Shrewsbury EdTech

Tech resources for Shrewsbury Public School educators

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Embedding YouTube Videos in Schoology

Sssshhh! Don’t tell your students yet, but YouTube is now unblocked at OMS.

YouTube continues to be an excellent resource for teachers. There are endless high quality educational videos on YouTube that we want students to have access to in school. Unblocking YouTube allows more direct access for students to learn from teacher-selected videos.

At this time, the YouTube app is still not allowed. If you see a student with this app installed, please have them uninstall it. Students should only access videos that you choose for them to view.

Why have students watch videos on their iPad instead of a teacher showing the video to the whole class?

While showing videos to the whole class is a great teaching tool and allows for class discussions, there are times when individual consumption of content is more appropriate:

  1. If you do a “station” activity, watching a video could be one of your stations. Rather than reading directions for a lab or station activity, you could have video instructions for students to view at each station (just like the Dharma Initiative for all of you LOST fans!)
  2. You could create “extra help” videos for students to view only if they get stuck while doing an activity. Forget how to use a microsocope? There’s a video for that!
  3. Videos make for great extension work. Students who have already mastered the content could view videos with more advanced material. Already know about protons, neutrons, and electrons? Maybe they want to learn about quarks!
  4. In science, it’s easy to find different videos that teach the same content. Some students may prefer one video’s style versus another. You can post the different videos and give them the option of which one to watch.

The best way to share all of these videos with your students is to embed them right into your Schoology course.

Benefits to embedding YouTube videos

When it comes to showing videos on YouTube, the biggest concerns for teachers have always been the “recommended videos” and user comments, which we all know can be very inappropriate. When you embed the video directly into Schoology, both of these elements are removed. Students get to enjoy the videos without any of the distractions.

How to embed videos as Schoology course materials

Step 1: Go to a YouTube video that you would like to share with your students.

Step 2: Click on the “Share” button located below the video.

Step 3: Click on “Embed”.


Step 4: Once you click “Embed”, you will see the embed code appear below. Copy this code.


Step 5: Go to your Schoology course.

Step 6: Click on the folder in your Materials where you want to save the video. (I have a folder just for videos.)

Step 7: Click on “Add Materials”, then choose “Add File/Link/External Tool”.

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Step 8: Click on “Link”.

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Step 9: Paste the embed code in the box next to “Link/URL:”.

Step 10: Add a title for this video.

Step 11: Click the “Add” button.

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Voila! The video is now embedded for students to watch.

This is how the videos look on a laptop. When you click on a video name, it begins to play the video directly in Schoology…

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Now, here is what the videos look on an iPad. When a student clicks on a video name, the video begins to play directly in the Schoology app…



Students can expand the video to play full screen. If they click on the subtitle icon on the bottom right of the screen, they can adjust the subtitle settings. Closed captioning is turned on by default.


How to embed videos as Schoology course materials

If you are interested in embedding YouTube videos directly into an assignment, that’s possible as well. Read this support article for information on how to do this. A few reasons why this might interest you:

  • You can add questions in the assignment for students to answer after they watch the video to check for understanding.
  • You can share multiple videos and written texts in the same assignment, allowing students to do multimodal comparative analysis.

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The #HourofCode is Coming!

It’s that time of year again folks. December 7-13 is Computer Science Education Week!

As our lives become more and more dependent on technology, the need for students to learn how this technology works increases. Countries around the world are beginning to implement computer programming in all grades. The Hour of Code is a global initiative that hopes to expose tens of millions of kids in over 180 countries to one hour of coding (computer programming) over the course of this week.

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My students participated in the Hour of Code last year, and they really enjoyed it. has a list of tutorials you can choose from for students to experience for one hour. This year, they have new tutorials focusing on Star Wars and Minecraft. There are options for both iPads and laptops.

Click here to read my science class blog post from last year to explore all of the Hour of Code options I made available to them. You may want to give your students options like I did, or you may want to have them all do the same activity. Either way, I think this is a wonderful opportunity to introduce kids to something new. (You will notice we held our event a little late. I opted to do it for the two days before Christmas Vacation.)

If this isn’t all cool enough, every event organizer will receive a $10 gift card to Amazon, iTunes, or Windows Store as a thank you!!

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Using Google Classroom with Schoology

We in Shrewsbury have the benefit of being both a Google for Education system and subscribers to Schoology’s Enterprise platform.  As we all continue our move towards full implementation of Schoology in our classrooms, we thought this would be a good time to examine how these two platforms can work well together.

Benefits of Google Classroom

While Schoology is terrific for collecting and scoring work – especially homeworks and check-ins that you can attach to a rubric, one shortfall is in giving timely, collaborative feedback.  Basically, in Schoology, if students are drafting a paper and you want to give them feedback, there’s a several-step process in which you need to engage: (1) set up an assignment where students can submit a draft (2) student submits a draft for feedback (3) give feedback and return assignment (4) student resubmits for additional feedback or grade.

This is an area where Google Classroom excels — by creating an assignment in Google Classroom, all students get a template in which they will create their work, and you are able to give feedback in real time — without needing students to submit it, or you to collect and return it.  If you couple this with Doctopus and Goobric, you get a spreadsheet, listing the links to student work plus an update regarding when they last edited it, how may times they edited it, and how many comments you’ve put in their documents.  You can even hold help sessions inside a student’s document… For full details on all these features,, check out this earlier post and this update for some of the other features

One other really useful element in Google Classroom is the email feature — once your students have all registered for your classroom, you can easily email all or some of the students at the touch of a button.  Just go to the “students” tab, check off the students you wish to contact, and select “Email” under the “Actions” Button.  Because we’re a Google Education System, Classroom immediately puts you into your GMail account and sets up an email with all the students listed as a Blind-CC.  This is very useful for reaching out to kids who missed an assignment, need a reminder, etc. without any one student being aware of who else is being contacted.

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Using Google Classroom with Schoology

So, how do you combine Google Classroom with your Schoology class page?  Easy — just create a link in Schoology, at the top of your materials page, where students can always find it.  Here’s what the top of my class page looks like:

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As you can see, I’ve put in links to the most common non-Schoology items my kids will access: several Google-based surveys that I use to track things, common guidelines, and Google Classroom.  If you’re curious about any of the items listed, just drop a note.

In addition, when an assignment is due in Google Classroom, I post a “dummy” assignment in Schoology, with a link to Google Classroom.  I turn off the “accept submissions” switch and set the deadline to match the due date / time in Classroom.  This way, the assignment shows up in the students’ “upcoming assignments” sidebar as a reminder, but the kids know to go to Classroom to complete the work and turn it in:

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New Features in Doctopus / Goobric

Additionally, the Google Add-ons for collecting and grading papers through Classroom have added a few improvements that really make it worthwhile to grade papers using this platform.  You can see the new features inside the rubric box which Doctopus gives you at the top of each paper when you grade it:

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The rubric is on the left, while the grade submission box is on the right.  The graphic below shows the new features:

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Most of these are self explanatory, with the exception of being able to switch “Can View” to “Can Comment.  This is a feature that users of Doctopus have wanted for some time, to address a minor negative in Google Classroom: One feature which teachers love in GC is the fact that, when a student submits a paper, they lose editing permission – effectively, ownership transfers from the student to the teacher, until the document is returned to the student, once it’s graded.  The negative side of this is that, when a person no longer owns the document, they can no longer see any comments that have been posted in the assignment.  This creates a situation when you begin scoring papers:  as soon as you finish scoring in Doctopus, the filled out rubric is embedded into the document, so the student can immediately see their grades.  This is a good thing, right?  Well, not entirely.  Because they don’t “own” the document until you release all the papers back to your students, it means kids can see their grades, but not the comments which explain those grades — thus inviting lots of emails from students, asking why they earned the grades they earned.  That is why this new option is so important — by selecting “switch from “can view” to “can comment,” the student – while still unable to edit the paper itself – can now see all the comments you put into the paper, along with the grades.  Thus, by using this Add-On, you can set your grading so that, as soon as you finish a paper, a student receives an alert and can see their grades.  Of course, you can also turn this feature off, should you so wish.  Also, once you set these options, it’s important to note that all the papers in that assignment will default to those settings — a “set it and forget it” feature.

To sum up, our combination of Google Apps and Schoology can make for some very effective feedback tools, that can work very well together.

Per usual, send us any questions or suggestions!

Derek & Jeremy

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Polling Your Students With Plickers

If you were at the Oak Middle School staff meeting on Tuesday, you heard Jeff LaRose talk about the new tech tool he is using to get quick formative feedback from students in gym class. You probably thought to yourself, “I want to try that!” Well, here is everything you need to know to get yourself started!

There is no shortage of formative assessment apps out there. Socrative, Poll EverywhereClass Kick*, and Kahoot are all great tools for polling students.

*Class Kick was mentioned to us by a few teachers at the high school. We will be writing a blog post about it shortly, so if you currently use it in your classroom, we would love to get your opinions/suggestions to share with others!

Plickers sets itself apart from the rest because it lets teachers get real-time formative data without the use of student devices. This makes it a great tool for all classroom settings. The teacher still must use the Plickers app on their iPhone or iPad, but the students simply hold up a card with what looks like a QR code. The teacher’s device scans all of the codes in the class and yields quick results. The bottom left image is an example of the student #1 response card. They can answer “A”, “B”, “C”, or “D” depending on how they orient the card. The bottom right image shows an example of the teacher’s results screen.

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The Cards

You can purchase a 40-card standard deck of Plinker cards on Amazon for $20. They come on durable, matte-laminated card stock and are ready to use. You can also print out your own deck for free! They provide all necessary handouts and instructions here. It is recommend that you print them on card stock and laminate them only if you have a matte laminating option. The typical glossy laminate makes it difficult for the iPad to scan the codes. (Jeff learned at his conference it’s much easier to just purchase the cards, so he bought one of the decks from Amazon.)

Happy Polling!

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Overdue Assignments in Schoology

(Thank you Brian L’Heureux for this great tip!)
As a follow-up to what Derek mentions about posting assignments in Schoology, one important consideration regarding posting assignments is the “overdue” status for an assignment. Students and parents automatically see a list of all overdue assignments in Schoology. In addition, parents can sign up to receive notifications when items are overdue.
Schoology automatically considers an assignment “overdue” if the due date for an assignment has passed and no submission has been made in Schoology. As you can imagine, this may cause problems for assignments that are handed in in person or on paper.
The good news is that there is a way to tell Schoology that the assignment is going to be handed in outside of Schoology. This gives you the benefit of having the assignment show in the student’s “upcoming assignments” view, on the calendar, and in the workload planning tool, without having to have it show as overdue if nothing is submitted.
To set up a non-Schoology assignment, on the assignment creation screen, click on the dropbox-like icon on the bottom of the screen to gray it out so that if you hover over the icon, it says “Submissions Disabled” (see attached screenshots) To clean up the “overdue assignments” list for your parents and students, you may wish to revisit past assignments that were handed in outside of Schoology.

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4 Reasons to Love Schoology Assignments

When I began using Schoology last year, I wasn’t a big fan of the “assignment” feature. I preferred to share my resources individually, and I always posted homework as updates, not assignments. This year, I have realized how versatile they can be, and it has changed the way I have shared resources and collected student work. Here are a few reasons why I love Schoology assignments.

Reason #1: The Formatting Options

Have you taken time to explore all of the formatting when you create a new assignment? There are so many options! When you write the description for your assignment, you can format the text like you would in Microsoft Word or a similar program, but you can also insert tables, mathematical equations, web links, images, and video directly in the instructions. If you click on the “Switch to HTML” tab, you can even edit the HTML code to embed just about anything with an embed code. It’s like creating a website just for your assignment.

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Reason #2: The Attachments

You may or may not already know that you can attach website links, files, and audio/video resources to your assignments. Last year, I used to create a folder for my science labs. Inside the folder, I added the various resources students would need to successfully complete the lab. Now, I attach all of those resources directly to the assignment itself. It makes it much easier for students because they know everything they need is right in the assignment.

Some of the resources I have shared this year with my assignments include: 

  • The handout itself (usually a PDF to be annotated in Notability)
  • The rubric (even if you created a grading rubric, it’s hard for students to read on an iPad.)
  • PDF versions of reading articles to extend learning
  • Links to websites, simulations, and my own blog posts with further explanations
  • Links to a Google spreadsheet with class data tables
  • Links to Google forms (useful for student feedback or when students have to sign up for a project topic)

Reason #3: Allowing for Multiple Submissions

Most of the time, you probably only want students to submit an assignment once. However, there are times when multiple submissions are useful. When some of my students were revisiting measurement skills earlier this year, I created an assignment where they could provide evidence of their learning. If they made more errors, I left comments for them and prompted them to measure a different item and resubmit.

There are other times when you may want students to submit different artifacts to the same assignment. For example, I will be creating a “test retake” assignment for my unit test later this week. In order to retake the written test, students will make test corrections, work on an additional review question for the specific concept(s) they wish to revisit, and have their parents sign a retake contract. Different students will need to pass in different things, depending on what they want to retake. This “test retake” assignment will be the digital dropbox for all of these things. I will be able to read through all of their materials and provide feedback at my leisure, opposed to having to get it all done during class or lunch.

Reason #4: Individually Assign

I admittedly have never used this feature, but I see it being very helpful for teachers. It allows you to share an assignment with a smaller subset of students. The assignment can be shared with individual students by typing their name(s) into the “Assign to” field, or you can type in the name of a grading group you created to share it with all students in that group. I have four grading groups (G, O, L, and D) that represent my four science classes. As you can see below, this assignment is currently being assigned to just my “G” class.

If you have students who receive modified assignments for one reason or another, this would be a great way of sharing the assignments with just those students. It’s seamless and private. It would also be useful for a class like Honors Biology with Research Methods. Since there are days when some students in the class are working on a Biology assignment while others are working on their science fair project, the teacher could create a grading group for just the science fair students and use it to give them their assignments.


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SMS Techtip: Another team use for Google Forms


A couple weeks back, we told you about streamlining the corridor pass / signout process through the use of a Google Form which students save to their IPad homescreen.  This gave us a neat, easy to access record of where our students went, and when.

Now we’re applying the same process to our extra help sign-ins — this has a few benefits:

  • First, rather than sending around a sign-in sheet, each student who attends any session on team simply fills out the quick survey.
  • Next, we have a record of why the student is there – if there are a number of students, we can see patterns in why they have come for help, and adjust our teaching / reteaching when we see common threads.
  • Also, by having all the team help sessions in one sheet, we can see who is staying where and when, which allows us to focus on students who are staying for multiple teachers on multiple days, as well as those who say they are staying with each of us, but may not actually make it to a session.
  • Then, when we have a parent communication or meeting, we can quickly see if and when the child has come in for help, and use this to help guide part of the discussion.

Here is a screen shot of the survey the kids fill out:

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Per usual, send ideas and questions our way!

Derek & Jeremy