Seesaw 5.0

Seesaw has recently updated to their latest version, 5.0. There are some cool new features and they have updated the look of the site from the teacher perspective.

Some of the new features include:
– An updated Parent app, now called Seesaw Family
– Teachers can customize their class page with a background color and icons to choose from
– New announcements feature – this is cool! Now there is a separate area for teachers to post quick announcements and reminders that is not part of the child’s portfolio.

Looking forward to seeing these updated features in action.

Animoto in the Classroom

Third grade students have been reviewing the importance of internet safety and giving proper credit for utilizing another’s work.  This past week, they combined these tools and created public service announcement videos to educate others about being safe online.  We used Animoto (, a web based tool that incorporates pictures, text and music to create short videos.  The students did an outstanding job and had a lot of fun with this project.  In addition to sharing links to the produced videos on the teacher web pages for students to view each other’s and share with their parents, we will be sharing them to educate other students in our school via our morning news program over the next several weeks. This was a great experience, and based on conversations with teachers since the project, it was a success I look forward to my teachers coming up with other uses for this tool in the near future.

Here are some samples of the completed videos below.  Enjoy!  Feel free to share comments below and any other ideas for incorporating Animoto into the classroom.

The Tech Integrator




Hour of Code

Last week my school along with many others participated in Computer Science Education Week and the event known as the “Hour of Code.”  Several class activities for students in grades 2-5 were conducted, and the students had a lot of fun and became exposed to the basics of computer programming, as well as challenging their critical thinking skills.

It was a great experience and I hope to be able to integrate additional opportunities for students to participate in coding activities as well as hope they will have a taste for more and pursue playing some of these games outside of the school day.  Next year I will likely not schedule this on the Monday of the week, as there appeared to have peak usage that morning and the site went down.  The rest of the week went very smoothly.

Below are some pictures from our coding activities as well as an introductory video I showed to the students to get them excited about their Hour of Code.


Coding websites utilized during this week: (and I probably just scratched the surface with available resources)

Angry Birds Coding Activity

Frozen Coding Activity

Bits Box



Happy coding!

The Tech Integrator

Ways to Share You Tube Videos Through your School Fusion Site

Once your video is uploaded to your account, it is time to share it with your audience.  There are a couple of options for this.

Share with a Link:

  1.  Once you publish a video and it is “live” You Tube will provide you with a link to your video to share with others.  This can be shared via email or posted on a class web page as a link.



Share via Embedding the Video:

  1. Click on your video link to go to the You Tube page.  Right click on the screen of the video and select “Get Embed Code”.  This will provide you with a code that can be pasted on your web page source code so it will be embedded right into the web page for easier viewing.



Pasting an Embed Code on School Fusion:

  1. Add an announcement to your fusion page.  Click on the “Source” button in the text editor.  Paste the embed code you copied from You Tube into the text box.  Then click publish.  It will display right in the web page so parents/students can click on the video to play it.


How to Upload a video to You Tube

  1.  Go to
  2. Click Sign In button in the top right corner.  You can log in using your Google Apps for Education account.
  3. Click Upload.  It will load a new page.



  1.  Select your files that you want to upload.  You have a choice of whether to set your video to Public, Private or Unlisted.  If you want your video to be viewable by others, it cannot be private.  I would recommend using the “Unlisted” option.



  1.  Once your video uploads click “Publish”.  Video will process and notify you when it is finished.



Embedded You Tube Videos – How to remove related video previews

You Tube is excellent resource for educators to use with their students and for professional learning.  At the end of videos you may have noticed they have a “related videos” section to share other videos that may be of interest to the viewer.  This can be a useful resource if you are the viewer.  As an educator, however, you have to be aware of “related” videos that may be perceived as inappropriate.

I had such an instance happen today, as a video I helped a teacher of mine produce for a teacher training tip that we embedded into the school website had such an inappropriate “related” video right there at the end.  After doing some searching and trying a few things, I found a solution thanks to Miriam Schwab’s blog (

There is a parameter that can be added to the embed code of the video (*Note* this can be done only with an embedded video, not on You Tube itself) to remove the related videos portion at the end.  The parameter is:

?rel=0  (rel stands for related videos, and 0 is a binary command which means No)

On a sample video, the code before inserting the parameter looks like this:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

and after...

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Parameters that can also be changed within an embed code include: autohide, loop, removing a title, start, and several others.

Til next time...Happy Integrating!

The Tech Integrator

Copy/Paste Shortcuts in Google Docs

Trying to copy and paste text to or from a Google application is not difficult at all.  It is very much like copying and pasting in an Office document.  You may find, however, that you run into a bit of a snag in one situation.  If you are trying to copy and paste using the mouse and right click –> Copy or right click –> Paste, you may see this screen pop-up:

google drive app error


You can correct this by installing the Google Drive app.  An easier option is to use the keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting.

On a Windows PC, use CTRL + X to cut, CTRL + C to copy, and CTRL + V to paste

If you are a Mac user, use Command + X to cut, Command + C to copy, and Command + V to paste.


The Tech Integrator



Learning about Geocaching

This week I had the opportunity to participate in my first Geocaching activity.  Geocaching is like going on a treasure hunt using GPS devices instead of a treasure map.  There are many different kind of “caches” or treasures that are hidden by various people participating in the activity.  We worked together in groups using our GPS devices to navigate to the coordinates where our caches were located.  This can be done using a traditional GPS device or various apps on iOS or Android devices.

There was a learning curve in the beginning figuring out how to best utilize the device to navigate our route, but once we got rolling my group was able to locate our various caches.  This was a fun activity and something I not only plan to try out more on my own, but I see tremendous potential for using with students.

Check out the video below for an introduction to Geocaching.

The Tech Integrator


Virginia students to take less SOL tests during 2014-15 school year

The governor of Virginia signed into law an action that would reduce some of the Standards of Learning tests that Virginia students will have to take beginning next school year, according to the above article from The Washington Post.

At the elementary level, students in 3rd grade will no longer have to take the Science and Social Studies SOL tests, and the 5th grade Writing SOL test will no longer take place.

This could be the first step in reducing the emphasis on judging students and teachers based on the results of the SOL tests.  This could lead to more authentic learning experiences and assessment of student learning in those areas because there is no longer the pressure of a “test” to prepare them for.  The other viewpoint may occur as well, those that may look at this decision as a negative, seeing the potential for even more emphasis and pressure on how well students do on math and reading SOL tests, and decreasing the time allotted to authentically teaching science, social studies or writing in those grade levels.

What are your thoughts on the decision to reduce some of the SOL tests taken by students beginning next year?  Feel free to reply with your thoughts.

Til next week…

The Tech Integrator