Throwback Thursday: Read Write Think Website Interactives and Apps

Read Write Think offers several great iPad apps for students to use in all subjects... not just ELA. Over the years, I've blogged about Trading CardsRWT Timeline and VENN Diagram, and the Poetry Apps (Diamante, Theme, Acrostic and Haiku).  To view all the apps in the App Store, click HERE.

The Read Write Think website offers many more (58 to be exact!) student interactives that work on computers or Chromebooks for students in all grades k-12.  You can search by grade level, interactive type and even learning objective (comprehension, critical thinking, etc.)  There are also many lesson plans to give you ideas of how to incorporate the interactives into your classroom.  The online interactives can be accessed here:

How do you use the Read Write Think resources in your classroom?  Leave us a comment below!

Get Epic! - Free eBooks for Kids

Epic! is an awesome app that offers thousands of ebooks for K-5 students and is 100% free for teachers.  

There are so many ways Epic! can help the classroom teacher out! 

  • It is an app you can put on the child’s iPad or use the website.
  • It provides one more way to help children fall in love with reading! 
  • It provides a way for children to log their reading documentation. 
  • The choices of literature are AMAZING!  Many genres at all levels.
  • It allows differentiation in the classroom because you can choose what age group you are interested in reading. 
  • It has books read to you for the emergent readers.
  • It has chapter books of all genres for the higher readers.
  • It has books for all academic subjects!  Easy way to do nonfiction mini lessons in small group reading that seem exciting to the kids!

One tip we've learned since last year is that it is easier to create your student accounts within the iPad app, rather than on the computer.  Go to to create an account.  Then login to the app to add your students. - Super Easy Student Blogging App

Since KidBlog switched to an all paid model in August, I been on the lookout for a new, EASY way for students to blog.  This week I learned about  Right now, if you sign up for an account you get 100gb of space for free!  There is a bit of a process to get everything setup on each iPad but it's the easiest blogging app I've seen for kids.  Parents can visit their child's blog online and can subscribe so that they get an email each time their child posts.

Here are step by step instructions to get everything set up: The site also has a great collection of tutorial videos

Once everything is setup, students have 4 choices when they're in the app ("The Easyblog App"

When they choose the Type button, they have a piece of paper for their writing and can also post a photo and/or video.

Once they tap Done, they give their post a title, choose a subject and tap the green check mark.

Students can read each others' posts by tapping the Visit Blogs button in the app.  If you want your students to leave comments for each other, they have to go to the URL of the blog in Safari.

Throwback Thursday - Google Forms + Flubaroo!


I first blogged about Google Forms in this post from way back in 2012.  Now that everyone in GCISD has a Google account, it's even easier to get started!  Here's a step by step tutorial if you're new to Google Forms:

Google Forms are a great way to get information from your students or parents.  Many teachers use a short Google Form for a quick formative assessment during a lesson.  I have pinned tons of ideas for using Google Forms in the classroom on this Pinterest board:

Here are some examples from GCISD teachers.  

  • Decimals Task Cards - from Kimberly Steele, 4th grade teacher at OC Taylor Elementary.  The students worked sample problems on their task cards and submitted the answers to her via this form (  Then she used Flubaroo to give her immediate feedback about their progress.
  • Map Skills - from Caroline Presley, 3rd grade teacher at Heritage Elementary.  Caroline used the "add image" feature to add a labeled map for students to reference as they completed this form (

Once you start using Google Forms with students, you'll definitely want to check out Flubaroo.  It's an awesome add-on that will automatically grade a form for you!  My favorite part is that it gives you an item by item analysis so you can quickly assess which specific skills your students need to work on. 

Here's a quick demo of Flubaroo (click this link if you are viewing this blog post via email:

Flubaroo has a great step by step tutorial on their web site to get you started:

How do you use Google Forms and Flubaroo in your classroom?  Leave us a comment with your ideas and links to your sample forms!

ViewPure - Remove the YouTube Distractions!

ViewPure is a great resource for taking away all the comments, ads and other distractions from YouTube video pages.  The easiest way to use ViewPure is by using their bookmarklet.  From the main page, simply drag the big orange "Purify" button to your Bookmarks Bar (you may have to go to View and choose Always Show Bookmarks Bar if you don't see it.)

(If the animated gif above does not play in your email, click HERE to view)

Once the Purify button is on your toolbar, just go to the YouTube video you want to show, click Purify and the bookmarklet will automatically take you to a simple page with just the YouTube video.  

It actually creates a new URL for the video so you can share that with your students in Google Classroom, Blendspace, via QR code, etc. so that they can watch without the typical distractions!

Terms of Service

Any website or app that requires a login to use it will have a "Terms of Service" agreement.  The agreement is usually linked at the bottom of the app's website.  These agreements generally have age requirements in place in order for the site to comply with COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) and CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act) laws.  Generally these fall into several categories:

No age requirement:  Anyone can use

Must be over 13 (or sometimes 18) to use:  Students under the age of 13 (or 18) CAN'T use the site no matter what (even with parent permission)

If under 13 (or sometimes 18), students must have parent permission in order to use:  Rather than teachers having to get parent permission every time they find a new app, in GCISD, parents give permission through InfoSnap at registration.  Your data secretary can print a report of students who do not have permission.

Even if the app or website touts itself to be educational or you hear another teacher talking about it, it is still your responsibility to be sure that you are in compliance with the terms of service.  Terms of Service do change.  Some of our former favorite apps like Animoto and Haiku Deck no longer allow students under 13 to use the service. 

The flowchart at the top gives you an easy to follow sequence for determining if you can use a site or app with your students.  

Throwback Thursday: Thinglink

I originally posted about Thinglink in 2013 and again earlier this year.  Since we have "gone Google" in GCISD, there is now an easier option for getting students logged in to Thinglink and in your class group.  Now, instead of you having to create logins (that auto-generated a really hard password!), students can login with their GCISD Google account and join your class via a code.  GCISD is also now a Thinglink Verified District so teachers can join our GCISD group to learn and get ideas from each other.

As a reminder, here are some things I love about Thinglink:

  • It can be used in ALL subjects in ALL grades.  
  • It's an easy way for student to "smash" or "layer" products (video or picture) from other apps into one final project.  
  • It's a website and an app. Perfect for 1:1 or BYOD classrooms.
  • It's a great way to combine paper products with digital.  For example: students can draw/illustrate a diagram of the water cycle on paper and then use a picture of it as the background of a Thinglink with video explanations for each phase.

Here's a sample I made:

Here's what the lesson workflow would look like: 

Ready to get started with Thinglink Edu?  Here's a helpsheet with instructions + links to tutorial videos available on YouTube.

Student Data Notebooks

Many elementary campuses are exploring ways for students to track their own data and set goals electronically.  I spent some time experimenting with it this summer and have created a sample "Goal Setting Notebook" in Google Slides.  

Here are some example slides:

By creating tables, students can enter numerical data or color code cells to track growth.

Students can even insert pictures of digital or paper work into their "notebook".

To view the entire sample notebook I created, click HERE.  You're welcome to make a copy of it and modify for your students.  Or click this link to automatically make a copy in your drive.  

Now for the big question... how do I get a copy of this to my students?  Here are some options:

1.  Google Classroom - If you're using Google Classroom, there's an option on Assignments to make a copy of a file for each student.  It's super easy and it will name each document with the student's name.

2.  Force "Make a Copy" - In the spring I blogged a trick for forcing a copy of a document.  Some OC Taylor teachers used this for sharing Plan, Do, Study, Act documents.  View that blog post here:

What do you think?  What other forms would you like for your students to use?  I'd love to add things to my sample notebook!

What's New? - Google App Updates, PicCollage Kids and Photos for Class

"What's new?"  I get this question a lot.  Today I have some exciting new (relatively) things to share!

1.  Google Docs and Slides app updates 

The newest update to the Google Docs and Slides apps FINALLY allows users to insert images from the camera roll!  Woo hoo!  Now the Google Docs and Slides apps can actually be replacements for Pages and Keynote on the iPad... with the added functionality of collaboration plus automatic saving/backing up.   More info about the update here:

Pic Collage has added a YouTube video search feature that is pretty scary to me.  Just by clicking the YouTube button, students could see a list of videos without ever typing in a keyword.  You can't predict what will come up.  The good news is that the company has released a new app called Pic Collage Kids that's perfect for students.  The only option for images is to insert from the camera roll and it doesn't have the YouTube option.  I know lots of teachers like the built in image search in PicCollage, but the fact is, we don't know where those images are coming from... from either a legal or safety standpoint.  More info about PicCollage Kids here:

Speaking of image searches... here's a new one to add to your list. has filtered, copyright friendly images just for students.  You can read more about how they do it on their website.

Here's a chart I made (must be logged in with your GCISD Google to view) with QR codes for students to easily access several copyright friendly image search sites.  Just print and post in your classroom.  Students can scan the codes and add the sites to their home screen for future use.

Create Appointment Slots in Google Calendar

Google Apps Calendar comes with a cool built in feature called "appointment slots".   You can easily create blocks of time on your calendar that people can reserve.  It's like Sign Up Genius without having to create a separate account! 

Here's how it works:
1.  You create "appointment slots" on your calendar.  You can set individual times or choose a block and tell Google how many slots to divide it into.

2.  Share the event with specific people by entering their email address or copy the appointment page URL to send in an email.

3.  People sign up by clicking a specific time slot and choosing Save.  (Note: Users must have a Google account to sign up for events.  Parents could use their child's GCISD account if they don't have their own.)  Once a specific time has been claimed, it won't show up for other users to select.

Check out the Google help page for step by step instructions on setting up your own appointment slots.

Finding Copyright Free Images

Teaching our students to be good digital citizens is essential.  Since not all images on the internet can be freely used in web based teacher or student projects, we need to teach students how and where to go to look for legal and appropriate images.  Remember that our GCISD filter is not foolproof, so good monitoring is ALWAYS necessary.  

Here are some resources: (GCISD teachers can access this presentation online:
(GCISD teachers, view the slideshow or the
flyer below for the username and password.)
Regardless of the source, it’s a good idea to cite all images used in student projects.  

I put together a flyer of these resources with URLs and QR codes for easy sharing with students.  GCISD teachers can access the document here:
For more information about copyright, check out these resources:

Teacher Copyright Chart - What Can I Use?

What is Creative Commons?

Snip - Free Screenshot + Annotation Software for Mac

Taking screenshots on your Mac is easy... just hold down Command+Shift+4 and then drag a square around what you want to screenshot.  An image name "screenshot" will then be saved to your desktop.  There are other keystrokes you can use depending on whether you want the whole screen, a specific window or just want the image copied to the clipboard.  Learn more here: 

Sometimes, however, you want to take that screenshot and add annotations to it.  That's where a free application called Snip can come in handy.

With Snip, you can draw squares, circles, arrows and lines or type text directly onto your screenshot.  Then, when your image is ready, click the download icon (the last icon on the toolbar) to save the image to your desktop.  

The Snip homepage has lots of helpful tips for learning the software.  Just scroll down to the FAQ section:

Number Frames App

Number Frames

Number Frames is a free app from the same company that makes Geoboard, Number Pieces Basic, Number Line and Number Rack.  It's perfect for creating 10 frame models for math problems.

Students can use premade 5, 10, 20 and 100 frames (or custom sizes!) to model number sentences.  There is a wide variety of counters to choose from and students can use the drawing tools to annotate.  

Check out the other free math apps from the Math Learning Center here:

Make a Copy of a Google Doc for Each Student... The Easy Way!

Last week at OC Taylor, three fourth grade classes were going to be completing their Plan, Do, Study, Act goal sheet for this semester.  The teachers wanted the students to complete it digitally using the PDSA template found in the GCISD Template Gallery.  The problem is... the gallery is fairly complicated to access from an iPad.  We decided to use a cool feature in Google Drive that works with any Google Doc, Slides or Sheets file.  Here's how it works:

1.  Every Google document has a unique URL that ends with the word "Edit".

2.  Change the word "edit" to "copy" in the URL bar and press Enter.

3.  When students access this URL, it will ask them if they want to make a copy.  They simply click the blue "Make a Copy" button and a copy will be created in their Google Drive account for them to edit!  (If they're not already logged in to their Google account, they will be asked to login before they get to the screen above.)

Tips for sharing the URL with students:
  1. Post the link to Edmodo or Google Classroom.
  2. Use a URL shortener like or
  3. Paste the link into your favorite QR code generator.  I like (which also shortens the URL at the same time) or
  4. Install a browser extension so that it's just a click of a button to create the QR code or shortened URL.  I use Chrome and my favorites are the " URL Shortener" and "The QR Code Extension".  More info about the QR Code Extension can be found HERE.  More info about Chrome extensions in general can be found HERE.
OC Taylor teachers shared the URL with students via this QR code (feel free to use it too!) and it worked great!


Have you tried Blendspace yet?  It's a great way to collect and share lesson resources.  Signing up is easy... just login with your GCISD Google account!  The company has created a great step by step handout for getting started with Blendspace.

Check out some GCISD teacher created examples here: 
(I'd love to add your examples!  Send them to me via the form below.)

How can you use Blendspace in your classroom?

  • To collect all your resources for a particular lesson or unit in one place so that they're easily accessible.
  • To provide students with extra practice or enrichment for specific skills or topics 
  • To create choice boards to give students options for personal learning time
  • To "flip" your lesson

What kinds of things can be added to Blendspace boxes?

  • Links to webpages for research
  • Links to videos
  • Images
  • Google Docs or Presentations
  • Text instructions for hands-on or digital activities
  • Files (PDF, video, etc) from your computer

Other things I love about Blendspace:

  • It's easy to collaborate on Blendspaces with teammates to save time!  Just click the Share button and then choose Collaborate.
  • There is also a large, searchable gallery of already created Blendspaces that you can copy to your account and modify to meet your needs.
Check out the Blendspace I created for learning more about Blendspace:
(If you're viewing this blogpost via email and can't see the embedded Blendspace below, click this link.

How have you used Blendspace in your classroom?  Please share in the comments or share your Blendspace URLs in the form below: