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 😉

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 “template” 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 “placemarks” 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


Faculty Spotlight: Karen Flanagan & Mike Grant

Teacher(s) name(s):Karen Flanagan and Mike Grant

Subject: 6th Grade Math

Specific topic being taught:  Decimal Math

Learning Goal: Students should learn the basic concepts of decimal arithmetic before coming to class.

Technology used: edpuzzle.com website

Description: We worked on an action research project investigating the use of the Flipped Classroom model. One aspect of the Flipped Classroom model is the use of videos for homework to introduce topics to students so they are ready to get right to work in the classroom. We used edpuzzle.com for this purpose. Edpuzzle allowed us to use pre-existing videos from YouTube, trim the start and stop times, and add questions throughout the video to make sure the students were paying attention. The software has a class management aspect that allowed us to see if students watched the videos, how many times they watched them, and how they answered the questions.

Pros: Can Check homework status before the students even get to class and see what questions they got wrong.

Frontloading students with basic instruction helped the class time go smoothly with less repeated instruction.

Cons: It does take some time find quality videos or make your own.

It can be tough to manage when students don’t do their homework and aren’t as well prepared. They may have to watch the videos during class and miss out on in-class work.

Would you use this technology tool again? Yes, maybe weekly rather than every night.

Is there anything you would do differently next time?

Make more time to find the videos and formulate the assessment questions.

Teacher Tech Spotlight – Jenny Coeur

We promise every spotlight won’t be on using Google Slides – but what a wonderful way to see the same technology used in two different grades. Our next Tech Tip will be some great resources for Google Slide Templates that help teach effective presentation design (and look great too.) Thank you, Jenny!

Teacher(s) name(s):  Jenny Coeur

Subject: Third Grade

Specific topic being taught: Myths of the First Thanksgiving – Plymouth Colony’s Harvest Feast (Social Studies)

Learning Goal: To synthesize information learned from our unit about the first harvest feast in Plymouth Colony, focusing on common myths or assumptions about what took place in 1621.  To become familiar with Google Slides and basic functions (typing a title, typing in a text box, changing text color and background, inserting/resizing/moving a photo found from the search feature).  To practice clear writing and oral presentation skills with the intent of sharing the slides during the K-3 Thanksgiving Common Time.

Technology used: Google Slides and Google accounts in the Marshall computer lab; digital projector for the Common Time presentation.  Classwork with plimoth.org’s Thanksgiving Interactive activity preceded the Slideshow work.  https://www.plimoth.org/learn/just-kids/thanksgiving-interactive-you-are-historian

Description: I set up a blank Google Slide show (in my Drive) with 11 slides, one for a title page and one slide for each student in my class.  I set up the Slides as editable, and put a shareable link on my class website so that my kids could get to it easily.  Each student suggested a myth/fact about the first harvest feast remembered from our earlier work and was assigned a slide number, and over the course of a few periods in the Marshall lab, created a slide for it.  They were asked to create a title, to write a small paragraph with full sentences explaining the myth/fact with clear detail, and then were shown how to change the text color and background if desired.  The final step was inserting a picture from the search feature.  I did the final tweaks/editing as well as the title page.  Each student read his/her slide aloud at the Common Time before Thanksgiving break.

Pros: The kids were very excited about using Google Slides, which was new to them.  They were excited to type, to pick colors and pictures, and to know that we would project this slideshow as a presentation instead of making paper posters.  The project really nicely tied together our typing, technology, and social studies work, and it helped make the presentation prep easier, too!

Cons: Because you can’t remove the slide thumbnails from the left side of the page, because this was a shared file, and because third graders are still gaining coordination on the computer, some slides did get deleted accidently.  However, the handy history feature allowed us to go “back in time” and find the missing pieces, though it did require the kids to re-do a few things.

Would you use this technology tool again?  Definitely! It was a great addition to the curriculum and a good use of time.  I’m happy to add this to my kids’ list of tech tools.

Is there anything you would do differently next time? I may consider having the kids make a slide in their own accounts and then share the slides with me to be compiled.  However, I do like the ease of having them all work in one document, and I think it was a cool introduction to the collaborative features of the Google suite.

You can find the finished Slideshow HERE, or in the Social Studies section: http://mrscoeur.weebly.com/web-resources.html