Visual Coding for Kids with Scratch

Scratch is a simple-to-use free programming language for kids, though also popular with adults. It uses colorfully coded blocks to help young programmers develop an understanding of programming. Users can create interactive projects by simply snapping blocks together. The video shown below demonstrates the steps needed to animate your name.

This tutorial demonstrates the following skills:

how to title and share your project
-how to select letters, resize, and color them
-how to select a backdrop
-how to troubleshoot letters when they don’t return to their normal position
-how to add sound files
-how to duplicate scripts

An Intro to Python Programming

Python snake pictureDo you speak Python? I don’t…yet. Is Python something two reptiles speak upon first encounter? No! Python is a high-level computer programming language. High-level means it comes as close as possible to mimicking human language, which–in theory–makes it somewhat easier to learn and apply. Python is used to Program YouTube and DropBox. Python is currently one of the fastest growing computer languages. Introduction to Python programming is most appropriately introduced at the college level, though there could be some early exposure at the high-school level.  As a new student to Python, where would I suggest a newby begin? Answer: with an introduction to the hashtag. Hashtags are used to create comments. Comments are used by programmers as a way to create notes about the code they’re writing. Comments can also be read by any coder wanting to read what the original programmer intended for his/her code because it’s not uncommon for code to have errors (bugs) that need correction. With this in mind, please view the video shown here to begin your introduction to Python. The Python interpreter can be downloaded here.

Creating a Google Slides Project

One of the most popular apps in a student’s Drive is Google Slides. Google Slides is much easier and quicker to use than Microsoft’s PowerPoint. While Powerpoint offers many bells and whistles, Google Slides’ more limited selection of features makes it easier for students to focus on what’s important: the message of the slideshow. And, because everything created in GoogleClassroom is automatically saved, it makes finding the project easier for students. The video shown below demonstrates the following skills:

  • Page set up using the file menu 
  • Creating a title slide with author’s name
  • Adding more slides using the menu or Ctrl + D
  • Theme selection
  • Downloading a picture from Pixabay
  • Inserting a picture from your computer; cropping
  • Font selection and size
  • Creating a bulleted list
  • Creating a title slide with credits

Make Videos in a Snap with Animoto

kindergarten Halloween art

Halloween Art

The videos shown here were created in a snap using the Animoto app. After photographing stacks of kindergarten art, I simply opened the application on my iPhone, selected the photos, a theme, and music.  Within minutes, both videos were ready for viewing. I later visited the site on my desktop computer to add our school’s logo and then shared the videos directly to our school’s Facebook account. And, just like that, the Freaky Halloween Faces made their debut.

Mrs. McConnell’s Kinder Class

Mrs. Passmore’s Kinder Class

The Advantage of Pause and Repeat

A wonderful way to deliver lesson concepts is through video lectures. Videos enable students to see, hear, pause and repeat instruction. This gives students an unlimited number of attempts to master content. Sites like EdPuzzle help teachers embed assessment within a video to assess student understanding. Most of my instructional videos are stored in my YouTube account, which is managed by EGUSD. Salman Khan, shown in the video below, created Khan Academy, which offers video tutorials focused primarily on math. His video addresses the benefits of recording lectures for students.

When I want to record a lesson from my desktop, I use Screencastify. When my recording is complete, Screencastify generates a shareable link, and I have the option to upload directly to my YouTube channel. I can then customize the video’s thumbnail, write a description for the video, and allow comments. I can also add the video to a playlist to keep content organized by topic. Uploading to YouTube also generates an embed code, which I can paste into my blog posts for immediate viewing. This makes YouTube a great repository for lessons, making them accessible year after year. If the video remains in my Google account (default location), the video can be safely shared through Google Classroom. This helps students who were absent to receive project instructions so they, too, can participate in classroom activities.

My YouTube Channel pic

Miss Anderson’s YouTube Channel

Click this link.

I also maintain a separate channel for tutorials focused on 3D design.

Click this link.

Building Digital Skills with Kidblog

kid blog logoBlogging is a great way for students to develop their digital citizenship and writing skills. The subscription-based site, 
Kidblog, provides kids with a safe platform to publish their writing. Teachers have the option to moderate all posts and comments before publication. I’m currently using this resource with a 2/3 combo and all 3rd and 4th graders.

Many of the skills students practice are the focus of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). ISTE has developed the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for students, teachers, administrators, coaches, and computer science teachers. Those standards include the following six focus areas: 1) Creativity and Innovation, 2) Communication and Collaboration, 3) Research and Information Fluency, 4) Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making, 5) Digital Citizenship 6) Technology Operations and Concepts.

Shown below is a sample student post (which is held for review/editing) and guidelines I provide for the students.

Sample student blog post

Student Post

guidelines for KidBlog

Miss Anderson’s Guidelines

Shown below are some of the skills developed through KidBlog with teacher instruction.

-Use online subscription resources
-Navigate to a web address

Responsible Use:
-Use equipment for positive and productive functions

-Recognize and respect ownership rights (copyright)

Online Safety and Security
-Do not share personal information online

-Do not use inappropriate or disrespectful language online (proper netiquette)
-Do not share network login information

Intellectual Property:
-Explore the appropriate use of copyrighted material through permission, crediting sources, payment

-Discuss plagiarism and its ramifications

Communication Tools:
-Engage in online learning activities (i.e. blogs)
-Use proper netiquette
-Critique email [blog posts and comments] for communication clarity, appropriate operations, and

In the words of one teacher: “My favorite part about Kidblog is that I can access, assess and respond from anywhere. It’s priceless.”


Graphic Organizers with Google Drawings

Some of our CRES 2nd graders have selected a number of topics to include and expand upon in their All About Me graphic organizers at Popplet, which are shown at the bottom of this post. Popplet is a subscription-based program and also helps me create visuals organizers in a snap. Besides Popplet, students can use Google Drawings to create their own graphic organizers.

Listed here are some of the skills developed:

-Navigate to a web address

Responsible Use:
-Use equipment for positive and productive functions
-Recognize and respect ownership rights

Intellectual Property:
-Explore the appropriate use of copyrighted material

-Combine text and graphics to create a presentation
-Enter text appropriate to product

The video shown here, explains how to use Drawings to create a timeline.

Made with Padlet

Celebrating Teamwork for Character Day

Students in Mrs. Ramatici’s 5th-grade search for appropriate images to add to their Character Day post on Padlet.

Yesterday, September 26th, was Character Day. Throughout the week our CRES kids in grades 4-6 have been posting their comments to the Character Day digital canvas. This project includes the following LEARNING GOALS:
-use proper netiquette
-add attachments to messages
-engage in an online learning tool
-navigate to links
-use two web pages side by side
-compose with correct spelling and grammar
-enter text that is appropriate to the product
-use a teacher-selected subscription resource
-practice NOT SHARING personal information online.

Here’s a sampling of posts devoted to TEAMWORK.

comments about teamwork


What Will You Contribute to Character Day, 2018?

Character Day began in 2014 as a global effort to get people all over the world talking about character. Two years ago, 125 countries and all 50 states participated. This year, Character Day is scheduled for September 26th, and Cosumnes River Elementary is joining the effort for the second year in a row.

Beginning September 24th, students in grades 5-6 will watch one of several videos designed to get them thinking about the kind of person they are and want to be in the world. Then they’ll post their answers onto a digital canvas.

What will you contribute? Watch the video shown below to gather inspiration and reflect.

Watch 1min Character Day Trailer from The Moxie Institute on Vimeo.

Made with Padlet

After watching both videos, ask yourself:

  • What kind of person am I?
  • Who do I want to be in the world?

Now consider joining our class for Character Day, 2018, and post your response to the Padlet shown below, which is organized into columns that reflect the main topics shown in the Periodic Table of Character Strengths. Simply click a PLUS sign under the column you would like to write a reflection. Each column heading shows a variety of subtopics. I’ve written comments under several columns and added photos/links to get things started. Note: all responses are held for moderation before publication so posts won’t appear immediately.

Click the white arrow in the Padlet’s upper right-hand corner to expand the screen to view the digital canvas and participate. 

Made with Padlet

Numbering Assignments in Google Classroom

When teachers post assignments to Google Classroom, they should number each assignment consecutively as shown: #001, #002, #003, placing a hashtag with the number for the assignment into the title. This helps students quickly access specific posts when directed by their teacher and becomes more important as additional assignments are added to the stream. Students will use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + F to find assignments by number. Click the video shown here to see a demonstration.

Click here to read more from Kasey Bell at 

Click here to reach the blog of Alice Keeler, Google Innovator


Games to Build Geography & Computer Skills

Located on this website, under CRESTek Links, is a collection of geography games. Students/teachers can select from 20 different games.  Not only do many of these games build student understanding of the United States, its rivers, lakes, and regions, but they also help students practice their navigation skills using the arrow keys to move left/right or up/down to enlarge or reduce. Many states must be dragged and dropped into their correct position on the map.  This video demonstrates several of the games.

Google Slides and Dot Day

Over the past few weeks, students in grades 2-6 have used Google Slides to create artwork for Dot Day, which is celebrated around September 15th-ish.  Working with Google Slides requires students to log into their computer, navigate to Google Classroom, select the correct class (computer lab), and then scroll to reach and open their assignment. When their project is completed, students go to their file menu and download their slide as a png (portable network graphic). Once downloaded to their computer, students open a second tab and navigate to a collaborative digital canvas at Padlet. This helps students  practice working with two web pages at once and an opportunity to bookmark the site. Students use Padlet’s add button to upload their image and add text. This gives students an opportunity to practice their digital citizenships skills and a chance to use technology tools to enhance their learning. Many students continue to use Slides for their own art, polishing their production skills. The video shown below highlights many of the skills used.

Constitution Day Resources

American flagConstitution Day, 2018, is set to be recognized by schools in the Elk Grove Unified School District on September 17th. The links shown below will take you to a list of approved sites for use with students. 

Constitution Day Resources

For those looking for a fun Quizizz be sure to check out the Constitution Day Quiz. It has over 20 questions and is sure to be a challenge.

Downloading Copyright Free Images is a handy resource for gathering images to help illustrate concepts. It’s also another opportunity for students to practice good digital citizenship skills as they must search for appropriate images using appropriate search terms. I’ve used Pixabay with 2nd graders to help them build their All About Me Popplet. With this activity, students learned how to manage two web pages, search for and download an image, and then navigate to their downloads folder to find the image. This video tutorial explains the process. If you like this video, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel (link shown in video).