Tech Committee Agendas & Minutes

Empowered Learner Resources

Pen Pals
Edutopia has a great article on the benefits of student pen pal exchanges, including creating better writers by connecting students to an authentic audience. The author, an Edutopia staff member, also created a pen pal group that can match you with another class.

Digital Writing Portfolios
I did some research on a variety of free and paid options for digital writing porfolios. And the best option I've found so far is the new version of Google Sites that just rolled out to schools this past fall. It addresses many of the needs and concerns that were brought up in our last meeting. And it part of the Google suite of products that we're already using. Please take a look at the sample portfolio page that I set up. It lists the advantages, shows how you can set up a page for each grade level, and includes a link to a tutorial video so you can see how easy it is to use.

Troubleshooting Checklist
The first thing to try when you are experiencing computer problems is always to shut the computer down, leave it off for a minute, then turn it back on again. Here is a more extensive troubleshooting guide for Chromebooks.

Knowledge Constructor Resources

Mind Mapping/ Outline Tool
Several teachers mentioned having used Inspiration, a program that converts a mind map to an outline. There are several good alternatives that will work across platforms, including Chromebooks. One is Canva. Canva has lots of great templates, including a whole section on mind maps. Students can use their Google accounts to log in. And most of the mind map templates are free.

Another option is Mindomo. There is a Chrome extension. There is also a bookmarklet that can be used to snip links, images, and text from websites to add to a mind map. They offer a free account that allows up to 3 mind maps/ outlines. There is also teacher pricing and classroom/school pricing.

Elementary Computer Curriculum
The elementary computer curriculum is based on Muskegon Public Schools' technology curriculum, which is based on the older 2014 ISTE Standards for Students. Jeremy also has plans to expand on this curriculum. The document MCC Expanded Computer Curriculum lists these additional areas. At some point we should look at this list as a committee to determine how it fits with the overall curriculum goals at each grade level.

Evaluating Web Resources
The CRAAP Test is a guideline for students to evaluate research sources, especially resources found on the World Wide Web.

Innovative Designer Resources

Improving Reading Skills
Liz Nyenhuis has been leveraging technology to help her French students get in more practice time. She has the students record themselves speaking French with their Chromebooks. While this would obviously be applicable to teaching other languages, she thought of another great use of this tech tool. Elementary teachers could have their students, especially early readers, record themselves reading aloud. 

Here are some suggestions of apps that could be used for recording:

Interactive Posters- No Glue Stick Required!
Give your students the option of creating a multimedia presentation instead of poster. Matt Miller, the author of Ditch That Textbook, gives ideas for making interactive posters in Google Draw with images, shapes, links, and more.

3-D Modeling
Beyond interactive poster, students could create 3-D renderings of things like the Jerusalem temple or Noah's Ark. This could be done with architectural design software like Planner 5D from the Chrome Web Store. Or, for a more immersive experience, we could look at setting up software like Second Life on the VMware server. Once installed, it's possible to access VMware from Chromebooks.

Note Taking
When it comes to note taking, students need two things- skills and tools. One popular method of note taking is the Cornell Method. I've created a Google Docs template for taking Cornell notes and added it to the MCC template gallery. It includes a link at the bottom for students to review the method. 

Other tools for note taking include:

  • Google Docs- With or without the Cornell Notes template, Docs is a great app for taking notes that students are familiar with.
  • Google Keep- This Google app is designed specifically for note taking. Notes can be tagged by subject, color coded, shared and exported to Google Docs. Images and free hand drawings can be added to a note. Notes can even trigger a reminder based on time or location.
  • TurboNote- A pop-up allows students to take notes while viewing videos from YouTube, Khan Academy, etc. without switching back and forth to another tab. Notes link back to the spot in the video that the student was watching when each note was taken.

Revision History
View the revision history for your students' papers in real time with the Draftback Chrome extension.

Computational Thinker Resources

Statistical Data
 A good source for statistical data on a range of current topics is