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While formative assessment in the traditional classroom setting has meant calling on a few students and listening to their responses to see if they are correct and generally following along, this teaching approach can be very random in being successful at best. Luckily through technology, there might just be a better way. As a matter of fact, if you look in some classrooms at Perry Junior High, you are sure to see some of the teachers using their phones to scan the entire room in seconds and seeing the answers of ALL their students at once! How is this possible you might ask? It happens through an amazing free web and mobile app combination called Plickers, a play on the words phone and clickers (informal name of student response devices). With this software setup, teachers have the ability to collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices...just one: the teacher’s own smartphone. The technology works by giving each student a card that has a unique code and number assigned to it. This card is then shown and scanned by the teacher with their cell phone to see the answer the students have provided to the question. Mrs. Michelle Hogan, a math teacher at Perry (pictured below) is one teacher who has put the software into action in her own classroom with great success. Hogan first learned about the software from a colleague in the Utica schools and tried it out with her students last spring. She used it at the end of last school year to review for her final exam. It gave her a better sense of how her students were doing with solving problems that they might see on the final exam. She enjoyed using Plickers in her classroom that she decided to offer an inservice this fall to show other teachers how easy and effective it is to use. “The students enjoy using it and said it felt like a game rather than a traditional classroom environment where questions and answers are typically used.” says Hogan. As for what features of the app she likes best, Hogan says she likes how she can see immediately on her phone which students got the answer right or wrong. Correct answers appear on her device as green and those incorrect show up as red. Best of all, it happens in real time and answers are also recorded to the website so she can look over later how her students did if need be. What is nice about the app is that is works with student groups of any size and ability, whether at the elementary or secondary level. As far as best practices when using it, Hogan says that question design is important for the software to work correctly. Questions must be in the form of multiple choice (up to 4 questions) or True /False. Finally, a new feature Plickers recently added over the summer that makes it even easier to use is the ability to create folders. For example, Hogan has one folder with questions she used last year to review for the final exam and another folder with questions she used last month to review for a unit test. This makes it much easier to locate the questions that she wants to use in her classroom on a given day, opposed to one master list of questions to scroll through, like she had to do last year. As far as where you can learn more about the Plickers app and website, Hogan offered an inservice on it last month and would be willing to offer another one if there was enough interest expressed to the Teacher Center to put one together. Likewise, if you want to get started with Plickers on your own, you could contact the Tech Department. They would be happy to meet with you and show you how to put Plickers into action in your own classroom right away!


While Spartan Apps offers a wealth of tools to easily create and format documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows, the materials you create can often look fairly generic. Fortunately, Google has taken the worry out of making everything look good by offering a new collection of high quality templates you can find right in the Docs, Sheets and Slides apps. This way you can focus on your content while we make sure it gets the expert polish it deserves.

To use to the new templates, you simply need to navigate to the appropriate app for the type of template that you want to use. For example, if you visit, all documents from your Drive will appear in a list. Along the top of your Docs list, you will find the new Docs templates (see screenshot below), which includes a wide variety of reports, portfolios, resumes and other pre-made templates designed to make your work that much better, and your life that much easier. For spreadsheet and slideshow templates, the same technique of navigating to and can be used to access the new templates for Slides and Sheets accordingly.

To use any of the templates, just click on its thumbnail and the template will open so you can begin customize the content to your liking. While the use of templates is nothing completely new to Spartan Docs, if you're looking for templates that you or someone in our organization created, you will need to visit the old template gallery to access them and at the moment, custom templates are not available in the new gallery.

The new templates can not only be a real timesaver and many Google Docs users are unaware of the fact that they can breathe life into their documents by using templates. Next time you need to create something, check out Google's new templates and you will be creating great looking documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in no time!

Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
iTunes Content for Your Classroom

Are you looking for a great way for your students to review and study Common Core and Next Generation academic content? If so, OpenEd is a wonderful resource to consider for the job.
OpenEd is the largest K-12 educational resource library, offering over a million assessments, homework assignments, videos, games and lesson plans for every Common Core Math, Language Arts, Literacy and Next Generation Science standard. The videos and games are sorted by effectiveness, so teachers can find just the right resource no matter what subject, topic or standard. OpenEd lets teachers assign quizzes and homework to students and automatically grades them, recommending videos for whatever they have problems with. The result is truly personalized learning for each student. For a great study tool to use in your classroom, OpenEd is worth a closer look!
Visit OpenEd
STEAM Channel (Video)

The STEAM Channel is an excellent iTunes U collection that serves as a hub for educators, industry leaders, policy makers and students looking for research and best practices in integrating arts into traditional STEM education. Come check out this collection which features talks, demonstrations, and documentaries showcasing the value of adding the A for arts to STEM into practically any classroom at either the elementary or secondary levels. Take a look today and you are sure to find something useful bring STEAM into your own classroom soon!
Visit on iTunes
The New Hartford Tech Spotlight is a monthly informational e-mail newsletter published for all faculty and staff of the New Hartford Central School District by Mike Amante & James Davis. If you wish to contribute to or inquire about the newsletter, please visit here.
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