How Will You ‘Make’ This Year?

We are ready to start our second year with our amazing D-Lab! Many of us already have ideas about how to integrate making, creating and design-thinking into their curriculum this year. Just in case you need some inspiration, here is a collection of of some cool ideas I found on Pinterest and other sites. If any of these piques your interest let me know and I will get you more information and start planning with you. Many of these projects can be altered to fit any curriculum!






Google Hack: Use Docs to Design Templates for Individualized Assignments

Did you know that you can type a document on Google Drive and save it in template mode? Students can then use it as a worksheet, only modifying their individual assignment. This is a great strategy for small groups to collaborate on ideas and organize research, or simply work independently on an assignment. Students love this because they can type their work and edit it later. Teachers love it because they can access their work at any point to make sure they are on task and creating beautiful work.  Students also rarely loose their work this way! 

Templates allows for easy differentiation or individualized instruction, as you can share different documents with different students. You can write personal notes, give hints, create scaffolds based on the needs of each student.

Here is a video for how to do this:

To learn more cool Google hacks, come to the Google Help workshop with Larry and Travis at lunch on Tuesday January 17th from 12:15-12:55 in my room.  

Sign up here for this workshop or any other for January

Some more cool links to Google hacks:

22 Cool Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Google Drive

A couple hacks from Teacher Priorities:



Simple Tips to Manage Technology in your Classroom

As great as technology is for students, it can definitely be a headache for the teacher. We have all seen this scenario: twenty students all focused diligently on their screen not listening to any of your tips and not reading any of your directions. Their one problem solving method is to blurt “I can’t do it” and then repeat your name numerous times until you come and rescue them. By the time 45 minutes is up, you never want to hear your name again. Not to mention that half the students were off-task while you were helping individual students.

I know a lot of us can relate as we tackle bringing 21st century devices into our classrooms. This week I did a lesson using Google’s “My Maps” which is a collaborative tool for annotating maps. I knew I would have to prepare for a lot of hands raised with “Mrs. Wirth, I need help.” But after carefully reflecting on past experiences teaching with technology, I decided to take a different approach to technology. Below are the criteria I used for designing my lesson with the help of Adrienne:

1. Make sure you have students close the computers before giving directions (close lids, push 6 inches in front of you, hands on lap, etc). This way, you know they are at least attempting to listen. 

2. Hand out, display, or put on Schoology detailed the directions that are easily accessible to the students. This way, students can refer to the directions as questions arise and for students who are ready to go ahead. Provide an extra step or challenge for early finishers. This will give you time to really help the kids that need it. 

3. Set the expectations before they begin. For instance, discuss what good choices are and bad choices are regarding the tool. Consequences for going off task? What is considered off task? What does a good researcher look like? Etc. 

4. Provide tools that enable students to solve their own problems. For questions, a teacher’s role in bringing technology into his or her classroom is not to teach how to do everything, but to provide tools for students to discover solutions on their own. For instance, you can remind them that Google and YouTube how-to videos can be used to help them. Encourage them to problem solve by using the Help feature in an application or google their question.  IT and Tech experts do it all the time!

5. Use the students. Enlist helpful or “techy” students to help out their peers. You can even have a lanyard attached to an “Ask Me” sign they can wear, which turns into quite a badge of honor. 

6. WALK AROUND! Technology should never be left unmonitored. The more you walk around the less funny business will happen and the more you can correct misunderstandings about the assignment. You can also give hints for how to do things, even if you refuse to tell them! 🙂


Here is my lesson for My Maps. This application can be used to annotate a story that takes place in different settings, create a travel journal, map out empires on a modern map, map a pilgrimage or historical journey, calculate distance and area, etc. Students can work together on the same map from different places and computers. They can add drawings, videos, writing, and pictures.



5 Easy Ways to Make the Best Surveys with Google Forms

If you haven’t created a Google Form yet, I highly recommend it. It is a quick and simple way to gather feedback and yes, turn it into a spreadsheet!  Through a lot of trial and error in learning this program, I have learned a few tricks that I want to share with you!

  1. Make the first question “What is your name?” This is most important if you want to know who filled out the surveys. Anonymous surveys would not need this.
  2. Make the second question “What is your email address?” This will make it really easy to generate an email list later to send to the participants.
  3. When possible, create questions that are multiple choice or checkboxes (click all that apply). Answers will be narrowed which makes it easier to gather comparable data.  Think pie charts! (Melissa, this has nothing to do with eating pie) Just add an “other” category if you know there might be other answers.
  4. Before sharing, change the setting to make the form accessible to people not in the Mayfield network. This is so important! Even if it is to the Mayfield faculty, if people are not logged into their Mayfield gmail account, they won’t be able to access the form. The participants not in the network will each send you an email requesting that you invite them. Save yourself a headache and change this setting!!! (Click on the picture below for a video of how to share with a link and change this important setting)                         Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 6.48.36 PM
  5. When you create a spreadsheet from the responses, change to wrap text so the spreadsheet is easy to view. This is helpful for paragraph responses. Believe me! (Click on the picture below for a video of how to create a spreadsheet and wrap text)

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For any extra help, Adrienne and I are happy to help!



The D-Lab is Ready! So Now What?

You have probably never said to yourself, “I can’t add these numbers right now, math time doesn’t start until 10.” Our lives are not compartmentalized by subject the same way school is. Therefore, we have an opportunity with STEAM and our new Makerspace to teach our kids across curriculum barriers and make learning authentic and relevant to them. Not to mention, we need to prepare our students for the jobs of their future. Still need to be convinced? Click on some of the research below!

The Maker Movement in K-12 Education: A Guide to Emerging Research -Ed Week

What’s the Maker Movement and Why Should I care? -Scholastic

So, how can we incorporate these strategies into our classrooms and curriculum? Below is a link to a Pinterest wall that contains a curation of ideas, both simple and complex, that you can use in your classroom.  For instance, if you teach English or reading, there are numerous STEM challenges that connect directly to literature. One such challenge asks you to make a bed for Goldilocks using the materials provided! I will continue to add to this board!

Many are links to Teachers Pay Teachers, which means all resources for the project are included in the lesson plan! Please talk to Ann if you would like to purchase one of these lesson plans!

Maker and STEAM Ideas


Why You Should Link Your Classes on Schoology

Do you ever get frustrated when you make a change to an assignment and realize you have to make the changes in your other two sections of the same class? I sure did! That is, until I learned how to merge my classes.

Merging classes allows you to make changes in one class and the changes will automatically change in the other sections. Even after merging classes, it is still possible to assign different due dates for the same assignments. Rubrics, updates, materials all align seamlessly across all shared sections.

Here is a video below that I made for how to merge your own classes.

****If you love as a resource for plagiarism checks, there was a glitch last year with my merged classes and the students could not load their assignments on Turnitin. If you are definitely going to use Turnitin, see me and we can test if it works before you commit.

Click on the picture below to link to the video.

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