March 2017

Educational Technology's Writing Website Gem - BoomWriter

Google Docs Add On For Scoring Online Writing

Spotlight: First Graders and the 4 C's With Breakout EDU

Tech Tip - Make Websites Into App Icons for the Chromebook Shelf

Using LanSchool With Your Chromebooks

Have You Checked Out the New Google Sites?

Now Registering For: For Elementary

Join the GSDEdTech March Twitter Chat

Educational Technology's Writing Website Gem


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BoomWriter is a free writing web tool for elementary age students that brings gamification to writing.

Students earn credits to create their customized Boomer as they achieve writing milestones.

It can be used on mobile devices and across content areas.

BoomWriter has three unique writing tools:

  • ProjectWriter: Students demonstrate their nonfiction writing skills in information and explanatory, argument/opinion, scientific, or narrative focused projects.

  • StoryWriter: Students develop their creative writing skills and understanding of literacy elements.

  • WordWriter: Let students apply, share, and assess their vocabulary knowledge in a new, fun, and interactive way.

Thank you Tricia Fenton, STS at Vista and Western Hills, for sharing this wonderful online writing resource!

Google Docs Add On For Scoring Online Writing


Google Docs has an add-on called Orange Slice that allows teachers to grade their students' writing using an online rubric that is easily customized.

The Orange Slice add-on is especially useful when grading writing assignments in Google Classroom,

but Google Classroom is not necessary to use the Orange Slice add-on.

To get the Orange Slice add-on:

  • Either create a new Google Doc or open an existing Google Doc

  • Click on Add-ons in the menu

  • Click on Get Add-ons

  • In the search box, type orangeslice

  • Choose to add the Teacher Rubric version of OrangeSlice

  • A tutorial for using the Orangeslice add-on to create and use online rubrics is below

Thank you Tricia Fenton, STS at Vista and Western Hills, for sharing this month's awesome online writing tools!

Spotlight: First Graders and the 4 Cs with Breakout EDU

In this spotlight video, first grade students at Bennion Elementary work with school technology specialist, Amber Palmer, to solve critical thinking puzzles as part of a Breakout EDU activity. The video also highlights the centrality of the Four Cs of 21st Century Learning (Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity) to our teaching and learning practices in educational technology.

Breakout EDU is defined on their official web site ( as “an immersive games platform for learners of all ages. In Breakout EDU games, players work collaboratively to solve a series of critical thinking puzzles in order to open a locked box.”

You can purchase Breakout EDU kits from the web site or use this archive of the Breakout EDU Open Source Materials List to build your own version of the kit. Breakout EDU hosts a large library of educator-designed games, as well as a template to create your own games for the kit.

Spotlight contribution by Heidi Meenen, District Technology Specialist

Tech Tip - Make Websites into App Icons for the Chromebook Shelf

The shelf area along the bottom portion of the Chromebook screen is a great place to place your favorite apps and websites.

It makes them easily accessible. The shelf can be customized with your favorite app and website links.

A lesser known trick is how to take a favorite website, turn it into an icon and have it accessible from your shelf.

You could have students add your classroom website to their shelf. Here are the steps to do that.

1. While on your Chromebook, browse to the website you want to add as a shelf app icon.

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2. Click on the Chrome Menu (top right - three dots).

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3. Click on More Tools from the menu that opens.

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4. Choose Add to Shelf from the sub menu that opens.

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5. Either click on add or rename the app if desired and then click on add. Your website is now a shelf icon!

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Using LanSchool With Your Chromebooks


Lanschool has always been a useful tool in the computer labs and with student desktop computers.

Lanschool is available for use with the Chromebooks as well. Some features are slightly different,

but many are the same. Below is some information to help you get started with using Lanschool

with the Chromebooks in your classroom.

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Have You Checked Out the New Google Sites?


The new version of Google Sites is completely revised and much easier to use than the previous version.

You can now start a new Google Site by clicking on the New button in your Google Drive, then click on More and you will find

the option to choose Google Site.

Students can also use Google Sites for student portfolios and more.

The tutorials below will help you get started.

Now Registering For: For Elementary


Do you wonder what all the fuss is about teaching kids to code? Are you an ELEMENTARY teacher?

Are you planning ahead to next year, and want to start a coding club, develop an enrichment curriculum,

or create an amazing center that will help students learn reasoning, logic and critical thinking,

as well as math concepts about space, measurements and directions?

If so, then is for you. We are offering a 6 hour training spread out over two nights,

Monday April 17th and Tuesday April 18th, from 4:30 -7:30 at the GEC D228 Lab.

You get a teaching manual with plugged and unplugged, self directed or guided instruction,

easy to understand and deliver 20 minute lessons, 6 hours of relicensure credit, and a super bag of swag.

In addition, on completing the course you will receive the supplies for the unplugged lessons.

Click Here to register for the for Elementary Class

Class will close after 25 seats are filled.