January 10, 2018

Tech Tools to Reach ELL Students

My "Aha" Moment

Over the last few months I have made many classroom observations. A short time ago, I was observing a teacher who had just recently gotten a student who was new to the country, a newcomer who spoke zero English. She was making accommodations for him in his studies, but something that stood out to me is when she mentioned her use of technology. Some of the assignments he had completed had been done so using the Google Translate extension where she allowed him to type his answers and then use translate to change it over to English. She had him type his papers in Spanish and then use the Google Translate extension to change it to English. She did not allow their language barrier as a means to keep this student from feeling success. She was able to meet him exactly where he was at and provide him with a simple tool like Google Translate. It was no more work for her and allowed her student to be successful with what he brought to the table.

In witnessing this type of forward thinking and technology usage in the classroom, a light bulb of sorts went off and it got me thinking. If 33% of our OKCPS student population is deemed an English Language Learner (ELL), then what other tech tools are teachers using to help their students? In order to answer that questions, I went on a quest to find some answers.

The Meeting

My first stop was to schedule a meeting with the ones who know our ELL students the best, Language and Cultural Services. I wanted to rack their brains to see what, if any tools are currently available and advertised for teachers to use in their classrooms. Their first suggestion was to check out their website. The LCS team has put together a list of Instructional Resources for both Elementary and Secondary. This would be a great place to start.

My biggest take away was that ELL students need a reduced linguistic load through application.
One website the team recommended was Newsela, because the user has the ability to simplify or increase the rigor of a text over the same topic, allowing for differentiation for every student.

What I Found

After my meeting I wanted to find other tech tools that could help ELL students be successful in a mainstream classroom, and I came across this blog. The blog describes 5 apps and extensions that will simplify, read, translate and define text to help ELL students learn. This was a great find.

Final Thoughts

All students deserve to feel success and what better way to make success come than by integrating tech tools. Integrating technology should be something we do each day and if the tools can help ELL students, I say go for it. My hope is that you are able to use something that I have shared with you and that your students are able to benefit in a positive way. 


December 20, 2017

Top 5 Sessions from Winter Intersession

Oklahoma City Public Schools held a great professional learning opportunity for new teachers December 14-15, 2017. Here are the top 5 sessions from Winter InspireOKCPS. These are great resources for teachers to use on their own or for principals to use with their entire staff.

gSuite 101
This interactive session is designed to be learner-centered and focused on G Suite Tools. Participants worked through a self-paced hyperdoc to complete tutorials, read and explore resources, apply knowledge with learning activities, and finally reflect on their G Suite exploration.
Check out this massive hyperdoc, gSuite. It has resources for the most commonly used tools in Google as well as places for feedback and reflection. Finish this course by earning your Google Certified Educator Level 1 course. 

Chromebook 101
Does your building have Chromebooks? Customize your professional learning path with Chromebooks. This is a self-directed professional learning course. Select your activity based on your skill level and desired outcome. Complete each task and earn digital badges at your own pace.
If your campus is using chromebooks, you definitely want to review this course. We have created a Chromebook 101 hyperdoc which walks you through teaching with chromebooks based on your ability from beginner to advanced.

Choose Your Own Google Adventure
Customize your professional learning path with Google. This is an advanced, self-directed professional learning course. Select your activity based on your skill level and desired outcome. Complete each task card and earn digital badges at your own pace.
Are you already a savvy Googler? Then check out our Choose Your Own Adventure session for more creative ways to use Google in your classroom.

Student Safety in the Digital World
This session provided teachers with the necessary tools to help students understand the importance of digital citizenship.
Using the hyperdoc, Student Safety in their Digital World, explore a myriad of resources to add to your toolkit as you use mobile devices in your classroom. If you would like to use the hyperdoc, please go to File, Make a Copy for you own personal copy of this hyperdoc.

What's the Hype with HyperDocs?
HyperDocs take Google Docs to a whole new level. HyperDocs increase engagement and create a self-directed learning opportunity to take ownership of learning. They can also be used for flipped professional learning and personalized PD.
So you have probably noticed a theme with the resources we create...we love hyperdocs. Check out this hyperdoc to learn all things hyperdoc.

December 15, 2017

Happy Holidays!!!

As 2017 comes to an end the Educational Technology Services (ETS) Team wants to wish you a very merry holiday season and peaceful new year! We hope this winter break will provide all of our OKCPS educators the much needed rest they deserve surrounded by loved ones, filled with joy and happiness. 

November 27, 2017

Alternatives to Screen Monitoring Software

There are many alternatives to Screen Monitoring Software which teachers can use to keep students engaged and on task. 

Good Citizenship

 Digital Citizenship is a must for all students at all grade levels. More and more teachers are integrating technology into their classrooms and with increased access comes increased responsibility. Digital Citizenship needs to be addressed before students ever start using technology and reinforced throughout the year. 

Layout is Everything

Classroom layout is a good deterrent to off-task behaviors. Sitting students where their screens can easily be seen can help minimize unstructured web browsing. There are many different layouts you can choose from based on the seating you have on hand. Tired of rows of desks? Why not explore Flexible Seating?

 *Students are less likely to risk playing games or using social media if they know that at any moment their teacher will appear behind them.

Keep Things Simple

Switching between multiple apps during a lesson can become distracting to students as some struggle to log on and others use the downtime to browse the web. Best practice would be to find a small number of apps or sites you use regularly and stick to those while gradually experimenting with new ones.

Pausing the Internet

When students are not allowed to be on their devices, having them tilt their screens to a “45 degree angle” for Chromebooks, or put their “Apples up” on the case of iPads will allow the teacher to see who is not being compliant and have the assurance no one is using their devices. 

Have a Plan B

There will always be situations where a student is not complying with the rules or lose their privilege to devices. It is always a good idea to have an alternative assignment ready in case of outages or for students who have lost the use of their devices.

Engaging lessons will have the greatest impact on keeping students on-task. If you are stumped or unsure how to integrate technology into your lessons, click here for additional resources.

Additional Resources

November 8, 2017

Skype in the Classroom


Mystery Skype is an educational game that was invented by teachers. It encourages students to practice many 21st-century skills. It is a wonderful digital tool to help students learn and solidify their understanding of collaboration, critical thinking, teamwork, cultural awareness, digital literacy, deductive reasoning, and geography. Students are able to work with other partner classrooms across the United States or beyond. They answer only yes and no questions to determine where their "partner skyper" classroom is located. Mystery Skype lessons and activities can be adapted for all subject areas and grade levels; both elementary and secondary included.

Rebecca Kerr, 3rd Grade Teacher
Eugene Field Elementary

Mrs. Kerr has been using Mystery Skype in her classroom for the last three years. She believes that it has been impactful in so many ways but has made the biggest impact with breaking down the barriers of the classroom. "Using skype has allowed my students to gain exposure to things and people outside of their immediate community. Many of my students have never left the city, let alone the state. It provides them the opportunity to see other students and communities that are similar and different to our own. They get to see kids and places that are different while also seeing all they have in common despite their geographical distances." 

One challenge she has run into is letting go and releasing her control. She said, "all teachers have some level of control and like to be in the details of what goes on in their classrooms. However, I have learned that I have to let some of that control go. Using this activity has pushed me to step into more of a coaching role allowing my students to take over and lead. It's important that they begin to take the initiative when it comes to their learning. I definitely realize that I have to be a facilitator, not a controller and let them lead each other and themselves."

Mrs. Kerr believes that it is her role and responsibility to give her students experiences that go beyond the typical classroom; experiences that will carry over into the world outside of her classroom walls. "65% of the students in my classroom today will be working in jobs that haven't been created yet. I have to prepare them for that and give them the tools they will need to be successful. They will be working in a world where there are no bosses to tell them what to do and when to do it, or how to accomplish the task. They have to become problem-solvers who are able to collaborate and think critically."

Through the use of Mystery Skype, Mrs. Kerr has seen students become more engaged and excited about collaboration and learning. She is providing students a hands-on and in-depth learning experiences that will prove to be influential and impactful well beyond the third grade. 

A Look at Mrs. Kerr's Mystery Skype Session

Helpful Links

Email Mrs. Kerr
Mrs. Kerr's Twitter Account
Video: The Magic of Mystery of Skype
Video: GoNoodle Mystery Skype Song
Blog: Mrs. Long's Classroom Skype
Blog Post: Using Mystery Skype as a Classroom Tool
Microsoft Education: Find a Mystery Skype Class
Pinterest: Mystery Skype Boards to Follow
Sample Lesson Plan with Links