Friday, May 23, 2014

gClassFolders and Doctopus

Now that elementary students in Mason City CSD, particularly in the 3rd and 4th grade, have Google Drive accounts, teachers and students will be able to "go green," save time, collaborate, and many more endless opportunities!

With such a large class load, I wasn't sure how to save time when "sharing" a Google Drive app with multiple students, while also not lose the original document.

Initially, I started out creating a "template" of either a Google Doc, Google Spreadsheet, or Google Form.  Then I would "make a copy" of that "template," followed by renaming the Google Drive App (doc, spreadsheet, form, draw, etc.) with not only the document title but also include each student's assigned number.  Then I would click and drag to combine that particular Google Drive App into a class folder.  After doing this for three sections of 2nd grade on a particular unit, I was getting annoyed and frustrated with this time-consuming task.  Also to mention it was starting to "burn my eyes".

I knew there had to be a way to save time and steps, but how?!

That is when gClassFolders and Doctopus came to the rescue!

I had heard of and read about gClassFolders and Doctopus from a few blogs, but it was Mason City Community School District software supervisor and PowerSchool Administrator Doug Abbas who asked me if I have heard about gClassFolders and Doctopus, and offered to help me set it up so I could actually implement it into my library skills classes.  This is also a great opportunity for me to try it out, learn about the features, and then share this valuable tool with colleagues!  After using it the first time, I was immediately sold and eager to promote gClassFolders and Doctopus!

gClassFolders and Doctopus are extremely user-friendly, easy to use, and a major time saver!

It is important to set up gClassFolders first.  gClassFolders allows the user to export information from the school district's information about students (in Mason City's situation, this would be PowerSchool)  in each graduating class.  This information would be the student's first name, last name, and Google Drive account.  Once information is exported from PowerSchool, it is then imported to gClassFolders, which allows one to set up class rosters, as these class rosters will be used in Doctopus, an "add-on" in the Google App store for Google Sheets.

To learn how to set-up gClassFolders, check out .  To learn even more about gClassFolders, check out .

Once the gClassFolders are set up, then it is time to "install" Doctopus as an "add-on" in the Google App store for Google Sheets.

Click on this link  to learn how to install and operate Doctopus.

Check out this YouTube video to learn more about Doctopus!

Check out the pictures and screenshots I have taken of what I have done with gClassFolders and Doctopus!

Setting up gClassFolders is the first thing that must be completed!  This screenshot indicates gClassFolders is set up, using Google Sheets and appears in "My Drive" on Google Drive.

I recommend creating a folder within "my drive" for those assignments that I will be using with Doctopus.  This picture is a screenshot of the folder I created titled "Student Assignments Spring 2014."

Within the folder I had created (see step above) to house Google Drive Apps that I share out using Doctopus, then I created other folders for each student assignment,. within that folder!  This is a screenshot picture showing three assignments I have shared out with students, using Doctopus!

A few days ago, I blogged about 4th grade students using Google Drive and CultureGrams to research, summarize, and take notes for a report about a country.  You can click here to read all about it.

To expand upon how I have used Doctopus to "share" a Google Doc, I am going to use "Country Notes Form 4th Grade" as an example for the rest of this blog.

Once a folder is created within the folder designated for Doctopus shared assignments, then you are ready for the next step.  In this folder (within the overall Doctopus folder), the document you plan to share out AND a Google Sheet (spreadsheet) must be in that folder.

Here are screenshots of what the Country Report Notes Doc looks like that I shared out with 4th grade students!

Here is a screenshot of the Google Sheet (spreadsheet) I created using Doctopus!

Some awesome features of the Google Sheet with Doctopus is...

  • You can enter the student's grade and feedback on this spreadsheet, and it will immediately be included in that student's Google Doc that was shared with them.
  • With one click on the link on the spreadsheet, you can access the student's document.  This is a great way for organizational purposes and saves time!
As one can see, Doctopus is an awesome "add-on" feature!  It is definitely worth using, especially when dealing with multiple class sections and many students!  I highly encourage the use of gClassFolders to set up your class rosters, in order to make it a easy, user-friendly, and a major time-saver for Doctopus!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

4th Grade Students Travel All Around the World with CultureGrams

Harding Elementary 4th Grade students in Mr. Feight's, Mrs. Long's, and Ms. Ibis's and Ms. Beatty's classes are travelling all around the world to learn about countries!

When I found out 4th grade students are going to research a country and write a report about it, I immediately got excited about how I could collaborate with the classroom teachers and their students on this particular project!  As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, one of my goals this year is to increase awareness and usage of Iowa AEA Online resources!

Of course, these country research reports present itself as a perfect opportunity for these students to learn about another Iowa AEA Online Resource, CultureGrams!

Also, the 4th grade teachers and I are also teaming up, as a data team, to work on the goal of improving students being able to summarize a non-fiction text.  So, researching and writing a report on a country, while working on the skill of summarizing are perfect opportunities for me to work alongside the classroom teachers and students!

Check out the 4th grade's learning targets!

According to CultureGrams, their goal is "to foster understanding and appreciate of the world's countries and peoples by creating and publishing concise, reliable, and up-to-date culture content."  With just a few clicks, students are able to access CultureGrams to obtain the most "concise, reliable, and up-to-date culture content."

Another bonus about collaborating with the 4th grade classroom teachers and students is this allows me to continue practical applications to Google Drive.  4th grade students recently learned how to login and use their own Google Drive accounts.  I thought this would be great timing to have students use CultureGrams alongside Google Docs to research, summarize, and take notes on a graphic organizer I shared out with the students!

The following are screen shots of the country notes form graphic organizer that students are using for summarizing and note-taking.  It meets the criteria that the classroom teachers are seeking for areas on content information on each country.  This Google Doc "Country Notes Form Graphic Organizer" was shared out to students from me, using gClassFolders and Doctopus (stay tuned for a future blog post on Doctopus, an AMAZING time-saver)!

Students were taught how to click between the two tabs of their Google Doc and CultureGrams.

Check out the following pictures of students "in action" using Google Doc and CultureGrams to travel around the world to learn about a specific country!

I am quite pleased with students' efforts and work on their country research reports!

If you know a Harding 4th grade student, ask them...

  • How do you login to Google Drive?
  • What is a Google Doc?
  • How do you summarize information in a non-fiction text?
  • How do you access Iowa AEA Online Resources?
  • What is CultureGrams?
  • How do you access and use CultureGrams?
In the meantime, stay tuned for a future blog post on how I use gClassFolders and Doctopus to share out one Google Doc with multiple students, like I did for the 4th grade students' "Country Notes Form Research!"

Friday, May 16, 2014

3rd Grade Go Wild about Brittanica Online

Iowa AEA Online Resources is an incredibly amazing and valuable online resource for students in grades PreK-12!

This school year I made it one of my personal goals to increase awareness and usage of Iowa AEA Online to staff and students!  I even included it on my district individual professional growth plan.  I wasn't sure how to go about increasing awareness and usage, as I caution on the side of not wanting to overwhelm teachers, or even "add one more thing to their workloads."  I kept pondering the idea of how can I increase awareness and usage, while also incorporating collaboration and a team effort between the classroom teacher and students.

In the January, I introduced third grade students to BookFlix and TrueFlix.  You can read about it by clicking here for a blog post.  The following quote from a student shows just how much this student, and even others, enjoyed and LOVE these two resources!  To this day, they continue to re-visit BookFlix and TrueFlix.  I am particularly amazed at how students select TrueFlix, and are eager to learn from what is presented on TrueFlix.

Three weeks ago, all three 2nd grade classroom teachers and two of the three 3rd grade classroom teachers were in the school library checking out the entire animal book collection for an upcoming animal research project.  A day later, another 3rd grade teacher came into the library to also check-out animal books for her students.  I could clearly see how upsetting and frustrating it was for her to discover the entire animal books collection had been checked out.  The classroom teacher then told me, "I guess I will take the students to the computer lab and have them use Google Search."   Yipes, there is more to seeking resources other than Google Search.  While I admit that I use Google Search for various tasks, it is one I do not recommend to staff and students.  So many things can go wrong with Google Search.  Just ask Alan November (@globallearning) and he will tell you that there is more to Google Search than just typing in the a word or phrase into the textbox.

Of course, the teacher's comment presented a great opportunity and perfect timing to share and teach this classroom teacher about Britannica Online.  As I was showing her how to use Britannica Online, another 3rd grade teacher entered the library and was also hooked on Britannica Online!  Before you know it, by the next day, all three 3rd grade classroom teachers were convinced that Britannica Online would be an excellent resource!

Not only did students use Britannica Online to obtain research for their specific animal, but students also used IC Skills class time to find images from Britannica Online to use for a classroom project.

Students download the images from Britannica onto a Google Doc, so they could use it to print for their classroom projects!

Check out the pictures of 3rd grade students using Google Drive and Britannica Online!

3rd Grade Students accessing, logging in, and using Google Drive.

3rd Grade Students combining the use of Google Doc and Britannica Online to obtain images for a classroom project!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

3rd and 4th Grade Have Gone Google Drive

Exciting times at Harding Elementary in the IC!  Third and fourth grade students have gone Google Drive!  This allows our students to jump into the 21st century to learn technology skills and tools that will benefit them not only this year, but in the years come!

I consider Google Drive to be an important "life skill," as students will need to use Google Drive for the rest of their lives.  Google Drive is becoming more common and mainstreamed into education, businesses, and work areas.

For the last month, during IC Skills, students in grades three and four have been learning and practicing how to log-in, use various Google Drive's (specifically Google Docs and Google Draw), and the importance of logging off when done working in the computer lab.

Eventually students will learn how to use Google Presentations, Google Forms, and many other amazing apps!  Typing Club, PowToon EDU, ScootPad, Khan Academy, MindMeister (mind map tool), Lucidcharts (mind map tool), RealTime Whiteboard, etc. are just a few additional apps I would LOVE to teach our students how to use!

I wanted to blog about this exciting and revolutionizing much sooner, especially when we started a month ago, but I quickly learned that students needed quite a bit of my assistance, to start out.  The students required more attention and assistance with logging in, which didn't allow me time to take pictures to post on this blog, as well as time to observe and reflect on students' learning, skills, progress, etc..  Thankfully, after introducing how to log-in on the first day to a class section of third grade students and a class section of fourth grade students, I was able to make a few changes in how I explained, modeled, and taught log-in procedures.  It went much smoother on Day C and Day E, than it did on that Day A of the first cycle I introduced Google Drive, but it still required lots of assistance.

So, what is the students' usernames and passwords?  Students log-in with a specific username and password, as assigned by our district tech team.

The username for each student is as follows...

  • First letter of their first name, followed by the student's entire last name, followed by the last two digits of their graduation year, and finally ""
The password for each student is as follows...

  • six or seven digit lunch account number followed by each student's two letter initial


  • Username =
  • Password = 123456ss

After spending a month (equivalent to three 6 day cycles), students have become more fluent and at ease logging into their Google Drives.

If you are a Harding parent, please ask your student, "How do you login to Google Drive?!"  Hopefully they will be able to tell you their username, password, and how to access Google Drive.

Now that we have mastered how to log-in, we are able to move onto bigger and better adventures on Google Drive!  Stay tuned for future blog posts on how students are using Google Drive for specific purposes!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Celebrated National Poetry Month in April at Harding Elementary

Better late than never...

Harding Elementary students celebrated National Poetry Month during the month of April!  Last week we wrapped up our celebration, and I have some amazing memories and experiences to share!  I embarrassingly admit that I have never celebrated National Poetry Month until this school year.  I will also embarrassingly admit that I have never enjoyed poetry, up until this school year, particularly as students and I created, shared, and read aloud poems.  I can't believe I had missed out on so much fun and learning with poetry, until now!  I can't wait until next year!  I already have "rough plans" I want to add next year!  Creating Spine Poems with book spines and writing even more different forms of poetry are just two examples of what I want to add next year!

To get ready to celebrate National Poetry Month and Poem in Your Pocket Day, Shannon McClintock Miller wrote the following blog posts as helpful and inspiring resources.  You can click hereclick here, and click here to read her inspiring poetry-related blog posts.

My favorite resource from Shannon McClintock Miller is her Poetry Symbaloo.

Check out how we celebrated National Poetry Month in April at Harding Elementary in the IC!

Students used a template I had created to either write an Acrostic Poem on paper or on a Google Doc that I had provided a link to access.

Mrs. Hobart's and Mrs. Kyle's 1st Grade Students

Ms. Zweibohmer's 2nd Grade Students

Mrs. Halverson's and Mrs. DiMarco's 3rd Grade Students

Students used Poetry Symbaloo created by Shannon McClintock Miller to create their own Acrostic Poems.

2nd Grade Students in Ms. Zweibohmer's Class Shared Poems Written By the Students!

 One student even memorized her poem and recited it out loud to her classmates!

Sometime in March, when Shannon McClintock Miller tweeted out a collaborative Google Doc to sign-up to celebrate National Poetry Month for one week, during the week of April 21-25, of course, I was eager to sign up Harding Elementary students to participate!

Harding Elementary students and I enjoyed connecting and making new friends during World Read Aloud Day Week so much that we couldn't wait to connect with other school libraries across the United States to celebrate National Poetry Month!  You can read about our World Read Aloud Week experiences by clicking here and clicking here!

In addition to the activities mentioned and shown earlier in this post, check out how Harding Elementary students connected with friends across the United States during the week of April 21-25!  Teacher-librarians Misti Sikes (Forsyth, Georgia), Miranda Kral (Wellman, Iowa), and Alyssa Calhoun (Central City, Iowa) each connected two different times with me throughout the week, but with different classes!  I enjoyed the simplicity of repeat Skype connections with these three for the week!

On Monday, April 21, 2nd grade students from Mrs. Kvigne's and Mrs. Fox's class connected with the incredibly sweet and fun Teacher-Librarian Misti Sikes and her 2nd grade students from Forsyth, Georiga!  I connected with Misti and her students for World Read Aloud Day, so of course, I was beyond ecstatic that we connected again for this poetry celebration!  Misti's students shared poems they had created.  Then, Misti and a colleague of hers read "Stroke" from Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman!  I enjoyed reading aloud Guess Again by Mac Barnett to all of our students at both sites.


On Tuesday, April 22, Misti Sikes and her 3rd grade students connected with Harding 3rd grade students from Mrs. Halverson's and Mrs. DiMarco's class who enjoyed listening to poems created and read aloud by Mrs. Sikes's students.  Then Mrs. Sikes and I read aloud a couple of poems from Joyful Noise: Poem for Two Voices.

Also, on Tuesday, April 22, Harding Elementary teacher Ms. Zweibohmer's 2nd grade class connected with Teacher-Librarian Alyssa Calhoun and her 3rd grade students, from Central City, Iowa.  Alyssa's students shared color poems created by her students, which my students LOVED and enjoyed listening!  This inspires me to want to write color poems next year!

Thursday, April 24 was a full day of Skype and Google Hangouts to celebrate National Poetry Month!  While I treasure and enjoy each Skype/Google Hangout session this school year, I have to admit that this day was beyond EPIC!  There were some wonderful activities and " an all-star" connection made!

First thing, Thursday morning, 4th grade students from Mr. Feight's class connected with Teacher-Librarian Christy Brennan and her students, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!  Christy and I had never met, until that morning, and we had not even communicated earlier on our plans!  Despite not planning ahead, even though we knew it would involve poetry, this particular Google Hangout session was my absolute FAVORITE and AMAZING!  I have to commend Christy for leading the session by creating a pretty awesome "on-the-spot" activity for our students!

Christy and I started out with a shared read aloud a poem called "Weird in Stuff Lost and Found" from the book Messing Around on the Monkey Bars and Other School Poems for Two Voices by Betsy Franco!  Christy wasn't sure if I had this book, but I had actually ordered it last spring and had my own copy!  Van Meter CSD teacher-librarian and Christy also did this same lesson during their connection for Poetry Week.

After reading aloud the poem "Weird Stuff in Lost and Found," Christy and I pulled up a shared Google Doc on our own screens so our students could write a shared version poem about a lost and found box.

Our students came up with some creative, fun, gross, etc. items that can be found in a lost and found box.  Check out what our students composed for a poem about a lost and found box in the school!

I LOVED this poetry activity so much that I decided to have students, who weren't able to connect with other classrooms, due to scheduling, do this very same activity!  They listened to me read aloud a few poems from Messing Around on the Monkey Bars and Other School Poems for Two Voices by Betsy Franco.  Then I read aloud "Weird Stuff in Lost and Found," and had students write their own poem of "Weird Stuff in Lost and Found."  Students in grades 3-4, used Google Drive and Google Docs to write their poems, while students in grades K-2 teamed up as a class to provide input while I entered it on a Google Doc on the LCD projector.

Mr. Haselhuhn's 1st Grade Class teamed up to create this Lost and Found Box poem!

On Thursday, April 21, 4th Grade Students from Ms. Ibis and Ms. Beatty's Classroom Skyped with Teacher-Librarian Miranda Kral's students from Wellman, Iowa.  Our students LOVED the spine poems created by Ms. Kral's students!

2nd grade students from Mrs. Kvigne's and Mrs. Fox's class were treated to a second Skype connection for the week!  Earlier in the week, on Monday, these students connected with Mrs. Misti Sikes and her students from Forsyth, Georgia.  On the afternoon of Thursday, April 24, these 2nd grade students students connected with teacher-librarian Ms. Alyssa Calhoun and her students from Central City, Iowa.

Ms. Calhoun's 3rd grade students shared color poems they had written with Mrs. Kvigne's and Mrs. Fox's 2nd grade students!  Then I read aloud Guess Again by Mac Barnett!  Even though my students had already heard me read aloud Guess Again by Mac Barnett, the week before, they were still eager and thrilled when I read it aloud to both them and Ms. Calhoun's class!  I think my students enjoyed listening and watching the reactions of Ms. Calhoun's students to the book, which made it okay to re-read again!

I hope I am not misunderstood or the following is misinterpreted or misconstrued.   I enjoy and love each connection the students and I make with our new friends across the United States, but I have to admit that I was way beyond excited, and even "star-struck," when teacher-librarian Mr. John Schu emailed me to see if we could connect for National Poetry Month week, particularly National Poem in Your Pocket Day on Thursday, April 24!  In the teacher-librarian and educator world, Mr. John Schu is known on Twitter as @MrSchuReads !  He shares the latest, greatest, hot reads in children's literature!  I give some credit to Mr. Schu for Harding school library's improved book collection!  Three years ago, at an Iowa Association School Library conference, Shannon McClintock Miller talked about John and his work as a teacher-librarian and children's literature advocate.  She highly recommended following him on his blog and on Twitter, so I did and I am continually amazed and entertained by the books he shares and recommends!  He teams up with another person I follow on Twitter, Colby Sharp, a 3rd grade teacher in Michigan.  Both are the "stars" of the Nerdy Book Club.  John has named Mover and Shaker 2011 from Library Journal for the last several years!

Harding Elementary kindergarten teacher Ms. Ciavarelli and her students were the lucky ones to Skype with Mr. Schu and his third grade students!  Mr. Schu's students read their favorite poems they had copied and put in their pockets for National Poem in Your Pocket Day.  A couple of Ms. Ciavarelli's students shared their acrostic poems they had created!

Because I am such a big fan of Mr. Schu and admire his work, and I would do the same thing if I was meeting any other "all-star teacher-librarian," I couldn't resist asking John to appear on Skype so I can take a picture!  I also had to let his students know how lucky they are to have him as a teacher-librarian!  It was quite heart-warming and down-to-earth when Mr. Schu replied (to his students), "That is so kind of her, but students, I am just Mr. Schu, right?!"

As you can see, Harding students celebrated National Poetry Month in a big way!  I can't wait until next year to make it an even better and bigger celebration!