Tech Tips

GreyEd_techGreyED Solutions is pleased to partner with SmartBrief to provide busy K-12 education technology innovators with “Tech Tips Tuesdays.” Published every Tuesday in the SmartBrief on EdTech newsletter, Tech Tips are written by educators for educators to boost their know-how and expand their skill set. Read Tech Tips here on our site or subscribe to SmartBrief on EdTech to get them delivered directly to your inbox.

 If you’re an educator and would like to contribute to Tech Tips, let us know!

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Using Blogger in the classroom

Source: SmartBrief on Education in partnership with GreyED

Blogger is great tool for elementary-school students and teachers. Students can use the platform to create a year-long portfolio of their work. Teachers can create weekly newsletters or a class blog. Users can add photos of class field trips, video of class presentations or other multimedia elements. The platform includes features that allow teachers to control who can view posts.

Give it a try! If your district has Google Apps for Ed or you have a personal Gmail account, just type in in the address bar when logged in.

Coding to play

Source: SmartBrief on Education in partnership with GreyED

Coding has been the hot topic in education and STEM conversations for the past year. I have paid attention to the extent that I know it’s important for today’s students to learn to code and I know that our science, technology, engineering and math teachers are finding ways to integrate coding lessons into their curriculum. I tried a few coding exercises – even played around a bit with Scratch – but never felt compelled to deep dive into the language myself.

That is, until I discovered some of the new coding games that have been developed. Here are some of my favorites:

How to keep up with ed-tech policies

Source: SmartBrief on Education in partnership with GreyED

It is difficult to keep up with the ever-changing world of educational technology, especially as it relates to policy. A good resource to know is ON[the]LINE, a service that provides resources designed to help school districts and county offices of education establish education policies and practices that address the rapidly evolving impacts of technology in 21st-century education.

ON[the]LINE is supported by a coalition of education professionals, education associations (including CETPA, CSBA, ACSA, and SCCOE, among others) and the law firm of Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP.

How to tell your school’s story using Instagram

Source: SmartBrief on EdTech in partnership with GreyED Solutions

Many students—teen and pre-teen—say their favorite social media platform is Instagram. The same is true for me and many parents as well.

This year we rolled out a school Instagram account and parents love it! It’s become a great way to connect with parents, students and the community. We’ve also discovered that many authors, athletes, companies and school districts are on Instagram. It’s a lot of fun to loop them into conversations.

Are you also using Twitter? You should be! Set up an IFTTT account and you can automatically post Twitter photos to Instagram. Easy!

Use blogs, video to build parent partnerships

Source: SmartBrief on EdTech in partnership with GreyED Solutions

Some classroom activities — modeling, hands-on learning and interactive games — are difficult to describe to parents in a newsletter or phone call. Last spring, our school decided to create a blog for parents and embed videos demonstrating skills that pre-K students need to develop in order to be ready for kindergarten. Each video includes three sections:

  • What, describing the skills the video will demonstrate;
  • Watch, telling viewers which teachers will be in the video so their children can start getting familiar with adults at schools; and
  • What Else, which features resources and ideas for parents on additional ways they can help their child extend or enhance the skills.

How to choose apps and games for personalized learning

Source: SmartBrief on EdTech in partnership with GreyED Solutions

Personalized learning is a process; it’s an input. It can be any implementation that has the intention of customizing learning to an individual student. Here are three features you should look for when selecting apps and games for personalized learning in your classroom:

  1. Feedback. Feedback is information that a learner receives about performance. Feedback is “among the most powerful influences on achievement,” according to education researcher John Hattie.
  2. Adapting levels of difficulty. Every student response in an app can be used for formative assessment purposes. The program can then make adjustments to the curriculum path, introducing remediation to clear up difficulties the individual student may have with the content, speeding up the pace of the content or slowing it down.
  3. Deliberate practice. The app or game provides many opportunities for active responding, not just a few. It is not simply “drill and practice.” Instead, it relies on feedback and established performance criteria and leads to long term retention.

How to use “web walls” for collaborative learning


A web-based wall like Padlet can be used for posting student work, in-process brainstorming, responding to important questions, posting web links and much more. Students get to the wall via any device with a browser. Some web-based walls now also offer mobile versions.

Tools like Padlet quickly get students collaborating and communicating. I’ve uses a web wall many times as a ‘section summarizer’ in middle-school social studies. Here’s how to start:

  1. Create an account and set up a blank wall.
  2. Share URL with students.
  3. Assign a small reading chunk (print or digital) to small groups.
  4. Students identify important facts/causes/effects or other focus.
  5. Students add content to the web wall via the link (no sign in!).

And that’s how to create a wall with important learning information for in-class student review. Review the completed wall with your students, add relevant info and discuss the most important points to ensure understanding. For instance, when I used a wall to support a lesson on ancient civilization, it truly strengthened students’ understanding of my intended outcomes. Students can also refer to the wall later as a study guide.

This easy-to-use technique works for grades three and up, across a range of subjects including social studies, foreign language, English and more. So remember, start small, and give the web-based wall a try!

Gene Tognetti is the director of professional development and educational technology coach at Presentation High School in San Jose, Calif. Gene works with ed-tech startups as a board member and mentor. He speaks at conferences on a wide variety of topics, including digital citizenship, effective technology integration into the classroom, and administration’s role in technology planning. He also provides ed-tech training to K-12 schools. Previously, Gene was a junior high-school social studies and language-arts teacher, and K-8 vice principal. He recently concluded his term as vice president of the Silicon Valley Computer Using Educators. More info can be found about Gene at

Use twitter to share great moments of learning

Source: SmartBrief EdTech in partnership with GreyED Solutions

We’ve all been there. You have a few minutes left until lunch and instruct your students to quietly read or work on homework until the bell rings. It never fails—that’s when when your principal shows up to do his daily walk-through. Where was he earlier when your students were working collaboratively on an integrated science – language arts PBL project? How can you share these great moments of student learning with your principal, parents and the school community as they’re happening?