Remove Image Background – Place yourself anywhere!

I am pretty sure I spent way too much time on this blog looking for pictures to use on stands for “remove background”.  Instead of spending hours in Photoshop editing the picture so it shows just you, with no background, does this in 5 seconds.

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How does it work?  “We use sophisticated AI technology to detect foreground layers and separate them from the background. To improve the results we have several additional algorithms in place, for instance, to improve fine details and prevent color contamination.” I know.  It’s okay. Blink.

How can you use this in the classroom?  Memes were the first thing I thought of, so I just went with it.  Maybe your students can post themselves in a picture of a place they want to visit and write/talk/present about it.  They can create comic strips or a storyboard with themselves or their friends in the frames.  There are links to using memes in education below, but if you have any other ideas about how to use this background changer, let me know!

Check it out:

The left image is on a bridge in Chicago – the original.  The right image is of me in front of the Eiffel Tower.  I made the meme in Google Drawings by importing the image with the original background removed and adding a new background.

Or this one (sorry Jim):

screenshot 2019-01-17 at 5.58.09 pm

So, if you’d like to know more about, head over to their website.  It’s super easy and takes only a couple of minutes to figure out what to do.

If you’d like to learn how to use memes in your classroom, check out these links:

Using Classroom Memes to Connect with Your Students – very comprehensive

ISTE – Memes

Memes in the Art Room (and more)

Using Humor to Improve Student Learning

and for fun…..TEACHER MEMES!


Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!


Timers For More Time In The Classroom by Odette Edbrooke

It Ain’t Fancy, But It Works!

There is never enough time! Or is there? Often times, we are trying to squish a lot of different activities and topics into one class period. And many of those times we end up having to bleed into another class period because we just didn’t have the time.

But many of the times – we actually do.

Posting a timer on the board and mapping out a day’s lesson plan with allotted times helps both the teacher and the student stay on track during a class period. If you give students 55 minutes to complete something, they’ll need 60. But if you give me 30 with a timer, they will only need 35.

This helps with time management and with motivation. Do you give them a block break? Set the timer, and they have to be back in their seats before the timer goes off.

This can also help students who have anxiety about test taking and limited time. For students who have these anxieties, break their test into different parts. Set the timer, and then give them a goal time for each section. If they don’t finish that section, have them just move onto the next section for the next segment. Most of the time they get more done (or actually complete the whole thing!) and then they have a strategy they can use for the future.

Online stopwatches are readily available. One suggested timer is It offers different types of timers, and it is clear and easy to see. There are a lot of ads on the page, but overall is a simple tool to use.


Some other strategies for an online timer include:

  • Giving students a work day? Use the online timer in conjunction with the Pomodoro technique. Incorporate movement between the different chunks.
  • Doing a lab or project that has a step-by-step process? Provide a set time for each step.
  • Set up stations around the room with different topics for the day. Have students rotate through the stations using the timer.
  • When giving small groups to talk about, give them 1 minute for each round robin exercise so you can move through it quickly.
  • Have 1:1 conferencing with students about their writing, their grades, or just giving them a chance to get to know them. Set the timer to make sure you get a chance to speak with everyone.

Need a Good Review Tool? Use Quizlet Live or Test! by Tamra Miaja & Paula Seifried

Many you may have used Quizlet as an individual study tool for your students, but if you’ve never used Quizlet Live or Test, then this blog is for you!  Even if you have, hopefully this will give you some unique ways to add it to your lesson repertoire.


In a nutshell, Quizlet Live is a fun and exciting game that will help your students learn the material, work with new people, and engage in a little friendly competition.  The students are placed into randomly generated teams and then work together to match vocabulary words to their definitions. A scoreboard projected in the front of the classroom gives them an idea of where their team is at, and how much further they have to go.

Watch this video to see how Quizlet Live looked in Tamra’s science class.Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 6.31.34 PM

We find that Quizlet Live works great as a review before the test.  The students spend most of the period working on their study guide, and then the last 20 minutes or so we do Quizlet Live together.  This way, students can tell whether they are prepared for the test or not. If they still need more practice, they can access the same Quizlet set on the class webpage and review on their own time.  In fact, our students have come to love Quizlet so much as a study tool that they beg for it before every test!


There are a lot of things that Quizlet can do, but check out this link to the instructions for how to use Quizlet Live.  If you need a video, watch this short tutorial instead!

“Test” is an another option on Quizlet to be able to use as a small quiz.  You can choose what kind of questions you want (multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank, and/or matching). One nice feature is that it will give students instant feedback with a grade. You can also use it as a formative grade with little work on your end! These are only some useful suggestions just in time for final exams!  May the force be with you!

Paula’s class using the test option in Quizlet.

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A Time Management Technique for All & I Mean You.

Student, Teacher, Administrator, Parent, Person……sometimes we can use a little help with our time management skills when there are so many distractions out there.  Those distractions don’t just have to be technology either.  Welcome to the Pomodoro Technique created in the 1980’s (!!) by Francesco Cirillo.

Screenshot 2018-11-29 at 3.37.28 PM

So, what exactly is this technique?  According to the Crossover Blog infographic:

Screenshot 2018-11-29 at 3.36.32 PM

You can repeat this cycle as much as needed in order to accomplish your tasks.  I actually heard about this technique from one of our students on a panel at a Google Summit.  Props to Samuel Hahn.

The Pomodoro Technique can also be installed as an extension on Chrome with features as listed below.  A tomato icon will be installed on your extension bar.  Why the tomato?  Pomodoro is the Italian word for “tomato” and Francesco Cirillo had a kitchen timer he used that was shaped like a tomato.  There you have it.

Screenshot 2018-11-29 at 8.26.16 PM

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Maybe you don’t need this, but I am sure you may know one or 180 students that could benefit from this technique.  More articles about the Pomodoro Technique can be found at any one of these links:

Now I know what it means to work smarter and not harder.  Good luck and hope this helps!  Ask Sam……



Setting Appointments for Success

Is your tutor time slammed and you can’t get to everybody in the room? Do you have students showing up at all hours of the school day asking for help, even when you have a class? Do you have students telling you they looked for you before or after school but couldn’t find you (turns out you were in your room) so they couldn’t get the help they needed? You need to create appointments for your students to get the help they need to be successful in your class.

There is a fantastic feature in Google Calendar that makes setting appointment time slots easy and user-friendly for all.

To set up your appointment slots:

  1. In Google Calendar, open up the calendar you want to create appointments in and make sure it is in Week View or Day View.
  2. Click on the time you want to create the timeslots and then click Appointment Slots.Screenshot 2018-11-15 at 1.18.58 PM
  3. Enter the details, including a title, and pick the calendar where you want the event to show up. You can also set the duration of the appointments. (I set mine for 10- minute increments).
  4. To add more information, like a location (if you are in different rooms), description, or to make the appointment block repeat, click Edit eventEdit

Once you have your appointment slots set up (I’ve made mine for my planning periods, before/after school and tutor time), you’ll need to invite students to make appointments.

To invite people to book appointments, don’t invite them to the appointment slot. Instead, get a link to send them for your appointment slots page:

  1. Open your calendar.
  2. Click your appointment and then Edit Edit event.
  3. Click This calendar’s appointment page.
  4. Copy and paste the calendar’s appointment page link from your browser.
  5. Post this link to your website, Schoology, or Google Classroom.

I’ve posted a Help Button on my website where I’ve linked the calendar. Screenshot 2018-11-15 at 1.24.21 PM

Now I know exactly what the student needs help with and when they are coming in to get that help. The appointment shows up on my calendar and theirs which holds us both accountable. Everybody wins!



Schoology vs. Google Classroom by Terry Oakley

Have you been wanting to try using Google Classroom or Schoology but you don’t know which one will best meet your needs? Both platforms have had significant improvements over the past few years and make staying digitally organized and saving time more of a reality.

Trust me, putting a little bit of time and effort into moving your content over to either option can save you countless hours down the road. I use both Google Classroom and Schoology to meet various needs in the classes I teach.

Here are a few resources created by our BVSD Ed Tech Team to get you started if you don’t know which platform is best for you or you want to learn about some of the changes and updates.

If there is something specific that you want to do in your classroom and you are not sure which one to try, check out this interactive Choose Your Own Adventure – style slideshow that will help you find the right tool for your specific technology needs.

Lastly, the question we all want to be answered is when will Schoology integrate with Infinite Campus so we don’t have to manually enter in our grades? The BVSD Ed Tech Team is promising that it will happen soon, possibly by the start of next semester.

Are DVD’s the new Betamax?


Admittedly, some of our staff members are not old enough to know or even remember what Betamax was, so think of it like VHS tapes.  We are still using DVD’s at BrHS and need to because some of our supporting curriculum content can’t be found on YouTube, Netflix, Xfinity, etc., but with Chromebooks and Chromeboxes replacing desktop devices, DVD players are nowhere to be found on or in the new technology.

What’s the workaround? 

How can I still use DVD’s in my classroom and not become a junior member of IT setting up cords, cables, and audio?

Enter the laptop.  WHAT!?!  Yes.  Remember those bulky creatures of turtle-paced searching but had a built-in DVD player?  The library has several laptops that can be used EASILY to show DVD’s in your classroom and this is how in 5 steps:

  1. Go to the library and check out a laptop through our favorite librarian, Jane Schissel.img_5771.jpg
  2. Unplug the HDMI cord from your Chromebox splitter, back of the desktop, or whatever device it’s currently plugged into (NOT THE WALL) and plug it into the HDMI connection on the side of the laptop.  There’s no audio to hook up, no connecting anything else- just the HDMI cord.
  3. Sign into the laptop.IMG_5772
  4. Insert and play DVD.
  5. Enjoy.

Of course, there are some middle steps shown in the pictures, but it takes 5 steps to show some really great and still relevant content that will one day, maybe, stream on YouTube. Good luck with that! I’ll probably be blogging about holograms next.

Smart Compose: Complete my….


Several weeks ago, a popup occurred on my Gmail account: Smart Compose.  The Elite Daily sums it up as follows:

smart compose what it is

Beep. Boop. Broomfield.

Here’s a screencast that shows you how to enable Smart Compose.  I think it’s just as important as using Grammarly!

smart compose

For more information about Smart Compose, check out the following articles:

This New Gmail Smart Compose Feature Is So Accurate That People Are Freaked Out

Gmail adds a predictive type feature called Smart Compose

There’s not a whole lot to say about Smart Compose for Gmail except try it out.  You can always turn it off.  But you won’t!  Happy emailing!



BrHS Genius Bar – Yes. We. Can.

IMG_5325.JPGWelcome to Room 235 – otherwise known as the Genius Bar.  Many staff members and students didn’t realize we moved out of the library and into a cozy space located near the band room and outside the auditorium.


The Genius Bar is staffed by Diego Diaz, Wes Keodara, John Zack, Stephen Gately, Ally Horvath, Bella Aguilar, Kushal Regmi, Phuc Tran and Zach Burpoe. 

Hours are all common lunches and 5th periods.

The Genius Bar can repair anything from a sticking key, damaged power source, broken screen or motherboard replacement.  Yes. We. Can.  Most repairs are free of charge, but broken screens will cost $45 paid in full and no loaner device provided.  So, next time you or one of your students needs assistance or have any questions, come on over and see us.  We are happy to help!


Do we still have a Teacher Tech Team?

BrHS Staff:

  • As we are in our 4th year of 1:Web, the roles of the Teacher Tech Team (TTT) have changed from planning and deployment to addressing Chromebook challenges and providing effective teacher PD/support.
  • Last May, the idea of dismantling the TTT and assembling a BrHS Tech Team Cohort was evaluated by myself and Steve Kelly and ultimately presented to the TTT.  The purpose of the cohort would be to have one or two teacher representatives from each department committed to being 100% Google and share out new technology training learned at our meetings.  A series of Cohort Objectives was assembled and presented to each department via TTT representatives.
  • Interested teachers filled out an application and are members of the Cohort:  Jim Davidson, Paige Marchi, Odette Edbrooke, Tamra Miaja, Heather Peter, Garren Estes, Nathan Spencer, Carrie Thrasher, Alex Kelly, Paula Seifried, and Terry Oakley.
  • The longtime commitment of past TTT members and the future-focused thinking of our new Teacher Cohort will hopefully help the entire staff at BrHS and inevitably, our students facing and overcoming ever-changing technological hurdles whatever that may look like.
Check out these ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Educator Standards we can follow to empower ourselves and our students to transform learning in our classrooms!