friday, November 11, 2016

Technology Newsletter GAETC Edition for 11/8

Many teachers are catching on to the cool tricks extensions can help us be more proficient at our work. At the GAETC conference, one speaker, Chris Craft, offered a top 10 list of awesome extensions you can add to your Chrome account. One of my favorites is uBlock Origin which blocks ads from showing up on websites, even YouTube! Check that one out and more by clicking HERE.

Chris Craft (@crafty184) did an excellent session on 10 Advanced Web Apps for Google.  These apps help you harness the full potential of the Google Ecosystem in your classroom.  Google Drive Migration for high school seniors, making data interactive in Awesome Tables, and Gmail analytics are a few of the tools.  A full list of Apps can be found here.

Best piece of advice from GaETC:“Innovate like a turtle.” We all know that technology integration can be overwhelming at times. Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher), a classroom teacher,  introduced a very practical approach for establishing and maintaining an effective technology toolbox. To be successful, she suggested that you, “innovate like a turtle”, by only adding three new technology tools to your toolbox each year (Ex. 3 years=9 tools). For additional technology integration tips check out, Vicki Davis’ website at

BreakoutEDU  A great resource for implementing critical thinking and problem solving skills.  Lisa Champlin, a 3rd grade teacher from Oak Grove Elementary School presented this session at GaETC and had the entire group up and working to solve the riddles/clues to be able to open the box. This can be utilized by any subject or grade. *click Get Started; fill in the beta user form and get a code to unlock many of the games that are available.

GAETC is like a box of chocolates in that you never know what you are going to get! This time around my sticking point came from Tony Vincent’s session on building success in the classroom. He referenced a book I am looking to read called Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. The book references strategies designed to make things you learn stick, which is what teachers want to do.  This was exemplified by a Ted Talk  on how to properly use a paper towel. The process shows how reiterating the topic helps to reinforce learning.  I never knew I’d learn the proper way to wash my hands by attending a tech conference.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Rule of Three for GaETC Attendees - VLOG

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 #GaETC 2016
Three simple steps to get the most out of your conference

The video post below describes some tips and suggestions to getting the most out of your conference experience. GaETC can be overwhelming to the most seasoned conference attendee, so make sure you are prepared by following these simple ideas.

  1. Plan all your sessions in advance
  2. If you aren't happy with a session you picked, vote with your feet and go to another one
  3. Enjoy all the activities, volunteer opportunities, and exhibition hall. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Technology Newsletter for 10/20


Introducing G Suite for Education

In the last couple of weeks, Google has announced their rebranding initiative for Google Apps for Education. The applications/tools that make our lives so much easier (Google Classroom, Google Docs, Hangouts, etc.) will now be referred to as G Suite for Education. The rebranding initiative reflects Google’s continued efforts to improve classroom learning.  Along with the rebranding initiative, Google has announced several improvements to their applications. For more information about these “smart” improvements, check out Google’s recent blog post.


Coding Assistance
Do you have an interest in learning how to code? Our very own resident smart guy, Brian Swanagan, will be offering a coding workshop on Saturday November 5th at the College and Career Academy. The session will take place from 10:00-11:00. Contact for more information.

Tech Fair
The Tech Fair is coming! The Northwest Georgia RESA Tech Fair is going to be on January 27, 2017. For a list of project categories, please click here.  There will be more information to come pertaining to a county wide tech fair coming. Consult the RESA link above to get started on your project ideas. For questions, contact

Learning and Grant Opportunities
With the help of, Floyd County Schools is providing a no cost, one-day workshop for elementary school teachers interested in teaching computer science. This training will take place on Monday, November 21st from 9:00am-3:00pm. This training is open on a first come, first served basis with 25 attendees max. Attendees will receive a $100 stipend for the day. For more information, click here.

The Georgia Family Connection Partnership is offering two excellent grant opportunities. There is a $500 grant opportunity for a lesson related to sustainable energy as well as a $2000 grant opportunity for gardening. For more information, click here.

S . A . M . R .

SAMR is a method for evaluating the progression of technology use in the classroom.  When first implementing technology, first substitute your previous teaching methodology with technology.  Once you and the students are comfortable with classroom technology, you can begin to enhance the role that technology plays in your classroom.

For more information on SAMR, Click Here.

Twitter, Tweet, Twitter Bird, ...

While Twitter only allows 140 characters to be posted in each tweet, there is a way around it to get even more said...or tweeted.  If you find your message to be longer and can’t shorten it, take a screenshot of your message, save it as a picture, then when you post a tweet, insert your message/picture. You’ve just beaten the 140 character limit! That and more tips can be found HERE.

(Standard 9) Professionalism is not just about what you already know, but requires a willingness, as the teacher, to also be taught. The FCS Kick-off Classic was just the beginning of the opportunities afforded to teachers who aspire to be and model lifelong learning. Participation in professional growth opportunities is an important aspect of being a good teacher. Floyd County Schools offers district wide trainings on : KidBlog, MobyMax, weekly Technology Lessons (i.e. DoIt), upcoming training, and in-house trainings from colleagues.