Tip 35 – FlipGrid


Don’t simply watch video.  Participate and collaborate with video in an active, social community of your peers.  Flipgrid is an active, social learning platform that engages learners through video-based discussion.  The app extends the web-based environment and creates new possibilities for reflection, discussion, demonstration, and collaboration. (1)

How Flipgrid works:

Educators create grids of short, discussion-style topics to share with their users.  Grids are collections of topics around a common theme.  Each Grid can hold an unlimited number of Topics, and each Topic can hold an unlimited number of user-recorded video responses. (1)

flipgridtwittercard.jpgTopics are short text or video prompts that can include basic formatting (e.g., bold, italic) and links to websites or documents for critique and feedback opportunities.  Response videos are limited to a maximum of 90 seconds to promote clarity, organization, and engagement.  Individual response videos can be liked and shared (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) or embedded on blogs, learning management systems, or websites. (1)

For educators, Flipgrid enhances community and social presence in face-to-face, hybrid, and online classrooms.  In other words, Flipgrid brings the back row to the front and gives all students a voice. Flipgrid is also a wonderful research tool for collecting qualitative data from individuals or focus groups. (1)

Get Started! (2)

  1. Go to www.flipgrid.com and set up an account.
  2. Create a “Grid”. Free accounts get 1 Grid while Classroom “pro” accounts get unlimited Grids. Think of a grid as a bundle of Topics or questions.
  3. Your Grids will look like the image below:

Start Sharing! (2)

  1. Create a Topic. Think of this as a question or concept students will record about.
  2. Make sure to adjust settings as you want. Consider privacy, moderation, and student ability to reply to posts from other students (Classroom Accounts Only).
  3. Post a topic to your class.
  4. Share the Topic Code with your students and watch the magic happen!
  5. Once students are done you can “Freeze” the Topic so others will not add to it.
  6. These will be listed in your Grid like below:

Classroom Uses for Flipgrid! (2)

  • Genius Hour Presentations: Students share their projects with others on a shared Topic or have individual topics to show progress
  • Verbal steps on solving Math problems: Students can dictate (and show with video) step by step procedures on how to solve math problems
  • Goal Setting Progress Diary: Students can have their own Topic to share progress towards a goal
  • Daily Classroom “What we did today”: Classrooms can keep parents up to date with a daily log of what was done in class
  • Introduce next year’s class: Have your current class introduce the incoming students to procedures, projects, and how COOL your classroom is going to be for them!
  • Staff Grid: Introduce parents (and the world community) to the staff in your building through short clips
  • Discussion Board: Post a question and let students debate/discuss the topic in their own way
  • Project/Unit reflection: Students can post and reflect on a long-term project to deepen their understanding
  • Book Talk: Students can post chapter reviews or understanding during a novel study to discuss text
  • Exit Tickets: Get some fun and quick feedback on a covered topic when students are leaving
  • Daily News Report: Post the morning or daily announcements or news in a way that is archived for others to come back to easily
  • Biography Reports: Create a Topic that allows students to post a video of their impersonating a famous person
  • Book Reviews: Have a Topic full of AWESOME book reviews for students to watch to help them choose a new book to read
  • Field Trip Comments: Did you go on a fun field trip? Have students give feedback
  • Classroom Announcements: Post classroom announcements in ways that both parents and students will enjoy hearing
  • New Class Introductions (Get to Know): Have your new students introduce themselves to each other in a Topic
  • PE Skills: Students can show the correct way to do physical activities such as warm-ups, sports moves, or others
  • Music samples (student playing): Your Music class students can demo their awesome Recorder skills (save all those squeals for Flipgrid)
  • Art critiques (student grid or all students on 1): Students can explain their artwork (saved as response image) or help provide feedback to other’s creations

Pricing (1)

Plan Price Details
Flipgrid One Free 1 grid. Unlimited students. Unlimited topics. Unlimited responses. Video transcriptions. Free iPhone, iPad + Android apps.
Flipgrid Classroom $65/year Unlimited grids. Unlimited students. Unlimited topics. Unlimited responses. Unlimited replies-to-responses. Video keywords + video transcriptions. Embed fully functional grids. Student Feedback + Assessment. Feature responses and topics. Download video responses. Global Classroom Grid Connections. Export data to gradebook and Excel. Move/Duplicate grids, topics, videos. Customized grid code names. Usage Visualization and Dashboard. Exclusive webinars and certifications. Free iPhone, iPad + Android apps. + much, much more!
Classroom 10-Pack $400/year Want to ignite discussions with your school, district, or department colleagues? Contact us to learn more about our Classroom 10-packs today!

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!


  1. “Flipgrid Reviews | edshelf.” https://edshelf.com/tool/flipgrid/. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.
  2. “Flipgrid (@Flipgrid) | Twitter.” https://twitter.com/flipgrid. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.

Tip 34 – Extensions vs Add-ons vs Apps

The Google ecosystem provides a wide range of powerful programs to help you do ext-apps-addons-postpicpretty much anything you need. This includes browsing the web, typing a document, creating a slideshow, sending email, collecting data, and so much more. (1)

However, even with all the features in their tools, Google knows they can’t do everything. There is probably some task you wish you could do, but can’t. (1)

To help address this, Google allows third parties to create tools to extend the functions and features of Chrome, Docs, Sheet, Forms, and more. These tools come in three forms:

  • Chrome Extensions
  • Chrome Web Apps
  • Add-ons for Docs, Sheets, and Forms

At the most basic level, all three of these do the same thing. They are tools that help you do something in the Google ecosystem that normally you would not be able to do. They provide extended features, tools, and programs that Google did not build into their products by default (at least not yet). (1)

Even though all three types of tools have that in common, they are still quite different in many other ways. A common question is:  “What’s the difference between an extension, a web app, and an add-on?”  To help answer this, check out this chart that compares and contrasts these three different types of tools.  (1)


As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!


  1. “Control Alt Achieve: Extensions vs Web Apps vs Add-ons.” 1 Jun. 2016, http://www.controlaltachieve.com/2016/06/extensions-webapps-addons.html. Accessed 4 Oct. 2017.

Tip 33 – Try Voice Typing


Google Docs is fully-loaded with some features that can save us time in and out of the classroom, and often times can even save us a little heartache when it comes to supporting students.  One tiny little feature that packs an amazing punch is Voice Typing in Google Docs.  This is a speech-to-text feature and it is available to you and your students. (1)

You can dictate all kinds of words, lists, and writing into Google Docs.  You can also dictate formatting, punctuation, and editing.  But wait…there’s more! YOU CAN DICTATE IN OTHER LANGUAGES! (1)

Text-to-speech has a bad reputation, but it has come a long way.  Google has a fantastic text-to-speech engine that is built into the Chrome browser and used in the Google Assistant.  If you have ever done a voice search, you have seen how well Google understands what you say. Now take this power and apply it to dictation into a Google Doc.  This little feature works amazingly well!  Think of Voice Typing like your personal stenographer! (Note: Voice Typing also works in Google Slides speaker notes.) (1)

How to Enable Voice Typing in Google Docs (desktop version)

Step 1: Turn on Your Microphone

7 Reasons You Need to Try Voice Typing in Google Docs

To use voice typing or voice commands, your computer microphone needs to be on and working.

Step 2: Start voice typing in a document

  1. Check that your microphone works.
  2. Open a document in Google Docs with a Chrome browser.
  3. Click Tools and then Voice typing. A microphone box appears.
  4. When you’re ready to speak, click the microphone.
  5. Speak clearly, at a normal volume and pace (see below for more information on using punctuation).
  6. When you’re done, click the microphone again. (1)

7 Reasons You Need to Try Voice Typing in Google Docs

1. Time Saver

Chances are that you talk faster than you type, even if you have pretty good typing skills.  Voice Typing can save you valuable time, especially valuable instructional time.  Very few students have efficient typing skills these days.  Having students type their essays and research, well anything for that matter, can be one of the most excruciating processes in the classroom.  Use Voice Typing to maximize your time with your students. (1)

2. Dictate and Format All Types of Writing with Your Voice

We use Google Docs for all types of writing and projects.  Don’t limit your use of Voice Typing to just the text-heavy essays.  You can dictate anything into Docs, including

  • class notes,
  • meeting notes,
  • to do lists,
  • starter sentences,
  • thesis statements,
  • vocabulary,
  • spelling lists,
  • math word problems,
  • and just about any other type of writing! (1)

You can also dictate formatting, punctuation, and correct mistakes with commands!

You can use these phrases to add punctuation to your text:

  • Period
  • Comma
  • Exclamation point
  • Question mark
  • New line
  • New paragraph (1)

After you start voice typing, you can use commands to edit and format your document.

For example,

  • Select paragraph
  • Italics
  • Delete
  • Insert Link
  • Go to the end of the line.
  • Too many to list here. To see a full list of commands, visit the support center page for Voice Typing. (1)

Correct Mistakes with Voice Typing

If you make a mistake while you’re typing with your voice, you can move your cursor to the mistake and fix it without turning off the microphone.  After you correct the mistake, move the cursor back to where you want to continue.  (1)

3. Support the Littles Who Can’t Spell Yet!

Our youngest learners can tell amazing stories.  They can compose, they just don’t have the spelling and composition skills yet, but they can dictate their sentences and stories in Google Docs without worrying about spelling or typing.  What a great way to support young writers and help them feel successful!  Bonus: Dictation can help students learn punctuation skills. (1)


4. Support Struggling Writers at Any Age.

Writing is hard and it can be a struggle for writers of all ages.  Voice Typing can be particularly useful for those that struggle, especially those with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, or just struggle with the mouse and keyboard.  Voice Typing can make a great companion or modification to help support struggling students.  Accessibility is important for all learners. (1)

5. Support ELL and Foreign Language — dictate in other languages.

You can dictate in other languages. At last count, this feature is available in 90 different languages!  (See the full list of languages on the Google Voice Typing support page.)  To change the language, just use the drop-down above the microphone to choose your language. (1)

7 Reasons You Need to Try Voice Typing in Google Docs

This is a fantastic way to support students who are learning new languages, whether that is an English Language Learner or a student in a Foreign Language class. Students can compose in their language of choice. They can even translate their document into another language. (Go to Tools>Translate Document) (1)

For some students, this is a complete game-changer! Being able to compose in their native language can really help bridge the divide as students learn English.  (1)


6. Dictate on the Go. (Google Docs Mobile App)

7 Reasons You Need to Try Voice Typing in Google Docs

Did you know that Voice Typing works on mobile?  You can dictate on the go. Students who have mobile devices can dictate directly into their device. This could expand the use of the feature beyond the classroom, as well as give you access across multiple devices in and out of the classroom. Just look for the microphone icon on your mobile keyboard to start dictating. (1)

7. We Need to Get Used to Talking to Our “Stuff.”

We have to get used to talking to our stuff. Whether you are ready or not, text-to-speech is becoming a part of everything. We will all be talking to our stuff and making great use of machine learning. That means that keyboarding skills may eventually go by the wayside. The world is changing! Are you ready? (1)

  1. “7 Reasons You Need to Try Voice Typing in Google Docs | Shake Up ….” 26 Sep. 2017, http://www.shakeuplearning.com/blog/7-reasons-need-try-voice-typing-google-docs/. Accessed 28 Sep. 2017.

Tip 32 – LearnZillion


LearnZillion is an online database of short video lessons that address learning topics aligned to individual Common Core standards.  The lessons cover a wide variety of math and English Language Arts topics for the whole K through 12 grade span.  Experienced teachers create the 3- to 5-minute videos and lessons, complete with leveled practice problems, anchor texts, and writing prompts.  Whole lesson plans offer teacher hints, background information, and additional guidance in a ready-to-present slide-like presentation that incorporates videos, visuals, and hands-on practice.  Content is available on the web and on iOS and Android tablets. (2)

For kids, the videos feature commentary, extra hints, tricks, and a “try it yourself” segment to help them practice on their own, using pencil and paper to follow the video’s guidance.  Multiple-choice quizzes help assess students’ learning.  When both kids and teachers create accounts, teachers can assign lessons to individual students or to the whole class, see who’s completed a lesson, and view students’ scores. (2)

At its best, the site acts as a mix of a teacher’s assistant and mentor. Are you not sure how to explain a new or difficult concept?  You can get helpful guidance from another teacher who’s found a successful method.  Teachers who are spread thin, or those whose students may need extra help, can use LearnZillion to provide targeted attention to help students right where they need it most.  For instance, before students try any particular math lesson, a series of links help teachers identify the necessary skills students will need to know.  This is very useful in helping teachers identify any gaps in students’ knowledge before they begin.  Lessons also offer teachers a variety of extension and intervention ideas. (2)

How to Use

Teachers begin using LearnZillion by signing up and creating an online account.  Once registered, they select the class tab on the top menu bar, create classes, and enter in student information. (1)

Teachers search lesson plans by selecting the lesson plan tab on their navigation bar, the grade level, and searching the LearnZillion library by content topic.  All lessons are Common Core aligned.  Teachers select a lesson and view the teacher’s guide and brief video demonstration link from the top right of the assignment module.  They can download student practice sheets at the bottom of the lesson or click to view other linked resources. (1)ccmath3.png

To assign students lessons in Math or English Language Arts, teachers search for a lesson by topic or standard and select the ‘assign’ tab on the top left-hand corner of the lesson.  From the assignment window, teachers then enter the due date and select whether to assign the lesson to the entire class or individual students. (1)

To assign video playlists and quizzes, teachers select the ‘classes’ tab on the top right of their portal.  From the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the classes dashboard, teachers select assignments and choose ‘new assignment.’  Using the drop-down menus on the right for grade level and subject, teachers browse the quiz and playlist library by content topics, then select which one to assign.  Teachers then enter the due date and select which students they wish to assign it to.  Teachers view student progress and achievement on lessons and assignments by selecting the ‘gradebook’ tabs in the drop-down menu on their ‘classes’ dashboard. (1)

LZ_devices__lessons___1_-1490518632.pngStudents begin using LearnZillion by logging in.  Lessons and assignments appear listed on their homepage.  Students select the assignments and complete them by answering quiz questions or watching the video lessons and playlists.  Student achievement on quizzes and completion of videos is reported and sent back to the teacher’s grading dashboard for assessment. (1)

Lesson & Activity Ideas

Use LearnZillion to give your students an extra learning boost, to give them review on topics you’ve covered in class, or even to give them a springboard for new exploration. You can also find new lessons, give yourself inspiration, or learn how to explain a concept a different way. Full lesson plans, complete with teaching notes, necessary prerequisites, and more, provide a lot of the background work necessary for teaching a new concept. (2)

You and your students can do these lessons as a whole class, or students can do them in small groups or on their own. For example, hold a “math lab” where kids work on slightly different sets of problems that are specifically tailored to their needs. Assign “just right” practice exercises to each student based on their level of understanding. As students work, move around the classroom to check in, guide, and assist where needed. Afterward, use the videos as a follow-up for homework or classwork. As needed, you can assign extra practice as an extension or for intervention. (2)



LearnZillion is free for teachers. Inquiries about LearnZillion’s premium subscription pricing options for districts can be made on their website.  (1)

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!


  1. “LearnZillion | Product Reviews | EdSurge.” https://www.edsurge.com/product-reviews/learnzillion. Accessed 25 Sep. 2017.
  2. “LearnZillion Review for Teachers | Common Sense Education.” https://www.commonsense.org/education/website/learnzillion. Accessed 25 Sep. 2017.

Tip 31 – Bloomz; One App for all your Parent Communication

7539729Bloomz is the mobile and web app that has all the features educators need to connect, communicate and coordinate with parents.  Bloomz makes it easy for teachers to securely share photos, classroom updates and reach parents instantly through messaging, as well as to coordinate events (like PT Conferences) and sign up for volunteers. (1)
With Bloomz teachers can:
– Post class updates and share pictures, and see who’s viewing themunnamed.png– Manage events and calendar, with built-in reminders
– Schedule Parent-Teacher Conferences in seconds
– Sign up volunteers in a few easy steps
– Message one or more parents, without sharing their cell phone number
– Send alerts notifications for urgent matters, to both phone and email in one click.
– Invite parents via email or class code for privacy (1)

With Bloomz parents can:
– Sign up FREE and be notified via SMS/TEXT messaging
– Choose between push and email notifications, as well as their frequency
– Read posts in their preferred language with one-click translations (80 languages available)
– Communicate with other parents for play dates, carpooling and more (1)


As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!


  1. “Bloomz – Android Apps on Google Play.” https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.bloomz. Accessed 18 Sep. 2017.

Tip 30 – Rock It with the Rocketbook App

Logo-RocketBook-StackedAlthough thumb-typing on smartphones and stylus-scribbling on tablets have their place, sometimes nothing quite beats the satisfaction of writing in an actual paper notebook. The Rocketbook combines the satisfaction of a paper notebook with the backup power of the cloud.  And if you use the right pen, then when you’re done using it, you can stick it in the microwave to erase your notes and start all over again. (1)

Rocketbook 10_rufpuu

The concept for the Rocketbook incorporates a clever combination of old-school and new technology.  Instead of making the notebook cumbersome with wires, batteries and a Wi-Fi antenna, the creators stuck with a spiral-bound 8 1/2 x 11-inch notebook.  That’s the old-school part.  The innovation comes with the row of icons you can black out at the bottom of each page.  Want your notes for your next class to get loaded up to your Google Drive account?  Simply fill in that icon.  Need to back up those images for that lesson next week?  Fill in the icon. (1)

Rocketbook iconAndimation2

There are seven icons in all and you can choose where they each save — down to specific folders within specific applications.  For example, you can send things to a specific folder in Google Drive or to your email.  A blank legend at the front of the book gives you a place to keep track of how you assign the icons. (1)


Then, you simply launch the Rocketbook app on your phone and hold it over each two-page spread of the notebook.  The app automatically captures the pages and loads them to the places in the cloud you’ve designated.  There’s no need to click any capture button; the app does its thing automatically as you flip the pages. (1)

Rocketbook microwavePlace

But what happens when you fill an entire 100-page notebook? The creators of Rocketbook have a smart solution that ropes in third-party tech.  If you use only Pilot FriXion pens, they say, you can throw the whole book in the microwave for 30 seconds and your scribbles will disappear because the ink is heat-sensitive.  The binding on the Rocketbook is made from microwave-friendly polypropylene so there won’t be any sparks. (1)

fullsizeoutput_df_1024x1024.jpegFor more information about the reusable notebooks, please visit getrocketbook.com.  However, I have a FREE ROCKETBOOK PDF that you can use along with the Rocketbook app at no cost to you.  Simply print this ROCKETBOOK PDF and use it along with the Rocketbook App (android) or the Rocketbook App (iOS).

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about implementing any type of technology in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through email (lawsonj@talawanda.org) or by submitting a Technology Integration Ticket on the Talawanda Web Portal.  Have a great day!


  1. “Paper notebook uploads to cloud, erases in microwave – CNET.” 10 Mar. 2015, https://www.cnet.com/news/paper-notebook-uploads-to-cloud-erases-in-microwave/. Accessed 12 Sep. 2017.
  2. “Rocketbook Wave: Cloud-Ready Microwavable Notebook | Indiegogo.” https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rocketbook-wave-cloud-ready-microwavable-notebook. Accessed 12 Sep. 2017.


Tip 29 – #whyusetwitter

Many of us think of Twitter as a great place to share pictures of our latest meal, the place where celebs post their great observations, or even as the chosen means of communication from the POTUS.  What if we start to think of Twitter as a tool instead of an unproductive activity or a waste of time?  Moreover, How can we use Twitter in a meaningful way, especially in the classroom?twitter-logo-2.png

Why Use Twitter in Education?

The truth is, with 328 million monthly average (2) users from all over the world, Twitter provides a social media world that is chock full of information and insights.

  • Teachers can use Twitter to connect with experts around town– or around the globe– to get perspectives that will enrich lessons.
  • Students can contact other students in foreign countries to enhance their understanding of how other people live, what they value, and what their challenges are.
  • Students can use Twitter for research, by searching for specific terms and following up on the findings.
  • Teachers can deepen their professional knowledge by connecting with leaders in the field.
  • Using Twitter provides another tool for communication between teachers and students and can increase interaction and engagement in the classroom.

Maybe you’re intrigued with the idea of using Twitter, but aren’t quite sure how to get started. Here are some key ways to use Twitter to teach and to learn. (1)

Twitter Basics

Twitter is a free, online social media tool, found at Twitter.com. You can also download the app onto your computer, tablet or phone. Once you have your account set up, you can post, or tweet, your thoughts in messages of 140 characters or less. That tweet can Twitter-Download-PNGinclude a link to another website, a video, or photo. You can also share something someone else has posted through a re-tweet. (1)

One of the most confusing aspects of Twitter is the lingo. Twitter supplies a glossary of nearly all of the terms you’ll come across, but here’s a quick and dirty guide of the most commonly used ones. (1)

  • Twitter handle/user name: This is your Twitter name. You get to choose what you want (as long as it’s available) when you sign up for the account. Twitter allows multiple accounts so you can have a personal account under one name and a professional one for your work as an educator. For your educator account, consider a name that is related to the topic that you teach. (1)
  • @ or the “at” sign: This is used to call out a specific name, as in @edudemic. When you use the @ in front of a name, it’s called a mention, and the person you mention will receive a notification that their name was used in your tweet. (1)
  • # or hashtag (the sign formerly known as pound): Is used to identify tweets on a similar topic. #applepie, for example, would find all tweets related to the favorite dessert. It’s like a keyword indicator. (1)
  • Follow: When you find Twitter users who shares information you like, you can follow them, meaning you click the follow button next to the name on their profile. Once you start to follow someone, his or her tweets will automatically appear in your Twitter home page. Likewise, if someone wants to see your tweets, they will follow you. Twitter notifies you when you have new followers. (1)

Twitter’s New Users FAQs provides more information, but these are some of the main aspects an educator needs to know to get an account up and running. (1)

Making the Most of Twitter for Educators

Once your Twitter account is established, you’ll want to fill your stream with useful information.


1. Decide whose tweets you want to follow.

Maybe start following tweets from your school, district, and other teachers like myself…@Mr_LaWs0n.  To be fair, I’m following my own advice here and literally just sent my first tweet this morning.  Add some relevant local, national, and international news sources. Find people discussing topics that are related to your lessons, i.e. history buffs, scientists, or mathematicians, etc. Add great sources focused on education like @edudemic. (1)

2. Follow the Followers

Click on the profile page of an organization or person you follow, see who they follow to get more ideas. Twitter also can provide suggestions, based on your history, on new people to follow. (1)

3. Narrow It Down

Once you’ve created a robust selection of who to follow, you may encounter the opposite problem—how to find what you need from a barrage of incoming tweets. A variety of apps and techniques can make this simpler. (1)

  • Create a customized stream of up to the minute information: Twitter can serve as your daily newspaper, providing you with the tweets containing the most recent trends, experiments and best practices in education.
  • Make a list: Twitter lists (an option available on Twitter) allow you to put your followers as well as people you haven’t committed to following into categories. Want to just read tweets about English as a second language? You can look at the tweets in that list. Want to see what’s new and trending with Common Core? Create that list.

 In Short

Twitter can bring a wealth of great information into your classroom. Accessing, curating and discussing that information can bring renewed energy to your students and to you. (1)



  1. “How to Use Twitter for Teaching and Learning | Edudemic.” 7 Apr. 2015, http://www.edudemic.com/how-to-use-twitter-for-teaching-and-learning/. Accessed 5 Sep. 2017.
  2. “Twitter: number of monthly active users 2010-2017 – Statista.” https://www.statista.com/statistics/282087/number-of-monthly-active-twitter-users/. Accessed 5 Sep. 2017.