Noticias em eLiteracias

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

Animoto for teacher creations

Por Kathy Schrock — 27 de Outubro de 2022, 18:32

Animoto, the online video creation software app for desktop and iOS, has been around for a long time. And so have I! 

I made my first video with a free account at Animoto, using my iPhone 3GS, on August 3, 2009. I was amazed how easy it was to put photos up and have Animoto automatically create a cool 432 x 240 resolution video!

Here is that original video.

I soon realized how handy this tool could be! In August of 2010, I was asked to create a promotional video for our school district's new tagline, "Nauset Believes". 

I immediately knew I was going to use Animoto. I had teachers in our seven schools send me photos to include in the video. With music tracks to pick from and automated cool transitions, everyone was wowed by my Animoto creation!

Over the next twelve years, I conducted professional development sessions in my district and at conferences across country and I always included Animoto as a cool tool for any teacher's toolbox and as a great tool for students to showcase their content knowledge as a summative or formative assessment video.

As I continued to use Animoto to create videos, there were tons of additional components to make my videos stand out. It was fun to try the new templates and themes one could pick from!

For all these years, Animoto continued to offer a free basic account. In addition they added all kinds of great new features to their paid offerings. So, when Animoto asked me to review their Professional Plus version, I jumped at the chance! I could not wait to see what cool features I could use!

As educators, we are always looking for free or freemium tools and apps. However, although a free account on Animoto allows us to create curriculum content for our classes, it is always worth trying out a higher tier of any tool for a month. 

You can see if there might be some included features that would help you make the creation process of your instructional videos for students easier, faster, or more engaging. In addition, some of the included features might also replace similar tools you are currently using.


Without reading any directions or learning about the new features, I dove right in and created a digital story. I did not use the new voice-over option, since I had located, in the assets in Animoto, such a great audio background to use!

I was easily able to download my assets from Google Photos to the desktop of my Mac, so I did not use another one of the new features which allows you to to connect your cloud storage (Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box) to your Animoto account. I will try that option, as well as the voice-over option, in my next video!


I decided to take a static Keynote presentation and turn it into an Animoto instructional video. I first exported all my Keynote slides as images and then easily imported them into Animoto. You can also import from any of your cloud-based services, too, as seen in the screenshot below.

I decided to try the voiceover feature. I had the option of recording behind each frame in the video via the site, or uploading an entire voiceover file from my local assets. 

I wrote a script and created the audio file in QuickTime Player on the Mac. I  exported the file it to my desktop as an .m4a audio file. I then uploaded the audio file to Animoto.

I used the Educational Presentation template as my starting point. I replaced all the images in the template with my Keynote slide images. I then took a lot of time investigating the background audio files that were available on Animoto, and imported my choice to the timeline. You can view all of the audio file or pick a "mood" you are looking for.

I then shortened or lengthened the timing of the individual slides to match the uploaded voiceover file. I also decreased the volume of the background audio I had chosen from the Animoto assets.

Rather than download the video and add it to this blog post, I decided to just share the link to where it sits on Animoto's site. I also had a choice to get the embed code for the video or download it, also.

Here is the link to the video: 

The instructional video was easy to create and the number of assets I had access too were awesome! The presentation I made is a standard instructional video, but, since I had already created the slides, it only took about an hour to complete the project. If I had decided to use animated text on each slide instead of the voiceover, it probably would have taken me longer to complete. 

Of course, with a video that has voiceover, it is important to include a transcript of the script online or printed out for any hearing impaired student. In addition, a transcript can help those that are more visual than auditory learners, as well as provide an overview of the information in the video for any student to refer to.

The pricing to subscribe to Animoto is by the month or, to save up to 50%, by the year. Each tier has all the components of the tier below and additional content, too.

  • Standard quality video (up to 720p)
  • 50 music tracks
  • 3 standard fonts
  • 30 color swatches
  • Unlimited social sharing
  • Available on desktop and iOS
  • Screen recording
  • Import from other cloud storage tools
BASIC PLAN ($8 per month)
  • All of the above plus..
  • No Animoto branding on your videos
  • High quality video (HD 1080p)
  • UnlimIted downloads
PROFESSIONAL PLAN ($15 per month)
  • All features of the Standard and Basic plans plus...
  • Add your own logo and colors
  • 1 million+ licensed stock images and videos from Getty Images
  • 3000 licensed music tracks
  • Voice-over
  • 3 saved template
  • 1 saved brand
  • 40 professional fonts
  • High quality video (HD 1080p)
  • All of the features of the Basic, Standard, and Professional plans plus...
  • Accounts for up to 3 users
  • License to resell to businesses
  • 100 million Premium licensed and stock images from Getty Images
  • 30-minute consultation with a video expert
  • Collect time-stamped comments
  • 25 saved templates
  • Multiple saved brands
  • Upload your own fonts

As you think about creating content to support teaching and learning, I encourage you to give Animoto a try. Start with the basic plan to learn how it works and then consider subscribing for a month to one of the higher-level plans to have access to additional components and assets.

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

Fun with Lucidspark!

Por Kathy Schrock — 13 de Junho de 2022, 19:44

I just spent the day exploring Lucidspark, a collaborative whiteboard educators and students can use for many educational activities and assessments!

Lucidspark is brought to you by the folks at Lucid for Education, who have been supporters of education with their Lucidpress and Lucidchart products for many years. 

The Lucidpress and Lucidchart tools have many templates available for teachers, a few of which you can see below. And, of course, you can edit the templates and start from scratch if you want!

However, Lucid for Education is now providing a product to target the interactive educational needs of schools and classrooms with Lucidspark. The ease-of-use, sharing, collaboration, and organizing in this product is so intuitive. I completed my explorations on an iPad but, of course, there is also a robust Web version that syncs perfectly across all devices.

Here is a quick overview video of Lucidspark created by Lucid for Education.You can find them on Twitter @LUCID4EDU.


When you first open up Lucidspark, you are presented with the ability to create a folder, start with a blank document, or pick a template. I decided to look at the templates that were offered specifically for education. You can see from the video below there are a ton!

I wanted to share a closer look at some of the templates.








STICKY NOTES (great for EdCamps, too!)


There is also a built-in timer and a built in vote/poll tool.



The toolbar is quite extensive and uses icons that are recognizable to users!


And you can see from the sharing window below, there are many choices and options for sharing the Lucidspark creation.



One of the very cool things I discovered was Lucidspark includs some templates with instructions and resources right in the template category where it is needed. Having the information close at hand, at point of need, made me feel secure I would become an expert in no time!




And there is even a train-the-trainer module!


Lucidspark has a free version that allows the creation and use of three collaborative boards, with the ability to collaborate and share in real-time, create shareable links, and download your boards. You can add emphasis by using emojis and freehand drawing, too. The free version integrates with Slack, Google Drive, and Microsoft Teams. Just go to their home page to sign up!

There are also more robust paid versions of Lucidspark available and options for integration with additional tools your schools may be using. That information may be found here.

So, sign up and spend some time with Lucidspark and try it out. I am sure you will come up with lots of creative ideas for its use! Share your cool findings with me on Twitter and follow me, too!

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

Brenthaven Edge Companion for iPad Air

Por Kathy Schrock — 2 de Março de 2022, 00:23

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee

With the plethora of iPads found on student desks, in classroom carts and in backpacks, it is more important than ever to protect the devices from harm. iPads with attached keyboards have become a popular combinations for students, and I want to introduce you to a cool new case that was created especially for that combo!

The Brenthaven Edge Companion for the iPad Air (10.9", 4th generation), has just been released. I own this particular iPad and was happy to receive one to review!

I have been reviewing items from Brenthaven for years. Most recently, in 2019, I penned a blog post titled I Love Brenthaven. I talked about Brenthaven's well-made and thought-out cases and accessories targeted for the education market. And they have been keeping up with all the change in device use in schools! Brenthaven has iPad cases, MacBook cases, Chromebook cases, sleeves and backpacks, headphones, and keyboards. The listing of all their protective gear and bags may be found here.

The Brenthaven Edge Companion for the iPad Air (10.9", 4th generation) that I tried out is so easy to put on the iPad. It provides tons of protection and has been made so it works perfectly with the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio. It also still protects the iPad Air without having the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio attached.

You can see below, when the iPad is installed in the Brenthaven Edge Companion for the iPad Air, access to all the ports and buttons on the iPad are accessible and protected.

You first put the iPad in the "frame" of the Brenthaven Edge Companion for the iPad Air and then, if you want, you can install the keyboard. 

Take a look at this short video which demonstrates the process.

Here is a photo of my iPad Air (4th gen) installed in the  Brenthaven Edge Companion for the iPad Air from the front and from the rear. The addition of the case makes the iPad and keyboard components feel much sturdier.

I took three photos to show how easy it is to add the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio to the Brenthaven Edge Companion for the iPad Air.

Turn the iPad over and open the plastic door on the left.

Then fold the folio cover into the back of the 

Simply snap down the plastic door and the keyboard is attached!

The Brenthaven Edge Companion for the iPad Air (10.9", 4th gen) has a ton of features. Here are just a few.
  • There is a built in Apple Pencil 2 holder which allows for charging.
  • One edge of the case is left open so it connects with the keyboard for typing when in "kockstand" mode.
  • The back components of the Brenthaven Edge Companion for the iPad Air allow asset tags or stickers to be attached and can be seen through the flaps.
  • The corners of the Brenthaven Edge Companion for the iPad Air protect the edges of the iPad.

The full spec sheet may be found here.

If you are deploying 10.9" iPad Airs (4th gen) give Brenthaven a call for a sample case to try out. And, if you don't have this specific model of iPad in your district, take a look at their site and this page to see if Brenthaven has a great case or sleeve for your district's devices! And don't forget to follow Brenthaven on Twitter @Brenthaven_Edu!

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

Higher Ground Gear for Schools

Por Kathy Schrock — 23 de Fevereiro de 2022, 20:37

As many of you know, I can't ever have enough technology cases to both protect and transport my laptops and tablets! I love being able to pick out a case that works best for my current road trip, from those that have crossbody and shoulder straps, to those that are slim and protect my devices while in my backpack, to my favorite Vera Bradley and Baggallini laptop totes.

Back in 2016, I reviewed a bunch of Higher Ground Gear’s technology bags and protective cases. The company has always been very thoughtful with their solutions for schools and continues to innovate with their new options for protecting student laptops, iPads and Chromebooks. I have used their products for many years and they never wear out!

Fast forward ahead to the FETC Conference in January 2022, when I stopped by the Higher Ground booth to see what cool new Higher Ground gear was available. I was invited to learn more about their new products and options and to try out a few items of interest to me.

Student needs

Higher Ground Gear has always had a stellar collection of "always on" laptop cases that provide great protection and allows students to work on their computers while it stays in the case. And this year's group of cases is no exception! They have a line of iPad specific cases as well as their upgraded Datakeeper and Shuttle lines of cases that stay on the computer while it is in use and protects it against the elements and drops.

Their Capsule cases are made to protect the laptop/Chromebook when in a student's backpack and are slim and protective.

There are other great choices for shoulder bags and backpacks to allow students to easily carry their devices and accessories.

A cool new innovative option for various collections is Higher Ground Gear’s new CleanShell™ material. This material has been tested with various household cleaners, has a dirt and weather-resistant coating, and can easily be sanitized with wipes and sprays to combat the spread of germs. Perfect for the educators and students!

Teacher needs

I decided to concentrate on educator needs for this blog post. (Not that students can't use the cases I picked.) 

Teachers need to have a protective sleeve or bag for their school laptop or Chromebook as they travel to and from school, too! My three choices to review were the Vert 3.1 convertible shoulder bag/backpack, the Elements Plus slim sleeve, and the Elevate CS Ergonomic laptop sleeve.

Higher Ground Gear: Vert 3.1

The Vert 3.1 is a versatile, convertible case that has two inside pockets so it can hold both my 14" MacBook and my 10.5" iPad Air! My phone and some charging cables can be stored in the front zip pocket. It comes in two sizes, an 11" and a 13" version. (I requested the 11" version.)

The cool thing about the Vert 3.1 case is it can be use as an over-the-shoulder bag ...

or a cross-body bag...

or it can morph into a backpack! 

It is as easy as pie to change it from one configuration to another. It checks all the boxes for how teachers  and students might want to carry their devices! The Vert 3.1 Convertible Case has great drop protection on all sides, too.

The Data Sheet about the Vert 3.1 can be found here with much more information, specs, and measurements for the the small and large cases.

The second item I requested was the Elements Plus Sleeve. For those teachers and students who already have a favorite backpack or "teacher bag", the very slim Elements Plus Sleeve protects the laptop, Chromebook, or iPad when it is carried in a backpack or bag. It also comes with a shoulder strap to use when a teacher wants to travel light! (I did fit both my 14" Macbook Pro and my 10.5" iPad Air in the sleeve, but I would recommend only putting one device in it!)

The Elements Plus Sleeve comes in both  small (11" and 13" devices) and large (14" and 15") sizes. I requested the small size. It has a detachable shoulder strap and a top carry handle, too.

This sleeve provides basic protection from scratches and dings to your devices.

Here is the link to the datasheet with all the specs and options for the Elements Plus Sleeve.

I am always impressed with Higher Ground Gear's attention to detail for even the little things.

For the Elements Plus sleeve, the shoulder strap has a secure and unique connection. 

By snapping the metal loop over the hook, teachers and students can feel confident the shoulder strap will remain securely fastened!

Higher Ground Gear: Elevate CS Sleeve

The Elevate CS Sleeve has a "transformer-like" quality. With its rugged rubberized case, it can protect your laptop from a fall, shocks, and the elements. It has a top handle for carrying and room inside for small cables, dongles, and accessories.

The "CS" in its name indicates that this sleeve is made with Higher Ground's CleanShell™ technology which easily allows the wiping away of dirt and germs from the outside surfaces.

The transformative property of the Elevate CS Sleeve allows a teacher or students to elevate their laptop to one of three ergonomic positions for typing. 

The laptop is removed from the sleeve, the kickplate you see at the bottom of the image above is opened up, the elastic strap you see below is moved to the outside of the sleeve, the laptop is slid through the strap so it rests on the outside of the sleeve, and then the adjustable support you can see on the left below is folded out.

The image below illustrates what the Elevate CS looks like when it is "transformed". The support stand can be set for three different angles, so the teacher or student can pick the angle that feels best for them.

When I use an angled keyboard, I lower my seat so my wrists remain straight and not bent while typing and my bent elbows remain at a 90° angle.

If your district is looking for quality cases or sleeves, get in touch by calling or emailing Higher Ground. They can provide you with the solution you are looking for to protect the devices in your school or district!

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

Logitech's Tools for Schools

Por Kathy Schrock — 21 de Agosto de 2021, 20:16

Logitech for Education is targeting some of their tools specifically for schools. Three that I got to try out are the Logitech Crayon, the Logitech H390 USB Headset, and the Logitech C270 HD Webcam.


The Logitech Crayon has been around for a few years and many iPad schools already use them. If you are not familiar with it, the Logitech Crayon is a rugged, rechargeable drawing tool for the iPad which, in iPad apps that support it, includes a variable line weight, similar to a "real" pencil. It is built using the Apple Pencil technology. When a student angles the Logitech Crayon down a bit, the line one is drawing gets darker and thicker. Another useful feature of the Logitech Crayon is the "palm rejection" feature which ignores stray screen touches.

The Logitech Crayon works seamlessly with the iPad. Simply press a button to turn it on and it ready to write with. There are no delays to get started!

The Logitech Crayon runs for 7.5 hours of writing/drawing time per charge. And, to conserve battery life, it powers off after 30 minutes of non-use. There is also a battery life indicator light which will give the user a clue as when it it time to charge the Logitech Crayon. Charging the Logitech Crayon is easy-- just plug a lighting cable attached to your computer or small charger into the top of the device, as seen below. And the Logitech Crayon charges fast, too!

Having a stylus for each student with an iPad is important. We all know using a finger to draw on a tablet screen does not produce good results. With the 
Logitech Crayon, students can be precise when making a sketch of a science lab result, drawing a prototype of a 3D object they want to design, painting a picture to use in a video or digital story, or even taking notes in their own hand, and, when using a note-taking app like Nebo, Notablity, or Microsoft's OneNote, and convert their handwriting directly into text.

The Logitech Crayon works with many of the apps teachers and students use on the iPad. I happen to use it most with Procreate and Inkflow when I am sketchnoting, since the line weights make a difference in my sketchnote process. Here are a few of many other apps that work with it.

The current iPads that are compatible with the Logitech Crayon include, once they are updated to at least iOS 12.2

  • iPad Mini (5th gen)
  • iPad Air (3rd and 4th gen)
  • iPad (6th, 7th, and 8th gen)
  • iPad Pro 11" (1st and 2nd gen)
  • iPad Pro 12.9" (3rd and 4th gen)



One of the big problems with students creating in a classroom is the noise level. Educators have come up with creative solutions to allow students access to a quiet space in which to audio record a podcast, the narration for a digital story, or even have a Zoom or Google Meet video conference.  I have seen large cardboard boxes, lined with foam, and set up so students can record with al least some of the noise of the classroom filtered out. Educators send students into the hallways to record at times. Some classrooms line the walls with commercial acoustic tiles, which are intended to decrease the noise levels. Other ideas include sending the students who need to record to the band room and using one of the practice rooms to record in. Here are some unique set-ups creative teachers have devised!

Julie Smith set-up a portable recording studio in her kindergarten classroom.

Mrs. Q showcases her recording booths on Instagram.

As all educators know, however, there are very few places in a school setting that are quiet. To eliminate most of the educator stress that comes along with trying to facilitate a recording process, a logical solution is having a headset for each student. By having a microphone close to their mouth and the audio being heard through the headphones, students will have the ability to record with little background noise.

I have used Logitech branded headsets for years and still do. Coincidentally, before being asked to review the Logitech H390 USB Headset, I ordered this same headset to use for my recordings and video conferencing use! I chose it because it was an on-ear headset (not over-the-ear) and had a noise cancelling mic. And the sound quality of the Logitech H390 USB Headset is excellent, as you can hear in this recording I made on a Chromebook. I used Vocaroo, the educator's favorite online audio recorder, to create the recording.

Here is the QR code to the recording in case you want to access the recording this way.

The Logitech H390 USB Headset has a ton of features packed into a very affordable headset for schools. Of course, IMHO, the best feature for the classroom, after the low cost, is the noise-cancelling feature of the boom mic.

Since I am a Mac user, I do not have any USB-A ports on my MacbookPro M1, only USB-C ports. I use a female USB-A adapter to USB-C adapter so I can plug my Logitech H390 USB Headset into my MBP. By the way, I discovered a long time ago audio is much cleaner with a USB headset connection than the standard 3.5mm headphone jack found on computers.

I also discovered I can use the Logitech H390 USB Headset with that same adapter to record audio with my iPadPro 12.9" (5th generation) since it has a USB-C connection, too!

In addition to students recording with the headset, the boom mic on the Logitech H390 USB Headset can be flipped up, and students can be listening to an instructional video, searching for royalty-free music to add to a video they are creating, working in an online tutorial, or searching for famous speeches for an assignment. With a headset on, students can all be working on separate projects without disturbing others.


Almost every computer and Chromebook come with a webcam. However, at times, the quality may not be very good. The Logitech C270 HD Webcam strives to solve that problem at a low cost. It is a basic webcam with a built in microphone. It works with Windows computers, Mac computers, Android devices, and Chromebooks and has a USB-A connector.

The Logitech C270 HD Webcam has a simple way of attaching to a computer for use. The webcam sits on the top of the laptop or monitor and the adjustable universal clip allows the device to be used with any computer by simply adjusting the moveable component to rest on the back of your monitor.

One of the best features of the Logitech C270 HD Webcam for a school setting is the 55° wide angle view of the camera, which makes it easier for two students to create a recording while sitting next to one another and also for taking photos or videos.

The Logitech C270 HD Webcam has a built-in noise-reducing mono microphone, a maximum resolution of 720p and 30 frames per second. and the device has been tested to withstand cleaning and disinfecting between each use. It also has a special feature called "RightLight" which adjusts to various lighting conditions to produce the best look for the speaker.

Here are two photos which compare the Chromebook webcam and the Logitech C270 HD Webcam "RightLight" feature. I took these two screenshots one right after the other.

You can see that the Logitech C270 HD Webcam both brightened my face and zoomed in on it, too! Here is a good online tutorial on how to use an external webcam with a Chromebook.

I then opened a Zoom meeting and recorded both audio and video first with the Logitech C270 HD Webcam and then with the internal webcam and microphone. You can definitely see the difference in the video and the air-conditioner hum is not as loud using the Logitech C270 HD Webcam. (I used my iPhone to record the Chromebook screen.)

Using the Logitech C270 HD Webcam

Using the Chromebook internal webcam and mic

So, take the time to visit the Logitech for Education site and learn more about the Logitech Crayon, the Logitech H390 USB Headset, and the Logitech C270 HD Webcam. These hardware devices can really enhance student creation!

Logitech sent me these three items in return for writing an honest review of the capabilities of them.

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

V4K PRO Ultra HD USB Document Camera

Por Kathy Schrock — 10 de Agosto de 2021, 21:33

I have been a long time supporter and user of IPEVO products. Their ability to provide low-cost, high quality technology hardware and software specifically created for education is awesome! I have reviewed their offerings on the blog for many years, and you can see those posts here.

Their newest offering is the $149 V4K PRO Ultra HD USB Document Camera. What sets this new offering apart from their other document cameras is its upgraded audio and video performance. 

IPEVO's document cameras have been utilized by educators during their virtual teaching sessions these past two years. With the V4K PRO Ultra HD USB Document Camera, educators now have a device whose microphone can filter out background noise as well as has a high resolution 8 megapixel lens (3264 x 2448 resolution) for increased clarity. This document camera is compatible with PC, Mac, and Chromebook. It is also plug-and-play compatible with many online video-conferencing tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and with software such as Seesaw and Camtasia.


The V4K PRO Ultra HD USB Document Camera is perfect for mirroring items, creating instructional videos to use for blended learning, and taking photos and sharing them with students. In addition, with its LED light, microphone and articulated components, can also be used as a high resolution webcam!

The microphone on the
V4K PRO Ultra HD USB Document Camera includes an AI-enhanced voice technology created by IntelliGO. This noise filter removes any background noise to allow for clear and quiet conversations with students or peers.

Here is my test of the noise reduction feature. It is truly amazing!


The built-in LED light, at 172 lux, lights up the stage when using the camera, even if you are in low light. This light output is higher than the recommended workspace light for those ages 25-65 and provides a bright light. In addition, in the video above, I used the
V4K PRO Ultra HD USB Document Camera as both a Webcam and a light source for lighting up my face in a low light situation!

Here is a video from IPEVO which showcases all of the features of the V4K PRO Ultra HD USB Document Camera.

For those of you who want to know the inside scoop on the specs of the
V4K PRO Ultra HD USB Document Camera here you go!


  • (when folded) 10.91" x 3.07" x 1.89" (277 x 78 x 48mm)


  • 1.28lbs (581g)


  • Sony 8 megapixel camera
  • Resolution up to 3264px x 2448px
  • Frame rate up to 30 FPS
  • 12X digital zoom using IPEVO Visualizer software
  • Autofocus range of 10cm ~ ∞ / 3.93” ~ ∞

 Built-in features

  • Omni-directional microphone with EMI filter
  • LED light (172 lux)
  •  AI enhanced voice technology from IntelliGO
  •  Physical control buttons
    • Exposure
    • Noise reduction on/off
    • LED light on/off
    • Focus 
  • Maximum capture area of 13.46” x 10.04” (342 x 255mm) 
  • Attached USB-A cable of 4.90ft (150cm) 
The V4K PRO Ultra HD USB Document Camera is very compact, easy to carry back and forth from school, and includes both a great microphone and noise reduction properties that are amazing! Besides working with all the computer platforms and many apps as a document camera, the V4K PRO Ultra HD USB Document Camera allows students or educators the ability to create instructional videos that include the "talking head" and the item on the "stage" that is being discussed and marked up!
Thank you to IPEVO for letting me try out this cool new document camera!



✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

Wacom for Education

Por Kathy Schrock — 18 de Julho de 2021, 20:56

Using a mouse or a computer touchpad to try to annotate an image on your computer or draw on an online collaborative whiteboard is very difficult. It is just frustrating. That is why I have used external pen tablets over the years. I am not an artist, but I do mark-up presentations, sometimes even when I am presenting live! I also take teachers through sketchnoting practice and show them a great alternative to pencil and paper sketchnoting. During the pandemic, many educators used pen tablets and blank presentation slides or online whiteboards to replace their in-classroom whiteboard when they were presenting from home.

Wacom (pronounced Wok'um) has been the standard in the pen tablet and pen display industry since 1984. I have had a couple of Wacom pen tablets over the years -- the Wacom Graphire in 2002 (which included a mouse and a pen), which we also used in my school's computer lab, and the Bamboo Capture Pen and Touch tablet which I reviewed in 2013.

The thing about Wacom pen tablets is they continue to work forever! I only had to put an USB-C adapter on the USB-A connector for the my 2013 Bamboo Capture Pen and Touch Tablet to work perfectly with my Asus Chromebook Tablet 10 and my MacBook Pro M1!  

The wonder of Wacom is the electro-magnetic pen technology which does not use batteries, always works, is pressure sensitive, and very accurate. In addition, the tablets work great for both left and right handed users!

However, since technology has come a long way since 2013, when Wacom recently contacted me, I was happy to review some of the new tablets and those with new features which are targeted especially for the education market!

 >>>>>>>>>>  <<<<<<<<<< 


The new One by Wacom comes in two sizes - a small size for $69.95 (8.3 x 5.7 x 0.3 in.) and a medium size for $129.95 (10.9 x 7.4 x 0.3 in.). This pen tablet plugs into a Chromebook and just works! (You will have to install small drivers if you are using a Windows or Mac computer.) 

Chromebooks need to be able to run the a current version of ChromeOS and have a USB port to work with this tablet. This page on the Wacom site contains a list of compatible Chromebooks and USB adapters that work with the One by Wacom.

Also on this compatibility site, Wacom includes a list of pen-supported apps for the Chromebook recommended for use with their pen tablets.
  • Chrome Canvas
  • Google Keep
  • Concepts
  • Jamboard
  • Kami for Google Chrome
  • Explain Everything
  • Collaboard
  • Limnu
  • Pear Deck
  • Squid
  • Infinite Painter
  • Autodesk Sketchbook
  • ibisPaint
  • Clip Studio
  • MediBang paint

One by Wacom

I love the following YouTube video which provides both an overview of the One by Wacom, but also showcases the power of the pen tablet for teachers. The same features highlighted for online teaching are of course, the same features that would make the content engaging for students in a face-to-face classroom.


However, the One by Wacom is not just intended for educators. Students, with a computer, will be able to freehand draw, easily do a math problem and show their work, mark up a peer's English essay with their feedback, sketchnote a lecture in class, create an animation in Google Slides, markup an photo taken during a science lab, take their class notes by hand, and much more. Using a pen tablet is just like writing and drawing by hand, but so much easier to edit and fix! In addition, the drawing pen is also available to be used as a pointer for choosing menu items on the Chromebook or other computer.

 >>>>>>>>>>  <<<<<<<<<<


One of the newer features, to me, was the ability to un-tether a pen tablet. The Wacom Intuos Pen Tablet comes with or without Bluetooth, and I was intrigued by the Bluetooth model. The Bluetooth Intuos pen tablet comes in a small size for $99.95 (7.87"X 6.3" x 0.35in.) and a medium size for $199.95 (10.4" x 7.8" x 0.35").

The Wacom Intuos Wireless Pen Tablet comes with the ability to be tethered via a USB cable as well as un-tethered when using its built-in Bluetooth connectivity. I am always a fan of un-tethered technology for a number of reasons. First, one can use this pen tablet without worrying about what kind of USB port your device has. 

But, more importantly, imagine the teacher being able to walk around the classroom with the Intuos Wireless Pen Tablet wirelessly connected to the front end computer which is being projected on a whiteboard or large monitor. The educator can hand off the tablet to students to have them to mark up a book passage, draw an image, or, in cursor mode, take the class on a guided tour of something on the Web. 

I used the Intuos Wireless Pen Tablet, attached wirelessly to my laptop, to create two assets. The first was to sketchnote a TED talk by Matt Cutts.


I could sit comfortably with the pen tablet in my lap, watch the video, and then sketchnote as he went along with his presentation. To create the sketchnote, I used my MacBook Pro M1 and sketchnoted in an Explain Everything whiteboard on the Web, via the pen tablet. Here is a video of my sketchnote process.

My second project was to annotate an image on a slide in Apple's presentation software, Keynote. Now, since Keynote does not include an annotation tool, I used Ipevo's Annotator software on my Mac to showcase the image.

Again, I used the Wacom Intuos Wireless Pen Tablet attached wirelessly to my MacBook Pro M1. It worked great!

I also created a short video showcasing how to use this tablet's Bluetooth capability to control a teacher's laptop at the "front" of a classroom!

My Asus Chromebook Tablet 10 was not on the list for compatibility with the Wacom Intuos Wireless Pen Tablet, but I tethered it and was able to take notes in  Google Keep, as you can see by the video below.

I think the Intuos Pen Tablet, whether wired or wireless, is a great addition to any classroom. Drawing naturally with a pen makes the process more precise and easier to do. I believe the Wacom Intuos Wireless Pen Tablet is a great addition to the teacher's toolbox, since the educator can roam and still draw and control the projected computer screen, as well as hand it off to students to allow them to do the same. This adds to the whole class experience in a big way!

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I have never had the chance to use a pen display. A pen display differs from a pen tablet since you can see what you are drawing both on the display and on the computer at the same time.
Wacom has developed the Wacom One Creative Pen Display (not to be confused with the One by Wacom Pen Tablet) with the education market in mind. Wacom makes high-end pen displays for the professional market. The Wacom One Creative Pen Display, in my opinion, would fit best in a high school or college graphic arts program. With an affordable cost ($399), teachers and students would be using the same technology the professionals use. 

The Wacom One Creative Pen Display has a 13.3" diagonal display. Here are some specs, and much more detail can be found on their site.

Wacom One Creative Pen Display plugs into the Windows or Mac computer and requires an HDMI port and a USB-A port on the computer. In addition, the pen display must be plugged in to electricity using the included power adapter.
Stock photo of a Windows laptop and the Wacom One

For those, like me, that do not have either an HDMI connector or a USB-A port on their computer, an external pass-through adapter is needed for using this pen display. My MacBook Pro M1 has only has two, USB-C Thunderbolt ports. As long as the tablet was plugged into the computer via a USB-A to USB-C adapter, I could use the external pass-through adapter for the HDMI. All I had to do after that was to download the Wacom drivers from their site.

My set-up of a MacBook Pro M1, external pass-through adaptor, and the Wacom One

According to the Wacom site, some compatible computer apps for use of Wacom One Pen Display include:
  • ibisPaint
  • MediBang paint
  • Bamboo Paper
  • Adobe Sketch
  • Infinite Painter
  • Concepts
  • Autodesk SketchBook
  • Adobe Premiere Rush
  • Jump Paint by Medibang
  • Clip Studio Paint
However, I am not an artist, so I decided to test it out using online drawing sites.
On my website, Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything, I have one page that is dedicated to online tools. Here is the list from my site. Remember, these same tools can be used with the Intuos Pen Tablet but the ease of drawing directly on the Wacom One Creative Pen Display felt more natural!

The first thing I tried was to sketchnote that same TED Talk by Matt Cutts I had previously completed. You can see from the shot of what is on the tablet, that I did a much better job this time using the Wacom One Creative Pen Display (Of course, it also could have been due to the fact I had now watched the video two times!)

I looked mostly at tools that did not require a log-in. With no login or saving, students would have to screenshot the drawings when they are finished. (Of course, these online tools work with the One by Wacom pen tablet, too.)The online tools that worked best with the Wacom One Creative Pen Display were:

ABCya Paint is an easy to use drawing tool for the youngest students. The brushes and colors are big and easy to choose and use!


InspirARTion is a great site that offers tons of features, but it did not feel overwhelming. There were pop-up helper tips which would support students as they are learning this online art tool.


Sketch Toy has a grid background, which makes it easy to draw mind maps, mechanical drawings, and project prototypes and keep them neat.


Draw Island has simple drawing tools, but it has layers available, and students can even make a hand-drawn animated GIF from this site.


AutoDraw is a very fun site! With auto-draw turned on, as a student draws, the tool provides artificial intelligence-generated icons of the item the student is trying to draw. It is a great beginner site for the non-artist. And, if one turns off the with auto-draw feature, the blank sheet is able to be used for anything!


If you are a Google Suite user, Google Drawings has a scribble mode which allows the user to draw on the blank sheet, and, of course, embellish it with text, images, or icons that the user pulls in, too.

Another cool thing that I did not think about when using the Wacom One Creative Pen Display, was that it is actually also an external second display! When I shut off "mirror screen" in the Preferences on the Mac, I could see a separate background on the Wacom Pen Display. This would come in very handy for virtual meetings. 

For example, as you can see below, after picking "Play Keynote in window" I could drag my open Keynote presentation to the Pen Display, but I could control the presentation and see my notes on the laptop. When presenting, I would pick the "external display" for the audience to see, and still be able to refer to my notes.

The Wacom One Creative Pen Display is a great pen display. It is easy to set-up and use. It feels natural to draw with the pen. The matte surface makes the pen display feel like a piece of paper, too!

>>>>>>>>>>  <<<<<<<<<< 

I want to thank Wacom for sending me the tablets to review and for their development of these new, lower price-point products that provide excellent tablets for K-12 teachers and students! 

Thanks also to Thomas Fresco for help with some items in the post!





✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

Having fun with MockoFun!

Por Kathy Schrock — 24 de Março de 2021, 14:17

Designing graphics is a great way to enhance your slideshows, videos, newsletters, and more. I love to try new (to me) online graphic design tools and put them through their paces! I recently discovered MockoFun, a graphic design toolset which works right in the Web browser and includes a photo editor, a logo maker, and a text editor.

After registering for an account, and seeing how easy it was to create great-looking graphics, I sent a note to MockoFun  and asked if they would consider an education offering. They wrote back and told me the company was just releasing an educational version of the product which provides teachers with the Premium version of their offering for no-cost! You can sign up for that here:

The MockoFun Online Graphic Design suite includes over 100 templates, 245,000 images and element assets to use and the ability to upload your own images for your design, too. Some items are for sale, but 80% of the assets are free.


One of the text editor features that I love is the curved text. I know how difficult is to curve text in some programs. In addition to making it as easy as just typing in the template, MockoFun includes many styles of curved text to pick from.

To better learn how to use the Curved Text Generator, take a look at this great tutorial the MockoFun staff have put together!

I was even able to find an asset in the elements and create my own cool stamp with the curved text tool!


The template gallery in MockoFun includes a template for anything you need to create. (And, of course, you can always start designing from scratch, too!)

Following are some of my favorite template categories and some screenshots, followed by the list of all the template types.





Template categories

  • Backgrounds
  • Cards
  • Facebook post
  • Flyers and posters
  • Infographics
  • Labels
  • Logos
  • Mockups
  • Photo collage
  • Photo effects
  • Quotes
  • Social media graphics


The elements included in MockoFun include everything from photographs to dividers. Most of the element categories includes tons of sub-categories so you can easily find that perfect asset to use!

In addition to the easy to use features, MockoFun also includes advanced features such as layers, 50+ fonts to pick from and editable text features. Your classroom graphics will wow anyone that sees them!

If you are an educator, sign up for MockoFun for teachers to be upgraded to the Premium features. And, if you are not a teacher, sign up for MockoFun for free to give it a try!

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

IPEVO Whiteboard and VZ-X

Por Kathy Schrock — 24 de Fevereiro de 2021, 23:43

Back in July 2020, I wrote a review of the IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB Dual Mode 8MP Document Camera ($219). That is a great document camera with excellent optics and many useful features. 

Since then, IPEVO has also released the IPEVO VZ-X Wireless/HDMI/USB 8MP Document Camera ($329) which has the same excellent optics but with the addition of built-in wireless! With this wireless capability, you can easily connect the document camera to your computer, AppleTV and your iOS or Android device!

IPEVO has released a new version of their IPEVO Whiteboard software for iPad to take advantage of this wireless connectivity. Simply connect your IPEVO wireless document camera via WiFi to an iPad or Android tablet using IPEVO Whiteboard. You can then display, adjust, draw, or annotate on the live image. You can also take snapshots or record videos, and add annotations and audio. In addition, you can start from a blank whiteboard and record yourself as you annotate and bring in assets.

I decided to give the new IPEVO Whiteboard for iPad a try. It is now optimized for the Apple Pencil, too, and includes an easy-to-use pallete for color, lines, highlighters, and shapes.

IPEVO Whiteboard also includes advanced tools such as a ruler and a protractor which would come in handy for math lessons. There is also a Spotlight tool which can help you draw the student’s attention to important sections of the screen. You can also use the Attach function to add an image, text, map, and more to the whiteboard. 

If you pick the video recording option, you can record your material with audio and annotations as you conduct live lessons or your introduction to a unit. This is great asset for students who need to review the material again or for a flipped classroom model. 

I created a blank whiteboard and picked the video option.

The IPEVO Whiteboard for iPad comes in two versions — the regular version and the Pro version. The Pro version adds the advanced features of disappearing ink, the ability to add a browser window or a map, some background templates, picture-in-picture capability, and more! 

The Pro version of IPEVO Whiteboard for iPad is $1.99 per month or $19.99 for a year and is available as an in-app purchase.

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

Presenting with Apple's Keynote in Zoom

Por Kathy Schrock — 3 de Janeiro de 2021, 20:21

I am one that needs my notes in front of me when I present. Whether I look at them or not, it makes me feel more secure if they are there. 

I have been doing a lot of presentations on Zoom using Keynote. In order to see my notes, I have had to use two monitors. Of course, when I push Play in Keynote in real life, I see my notes and the audience sees the presentation on the "big screen". 

In Zoom, I share the window of the the external monitor, that has the presentation showing, with the audience and I see my notes in front of me. I do see my video and can open the chat if I need to. However, there are sometimes problems directing the audio so both the audience and I can hear me speaking and any video sound.

I finally have come up with a one-computer solution to the problem!

Here are the instructions followed by screenshots.


  1. Open or join a Zoom meeting.
  2. Pick SHARE SCREEN and tap the ADVANCED tab.
  3. Pick PORTION OF SCREEN. Stay on that ADVANCED tab. 
  4. In the bottom left corner of the ADVANCED tab, check SHARE SOUND and OPTIMIZE FOR VIDEO CLIP.
  5. Hit SHARE in the bottom right. Don't worry (yet) about the green frame that shows up.


  1. Open your Keynote presentation.
  3. Move things around on the screen to allow you to both see your notes and make the current slide as large as possible.
  4. Move the Zoom green frame over the current slide and resize the green frame  by dragging the handles
  6. This time, pick PLAY - REHEARSE SLIDESHOW and you will see the Zoom CONTROLS (and you can open the Zoom chat) and your notes. The audience sees only the slides in the green frame.
  7. Any videos play and you can open the slide navigator if you need to.

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

The flexible FlexClip video maker

Por Kathy Schrock — 14 de Dezembro de 2020, 18:53

FlexClip is an online video editor with lots of great features and tons of assets! You can use the included templates or create your video from scratch. You can also import a video you already have  made and edit and customize it in many ways. This video maker/creation site does it all!


FlexClip has over 40 video template categories including templates for birthday wishes, technology, holidays, marketing, education, Instagram, TikTok and everything in-between. Each category has multiple templates that are editable to meet your needs. There are even intro and outro templates which can provide you with a reusable beginning and ending for any video you create!

All of the tools have interfaces that are easy to understand, navigate, and do and un-do mistakes.

I picked the "Education and Training" templates to see what was available.

I picked the one below to explore the customization features of the templates.

I could decide whether I wanted to pick media assets from the FlexClip collection, upload files from my computer, and record directly in the Flexiclip interface.

In addition to recording directly into FlexClip from the web cam, I could screencast, too!

There were tons of stock videos and photos that I could use as part of my video.

I could pick any number of type styles, locations, and backgrounds for the text on the title slide.

I was then presented with choices for overlays for text for decorative additions and had the ability to add a logo to the video.

Included was a library of elements and shapes to use to highlight items in a video.

I could add a professional-looking background using their stock backgrounds. These would probably be used for the title slide or the outro of the video.

FlexClip provided background music to use with the ability to change its volume and loop it.

And, to protect my original work, I could add a watermark and place it where I wanted on the video.

I loved how easy it was to pick a format for my video!

FlexClip included other cool features, too. There were choices to animate a photo and place it in the video.

There was a library of filters to pick from.

I could even adjust saturation, brightness, tint, and more to enhance the photos or videos.

Here is the list of tools that are included with FlexClip  whether using the supplied templates and assets or your own.

- Add a logo to a video

- Add music to a video

- Add text to a video

- Add a watermark to a video

- Compress a video’s size

- Convert a video to another video file format

- Add a filter to your video

- Change the brightness of your video

- Merge videos together

- Rotate the direction of your video

- Change the speed of your video

- Split your video into separate sections

- Add transitions to your video

- Add a zoom-in or zoom-out transition to your video


If I did not want to use one of the templates in FlexClip  I could start with my own blank canvas to work on!


FlexClip has four pricing plans, as shown below. They offer monthly and annual pricing.

FlexClip is an easy-to-use video creation and editing tool. Even though there are a ton of options available, the tool did not overwhelm me. The menu structure and navigation are consistent, which helps a lot. From the beginner video creator who just wants to customize templates and use the stock assets and music to the professional video creator, Flexiclip can work for anyone!

In exchange for this review, I received a subscription to FlexClip.

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

IPEVO's Uplift and iDocCam make a perfect pair!

Por Kathy Schrock — 30 de Novembro de 2020, 16:28

Although having a dedicated document camera, like IPEVO's DO-CAM which I reviewed here, there is another great solution from IPEVO that takes advantage of using your own smartphone as the document camera feed.

The IPEVO Uplift is a multi-angle arm for smartphones. You simply insert your smartphone in the padded clip, and adjust the arm to any angle or orientation you want to! The sturdy base keeps the IPEVO Uplift from tipping over. 

You can use your phone attached to the Uplift as a Webcam to show your face and arms when you are demonstrating a science lab or a basketball move, showcase a page in a book or a text piece, use it for holding the phone still when you are creating a stop-motion animation, do a close-up on an object, and it allows you to use your hands to record a paper slide or Common Craft-type video for your students!

There are two secret sotware ingredients to this process. The first is the IPEVO Visualizer software (no cost) which is available for Mac, Windows, and Chrome. The IPEVO Visualizer allows you to display the video from any camera feed, record it, modify it, and more. You can use it to show what your camera sees, either on a big screen or in an online video conferencing app.

With Visualizer you can adjust the displayed image in various ways. You can zoom in, rotate, mirror, change the resolution, adjust exposure, apply a video filter, take a snapshot, and more! 

The second secret ingredient is IPEVO's iDocCam app (iOS/Android) which allows you, in conjunction with the Visualizer software on your computer, to select your smartphone as the camera source for the desktop if the two items are on the same network. 

You can then wirelessly view, control, or adjust the live images captured by your smartphone's camera, such as educational instructions, worksheets, training guides, presentation notes using the Visualizer software.

IPEVO's iDocCam is not free, but is priced as a monthly or yearly subscription or you can purchase it outright. If you purchase an IPEVO Uplift, you get six months of iDocCam use included right now!


I did not receive any monetary compensation from IPEVO for writing this article. I did receive a copy of the iDocCam app and the Uplift Multi-Angle Arm so I could try things out!

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

IPEVO's Mirror-Cam

Por Kathy Schrock — 31 de Agosto de 2020, 16:56

IPEVO is always coming up with useful, low-cost ways to help teachers support teaching and learning. From the early days of the Point-to-View (P2V) small document camera to their current line of powerful document cameras, IPEVO's new Mirror-Cam is a game-changer! It utilizes your webcam and your keyboard area to project an object, books, or papers to your computer. The Mirror-Cam is the perfect addition to your videoconferencing toolbox.

The mirror inside of the Mirror-Cam reflects the keyboard area of your laptop and your webcam perfectly captures the reflected image.

The Mirror-Cam comes in a set of six. You simply assemble them, and set the Mirror-Cam on the top edge of your laptop screen, covering the webcam. It is easy to attach and take off, so your webcam is still accessible for presenting, too. And the Mirror-Cam folds down easily to keep it in your computer accessories bag.

Watch the video to learn more!

(Update 9/10/20) The Mirror-Cam is back in stock now! And, at least right now, there is no limit on the number that can be purchased!

While you visit IPEVO's store page, take a look at some of their other offerings. I have recently reviewed the portable DO-CAM and the upgraded VZ-R document camera. (BTW, I receive the devices from IPEVO to review, but I don't get any money if you purchase the items.)


In the video below, I started from scratch, assembled and "installed" the Mirror-Cam, and showed a few projections from items sitting on my laptop keyboard!

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

IPEVO's cool new DO-CAM

Por Kathy Schrock — 19 de Agosto de 2020, 12:59
Since many K-12 schools and universities may still be including some type of remote or blended teaching and learning in the education mix for this coming school year, having a document camera can help support both the students in the classroom and those watching online. In addition, when meeting with students for content support, a doc cam can allow you to show the doc cam video in a Zoom or Google Meet window for the students.

Since many lessons include both digital and analog assets, like math manipulatives, science lab materials, and textbooks, a document camera can support the times educators need to show the student something -- whether it be a demo of a art lesson, a certain passage in a book, or the process of assembling a robotic component.

IPEVO has a host of document cameras available, and I recently reviewed their newly updated IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB Dual Mode 8 MP Document Camera. This document camera has a ton of features including HDMI connections, easy focus, and many more. 

However, many teachers just need a simple document camera to showcase work, writing or book pages as part of a lesson. Or they may need to record the lesson for student review, too! The new IPEVO DO-CAM HD Ultraportable 8MP USB Document Camera /Webcam fits the bill, and it is also becomes an external Web camera by just flipping up the top!

At a $129 list price, this lightweight (12 oz.), USB-powered device is the perfect addition to your desk at school or at home. It is easy to carry the IPEVO DO-CAM back and forth from home if you need to -- it has a small footprint and and a handy cable storage system. It works with Windows, Mac, and Chromebook computers. (The DO-CAM does not have a microphone, so you will have to use the mic in your computer or an external mic.)

The DO-CAM can be used to project a full sheet of paper and any 3D object. And, as I stated before, it can be used as a Web cam for your face, or for showcasing a student in the classroom who is demonstrating something. The DO-CAM can be used for many creative purposes! 

The DO-CAM works with IPEVO's free Visualizer software which is available for Windows, Mac, and ChromeOS. This software includes tons of ways to take advantage of the DO-CAM.
  • Snapshot
  • Videorecording
  • Slow motion recording
  • Live broadcast
  • Time-lapse recording
  • Scanning a QR code or a document
  • Magnify
  • Stop-motion
  • Split-screen
IPEVO also offers a tool called IPEVO CamControl for your Mac or Windows computer which allows you to control and adjust some basic image settings of your IPEVO USB document camera’s live images when you use it with third-party video conferencing software.

Scholastic provided some great ideas for use of a document camera in their article titled Tech Primer: Document Cameras. And the TECHNOKids site provides some interesting ways to use an external Web cam in the classroom, too!


Image quality: DO-CAM comes with an 8MP Sony CMOS image sensor for exceptional performance in noise reduction and color reproduction. Capture details of your materials in Ultra HD resolution up to 3264 x 2448

2-in-1 Document Camera and Webcam: Flip the camera head of DO-CAM to switch back and forth between document sharing and ‘face to face’ communication. The Flip Button allows you to pick the correct image orientation at all times.

Lightweight and compact: Being the lightest on the market at 0.74lbs (335g), and having the size of a handheld pencil case, DO-CAM is convenient to use, store, and carry around.

The utmost stability and flexibility: All of DO-CAM's interconnected sections are fully adjustable to capture your content at different heights, angles, and orientations. A cable holder has been incorporated to store the attached cable.

UVC Camera compatibility: DO-CAM is USB Plug & Play compatible with MAC, PC and Chromebook. Use it with IPEVO's Visualizer software and any other third-party software of your choice.

Take a look at the IPEVO DO-CAM here and find out more about it! And this page from IPEVO includes the set-up for use of the DO-CAM with Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams and more, as well as a list of compatible software it works with, such as Camtasia, Google Meet, Skype, and more.

✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

Laser Cutters in the Classroom

Por Kathy Schrock — 10 de Julho de 2020, 13:05
I have long been a user of the paper cutting machines you see in craft stores. I have a Silhouette Cameo machine that I use for making cards and vinyl objects for decoration. It is so much fun!

I have been intrigued by the CO2 laser cutters/engravers which can cut or engrave cardboard, wood, leather, plastic, metal, acrylic, rubber, and glass up to a certain thickness.


FLUX, a CO2 laser cutter/engraver company, asked me to take one of their models for a spin and find resources to support their use in the K-12 environment.

The FLUX Beamo CO2 Laser Cutter & Engraver ($1899), seen below, is compact and has many of the features of the more expensive cutters on the market.

FLUX Beamo


The Beamo can cut and/or engrave on various materials

   Cut and/or engrave       Engrave only 
  • Cardboard
  • Wood
  • Bamboo
  • Leather
  • Acrylic

  • Fabric
  • Rubber
  • Cement
  • Glass
  • Stone
  • Anode metal
  • Stainless steel      

                 Meet the FLUX Beamo

The FLUX Beamo includes software for designing and printing (Beam Studio), but  students can use many other design software programs like Autocad, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or any software that can export out as a JPG, PNG, SVG or DXF file.

Here are links to a few Beam Studio online tutorials: 1 | 2 | 3

The set-up of the FLUX Beamo was easy and the manual that came with it took me step-by-step through all the things I needed to do. The LCD panel was bright and easy to navigate. I attached the Beamo to the WiFi network in my home (you can also use Ethernet if you wish), downloaded the design software to my Mac, and updated the firmware in the Beamo via a USB drive. I also vented the Beamo out the window to avoid any fumes in the basement. (FLUX offers an Air Fume Extractor for the classroom so you would not need to vent it out a window.)

I used a 4.5" square piece of ⅛" wood and loaded a sample item, found in the Beam Studio software, to print. There is a camera in the Beamo that allows you to see, when in the software, where the item will be printed on your material. It took about 4 minutes for the Beamo to first engrave and then cut out the item.

Below is the finished product. And I went from unboxing to set-up to upgrading firmware to learning the software and to printing in about 1.5 hours! The learning curve was really small since the documentation was so well-done. 

Want to find out more? Here is the link to the Beamo Guide and Beam Studio Guide.

And my first project of my own design is below: 


There are many online resources that include tons of great ideas for the use of a laser cutter to support the curriculum and school community. Following are overviews of the ones I thought were most helpful. 

Most resources target student use of laser cutters at the middle and high school levels. However, as we found out with 3D printers, students of all ages can create a design and the final product can be printed out by an adult. 

One very cool feature of the FLUX Beamo Go app (iOS and Android) is that a student can draw a design on paper, use a phone or iPad to take a picture of it, send it to the Beamo and print it out. This method easily allows students to create projects with the Beamo laser cutter!


This 158-page handbook was compiled with ideas from many of the educational experts in the fields of constructing and creating. There are ideas for many constructivist projects using various tools. I did a search of the PDF for "laser". There was information on what students learn during both the design process and the machine cutting process, which included ratio, tools, unit, scale, and other math skills and also learning how a laser works. (10)

In another project, included by Susanna Tesconi, students go through the design thinking process, and, during the prototyping stage, if the laser-cut object needs to be re-worked, each student has a box where they put their "failures". At the end of the unit, students explain how their journey to success was helped by each of the prototypes. (36)

Heather Allen Pang outlines how she taught a unit on the history of telecommunications and had pairs of students create their own telegraph. She cut out the bases on the laser cutter, but students wired and tested their telegraphs. (79) 

Another project supplied by Pang is having students create silhouettes that are laser-cut. This project brings history and new technology together. (84)
Mark Schreiber has his high school students make an ugly Christmas sweater by using all types of materials, many of which include electronics for the sweaters to blink and play music. However, he has them use the laser cutter for cutting out the felt objects for the sweaters. (89)

There are many more ideas in this free book including parent and teacher collaboration. Make sure to download it! 


Although this guidebook for high school level students was put out by another laser cutter manufacturer, it includes the rationale you might need when asking for a laser cutter/engraver to be put in the budget.

This document includes ideas for both curriculum support projects and also ways in which the school can both save money (making plaques) and make money (selling school-themed keychains in the school store).


Trotec, another laser cutter manufacturer, offers another great resource which would be applicable for middle and high school. This PDF includes categories which outline learning outcomes, instructional strategies, assessments, and additional learning resources for each of them. The categories are:
  • Personal and project management
  • Science and history
  • Materials
  • Supporting tools
  • Laser operation
  • Graphic essentials
  • Health and safety

This site includes links to instructions for easy projects to have students create with a laser cutter.





    I hope I have supplied you with some great reasons and ideas to purchase a FLUX Beamo CO2 Laser Cutter & Engraver for your classroom, Makerspace, or STEM lab. 

    With its small footprint, easy-to-use functions, and low cost, once you get one and start students creating projects to support the curriculum, raise money for a field trip, or make up the award plaques for the assembly, you will wonder why you did not purchase the Beamo sooner!

    For updated links, visit my site here:

    ✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

    IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB Dual Mode 8MP Document Camera

    Por Kathy Schrock — 6 de Julho de 2020, 15:43
    IPEVO has been offering document cameras for schools for many years. Many of us started with their their first offering, the IPEVO P2V (Point to View) USB camera with its removable camera. (Who remembers the thrill the students got when they could show a bug at close range and full screen? Ugh.) That low-cost ($69) device demonstrated to us how effective a document camera could be in supporting teaching and learning.

    IPEVO P2V CAMERA (2009)



    Fast forward to mid-2020, and IPEVO has just released their 8th gen model, the newly updated IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB document camera. This camera has functions we could only dream of in those early P2V days!

    Of course, true to its roots, the IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB can attach to a laptop, Chromebook, or computer desktop via a USB cable, and mirror what is on the "stage" for recording and sharing a screen of information with others. IPEVO offers two free software programs to support this: Visualizer and Visualizer LTSE (accessibility software to use with the document camera).


    The IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB, using the USB mode, can be used to support remote  teaching, learning, and meetings. When in USB mode, the IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB also activates a built in microphone!

    Many educators are submitting their uses of the IPEVO document cameras and sharing them with the rest of us.

    IPEVO offers printed step-by-step guides for using the IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB in USB mode with some of the most popular online collaboration tools.
    IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB plugged directly into a projector

    The IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB document camera can also easily be used to showcase items, live drawings, and book pages to the entire class, even without a computer! Since this document camera also includes an HDMI connection, it can be plugged directly into a projector for mirroring and streaming on a whiteboard with no need for a computer.


    IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB plugged directly into a monitor or TV

    Since many classrooms now use a large touchscreen monitor or flat-screen television for projecting to the class, the IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB can also be plugged directly into the HDMI port on the monitor or TV and stream live to the big screen! This document camera includes easy-to-access adjustment buttons to use in any mode, too!

    Full product manuals and information may be found here.


    • $219

    • D x W x H (when folded)
      With base-4.57”x 4.25” x 11.85” (11.6 x 10.8 x 30.1cm)
      Without base-3.07” x 1.57” x 11.42” (7.8 x 4.0 x 29.0cm)
    • 2.2lbs (1.0kg)

    • CDVH-03IP
    • Emerald Green

    • 8.0 Megapixel
    • Full auto-focus lens
    • High definition resolutions-up to 3264 x 2448 (USB mode), and up to 1920 x 1080 (HDMI mode)
    • Up to 30 fps live video capture (at full HD)
    • Sony CMOS image sensor and a powerful Ambarella integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC)

    • HDMI and USB

    Maximum Shooting Area
    • 10.6” x 18.9” (270 x 480mm) [16:9]
    • 13.5” x 18.1” (344 x 460mm) [4:3]

    • Works with Mac, PC and Chromebook

    Package Contents
    • Camera head and stand
    • Base
    • USB Type-C to Type-A cable (4.90ft/150cm)
    • Screwdriver
    • Screws x 4

    Minimum Requirements
    • Intel® Core™ i5 CPU 1.8 GHz or higher
    • OS X 10.10 or higher
    • 2 GB RAM
    • 200MB of free hard disk space
    • 256MB of dedicated video memory (For lag-free live streaming up to 1920 x 1080)
    Recommended Requirements
    • Intel® Core™ i5 CPU 2.5 GHz or higher
    • OS X 10.10 or higher
    • 4 GB RAM
    • Solid-state drive, and 200MB of free hard disk space
    • 256MB of dedicated video memory (For lag-free live streaming up to 1920 x 1080, and video recording of 1920 x 1080)

    Minimum Requirements
    • Microsoft Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or higher
    • Intel® Core™ i3 CPU 3.20 GHz or higher
    • 4 GB RAM
    • 200MB of free hard disk space
    • 256MB of dedicated video memory (For lag-free live streaming up to 1920 x 1080)

    Recommended Requirements
    • Microsoft Windows 10
    • Intel® Core™ i5 CPU 3.40 GHz or higher
    • 4 GB RAM
    • 200MB of free hard disk space
    • 256MB of dedicated video memory (For lag-free live streaming up to 1920 x 1080, and video recording of 1920 x 1080)


    Below are two of the images taken I was putting the IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB through its paces. I attached the sturdy metal bottom plate, plugged it into my Mac, open the IPEVO Visualizer software, and I was ready to go!

    You can find out more details of the IPEVO VZ-R HDMI/USB  and learn about the company's other products on the IPEVO site!

    ✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

    Summer passion projects for students

    Por Kathy Schrock — 1 de Junho de 2020, 11:37
    This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in June of 2020 and is re-posted here with permission.


    Dear Readers, this will be the last concurrent monthly posting of Kathy’s Katch. Perhaps it will be back in another form at some point. I appreciate the support of Discovery Education, the DEN, and the readers of this blog from its inception in September of 2012. #loveyouall

    Back in the day, employees of Google could pitch an idea to their supervisor to be able to take advantage of the “20% Time” program. This program allowed engineers and others to spend 20% of their work time on a project they were passionate about. Many of these projects turned into important components of the Google products. I used to love Google Labs, which included prototypes of the ideas being developed. It was so exciting to see some of them “graduate” from Google Labs and become part of the Google product. Others were great tools and it was sad when they did not make it.
    One great thing for education came out of the 20% Time projects. Cristin Frodella, who worked in marketing, realized using Google products would be perfect for teaching and learning and she created the Google Teacher Academy during her 20% Time. Many of us attended these useful trainings to become Google Certified Teachers. The program launched in 2006, and I became a GCT in New York in 2008. I was an instructor at the Academy as well as a participant to get my certification.
    Here is a photo of the instructors for that 2008 Google Teacher Academy. It was a super team of very smart educators, all of whom you will likely recognize since they are still active in the edtech space!
    The Google Teacher Academy had two components. There was this formal training session in NYC, but afterward, each GCT was required to complete two passion projects using the Google toolset and share them in a spreadsheet with all of the other GCTs. My two projects were “Google Goodies: a series of online screencasts for teachers and students for various aspects of Google Apps” and “Google Tips and Tricks: a weekly note to all teachers and students (grades 6-12) with ideas, tips and tricks for using Google Apps”.
    I loved working on my projects! I was free to investigate what I wanted to research and create. The only caveats for these projects were they had to use the Google tools and be useful for administrators, educators, and/or students.


    Fast forward to today and we know many teachers have adopted this same idea of giving students time during each school week to investigate something they are interested in. This model is usually called “Genius Hour”.  Meshelle Smith has written a great overview of how she implemented a weekly one-hour Genius Hour at the fifth grade level. I feel her model would work at any grade level!
    She created a scaffolded model that served to outline the parameters for the goals of the projects without taking away the student choice of the content. For four weeks, the students explored ideas, spent the next three weeks narrowing their topics, and then spent most of the school year researching and creating each week. The last four weeks of the school year was set aside for presenting their projects to the class and to the “real world”. In addition, to keep the students on track, every five weeks they had to submit a “mini-project” about their research to show they were moving towards the goals they had set for themselves.
    As with any project-based learning, students needed to keep a journal of their ideas, discoveries, failures, and questions. Meshelle also facilitated collaborative group sessions to allow students to bounce ideas off one another, brainstorm solutions, and help decide how they were going to present their project to the “world”.
    I have created a visual overview of Smith’s scaffolding below.


    What about extending this idea of “Genius Hour” to summer vacation time for students? Since summer is much shorter than the school year, perhaps students can dedicate 2 hours in a row, per week for 10 weeks, to a passion project of their choice. Or maybe they want to investigate two areas of interest, for 20 hours per project, and call them Snack Projects.
    Here are some guidelines for these ideas.


    One great site for students to research and learn more about a topic is Discovery Education. With a huge library of assets across the subject areas, students can easily find a topic to research, learn more about, and watch videos. They can create their project using Discovery Education assets or using the notes in their journals, gleaned from their research on the site, to create their project elsewhere. There is more than enough information in the Discovery Education content for both a Snack Project or a Passion Project!
    First, I decided to be a 7th grade student who was interested in writing a book of poems for a passion project. I knew I liked listening to poetry when my ELA teacher read it aloud and also when I was assigned poems of different genres to read for class. I was unsure of what type of poetry I wanted to write, so I did a simple search in the ELA subject area of Discovery Education and narrowed the content to grades 6-8.  I found 540 resources to investigate which included videos and video segments, images of famous poets, lesson plan activities I could do, an interactive Haiku Builder, and Studio Boards that teachers all over the world had created to help their students learn more about poetry.
    Secondly, I decided to be a 10th grade student who wants to pursue meteorology or fire fighting. I wanted to complete two Snack Projects, investigating each topic. After I conducted a search on “meteorology” in Discovery Education, I got 283 results including videos and video segments, readings in the Science Techbook, instructional images to learn more about weather, and some resources from practicing meteorologists about their career paths.
    When I conducted a search on “firefighter”, I was presented with 89 results for the 9-12th grade levels. There were videos and video segments about fighting fires, firefighter equipment, and new firefighting technology. There was also a 26-minute podcast entitled “Stuff You Should Know Podcast: How Wildfires Work”.


    The idea of having students working on passion projects over the summer is interesting to think about. With some structure for the time they spend and good online resources for research and information, students can explore their passions to learn more about them and then share their findings with others.
    Do you have students working on passion projects in the summer? Do you provide them with some guidance? Do you have them using Discovery Education resources for these projects? 
    ✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

    Thinking processes and STEM

    Por Kathy Schrock — 1 de Março de 2019, 16:28
    This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in March 2019 and is re-posted here with permission.


    The hundreds of quality STEM-related videos and materials in the Discovery Education online collection make it easy to find content to use for your lessons and units. However, take time for students to develop a solid thinking process before starting your STEM unit.
    STEM, with its combined focus on science, technology, engineering and math, should also include the important skill of learning how to think. There are many models of thinking processes available to teach to students, each with a different focus or goal. I am going to showcase some of the most popular and let you, as the creative educator, pick the one that best meets the needs of your students. You might even decide to take the most relevant parts of each and develop your own model!
    After you read about each model, ask yourself the following questions.
    • How would I introduce this model into the classroom?
    • What content in the STEM curriculum would benefit most from this model?
    • What can I easily adapt to infuse this model?
    • What would implementation of this model look like in the classroom?
    • What would be my goal(s) for students when using this model?
    • Where can I find additional resources on this model?

    Model 1: Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy

    Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, a revision of a cognitive thinking classification, was published in 2001 by Anderson and Krathwohl. Their goal was to move the elements of the classification from static to action verbs and combine the classification with four types of knowledge acquisition for students. From these two components, the cognitive process dimension and the knowledge dimension, teachers could create learning objectives and help students move through the levels of the basic taxonomy – Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating – and move them from the use of lower order thinking skills to the higher order thinking skills.
    Anderson and Krathwohl defined the Knowledge Dimension as a place for student to move from concrete through abstract knowledge, and through the four categories of factual knowledge, conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge, and metacognitive knowledge.
    We are all familiar with the Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy classification of the cognitive processes shown below.

    Image CC-licensed by Andrea Hernandez CC BY_SA 2.0

    However, the most useful part of helping students move through these levels, as they learn something new, are the more specific verbs that fall under the six broader categories in the pyramid image.
    The image below, from the IslandWood Education wiki, provides further explanation of the components of this thinking process.

    In 2008, Andrew Churches mapped the Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy to the use of technology to help students move from the lower to higher order thinking skills and published Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.

    Additional resources for Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy

    Model 2: Computational thinking

    Computational thinking (CT), as defined in Google’s “Computational Thinking for Educators” course as a…
    …problem solving process that includes a number of characteristics and dispositions. CT is essential to the development of computer applications, but it can also be used to support problem solving across all disciplines, including the humanities, math, and science. Students who learn CT across the curriculum can begin to see a relationship between academic subjects, as well as between life inside and outside of the classroom. ?

    Traditionally, the broad overview of Computational Thinking was “an approach to solving problems in a way that can be solved by a computer”. The model has students thinking like a computer scientist in areas across the curriculum. Computational thinking is not programming or coding. It is the formal planning process that occurs before the programming or coding occur. As Higson outlines in this video , computational thinking is the process by which students use their knowledge of what computers can do to help them solve problems.
    There are four traditional components in the process of computational thinking, as outlined on the BBC Bitesize site –
    • decomposition – breaking down a complex problem or system into smaller, more manageable parts
    • pattern recognition – looking for similarities among and within problems 
    • abstraction – focusing on the important information only, ignoring irrelevant detail
    • algorithms – developing a step-by-step solution to the problem, or the rules to follow to solve the problem
    The computational thinking process is different than the Bloom’s Revised taxonomy thinking process because it is not hierarchical. Each of the four components are equally as important in the thinking process of solving the problem.

    Additional resources for Computational Thinking

    Model 3: Design Thinking

    My favorite definition of design thinking is from Kricia Cabral on the Scholastic site, who states “design thinking is a creative problem-solving process that calls for thoughtful solutions to real-world situations”. Design thinking is a thinking process that can work nicely for the STEM curriculum topics as well as across other content areas.
    There are many, many design thinking models, all of which promote a similar thinking process. Following are images and links to some popular models. Libby Hoffman included some of the ones below in a blog post and I have added additional models that I think are well-stated and useful.

    My favorite model for K-12!

    Do you have a specific thinking model you use with your students? Have you developed your own? Please share your thoughts, links, and resources on Twitter! #kathyskatch

    ✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

    Creating with Discovery Education

    Por Kathy Schrock — 1 de Abril de 2020, 16:09
    This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in April 2020 and is re-posted here with permission.


    For the past few years, I have focused my energies on supporting teachers who are creating assessments, both formative and summative, which target student’s higher order thinking skills. Oftentimes, as I was creating an exemplar to showcase to teachers, I turned to Discovery Education for content to use in the sample assessment.
    Discovery Education includes tools within their product that allow teachers to create exemplar assessments and assignments and have students create them, too. However, I also love all the other online tools that allow students to showcase their content knowledge, so I tend to focus on online tools and local apps when conducting trainings.
    Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
    One of the coolest features of Discovery Education is the tons of assets that are found in their product! There are videos (full and also broken down into short segments), photographs, drawings, and more. These assets are searchable by grade level, type of asset, etc. What is best about these assets is, if your school has a subscription to Discovery Education, teachers and students can use the great editable content in Discovery Education with local and online tools and apps projects!

    Adobe has a suite of tools called Adobe Spark. The three tools included are a web page creation tool, a video creation tool, and a graphic creation tool and there are tons of sample templates to pick from and images that can be easily added to the project.
    A teacher can create an Adobe Spark Page and embed video clips in the Page. These editable clips will have to be downloaded from Discovery Education and uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo in order to embed them in the Adobe Spark Page. Teachers can then provide their own written overview of the content, a list of things they want students to look for in the video, and extension activities students can complete. The teacher can include links back to other videos within Discovery Education on the same page, too.
    Here is an example of an Adobe Spark Page with the inclusion of a Discovery Education video clip to view!

    Teachers can easily create narrated overviews of content for student access using Adobe Spark Video, which allows the inclusion of images, photographs, and Discovery Education videos on separate slides and narration of the “show” which ends up a easy-to-create video lesson! Adobe offers the Adobe Spark suite of tools — Video, Post, and Page — to districts for no cost with the ability to limit the postings to just the district, but, if your district has not yet taken advantage of that solution yet, teachers and students over 14 can create their own accounts here. Adobe also includes a ton of ideas for using Adobe Spark Education that would tie-in nicely with the Discovery Education content!

    Padlet is a great online tool that allows teachers and students to easily post and share their thoughts, videos, images, links, and much more. There are a slew of education-based templates to chose from.
    Students can upload editable Discovery Education video clips or photos to Padlet and create a collaborative information board for classroom review.

    Many teachers are already using Flipgrid to create a topic and have students leave video feedback to that topic and also to the videos of classmates. It is a super easy tool to use!
    Teachers can use the editable assets in Discovery Education to create a topic in Flipgrid and have the students respond, reflect, and build upon each other’s knowledge. You can record to this grid at

    Adobe Spark Posts allows students to bring in images and put text on them. Students can use an image from Discovery Education as a background for a 6 Word Summary or Six Word Story they create in Adobe Spark Post.
    Here is my sample, created with an image from Discovery Education.

    One of the easiest and powerful graphic design tools on the Web is Canva. Canva includes templates for wedding invitations to Instagram posts and everything in-between!
    Students can use a series of images or screenshots (from the editable content) from Discovery Education videos to create a timeline in Canva or even create an informative infographic.

    What are some other creative ideas you can think of for using the content in Discovery Education with online tools, local software, or apps? If you already have Discovery Education, have you mashed up the content in the product with other online tools to help students learn? Please share you ideas on Twitter! #kathyskatch
    ✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

    Differentiation strategies to support learners

    Por Kathy Schrock — 1 de Maio de 2020, 16:07
    This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in May 2018 and is re-posted here with permission.


    Differentiation of instruction for all students in your classroom is sometimes a daunting task. How do you ensure all students receive the curriculum content in the way they learn and understand best?
    Cathy Weselby, in a March 2020 post on the Resilient Educator Web site, provides a well-stated overview of the important research, history, and methodologies for differentiating instruction in the classroom.
    I love this practical overview.
    Differentiating instruction may mean teaching the same material to all students using a variety of instructional strategies, or it may require the teacher to deliver lessons at varying levels of difficulty based on the ability of each student.
    Teachers who practice differentiation in the classroom may:
      • Design lessons based on students’ learning styles.
      • Group students by shared interest, topic, or ability for assignments.
      • Assess students’ learning using formative assessment.
      • Manage the classroom to create a safe and supportive environment.
      • Continually assess and adjust lesson content to meet students’ needs.
    Differentiation may not mean implementing just one of these five methods, but let’s go over some specific ways teachers can use differentiation strategies by using a digital media product such as Discovery Education Streaming Plus.

    For students in middle and high school, teachers can administer a survey that asks about their preferred method(s) of learning to help when designing lessons. One useful survey I found was the NC State University Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire. Teachers could also create their own survey using a Google Form. The Georgia DOE offers a learning styles survey that might work for the upper elementary students here.
    For the younger students, this post by Michelle Baumgartner on the blog provides some practical ways to determine a student’s learning style. She suggests looking at note-taking style, problem-solving methods, observing social behavior and personal tendencies, and determining what learning aids the student turns to often. Baumgartner includes an overview of the learning styles and practical advice for each of these categories. These same strategies would work for ELL learners, too. The Georgia DOE offers a survey that may be useful for the upper elementary grades.
    For special education students, by consulting with their special education teacher and reviewing the student’s IEP, as well as observing the student, would help the educator develop strategies to support these students.

    To differentiate within Discovery Education Streaming Plus, teachers have the ability to both pick a multitude of content types, as well as assign the lesson to individual students, groups of students, or the entire class. This allows the teacher to group students by shared interest, topic, or ability.

    Discovery Education Streaming Plus also includes a ton of instructional strategies, divided up by type of strategy, and there are many that can be used to as formative assessments. Below, you can see the menu and then just a few of the summarizing strategies you can use for a formative assessment.

    Graphic organizers are included which teachers can assign to students as a quick formative assessment, too!

    As you differentiate instruction and create groupings for a safe and supportive classroom environment, it might be good idea to use the online tool, Floor Plan Creator, to create multiple classroom set-ups that students can easily view to move their desks, chairs, and beanbags around. If you create a few of these, students will not get bored with the layouts and you can ensure you are able to get around to the areas and can see all the students.

    There are summative assessment tools available in Discovery Education Streaming Plus, also, and it is easy to grade their work and suggest alternatives images, videos, or audio that they might use in their project. There is an assessment builder built-in that allows teachers to create Technology-Enhanced Assessment (TEA) from an item library that offers a variety of interactive item types. By using these tools, it allows teachers to easily adjust assessments.
    Board Builder is a tool, found in Discovery Education, that allows users to create digital bulletin boards with a variety of media, including items from Discovery Education Streaming Plus and self-­created resources. The tool can be used for topic delivery and engagement, for assessment, and to determine student understanding.

    As I wrote about in my April 2020 Kathy’s Katch blog post, there are also tons of editable assets in Discovery Education Streaming Plus that can be used with other tools like PowerPoint or Keynote, Padlet, the Adobe Spark Suite, and many other content-creation tools. Give some of them a try, too!
    How do you differentiate instruction in your classroom? Have you used DES to do so? Please share your tips and tricks on Twitter! #kathyskatch
    ✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

    Review of Robo™ Wunderkind Robotics Kit

    Por Kathy Schrock — 28 de Fevereiro de 2020, 22:09
    I admit it. I am not a coder. I have dabbled with block-based coding, Sphero, and some other products, but the last real coding I have done was in 1972 when I created punch cards to count from one to ten for the IBM System/360 at my high school!

    Pete Birkinshaw, Used Punchcard,

    So, when Robo Wunderkind asked me to review their Education Robotics Kit for elementary students, ages 6 to 12, they were happy to hear I was no expert, since the kit was so easy to use! (Probably these early learners have much more recent programming experience than I have!)

    Upon opening the box, I was presented with colorful cubes with electronics, wheels, buttons, lights, and more.

    The overview book, which explained the role of each piece, was easy to understand and I felt confident I understood each component.

    I took the items out of the box and arranged them in my workspace. I also charged up the orange Main Block with the included USB cable.

    Each color block has its own role.

    • The orange Main Block powers the robot, Bluetooths to the student's mobile device where they use the app, and controls all the other blocks.
    • The green Connectors have electronics, and both hold blocks together as well as allow block to communicate with each other.
    • The little green Lego® Connectors allow students to build up their robots by using Legos on the small baseplates.
    • The red Button is a smart button, which knows when students press and release it.
    • The yellow Light is just that...a programmable light source.
    • There are two large green wheels and a small, articulating green wheel.
    • The big red block is a Distance Sensor which measures distances to objects and well as detects sound.
    • The darker blue Motors helps a student's robot to move around.
    • The lighter blue block is a Servo which can rotate the robot to precise angles.
    • The green and black Wired Connector can connect blocks that are not next to each other and help go around the blind sides of the blocks.
    • There is also a little plastic pry bar which is used to separate the Connectors from the blocks, when breaking down the robot, in a way that protects them from too much force. Students under 10 may need some help when prying, since the Connector components fit rather snugly.

    The first step was to attach the Main Block to the app on the mobile device via Bluetooth. It was a simple process that students, once shown how to do it, would be able to complete. At various times, as I built the robot and snapped on pieces, the app prompted me to tap the screen to apply a quick little update to the piece. In addition, there was a firmware update for the Main Block, too. These updates were simple to apply, and completed by tapping a button on the screen of the mobile device, so students will have no problem completing the task.

    I then visited the Web site for a quick overview of the basics, and looked at some of the projects that were available.

    The robots students create are controlled from an iOS or Android device. There are two different apps to support the robots- Robo Code and Robo Live.

    The Robo Code app (iOS | Android) is the place to learn how to build, how to control, and to try building the sample robots in the tutorials. This is also where students can store, edit, and update their own projects. The sample projects showcase each of the robotic components, so students can learn about them and then experiment and create their own unique robots!

    The Robo Live app (iOS | Android) allows students to remotely control their Robo Wunderkind robots by using a drag and drop interface to control the robot's actions like driving, turning, making sounds, and blinking.

    I decided just to put some blocks together, based on what I had learned thus far, and came up with this simple robot. I actually clapped when it worked!

    I then did a little digging in the projects in the Robo Workshop in the Robo Code app and made both a flashlight, which used the Light, and created an obstacle avoider that used the Distance Sensor block.

    I had a ton of fun and learned how to both build and create code to make my robots do what I wanted them to do! I spent about 90 minutes reading the basics, creating my robots, coding my projects, and taking notes, photos, and videos for this blog post.

    I feel the Robo Wunderkind robotics kit and the two apps -- Robo Code and Robo Live -- would be a great addition to a STEM program or a class that includes programming. The drag and drop interface to code the robots is easy to use and has sounds, effects, timings, and more to allow simple or complex programming for the robots. The kit includes enough pieces to make fun robots and make robots do fun things! 

    Although the kit states it is intended for students ages 6-12, my recommendation would be to start with age 6 and go right up through high school. The Robo Wunderkind kit can be an introduction to electronics, programming, and coding at any age. (Even at my age!)

    Getting a Robo Wunderkind kit for every four students in a class would allow collaborative building and coding, along with the creative aspects of design, the math computations of angles, and classroom contests with the robots! 

    I received a Robo Wunderkind robotics kit to keep for writing this review.

    ✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

    uHandy Mobile Microscope Duet review

    Por Kathy Schrock — 30 de Agosto de 2019, 05:01
    Okay, I have not had this much fun since I got my first microscope when I was 10! I have always loved the microscopic world, and even conducted research on blood cells for a pharmaceutical company for my senior project. 

    During the project, I had to remove blood from various animals (rat, rabbit, dog), spin the pipettes in a centrifuge, smear the blood on slides, and manually record the number of different types of white blood cells using an electron microscope. It really is true that the hands-on projects are the ones we remember the most! (I found a video of the type of manual counter I had to use on YouTube!)

    If students do not have a microscope at home or limited access to one at school, they may never have the chance to explore the microscopic world in depth. This love could lead students on a career path they never thought they might take.

    uHandy ask me to review their Mobile Microscope Duet and, after taking a look at it online, I readily agreed to test it out! I could not wait for it to arrive! (And they have even included a promo code for me to give out for a teacher discount!)

    When I first opened the box, I was impressed by the number of items included and the well-written and illustrated user guide that had me up and running quickly! The first step was to install the uHandy app for iOS or Android. The app allows students to capture items as images or videos, adjust focusing, and switch between the Low-Mag and High-Mag lenses.

    Low-Mag lens attached and three samples to try

    My first experiment was to clip the Low-Mag (10x-300x) lens onto the back camera of my iPad Mini and attach a sample sticker of a down feather to the sample cap of the Lo-Mag lens.

    The Sample Cap with the sample.

    The result was impressive as you can see below!
    View of a down feather with the Lo-Mag Lens.

    I then took the plastic cover off of the sample cap so I could view a sample that was irregular. I picked a coin to view.
    View of a quarter though the Lo-Mag lens

    Next came experimentation with the included Light Stage. Students can easily view a sample with the naked eye via its backlight.
    Sample on Light Stage

    High-Mag Lens
    The High-Mag Lens (30x-1000x) can attach to the back of the mobile device, and the Light Stage can even be magnetically attached to it. And, when students move the High-Mag lens to the front camera, they can use the Circular Glass Slide and put liquid on the glass to view through the mobile device. And, if students create their own specimens using the Sample Stickers, they can easily store them in the included collecting album or any notebook. 

    High-Mag Lens with Circular Glass Slide

    The Light Stage, with the attachment of the stainless steel slide holder, can accommodate a regular glass specimen slide, too, and can be attached to the High-Mag Lens for viewing.

    Another cool feature is that students can have both the Low-Mag and High-Mag lenses attached to the mobile device and switch back and forth between them, as illustrated in the video below.

    The uHandy Mobile Microsoft Duet includes 180 sampling stickers for students to use for their own samples, 60 sample cards (which are called the Sample Hub) to create collections from their samples, and a collection album in which students can store their own samples and add notes.
    Collection items included 

    In addition to students using the Mobile Microscope Duet to complete classroom lessons, there are over 50 topics to explore found in the uHandy app. They include instructional videos at different levels of difficulty and projects for students to complete.
    Some lessons included in the uHandy app

    Instructional video for one of the projects

    After putting the uHandy Mobile Microscope Duet through its paces and trying all the included options, I would recommend this for grades 6-12 science classrooms. It would make a great addition to a traditional science lab table as students could use their own mobile devices, capture the samples as images or videos, and use their findings in reports and for research purposes. Also, all the students can view a sample at the same time via a single, larger tablet, and discuss the topic of the lab as a group. The kits can also be used as content remediation or extension by having students work on the project topics included in the app.

    I could envision a few kits put in the school library to be checked out so students could experiment at home. The only consumables that would have to be replaced are the Sample Stickers, the Sample Hub cards, and the batteries for the Light Stage. The kit could be used with younger students, but they would need adult supervision.

    You can order the Mobile Microscope Duet package from the uHandy Duet Amazon page and you can save 15%, through September 12, 2019,  by using the promo code kathyBTS19

    Follow uHandy on Instagram at @loveuhandy!

    ✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

    Fake news: Fact or opinion?

    Por Kathy Schrock — 1 de Fevereiro de 2019, 17:52
    The following blog post first appeared on my Discovery Education blog in February of 2019, and is re-published here with permission.

    Becoming a good digital citizen commonly includes the mastering of a multitude of skills. I like this image, created by Wesley Fryer and Marcia Moore, which provides a visual overview of the components.
    Creative Commons license:
    The Digital Classroom Starter Kit from Common Sense Education provides digital citizenship activities and lessons as part of their classroom technology use ideas. They also provide a wonderful K-12 digital citizenship curriculum with the scope and sequence found here and have recently started updating their curriculum. You can visit their News and Media Literacy units here.

    There are also many other sites which outline the nine elements of digital citizenship in detail as you can see from this Google search. Although these elements are all important, the element of digital citizenship I am most passionate about is the information literacy element. This great poster, in a post on ISTE’s site, describes it best:
    "A good digital citizen applies critical thinking to all online sources and doesn’t share non-credible resources, including fake news or advertisements."

    But how can a student, searching the Web to learn something new, know if they have landed on a non-credible site? Without a knowledge-base in the topic, it may be hard for them to determine incorrect information. I have been working with critical evaluation of Web material since the inception of the graphical Web. As I created my Guide to Educators back in 1995, I realized early-on that determining credible information was difficult. I have critical evaluation worksheets on everything from Web pages to podcasts located here to help students think carefully about a site they are viewing or a podcast they are listening to.

    However, non-credible information used to be more about accidental mis-information by someone who did not know enough about a topic or the unsure decision about the credibility of the author, not the intentional trickery, as it is seems to be today. We must work with students so they can both recognize biased information and know the difference between a fact and an opinion. These skills are life skills, not just Internet information skills!

    Recognizing bias

    Kimberly Moran, in her blog post on WeAreTeachers, provides seven tips for teaching students to recognize bias. Moran includes some great ideas and lessons, too. Here are a few of her suggestions.
    • Help students understand what the terms “fake news” and “news bias” really mean.
    • Provide an explanatory overview of each.
    • Give your students information that seems real and have them evaluate it. Here is a list of some sites I have identified as useful for student critical evaluation practice.
    Moran also suggests teaching your students how to cross-check information. Have them look for conflicting information about the author of the text, images that have been edited, exaggerated claims, and use the “Links to this URL” on Google’s Advanced Search page to see if credible sites link to the one they are researching.

    Here are some additional sites and resources to help teach about bias.
    • The Institute for Humane Education provides a list of sites to help educators recognize their own unconscious bias and how to teach students to recognize implicit bias.
    • Teaching Tolerance offers a lesson plan for students in grades 6-8 that “focuses on teaching students to identify how writers can reveal their biases through their word choice and tone”.
    • The MediaSmarts site provides high school students with the skills to recognize bias and point of view in newscasts and newspaper articles based on the language used in the story and also understand the role of subjectivity and perception in the media. This lesson plan includes having students deconstruct a news story based on language, story selection, and story order.
    • This character education lesson, Recognizing Bias, provided by Learning to Give, helps middle schools students, through a simple classroom activity, to understand about personal biases.
    • Discovery Education includes a 2:37 Common Craft video called Bias Detection. This short video demonstrates the importance of recognizing and accounting for bias when evaluating sources of information. It is intended for students in grades 6-12.
    • Humans as Variables (4:47) is another Discovery Education video clip and it is intended for grades K-5. Its purpose is to show students how a person’s bias could have an impact on a scientific study’s results.
    • The Facing History and Ourselves site includes an eleven lesson unit, Facing Ferguson: News Literacy in a Digital Age. This unit is to help students understand and recognize the choices facing journalists, explore the impact of social media on current-day news cycles, and become critical consumers of news. The essential question for the unit is:
    "What is the role of journalism in a democratic society, and how can we become responsible consumers and producers of news and information in the digital age?"

    Fact or opinion?

    An information literacy topic, related to recognizing bias, is that of determining if something is a fact or an opinion. Oftentimes, students mistake well-stated opinions for fact. There are some great sites on the Web with information and tips to give students practice with the skills to know the difference..
    • Media specialists Donna Mignardi and Jennifer Sturge curated a list of resources to help middle school students recognize the difference between fact, opinion, and informed opinions. The sites they include focus on fact-checking lessons and resources.
    • A lesson plan by Scott Ertl is a guidance lesson for students in grades K-5. The lesson includes the comparison of fact and opinion materials in the news media. It also contains a guidance component titled “My Opinion Matters”. In this section, students practice positive responses to not-so-nice opinion statements classmates might make.
    • This lesson, posted on MediaSmarts, for grades 9-12, Fact Versus Opinion, was adapted from a publication by the Canadian Newspaper Association titled “News is not just black and white”. The lesson includes activities for recognizing bias and understanding how newspapers often include both fact and opinion in the same news story.
    • The New York Times Learning Network provides practice in determining fact and opinion in this lesson. Of course, the Learning Network has plenty of material to pick from, and provides links to real articles that students can discuss. The activities include use of pencil and paper, but students could just as easily mark them up on a digital device.
    • This mini-lesson from the Public Schools of Robeson County (NC) is an excellent resource for teaching the younger (grade 3-5) students about fact and opinion. The lesson includes explicit instruction and pedagogical tips for the educators, too! I believe that this min-lesson would also work for middle school students. Some of the components of the lesson can easily be completed using online tools, too.
    • Discovery Education includes materials for support of teaching and learning about fact vs. opinion for students in grades 6-8. The 4:21 video segment, Fact vs. Opinion, provides scenarios to help students recognize both fact and opinion in informational text.
    • The Author’s Purpose, another video clip in the Discovery Education collection, is a 4:24 video for grades 3-5. It helps students evaluate writings and decide if an author is trying to inform (fact) or trying to persuade (opinion).
    ✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

    I love Brenthaven!

    Por Kathy Schrock — 3 de Abril de 2019, 21:29

    If you follow this blog, you know I regularly review items from Brenthaven, a great company with an awesome focus on the educational market! Their designs are intended to withstand even the most careless student, with cases that can take being thrown in the locker, to headphones that have a breakaway plug for those students who get tangled up in wires easily. And, although we can try to control how the school's technology is treated while in school, we have little control over the out-of-school safety of the devices, as illustrated below! It is important schools invest in protective and proven device protection of the type Brenthaven offers.

    "A mess of wires" by Marshall Vandergrift. CC license: CC-BY-SA. Flickr, 2007. 

    Brenthaven allows me to look through their offerings and pick two or three I personally feel are items that would be great for schools! I view their collections with a different point of view each time. Sometimes, as I did in my previous reviews of the Tred Zip Folio and the Edge Carry Case for the iPad, I am considering ways the student devices can be kept safe when in and out of the backpack.

    This time, I was interested in reviewing two backpack-- ones that work well for student and teacher smaller devices.


    Brenthaven's Tred Slim Pack backpack is made especially for the K-12 environment. I chose to review it because of its smaller size. With many schools supporting a 1:1 laptop initiative and providing students with digital copies of textbooks (with sets of paper textbooks being kept in the classroom), there is no need for students to carry the large backpack of a few years ago that weighed in, with books and larger devices, at 20-25 pounds.

    Below is a video I created in 2013 illustrating this transformation of a student backpack because of smaller and more powerful technology tools and apps.

    The Tred Slim Pack holds a 14" (or under) laptop or tablet, and the Tred's back zippered pocket is totally padded to keep it protected. The shoulder straps are also nicely padded.

    In addition, there are two large zippered outside pockets that can be used for cables and power supplies, snacks, or even a water bottle. There is also a full-width horizontal zippered pocket located on the outside for a cell phone, sunglasses, or a wallet.

    Brenthaven has included some specific features on the backpack to support its educational users. First, there is a reflective item on the front, back, and sides of the Tred Slim Pack to keep students visible and safe as they wait for the early morning bus or walk home in the late afternoons. In addition, the rear of the backpack includes a clear card pocket for easy access to gift students easy access to their ID card.

    The Tred Slim Pack is very sturdy and protective, but also very lightweight at less than 1.2 pounds. Its external dimensions are 16.5" high, 11.5" wide and 4" deep. I loaded up the Tred Slim Pack with my 13" MacBook Pro, the power adapter and charging cable, my Apple XS Max phone, my headphones, a filled metal coffee travel mug, and a paper notebook. The full backpack weighed only 5.4 pounds!

    Band for excess strap

    Another nice little feature is the inclusion of a stretchy band to hold the excess from the backpack straps nice and neat. As one who hates those hanging straps, it is a great addition! And, again, it is a safety feature for students who might be riding a bicycle to school or any other activity that may cause loose straps to get caught.

    The Tred Slim Pack would be a good choice for students in grades 4 -12 due to its smaller size and light weight! Give it a look, and, if you are considering this backpack which will protect the technology and the posture of your students, request a sample unit of Brenthaven's Tred Slim Pack to review!


    Brenthaven also makes a line of bags and backpacks for educators. I am partial to the Collins series, which comes in graphite or indigo, and I already own the ones starred below. I decided I wanted to review the Collins Backpack.

    The Collins Backpack is a feature-rich, professional-looking backpack for any educator. It is large enough to replace your "teacher bag" with lots of storage!

    The side-load, fully padded and quilted laptop pocket can hold up to a 15.6" laptop. (I actually plan to use that area for books, papers , and a light sweater, since my 13" MacBook Pro fits nicely in the middle section padded, quilted pocket (shown on the left with the iPad in it).

    This second full-size zippered section is an organized teacher's dream! It includes a smaller padded and quilted pocket that can hold a tablet, small laptop, or a sheaf of papers. The front of the padded section includes three pockets for power bricks, cables, and  a cell phone. The front flap of this section also includes a half-height zippered pocket to hold additional teacher necessities!

    This section of the Collins Backpack is very deep and can hold notebooks, papers for grading, and your lunch bag, too! The dimensions of the entire backpack are 16.6" high, 12.5" wide, and 6" deep. It weighs practically nothing -- 1.8 pounds!

    The front of the backpack includes two zip pockets. The top one could hold a cell phone, small e-reader, or a snack for the teacher's room. The second zippered section unzips on the top and right side and provides access to a key fob, a small padded pocket I would use for glasses or sunglasses, a pencil or stylus pocket, and a small slip pocket for a license, ID card, or credit cards.

    I love the "vegan leather" bottom on the Collins Backpack since it is easy to sponge off after setting it on a dirty floor. If you load this backpack evenly, the 6" deep bottom will also allow it to stand on its own. The matching integrated handle on the top of the backpack is substantial and allows you another way to tote the bag. However, the padded back and backpack straps make the Collins Backpack comfortable to wear as a regular backpack, too!

    If you are looking for a nice backpack to tote back and forth to school, take a look at the Brenthaven Collins Backpack!

    ✇ Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch

    Review of Vivi

    Por Kathy Schrock — 22 de Março de 2019, 12:24
    As more schools move from interactive whiteboards to wall-mounted televisions or interactive panels, and from teaching in front of the roam to roaming the classroom, a simple screen mirroring and robust video streaming device is needed. This device needs to work with all platforms -- Windows, Mac, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, Linux DEB, and Linux RPM -- and be easy to use. It would be useful if it also included an administrative component to allow IT departments to manage the users and collect data on usage.

    There is already a solution designed specifically for education called Vivi ( that does all of this and more! I was sent one by the company to try out. 

    I cannot speak to the administrative portal and central management components of the device at length since I do not have a school network to experiment with. However, I did have to use the admin panel to set myself up as a teacher user. You can find out more about the administrative portal here, view all the technical details here, and the company will gladly set up a demo to both showcase the Vivi's capabilities as well as answer any questions you might have!


    The goal of the Vivi is to support real-time communication and collaboration in the classroom. The teacher is free to move about the classroom and mirror to the television or interactive panel. The teacher can give a student (or all students) control of the Vivi to share and showcase information with the entire class, too. 

    Students can digitally "raise" their hand to ask for control from the Vivi app on their device as seen below. It does not matter what device they are using. This is a great feature for BYOD or 1:1 initiatives! The teacher is easily able to grant control by clicking on the student's name from the Vivi app on the their device.

    Students can request control to screen mirror
    Instead of worrying about a student in a nearby classroom requesting access to share their device's screen, you can put a 4-digit Room Code on your Vivi that your students need to type in to access the device. Also, once you have Room Code on your Vivi, you can give open access for your students to share their screens. Now, as with any code, you have to insist your students do not share the code with others. However, if you teach multiple classes, you probably will want to change the code regularly!


    There are three ways teachers can show a video using Vivi

    The first method allows you to copy an online video's URL from the Web and paste it into your Vivi app. The video will play through the Vivi and your teacher computer is free for other tasks, such as gathering additional information to share with students, monitoring a student chat about the video being shown, etc. View a training video about this feature here.

    The second method is for you to play a video directly from your own device, rather than from the Internet. This is done by simply navigating to the video on your device through the Vivi app and clicking play! You will still have access to your computer screen for other tasks with this method.

    The third method is called "Movie Mode" by Vivi. This option screenmirrors the video from your computer. When choosing Movie Movie mode as an option, there is a very short delay before the video begins to stream to allow for some buffering ahead of time so the video will play smoothly. To see more in-depth overviews of showing videos., check out this training video from Vivi.

    Some of the options for showing videos through the Vivi


    If you are mirroring your screen, and need to gather some additional resources for students, you can freeze a piece of content, like a Problem of the Day or a paragraph to read. While the content is "frozen", you are free to use your computer for gathering additional items of interest for students, opening a different app to showcase something else, etc. To learn more about the pause feature in Vivi, check out this video!


    The capturing and annotation component of Vivi is very cool! First, you can mirror a piece of content from your computer screen via the Vivi app -- say projecting an unlabeled image of the parts of a flower or pausing a video you are currently showing. Students can then capture the image/video screenshot, use their Vivi app to pick the annotation tool, and annotate their own personal version of the image or video screen capture.

    There are three choices to pick from when providing students with an image to annotate -- what is showing on their screen, an image from your device's photos, or a blank whiteboard students can create on.

    Below is a sample of the student view of the annotation tools.

    Student annotating an image captured with the Vivi annotation tool.

    When students are done with their annotations, they can either download the annotated image to their device and submit it to you, or copy it and paste it into another document, like a shared Google Slide or another document of their own. To see this feature in action, view this training video!


    I wanted to put the Vivi through its paces, so I set up my Mac laptop as the "teacher device" and my iPad as the "student device". I attached the Vivi via HDMI to a television and via Ethernet to my Internet connection.

    I printed out this useful PDF with a labeled overview of the features of the teacher dashboard in the Vivi app that provides a simple explanation of each of the teacher tools.

    I logged in as a student in the app with no problem, but needed a presenter code (which would be supplied by your IT department) to log in as a teacher on my laptop, so I knew I had to open the admin portal.

    The company had set me up as an admin, so I opened the admin portal from my computer and had to put in a change of PW to create my own so I could log-in. The default options in the portal were already turned on, such as allowing me to direct-play videos, share links in the app, etc.

    I then plugged in the Vivi and it took a minute to show up on the television screen because it was setting up, but was ready to go in no time. I went back to the admin portal and noticed the Vivi I had plugged in was now showing up as a room, and, as an admin, I could change the splash image, manage the locations of the boxes, push out an emergency broadcast, and a ton more customization  options. Everything seemed quite straightforward and the user guides included were very detailed if I needed help, but I really did not!

    On my "teacher device", I tried out all the features of screen mirroring, the different options to play videos, to supply the students with a static image to annotate, and pausing the mirroring. I found a feature I had missed, which was the ability to share a URL with all the students. The shared URL showed up in their Vivi app, and they just clicked on it!

    I then turned to my "student device" and requested control access, and went through all those options available to students. One thing I learned -- if your students are using iPads -- is to have students turn on AirPlay and pick the classroom Vivi to mirror to. Another option I appreciated finding was, when a student has control and is sharing a video through their Vivi app, you can pause their video from YOUR teacher Vivi app if necessary. Just in case you want to discuss something...or something not quite right is on the screen!

    The set-up and administration of the Vivi was straightforward, and the classroom use by teachers and students was simple. The mirroring from the devices was instantaneous, the streaming did not hiccup at all, and the pass-off of control from teacher to student was very easy!

    If you are moving to televisions or wall-mounted displays in your classroom, take a look at the Vivi to allow freedom for you from the front of the room and the ability of students to share with others from anywhere in the room. Vivi is a winner!