Trouble reading this message on email? View it in your web browser by clicking here.
Thursday, December 1
Beginning Google Classroom

Wednesday, December 7
Beginning Google Classroom

Thursday, December 15
Beginning Google Classroom

iCal Users
Download All Events


While committing nearly $3 billion to STEM education, President Barack Obama argued that “For the United States to maintain its preeminent position in the world it will be essential that the nation continues to lead in STEM, but evidence indicates that current educational pathways are not leading to a sufficiently large and well-trained STEM workforce to achieve this goal.” What is great for students at New Hartford Central School is having teachers that are strong advocates for new pathways of student discovery in STEM-related fields. Significantly, teachers are urging a focus on instructional methods that strike a balance between the arts and sciences. A unique example of this effort is the “Novel Engineering” pilot underway at Bradley Elementary School. “Novel Engineering” encourages students to interact with literature in a proactive, hands-on manner. In this approach, students read stories appropriate to their grade level, then doff their literary caps in exchange for engineering ones. With each story they read, students determine a problem that a main character faces. Students then use engineering skills to design and build a tool that would, hypothetically, solve a character’s problem, thus bringing the story to an alternative resolution. “Novel Engineering” is one facet of a comprehensive pre-engineering institute: the Center of Engineering Education and Outreach at Tufts University. The New Hartford Central School STEAM committee adopted “Novel Engineering” as a pilot program for the 2016-2017 school year. It has been one of several strategies used to explore STEM-related coursework at the elementary school level. As the Board of Education discovered on its regular meeting of November 15, the results of the pilot are promising. At the meeting, students from Mrs. Lisa Meyers’s Grade 4 class (seen practicing their presentation in their classroom in the photo above) presented one of their latest “prototypes.” Board of Education members learned that the prototype was designed to help “Stormie,” an over-sized protagonist of the short story Stormalong, build more appropriate-sized living quarters. As Mrs. Meyers notes, “My students are focusing on what the National Education Association calls ‘The Four Cs.’ These are critical thinking, collaboration, and communication and creativity/innovation.” Meyers adds, “What is so inspiring is the familiarity our students are gaining with the engineering design process, and how to think like engineers!” That process is similar to the one that Meyers’s colleague, Mrs. Kathy Donovan, the district’s STEM enrichment teacher, utilizes in her classes every day. Just as the Grade 4 students shared with the Board of Education, these steps include: create, plan, imagine, ask, and improve. Mrs. Donovan explains that teachers do not have to look too far to find good sources of problem-solving inspiration. “Our pilot is using readings from Journeys, a literacy program adopted district-wide, for our elementary schools to use regularly throughout the year.” While New Hartford elementary students will no doubt engage in literacy/STEM challenges equal to that of “Stormie” in the days to come, several of their teachers will face some classroom problem-solving challenges of their own. Three New Hartford faculty, including Mrs. Meyers, Mrs. Donovan, and Myles Elementary Special Education teacher Mrs. Melissa Gehringer are almost through their first semester in an “Elementary Engineering Teacher” certification program offered (mostly online) at Tufts University. Evidently, they are already bringing the new training to their classrooms through the “Novel Engineering” pilot, as well as the district’s continued commitment to enrichment opportunities through DELTA STEM. To find out more about “Novel Engineering,” and current STEAM initiatives throughout the district, contact members of STEAM Committee within your own building, your Technology Integration Specialist via the Tech Department, or the New Hartford Teacher’s Center. They will glad to help you bring “Novel Engineering” to your own classroom as well in the near future via training, in classroom support, and more as the approach expands across the district.


While it has always been part of the core apps, Google Sites has been somewhat challenging for educators and students alike to easily create websites that not only looked good but also worked well across today’s wide variety of devices. Luckily, earlier this month, Google announced a totally rebuilt version of Google Sites that makes it very easy to creating portfolios, web portals, and other classroom projects that are derived from content already found in your Google Drive and all with the simplicity of working within a Google Doc!

To get started with the new Sites, just visit the waffle button and scroll down to choose Sites. You could also visit it directly by going to this web address: The classic Sites landing page will load because they will still be around for a while until Google fully migrates away from them. At the old Sites landing page, you will see a link along the bottom of the left navigation that will jump you into the new Sites, (see circled area in the screenshot below.)

Once you are in the new Sites, you will find a workspace that lets you start creating a site by adding text, links, images and more with a quick cut-and-paste, or simply drag-and-drop to rearrange and resize elements on the page. To customize the look of your site, you will find one of six beautiful themes that will intelligently scale and flex to any screen size, so they look great when you access them on a computer screen at your desk, a tablet, or even your smartphone.

As seen in the screenshot above, the new Sites is designed to perfectly integrate with your favorite Google apps so you can insert content from the tools you use already know how to use. It is just a click away to embed a schedule from Google Calendar, a video clip from Google Drive, or a location from Google Maps. You can also insert any content from Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms and a live version of those files appear within the site so they will be always updated when users are viewing your published site!

Lastly, the new Sites is also truly collaborative. Using the same technology as Google Docs, the new Sites provides for real-time, multi-user coauthoring so a whole group can add and update a site without worrying about conflicts or locked pages.

As many of our educators and students are now avid and experienced Spartan Apps users and now that you know about it, the new Google Sites is worth a look if you or your students are create anything web-based very simple and easily using their Google account and content. With all of its simple ease of use, modern look and feel, and the power of all of your Google Drive content at instant access to embed, you or your students will love the new Sites for creating simple instructional websites or learning artifacts of all kinds. Trust us...give it a shot and you see what we mean and see how it can used in almost any grade level and subject area K-12!

Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
iTunes Content for Your Classroom

Are you looking to easy, fun way to create podcasts or audio recordings in your classroom using practically any device you or you students have available? If so, Soundtrap is the perfect app for the job.
After signing up for a free account, Soundtrap let’s students or teachers make music or podcasts online. With the app, you can record your voice and use the software instruments and loops available in Soundtrap or even plug in and record your own instrument. All projects are saved in the cloud which means you can access them anywhere. Plus Soundtrap works on Chromebooks, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS so you can access your creations from any device. Best of all, students and teachers collaborate via video calls from remote locations. Teachers can even create group assignments and coach and help their students from where ever they are. If you are looking for a next generation sound creation platform that offers it all, Soundtrap is worth checking out today!
Visit Soundtrap
Connected Learning
Connected Learning Alliance

The Connected Learning Alliance ( is a technology-related startup dedicated to spreading & scaling the implementation of an education approach called "Connected Learning." When learners can: (1) develop their interests in a production-centered, openly networked environment; (2) in tandem with peers and mentors who share their purpose; (3) in pursuit of larger academic, civic, or economic goals, that's Connected Learning. In these short, engaging episodes, the hosts discuss a wide variety of interesting, timely topics relevant to today’s modern K-12 classroom. Take a look and you will be sure to find something fun and useful in apply in your own classroom environment!
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.
If you prefer not to receive this email newsletter from New Hartford Central Schools, or if you've changed your email address, please visit here.