CloudHQ Gmail Email Templates

For a number of years, I have been writing a technology integration newsletter for the educators in our school district. I have tried a number of different formats, each with various levels of success. Some factors which were always important to me:

  • The tool had to be easy to use
  • The final product had to be user-friendly
  • The newsletter must be visually appealing
  • It must not be mistaken for spam or junk mail
  • Viewable on desktop, tablets, and mobile phones

Initially, I used this blog as the newsletter landing page. I simply sent an email to staff with links to 3-5 specific blog posts. My blog analytics indicated most recipients were not clicking the links to access the blog posts. When I included “teasers” with the linked titles, access increased, but only slightly.

Feedback from our teachers revealed that when users check their emails, they do not want to click links and be redirected to a webpage. So I started posting the entire newsletter in the email message. This solved the problem of staff not accessing the information, but it was not visually appealing. If you have ever attempted formatting a Gmail message with pictures, text, and video, you understand.

This led me to the MailChimp newsletter service. They have a wide variety of templates that look professional. In addition, their analytics tools make it easy to see which information is being accesses and the amount of time users are engaged in the content. There is a bit of a learning curve, but it’s manageable. Unfortunately, as more spammers abuse bulk mail systems, MailChimp as had to tighten their policies by requiring everyone on your contact list to verify acceptance of the newsletter. With new staff each year, I did not want to track who has verified their email account and who as not. So I switched back to using Gmail and started looking for a template addon.

That’s when I discovered the cloudHQ Gmail Templates extension. What made me even more excited was the ability of this extension to use the templates I had customized within MailChimp. Yes, win-win! Now my newsletters look professional and are sent directly from Gmail using my contact list. I can feel confident my colleagues receive the email newsletter and can view it from any device. Thanks cloudHQ!

Moodle Quiz: Ordering Question Type

The Moodle Quiz feature provides several question types. For example, it has the standard multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay response. In addition, teachers will also find more specialized question types such as Drag-and-Drop Matching or Drag-and-Drop onto Image. A new question type has recently been installed called Ordering which asks students to place steps or procedures in the proper order (e.g., scientific method). Watch the video below to see a demonstration.

Chromebook Care: Reminders for Students

Many students learn and adapt to technology with little effort. They are very comfortable using devices... sometimes too comfortable. It’s important to give students frequent reminders about proper handling and care. Look for opportunities to praise students who use technology responsibly. The video demonstration and expectations listed below can be helpful references and reminders for students of all ages.

Carry your Chromebook with two hands on the sides of the keyboard.
The most frequent Chromebook damage is a broken screen. The most common cause is picking up the device by the screen. The screen can flex and crack with too much pressure.

Position your Chromebook safely on your desk. Close the lid when not in use.
A Chromebook hanging off the edge of a desk is more likely to drop than one placed safely in the center. Prevent additional accidents by closing the screen lid when not in use.

The floor is a dangerous spot for your Chromebook. Keep it in a safer place.
It’s common for students to put books on the floor in the classroom or hallway by their lockers. Technology breaks when it is stepped on; find a safe place to set your devices.

For more information about Chromebook care, expectations, and digital citizenship, visit the Student Resources page under the Powerful Learning website.

Moodle Quizzes: Drag and Drop onto an Image

I have worked with a few teachers this year who wanted to do more with Moodle quizzes. For example, they wanted students to label diagrams. The “Drag and drop onto image” question type provides this option. Teachers can insert an image and select locations to label the diagram. Students simply drag and drop the answer choices onto the image. Watch the video tutorial below to see a demonstration.

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Verbs

Bloom’s Taxonomy is commonly used as a framework to structure lessons, activities, and assessments. The model provides a continuum from lower-order thinking skills (LOTS) to higher-order thinking skills (HOTS). As with any teaching tool, we have to consider how technology is being used to support learning. There is nothing wrong with students using their devices to search, read, and highlight information. We should, however, challenge our students to demonstrate learning using domains which require higher-order thinking skills.

The Global Digital Citizen Foundation created the following infographic to classify “power verbs” within each domain. Reference the diagram when lesson planning and integrating technology to facilitate learning. Click the infographic below to download a PDF copy.

ReadTheory: Free Reading Assessment Tool

The ability to differentiate instruction is one of the great benefits of using technology in the classroom. Tools like Newsela and TweenTribune have gained in popularity because they offer current events at a variety of Lexile reading levels. Last week, I shared a free reading and math assessment tool called FrontRow. Another option is a new tool called ReadTheory. ReadTheory tracks student (K-12) progress on reading passages and reports it back to teachers and their students. From the progress page on the menu bar, teachers can view charts that track student progress, performance on questions, and aggregate class performance statistics. Watch the video or review the FAQ page for more information.

Turnitin: How Feedback Improves Writing

How do students feel about your feedback? In 2016, Turnitin surveyed 1,155 students to discover how they think about and use feedback, to get to what truly makes it effective. Would you be surprised to hear 67% of students actually prefer feedback that challenges them to think harder about a task? Click the button below to view additional results.

Turnitin has made the “Feedback Quiz” available for you and your students. Use this quick, effective quiz to help students understand the power of feedback. Use the results as a conversation starter about the importance of feedback and how it can improve their writing performance. Note: The quiz is designed for middle school students and above.

Yes, Turnitin is a plagiarism checker. But more importantly, it is designed to help teachers give students quick and meaningful feedback. When used effectively, Turnitin helps improve students’ writing skills instead of simply being a punitive tool for plagiarism. Review Turnitin’s five tips for fantastic feedback.