Shrewsbury EdTech

Tech resources for Shrewsbury Public School educators

Leave a comment

Visual Guide: How to Submit a PDF from Explain Everything or Keynote into Schoology


Leave a comment

Using iPads in the 1-to-1 Middle or High School Science Classroom

I taught a course this week at the Shrewsbury Summer Institute on how to utilize iPads in our middle and high school science classrooms. This “Tech Tip” is a summary of what was covered over the last few days. Regardless of what subject/age you teach, I’m hopeful you will still find most of this information useful.


General iPad tips/tricks

Schoology Overview

Since Shrewsbury has committed to using Schoology as our Learning Management System (LMS) platform moving forward, Schoology was a big focus for the week. All participants had a sandbox course to explore. They added content, assessments, and spent time exploring the features using a laptop and iPad in both teacher and student views.

If you are unfamiliar with Schoology, visit their Help Guides website. They offer a lot of valuable information for teachers, students, and parents.

Notability, Pages, and Google Docs…the “Big 3”

In a science classroom, much of what we do revolves writing notes, annotating worksheets, and writing labs. While these three apps all have a slightly different focus, they are the apps I use most in my classroom for day-to-day work. We also spent some time creating data tables in these three apps, which is an important element in the science classroom.

1. Notability – I use Notability when I have a PDF worksheet and want students to annotate that worksheet. Data tables cannot be easily made within the app, so the worksheet must already have a table for them to fill in.

5 Notability features you may or may not know about

2. Google Docs – I use Google Docs when I want students to collaborate on research or a lab and I plan to give them frequent feedback (best example is my science fair project). It wasn’t long ago when students couldn’t even view a table within the app. They can now make data tables that are pretty functional. The only missing ingredient is the ability to merge cells. However, a workaround to this is opening the document in Safari in desktop mode. This allows them to merge cells!

3. Pages – I use Pages when I want students to write up their own lab report, complete with data table, photos, and graphs. It has the best formatting options and creates a “prettier” product.

I have found that many times, it does not matter to me what app students use. They all have their own preference. For this reason, I usually share resources as Microsoft Word files. Students are able to “open in” using any of these three apps. Once finished, they can submit their final work back into Schoology.


Creating Tests and Quizzes in Schoology

Participants spent most of the afternoon creating quizzes and tests in Schoology using point scales and rubrics. There are a lot of wonderful grading features in Schoology, and most of the questions can be automatically graded for you!

Creating Graphs on the iPad

I rarely have my students hand-draw graphs on graph paper. If you prefer that option, they can easily take a photo when they finish and insert the photo directly into Notability, Pages, or Google Docs.

Create a Graph (Safari)

Download the graph when you are finished as a .jpg file. On an iPad, the graph image will pop up. Press down with your finger and choose “Save image” to save it to your camera roll.

Pages app (or Numbers)

Creating a graph in both of these apps is very similar. You can create graphs that look more professional compared to the previous option. Graphs cannot be saved to the camera roll. However, you can “copy” the image and paste it later wherever you want to put the graph.

Data Analysis app

TuvaLabs doesn’t actually let you create a graph, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s so cool. They have a huge collection of data sets that you can manipulate and visualize in a variety of ways.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 11.11.28 AM

Using Photos in the Classroom

I think the camera is one of the greatest features on the iPad. Being able to take/share photos and videos allows for a lot of creative ideas that were not previously possible.

A few photo ideas…

Annotating Photos3975108995_a7c5e48ae7_b

When students are able to annotate photos with text and shapes, they are able to demonstrate their understanding. Instead of using that old diagram of a microscope, students could be asked to take a photo of an actual microscope in order to label different parts. It makes learning more authentic.

Here are three apps that my students have used  to annotate and label photos.

  • Skitch
  • Explain Everything (This app costs $2.99 but should be free for all teachers and students at the middle and high school.)
  • Notability (This app costs $3.99 but should be free for all teachers and students at the middle and high school.)

Student and Teacher Created Videos

Like with photos, the ability to create and share videos on an iPad opens up some pretty awesome ideas. As teachers, we can now begin to “flip” parts of our curriculum by creating videos and sharing them with our students. These videos can be lectures, instructions for a lab/project, demonstrations that may not be safe for the classroom, etc. Most students are comfortable using iMovie. That is their app of choice, but there are some other useful apps I recommend as well for different purposes.

Here are a list of apps for you to consider… 

iMovie – the gold standard

Explain Everything – lets you or students make a “screen cast”. You can embed practically anything (images, documents, presentations, other videos…)

“Green Screen” app by DoInk ($2.99) – This apps lets students create engaging “green screen” videos. You will need a solid color backdrop (does NOT need to be green). You can also utilize a green screen within Explain Everything if you do not have an actual screen to use.

Time lapse videos are useful for long exposures. The iPad takes repeated photos at a set interval (every 2 seconds, 20 seconds, 1 minute, etc.) then combines those photos into a video. The camera in newer iPads already have a “time-lapse” function. Otherwise, you can use a specific app such as Lapse It or Hyperlapse.

Stop motion apps allow you to make an animation video using a series of photos. Here is a great stop motion video a teacher created to model chemical reactions. There are many stop motion apps out there, but my students have used the free Stop Motion Studio app.

While time lapse videos produce a video that is sped up, “slow motion” apps can be used to slow videos down. Newer iPhones have a “Slo-Mo” function in the camera roll. For iPads, you can use the SloPro app.



This wasn’t initially going to be part of this course, but Doug Kiang’s morning keynote was all about gaming. I created a badge system this year and hope to include more gaming elements moving forward.

General iPad/iPhone Recommended Apps for Teachers and Students

Here is a list of general apps that I feel everyone should have to stay organized.

  • Some type of task manager or “to do” app (2.Do, Any.Do, Google Keep, or Reminders)
  • Calendar: Google Calendar or Sunrise
  • Password app: 1Password
  • (apps gone free, apps discounted, and new apps)

General apps for Science class:

Science Probeware

The high school teachers practiced syncing their Vernier probes and LabQuest 2 interfaces. Students can connect their iPads to the LabQuest 2 interface over a WiFi connection. The middle school teachers spent time learning how to connect iPads with our Pasco probes using the AirLink 2 bluetooth interface.

Presentation apps

Students are very comfortable using Keynote on their iPads. While this is a great app, there are many other wonderful options for both students and teachers.

Google Slides and Keynotes can be opened in Notability and/or E.E. This allows students to annotate and take notes while you present.

Curating and Sharing Resources

Where will you keep all of your “stuff”? You must consider whether you want it to be private, public, or shared only with your students. Personally, I use Google Drive and Dropbox to save all of my documents, photos, and videos on my computer. I then upload handouts from those folders into Schoology for students to access.

I bookmark all of my online resources using Diigo. It’s fantastic. For you Twitter users out there, you can even have all of your favorite tweets automatically saved to Diigo! I will put some online resources into Schoology for my students, but I’ve found that if there are too many links, it’s easier to provide them with a single link that sends them to my Learnist site. Learnist is like Pinterest, and it’s where I bookmark academic web resources for my students.


Infographics are graphical representations of data. They are especially useful for sharing out a lot of information. and both have plenty of examples you can search through. also lets you customize templates to make your own infographics. STEM Literacty Through Infographics is a great website that includes a lot of published student-created infographics. Compound Interest also has a great collection of chemistry-related infographics.

My favorite tool for creating infographics is Canva. Both the website and iPad app are easy to create visually awesome infographics.

Project-Based Learning (PBL)

One of Shrewsbury’s district initiatives moving forward focuses on project based learning.

Here is the updated Professional Practice Goal:

By the end of the 2016-17 school year, all grade level and department teams will have re-designed and implemented an existing learning experience for students that includes:

  • An open-ended question that requires students to think critically about an engaging topic
  • A special introductory event to the learning experience that generates curiosity and motivates students to learn more about the topic
  • Multiple pathways to demonstrate learning
  • Opportunities for students to share their thinking and collaborate with others
  • Work shared with an audience beyond teacher and classroom
  • Technology integration that enhances learning at the Modification and/or Redefinition level (SAMR Model)
  • The resources for this learning experience will be organized digitally to support team and department collaboration and innovation.

General PBL Resources

Buck Institute Website

Buck Institute – Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements

Buck Institute – Essential Project Design Checklist

Project-based learning ideas

(These are resources that participants in the course found and shared.)

List of physics PBL from

Blocking Sound PBL

Eggstreme Sports

Go, Score, Win with Physics

CASES Online

Free Project Based Learning Resources That Will Place Students At The Center Of Learning

Effective teaching methods —Project-based learning in physics 

IOP Institute of Physics – Problem based learning modules

Chemistry PBL Ideas:

  • Water quality – ions (nitrates, phosphates, chloride), dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, etc of different bodies of water and well water sources
  • Nutritional analysis of various drinks of choice
  • Combustions reactions – production of CO2 with various forms of travel

Biology PBL Ideas:


If you’ve never heard of Kahoot yet, you’re missing out. It’s a very fun (and very competitive) online quiz game that lets students compete against each other. You can create your own quiz games or you can use public quizzes. The quicker you answer a question correctly, the more points you earn! – Use this link to set up an account and run a quiz

Kahoot – Use this link to take a quiz

Leave a comment

Tech Showcase Summary

Here is a sampling of resources from the recent Tech Showcase at Sherwood…

Creating Websites to Improve Student Engagement – Kate Lewis

This Google folder has all of the resources you help your students start designing websites.

Book Creator tips – Jessi Walsh

Using Explain Everything in Academic Support – Meghan De Leon

Instagram in the Classroom – Allen Beer

The link above is Allen’s Oak Middle School Engineering Instagram feed. This is how he shares Tech Ed experiences with students and parents. His account is private, so you will need to send him a “follow request” in order to see the photos. If you’re looking for other ideas for using Instagram in class, here is a copy of my science scavenger hunt. Students will be using Instagram tomorrow to document various chemistry examples (mixtures, physical changes, etc.)

Google Classroom and Goobrics/Doctopus – Derek PIzzuto and Kelly Lawlor

This is the link to the earlier blog post that Derek and Kelly wrote on this topic.

Using Class Badges to Gamify School

This is the link to my prior blog post. (I also talked about different ways to introduce gaming in class. I plan on writing a separate blog post in a few days that includes this information in addition to my experiences doing the Hour of Code with my students.) Two tidbits I will add now though…

1. Matt Amdur informed me that Schoology has its own badge allocation system. I am not a Schoology user (though I really want to learn), but it sounds like a pretty cool feature to me.

2. ClassCraft is a website that uses a video game in lieu of badges to reward student achievement. I’ve never used it myself. One user says, “Classcraft is like ClassDojo meets World of Warcraft.”

1 Comment

iPads in Science – Measurement Revisions

I always begin the year by having students learn how to use science tools (balances, graduated cylinders, meter sticks, etc.). They must make accurate and precise measurements, plus understand how to do simple metric conversions, like how many centimeters are found in one meter. They had a measurement quiz last week where they had demonstrate these skills. As in past years, students received a grade (1-4) for each specific skill. As in past years, students who earned below a “3” on a certain skill as responsible for practicing this skill and showing me they could do it correctly.

What changed this year was HOW students did their measurement revisions. I used to run around the classroom like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to observe and record 20+ students make measurements. This year, I had students record evidence of their measurements using their iPads. The one rule was that for every skill they needed to revisit, students had to measure two different objects, so I was sure they could do it correctly. However, they were allowed to choose any app on their iPad, as long as they were able to add photos and text. Here are a few apps that I recommended:

  • Explain Everything
  • Educreations
  • Keynote
  • Skitch (now has a rating of 17+ so if students don’t already have it, they won’t be able to install it from the App Store.)
  • Pic Collage (similar to Skitch)
  • Notability (though I encouraged them to branch out and try something new)

Length (not pictured)

Students must be able to measure the length of an object using a ruler and record this measurement in three different units : mm, cm, and m. Their revisions had to include a photo of an object with the ruler (or meter stick) positioned on top or on the side so I could clearly measure the length myself.


Students must be able to record the mass of an object using the correct precision of the balance. Their revisions had to include a photo of the same object on three different balances (each with a different precision) and record the mass as seen on each balance.


Regular Volume

Students have to measure volume of small and large objects using the formula: volume = length x width x height. Their revisions had to include a photo of the rectangular prism, and each side had to be labeled with the length in centimeters. They also had to show their calculations for calculating volume and include the correct metric unit.


Irregular Volume

Students have to measure volume of small solids using the water displacement method. Their revisions had to include a photo of the graduated cylinder and solid object. They could either have two photos (one before and one after the object was added), or they could have one photo where they clearly labeled the initial and final volume. They also had to show their “work” for determining the volume of the solid object and include the correct metric unit. (There were specific metal cylinders I had students measure for their revision work. I already had these volumes recorded so I could quickly tell if their measurements were correct.)

photo (4)

The Results?

The end result was much better than years past! I sat at my desk and students lined up to show me evidence of their learning. I was able to check in with a lot more students in a shorter amount of time. Another benefit to this approach is students will be able to use these as artifacts for the student-led conferences in November. Last year, they would not have this evidence to prove they improved their measurement skills, but now they do.

1 Comment

iPad Workflow: PDF Expert and Explain Everything

I spent a lot of time this weekend trying to wrap my head around the best way of grading student work and pushing it back to them. While the original format of student work will vary (Pages, PDFs, etc.), I expect most of their final work will be shared back with me as a PDF through their Google Drive portfolio. The question then becomes, “How do I get their final assignment, grade it, and share it back with them?” We’ve been tackling this workflow issue for a few years now. I haven’t found any one perfect answer yet, and I welcome teachers to share their strategies. In the meantime, here are two workable ideas.

PDF Expert

I’ve written about this app before because it’s my favorite PDF annotating solution. You can read more about it here. You can add text, handwriting, shapes, underline, and even audio notes. It is expensive ($9.99), but it goes on sale a few times each year for 50% off. It’s similar to Notability but offers many more features. One of its best features is two-way syncing with Google Drive. What does that mean? It means you can use the app to mark up and grade student work found in a shared Google Drive folder. As soon as you’re done, it automatically updates that file in Google Drive…no need to “push it back” to students. Their original PDF now has your corrections.

There is a problem though! When students look at the corrected PDF with the Google drive app, your annotations do not appear! There is some problem with how the app renders PDFs.

A few workarounds to make your annotations visible…

  1. Students can open the PDF in a different app, such as Adobe Reader (they are not visible in Notability though).
  2. Students can access Google Drive through Safari instead of using the app. Whether they are in “mobile” or “desktop” mode, they will be able to see your comments.
  3. You could bypass the two-way syncing feature altogether. This addsphoto (3) an additional step unfortunately, but if you push the work back to their folder in Google Drive, you can choose to send it as a “flattened copy”. This protects your annotations and lets students view them from within the Google Drive app.

I contacted Readdle and asked if it was possible to send out “flattened copies” through two-way syncing. Unfortunately, it is not.

I’m not sure at this point, but I think I’m most likely going to use the two-way syncing. I’d rather every student do one extra step once to see my comments, rather than me do an extra step 90+ times.

Explain Everything

I read a book over the summer on the flipped classroom model. One of the suggestions that stood out to me was a teacher who used Explain Everything to grade work for her students. She made a recording of herself marking up her English papers. When she was finished, she rendered it as a video file and shared it with the student. This idea intrigued me for a few reasons:

  • It’s a creative way of using the iPad to give feedback.
  • Since you can record your voice while you correct, you could talk more and write less – possibly making the process quicker.
  • Students might have more incentive to listen to your comments. (We all know many of them glance over our written comments and just look for the grade.)

I’ve embedded a YouTube video below that I created to show how Explain Everything (EE) could be used to provide student feedback. EE is a fantastic app with a lot of possibilities. One big drawback is that it’s very time consuming to export a video file, whether it’s to YouTube, Google Drive, or even just camera roll. However, we are lucky because students also have EE. Therefore, it’s not necessary to export your presentation as a video. You can export it as a project file instead and save that file in the student’s Google Drive shared folder. This process takes only about ten seconds! Students would then need to open up the file in Explain Everything to watch what you created.

If you have used the iPad for giving student feedback, or if you have used Explain Everything as a teacher in your classroom, please leave a comment and share your ideas!

Leave a comment

Technology Resources on Learnist

First, for all of the new teachers at Oak and Sherwood…welcome to Shrewsbury! We are the Technology Teacher Leaders (TTLs) for Oak and try our best to send out “tech tips” that we think will be helpful in the classroom. Tech Tips from the last few years can all be found on our blog. If you have any tech-related questions, please feel free to send us an email!

Since Derek and I are no longer the Oak yearbook advisors (position is still up for grabs!), we hope to have more free time to blog this year. Please contact us if you have a tech tip request or, even better, if you would like to become a contributor to this blog. We still don’t have the 1-to-1 iPad program in the 8th grade so it would be great to recruit some Sherwood teachers and 7th grade teachers. 
One new addition to our tech blog – Deremy 2.0 – are pages that link to collections of resources on Learnist. I wrote about Learnist previously in this blog post. It is a site very similar to Pinterest but more focused on education. It is an excellent tool for curating and sharing online resources with others. Anyway, our goal is to create “learn boards” for different types of technology. So far, we have two learn boards set up: 
When you click on these links, you will find a compilation of resources for both Google Drive and EE. These are the best, most helpful online resources we have found, including relevant posts from our own blog. If you know of other helpful resources that you think should be added, or if you have created something yourself, please share it with us so everyone can benefit!
We will continue to add resources to these two learn boards, and we plan to create new learn boards as well. Let us know if you have recommendations for other iPad apps that you would like for us to compile resources for. The next learn board we plan to create on Learnist will be a list of presentation tools students such as Prezi and Haiku Deck. 
Again, please contact with any questions, comments, or suggestions!
Jeremy Mularella
Derek Pizzuto
Deremy 2.0 blog: