Monday, March 18, 2013

Tech Tips: Discovery Education

Tech Tips
Issue 15

This Tech Tip will look into Discovery Education.  This is one of the most complete resources available.  Discovery Education is an amazing collection of videos, lesson plans, activities, resources, teacher tools, class assignments, and much more!

What Is Discovery Education?
We have been fortunate at Gull Lake to have a subscription to Discovery Education for years, but many teachers did not know what they were missing.  We have referred to it as “United Streaming” for a while, and many teachers use the videos often.  There is so much more available to staff and kids.

Of Course…Videos
The most common use is the thousands of videos available to stream in your classroom.  There are so many math, science, and social studies videos that any teacher can find just what they are looking for.  In addition teacher guides, student resources, and quizzes are available for these videos.  Students can also view these videos at home if you set up a classroom and give students accounts. 

Teacher Resources
There are so many teacher resources available I can’t list them all.  Here are just a few:
§         Teaching resources: lesson plans, black-line master, teacher guides, quizzes, activities
§         Student activities, quizzes, writing prompts, virtual trips, and games
§         Ability to download videos and resources or save them in “My Content” to be saved
§         Connections with teachers thorough DEN (Discovery Educator Network)

Classroom Set Up
This is my favorite feature.  Teachers can build “Classrooms” and allow students accounts to access assignments, quizzes, video links, and projects.  This is the tool that makes Discovery Education the powerful tool it is!  After creating a Classroom teachers can assign students work to progress through.  These can be videos, writing prompts, quizzes, etc.  These are tracked and scored and easily turn your classroom into a virtual classroom! 

Become a STAR Educator

Discovery Education is here to help teachers make the best out of their teaching.  They offer a program called STAR Educator that is easy to achieve and offers great rewards.  To be come a STAR Educator go to:  Once you are a STAR Educator you will have access to even more resources and tools.
Log In and get started:

Here is a great intro video: 

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Great opportunity to follow #AppMadness and see who wins the App Bracket!  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tech Tips: Making a PDF

Tech Tips
Issue 14

This Tech Tip will look into making current documents into a sharable format: PDF.  PDFs are the universal means of emailing, uploading, and sharing documents that are intended to be read and not edited. 

What is a PDF?
A PDF, or Portable Document Format, is a file format that provides an image of text and graphics that looks like a printed document and can be viewed, printed, and electronically transmitted.  This is the best way to have parents, students, or others see files as you meant for them to look.  With the huge array of word processing programs out there (Word, Word Perfect, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, OpenOffice, Google Docs, etc.) files are being created every day.  The problem we run into is when you try to send one of these files to another person who does not have the same program (not to mention same version) that you created it in.  Upon opening, if their program allows this to occur, fonts are changed, pictures are moved/resized, links are changed, and information is lost.  Nothing is more frustrating than getting files of importance that you cannot open/read.  In addition there is a huge amount of users who are now reading emails/attachments on mobile devices.  This is where a PDF comes into play.  If a file is converted to PDF, it can be opened on ANY computer, ANY mobile device, in ANY language and it will look like you intended it to look.

So…How do you make a PD?
There are a couple of ways this can be done.  In the newer versions of Microsoft Office (07 & and up) it is an option under “Save As”.  If you are working in Microsoft Office older than 07 you will need a PDF writer installed.  If you are on a school computer, one is already installed (PrimoPDF).  All you need to do is listed below:

1.         Finish your document and save.
2.       Click Print
3.      Choose “printer” PrimoPDF.
4.       A box will come up.  In PDF Settings select  “Screen”
5.      In “Save as” choose a location to save the file (I always choose desktop to move later.
6.      Click “OK”.
7.       Your PDF will open and it will be saved in the location you chose.

Screencast Link here:

Need a PDF Writer for Home?  I use: