Brenham Tech Daily

Fab Find Friday: Christmas Buying Tech Tips from the BISDwired Technicians

Fab Find Friday - Document Studio

     Are you ready for an Add-On that will create a Google document from data in your spreadsheet? Then get this Google Sheets Add-On called Document Studio.

     It will create documents based on the data that you have stored in Google Sheets. And because Google Forms will feed data directly into Google Sheets, you can use Document Studio to automatically create documents from Google Forms submissions. Document Studio can create one document for every row in a Google Sheet.

Tech Tip Thursday: Thanksgiving Break Top 5 Tech Tips!

Heading into this upcoming Thanksgiving break, we wanted to supply you with some great tips to help get you organized over break!  The provided infographic (below) has our Top 5 Tech Tips for you to do!  

Some extra ideas when cleaning up your Google Drive, Thanks to @brantontech, include:
  • Change folder colors
  • Make folders
    • Use “Uncategorized” folder if it doesn’t fit in another category
  • In “Shared with Me” make sure you have added it to YOUR Drive (Add to My Drive)
  • Use advanced search options
  • Use the preview eye to view docs quickly
  • View details for revisions and who it is shared with
  • Shift + Click to select more than one and move more than one file or doc

We hope that everyone will have an AWESOME Thanksgiving break!  We are incredibly thankful for the thousands of viewers that read, share, and continually enjoy our daily blog!  Please, feel free to email us at if you ever have a suggestion, tip, comment, and/or feedback.  The BISDwired Team is comprised of Troy Kuhn, Tom Spall, and Brittni Branton.  

Click Here to visit our BISDwired Website
Follow Us On Twitter: #bisdwired and @BISDwiredTeam

Tom Spall
Troy Kuhn
Brittni Branton

Web Tool Wednesday - Geography Resources

Before I became an Instructional Technology Specialist, I was a Social Studies teacher so I'm always on the look out for history or geography resources. Being that this week is National Geography Awareness Week, here are four great resources to use.

GameOn World is a multiplayer geography game similar to that  Kahoot. The teacher selects a game category such as cities, places, etc. and then a game pin is provided for students to join.  

Spacehopper  uses Google Maps Street View iand you have to guess where the image shown is in the world  before you use make three incorrect answers. 

Smarty Pins is a Google Maps game that asks questions that can be answered by placing a pin on a map. You either win or lose MILES depending on how close or far you are away from the actual location.  Games are available in arts / culture, science / geography, sports / games, entertainment, and history / current events.

Capital Toss is a free geography game from ABCya that is for students grades K-5.  It asks about either United State capitals or capitals of countries. The name of a state or country appears at the bottom of the screen and three rows of capital names scroll across the top. When the correct capital name appears players virtually toss a ball at it. After ten correct answers players can choose a new ball. Three consecutive incorrect answers ends the game.

Teaching Tip Tuesday: Snowball Fight with Crumpled Pieces of Paper

“Snowball Fighting” Technique

The snowball technique, the snowball fight strategy, or whatever you want to call it is an instructional strategy that students love. It can be changed up to fit your classroom needs, too. The idea is to get out a notebook piece of paper, and then write a comment or question. Crumple the piece of paper up and have a snowball fight. Then pick up any piece of crumpled paper up, and open it and respond to the comment or question. If you don’t want the students to throw crumpled pieces of paper at each other, then have the students throw the crumpled paper to the middle of the circle. Then students can choose a different piece of paper to pick up.

How can you do this in your classroom?
  • Write a quote from a story you just read on pieces of paper. Crumple the papers up, and let your students have a snowball paper fight. Then have them pick up a crumpled piece and respond to the quote- why is it significant, what is important about it, and how does this quote contribute to the overall theme of the story?
  • Have students write one thing that annoys them. Have a snowball fight, and then students can pick up a crumpled piece of paper and come up with a solution for the annoying thing.
  • Write one equation on each piece of paper. Crumple the papers up and have the snowball fight. Whatever paper the student picks up, they must solve that equation. Have another fight, and this time someone else picks up the equation to see if it is solved correctly. Check this link out to learn more about how it is used in a math class here.
  • Discovery Education suggests having students write one fact from the movie they just watched in class. Then crumple it up for a snowball fight. After the fight, the student who picks up the paper must add a comment relating to the fact that was written above. This can continue on until there are three or four comments written for each fact.

The great thing about this technique is you can use it any subject. Take your lesson, and make it into an engaging Snowball Fight.”

Making Connections Monday: Meredith Akers @meredithakers

Making Connections Monday:
Meredith Akers @meredithakers

We enjoy shouting out amazing educators on Mondays, both in-district and out. Today, we are spotlighting a fantastic educator, Meredith Akers! Meredith is an assistant principal in Cy-Fair ISD.

Meredith is extremely passionate about education, her staff, and most of all... her students! If she's not hosting PD's sessions during and/or after school at her Elementary school, she's sharing ideas through social media! Meredith is active on Twitter and her blog!

 I was fortunate enough to meet Meredith last year at @edcampgrow in Brenham, TX. Meredith has an amazing vision for how schools and education should operate. She is EXTREMELY smart and passionate when it comes to instruction, curriculum, and technology.  Meredith was also featured on our blog: 17 Educators to Follow in 2017! Meredith is already moving mountains in education… I can’t wait to see what she does next! 

Follow Meredith on Twitter: HERE (@meredithakers)
Check out her fantastic blog: HERE

Click Here to visit our BISDwired Website
Follow Us On Twitter: #bisdwired and @BISDwiredTeam

Tom Spall
Troy Kuhn
Brittni Branton

Fab Find Friday: Quizlet Diagrams, Think Visual, Think Vocabulary

Quizlet Diagrams
We have all heard of Quizlet, and we especially have heard of Quizlet Live. However, have you heard of Quizlet Diagrams? I was first introduced to Quizlet Diagrams through a friend, Kaleigh Wehmeyer. She told me that I just had to check it out. Wow, I was impressed. They have so many diagrams to choose from that are already made. You can also make the diagrams, if you do not find one you like.
There are tons of diagrams for each subject. Once you click on a diagram, there are hotspots or vocabulary terms in each diagram. You can review the terms in the diagram, and then you can scroll down and look at the word and definition for each part of the diagram individually. Here is what it looks like-
Vocabulary that is a part of diagram.

If you know me, you know that I am always looking for a way that this is applicable to each subject.
Here is a biology example-
Here is an agricultural example-
Here is a culinary example-
Here is a statistics example-
Here is an English example-
Here is a social studies example-

I encourage you to go now to Quizlet, and go see if you can find a diagram for what you are studying.

Teaching Tip Thursday - Conga Line and Roving Paragraphs

     This week several Brenham ISD teachers, specialists, and principals were able to take part in a well presented Sheltered Instruction training.  There were a lot of great techniques presented, but two that could be adapted for almost any subject were Conga Line and Roving Paragraphs.  

     The conga line has students form two lines that face each other.  Student's in each line can share ideas, review concepts, or ask one another questions.  Then after a time you determine, one line moves in one direction while the other stays stationary, or both lines can move in opposite directions.  In either case, it ensures there will be new partners each time.  I've seen this used not only for students but staff developments and it's a great way to keep people moving and get fresh input. 

     Roving paragraphs gives the students a question and has them answer it in a sentence form.  Then students find someone to share their answer and in return write down the other person's.  Students can move around at least two more times, again sharing not only their original answer, but each new one they gain, then add to it with their new partner. In the end, each student should have at least four different answers to the same question they were given.  
Again, this could be adapted for any subject.  

     These were only a few of the activities shared during our training.  For more ideas, seek out your content specialists, instructional specialists, or instructional technology specialists. 

WeLead Wednesday - What's Up in BJH Pre-Algebra Classes

     This year, a new program has started in Brenham ISD called #WeLead.  Each of the instructional technology specialist works closely with a select group of teachers that were chosen from an application process last spring with the purpose of developing leaders within our district through intensive, collaborative opportunities with district specialists. Planning closely with our partner teachers, we have identified student areas of concern and developed a plan to show student growth through out the semester with each of those teachers' classes. 
     At Brenham Junior High, Suzette Evans is one of our Fall Semester #WeLead teachers. One of our goals was for her students to be able to successfully dissect / understand word problems by the end of the semester at a mastery level.
We first started with her class recording their work and saving it in Google Keep so they can track their progress throughout the process.

Students then recorded how they solved their equations using Flipgrid. Students first worked through their steps on paper, then recorded each step they took and shared their final video with the rest of the class. In less than one minute, the teacher can then see if that student has understood the concept or not, and if so, where they went wrong.

    Not every lesson has to include technology.  Another way students in Pre-Algebra worked to understand multi step equations was the math version of speed dating.  

     With desks arranged in a circular pattern, each student chose a random one step equation.  They then had to combine that with their "speed date" partner's equation to solve.  Every two minutes, the outside row of students would rotate, so once again there were new partners and new equations to solve.  That work was then captured via the camera on their Chromebooks and saved in Google Keep as well. 
     Next week our #WeLead teachers will help present the district wide Geek Week sessions along side each of their respective instructional technology specialist.  So far our first semester of  the #WeLead program has been a great success. 

Teaching Tip Tuesday: Don't Go Down The Rabbit Hole via @EricEwald_Iowa

Don't Go Down The Rabbit Hole!

We're all guilty of getting caught up in the, "what am I doing, I'm making no difference??," type of mentality.  Being a classroom educator is hard... so what are some steps we can take to ensure that burnout doesn't happen?  This is especially important for first-year educators!  Recently, the principal of Alton Elementary in Brenham ISD, Michael Ogg, shared out this blog post from Eric Ewald.  This is a fantastic read with wonderful tips!  Check it out!

And remember... Don't go down the rabbit hole!

Click Here to visit our BISDwired Website
Follow Us On Twitter: #bisdwired

Tom Spall
Troy Kuhn
Brittni Branton

Monday Reflections with #WeLead Teacher: Amanda Dismukes

Monday Reflections with Amanda Dismukes

What do you enjoy most right now about your campus?
I love the teamwork/collaboration that goes on not only within our department, but school wide. I feel that our campus is truly engulfed in what is best for our students and our educators bring that mindset to work each day.

Describe a recent lesson that you have enjoyed?
I enjoy teaching many of my lessons, but graphing quadratics has been the best yet. I love when my students and I get to use colorful post it notes with pre-printed graphs. The color helps keep them engaged, and they seem very appreciative of the time that went into planning the lesson. I also love recording my lessons. My students have a blast with that.

What technology tools do you like using most in class right now?
Screen Cast-O-Matic, Chrome Remote Desktop, my SMARTBoard, Khan Academies interactive questions

What is something that your admin does that you appreciate?
I feel that my admin show they appreciate me, as well as other educators. They are knowledgeable as to what is going on in my classroom, as well as events in my life. They seem interested and supportive when asking about “What’s going on?” or “How’s your day?”. A high five or fist bump through the hallway.
“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.”
(PTO - I love the SONIC drinks.)

In the past month, what is a new teaching philosophy, idea, strategy, or pedagogy you have tried to adapt in your classroom?
I’m trying to encourage my students to utilize Khan Academy and their exercises that they offer. Although KA doesn’t have a wide variety of questions to offer, they have a wide variety of topics offered, it’s interactive and offers immediate feedback.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?
Each year I enjoy watching my students grow. I love to see their problem solving skills improve while enjoying the material (or that’s how it appears).

Suggestion for new educators:
Find a system that works for you, and embrace it. What system? Classroom management, classroom environment, relating to your students, professional growth, social networking, etc. It’s great to get ideas from other educators, but be happy with molding those ideas into something that works for you.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” - Dr. Seuss

Fab Find Friday - Right Inbox for Gmail

Email has been around so long, we take it for granted it was it is.  However, there are extensions that can help you make it a little easier to use.  Right Inbox for Gmail is just such an extension.  
This extension lets you schedule emails to be sent later, create recurring emails, set reminders and follow up conversations.

The Right Inbox integrates within your Gmail lets you choose which of these features you would like to use. 

If you have newsletters or reminders you want to send out on at a specific time each week, month, six weeks, etc., then his extension can you help you with that as well. 

Technology Teaching Tip Thursday: Using Khan Academy in Your Classroom

Using Khan Academy in Your Classroom
I have had several teachers (Mrs. Fielding, Mrs. Markos, Mrs. Dismukes) tell me that they love to use Khan Academy. I had heard of Khan Academy a few years ago, and I thought they were a great resource for instructional videos. However, I never gave it another thought until this year when I heard my teachers talking about using it. Mrs. Fielding told me that her students use it for extra practice in Economics, Mrs. Markos said there was a lot of information out there for her AP classes, and Mrs. Dismukes and I dove in and found tons of math videos and practice.

Why use this?
*It is FREE
*It is extra practice
*It is an accurate, reliable resource for every grade level
*It works with Google Classroom
*There are tons of subjects-

How does it work?
This website can be used for extra practice. Anyone (parents, students) can go to this site and search for the topic that they want extra help on- DNA, solving quadratics, etc. There are practice problems, practice questions, and tutorial videos.

Teachers can even assign practices with Google Classroom, and they can track student progress.