Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Creating Vocabulary Cards

You can have students make vocabulary cards with either Popplet or Educreations.  Here are the instructions.

For Educreations, they can save their work.
- Click on Done
- Save Lesson
- Give it a title
- Click on Private
- On the next screen click "Cancel"
- It will save it in Educreations but they won't be able to share it with you...yet.  Later when they receive their school email account they can set up their Educreations account with that email.  Conversely, they can enter their own personal email if they choose.

For Popplet:
- Click on Export
- Click on Save JPEG
- Their work will be in their Photos Camera Roll

Monday, August 6, 2012


Socrative Logo
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.

No App needed. Students can access the student response system via a web browser.

Check it out - it's free.

Creating an Apple ID in iPad

  1. From the Home Screen, tap Settings and then tap Store.
  2. Tap Sign In, or sign out if someone else's Apple ID is there already.
  3. When a prompt appears, tap Create New Apple ID.
  4. Choose the appropriate store by tapping Store, and select the country in which you are located. Tap Done to confirm your selection, then tap Next to proceed to the next screen.
  5. The next screen will display the iTunes Store Terms and Conditions. You can opt to have the Terms and Conditions emailed to you for easier reading by tapping Send by Email. To do this, enter your valid email address then tap Send.
  6. To agree to the Terms and Conditions, tap the Agree button which is located in the bottom-right of the page. Tap Agree again when the confirmation appears.
  7. Once you've agreed to the terms and conditions, you'll need to enter an email address, password, and choose security questions and provide answers to them.
  8. You can also enter an optional rescue email address.
  9. The email address you provide will be your new Apple ID (which is what you will use to log in to the iTunes Store). Enter your email address and then tap Next.

    Tip: If you are trying to create an account using an existing Apple ID, like your MobileMe email address, you will receive a prompt telling you that your email address is already an Apple ID. Simply tap Continue, then tap Use Existing Account on the following screen.
  10. Next, you'll be required to enter your billing information. To change the default card type, tap the Credit Card field. Select your card type and tap Done. You will not be charged until you make a purchase. 
  11. Once you've filled out all the fields for your billing information, tap Next. 
  12. You'll then see a screen that says Verify Your Email Address.
  13. Tap Done and check your email for a verification email from Apple. If you need to set up email on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, see iOS: Setting up an email account.
  14. Open the email and tap the Verify Now link enclosed in the email to activate your account.
  15. You'll be taken to a secure page to enter your Apple ID and password to complete your account verification. 
  16. Once you've entered your email address and password, tap Verify Address.

  17. To modify or change your account information such as Apple ID, payment information, or billing address, tap your account name located at the bottom of the page once you are signed in to the iTunes Store. When prompted, tap View Account. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Canvas Resources for Teachers

Here are some links to additional invaluable resources as you begin using Canvas

  Click HERE to download the "Build a Simple Canvas Course" to practice building a basic Canvas Course

  Check out our VIDEO GUIDES  

  Check out these BEST PRACTICES webinar video archives

  Check out my reply to a question in our Canvas Community about exemplary Canvas courses


  Visit our COMMUNITY often and vote up your "must have" FEATURE REQUESTS or submit one!

Recommended Apps for 7th Grade

English/Language Arts Apps for Teachers of English 7, Read 180 Study Skills and AVID

Mathematics Apps for Teachers of Algebra and Math 7

Social Sciences and iOS Start Workshops for teachers of  World Cultures, Moderate to Severe & Librarians

Annotation, Brainstorming, Collaborating
• Notability ($0.99)

• Skitch (free)

• Popplet Lite ( free)

• Whiteboard Pro: Collaborative Drawing ($0.99)
• Bump (free)

Recording tools
• iTalk Recorder Premium (1.99) or Lite (Free)

QR Scanner
• Zapper (free)
( OR QRafter OR ATTScanner )

Science Apps for Teachers of General Science

·   Annotation app such as Skitch for iPad -

·   Drawing app such as Skitch for iPad -

·   QR scanner such as Zapper QR Code Scanner (free for a limited time; QR scanners require a camera) -

·   Bump* -
*Not needed if iPhoto is purchased and installed on devices (iPhoto $4.99/$2.49 VPP -

School Guard - Internet Solution for Parents and Schools

Our School Guard solution would help address this issue, at no cost to schools/districts:

With our solution, parents can opt-in to allow a school policy to manage personal device use during school hours.  The school policy could block different types of traffic and destinations on student-owned devices during school hours, including total internet access during standardized testing or access to social networks during normal school hours.

Parents can also block or limit messaging and calls during school hours using our controls.

While our solution won’t address the entire population, it is also FREE and a step in the right direction showing concerned parents that they have an option to work WITH the school to manage appropriate use.

Even if the school’s policy is “no outside internet access”, our solution can help students/families comply with that by shutting that outside access off during school hours.

QNA about Canvas

Q. What is Canvas?
A. Canvas is a learning management system. It allows teachers, students, and parents to communicate via a web-based, open source, platform agnostic, and mobile device friendly interface.

Q. What is a learning management system?
A. A learning management system (aka: LMS) is like a virtual “school” that allows organizations to create an environment where content, resources, and information is shared among stakeholders. Canvas has the following specific features:
  • a place for learner expression (blog/portfolio/wiki/threaded discussion)
  • a place for content interaction (posting/submitting assignments; accessing courses; posting/submitting grades; online assessments etc.)
  • a place to connect with other learners (e.g. threaded discussion forum)
  • a place to connect the thoughts of other learners in a personal, meaningful way
  • a place to dialogue with the instructor (email, chat, VoIP, etc.)
  • a place to dialogue with gurus and the larger Canvas community
  • a place for learning artifacts i.e. content management capabilities accessible and managed by the learner.
  • modularized for additional functionality and tools which allow for incorporation of new approaches as needed.
Q. Why do we need an LMS?
A. A robust LMS (if user-friendly and widely adopted by students, teachers, and parents):

  • ·         saves paper
  • ·         enhances communication
  • ·         extends the learning environment beyond the school day
  • ·         supports collaboration, makes feedback accessible and easy to manage
  • ·         allows for digital portfolio creation and archiving
  • ·         serves as a portal or dashboard that can be used to access apps, productivity tools, media and rich content, classroom communications, etc.

Q. Are we required to use Canvas?
A. The District adopted Canvas to help support the success of 21st Century learning. Over the next 6 years, Canvas will be adopted District wide. Middle School Principals have been introduced to Canvas. Many have participated in “basic” training. There is no “requirement” that teachers use Canvas but the hope is that teachers will use Canvas when they see the value-added features Canvas has to offer. Minimally, Canvas streamlines communication with students and parents and eliminates the need for a “backpack express.” When fully used, Canvas can integrate and manage every aspect of the administrative side of teaching (communication, grading, posting assignments and collecting work, content sharing, etc.)

Q. Do we have to use the grade book in Canvas?
A. Canvas has a grade book along with a very intuitive speed grader that allows teachers to review, mark, and comment on work (written, video, and voice) with ease. Once a grade is posted, a communication goes out immediately to the parent via text or e-mail depending on which preference the parent chooses. Many teachers have shared that they use other grade book tools.

Q. Will we get support and training for Canvas?
A. Yes. One of the factors in selecting Canvas over other LMS providers is that Canvas provides excellent training and support. We are also incorporating Canvas training with the Apple training scheduled for August.

Q. I have logged on to Canvas but I don’t see my classes. Do I have to create my own rosters?
A. IT is in the process of creating e-mail addresses for students as well as integrating each school’s master schedule with Canvas. Once this occurs, your class rosters in Canvas will synchronize with student information in Chancery. You will be notified as soon as class rosters are visible in Canvas.

Q. How do I get a Canvas account?
A. Go to Use your e-mail ID as your username e.g. If you don’t already have a Canvas account, click on “I don’t know my password.” Canvas will e-mail you a temporary password. Then you will be prompted to créate a new password. USE THE SAME PASSWORD YOU USE FOR YOUR DISTRICT E-MAIL. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cloud wars: Sugarsync vs. Dropbox

Saving information to the cloud is a regular practice for many tech users.  It's relatively safe and secure, you can generally access your information from any computer via the internet, and many offer you the option of automatically backing up your most precious data.  There are many cloud services, and much has been written about which cloud services are the best.  I'm here to give my two cents about two of the more popular services.


Dropbox functions just as it sounds (well, sort of): your drop the files you want backed up into a folder and it is automatically saved to their cloud servers.  When you sign up for an account, you're alloted 2 GB of space for free for your various files.  As long as you keep your files in the Dropox folder, the service will continually back them up.  Even if you delete a file, Dropbox keeps a version of it just in case you change your mind.  If you're sure you want to delete it permanently, it allows you to do that too.

You can create folders and subfolders within Dropbox to keep your files organized.  You can even share your files and folders with others (more on that later) even if they're not Dropbox users.  If you're offline and don't have internet access, you can still work with your Dropbox files, and it will sync with the service once you have a connection.

Dropbox works well with iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices.  I currently have it on all of my Apple products so I can access files if needed.

What I really like about Dropbox is its simple interface.  It's easy to use for users of all levels because of how straightforward it is.

Sharing files and folders is easy.  Since you probably don't want to send a 9 MB file via email (it will be slow and may not work), you can click on the Public Link for that file and email a link to the file instead.  The recipient can click on the link and then download the file on their end.  This comes in particularly handy when sending multiple photos or videos.  Alternatively, you can invite another Dropbox user to share a file or folder with you, which allows both of you to work on them together.

If you share a file with another user and you're both making edits, Dropbox shows you what the other person has done.  It also keeps 30 days worth of revisions, so if you realize that you don't like anything you've saved, you can also go back to a previous version and start all over!

Dropbox also plays well with other iOS apps, which is a bonus with so many people having iPads in their hot little hands!

All that being said, there are a few things that bother me about Dropbox.

1) You have to physically move files into your Dropbox folder.  Therefore, if you forget to save something to your Dropbox folder, you won't be able to access it through the cloud.

2) I also have issues with sharing via Dropbox that I'll address below.

3) When you share a folder or someone shares with you, it takes up some of your storage space.

4) Speaking of storage, Dropbox only allows 2 GB for the free accounts.  That sounds like a lot, but I could easily use much more.  While there's the option to upgrade to a paid account for more space, it's quite expensive.


Sugarsync is similar to Dropbox, but a bit more complicated.  While you dragged and dropped the files you wanted backed up for Dropbox, Sugarsync's interface allows you to back up specific folders on your computer.  That means your folder stays right where you want it, and any changes made within that folder are automatically backed up.  You can also back up different devices and computers to your account, therefore that file you saved to your work computer can be accessed at home.

When you sign up for an account, you're alloted 5 GB of storage for free.  That's a good amount of space to start with!  You then pick and choose which folders to sync to the cloud.

Sugarsync has a special folder called the Magic Briefcase where you can store your most used files and folders.  While your regular Sugarsync files don't need to be synced to other devices (my laptop files don't need to be accessible at school), the Magic Briefcase is the one folder that will sync across all devices with Sugarsync loaded.

Just like Dropbox, you can also create new folders and subfolders.  Sharing files and folders is easy but Sugarsync has extra security options compared to Dropbox.  You can also create Public Links that allow people to download the file to their computer or device.

Sugarsync works on the same devices as Dropbox but also works with Windows Mobile and Symbian.

Simlar to Dropbox, Sugarsync keeps previous versions of files in case you change your mind.  It will keep the five previous versions, although the most recent one will the only to count towards your storage limit.

All in all Sugarsync does what Dropbox does, but better.  Here are a few things that it does that Dropbox doesn't do (yet):

1) You can create text files within the app and sync it to your computer.  You can't create any files in Dropbox.
2) If you backup music to your Sugarsync, you can stream that music from your device.  This will free up space on your mobile device for more apps and photos!
3) You can upload files to your Sugarsync account via email.
4) You can password protect shared files and set permissions on what others can do with the file or folder.

COST: Sugarsync has more pricing options than Dropbox.  For example, if the 2 GB from Dropbox isn't enough, the next level you can purchase is 100 GB for a whopping $99.99.  With Sugarsync, if 5 GB isn't enough, y can go to the next level at $49.99 for 30 GB.  If you need 100 GB it will cost you $149.99, making Dropbox cheaper.  However, unless you're backing up EVERYTHING you have digitally (and then some), 100 GB might be much at first.

EASE OF USE: This really depends on your comfort level with technology.  Dropbox is definitely easier to use than Sugarsync.  You'll need to devote some time to either service since you're either dropping files and folders into your Dropbox or selecting files and folders to backup with Sugarsync.  However, if you're just starting out Dropbox will be easier.

SHARING OPTIONS:  Both have the functionality to share files and folders, either through inviting people via email or with a Public Link.

If you share a file via Dropbox, the recipient can change or alter that file.  If you share a file via Sugarsync, you can set whether you want the recipient to have editing capabilities or just read-and-write permission.  As I mentioned before, you can also set a password for that file.

It's important to note that you can sort of get around this with Dropbox, particularly if you're sharing a file with students.  If you trust the recipient enough to edit a file or folder, invite them to share the folder.  If you simply want them to have their own personal copy of that file or folder without editing capabilities, send them the public link to that file so they can download it.


I don't think it's a secret that I'm more biased towards Sugarsync.  It really meets my needs in just about every way and offers more free storage.

That being said....

In my district, the student iPads are preloaded with Dropbox, not Sugarsync.  So why did I compare these two if students only have access to one and not the other?  Simple: I use both.

First, I save different types of files to each cloud service.  I have mainly work-related files and folders saved to my Sugarsync.  For this reason my units and lesson plans are saved to Sugarsync for sharing purposes.  I also sync files and folders I use on my school computer.  I save my personal files to Dropbox since I don't really share with that service.  Additionally, I'm too lazy to figure out which file folder to put personal files in, so I just drag it to my Dropbox and figure I'll organize it someday.

Second, Sugarsync + Dropbox = 7 GB of storage.  Need I say more?

Finally, if students are using Dropbox, it's my responsibility to know how to use it.  If I tell them to annotate a worksheet and save it to their Dropbox, I'd better be ready to explain that process for those who don't know!

There you have it folks.  Yes, there are many other services such as Google Box and SkyDrive.  These two are the ones I've personally worked with, have heard other colleagues working with, and am ready and willing to teach others how to use.

So take some time to think about your needs and make your own ruling on which service is better.

- Kim Lepre
  English 7
  Hilltop Middle School

Monday, July 9, 2012


Over 1000 learning guides for all subjects plus CAHSEE/AP/SAT/ACT prep. This also contains an essay practice component. 80% of Shmoop content is free. Shmoop is a resource for teachers, students, and parents. SUHSD families have a subscription as do all teachers. Contact David Damico at for information about accessing all of Shmoop's subscription-based content. In the meantime, check out the website.