Creating a reading portfolio for the library

How can we better motivate students to read what they get from the library? I often feel like students are only taking out books because they are being forced to by their teachers and librarians. After a discovery discussion with one of the wonderful librarians I work with, I came up with a short list of requirements for a tool.

  1. iPad friendly
  2. Creates an individual folder to store student reading projects
  3. Randomly assign short reading projects.
  4. Provide a method for recommending books and allow students to choose their own books.

The first working prototype of these requirements can be seen here:

The Library Portfolio!

Let me take you through a quick tour of what it does, and how you can use it.

When you first visit the portfolio, you will arrive at a screen similar to above. You will have a missing avatar, your email address will display, and you will get a list of all of the projects in your portfolio folder. This folder is linked directly to your Google drive.

You can see that there was a drawing created in this directory. That can become the student avatar that will show up on the portfolio page. Change the filename to whatever you want, and it will become the name that is displayed also.

Once you have edited this file, you need to ‘Publish to the web..’ before it will display correctly on the portfolio page.

Students have the ability to search the Goodreads database for books of their own choosing. My students can select a book from the library on our campus, then find the book using search and add it to their portfolio using ‘Start Project’.

The real strength of this tool is in recommending books for students who don’t already know what they want. There is a short quiz designed by the elementary librarian that results in 5 suggestions being plucked from a list generated directly by the librarian using Google Forms.

Once you have a recommendation, you can start a new project in the same way that you did with the search feature. Each of these projects generates a separate document in the student’s folder on drive. They contain short activities that can be done with any book that the student selects (we hope!)

This is just the beginning of the project. We have a bunch of other great ideas (and a bunch of bugs to fix in the code!) Please let me know what you think on Twitter! @rheajt

Wonder Wall for Google Sheets

Display responses from Google Forms in real time!

The idea sprung from a professional development meeting I was having on inquiry based learning (IBL). Several apps were discussed as ways for students to share their questions in real time. I immediately thought that using Google Forms and Sheets would be a great project. My friend Daniel Sharpe who I do a weekly hour of code with thought the same thing. So we devoted two hours to making it a deployed add-on in the add-on store.

Install the add-on from the Chrome Web Store!

Check out the project, and let us know how we can improve it!

After you have installed the add-on, the first step is to create a Google Form with the correct questions. You can create your own or make a copy below.

[su_button url=”” target=”blank” style=”flat” background=”#f37c2d” color=”#ffffff” size=”8″ wide=”yes” center=”yes” radius=”0″ icon=”icon: users” text_shadow=”0px 0px 0px #000000″]Make a copy on your drive.[/su_button]

form-setupNext, create a spreadsheet for responses and open it. Once you have done that, all you need to do is open the add-on menu and run!






The page will update itself every 10 seconds with responses. We tried to make it look like Pinterest or Padlet style sites. However, neither of us is that great at CSS styling. So we used Bubble CSS for the text bubbles, and a project for the columns.

Send some suggestions to @rheajt or @get_sharpe, and feel free to check out any of our other projects!




Take attendance with ClassDojo with a single click!


I enjoy using ClassDojo. More importantly, my 5th grade classes enjoy when I use ClassDojo. There is something they really dig about being able to customize their own little monster avatars.

[su_button url=”” target=”blank” style=”flat” background=”#189912″ color=”#ffffff” size=”8″ radius=”0″ icon=”icon: send-o” text_shadow=”0px 0px 0px #000000″]Go to my ClassDojo Attendance Extension on the Chrome Store[/su_button]


My only complaint was that I was taking attendance on ClassDojo, but I still had to send an email to the school secretary every morning and whenever a student was late. I was basically doing the same job twice, and any programmer will tell you that is a sign of sloppy coding. In this case, real-life coding.

Raising hand

So, during a meeting today I came up with what I think is a solution. A Chrome browser extension! All you have to do is:

  1. Install the extension from the Chrome Webstore.
  2. Input a couple of emails. The person who takes the attendance in your office is the first input box. This person will get the email. The second email is your own email. This is so that the program can blind carbon copy yourself for your own records.
    1. Right-click on the icon in the upper right corner of your browser (see below)  right-click
    2. Input the requested information.
    3. Click SAVE

Once you have done that, go to your class attendance page in ClassDojo. Left-click on the browser icon and the rest is automatic!

Please let me know if you think of any other things you wish ClassDojo could do! These are the kinds of things that I love building. My entire Google Innovator Project is designed about finding the great ideas that teachers have and making them reality.


#ShoutOuts on Twitter

I have been doing a few hangouts with some of my colleagues from the Google Innovator Academy this past summer. It is definitely nice to help out with some really incredible projects, as well as get some praise along the way!

UPDATE to my Google Innovator project ‘’

When I first submitted my project back in April, I had only taken previous projects and created a system where others could add suggestions for new tools.

It wasn’t until being at the Academy in Boulder that I had the idea to connect the ideas that teachers suggest with developers on Github. You can browse mine at

If you aren’t familiar with Github, let me give you a quick description. GitHub is a way for developers to house their open source projects. Many developers keep lots of small projects that they use as part of their resumes. Why not provide a way to connect these developers directly to those ideas?

There is no limit to the ideas that teachers have for custom functions, add-ons, extensions, and other various web apps. I am hoping to help that process by making it easier to collaborate!

Still to come:

1. Allow developers to create a gist or repository directly on Github using their API with description of the project already created.

2. Tweet out project ideas when teachers create a new project. Should I create a new hash tag for these projects or harness the power of existing ones?

3. Tweet out when a developer accepts a teacher’s project idea. 

4. I need some better ways to promote the idea. I think there are tons of people looking to help out and improve their own portfolios at the same time. Examples of this are FreeCodeCamp and Stack Overflow. How can I get people on those sites interested in


There is tons of work to do in the next few weeks. I hope sharing this prototype helps me better see ways to improve the idea. If even a few ideas that can help teachers become reality then it will be worth it!

Reflections from the Google Innovator Academy

In 6 years as a teacher I have never had a professional development experience as rewarding as this. Especially since the last 3 years have been spent in Turkey with very little in the way of a PD community. The focus of the program is on helping teachers advance their project ideas, however, my big take-away from the time was the networking with other teachers who all have a technological focus in their districts/schools/classrooms.

Beyond that facet of the program, there were things that really stood out to me from each day of the program.

Day 1:

breakoutBreakoutEDU. That is all I really need to say. I was basically the only teacher who had no familiarity with the program prior to this conference.

It is an escape room for your classroom. I have posted about escape rooms before, and I am not shy about telling people that “it is more about the puzzles than the escape” despite how pretentious that statement sounds.

Day 2:

Wesley Chun (@wescpy) gave a talk about Google Apps Script! This is my favorite part of using Google Apps and to hear from someone who creates the kind of add-ons/apps that I am interested in creating myself was incredible. Google Apps Script has been a big part of me learning javascript and other web technologies in the first place. It has been an invaluable resource in my learning, and I am hoping to build my innovator project around it.

Beyond that, he gave a demo of his new add-on for Google Forms that allows you to build a form from a document called GFormIt. It streamlines the entire process of creating a form. This was really cool for me, because I had created a similar add-on months ago just to play around with the Form API and see what was possible.

Day 3:

Have you heard of Google Cardboard??? Virtual reality is coming into the education space in a big way with very cheap VR devices.

I think this is going to completely change the way we take field trips in schools.

Simply put, this was a great experience for me as a classroom teacher, especially as a classroom teacher in Turkey. I work at a school that is certainly not for lack of resources, however, it can feel like teaching on an island.

I would encourage any teacher with an idea for integrating technology and education to start putting together a proposal!

40 Recommended Extensions for Teachers, Research, and Language Learners | Tech Learning


Source: 40 Recommended Extensions for Teachers, Research, and Language Learners | Tech Learning

This is a great list of browser extensions that are designed to save time and add functionality. I have recently been interested in programming these for myself. In the Google Innovator cohort I designed a replacement ‘New Tab’ window for Chrome browser. It has links to several of the files that we have been using in the preparation weeks before the conference.

One day, I hope to have my an extension that I build on a list like this!

Grading curves with your Easy Online Gradebook

Can we create our own functions in Google Sheets? YES!!!

Using the template that we setup in a previous post, we can add some custom functions to make grading even easier. This can seem a little intimidating since it does require looking at code. However, HAVE NO FEAR! All you need is the ability to copy and paste and you will be good to go.

Our Playlist

A way to create and share Youtube playlists with anyone!

The idea is that you can create a playlist on Youtube and share it with your students. Then when your students have something to add, they can add the links. Since it is your playlist you can approve those links or remove them, but the end result is that you have created

[su_button url=”” target=”blank” style=”flat” background=”#303248″ size=”8″ radius=”0″ icon=”icon: play-circle” text_shadow=”0px 0px 0px #000000″]Open OurPlaylist App[/su_button]