The Tech Coaches Helping teachers integrate technology to transform learning Fri, 13 Dec 2019 20:09:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Tech Coaches 32 32 New PBL Projects Posted! Fri, 13 Dec 2019 20:09:35 +0000 Hi Techies! Head on over to the Dearborn PBL Project page to see some new PBL projects that were developed by the Fall 2019 PBL Cohort.

Simply click on the Sample Projects tab at the top and search by grade level.

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Keeping Track of Reading Progress with iLearn and Read Seed Wed, 11 Dec 2019 18:54:53 +0000 Keeping track of your students’ reading progress can seem like a full-time job on its own, but for teachers using Read Seed with their iLearn courses there are a few shortcuts that can make things a whole lot easier…

Each time students complete a Read Seed activity, teachers receive valuable data on reading speed, accuracy, and comprehension. All of this information is presented in class and student reports that are available from the teacher dashboard. 

Teacher Dashboard


Class progress reports give an overview of how students are performing relative to their classmates and the WPM benchmarks for their grade. Strugglers can be easily identified, and their reading history can be followed up in the more-detailed student report.

Student Report

An attempts history at the bottom of the student report allows teachers to navigate to individual attempts in order to listen to the reading and take a running record if necessary. 

Running record

Class reports show each student’s average WPM, Accuracy and Quiz score (colored bar) as well as their latest attempt (diamond icon).

Hovering the mouse over any area of the chart will bring up additional data as well as the option to click through to the student report.

If you are not yet using Read Seed for iLearn, you can sign up via the Read Seed page for Michigan teachers and provide some basic information about your class. You’ll receive an access code by email as well as all the information you’ll need to get started with your students. Alternatively you can use the support email ( to request Read Seed directly.

If you would like more information or need assistance, contact the Tech Coach today!

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Thanksgiving Fun for Elementary Students Tue, 26 Nov 2019 13:43:31 +0000 Check out this link to Eric Curts’ site, ControlAltAchieve, for some Thanksgiving writing fun in Google Slides!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the Tech Coach!

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Hypothesis- The Tool You Didn’t Know You Needed Thu, 21 Nov 2019 12:03:00 +0000 Often times I am asked how teachers can have students annotate text on a webpage or PDF. And now, I have a definitive answer: Hypothesis.

Hypothesis is a tool that works through iLearn (Moodle), and allows students and teachers the ability to annotate text seamlessly, either on a webpage or on a PDF. Check out the video demo below:

If you would like more information on using Hypothesis in your classroom, you can check out this Technology blog post or contact the Tech Coach!

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What’s Going On? Tue, 19 Nov 2019 18:41:30 +0000 Holding Students Accountable During Daily 5

When I taught fifth grade, one of my most challenging jobs was to keep 20-something fifth graders on task during Daily 5 so that I could get all my conferencing done and they could practice the skills they were supposed to be working on. I struggled with systems that would produce the desired effect, but did not require busy work for the students or extra work for me. If only I had known then what I know now. . .

boy sitting at his desk typing on a chromebook

Flash forward five years, when I recently visited with Jihan Alhusaini at Geer Park. Jihan was describing her desire to keep tabs, per se, on her second graders during Daily 5, while still conferencing one-on-one and with small groups. The task should be valuable to both students and teachers, but should also avoid “busy work” for either group. We did some brainstorming and came up with a solution: Mahara portfolios.

mahara logo

Each second grader set up a Mahara portfolio and joined Jihan’s class group. Now during Daily 5, her students jot reflection notes in a journal, and complete Work on Writing on a Google Doc that is embedded in their Mahara portfolio. Jihan has one place to look to see that her students have accomplished what they set out to during Daily 5. The work is meaningful and authentic, and only takes the teacher a few minutes to check in and see if students are, indeed, staying on task during rotations.

girl works on her portfolio at her desk on a chromebook

For more information about using Mahara during Daily 5, contact the Tech Coach today!

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Exciting News from the Tech Department! Fri, 08 Nov 2019 19:02:33 +0000 One of the best parts of working in the Technology Department for Dearborn Public Schools is the fact that we are a forward-thinking and solutions-based team.

The Problem

Recently, a problem was brought to our attention. Some of our elementary schools are doing a pilot for a new Language Arts program, and many of the components are online. In order to access the program, students had to log in to iLearn (Moodle). This meant that kindergarteners would have to log in to their Chromebooks, and then log in AGAIN through iLearn (Moodle) in order to read the online texts provided by the pilot. For a 5-year-old, that’s a lot of steps just to read! Unfortunately, this amounted to lots of frustration for students and teachers alike.

Enter our fabulous teammates- Chris Kenniburg and Sean Williams. Together, Chris and Sean worked tirelessly to solve this issue. The result? Google single sign on for iLearn!

What Does That Mean?

What is single sign on through Google, you ask? Well that’s easy! Now, to log in to iLearn (Moodle), students simply click the Google button on the log in screen. That’s it! Only one log in is needed! (And the crowd goes crazy!)

sign in screen for iLearn

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at!

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A New Reading Practice and Progress Monitoring Tool for iLearn (Moodle) Tue, 29 Oct 2019 17:26:25 +0000 We all know that progress monitoring is an essential tool for teaching. The information gathered from a running record is extremely valuable to drive our reading instruction. The problem is that it requires the one thing teachers are always short on– time. That’s where Read Seed comes in.

For the 2019/20 school year, all teachers at Dearborn Public Schools have unlimited access to a reading practice and progress monitoring tool, Read Seed, available through iLearn (Moodle LMS). The tool can assist K-6 teachers in administering and grading formative reading assessments to ensure that learners remain on track to achieve the performance benchmarks for their grade.

How It Works

The tool records students reading a level appropriate text before challenging them to answer a series of comprehension questions based on what they’ve read. The read aloud portion of the task is analyzed by the program and words per minute (WPM) and accuracy scores are awarded. The comprehension questions, too, are automatically graded and compiled with the other scores in easy-to-understand charts. Teachers can move between the class overview and individual reports to see which students are progressing normally and who needs additional support.

quiz data graph for class overview

class overview (quiz results)
words per minute graph example for a student
Individual Student Report

Each time students complete a Read Seed activity they receive a fun seed character that they can collect on their dashboard. They can also listen to their readings and see their WPM, accuracy and quiz scores.

webpage with an example of a classroom report from Read Seed

Any teacher with an iLearn course can easily get set up with Read Seed. Simply add an activity (ReadSeed) into your class.

If you have any questions, please contact the Tech Coach!

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Fun Writing Idea for Elementary Students Fri, 18 Oct 2019 13:14:50 +0000 If you haven’t seen this seasonal idea from Eric Curts, check it out! Students use Google Slides to create their own jack-o-lantern and then they compose a story about their jack-o-lantern. Super fun idea for Work on Writing in Daily 5!

You can check out the blog post here:

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Smith 8th Graders Make Connections with Academic Vocabulary Fri, 11 Oct 2019 17:33:24 +0000 My latest Technology Integration Partnership (TIP) took place at O.L. Smith with Ms. Megan Timpf. Ms. Timpf teaches language arts to five classes of lively 8th graders, and is currently beginning her unit on narratives.

One of Ms. Timpf’s main focuses at the beginning of the unit is on academic vocabulary. Having students make connections in order to understand and use their academic vocabulary well is important to her. And because the 8th graders already utilize iLearn in her class, Ms. Timpf decided to try and digitize her academic vocabulary assignments. This is where things got interesting.

Ms. Timpf and I brainstormed ways to make the vocabulary more meaningful to her students, and came up with the idea of using the Glossary module in iLearn. Each student created his or her own glossary, and entered the mandatory vocabulary words and definitions. Up until this point, the iLearn glossary wasn’t much different than a paper and pencil glossary. But then the fun began.

screenshot of glossary example with Youtube video embedded
An example of a student’s glossary entry, including a video clip.

During our lesson in using the Glossary module, we showed the students how they could add images, videos and recordings to their glossary definitions. For most students, this was a very welcomed change from the everyday paper and pencil model. They began looking for images and video clips that would help them connect the vocabulary to real world situations, and adding them to their glossary. The talk in the room was animated and thoughtful. Students searched for and evaluated images and video clips and carefully selected those that helped them connect the academic vocabulary to the real world. Because each student’s connections were unique, there was a wide variety of video clips and images used.

Multimedia brought a traditional, yet necessary, vocabulary activity to life, and provided an authentic learning experience for these fortunate 8th graders.

Want to learn more about incorporating a multimedia glossary into your classroom? Contact the Tech Coach today!

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Beating Cheating in Online Assessment: The Remix Fri, 04 Oct 2019 19:40:22 +0000 Sometimes information is so good, it needs to be shared multiple times.  This article, originally written and posted by Bob Harrison in May of 2016, has been updated and remixed with some new information.  Enjoy!

This year, scores of teachers in Dearborn have begun to move their assessments online, mainly to Moodle (iLearn). This has been to the benefit of students, as they experience tests in formats that resemble that of the high-stakes standardized tests they’ll encounter. It can also provide them with more timely feedback and opportunities for alternative methods of testing. It can also help teachers with grading turn-around times and copy numbers.

However, one of the concerns voiced by a few teachers this year has centered on the perennial phenomenon of cheating on tests. As a result of my conversations with teachers and my own personal experience as a classroom teacher, I’d like to offer up a few points, tips, and personal commentary.

1. It is not easier to cheat on an online test than a paper test.


While a student sitting at a desk with the internet at his fingertips may seem like he has an open channel to finding answers on the test, he is actually at quite a disadvantage over the student who, say, can just glance over at his neighbor’s paper while the teacher is answering another student’s question. Consider this: in order for a student to find an answer to a test question online, he has to click the mouse several times, to open a new tab, and then copy, paste, or type the question into the Google Search window. That’s not to mention the fact that if he really wants to cover up his cheating, he should also be diligent enough to go through and delete his history because every move he makes online leaves a footprint. While cheating on an online test may be different, it is certainly not easier. Screenshots are a real threat too, but again, this requires several clicks and at least a couple emails or messages–all of which can be traced, and more importantly, all of which require movements that would seem out of the ordinary to a teacher who is closely monitoring the actions of students during the test. This brings me to my next point:

2. Cheating is more of a classroom management issue than a technology issue.

While you can set up a test to be automatically graded for you, it will not proctor itself for you. And anyone who has ever taken or proctored one of the high-stakes exams knows that the adult’s attention needs to constantly be upon the actions of the students. Careful monitoring of student behavior–and the content of their screens–can prevent students who are tempted to cheat from even thinking about cheating, let alone detect it when it occurs. But there are also things a teacher can do to help him/herself monitor effectively:

a. Make sure students are all facing the same direction and walk around the room.

This can help teachers quickly get a glimpse of each student’s screen and actions, and quickly detect when things are out of the ordinary.

b. Look for questionable behaviors.


If your test is multiple-choice and you notice that a student’s keyboard is clicking, there just might be a problem. That’s on top of some other obvious indicators, like the student who is constantly looking back to see where you are. You would do well to watch her closely. And if you notice that a student has more than one tab open on the browser, stop by and take a look–and don’t forget to check the browser history if you’re really suspicious.

c. A stern warning goes a long way.

Let students know that certain things are not appropriate during the testing period. Go ahead and list them verbally, and be explicit about prohibited behaviors in your instructions for the test. My final warning before a test used to go something like this: “If it looks or sounds like you’re cheating (whether you are or aren’t), you’ll receive a zero for the test. And you also forfeit any chance for a retake!”

3. Cheaters cheat, and those with integrity don’t.

Don’t buy the myth that cheating is just something kids do. It’s not. The fact of the matter is that most kids actually have moral values, know right from wrong, have a conscience, and will go to great lengths to guard their integrity. That usually leaves a select few who will give in to temptation and put their character in jeopardy. But there’s no need to be overly suspicious. Every kid deserves a fair assessment of his character. That is, until he compromises his integrity. And if there’s one thing dishonesty rightly earns, it’s a little closer scrutiny.

4. If you searched online to find the questions, students can find the same questions online for themselves.

It’s no secret that there are many sites out there featuring answers to popular and frequently-asked questions. This includes publishers’ test banks. If you really want to squash cheating, know your content well and write your own questions.

5. Fight Google with Google (or Google-proof your questions).

Try Googling some of the questions you ask on your tests. Chances are, you’ll find something close, if not verbatim. So what do you do? My suggestion is to begin welcoming Google into your testing room. Am I kidding?! Nope. One of the things Google can’t do is higher-order thinking. If you can Google your questions and find the answers, your questions are probably not fostering higher-order thinking in the first place. If you’re up for the challenge, Google-Proofing your questions will lead to richer thinking for your students, whilst the threat of cheating quickly evaporates. Take a look at one teacher’s suggestions here for Google-Proof Questioning.

6.  Secure your tests with built-in safeguards in iLearn.

iLearn makes it easy to help prevent cheating with some of its built-in features.  Let’s take a look at three features that will help with cheating:

  • Lockdown browser:  When logging in with the secure lockdown browser, students are restricted to the iLearn program.  They cannot open another tab or navigate, in any way, outside of the iLearn browser.  This will bar them from googling things they shouldn’t be.  It will also bar them from opening embedded YouTube videos or other links the teacher wants them to see, so use with caution.
  • Password protection:  Teachers can set a password for the test, and then give the password at the time of the test.  This way, students will need the password in order to access the test.
  • Restrict user to DPS WiFi: By restricting the quiz to the DPS WiFi, users are forced to be on the Dearborn Public Schools WiFi in order to access the quiz.  That means that if a student is taking his test on his phone, he would have to be on the district WiFi to be able to access it.

For more information on using iLearn for assessment, contact the Tech Coach today!

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