Teacher Tech Spotlight: Todd Goodwin

This is the second year that the microfinance project has been tweaked to add more technology skills into the learning goals. Last year, the map portion of the project moved from coloring paper maps to building a customized Google MyMap. This year, an option for students to demonstrate their learning by creating a Google Site was added to the project. Students in both the upper and lower schools have been given the opportunity to use websites to share their learning this year (Molly Laurano and the 5th grade planet project pops into mind). 

In his pro’s and con’s, Todd shares what we all know: the students enjoy the addition of technology, but it often requires additional coordination and planning between teachers and additional instructional time to teach the technology skill. Mike Grant has been honing his short, informative lesson on Google Sites and is ready to deliver! He loves websites – it keeps the printing of pages down ūüėČ

Mike and Molly will also be exploring some ways to make the grading and commenting process of  websites easier. 


Teacher(s) name(s): Todd Goodwin and Molly Wong with assistance from Mike Grant.

Subject: 7th Grade World Geography

Specific topic being taught: As a Global citizen, research to prepare for international travel.

Learning Goal:

  • Research a developing country as if traveling there to assist in a microfinance or development project.
  • Present findings in two formats: all students completed a Google MyMap and had a choice between representing their research in a Google Doc or Google Site.
    • Select and insert images into a Google Doc or Site
    • Create, publish and share a Google Site that contains the answers to the research questions
    • Create a customized Google MyMap
  • Document, manage and cite all sources in a bibliography to show the research process.

Technology used:

  • Jr. Scholastic Atlas, books and databases from the library.
  • Laptops and Chromebooks.
  • Google Docs, Websites, and MyMaps
  • Noodletools Bibliographic software


Preparation:¬†After some preliminary research, each student chose a developing country and researched to ¬†prepare as if they were to travel to that country. Together, each class brainstormed and established a ‚Äútemplate‚ÄĚ of approximately 20 questions they had to answer before the trip.

Research: On the library Microfinance Project Page, students were given a list of preselected resources to conduct their research, including websites, library databases, books and magazines in the library collection. Additional websites could be used for images.

Demonstration of learning:¬†¬†All students were required to demonstrate their geographic knowledge of their chosen country by creating a Google MyMap and adding ‚Äúplacemarks‚ÄĚ of locations (some predetermined and other free-choice) that hold special significance to that country or its travelers.

To demonstrate the completion of the template questions, students could choose to create a website using Google Sites or answer the questions in a Google Doc. Mr. Grant led a class session on creating Google Sites.

All sources, for facts or images, were cited using NoodleTools bibliographic software.

Following project completion, students had the opportunity to share a reflection in class.


  • Students enjoyed the choices and many learned new technology as they progressed through the steps.
  • Many students felt the choices and use of new technology (Google Sites and Google MyMap) to be fun and engaging. In fact, only three students chose to Google Doc – all the rest chose to work on a Google Site.
  • Learning to create a basic website with Google Sites will help students who wish to create a website for their National History Day project.
  • Some students with experience in international travel made excellent contributions to the brainstorm.
  • Students reflected on their experience at the conclusion of the project.
  • All students made thoughtful contributions in the discussions around the parts of the projects.
  • Students made connections to our work with OxFam, Unicef and AMC and some of the films we have used this year.


  • We learned that some steps about sharing the parts were confusing to students and at least one teacher.
  • We need to help students to more carefully budget their time on certain parts of the project to avoid rushing or short changing some parts at the end.
  • Students tended to underestimate how much time it would take them to build the Google Site.
  • With the expanded choices and new technology, more time was needed for teacher collaboration and grading of the projects.

Would you use this technology tool again?

We do hope and plan to do this project again next year with some adjustments to timing and the steps.

Is there anything you would do differently next time?  Create a visual tool that helps students  budget their time more carefully.

Here are a couple of links to some completed projects (you will need to be logged into your Applewild Google account to view):

Google MyMap of Samoa

Website for Bangladesh



Changes to Gmail

There is going to be an update to the Google mail (GMail) interface. Not to worry, it is not a drastic redesign so you will be able to use it like you always have. It will look a little different and have some added functionality. As of now it is optional, so you can

continue to use the existing interface. If you would like to try using the new interface, there is an option for that. Eventually, Google will make the new interface standard for everyone.

Some nice new features include, quick access to your calendar, as well as Google Keep and a Tasks or To-Do app from a right side toolbar, quicker access to archiving or deleting messages, and a new “Snooze” feature. There are some other features as well and here is a short article from Google highlighting those changes.¬†https://www.blog.google/products/gmail/stay-composed-heres-quick-rundown-new-gmail/
new mail shot
If you are interested in trying out the new interface, you can enable it by going to the gear in the upper right corner of GMail and selecting “Try the new Applewild.org Mail”.
If you are interested in learning more about some of these changes, please let me know.



Have you been inspired to use random groupings of students and want an easy way to create various configurations of random groupings? If so, I have just the tool for you! Flippity, found on the websiteflippity.net is a web based app that ties to a Google spreadsheet. All you have to do is have your student list in a spreadsheet and with the click of a button, it can create all kinds of random groups for you. 

But there is more! The Random Groupings is just one of many tools on Flippity.net.  Other tools you can use with that same spreadsheet list include: flashcards, quiz show boards, BINGO cards, a Memory Game and Tournament Brackets.

Check out the website, flippity.net and get in touch with Mike if you want to learn to use it. We will do a live demo at the next Technophiles meeting.

Here is a link to one that I created today and a sample image below. Feel free to play around with the one I created today.


Make time to Doodle!

If you have trouble scheduling meetings with multiple people, this Tech Tuesday tip is for you.
Try scheduling your next meeting with Doodle. Doodle.com allows you to put together a list of possible meeting dates and times and allows each potential participant to indicate which times they are available. Find the overlap Рand you have a meeting!   See the example below.
Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 1.47.58 PM

MOOC for You

Let’s drop in to the middle of a MOOC!

A MOOC is a Massive Online Open Course. There are a lot of different MOOCs out there, some better than others. This is a link to a one hour video from a MOOC centered around a book called “The Innovator’s Mindset”. During this one hour video, they talk to an innovative teacher/author of another book called “Ditch that Homework”. Whether you agree or disagree with her ideas around homework, this video also touches on so many concepts we have been discussing lately. They discuss student choice, quality feedback, the importance or reading, spreadsheets, and the 5 E’s education model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate).
If you find it interesting, it is one video of a group of videos in this MOOC all available on youtube.  https://youtu.be/zyanhqEzbIY