Monday, November 25, 2019

Putting it ALL Together: Second Grade Harvest Holidays Hyperdoc

What is a Hyperdoc? 

It's a fantastic way to deliver digital lessons! It's a way to curate resources and develop lessons that allow students to explore and engage with content, and then create and share their learning. The term "Hyperdoc" was coined by an amazing trio of educators, Lisa Highfil, Sarah Landis, and Kelly Hilton. You can find their book, The Hyperdoc Handbook, on Amazon.

Check out this Hyperdoc on Harvest Holidays designed for second or third grade students.

Get your own copy of this Hyperdoc here. Please adapt to meet the needs of your students. Remember, some of the resources listed require subscriptions! Personalize this activity so it fits your students' needs, your learning environment, and the tools and resources you have available.

Breaking it Down

In this activity, students read text about a variety of harvest holidays from around the world. They fill out a Google Docs graphic organizer noting key details from the text.
Then, students create a collaborative set of Google Slides about the various harvest holidays they read about. They use their Slides and Seesaw (including the Seesaw Reflect extension) to compare and contrast one of the world harvest holidays to our familiar harvest holiday, Thanksgiving. 

After, they continue researching other world holidays from different times of the year. They create and share a collaborative MyMap with facts and images that inform others about the various world holidays they researched.  

Beyond the Basics

Something to note: This activity has many moving parts! It IS NOT designed to be the very first Google/technology-based activity you do with students. This activity is an example of what students can do to respond to and analyze text, create, and share once all the pieces are in place!

Technical skills necessary for students:
  • Navigate Google Classroom (where the Hyperdoc will be found.)
  • Use the Google Docs Hyperdoc to open files, add text, and open links.
  • Use Google Slides - insert images and text.
  • Share to Seesaw using the Seesaw Reflect Extension.
  • Login and navigate to digital reading resources including Epic Books and Pebble Go!
  • Create a collaborative MyMap.

Digital Resources accessed:
  • Google Classroom/Docs/Slides/MyMaps - Free With GSuite for Education
  • Seesaw - Free/Freemium (Great free resource, but wait there's more if you pay!)
  • Seesaw Reflect Extension (Free)
  • Texts from Epic Books (Free for teachers and students in classrooms)
  • Information from Pebble Go! (Paid resource)
  • Texts from Reading A to Z (Paid resource)

Where do I even begin?

Connect your students to the digital platform that makes the most sense for you. Google Classroom is a good place to start, but if it isn't an option, use what you have. That might be Seesaw, or that might be some other LMS (Learning Management System) your school uses such as Canvas or Blackboard.

Start by pushing out links and docs on your chosen digital platform. Get your young learners familiar with opening, editing and submitting the digital resources. Add one skill at a time so they can build up their digital fluency! It might take a few tries to get it right! Once they are comfortable, you open up a world of creative, meaningful learning with endless possibilities.

Learn more about Hyperdocs at

Learn more about using Google tools with young learners at PrimarilyGoogle.Rocks.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Thanksgiving Resources for Elementary Learners

It's a busy busy time of year in schools! With the upcoming rush of holidays, it can be a challenge to keep learners on-task and engaged. It's a good time of year to take a dive into new, creative activities! 

As a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), I collect and curate resources for the teachers I support. A couple years ago, I created this Thanksgiving Google Site, loaded with videos, games, and activities for this busy, THANKFUL holiday time. I was inspired by a similar website by the Tech TOSAs at Union School District in California. Google Sites is an awesome way to package resources and make them accessible to students! 

On several of the pages, I have embedded Padlet activities. I love how Padlet adds the opportunity for collaboration across my schools. I have the Padlets moderated, which means all posts have to be approved by ME before other students can see them.

Additionally, I share a Google Doc to all of the teachers that lists several Seesaw, Epic, and Googley activities. These are all resources that teachers can find on their own, but I like to keep a running list so they are easy to access and don't take a ton of time for teachers to access. 

Access the document here. Please feel free to copy and share! 

For additional Fall-themed resources, this Pumpkin Time collection has interactive graphing and creative pumpkin activities appropriate for grades K-3. Press the blue USE TEMPLATE button to get your own copy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

K-2 Can Be Good Digital Citizens Too!

It's California Digital Citizenship Week and we are learning how to be safe, respectful, and responsible online in First Grade!

Today we watched a video from Common Sense Education about what it means to be a good Digital Citizen and then created our own Google Drawings Digital Citizenship poster:

If you aren't familiar, Common Sense Education has an entire K-12 Digital Citizenship curriculum. The resources are FREE and so easy to use. Sign in with a free account and you have access to the lessons, videos, teaching slides, student activities, parent resources, and more!

I especially love the K-2 resources at Common Sense Education. They take big ideas like internet safety, media balance, and creative credit and present them in ways that are relevant and meaningful to even very young children. These are big conversations! It is so wonderful that Common Sense has prepared meaningful resources about this important topic. Some of the K-2 lesson titles include:
  • Safety in my Online Neighborhood
  • Internet Traffic Light
  • We the Digital Citizens
  • Pause for People
Short on time? This article shares a brief list of some K-2 Digital Citizenship videos that are are only 2-3 minutes each and are designed especially with young learners in mind. Each video also has a connected discussion question. 

Showing what they know! 

In this poster, students can type their name, insert an image, and add a quote about digital citizenship. After we watched the video, we brainstormed some ideas about digital citizenship together. With the first graders, I offered the sentence frame "I am a good digital citizen because..." This provided a scaffold for the task for the learners who are still struggling with making complete sentences.

Get your own copy of the Google Drawings Digital Citizenship Poster. Open the file and then choose the "Use Template" button in the upper right-hand corner. Be sure to assign in Google Classroom so that every student gets their own copy! 

If your learners use iPads instead of Chromebooks or laptops, you'll need the file as a Google Slide instead of the Google Drawing. Here's a template for you.

Tips for little learners:

  • If your students have never used the camera in Google Drawings before, there will be a pop-up that asks for permission to use it. The students will have choices to ALLOW or BLOCK camera use. Make sure you show them to ALLOW the camera on this tool. They should only have to do this the very first time they use it on that device. If for some reason a student hits the wrong button, it's an easy fix. In the Chrome browser, You can re-enable the camera from the far right end of the URL bar. This often requires a refresh to work. 
  • It is important that you model how to use a CURSOR to move around a text box, and how to BACKSPACE to clear text from the template.
  • Teach kids to insert images by using the mountain icon, and then the camera button. Model how to move and resize images.
  • Don't forget the OOPS button, UNDO! Show how if they make a mistake, they can quickly fix it on their own!

Learn how to make these and other great Google activities for young learners in the Primarily Google Online Course with EdTechTeam Online!

Find more K-2 Google resources at

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Name Typing Practice

The first few weeks of kindergarten and first grade have some challenges! 

Is this your life?

In a previous post, I shared ways to keep it simple when first getting started with Google Docs and Google Classroom in the primary grades. 

Check out this Name Typing Practice Page you can share to Google Classroom as a way for young students to start becoming familiar with the Google Classroom environment! 

Starting on the very first day of school, Pre-K and Kindergarten students build early keyboard familiarity through practicing a word they will need to write again and again throughout their educational career and beyond... THEIR NAME! They can use this simple name-typing template to begin learning to recognize upper and lower case letters and finding them on a keyboard. Typing a simple, familiar word is a great starting point.

In this activity, they will also be able to practice how to click on the page to place a cursor, which will allow them to intentionally type text in a specific location on the document. It’s important not to be afraid to use computer vocabulary such as CURSOR with even very young students!

Adding the extra element of the capital letter brings in the SHIFT key, which will help students transfer the essential skill of letter case into their digital work. This will ensure proper use of language rules such as starting sentences correctly as well as help them correctly write other proper nouns. 

Get your own copy of the name typing template! 

Preview the template here.
Click "use template" in the upper right hand corner.

Assign in Google Classroom so that each student gets their own copy.


Rainbow Typing Template 
Letter L Practice - Credit to S. Haller

More like this - make a copy of each for yourself!

Learn how to make these and other great Google activities for young learners in the Primarily Google Online Course with EdTechTeam Online!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

K-2 Can Chromebook TOO!

Chromebooks + Benchmark Advance Phonics and Fluency Practice + Screenshots + Seesaw... ALL in FIRST GRADE!?!?!

Questions I’ve heard so many times:

How can K-2 students even log in to a Chromebook?
Can young children easily navigate between various resources in a Chrome browser?
Why would I teach a first grader how to take a screenshot?!?!?

Watch this young scholar, a first grader, in action!

What can our littlest learners create on Chromebooks?

It has long been thought that iPads are the device that young learners can have the most success with in the  classroom. However, young students can do amazing things on Chromebooks, too!

In my small district, we’ve been using Chromebooks in K-2 for a while. We started almost six years ago, and while it certainly has taken some time and growing pains throughout our journey, the successes we’ve had have been well worth the effort!

We teach students how to log in to the Chromebooks with a unique username and password during the first weeks of Kindergarten. Is it easy? NOPE! It takes time, patience, and repetition. Once our students can get into the Chromebooks, they have access to many resources for learning, creating, and sharing. Our students use content and tools from our adopted curricula as well as tools from Google Suite, Seesaw, Epic Books, Scootpad, Brainpop, and many others.

Putting it together:

This week, I visited a first grade class during their center/workstation time. The learning goal was to practice vowel teams in words with the Long O sound. The purpose of technology in the activity was to offer additional practice and learning resources, as well as to record the students’ practice of both the phonics skill (blending sounds) as well as record their reading practice to evaluate fluency.

Google Classroom:

The students began by reviewing multiple resources about their phonics skill of the week, Long O vowel teams. Here, Google Classroom is used to package and share resources such as interactive games at and related videos on YouTube.

Benchmark Advance ePocket Chart:

Next, students complete a phonics/word-building activity using the ePocketChart from our Benchmark Advance ELA program. This simple interface has students building words and sentences using a variety of letter, word, and picture cards. These can either be pre-selected by the teacher, or students can self-select the cards they would like to use. Today’s activity had students building words using the Long O sound using the vowel teams OA and O_E.

If you don’t have access to the Benchmark ePocket Chart tool, this part of the activity could be recreated a number of ways using a tool from a different curriculum, or it could also be built in Google Slides or Google Drawings. See a sample of how that might look in Google Drawings here, or check out this awesome template for Google Slides by Kris Szajner (@KSzajner)

Once the students completed their word building activity in whichever tool you use, they can use the online tool Seesaw to share and record themselves saying the sounds and words they built.


The thinking and beliefs behind the hashtag #K2CanToo center around the importance of empowering our littlest learners. It’s about eliminating the biases about what even very young students CAN do! If there were any doubts about whether young students can do these tasks, Xophia’s video above should certainly be evidence to the contrary.

That awesome girl builds words, records her learning, and shares it. The entire task was completed quickly and efficiently. It wasn’t an ordeal or special occasion. You can tell in the video that that this is something she is very confident in accomplishing.

In addition to the Benchmark phonics task, in the video the student also shares how a piece of text, such as an online decodable text from your ELA curriculum or a piece of text from a resource such as Epic Books can be captured and shared, too.

What’s the big deal about screenshots?

You’ll notice that the student takes a screenshot as part of the phonics activity. Teaching young learners to take a screenshot allows them to capture and share evidence of learning from a wide variety of online resources! Pairing a screenshot with the recording and sharing tools of Seesaw provides opportunities for voice and audience. The potential becomes limitless!  If your young learners haven't yet mastered this task, here is a great visual created by Wanda Terral to help you get started.

Find this and other Chromebook tips in Wanda’s collection at

How does technology enhance this task?

The students certainly could have completed parts of this task without technology. They could have worked on a similar word-building activity using letter tiles or flashcards. They could have read the paper copy of decodable text that goes with the phonics lesson. Completing the tasks on the Chromebook added many additional layers that benefitted the student and the teacher!

Technology had many roles in this activity:     

  • Management: Using the online tools, the teacher can assign the letter/phonics items digitally. This eliminates the burden of having to find and organize flashcards, and also the need to clean up the flashcards after each group of students use them. If students have device and network access from home, the online versions of these tasks could also be completed at home, without having to send additional materials that could get lost.
  • Supporting the needs of Diverse Learners: By providing a variety of digital resources, we’re able to give many students opportunities to access the learning over and over again. They can replay the videos and lessons and practice the games many times. The visuals and images included with the digital resources add an additional layer of support.
  • Accountability: If a student center/workshop activity is to use flashcards or letter tiles to build words and reinforce a particular phonics rule, there is often no final product that they can be held accountable for.  Having kids turn in their digital content holds them accountable for the activity, while also giving the teacher the opportunity to do some formative assessment.
  • Audio Recordings: The ability to hear the students’ practice with blending or segmenting words and sounds gives a window into their learning that we wouldn’t be able to capture if the students were not using the digital tools.
  • Sharing: It’s a widely known truth that students will often put extra effort into an activity when they will be sharing it to an audience. Publishing student learning to Seesaw allows their peers and parents to see the activity, too. What a great opportunity to make home-school connections!

Purposeful Integration

As the Instructional Technology Coach, one of my most important jobs is to help the teachers find ways to MEANINGFULLY integrate technology into their daily routines. Before we start any new project, I ask:

Is the activity educationally sound?
Does it enhance student learning?
Does it make the teacher’s job easier?
Is there a meaningful product?

Adding technology to our phonics lesson clearly evolved that traditional task.

Our littlest learners can accomplish amazing things when we give them access to modern tools and meaningful opportunities to SHOW us what they know!

Learn more about what young learners can do at my website, PrimarilyGoogle.Rocks.

Lesson Resources:

Google Classroom Links:

Additional Student Samples - AR Words

Friday, February 22, 2019

Listening Centers Go Digital! Dr. Seuss Read-Alouds in Google Forms

These Dr. Seuss listening activities are ready to use for Read Across America week. Let's celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday by listening to some of our favorite books! Print the QR codes or share the links to your students.

Get a printable file here!

Ready-to-Use Learning Stations!

Centers or learning stations are so important in the primary grades! They provide students with opportunities to practice skills either independently or with peers in small groups. Also, this is often a time when the teacher has an opportunity to work with small groups or individual students for the purpose of meeting their unique learning needs. 

These Digital Listening Center Activities created in Google Forms are PERFECT for center or station time! They give students an opportunity to hear a wide variety of texts being read aloud. Students are exposed to language and literature while practicing essential listening skills. Even early and non-readers can enjoy texts being read aloud by fluent models.

Google Form Digital Listening Centers can be shared with students in Google Classroom or any other way you share a link to your students. These activities DO NOT require students to be signed in to their own Google Account, but they will need to have access to YouTube. I like sharing YouTube videos through Google Forms this way because the young students can view the YouTube content without going to an actual YouTube page. I love YouTube, but it does have a lot of distractions and questionable content, especially when it comes to our littlest of learners!

1) Paste this link in Google Classroom. Students can view the video and vote.
OR 2) Make a copy of the file to be able to edit. Add questions and see your class results!
Hop on Pop
Dr. Seuss ABC
There’s a Wocket in my Pocket
Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Green Eggs and Ham
Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose
The Tooth Book

The QR codes and short links above will take your students to my copy of the Form, which will allow students to watch the YouTube videos embedded in the Form, while also giving them a chance to cast a vote as to whether or not they liked the book. A summary of overall votes will be accessible after the Form has been submitted. You may also use the additional links to make your own copy of these Google Forms! By doing this, you'll have access to your own students' votes, as well as have an opportunity to customize the Form by adding questions of your own! One example might be that you may want to add a question to collect your students' names, or have them choose their name from a list so you know who completed the activity! Also, if you have older students, you may want to include short response or reflection questions.

If you have a limited number of devices, use a headphone splitter such as this one I found on Amazon so small groups of students can listen to the stories together on one device!

Learn how to make these and other great Google activities for young learners in the Primarily Google Online Course with EdTechTeam Online!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

#K2CanToo - Design Thinking in First Grade: Tiny Tinkerers Solving Problems!

As a part of the Benchmark Advance ELA unit on technology, our first graders have been exploring how technology helps us. They have read a number of texts that share about inventors and their cool inventions. They have also read how these inventions make our lives better and easier. Some examples have included how technology can help people who can't walk, how technology helps farmers grow and process our food, and how technology helps us communicate.

We watched a Brain Pop Jr. Video on design and engineering. It told us that you need to understand your problem and who it impacts. It showed to brainstorm ideas and then make a plan, and emphasized the point that your first plan doesn't always work! 

We took a dive into Design Thinking together, and they helped me solve one of my biggest problems: having TOO MANY DISHES to wash! We had some conversation with partners to better understand the problem, and then together, we planned out the design of a dish-washing robot! They decided he needed a soap dispenser, a blow dryer, a scrubby wand, and most importantly, to be WATERPROOF!

Then, the kiddos thought of a problem in their life that needed to be solved. They came up with so many important problems! Some needed help cleaning, some needed homework help. One wanted a friend to play video games with him, and another needed help training to be a pro-football player! There were even a couple kids who said their biggest problem was having to clean up after their dog. Who wouldn’t want a robot to do that dirty job?!?!

We drew out our first plan on whiteboards, and then talked to partners about why our problem matters and to get feedback about how our design might be better. We improved our plan and then made our next version on a piece of paper. We colored our robots and event got to make it fancy by adding diode lights and button cell batteries. We didn't have time to actually model or build prototypes, but the kids had a great time exploring the process!

Then, we took a picture on Seesaw. Each student made a recording to describe what their problem was, and how the robot they designed could help solve that problem.

Click to LISTEN to what these FIRST GRADERS have to say!