EdTech Update 2019

Summer is a time when many edtech companies announce and release updates to their products. Below you will find a list of updates to many of our DLC-favorite tools. Be sure to click on the links included in each paragraph to learn more about these new features and reach out to a DLC if you are looking for support on using these tools in your classroom!


Canvas has a number of amazing new features coming out in the next 6 months including a new rich content editor that is more sleek and easy to use, enhancements to Assignments, and more New Quizzes functionality. In the meantime, a few features you can enjoy now are that when you “message students who” haven’t turned something in the Canvas gradebook, you can choose to message Observers (parents) at the same time. For our Elementary and Middle School Canvas users, the Student app has seen significant changes. Click here to see GIFs of these updates in action as the assignment submission process is way easier and faster.


Seesaw (E-5 Only)

Seesaw has added a number of creative tools that allow students to create new artifacts of their learning. Students can upload multiple pictures to create a collage, annotate pictures with highlighters and drawing tools, and add labels to any picture. You can also change the background for drawings to include things like graph paper. The new shapes tool allows you to add math manipulatives, arrows, and speech bubbles. All of these features can be used to create engaging Seesaw Activities for your students.

Microsoft Outlook

Email is something we all deal with everyday. The Microsoft Outlook 2019 Mac app has released a couple of nice features that should help us save time and even help us with our work/life balance. Have an important email you want to make sure you send but you don’t want to bother your colleagues on the weekend? There’s an update for you! You can now schedule Outlook emails to be sent at a later time. Get a lot of distracting junk emails? Check out the Focused Inbox. The Focused Inbox sorts your email into two inboxes: “Focused” and “Other." Focused is for important emails sent directly to you and Other will include promotional emails, newsletters, etc. Just be sure to check the Other inbox occasionally in case something important ended up in the wrong inbox.

iMovie (iOS)

The iOS iMovie app saw an exciting release in June. There are now 80 options for soundtrack songs (instead of 7) and you can do Picture in Picture and Green Screen directly in the iMovie app without the need for an additional app. Green Screen by Do Ink is still a superior green screen app, but having this functionality built into iMovie is another level of convenience and means less app juggling for students.

Adobe Spark (iOS and Mac)

Adobe Spark (Video, Post, and Page) has become one of our most popular and heavily used suite of creation tools. For Mac users, they have released collaboration features that allow you to add collaborators. You cannot have multiple editors in at one time, but it’s a definite improvement. For iOS and Mac users, they added a number of animations and stickers that can be used to create professional designs and videos. 


Flipgrid is one of the best tools in the edtech scene and they just keep getting better! This summer, they launched a new camera that allows you to add a whiteboard screen to videos, upload videos and images from your camera roll, and add stickers/emojis. They added a number of partners that have pre-created topics you can use with students. And lastly, Flipgrid AR! This feature easily generates QR codes to each video submission in a topic so you can print them out so others can watch them. This is perfect for art projects, posters, or word walls. Watch the video below to see it in action!


Many teachers use Edpuzzle to create video quizzes for their students which are done independently. Edpuzzle recently launched Live Mode which allows you to present the video to the class and students respond on their own devices. Edpuzzle also created an LMS integration with Canvas so now you can create Edpuzzle lessons and assign them to your Canvas courses. This makes enrollment in your Edpuzzle classes way easier and incorporates their scores into the Canvas gradebook.

Kahoot and Quizizz

Kahoot and Quizizz are really fun and useful formative assessment tools. Kahoot added a new editor and question types. Quizizz added a Team Mode for collaborative review sessions. Both tools have made it much easier to create assessments quickly and are worth another look if it's been awhile since you've utilized these tools.

Book Creator (iOS and Web)

Book Creator added some nice creation tools. They added an autodraw feature to improve your sloppy drawings and additional pen tools and ink options to add a little creativity to your projects.

Self Service

A number of apps were removed from Self Service over the summer because they either have not been updated in years, had similar features to other apps already available in Self Service, or no longer worked. We also added an AR/VR category and Wellness category so be sure to check those out. 

Summer Learning!

We would like to hear from you on this blog post! Submit to the Padlet below to share your amazing ideas and resources with other staff. FYI - The Padlet is moderated so your posts won’t show up until they’ve been approved.

Summer is a restorative time for educators. We’ve put in a lot of work over the course of the school year and summer serves an essential purpose of helping refuel and reinvigorate us. When the school year ends, we are suddenly relieved of the daily pressures of planning and delivering lessons, attending IEP meetings, supervising hallways, and the 7,000 other things we accomplish in it day. Summer can be a great time to think about how we can get even better at our craft and reflect on struggles we’d like to avoid next year.

Professional Reading - Books and Blogs

There are so many great books out there! After you reread Harry Potter for the ninth time this summer, what book are you going to pick up? We would like to hear from some of you. Share your favorite book suggestions to the Padlet below. Don’t have time for a book? Reads some blogs or listen to podcasts!


Am I the only person addicted to podcasts? Podcasts are great because you can be doing something else while you listen such as driving, exercising, yard work, or chilling at the beach! There are so many great educational podcasts out there. They can teach you about your subject area in greater detail, edtech, teaching strategies, and creative ideas you’ll be excited to try out with your students. Here is a list of some great educational podcasts. Post your favorites in the Padlet below!

Professional Development Opportunities

Attending conferences and professional development sessions can be another great way to learn. And without the pressure of students coming into your room the next day, summer gives us time to digest, reflect, and implement our summer learning from conferences. If you find something to attend, it is possible that your building has available professional development funds. Budgets are tight but it never hurts to ask if your administrator can pay for your registration.

SORLA - June 17th-20th

MNCodes Scratch Camp - June 19th and 20th

Bloomington’s Student Centered Showcase - June 18th

Powerful Learning Conference - August 7th

Southwest Metro Professional Development - August 12th-15th

Twitter Chats and Hashtags

Twitter is still very active in the summer. New edtech tools get released or updated, blogs are posted, and Twitter Chats (live discussions on Twitter) are happening all the time. Check out this website for a schedule of Twitter Chats and resources on how to engage with them. You can also follow Twitter hashtags for summer conferences such as #ISTE19 for the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from others on Twitter!

Facebook Groups

For those of you that are avid Facebook users, there are tons of great Facebook groups out there where you can learn about specific topics in education. Facebook's notifications make it a much easier conversation to follow as well. Join some groups and share your favorites in the Padlet below!

Fishbowl - A Safe Online Network for Teachers

Fishbowl is a brand new app that has a ton of promise and it’s very easy to get started. Download the app, create an account, select what industry or discussion groups you want to join, and then post questions and responses to people from across the country. Fishbowl is unique because it addresses a big problem many educators have with social media: a lack of privacy. When you are on Twitter, everything you Tweet can be seen by anyone else. Asking tough and honest questions can be very difficult at times. Not everyone feels comfortable sharing their struggles in their career field with complete strangers. Fishbowl identifies me to other users as Middle School Teacher in Minnesota without sharing my name so I feel like I can be honest with my questions and responses. Definitely check it out!

During this summer, be sure to take some time to unwind, relax, and recharge. Set some goals on what you'd like to learn more about. When you are ready to dive in to the wealth of resources available out there, a great place to start is the list below. Have a great summer! 

Made with Padlet

My EdCamp Adventure

I want to share a story with you which I think explains a lot about me as an educator. It greatly changed the course of my career and influenced me to become a Digital Learning Coach. More importantly, I hope it convinces you to join us at Shakopee High School on April 27th for Edcamp Twin Cities!

In the Spring of 2012, I was a 2nd year teacher at Shakopee Middle School teaching Social Studies. Having just found out that I would be moving buildings and grade levels to start teaching geography, I knew I needed help finding resources to expand my horizons. So what’s the obvious next step? I joined Twitter, of course!

After following some edu-famous educators on Twitter, I stumbled upon something called Edcamps. Edcamps are “unconferences” where the participants create the schedule for the day based on what they want to know, share, or discuss with other educators from the area. After doing a little searching, I was excited to hear that Edcamp MSP would be taking place just a few weeks after I joined Twitter. Check out my very first Tweet back in 2012!

Twitter 101: always have a hashtag or no one will notice your tweet.

EdCampMSP was awesome, to say the least. I did not feel like I had much to share as a 2nd year teacher, but I quickly realized that if you are passionate about something, you have a voice that others should hear. I made some long-lasting connections that day from other districts, vastly grew my Twitter PLN, discovered amazing tools like Flipgrid and Earthducation, and learned how to leverage YouTube to curate playlists around topics for my course. More importantly, I learned how to learn about new resources through Twitter and my newly discovered PLN.

I left EdCampMSP feeling so empowered and inspired and I want everyone I know to share in that experience. EdCamps are incredible opportunities for educators to collaborate and learn from each other. Everyone has ideas and expertise to share. But EdCamps are only as good as the participants that attend. That’s why I encourage you to come to EdCamp Twin Cities hosted at Shakopee High School!

To register, click here. Check out our website here. Follow @EdCampTC on Twitter!

Do your students enjoy games and puzzles? Do you want those games and puzzles to reinforce the learning experiences in your classroom? Are you looking for a way to engage your students in a fun, exciting way?

Enter BreakoutEDU!  

Breakouts engage students in current classroom content while participating in collaborative tasks requiring critical thinking and problem solving. Success with a breakout depends on students’ abilities to communicate effectively with one another toward a common goal.  

In Shakopee and across the globe, teachers are implementing (and even creating their own) breakout games. It is truly a win-win for students and teachers.  Students get excited when they see the little black boxes and love working to beat the clock. Teachers like that students are using deductive reasoning skills and solving content-based clues.  Oftentimes the success of the group relies on student abilities to communicate effectively and work collaboratively.

Breakout EDU trailer:

How do I get started?

First you will want to decide what your content-specific goals are for the breakout.  If you have not implemented a breakout before, we recommend you submit a DLC request so that someone can help walk you through the steps. DLCs do have access to a wide-variety of a pre-made games that are available with a subscription to the BreakoutEDU platform. There are also free "user-generated" breakout games that you can find by creating an account on the breakout platform. Oftentimes, we can use those games to meet your goals. DLCs also have breakout kits including boxes, locks, UV flashlights, and more.  

I found a game, now what?

Every breakout has a variety of clues that will need to be printed and cut out. Additionally, many of the games use tools like UV pens and UV flashlights to disguise clues from students and increase the rigor of the challenge. As you prep the game, we highly recommend that you work through the challenges and understand how they will be solved.  Because as your students work through the game, you may need to provide a hint to the class.

Once all of the clues and materials are prepped, you should find appropriate locks for your game and set the codes to match those in your game. Often times there are 2 locked boxes in the classroom. One of the boxes will contain a tool (red lens filter or UV flashlight) that is needed to solve one of the clues. Clues prepped? Locks set? You are ready to set-up the classroom and hide clues or hang up materials in the classroom.  

Can I make my breakout digital?  

You can search the Breakout EDU Digital Sandbox to find already-created digital breakouts for many subjects and grade levels. Teaching your students about the United States? Check out this Google Site; it has a digital breakout for the 50 US States.

I have done a breakout before. How can I make my own clues?    

BreakoutEDU has game-creation templates to help you organize a game you create. We highly recommend using them as a way to organize your game as you build it. It is also very beneficial to use as you facilitate the game or use it in subsequent years.

We have also compiled a list of websites you can use to create clues. View that here:

“The bad news is that time flies, the good news is you’re the pilot.”  This quote comes from Michael Altshuler, a successful businessman, and I believe it summarizes what I know about time.  For a teacher, time is precious. You only have so many minutes in a day to plan lessons for students. I have compiled a list of resources that teachers can use to minimize how long you spend searching for instructional ideas, and maximize your time.  

  1. I love listening to Podcasts. There are so many shows that are meant for teachers that can provide you with ideas for lessons.  In addition, you can do other things while listening, like washing the dishes, working out, or driving the kids to their activities.  Here are some shows that are worth checking out:

    2. Did you know that Facebook can also be used as a resource to get teaching ideas and access to lesson plans? Here are some groups that are definitely worth following:

   3. Pinterest can be a very valuable resource to search and find teaching ideas.  However, you can also find yourself in a rabbit hole trying to find a certain idea.  That is why it is smart to follow a few accounts that you know are educators. Here are few Pinterest pages that are worth the time investment:

  4. Talking about relevant topics in class helps to increase students’ engagement.  Check out Google Trends to know exactly what is current and popular.  This site summarizes what are the most searched topics on Google.  Using Google Trends can spark great ideas for teachers to design discussions, debates, or find articles for students to read.  

  5. PBS Learning Media is another great resource for teachers to find ready-to-use lesson plans.  Activities are standards based and available in all sorts of different grade levels and content areas.  Why reinvent the wheel folks?!

 6.  Finally, Twitter is one of my favorites sources to find great ideas.  If you have something specific you are looking for, use a hashtag with that specific topic to filter through Twitter.  Or, try the advanced search feature to narrow down the resources.  Here is a list of educators that are excellent to follow:

Education has changed for the better through technology.  Now teachers have access to thousands of different resources to help develop strategies or create lesson plans.  It can be very overwhelming and time consuming if you aren’t looking in the right place. Hopefully my six suggestions will help you navigate the waters and save you some of that precious resource we call time.  

Written by: Jeff Jackelen

What's Your Story?

We use stories all the time to convey information to our students. This is an incredibly effective strategy because our brains are designed to remember stories. Once you add visuals to that story, you have a recipe for a truly memorable experience. Taking that a step further, when a student is able to synthesize information into the form of a story, they truly are demonstrating mastery of a topic. With the help of digital tools, storytelling can be even more fun and creative!

Think about how students in your classroom can emulate the work of professionals. Creating an authentic experience engages students and can spark their creativity. You can provide parameters to create structure while allowing students choice for how they tell their story. Below are a number of different styles of videos that your students could use depending on the purpose or audience of the project your students are creating.

Common Craft, RSA Animate, and Whiteboarding: Common Craft is a type of video where small paper cutouts are used to explain concepts “in plain English.” One great example is their video explaining Google Docs. RSA Animate uses whiteboard drawings to illustrate a story. You’ve probably seen this famous example that uses Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk as the voiceover. Students can emulate these explainer-style videos using stop motion and a whiteboard or paper cut outs. Here’s an example of a whiteboard video made by teachers.


Crash Course: The Crash Course Youtube channel houses tons of videos created to teach topics in history, science, literature, and more. These fast-paced videos are a great model for student projects. Crash Course stories engage the audience by combining animations, green screens, voiceovers, and live action video. Shakopee High School students created similar videos using a combination of tools to emulate Crash Course-style videos. Here’s one example.

Epic Rap Battles of History: If you’ve ever seen an Epic Rap Battle of History, you know they’re a little rowdy. While it’s tough to find a school-safe example to show students, the concept of an Epic Rap Battle can be an engaging way to have a debate or compare and contrast two topics. Here is a student-created example comparing Lowell Mill Girls to Newsies.

Note Card Confession: Note card confessions are a non-verbal, yet highly impactful way of telling a story. You write out a story on note cards and record one notecard at a time with a camera. Adding music is a nice touch as well. This storytelling style was made popular by the movie Love Actually. Here’s another example that circulated around Facebook a few years ago. Students can use this storytelling technique to take on a persona and share their understanding of an emotionally charged event like this first-person retelling of the Trail of Tears.

Other IdeasIn addition to the professional examples above, students could create video documentaries, public service announcements, personal narratives, love stories, or biographies. There are so many great examples to use as models!

Once you select a video style, make a plan to scaffold student work. For any video project, it is highly recommended that students create storyboards and scripts before they record anything. 70-80 percent of the work in creating high quality projects happens during the planning phase. Once students have a thorough plan, it’s time to explore digital tools. Below is a list of tools and the devices they work on. Each of these can be used in some fashion to create a video project.



MacBooks* and Chromebooks

Stop Motion: Stop Motion Animator

Animation: PowToon, My Simple Show, Squigl

Slideshows: Keynote*, Google Slides, Book Creator

Editing: iMovie*, Adobe Premiere Pro*, Adobe Spark Video

Screen Recording: Loom, QuickTime*


Stop Motion: StikBot Studio, FlipaClip, iMotion, Stop Motion Studio

Animation: ChatterPix Kids, Puppet Pals HD, Toontastic 3D, Puppetmaster, Sock Puppets, TextingStory Chat Story Maker

Slideshows: Explain Everything, Adobe Spark Video, Book Creator, Shadow Puppet EDU

Editing: iMovie, Clips, Green Screen by Do Ink

Screen recording: Screen Record iOS, Explain Everything

Remember that the DLCs are here to support you. If you have any questions about how you and your students can use these tools, want help scaffolding your project, or just want to brainstorm, be sure to request a DLC!

Shakopee experienced our very first...and second and third... Connected Learning (CoLD) Days of the winter! Our trial by fire (brought on by a polar vortex) allowed us to see how e-learning could work to extend learning opportunities and supplement face-to-face instructional time with students. The goal of utilizing CoLD is to continue the learning happening in our classrooms even when the weather doesn't cooperate. This also allows us to avoid losing vacation days or adding class days in June.

For our very first attempt, it went well!

At the elementary level, students completed SABERS Boards at home. While students have iPads to use at school, these activities were tech-free as we cannot guarantee equitable access to technology when students are at home. Teachers provided options for students to showcase learning across all curricular areas. Students could complete activities independently or work together as a family.

At the secondary level, starting the semester out with Connected Learning Days brought unique challenges to teachers and students. Many students had not met their teachers and were unfamiliar with expectations in their courses. Due to schedule changes, courses in Canvas were not always accurate creating some confusion for students about which courses to participate in. While the timing was out of our control, we know this is likely not to happen in the future and students and teachers responded well to the challenge.

To learn more about the experience, we have summarized parent feedback and lessons learned. Keep reading to read about some inspirational CoLD ideas!

Parent and Student Feedback

Many parents reached out via email, social media, and phone to share feedback about how CoLD went from their perspective. We heard many parents appreciated the structure and purpose that CoLD assignments brought to their homes as they knew to expect that their students had something to work on. They appreciated that while students could not go outside due to the extreme temperatures, they had productive learning activities to keep them from wasting the day away. One parent, while generally supportive of everything her students were asked to complete, was concerned that her daughter had a three page paper to submit that was due the next day. Upon further investigation, she realized that the two paragraph assignment her teacher gave her was so fun and engaging, the student chose to write that much!

Many curious parents expressed a desire to follow along with the assignments in Canvas to see what was expected of their children. Here are directions for parents to sign up as Observers of their children in Canvas.

Another critically important piece of feedback we received from parents and students was that some of the directions in Canvas were difficult to follow. And sometimes there were no directions about what (if anything) should be electronically submitted. Creating a CoLD module with a small list of assignments or quizzes is a great way to organize CoLD activities for students. Be sure to link activities directly from your Home Page so students know exactly what to do and where to go. While it’s not likely that we will experience three CoLD days in a row again soon, we do want to ensure that students see clearly delineated directions for each CoLD assignment. Be sure to provide a location for students to submit work if necessary. Check out this very simple yet effective CoLD Home Page. Remember that the goal is to keep students in Canvas and reduce the number of clicks they need to make to find an assignment.

Inspirational CoLD Lesson Ideas

While supporting secondary teachers remotely, DLCs got a glimpse into some really creative and meaningful assignments across a broad range of subject areas and courses. Here is a list of a some activities we thought were pretty neat that may provide some inspiration!

  • Many teachers provided menus of options so student could choose activities they prefer. This definitely increased their engagement in the tasks.

  • Teachers created Canvas discussions or Flipgrid topics so students could introduce themselves and build community before they met face-to-face for the first time.

  • To start the semester, teachers created digital quizzes, assignments, or reflections around the course syllabus - activities that they normally would have done in class.

  • Students created video submissions through Flipgrid based on prompts provided by teachers. Teachers can set up Flipgrid in Canvas and adjust the topic/prompt when the time comes!

  • Teachers used screencasting tools (such as QuickTime or Loom) to simulate face-to-face interactions and provide direct instruction or visual/verbal directions.

  • Teachers used Edpuzzle to turn short videos or screencasts into interactive formative assessments or flipped lessons using video instructions and formative quizzes in Canvas.

  • Students went on virtual field trips to museums using Google Arts & Culture

  • Students completed activities focused on the 6Cs: Creativity, Collaboration, Cultural Responsiveness, Communication, Character, and Critical Thinking. Examples: Use critical thinking to evaluate bias in a favorite TV show, movie, or video game. Use pictures, clipart, and online resources to draw or create a symbolic representation of learning from a past unit.

  • Students performed exercises or fitness tests and worked on goal-setting in PE.

  • Students wrote narratives about the polar vortex in English.

  • Science experiments utilized the extremely cold temperatures.

  • Band students found a video featuring their instrument that featured a new technique, amazing performance, or inspiration then shared their video and reasoning in a Canvas discussion.

  • Social Studies students created timelines using Sutori.

  • Psychology students examined the stress of a CoLD day using course vocabulary to explain how stress levels change in different ways as a result of the same event. They posted video responses in Flipgrid.

  • Art students watched videos of MN artists then reflected on what inspires the artist to create, observations about how they work, and how successful their work is.

  • Math students completed an assignment in Desmos - they viewed slides explaining quadratics then analyzed trajectories of basketball shots: Will it hit the hoop? Students made predictions, manipulated graphic overlays to see exactly where each shot would land, and analyzed class results.

  • Many teachers included extensions to their assignments for students who wanted to learn more!

Some teachers created multiple-day assignments.

  • English students watched a TED Talk and wrote a reflection in a Canvas discussion, then returned to read and reply to fellow students the next day.

  • FACS students took an interest inventory, researched a related career, located a virtual tour of that profession, then submitted a link to the virtual tour with a summary of their learning based on provided prompts.               

  • Criminal Justice students looked at capital punishment and historical punishments and then completed a Canvas discussion one day and a discussion via Flipgrid the next.

Next time inclement weather hits, parents will be connected, teachers will feel prepared to provide clear directions to engaging activities, and students will keep on learning!

It’s been an exciting year in Shakopee Public Schools! Recently, DLCs have helped with some really exciting and engaging projects where students have been creating digital stories such as Crash Course Videos and Podcasts to demonstrate their learning. While creating these projects, students are in desperate need of images, video footage, music, and sound effects to emulate the work of real professionals such as John and Hank Green of Crash Course Videos and Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcasts. And while it might be easy to do a quick search or try to rip videos from YouTube, we want our students to know how to create original works that can be published to the web for everyone to enjoy while respecting the rights of musicians and artists. There are tons of sites that allow you to download royalty-free music and high resolution images. Below are just a few of our favorite sites.

Music and Sound Effects

For music and sound effects, YouTube has compiled the YouTube Audio Library. You can filter their library by genre, mode, instrument, duration, and attribution. Click here for more resources.

Videos and Images

Pixabay is one of the best sources for free images and video clips to use for projects. In order to access it, students have to use the safe search Pixabay site and enter “guest” for the username and password. Click here for more resources.

If your students use iPads and want to be able to download songs or videos from any of these sites, they will want to use Documents by Readable. Using the browser in that app, you can navigate to websites such as YouTube Audio Library and download MP3s. From there, you can open downloaded files into other apps such as iMovie, Garageband, or Anchor. Watch the video below to learn how to use Documents.


Our next blog post will focus on a number of other engaging digital storytelling project ideas that you and your students can create. Stay tuned!

Question Banks and Groups

You can create question banks that allow you to organize your quiz questions by learning target. Once you have them organized, you can create question groups in order to pull a random number of those questions into a quiz. That allows you to have multiple forms of your quizzes as well as create comprehensive finals. Lastly, you can align question banks to “Outcomes,” or standards, in Canvas and then using the Learning Mastery Gradebook to see a breakdown of how students are doing a specific Outcome.


Using MasteryPaths, you can create unique learning paths for students. First, students get a score on a graded assignment, quiz, or discussion. From there, you can automatically assign content based on the score they received on that assignment, quiz, or discussion. For example, you could create a pre-assessment quiz and then automatically assign enrichment or remediation assignments based. Differentiation on the fly!

Linking in the Rich Content Editor

The Rich Content Editor is used in many different places in Canvas. One way to make your course easier to navigate is by using the right-hand tools to link to parts of your course (such as a module or assignment) or directly to files.

Assignments Groups for Weighted Categories

Assignment groups are often used by teachers to organize their assignments. Their intended use is actually for grading categories. You can weight assignment groups by percentages in order to have a consistent gradebook compared to Infinite Campus. You can also use these to create formative work that is worth 0% of a student’s grade.

Course Settings

There are a lot of settings that teachers can edit in their courses. One such setting that teachers don’t often use is a checkbox that you will likely want to check. By default, students can create discussion threads unless you uncheck the box that allows students to create discussions.

Grading Schemes

Grading Schemes allow you to determine the grading scale for your course instead of using their default grading scale. Not only can you change my percentages equal a grade but you can name the grades whatever you want (such as Exemplary, Proficient, etc.).


Teachers have the ability to create sections in their courses. Teacher-created sections can be used to assign differentiated content to groups of students for adapted and modified assignments with just one click. Note: any assignments not assigned to “Everyone” cannot be synced to Infinite Campus using their grade passback feature.

Flipgrid/Canvas Integration

The Flipgrid/Canvas integration is incredibly helpful and easy to use. All you need to do is install the app in Settings, get the integration up and running, and then you can easily create Flipgrid topics for your course and grade their submissions in the SpeedGrader. Definitely worth setting up! Below is a video walking you through teacher setup. Click here for a video to show your students how to submit.

Peer Review Assignments

Teachers can create assignments that require students to provide feedback to their peers. Students can anonymously grade each other’s work using a rubric and comments just like teachers can do using the SpeedGrader.

Canvas has a number of hidden features that you might or might not have stumbled across. Below you will find 8 different features that you might not have noticed. We will be releasing Vol. 2 of this post soon with 8+ more hidden features. If you have any that you would really like to share, submit a DLC request with your tip for other teachers!

Message students who...

Want to send a message to students that haven’t submitted an assignment? Or that need to redo something because they got a low score? Click the 3 dots along a column, then Message Students Who. 

Reuse Rubrics

Ever want to reuse a rubric you’ve already made? What if you want to use most of a rubric but need to tweak a part of it? You can! Click “find rubric” and you can search for existing rubrics. Change the name of it if you want to tweak it.

Save/reuse rubric comments

Find yourself making the same comments on many student’s assignments? Using rubrics, you can use choose to write free-form comments and then reuse them for every student on that assignment.

Redirect Tool

Did you know you can create custom buttons in your course along the left-hand side? Using the Redirect Tool, you can create a button to a website that you have students use frequently.

Add Page to To-Do List

Pages are versatile tools that allow you to put just about anything on them. You can embed Google slideshowsEdpuzzle videos, and so much more. But you really can’t “assign” them for students to do… Oh wait! Yes, you can! At the bottom of the page when you are editing it, you can check the box to “Add to student to-do” so that they know they need to look at that page.

Differentiated assignments

Anything that is graded in Canvas (discussions, quizzes, assignments) can be assigned to one student, a section, or the entire class. If it is not assigned to a student, they don’t even see it! This can be used for assigning a discussion to one section or an adapted quiz for a few students. Note: If you use this feature, you won’t be able to sync the grades to Infinite Campus.

Duplicate Discussions for separate sections

Do you want each of your classes to have their own discussion thread? Now you can duplicate your discussion topics for each section you teach and then use differentiated assignments to assign it to just one section! Sweet!

Module Requirements

Did you know you can set requirements for students in Modules? In the Modules page, click the three dots, then edit.


You can add prerequisites so students cannot get to a Module without completing something first. You can add requirements to force students to progress sequentially through a Module, submit an assignment, score at least a certain number of points. This can be used to do flipped learning or self-paced learning in your class.


Have you ever accidentally deleted something in your Canvas course? Try the /undelete hack! Go to the end of the URL address and type /undelete.

You will get a screen that shows you items that have been deleted from your course. You can restore these deleted items. If students have submitted to those items, their grades should be restored as well. This is not a fool-proof method, but it can be a great life line if an accident occurs.

Did that clickbait title work?! Awesome! You won’t regret clicking on this link!

Every single teacher grades K through 8 has their very own iPad to use. In order to make the most out of these devices, let’s examine some ways that you as the teacher can be using your iPad each day with your students.

  1. Model: Remember "I do" before "you do." As with Gradual Release of Responsibility, the first time you do something in a class, you should model what you want students to be able to do. With your Apple TV, you can show your students how to access materials and lessons in Seesaw, or opening files from Canvas assignments. It’s easy to assume students know how to navigate these tasks, but modeling ensures that all students are on the same page and are ready when you release them to independence. 

  2. Make exemplars. Making exemplars will help you become familiar with the tools you are asking students to use and allow you to see any potential hang ups they might have. More importantly, if you want to see quality student work, you should make exemplars so students know what a final product should look like. While it might feel like it saps creativity away because students might copy you, consider it a challenge for them to exceed what you did. Once students have used all the components of a tool, they won’t need you to provide an example every time.

  3. Apple Classroom. Apple Classroom is a great classroom management tool. It allows you to monitor that students are on-task, lock students in an app for assessments, AirDrop files to them with one click, and AirPlay student devices to the front of the room. In order to use this in your classroom, follow these directions to set up a class.

  4. Create tutorials. Any iPad running iOS 11 or higher can record their screen to create tutorials for students. This could be used to show students how to turn something into Canvas or demonstrate how to use an app. It could even be used to record flipped videos (such as this math example from Jon Jasken) using Explain Everything.

  5. Create templates. Teachers can create templates that can be sent to students to complete. For K-5 teachers, Seesaw activities are great and Book Creator another recommended tool. For 6-8th grade teacher, Explain Everything is a great choice. Create a template, get it to kids, and spend your time focusing on learning, not the setup.

  6. iPad Doc Cam. Your iPad’s camera and your Apple TV can be used to display your work or that of your students just like a document camera. Buy a stand or make your own.

  7. Post-It Plus App. Many teachers have students write on post-it notes for exit tickets, sorting activities, and other activities. The Post-It Plus app allows you to scan a set of post-its, organize them, group them, and even share those notes with students.

  8. Write on a virtual whiteboard. Using apps like Doodle Buddy (elementary) or Explain Everything (secondary) allows you to draw and even record your whiteboard problem-solving. Present from anywhere in the room without the need of a SMART board.

Awesome Audiences

Having an authentic audience is integral in engaging students in real-world work. When students know that it’s not just their parents, teacher, or classmates watching, they often step up their game. In Shakopee, our Authentic Learning Framework identifies authentic audiences as a means to receiving critical feedback in order to refine ideas and create truly meaningful learning experiences.

Below are some contests that have really cool prizes and large authentic audiences as well as some digital tools you can use every day.





Creative Storm Video Contest 2018

Put a little creativity into a video teaching any concept one might encounter in elementary, middle, or high school, and keep it to 90 seconds or less. It can be about sculpture, negative numbers, supply and demand, alternative energy, adverbs, or anything else for which you have a clever insight. Open to students, teachers, or a collaboration between the two.

Nov. 16th (scoring bonus) or Dec. 14th


3D Storytelling Competition

Write a short story and design a 3D model of your character using Tinkercad.

Oct. 10th, 2018


Student Blogging Challenge

The challenge is made up of a series of 10 weekly tasks all designed to improve blogging and commenting skills, while connecting students with a global audience.

Starts Oct. 7th and runs for 10 weeks


Google Science Fair

  1. Find a problem you’d like to solve.

  2. Think up ideas and select the best one.

  3. Explore your solution by testing it out.

  4. Share your results.

Dec. 12th, 2018




Skype in the Classroom

Using your K12 email account, you can sign into Skype in the Classroom. You can create a profile to connect with other teachers around the world and do a Mystery Skype.

Connected Classrooms

Using your Google account, you can join this Google+ community to connect with other educators to do a Google Hangout.

Flipgrid GridPals

Create a Flipgrid account and then create a public profile where you and your students can connect with teachers from across the planet. Think pen pals... but with video!

Seesaw Connected Blogs

Create a blog using posts to Seesaw and then connect with another classroom to give each other comments and feedback. Use this list to find classrooms all over the world!


Create a class blog using a robust blogging tool created for teachers and students. Use it to blog and share student work on the Internet to receive critical feedback and connect with others.

Seesaw Activities

When we work with teachers one of the common things we hear is that time is a commodity in short supply.  So we would like to highlight the Seesaw Activities feature to help you SAVE time in the classroom and meet your instructional needs as well.  Seesaw Activities can be used to differentiate your instruction, give pre-assessments, collect exit tickets, or administer formative assessments to drive instructional decisions in your classroom.

What are Seesaw Activities?  

Basically, they are digital assignments posted to Seesaw.  You can assign an activity to entire class, or if you would like to differentiate, you can assign an activity to specific students.  The activities are viewable by the students assigned to complete the activity. Seesaw Activities would easily fit into a station- or center-based instructional setting with one of the rotations set-up for Seesaw Activities.

Do I have to make my own Activities?  

You can make your own activities that are specific to your class, curriculum, and learning goals.  

But we recommend that you start by checking out the Seesaw Activity library.  Over the past 6-9 months, it has grown and developed at an exponential pace. In fact, within the library, you can search for activities by grade and subject. One thing to note about activities in the library is that they can be be use “as is” from the library and shared with 2-3 clicks.  Or they can be tweaked to meet more specific needs in your classroom.

Are there any Seesaw Activities with basic templates that I can use?

Why yes, there are!  This is definitely worth your time exploring. It is like a trip to Target when you end up with way more than you went in to get.  You will find incredible resources that are ready for you with minimal time invested.

By clicking on this link, you will be directed to activities for each subject area with graphic organizers, math activities/games, sight word assessments, puppet pals for digital storytelling, and so much more.    

Can K-2 classrooms with shared iPads use Activities?  

Yes!  Please reach out to a DLC to talk through the various sign-in methods.  We can help you determine what settings will work best for you and your students.  

Want to get started but don’t know where to begin?  

You have a few options.  

You can put in a DLC request for a member of our team to come work alongside you to implement this amazing instructional tool.  We are happy to plan, co-teach, and coach you through any new instructional practices using gradual release.  

You can also give it a try on your own. :-) Search the Seesaw Activity Library. Save and share it with your class.  If you get stuck, you have DLCs who are more than willing to help you navigate through it.   

Canvas is an ever-evolving platform that continues to churn out great features. Below is a brief summary of features that have added or changed over the summer. 

Sync grades from Canvas to Infinite Campus - Canvas guide

It’s been a long time coming, but it is now possible to sync grades from Canvas to Infinite Campus. There’s a few things to know so if you don’t feel confident in diving in headfirst with this, it is recommended that you don’t check the box to sync grades between Canvas and IC. The key thing to know is that if you do sync scores to IC, you will need to go into IC and move those synced assignments from “Uncategorized” to the appropriate grading category.

New Gradebook - Canvas guide

There is now a “New Gradebook” in Canvas to start the school year. Some of the key features that are nice about the new gradebook include being able to color-code scores in the gradebook to indicate missing, late, etc. Another useful feature is the filters, which allows you to view specific chunks of your assignments such as from one module.

New Gradebook Status options and colors

Migrate quizzes to Quizzes.Next - Blog

Quizzes.Next is a major update to the quizzing engine that is built into Canvas. It is still considered a beta feature because it doesn’t include all the functionality of the original quizzes, but there are some really useful question types in Quizzes.Next that are worth a look. The highlights of those are categorization, ordering, and hotspot questions. Check out the blog post above to learn more about the new question types and how to get started.

Parent Account Creation - Canvas guide

Canvas has changed the process for parents to create parent accounts. Students or the tech department can create a pairing code, which allows parents to become an Observer for their student. Directions will be updated on our websites soon.

Pair with Observer

Every one of us can admit that the voices of our students don’t always have an equal standing in our classroom. We hear far too little from some students, while others are very comfortable sharing their voice (even when we don’t want them to). We simply don’t have the time to sit down and talk directly with each student daily. How do we make sure we have equity of voice in our classrooms and find time to hear from every student? And even better yet, how can we share the amazing voices of our students with our families, the community, or even the world?

Enter Flipgrid.

For those of you that have never used Flipgrid, it is a video discussion tool. The teacher creates a prompt or directions and students respond with a short video. For that personal touch, once they submit their video, students can take a selfie and put stickers and drawings on their selfie. It is simple and easy to use, yet is a powerful reflection tool that can be used in dozens of ways to engage your students. It is rare to say this about a tech tool, but it honestly can be used effectively E-12 in every classroom. But before we get into some examples of how to use it, let’s take a look at some amazing updates they’ve made!

This is an example of a Flipgrid used during professional development for 6-12 teachers.

Flipgrid has made a number of exciting announcements over the summer. In June, Flipgrid announced that they had been acquired by Microsoft and all their paid features would be free going forward. A couple of those features include longer video posts (up to five minutes) and direct video replies to each other’s posts.

On August 1st, Flipgrid announced a number of other innovative new features. They improved the overall performance of the camera and added simple editing tools so you can trim your video responses in order to add more at the end. My favorite new feature is #GridPals. Teachers create a short bio detailing who they are as well as who they want to connect with, and then they appear on a map of other Flipgrid teachers. This allows users to connect and collaborate with classrooms from around the world. Imagine partnering with a classroom in Australia to compare and contrast the local climate or ecosystem? Or connecting with a Spanish-speaking classroom to discuss daily life with a native speaker? #GridPals makes creating those connections very easy.

For our secondary teachers, Canvas and Flipgrid work perfectly together. You can install an integration which allows you to create grid topics from within Canvas, embed them directly into an assignment, and then grade them using the SpeedGrader. It takes a little to set up but is a huge time saver once you have it up and running.

Here are just a few creative ways you can use Flipgrid in your classroom:

  • Replace your exit ticket with a Flipgrid video response. You can limit responses to a short time, such as 15 seconds to force students to be concise.

  • Students can use Flipgrid to upload existing videos they have on their device, such as videos made in Book Creator or Adobe Spark. Have students upload their video projects to Flipgrid to do a virtual gallery walk so you don’t spend all of your precious class time watching every student’s video. Just have students watch five and reply with feedback.

  • Create a Flipgrid topic, record an introductory video, and send it to your students and their families so they get to “meet” you during the summer. This could be another great way for interdisciplinary teams to share their back-to-school messages with students and families.

  • Send students home to cook a meal for their family and have the students film their family's reactions/reviews of the food cooked by the student.

  • Create virtual pen pals using Flipgrid. Have students from other classes/schools/states/countries work together to solve problems, share what they know about their local community, etc.

  • When students are working in groups, have them do virtual check-in with Flipgrid so you can see what progress they made during class and then explain their next steps.