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Edtech Advocacy &
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Sharpen Digital Drawing and Tech Skills with Shapegrams

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Location: Room 275-6
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Listen and learn : Ed talk

Tony Vincent  
Shapegrams are a collection of guided digital drawing exercises that invite purposeful practice and creative exploration. Each Shapegram is nicely packaged inside a Google Drawings document. While learning about Shapegrams, you’ll get insights into packaging your own lessons in Google Drawings or Google Slides. 

Audience: Library media specialists, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Google account
Topic: Innovative learning environments
Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: Computer science, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.
For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.
  • Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

In an effort to help learners grow their digital drawing skills, Tony Vincent came up with a series of challenges called Shapegrams. Each Shapegram is nicely packaged inside a Google Drawings document and contains a picture to recreate, space to draw, video tutorial, drawing hints, and a side activity. The collection of guided exercises invites purposeful practice and creative exploration. Tony Vincent developed a new Shapegram every week for his fifth graders. The results were amazing. Students' slides, documents, posters, and graphics became more creative, inviting, and personalized.

Teachers often don't have the expertise or the time to systematically guide students into digital drawing, so Tony has made Shapegrams available to other teachers. It turns out that Shapegrams are a great activity that students in grade 3 and up can do independently, making them perfect for online and blended learning. To help teachers understand the why and the how of Shapegrams, Tony Vincent gives a tour of Shapegrams, tips for integrating into the flow of your class, and ideas for putting students' drawing skills to good use.

While learning about Shapegrams, participants will get insights into packaging their own lessons in Google Drawings or Google Slides.  Specifically, they will learn how to insert videos, expand the canvas, and add interactivity.

Tony will share many examples of what teachers and students have done because of Shapegrams. Participants will see connections to literacy, math, science, and social studies.

The basic Shapegrams are available for teachers to use for free. The practice in the free Shapegrams will teach so many important and useful tech and drawing skills. An affordable $35 yearly membership gets a teacher access to 50+ more Shapegrams.


This presentation will blend pictures created with shapes, animations, jokes, puns, and pedagogy to entertain, inform, and inspire the audience. The presentation will have a hashtag and chatroom for participants .

The Story of Shapegrams - 3 minutes
Parts of a Shapegram - 5 minutes
Tactics to Get Students to Watch a Tutorial Video (modeled with the audience) - 5 minutes
Preview a Part of a Tutorial Video - 5 minutes
Adding Interactivity (with hands-on activities) - 15 minutes
Examples of What Students Have Done - 10 minutes
Examples of Teacher Tweaks - 7 minutes

Supporting research

According to Yi Ling Cheng and Kelly Mix, students who did a series of tangram shape puzzles for 40 minutes before taking a math test scored better than those that did crossword puzzles before the test. (Cheng and Mix 2012)

"Spatially gifted, academically inconvenienced: Spatially talented students experience less academic engagement and more behavioural issues than other talented students" expresses the need to engage learners in activities that develop and reward spacial awareness.

Brain Rules is a book by Dr. John Medina. The book's Rule #10 is "vision trumps all other senses." People recognize and remember pictures better than anything they read or hear.

More [+]


Tony Vincent, Learning in Hand

Tony Vincent has been a fifth grade teacher and a tech coach. From his home in Iowa, Tony shares friendly ways for teachers to reach, empower, and inspire their students.

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