Two Storytelling Tools

There’s something about a well-done multi-media presentation that is greater than the sum of its parts.

This amazing map of the floods of 2019 along the Mississippi is a terrific example. I make no claim to produce anything so amazing, but one of my favorite digital tools- a real go-to tool for me- is Adobe Spark Page. I made sparkpage embedded below for my history students. It originally was just a google doc. But in about 40 minutes I was able to make this. To me, it is more engaging than a Google doc and I expect it is for students also.  War of 1812

Powtoon is another terrific tool. That’s why I am so happy to highlight an example from Sonia Chin and Holly McCloskey who used ed-tech tools to have students demonstrate mastery outside of the traditional test format. They asked students to produce videos as part of their Bio II Adv. Final. Sonia and Holly purposefully wanted students to use a storytelling medium to share out and reflect upon what they learned. 

These new, easy to use storytelling tools allow us to assign creative projects equal to any test’s demands for knowing at any level of Bloom’s taxonomy of while also promoting communication, collaboration and creativity. 

I’d be happy to come to any class and share these tools and others. Book me with a help ticket.

After break, I will highlight Synth (my students’ have a pending assignment with it), a free podcasting tool specializing in 256 second long podcasts. Click here for a sneak preview/ explanation.

New Google Earth Features

Google Earth has long been a terrific tool for exploring and viewing our planet. Until this past month, it has not been a creation tool. But it is now! Take a look here at all of Google Earth’s features for education here.

New tools in Google Earth allow teachers and students to create and share narratives. Even cooler, these tools  allow for collaboration. Projects can have multiple contributors. To top it off, photos and videos can be added to make tours even more engaging. I have a student who is doing a project right now for which this tool will be just perfect. I’ll share with you the finished product when she is done.


Visual Story Telling

I am increasingly intrigued by how I can use tech tools to enhance storytelling and narrative, expository and descriptive prose.

Digital technologies have expanded the way my students communicate their knowledge and present findings.  I find these tools encourage students to consider questions of visual presentation and the user experience. Below, you will find resources that you can use to support teaching and learning.

I like embedding tech into assignments to get students to think about ways they can share their understanding in creative ways. Embedded below is an example from my World History Course last year that I wrote about in my personal blog.

Teaching with StoryMap

Last year I blogged about Knightlab’s impressive storytelling tools. Several of these tools are used by commercial media outlets, but I was excited by their potential use in the classroom. I recently gave an assignment about the Silk Road to my 9th grade world history students to tie our study of Ancient China and Ancient India together.

Here are some of my “go-to” tools. (Note: the icons embedded in the slidedeck are clickable.)

The YouTube playlist below hosts tutorials on how to use the aforementioned tools.  As always, you can email me at  or put in a help ticket if you want to talk about ways to use these tools in your teaching. I have used all of the tools mentioned above in my teaching except for Toontastic. Some are real favorites. AdobeSpark is terrific. My students often use it. WeVideo is a go to tool for me when I want to flip my teaching.*  Final note, I also highly recommend Piktochart. I’ll be using it shortly to have students create visual “essays”.


*I screencast with Zoom, edit in WeVideo, upload the video to YouTube and embed questions on the video with EdPuzzle. The whole process takes no longer than 15 minutes to make a quality 5 minute video with questions embedded.  Padraig Barry does this even more often than I do.

Virtual Reality at FCS

This article and video were produced by the FCIT tech interns. We have edited the article for clarity and brevity. 

FCIT offers for classroom using three different VR systems. Listed in order of complexity, we have 22 Google Cardboard headsets that can be used with any smart phone for an easily accessible classroom 3d experiences. We also offer 12 Lenovo Dream Headsets in a cart. Finally, we now have two highly sophisticated HTC Vive VR systems in the tech suites.

Google Cardboard:

These portable, easy to use devices work with any smartphone. Apps we like include Google Expeditions, YouTube360, Google Arts and Culture, and Titans of Space 

Lenovo DayDream:

FCIT proudly hosts a managed set of 12 of these. Offering the above options and many more, Daydream offers impressive visuals. Our favorite feature is that teachers can lead “tours” on Google Expeditions through the Daydreams. 

HTC Vive:

For the most immersive and interactive experience, with the most possibilities we offer  the HTC Vive. While the HTC Vive is more complex than the alternative VR Headsets it is vastly superior in its ability to interact with the virtual environment, and is less complicated than it appears.

 These HTC Vive offerings give a sense of the variety and depth of the offerings. We can get hundreds of programs. These include programs such as: 

Nanome – Science – This app allows students to collaborate in a virtual environment, the students can interact with proteins, molecules, and atoms up close in a way that is impossible in real life.

Becoming Homeless VR – Social Studies / Psychology This story / interactive experience puts students in the life of someone that has been evicted and can no longer afford a house. Students can fully understand and feel what it is like to be homeless, allowing them to empathize with the large amount of people in that situation.

Anne Frank House VR – History- Follows Anne Frank during WWII, allows the students to see what historians believe happened rather than the stories. Includes excerpts from her diary.

Kremer Collection VR – Art- This VR experience allows you to explore a large collection of classic artworks in incredible detail, getting closer than you possibly could in real life.

Hololab Champions – Science- This VR app allows the player to experiment and do challenges involving safely creating chemical reactions, this turns chemistry into a game so that the student can actually enjoy and will want to play this educational game.

Mel Chemistry VR – Science- Mel Chemistry VR has a large variety of lessons from atoms to molecules and everything in between, designed to hold a young student’s attention and help them optimally absorb the information.

1943 Berlin Blitz – History-Helps the student get a more immersive view and helps them fully understand WWII from another perspective.

The Body VR – Science (Already Included)- Enter one of the billions of living cells inside our body and learn how the organelles work together to fight deadly viruses.

Here’s a mashup video made by the tech interns show some of the amazing things the Vive can do.

Viewing Mid-Semester Reports by Homeroom

In order to help you prepare for the Parent Conferences, you can now download or view your advisees Mid-Semester Progress Reports.


  1. On the teacher portal, click on your homeroom class.
  2. If you don’t go there automatically, go to the Students tab.
  3. Click the Download Class Reports button on the right side, above the table of students’ names.
  4. In the pop-up box, click the red pdf button next to Progress Report.

That will generate a single PDF file with each of your students’ (current) mid-semester progress report in it.


  1. Click on Axiom Reports
  2. Select Mid-Semester Reports (By Advisor)