Buncee Your Classroom!

Posted by Michael Herlan on Thu, May 22 2014

This week's tech tip is a simple creation and presentation tool called Buncee.  This web-based tool helps teachers create a flipped classroom where students can be fully engaged with the content created for them to learn.  Buncee equips teachers and their students to easily work with many types of web-based content such as: photos, video, drawing and audio files into a simple and fun online creation. Teachers can create interactive multimedia presentations; even develop newsletters as well as invitations that can go out to the local school community.

Buncee also provides an opportunity to create a private e-classroom for learners where past lessons can be made available and educators can even grade their students’ work.  Buncee allows for electronic stories, multimedia presentations, or many other types of creative homework assignments.  Buncee allows users to like, comment, share, save, print and report an abuse of Buncee's terms of service.  I would encourage you to check out the many examples that are available in a variety of subject areas as well as the video below.  The Buncee service has a free subscription option, an advanced creation option for $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year, which includes a classroom management dashboard for up to fifty students. 

Organize Your Classroom

Posted by Michael Herlan on Thu, May 08 2014

This week’s tech tip is an all-new service by Google.  Classroom by Google, is a service of Google’s Apps for Education that allows teachers to build and organize assignments fast, provide feedback, and connect with classes efficiently. Classroom brings together applications such as: Google Docs, Drive and Gmail, all of which are well known and used by students in today’s classrooms.  Classroom lets students organize, finish, turn in their work and when needed, communicate quickly and easily with their teachers and friends.  After teachers create their assignments, this service by Google allows students to hand in work paperlessly.  Teachers have the power to share documents with certain students or with everyone with the click of a button.  Teachers can quickly see which students have not turned in their work, can give instant feedback both in real-time or at a later time.  Google’s classroom also automatically creates Google Drive folders for the assignments and students in-turn can see what is due and stay organized by looking at their Assignments page.  Classroom also gives teachers the ability to make announcements and have a dialog inside and outside the traditional classroom.


I have decided to create a Google classroom for my students next school year for several reasons.  The first reason is the ease of set up of the service because students can be added either with a special code or added directly by the teacher.  Second, when set up is complete it will save time due to the fact that assignments can be collected in one place, is paperless and nothing gets lost in the shuffle.  Third, Classroom will help students and teachers improve their organization with Google’s help of organizing work on the assignments page and Google Drive’s automatic folder setup.  Fourth, this service enhances communication between school and home with instant announcements and questions. Finally, Classroom is free for schools, has no advertisements and will keep privacy at the heart of their mission to serve students, teachers and schools.


To get started with Classroom, teachers can apply for a preview of the service by going to the Classroom website.  This September, Classroom will be ready for any schools that use Google Apps for Education.  If your school district does not currently have the service, it is quick and easy for your IT person to get things started.  I highly encourage the use of this excellent tool that will help students and teachers better manage their learning and their classroom.

Teacher Appreciation Giveaway

Posted by Erika on Mon, May 05 2014

We here at PlanbookEdu understand the dedication and commitment educators put forth each and every day.  

We are happy to announce that we will be doing our Teacher Appreciation Giveaway again this year!  You could win an iPad mini or Kindle Fire, PlanbookEdu subscriptions, flash drives, supplies for your classroom, and other teacher-worthy prizes.  We’ll be posting more on the prizes throughout the week!

(Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/planbookedu)

To qualify, you need to be a teacher (or aspiring teacher) at any level.  PreK-college, public/private/ or homeschool - you are all invited to participate.  You do need to be a member of PlanbookEdu to enter (if you need to sign up, visit us at www.planbookedu.com and start a free trial).

You can gain entries in the following ways:

1. “Like” PlanbookEdu on Facebook and/or follow @PlanbookEdu on Twitter if you haven’t already.  

Post on your Facebook page or to Twitter how PlanbookEdu has helped you OR your favorite feature of PlanbookEdu.  If you’ve not used PlanbookEdu before, you can post why you’re interested to try it.   If you post to both Twitter AND Facebook, that’s two entries!

Send links to your posts to erika@planbookedu.com (screenshots are OK if your privacy settings do not allow others to see your posts).

2. You can also write about your experience with PlanbookEdu on your education-related blog or school website.

Send a link to your post to erika@planbookedu.com (screenshots are OK if your privacy settings do not allow others to see your blog/ website).

3. Send a screenshot of one of your planbook pages, or of your embedding planbook on your school webpage to erika@planbookedu.com.  Please make sure to remove any personal or identifying information!

Thank you for all that you do in and out of your classroom for your students. We hope you decide to enter, and please know we are so very grateful for our teachers!


For your information:

- The giveaway will begin on Monday, May 5, 2014 at 5pm EST, and entries will be accepted until 11:59pm EST on Sunday, May 11, 2014.  

- Winners will be chosen at random (via a sequence generator on Random.org) on Monday, May 12, 2014 and will be notified via email no later than Friday, May 16, 2014.

- One prize per person per giveaway (it is OK if you’ve won something from us before!)

- Giveaway is open to all teachers in the US and internationally.

- Email provided must be the same email address used for your PlanbookEdu account

- not a member?  Sign up for a free trial at www.planbookedu.com

- By participating in PlanbookEdu’s giveaway, you agree that we may use your comments/screenshots and your name (first name, last initial) and the name of your city on our website or any of our publications.

- We reserve the right to appropriately substitute prizes of equal value to accommodate our international winners/ extenuating circumstances.


Common Core: Test Prep

Posted by Raye Wood on Tue, Apr 29 2014

It's that time of the year when teachers are beginning to prepare students for the end of the year standardized testing. With many schools and districts moving to the use of Smarter Balanced or PARCC Assessments in 2014-2015, it can feel very overwhelming for both students and teachers to know what to expect.

Fortunately, both of these consortiums have created practice tests that you and your students can use to familiarize yourself with the new format. This is especially important if your students don't currently take some kind of online testing (such as MAP or Discovery testing).

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

The Smarter Balanced Assessment will be computer based and can be taken up to 3 times per year if districts choose to use that. (Ideally, there would be a fall baseline test and a spring test to show student growth from start to end of the year.)

This test is for both math and reading and includes performance based assessments. Teachers who have SMART boards, an ELMO or other sort of document camera can project the practice test right in the classroom and help students learn how to navigate the style of the test. This particular format features a split-window with input on one side and output on the other side. 

You can access those practice tests here

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)

The PARCC testing is set up very similarly to the Smarter Balanced Assessments. Students will take the assessment online and will go through a series of questions. The ELA tests have a split-window with input on one side and output on the other. The math tests do not always include the split window, those are dependent upon the question type.

You can access those practice tests here.

Why Practice?

Think about when you first learned to ride a bicycle or tie your shoes. It was intimidating at first, right? That's why it's important for students and teachers to become familiar with whichever test their state is choosing to use for their standardized testing. It may cause anxiety for the students to only see the test format for the first time when they must sit and take the test. Practicing in class or in the computer lab can be helpful toward relieving anxiety about the test for both students and teachers.

Unleash Your Photo Creativity!

Posted by Michael Herlan on Thu, Apr 24 2014

This week's tech tip is a great site called Kizoa, which has many features and options for teachers and students to use.  Kizoa allows users to be creative because they can quickly and easily design slideshows, videos, collages and edit their photos. There are several pricing tiers that provide a lifetime license from $39.99 to $129.99 or users can choose the free option which gives 1 GB of storage and includes 10 sec. video clips that can be shared via email, Facebook or a blog.  


The slideshow feature of Kizoa, has an intuitive user interface that makes it easy to create videos and slideshows using a predesigned template or create a show all on your own.  There are hundreds of ways users can enhance their creations making this technology a very useful way to express one's creativity and learning.  The video and slideshow maker has three basic steps: select videos and photos to use, share via email, blogs or Facebook and burn to a DVD.  One of the nice features of the slideshow is the editing workshop where users can add enhancements such as frames and other photographic effects.  Another useful element of Kizoa's slideshow is that adding a transition is as simple as dragging and dropping over 300 unique effects such as fades, sweeps rollovers and zooms. Kizoa allows for addition of text-based effects, animations and even music!


The collage feature of Kizoa, has dozens of templates to choose from. Photo collages can be still or animated and also include the ability to create Ecards for many different occasions. The Collage Maker allows users to create incredible pieces, which show a user's ability to generate works of art and demonstrate their learning on almost any topic.  Like the slideshow feature, it is very easy to create fantastic photo collages by using the many templates that are available or users can even start with a blank canvas. Collages can come to life even more by adding movement to a photo collage on any portion or path of the photos. 


The final feature of Kizoa is the photo editor, which is very easy to use, has over 200 frames and over 80 filters available with a face-morphing tool to add other important touches to an image.  The effects are as simple as a click of the button and include the basic features such as cropping, rotating and red eye removal. I have used Kizoa many times in my classes over the years because of its simplicity and simple user interface.  I would encourage anyone to give it a try in your classes. 


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