Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hour of Code and Green Valley

Last Friday, Green Valley Elementary celebrated the Hour of Code in style! The high-school students from the Computer Engineering Academy at Hoover City Schools came and went to each grade level to help the students complete the Hour of Code Star Wars module. The school also gathered for an assembly complete with videos explaining what Hour of Code is created by Mr. Elliott and his fifth grade students (see video below). There were special visitors including Darth Vader and a fun coding dance led by Mr. Moore, the music teacher. The students were treated to a dance at the end by the Hoover High School Buccanetts and surprise guests...their teachers....who joined the Buccanetts in a dance. The day was so much fun and the students really enjoyed getting to meet the high school students.

Mr. Elliott's Students explain what coding is

"Eye" See You!

5th grade students at Brock's Gap collaborate together as they explore how the human eye works. As I walk into Dr. Montgomery's class, students are spread out all over the classroom engaged in animated discussions as they contemplate how our eyes work. What a wonderful sight to see!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Virtual Program Offerings 2016-2017

Beginning the 2016-2017 school year, Hoover City Schools will offer 9th-12th students the option to graduate by completing courses in a full-time virtual or part-time blended program. Currently, both high schools offer a variety of virtual courses which allow for student flexibility and individualization. The ENGAGE Virtual School will further those offerings by allowing students to participate in a full-time high school program online.

If you are interested in your student participating in the full or part-time program, please complete the following survey. STUDENT SURVEY ENGAGE Virtual School

More information regarding the ENGAGE Virtual School can be found at Additional information will be added as we continue to build the program based on your feedback and interest. The parents of interested students will be contacted regarding an upcoming informational meeting.

For questions or comments, contact us at

Vote for Jill Westerlund's CS Class

Jill Westerlund at Hoover HS submitted a photo for the CS10k Photo Challenge (for CS Ed Week) that has been selected as a finalist!

Please vote on the pic at this link to help her class win a CS10K Photo Challenge grand prize.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Vicki Clark is double checking Semester Grades in Access

With all the talk about blended and virtual school it is good to remember that we have been doing virtual classes successfully for years.  The state Access Virtual Learning Platform has been around for over a decade. This year is like any other for Hoover High students using Access.  They take courses that Hoover High either does not offer or courses that are not scheduled at times that meet their needs. The classes include everything from core classes to languages. Vickie Clark is the facilitator for the Access program at Hoover High School and the contact between our students and teachers all over the state. Vicki also is usually the contact person for students with chromebook issues and keeps an eye on all of her students and their progress. 

Fighting IS Encouraged in Schools!

At Berry Middle School, Ms. Mangina's 8th grade computer science students wrapped up their Lego Robotics unit with a good old fashioned "Battle Bots" tournament where robots fought to the death. Okay, not really to the death but they did have to do battle. Students worked in teams to design robots, using Lego EV3 kits, with this challenge: Keep your robot inside the square and push the other robot out. Think sumo wrestling...but with robots. This may sound simple, but it took some very hard work & creativity on the part of the builders and programmers. The battles took place inside a big square outlined by blue tape. The programmers had to program the bot to use its color sensor to see this blue tape, react accordingly and keep it from going out of the battle square. That comprised their defensive effort. Next, they had to program their bot to also attack, which meant finding the other bot and pushing it out of the square. Some used the ultrasonic sensor to locate the other bot and move toward it while others applied a more random program of exploring the square until coming in contact with the other bot or the boundary. One group added spinning weapons to their bots while others relied on brute force. All in all, it proved to be a great challenge for the kids and it was extremely fun to watch.

Monday, December 14, 2015

2 Whiteboarding Options for the Touchscreen Chromebooks

Here are 2 great options for tapping into the power of the touch screen Chromebooks and giving your students the opportunity to create shareable clips explaining their thinking & showing their work.

Pixiclip-allows students to quickly record on a "white board" while adding voice narration to what's happening. The recordings can be up to 5 mins and they are shareable via a link. Students don't have to login or create any type of account. They simply go to the site and start working. Once finished, they "Publish and Share" and it will take them to the finished product. They copy the link for that page and share with whoever they need to. tudents need to be sure an not give personal info in their creationHere's my example.

Educreations-allows students to record on a "white board" with voice narration, just as Pixiclip does, but with a few more options. The pages in Educreations are scrollable AND you can add multiple pages to a recording. It's more robust than Pixiclip...but it does require a sign up. Click here for an example. YOU have to create a teacher account and then students join your class with a code. When students join, they are asked for first/last name and to create a unique username. I would recommend first name and last initial. In the space for email address OR username, they need to just user their student id# as their username and NOT PUT THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS!  For the password, they will need to use their student password. This will put them in your class and give them access to creating their own lessons. You will also have access to their creations under your class roster. It would be smart to create a class for EACH of your actual classes in order to keep everything organized.

Students always need to practice good digital citizenship when publishing anything for a larger audience AND they must not give out personal info in their narrations. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Exploring Sea Turtles Through Project Based Learning

Last Thursday and Friday, third graders at Deer Valley Elementary culminated their sea turtle immersion PBL with a museum open to family and special guests. The museum showcased student learning through art, writing, and technology. Parents journeyed down the hall filled with ocean decorations. Visitors used QR readers on their phones, viewing technology projects ranging from student created audio recordings to websites. At each end of the hall, students shared the importance of protecting the turtles. By the end of the showcase, they received $800 in donations. This money will be used to protect three shorelines and a nest. What a difference these students have made!

The third grade team met early in the school year to plan their first Project Based Learning experience for their students. During the planning stage, the team discovered they could cover 134 standards immersing their students in sea turtle research. The teachers arranged a virtual field trip through the Loggerhead Marinelife Center and invited a marine biology student to present.

To learn more about this project, be sure to check out the project website below.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

AFTER SCHOOL App and Other Apps That Need Our Attention!

After School APP Icon

The "AFTER SCHOOL" App, an app created specifically for high school students, is certainly one that needs to be on the radar of parents with middle/high school students. It was created for the purpose of giving students access to a community of their school peers free of the judgmental, critical eye of adults where students can anonymously share the things they are dealing with in their lives. But despite it's creators' meaningful intent, it has become a place where students can openly bully, harass, gossip and even make threats while having little to no accountability for their actions. The site is intentionally set up so adults can't see what is being shared in the school communities. When setting up the app, it relies on their verification system that looks at a user's Facebook account to verify their student-status at a specific school. If this can't be verified through the app, then you can't access the school community, leaving parents on the outside with no way of looking in...unless a student openly shares their use of this app with them. And most of the time, parents are the last ones to know. This app has been used to bully, harass and even make threats that have led to arrests, as can be seen here. Simply take a look at the App's page in the App Store and you will see that it says you must be 17+ to download.

Brighten APP Icon
Brighten, another anonymous app with upstanding intentions, is also one to on the lookout for because of its growing popularity. It is meant to give users the ability to compliment others anonymously, hence the name "Brighten." But of course, because there is no accountability for users and posts are made anonymously, unfortunately some are using it to harass, bully and threaten. It's suggested age is 12+.

In a growing digital space where new Apps are birthed every few minutes, it's extremely difficult for even the savviest of users to keep up with what's out there. So what about parents of teens and tweens? How are we supposed to keep up? Parents today are facing the challenge of raising the most highly targeted, marketed-to generation ever, a generation that is exposed to more information and can access just about ANYTHING from the device in the palm of their hand. That's a sobering reality and it's something we (all of us-parents, teachers, kids, admins, everyone) need to be discussing frequently if we want to keep up with what's being targeted at our kids, what they are doing with it and how it's affecting them.

Some Tips for Parents of Tweens and Teens

  • Check their devices regularly and make your expectations and values clear regarding their digital lives.
  • Set up Family Sharing on iOS devices so you can know exactly which apps they are using.
  • Maintain current lists of all of their usernames/passwords for the social media sites where they actively post.
  • Talk with your kids regularly about these topics and let them know you are there to help them navigate these dangerous waters.
  • Visit Common Sense Media and subscribe to their parent e-newsletter for app descriptions, ratings, suggestions, etc. Here's CSM's review of After School
  • Talk with other parents frequently and don't be afraid to ask questions. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Spain Park Teachers BREAK OUT!

Teachers at Spain Park High came together to try a new way of learning, collaborating and problem solving. A group of teachers from a variety of subject areas showed up Wednesday morning to hear that they had 45 minutes to find the antidote to a deadly virus that would be released within the hour. Would they be able to save the world? The game is from Breakout EDU, a new concept in Educational learning. Many have played breakout games across the country and enjoyed the thrill of working against the clock to solve problems with a team. Collaboration, team building, and problem solving are exactly what we need to prepare students so the idea is a great match for education. Ready-made games are available or teachers and students can use templates to create their own standards-based problems to solve. Teachers worked as a team piecing together clues to find the answers and the antidote. With six minutes to spare, they solved the last clue, opened the lock and saved the world! For more information on trying Breakout EDU with your class, see this link.  Kits can be purchased from the site or you can buy what you need on Amazon or other sites that carry the products used in the game.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

IVECA Helps Students Make Global Connections

Five Hoover High teachers and their classes have been collaborating and corresponding electronically with classes in South Korea and Colombia and Brazil.  The cultural and education exchange program through IVECA is in its second year at Hoover High School.  Ms. Jill Thomas, Ms. Lindy Bearden, Ms. Katherine Morris, Ms .Lesa Gibson , Ms. Laine Lamborne and their classes are all getting ready to meet their counterparts through live webinars in the next few weeks.  Ms. Bearden’s class is collaborating with a class in Columbia, Mrs.Gibson’s students are working with a class in South Korea and a class in Brazil and the other classes are all working with different classes and teachers in South Korea.  The classes have obvious curriculum goals and collaborative lessons.  For example,some classes compare and contrast short stories from each of their countries. However, most teachers said that the connections and cultural knowledge the students gained were just as important as what they learned about their academic class. There is also a talent portion of each live class and the students perform dances, sing, play musical instruments and demonstrate how to make popular food and drink items.   We in technology are glad to have the opportunity to help with the technical side of this program and we get to see firsthand how much student benefit from their global connections.

Going Ozobot in Kindergarten

Mrs. Miles Kindergarten class at South Shades Crest Elementary had so much fun #coding with the #Ozobots .   There is no end to possibilities when it comes to the great work at hand.  Great Job everyone!

Friday, December 4, 2015

The facts about student data privacy in Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks

Our goal is to ensure teachers and students everywhere have access to powerful, affordable and easy-to-use tools for teaching, learning and working together. We have always been firmly committed to keeping student information private and secure. 

On December 1st, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published a complaint regarding Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and other products and services especially Chrome Sync. While we appreciate the EFF’s focus on student data privacy, we are confident that our tools comply with both the law and our promises, including the Student Privacy Pledge, which we signed earlier this year. The co-authors of the Student Privacy Pledge, The Future of Privacy Forum and The Software and Information Industry Association have both criticized EFF's interpretation of the Pledge and their complaint. 

I want to reiterate some important facts about how our products work, how we keep students’ data private and secure, and our commitment to schools, more broadly. 

Google Apps for Education Core Services 
The GAFE Core Services -- Gmail, Calendar, Classroom, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Contacts, Groups, Vault and Hangouts -- are the heart of Google’s educational offering to schools. Students’ personal data in these Core Services is only used to provide the services themselves, so students can do things like communicate using email and collaborate on assignments using Google Docs. There are no ads in these Core Services, and student data in these services is not used for advertising purposes. 

Chrome Sync 
Chrome Sync enables Google Account holders to log into any Chromebook or Chrome browser and find all their apps, extensions, bookmarks, and frequently visited web pages. For students, this means that they can get to work, right away. That's one of the reasons Chromebooks have become so popular in classrooms, especially for schools that can't afford a device for every child. With Chromebooks and Chrome Sync, students can have a personalized experience on any device they share with their classmates. 

Personally-identifiable Chrome Sync data in GAFE accounts is only used to power features in Chrome for that person, for example allowing students to access their own browsing data and settings, securely, across devices. In addition, our systems compile data aggregated from millions of users of Chrome Sync and, after completely removing information about individual users, we use this data to holistically improve the services we provide. For example if data shows that millions of people are visiting a webpage that is broken, that site would be moved lower in the search results. This is not connected to any specific person nor is it used to analyze student behaviors. If they choose to, educators, students and administrators can disable Chrome Sync or choose what information to sync in settings whenever they choose. GAFE users’ Chrome Sync data is not used to target ads to individual students. 

Additional services
Schools can control whether students or teachers can use additional Google consumer services -- like YouTube, Maps, and Blogger -- with their GAFE accounts. We are committed to ensuring that K-12 student personal information is not used to target ads in these services, and in some cases we show no ads at all. In Google Search, for example, we show no ads when students are logged in. 

We build products that help teachers teach and help students learn. We are constantly working to improve our products and we take all feedback from customers and consumer protection groups seriously. You can learn more and stay updated on our commitment at

When I Grow Up I Want to Be...

Students spend time cruising for a career with their grade level counselor, Mrs. Coleman. Using their Chromebooks, students take the time to explore different careers. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Google Keep-a Powerful Little Note-Taking Tool

Google Keep is a really powerful note-taking platform with some "note-worthy" features that certainly make it worth checking out. Whether you're a teacher, student or just someone looking for a way to keep up with all those ideas & information you encounter throughout your day, Keep offers some powerful "noting"options in a very simple, user-friendly package that takes only moments to learn and navigate.

And just like most of the Google tools, Keep is web-based, accessible from a computer, has a full-functioning app for both iOS/Android AND allows for users to easily share & collaborate on notes.

So what does it do?

  • Take photos, add a note to go along with it & transcribe the text*. Take a photo of that book cover and remind yourself that you want to look for it next time you're at the library. It will even transcribe the text in an image.  *This "grab text" feature is only available in the browser app or on an Android device, Not in the iOS app.
  • Record a voice memo. and add text or even a photo to go along with it. When you are driving, have a great idea but can't stop to jot it down, create a voice note. It even transcribes it. 
  • Create a checklist. Make your shopping list and "tap" the items to mark them off as you go.
  • Set a Reminder. Every note allows for you to set a reminder for a specific time & even a specific place.        
  • Copy to Google Drive. Keep will add any note/photo/voice memo directly to your Google Drive, allowing you to access & utilize the content in many ways.
  • Share notes with others. You can create a grocery list, share it with your spouse who also uses
    Keep and both add to it so you don't miss anything...all from your smartphone. Any note can be shared with multiple people as long as they have a Google account.  
  • Create Labels for Organizing Notes. You can create different labels that will allow you sort your notes quickly. You could have a label for personal notes and another for work notes.
  • Access Keep from anywhere. Because it's web-based, you can create and manage your notes from within Chrome on a computer, Chromebook or from the app on your phone or tablet.
Keep is robust enough to meet many needs yet simple enough to not be overwhelming. It's quick, it's easy to navigate and I am finding out that it's becoming my go-to tool for keeping up with my notes. You can find the Keep App in the Chrome Web Store HERE. It is also available in the App store on iOS and Android.

For more on Keep, click here.
7 Reasons You Might Actually Want to Use Google Keep from PC Magazine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Why Participate in Hour of Code?- Karen Darroch, HCS Tech Integration Coach

Why Participate in Hour of Code?

Hour of Code week is coming up next week, December 7-13. So the big question I have been asked lately is, "Why should my class participate in the Hour of Code?" Last year, as a classroom teacher, I signed my students up for the Hour of Code at I thought it would be fun for my students to participate in a nationwide event. Little did I know when I signed my students up I would become a true believer in the power of code. Yes, the power of code. Last year as a classroom teacher and this year as a technology integration coach, I have witnessed children become leaders who otherwise would follow. I have seen children so excited about code, they continue courses at home offered by I have seen children problem solve, collaborate , and persevere. After teaching a coding class I often ask the students what did they learn. Responses from children include:

  • I learned to never give up!
  • I love the challenge.
  • I learned how important it is to review my work.

Children are curious and want to learn how to make things such as computers and robots do useful things. And while coding is fun, what really matters are the lasting benefits of building skill sets such as logical thinking, problem solving, persistence, collaboration, and communication.

This year the Hoover City Schools Foundation is sponsoring Hour of Code by providing iCode stickers to every student who completes Hour of Code. If you haven't already, please click the link below and sign up your classroom. added two fun coding activities centered around Minecraft and Star Wars. This will be exciting for your students! Contact me if you would like for me to teach an Hour of Code lesson to your students that week.

Thank you Hoover City Schools Foundation for your support!
Big image

HCS Admins as Digital Leaders

HCS administrators met today to discuss digital leadership, using technology as a tool to transform, and model using social media. #hcseli 

It is hard not to stop and look when you see a room full of High School Students playing with Mr. Potato Heads and even harder not to stop when you see their teacher with a giant Buccaneer themed Mr. Potato head. 

Mrs. Westerlund and her computer students were using the “spuds” to do a Java lesson.   Mrs. Westerlund  explained that the Giant Potato represented a Super Class in Java . In java that means it was the top most class and all other classes were derived from it and inherited it state and behavior.  The smaller student potatoes would all have started with the same state and behavior but as students overrode those original forms there would be variables created and state and behavior will change.  The students will continue the lesson by creating UML  diagrams.  Unified Modeling Language is a graphical way to look at computer programs and workflows. The student changes ranged from adding different hats to switching the mouth with a ducks bill.  I look forward to seeing how the potato with the duck bill graphed. I guess in Java is like everything else:  “If it quacks like a duck...”

Keith Fulmer, HHS Tech Integration Coach

Friday, November 20, 2015

Chromebooks in Choir

Middle school student at Bumpus and Berry use Google Classroom to practice their music. When the choir directors have to be away and you still want your sub to have the students practice, students use their headphones, Chromebooks and music to work on their parts.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Veteran's Day with Technology

Last Tuesday I was asked to help out with a special surprise for one child at Riverchase. Every year Riverchase has a big assembly to celebrate veterans and what they do for our country. Each grade level prepares something to contribute including poetry, art work, and research on the different branches. Mrs. Tanner, the counselor at Riverchase, wanted the program to include a veteran to share with the students. As a surprise she arranged an overseas service man to call during the program using Google Hangouts. The serviceman, Lt. Rutland, currently stationed in Cuba has two children at Riverchase. As a surprise Mrs. Tanner asked fifth grade child to interview an overseas serviceman but did not tell him it would be his dad. Parker did a great job asking many questions about what it is like to be a serviceman and having to serve in Cuba away from his family.

Technology at its best - connecting us to places and people from around the world.

Lego Robots, Programming & Challenges, Oh My!

Getting ready to attempt the "Homing Pigeon," 
where the robot has to travel to the
black line, turn 180 degrees
and return to start.

8th Grade Computer Science Students at Simmons Middle School spent the week facing a myriad of challenges designed by their teacher Cindi Morris to test their robot building AND programming skills as a culmination of their LEGO robotics unit. They worked as 3-4 person teams to build LEGO Ev3 robots containing specific characteristics, sensors and parts with the goal of competing against the other teams in a sort-of classroom robot Olympics. I know what you are thinking... "Lego robots? How complicated and technical can those really be?" Well, visit this link and you can see a sampling of what these 3rd generation Lego Robots can do. Mrs. Morris, designed several unique challenges for the robots to complete from "Running the Bases" where the robot had to move around all the bases of a baseball diamond using its color sensor to "Curling," a challenge where the robot had to push a tennis ball to a precise mark on a target. Each challenge presented an opportunity for the students to apply their programming skills and accomplish the task with bragging rights on the line. Each team got 3 attempts at each challenge and there were lots of successes...and failures. Many wrote programs that had their robots moving too fast, turning too sharply or not responding appropriately to obstacles, leading the teams to problem solve and refine their programs. They all discovered the unique complexities of programming robots and realized that in order for success to be had, embracing failure is a key to learning, growing and moving forward. But regardless of their outcome at a specific challenge, they all learned a great deal about programming, innovating, problem-solving, failure and perseverance. To check out more of what the students had to do for this activity, visit their class blog.
These two are programming their robot after an
unsuccessful attempt at the Curling Challenge.

Maker's Studio and Trace Crossings

I was visiting a fourth grade classroom at Trace today and ran into a great kid named William. William and his friend Angel were researching how to create a synthesizer with Little Bits in after-school care. With the help of Dana Joyner, Trace's STEAM Facilitator, William and Angel created a speaker system for a mini iPad. He was willing to demonstrate how loud it amplified with the Whip and Nae Nae. He was can amplify pretty loudly! :)  

I was very impressed because this project was something William had a passion for-music- and was able to make it come to fruition with the Maker's Studio. Mrs. Joyner wasn't in the studio when he took me down to see his creation, and you could tell he knew the studio was there for him. A piece was missing from his creation, and he went over to the extra pieces, carefully looked around to find what he needed, and returned it to the proper place when he was done. 

Way to go, Trace & Mrs. Joyner! I can't wait to see what William and the many other Trace kids make next!

Hour of Code

Hour of Code Is Coming!

Hour of Code week is coming up December 7-13. This year the Hoover City Schools Foundation is sponsoring Hour of Code by providing iCode stickers to every student who completes Hour of Code. If you haven't already, please click the link below and sign up your classroom. added two fun coding activities centered around Minecraft and Star Wars. This will be exciting for your students! 

Thank you Hoover City Schools Foundation for your support!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Professional Development at your convenience
candy and pd is a win-win situation

Hoover High regularly provides teacher led professional learning opportunities.  Tuesday the 17th teachers were invited to come during their planning period and participate in a variety of interesting and informative sessions.  This is peer to peer professional development that has the added value of being teacher tested and offered at a time that does not require teachers to worry about rearranging their after school schedule .The presenters  and the sessions they led were:

1st Period (Presenter-Amy Tew): Grammarly and Paper Rater in the English Classroom (also could be used in history and possibly science)

2nd Period (Presenter- Laine Lamborne): Google Translate and voice typing to assist ELL students

3rd Period (Presenter: Danelle Cash): Oral Presentations using Mic Note

5th Period (A-B; Presenter- Jack Letson):Google Forms for Assessment

5th Period (C-D; Presenter- Jack Letson):Google Forms for Assessment

6th Period (Presenter- Reed Lochamy: Using Google Forms to share examples and samples of students’ work

7th Period (Presenter- Jack Letson in Community Room): Google Forms for Assessment

7th Period (Presenter: Reed Lochamy) Using Socrative for formative assessment and to provide direct feedback to students

PollEverywhere and Google Slides Join Up

PollEverywhere and Google Slides Join Up

PollEverywhere is a tool many teachers have used in the past to quickly assess what their students understand. Now it can be added directly into a Google Slide (as an extension) so teachers can quickly poll students while presenting using Slides! Download and check it out!

Polling in Google Slides Extension
Poll Everywhere Website
Information about Google Slides polling - create and embed live polls

Friday, November 13, 2015

This Little Piggy Went to Google

 Mrs. Sanford and Mrs. Hawkins' at Rocky Ridge Elementary said their little Kindergartners minds have been hard at work! They just finished their first project-based learning and it turned out SO well! During whole group they discussed the different parts of the farm, then were separated into teams based on what they wanted to know about the farm.  They "researched" and talked about what they already knew,and used picture books for facts. The next day, their book buddies came with their Chromebooks to help research and write 3 facts about the farm animals.  The last portion (before the tech) was putting together the dioramas!  "They had access to all my books for ideas, but they didn't get help from me....they created these completely on their own!" said Sanford. "It was incredible to watch!" she exclaimed.  The teachers created a Google Classroom and sent the presentation out to each child. The students then typed on their own using what they had written during the research time.  The students had so much fun learning about the farm!   EXAMPLE

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hour of Code is Coming!

The Hour of Code is near! Today we received the email below explaining this year's theme; Star Wars! has a brand new tutorial for the Hour of Code 2015, in partnership with Disney and Lucasfilm — featuring Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Work with Rey to guide the new droid, BB-8, through a mission. Then, join Leia to create and share your own game in a galaxy far, far away.

Try an early preview of Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code

Students will learn to write JavaScript to power their games. For younger learners, a tablet-friendly, drag-and-drop version will be available in the next few weeks. You can also check out other options for all ages. And stay tuned… more tutorials are coming soon.

Prizes for every educator — and a behind-the-scenes “Making of Star Wars” experience

There are 80,000 Hour of Code events signed up worldwide. Help your students join in on this record-breaking event! One Hour of Code can be enough to inspire the course of their lives. Join in
  • Every organizer worldwide will receive a gift card to Amazon, iTunes or Windows Store.
  • One school in every US state will win $10,000 worth of technology for your school.
  • One lucky classroom will win an exclusive, behind-the-scenes “Making of Star Wars” experience with the visual effects team who worked on Star Wars: The Force Awakens!
  • 100 participating classrooms will win a BB-8 droid robots that students can program.
I couldn’t be more excited to share Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code with you today. Code your own game, share it, and tell us what you think. 
Hadi Partovi,

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Molly McCormick presenting Google extensions

Hoover High teacher and ELI facilitator Molly McCormick is presenting at the 47th Annual Fall Conference of the Alabama Reading Association.  Molly and a classmate created a manuscript for a university level reading class she was taking and her professor was impressed enough to ask the two to present at the conference.  Molly will explain and elaborate on google chrome extensions that help struggling readers and students with dyslexia.  She will demonstrate extensions that include, announcify,speakit, readability, open dyslexic,turn the lights off, BeeLine,Clearly and many more.  The manuscript that she help create is also being considered for publication in a reading journal.  We wish her good luck and are thankful for all she does for Hoover High School.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Theater Collaboration brings World War I to Life

Spain Park Advanced Theater learned more about World War I than most students do while working tirelessly on the student created one-act, Pals, that deals with the cost of the First World War. The students wrote the script, composed the music, designed and created the costumes, learned a difficult Yorkshire accent and spent numerous hours on this production that will compete at the Trumbauer district competition. Students used Google Docs to collaborate on the script. Senior Joseph McKinley even created authentic pins for the uniform hats using 3D modeling and printing learned in Engineering Academy at Spain Park. Click the link to learn a little about the production from this student produced video which gives a glimpse into the process. 

Scene from the one act

Cast receives notes from theater teacher Eric St John

Friday, November 6, 2015

Google Tour Maker-A powerful new tool

Google has created an awesome new tool called Tour Builder. Think Google Slides+Google Maps/Earth w/videos, text and pics. It's simple to use and gives you the opportunity to create and tell a story, rich with images, text and YouTube videos that are tied to places. Since we are working hard to find ways to encourage students to create authentic products that can be shared and viewed globally, Tour Builder fills a niche with application across all subjects. It could be used to tell the story in a novel-a "book report," document a vacation, field trip, historical event(s), news story, etc. Tour Builder fits perfectly with any story that has a component involving geography and it's easy-of-use makes it extremely accessible. It's a winner and hopefully it's here to stay. To see are really cool example, check out this tour looking at coral reefs using Google Street View UNDERWATER!  

Can Your Notebook Fly?

YES! Two teachers at Rocky Ridge Elementary are using Virtual Notebooks.  Check out this resource that the teachers are using to enhance student learning.

  • 4th Grade Daniel Schaeffel- "We have been using an interactive virtual notebook in place of a paper and pencil notebook. So far they have a section that is reflections about the task of the day, and a section where the students answer essential questions, take notes, insert drawings, create data tables, and insert graphs. I plan to also add a vocabulary section. This is working out great! I have access to their notebooks any time, and so do they. I do not have a stack of notebooks to flip through, there is no need to copy materials, and the students enjoy the lack of paper and pencil. I can also give quick feedback and comments through Google Sheets. They can also give each other feedback and comments, since everyone's notebooks are in a shared folder. Example
  • 5th Grade Mike Herring-  My students are now keeping a Digital Math Notebook in Google Drive for all of their daily classwork as well as weekly Problem Solving. There is also a Goals setting tab. Example

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sign Your Work

In Kevin Butler’s freshman engineering classes students are working on templates that they will use the rest of the time that they are in the engineering academy. Students build the templates and create designs that represent their brand for presenting their CAD projects.  This approach lends a very professional look to their work. They learn to use canvas and SolidWorks as freshmen and  that , for most of them ,is the foundation of what will be four impressive years in the Hoover High Engineering Academy. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Chrome OS not going away any time soon.

So yesterday the Wall Street Journal tried to stir the pot some. 

Most people who kept up with tech knew this was coming at some point, but they sensationalized people into thinking this is a bad thing and its going to kill chromebooks. I mean Google put the top Android engineer at the lead position of the Chrome OS division for a reason.

This is good news for Chrome OS users. Alphabet(google) is far from killing chromebooks.  Microsoft did the same thing with its mobile version of Windows OS. My thinking is that Google just wants to be able to run the Android OS on desktops and laptops in the future. Why would you have two different things to focus on instead of simplifying things? Putting which ever OS won on multiple devices makes life easier for everyone. I have sat in rooms and asked if we could put droid OS on laptops for years now. They are finally making that happen. We teach kids the skills not the OS, or we should.

The following tweet says alot:

Tweet from the SVP of Android, Chromecast, Chrome OS @google.  @lockheimer
I am not worried, there is something 10x time better coming within the next few years. The new product isn't expected to release until 2017.

UPDATE: GOOGLE's Response:
Several stories in the press are speculating that we’re “folding the Chrome operating system into Android”. This is not true: Chrome OS is not going away. In fact, we are continuing to invest heavily in Chrome OS. We’ve seen amazing momentum with Chromebooks, for example, which are the number one educational device for schools in the US and have topped Amazon’s bestselling laptops list for the past two holiday seasons. The PR team is currently working to correct these inaccurate stories.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Doodle 4 Google is OPEN

How to Enter

We're excited to see some amazing doodles this year. Students can work with any materials they want, but all doodles must be entered using the entry form. Parents and teachers can mail us the completed entry form or submit it online as a .png, .jpg, or .pdf. The contest is open for entries until December 7, 2015, so here's some information to help you get started now:
  1.  Download or print the entry form.
  2.  Doodle: Have artists create their doodles using any materials they want.
  3.  Write:
    1. Have artists write their 50-word statements.
    2. Fill out the rest of the required information and sign the entry form.
  4.  Combine:
    1. If the doodle wasn't created directly on the entry form, take a digital photo or scan of the doodle and combine it with the entry form.
    2. If you're submitting a digital entry, save the completed entry form as a .jpg, .png, or .pdf.