Monday, June 26, 2017

SeeSaw Unveils New Features at ISTE 17

This morning at ISTE 2017 I had a nice conversation with Carl Sjogreen from SeeSaw. Carl shared with me the newest features being added to SeeSaw. The following new features will be available on July 5th and are available to preview here at the ISTE conference.

1. A new teacher-to-student and teacher-to-parent messaging system has been added to the latest version of SeeSaw. This will let teachers send announcements to students and parents. Students and parents can receive announcements via SMS and push notifications.  Parents, but not students, can reply to a teacher's announcement.

2. The home screen for teachers has been redesigned to simplify the process of finding and selecting your courses.

3. Teachers can how select and or upload a class icon. Teachers can also select a custom color scheme for their class home screens.

4. The parents' view of SeeSaw has been redesigned. The new design consolidates a parent's view of his or her child's work across multiple classes. More importantly, parents can now search for their children's work according to date and or standard folder. As Carl explained to me, this will let parents quickly compare the work their children did in September with the work they did in May.

And if you missed it earlier this year, SeeSaw added a text labeling tool that you and your students can use on images. Watch the videos below to see how the labeling tool works.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Two Programs Providing Internet Access to Low-income Homes

Today at the ISTE conference I attended the morning TeachMeet ISTE session. At the end of the session Jay Eitner took the stage and shared information about two programs that provide affordable Internet access to low-income homes.

The first program that Jay shared was the FCC Lifeline Program. The program provides significantly mobile and fixed broadband Internet access. Costs are low, but do appear to be variable. You can learn more about program eligibility and find service providers at was the second program that Jay shared at TeachMeet ISTE. is a non-profit that provides assistance to families in need of free or low-cost Internet access. The organization partners with local internet service provides in 48 states and Washington, D.C. Low-cost, refurbished tablets and computers are also available through

WordWanderer - Another Neat Word Cloud Tool

There certainly is not a shortage of word cloud creation tools on the web. The latest that I've tried is WordWanderer.

WordWanderer attempts to be different from other word cloud creation tools by letting you drag and drop words to rearrange the look of your word clouds. Additionally, WordWanderer includes a search tool that you can use to find a word. The context of your chosen word is shown below the word cloud itself.

Applications for Education
Rather than just rely on my ideas for using word clouds in your classroom, take a look at these ideas from other teachers who use word clouds in their classrooms.

Thanks to Dave Kapuler and Larry Ferlazzo for the WordWanderer link.

Blogs in the Age of Google Classroom

This week at ISTE 17 there will plenty of buzz about Google products and products that integrate with Google Classroom. Google, and some Google devotees, will have you believe that Google Classroom is the solution to almost every workflow and communication problem you have. Google Classroom does provide some good solutions to workflow and communication problems, but there are some things it doesn't do or do well that a blog can do.

The first limitation of relying solely on Google Classroom is that it can only be accessed by approved members of your classroom and parents that you have invited (provided your school lets you invite parents). If you want to have students share their thoughts on a topic with a global audience, Google Classroom isn't an option for that. By contrast, having a blog will let your students participate in activities like QuadBlogging in which they share with students around the world.

Google Classroom was designed as a tool to streamline your workflow within G Suite. It wasn't designed to be a full-fledged publishing platform on which students showcase their work with a wider audience. Classroom blogs or individual blogs to which students contribute are designed to support publishing their videos, podcasts, interactive images, and other media. Yes, you can let students add some of that media to Google Classroom, but it will clutter your Classroom's stream. And it still won't let parents and other visitors comment on the content added by students.

Push notifications are an option in the Google Classroom mobile apps. That's a fine option, if you can convince parents and students to install the app and accept notifications. By contrast you can use a service like Remind and have standard text messages sent to parents and students without them needing to install an additional app (they will need to consent to receiving text messages). Those messages can be added to your blog through the use of the Remind widget.

Ready to make your own blog? Try Edublogs, Blogger, or one of these other options.

eduClipper Was Acquired by Participate - What That Means for Teachers

The popular social bookmarking and digital portfolio tool eduClipper has been acquired by Participate. Fortunately, teachers and students who currently use eduClipper won't notice any changes. Participate's commitment to maintaining eduClipper's free service for teachers was reiterated to me many times in the conversation that I have with eduClipper's founder Adam Bellow and Participate's CEO David Young. In fact, here's a video of Adam reiterating that point this morning in a YouTube Live broadcast from ISTE 2017.

Read the official acquisition announcement from Participate and eduClipper.