Screenshot 2016-02-19 at 11.58.58 AMThis site is home to Ramapo Indian Hills High School District Instructional Technology and Staff Development. Here you will be able to find resources and tools to help you become more comfortable using technology with your students and implementing innovative methods in your classroom. Use this website for numerous resources, coaching appointments, newsletters, and workshop materials. I am committed to showcasing some of the great work our staff is already doing while helping to make the technology integration in the classroom both seamless and virtually invisible.



Tech Tip Tuesday: New Google Slides Update

Google Slides recently updated to offer some new robust tools that might just come in handy and make your presentation even that much more professional.

First, Google has integrated Google Keep into Slides. This is a fantastic addition. I wrote about what you can do with Google Keep and Google Docs before. This will add the same features to Slides and open the possibility for conducting research in a more meaningful manner while designing presentations.

Second, Google now lets you link and sync slides from multiple presentations with the click of a button. This allows you to maintain a single source of truth and easily update linked slides to match the source. This is awesome if you continually update presentations.

Third, there are SO many new add-ons that you can attach to Slides. You can get images with the Adobe Stock or Unsplash Photo add-ons! There is an AWESOME Pear Deck add-on that lets you add question types to an existing Google Slide presentation or present the presentation with Pear Deck from your Google Drive. Looking for more icons? There is even an icon add-on to add hundreds of new icons to your created slides.

Finally, there is an updated toolbar look, the ability to insert diagrams (even from Lucidchart), and a new grid view for how you access and change your slide layout/order.

You should already see these changes on your personal gmail account. Look for these to roll out soon throughout the district.



Tech Tip Tuesday: Week of Respect Resource

This week’s tip is more of a resource. Since it is the week of respect, I wanted to share a resource that I came across. I remember this video floating around a few years ago. Originally a poem by Shane Koyczan, the To This Day Project was started to mark the anti-bullying initiative “Pink Shirt Day”- which aims to highlight the effect of long-term bullying on students in school and to help schools better deal with this situation.

Shane Koyczan later released an animated video set to his poem. I remember showing this to my English class when I was teaching and remember the impact it had and raw emotion it drew from my students.

Take a minute to check out the video below.

Back Up Your Images

Mac doesn’t make it easy to locate photos/images on your Mac. You’ll notice that they show up in “iPhotos” but not in a folder on your hard drive. To backup images follow these steps:
  1. Create a folder on your desktop and title it Photos
  2. Open iPhotos
  3. Select all of the photos that come up (tip: select the first image, then hold shift –> scroll to bottom and select the last image)
  4. Then click FILE –> EXPORT –> EXPORT # PHOTOS
  5. Leave the pop-up settings as is –> then click EXPORT
  6. Select DESKTOP –> then find and select the folder we created –> then click EXPORT
  7. All of your images will then be dropped/exported to this folder (it will take a while depending on how many images you have exporting).
  8. From here you can drag this folder to an external hard drive/flash drive OR upload this to your Google Drive.
  9. To upload to Google Drive make sure you open Google Drive on the web: drive.google.com as the Drive App tends to sync and download copies BACK to your hard drive. Some people are getting messages that their drive is full. In drive select NEW –> FOLDER UPLOAD –> select the desktop folder with the images and let it upload to drive. (Note: You MUST be in Chrome Browser to see folder upload, otherwise you will see file upload (which will take A LOT LONGER)
Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Using Schoology Media Albums


Often overlooked but quite versatile, Schoology has a built-in option called “Media Albums” when creating assignments. Media Albums are a way to organize photos, videos, and audio files within your Schoology course or group. In order to access this tool first go to your Schoology course. Next, click the materials button in the left navigation –> and Add Materials –> Add Media Album.

A window will popup. Fill out the Media Album form with a title and description. At the bottom, you will notice a few small icons. By default, media albums are set to:

  • Enable comments so members of your course are able to post comments on the media album
  • Allow Instructors and Students to Add Media, or limit this ability to Instructors only
  • Publish the album so that it is visible to the Members of your Course

One you click CREATE, the media album is set. Feel free to upload and add different types of media to it from your hard drive. What is neat is that teachers AND students can post, share, and comment on the added media. So how can we use them in class with our students? What if…

  • students upload pictures of books they’re reading with a short review in the caption
  • students document steps in an experiment during a science lab
  • students use media albums to post field trip photos
  • students post created memes on topics/themes from class
  • students post their artwork in a digital gallery
  • teachers and/or students create digital “gallery walks”
  • students upload pictures to help students better visualize a novel
  • teachers host student presentations

Check it out and see what you think!

Tech Tip Tuesday: How to Use Your Projector as a Secondary Display for Morning Announcements


So you’re trying to show the morning announcements but the minute you go to take attendance the video ends up in the background and Genesis ends up front and center. So how can you do both?

Quite simple actually. What we want to do is set our Macbook to use the projector as a “separate display.”

At the top of your desktop window, select the AIRPLAY icon as you normally would. Next, instead of selecting “mirror built-in display” choose USE AS SEPARATE DISPLAY. By selecting this option, you will notice that a) your projector screen is showing a blank version of your desktop wallpaper, and b) your Macbook has its normal current view.

To have the morning announcement populate the projector view, hover over the web browser icon you use in your Dock. Right-click on the browser and select NEW WINDOW. (Reminder: morning announcements need to be shown on Safari, so for this step, you may want to just open Safari instead of a second window on your current browser). A new separate window will pop open. Minimize the window so that you can click and drag it. Next, select the window and drag it toward the right, to the edge of your screen. As you continue to drag it past the edge, the popup window will begin to appear on the projector screen. Keep moving it until it gets centered.

Once you have this where you want, maximize the screen and you are set to open the announcements. As the announcements are playing, feel free to go back to your original window on your Macbook and open Genesis.

This should help you overcome this issue. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Hope this helps.

Tech Tip Tuesday: New Schoology Google Drive Assignments Integration!


Schoology recently released the new Google Drive Assignments app to make it easier for teachers to assign Google Docs right from within Schoology. Taking a page out of Google Classroom, students are then able to own a copy of the Google Doc that you have attached to the assignment, edit, and submit, all from within Schoology too! And to top it off- you can grade it and leave comments just as you would a normal Google Doc from… all within Schoology!

The best part about this new integration is the seamless fluidity of both platforms (Schoology and Google) working together. You can view, edit, and comment, regardless of which platform you are in. For example: Once the teacher creates the assignment with the Google Doc Integration attached- the student will get a copy of his/her own. They can access it from within Schoology (which loads fully in the webpage and can be edited right there) OR they can open the Google Doc from within their own Google Drive and do the editing there. Doesn’t matter! All changes to the doc will be reflected back on Schoology’s end for you, the teacher, to see.

Here’s how to get this new tool. First, you need to access the Schoology App Center (usually found by clicking home –> then App Center in the left navigation. Scroll and search for Google Drive Assignments –> Click the link –> click Install LTI App –> then designate which courses you want to attach this app too (I recommend choosing all). Once this is done, go to one of your courses, and begin creating an assignment.

When the window opens to create the assignment, you will notice a new button in the center that reads: Assign from App: Google Drive Assignments. Click on the Google Drive Assignments button to open your Google Drive from within Schoology (you may need to allow permission for this to open). Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 12.44.26 PM

Find and select the file you want to attach. Then, go ahead and name this assignment, add a description, include dates, and select a category. You can still embed videos, rubrics, or other media tools into this assignment too! Once the assignment is created, click on it to see how it will open in the new window. The new tool really takes a lot of the guesswork out of attaching and embedding Google Docs as assignments. If you’re a heavy Google Drive user, or plan to be, this app is for you!

I am attaching the directions on using the Google Drive Assignments App from Schoology. Feel free to check it out or reach out to me with further questions.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Back Up Your Files to Google Drive


As you finish the school year, it’s always a good job to back up your files and take them with you for the summer. If you haven’t been using Google Drive as often as you’d like, using it to back up the files on your computer makes a lot of sense. With this, you can backup all the files on your computer, directly to Google Drive, and have access to these files from anywhere… at any time. Here is how to do this:

The first key is to make sure you are using Google Chrome when uploading your files. Chrome gives you the opportunity to upload entire folders from your hard drive. Other web browsers (Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer) may not give you this option.

Next, go to Drive.Google.com or use the Google Drive app from your web browser (not the Google Drive app on your Mac! I will mention this at the end).

Once you’re on Google Drive double check your settings: Click the “settings”/ “gear” icon in your drive located on the right-hand side. Click that –> then click “settings” –> then check the second option called CONVERT and see if it is checked off. By checking this option off, it will take any files you upload and convert them to Google type files (for example: Word will become a Google Doc, Excel will become a Google Sheet, etc. I prefer to have this checked! Next click “done”.

Now, to begin uploading files to your Google Drive click “NEW” –> “File / folder upload”    –> select the file from your hard drive –> then click “UPLOAD”. Google will begin syncing and uploading your files to your Google Drive. Do this as much as you need.

*Pro Tip: Create a Google Drive folder first, then go into the folder you created and THEN upload your files. This way your files will be uploaded directly to this folder and keep your Drive organized.

** The reason I mentioned NOT to use the Google Drive app on your Mac is that this is strictly a sync app. By doing this, it will “drop” files into your Google Drive while keeping the files on your Mac as well as possibly download duplicate copies. This could max your hard drive out.



Tech Tip Tuesday: Backing Up Your Schoology Resources


We are in the stretch run toward to the end of the year. Now is as good as a time as any to begin organizing your materials and saving them for next year. So what if there was an easy way to do this is Schoology? Have you checked out Schoology’s “Resources” tab?

The Schoology Resources is where you can save all of your stuff to your personal filing cabinet to be reused next year. You have a few options with this. You can save individual assignments, save entire folders of content (great for entire units), and/or save your entire class!

Here is how to do this:

To save your course to your personal resources: Select the course you want to back up –> click “options” –> then “save course to resources”. In the box that follows, leave the collection as “home” and folder as “no folder”. This will then save your ENTIRE course and ALL of the assignments/materials within to your personal resources folder. Depending on the size of your course and number of files within, this may take a few minutes. Wait it out. To see your course and all of its content once backed up go to the “Resources” tab at the top –> select “Personal” –> and you should see the course folder on the right.

To save an individual folder or assignment to your personal resources: Select the course that you want to back up an individual folder of contents or individual assignment/material from. Select the “gear” icon to the right of the folder/assignment –> then “save to resources”. In the box that follows, leave the collection as “home” and folder as “no folder”. This will then save your folder with all of the contents within OR the individual assignment/material to your personal resources folder. To see your folder or the individual assignment go to the “Resources” tab at the top –> select “Personal” –> and you should see the course folder on the right.

To retrieve your course/folder/assignment next year: Select the “Resources” tab at the top –> then select “Personal”. Once you find your course/folder/assignment in the list to the right, select the “gear” icon to the right of it –> then select “add to course” –> then choose the course you want to add it to. This will copy and add this folder/assignment to your new course next year. What is great is that all of the contents within/settings etc will be moved as well. So if you had an entire unit worth of work in your resources folder in a particular order, it will copy it directly over. The only thing that is not saved to your resources or brought back to the new course is any student work/submissions.

Hope this helps!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Coggle.it


Coggle.it is a great online “brainstorming” or “bubble” tool that makes for a great way for students to generate ideas and share complex information.  Coggle.it lets users create “bubble” that are posted to a board with text, images, or links.  Further, with Coggle, users can connect these “thoughts” to others to make connections. Simply go to Coggle.it, select sign up here, then use the Google single sign-in to register.

Taking a page out of Google’s platform, some other great features include being able to collaborate live on a document, leave comments, managing the public or private share settings, and being able to present the information in a fullscreen mode OR download and print it. I also like that your participants do not need a login to join the room. Finally, I like that Coggle.it simply saves your information as you go!

I used Coggle.it to create a map of the 4 C’s and the various edtech tools that are out there and where they fall in these 4 categories.  So what if …

  • Students made text-text, text-world, text-self connections during reading?
  • Students researched their lineage to create a family tree?
  • Teachers collaborated on a Coggle.it as part of evidence during a PLC?
  • Teachers documented evidence/examples as part of an ongoing SGO?
  • Students selected a topic of study to analyze during a reading and mapped the progression throughout the text?
  • Students created a mindmap as part of a social media campaign along with infographics, etc?
  • Students created a sociogram- a graphic organizer that maps relationships between people and can connections – both obvious and subtle? Perfect for a History or English class.

Hope this helps!


Tech Tip Tuesday- No Photoshop? No Problem- Try Sumopaint or Pixlr


As we begin to shift to life without Adobe, I figured now is as good as ever to share two apps/programs that I think will help replace the loss of Photoshop, should you need that sort of editing program.

SumoPaint looks and feels almost exactly like Photoshop and requires no sign-up. This is a browser-based app that simply runs off flash in your web browser. Simply go to sumopaint.com. I have tested it myself (for what it’s worth) and found that it is stable and loads fairly well. There are obviously features found in PhotoShop that you won’t find here, but this is probably the closest to being a direct PhotoShop clone that I have found. Image layering effects are also there. I was able to crop myself out of a photo and drop me on a beach in Bora Bora…

The second tool is called Pixlr. Pixlr is an online photo editor that is another PhotoShop alternative. As with Sumopaint, Pixlr works in your browser. Just go to https://pixlr.com OR use the Google Chrome App found here. What’s nice is this program also offers some advanced image editing and effect tools and works decently well on your phone/tablet!

Combine the two and I think this will help ease the loss of PhotoShop.

Hope that helps!