Monday, April 20, 2015

Check out these teacher's new blogs!

This week I finished teaching an online course called Teaching in the Digital Age. I built this course as a personalized learning opportunity for teachers in my county. The course was an adaption of the Leading Edge Digital Educator course blended with some of my own content. After eight weeks of learning together, the teachers have impressed me with their growth and insights. 

The class was closely aligned to the ISTE Standards for Teachers and particpants tracked their learning throughout the course. One requirement was for them to create professional blogs to respond to weekly reflections and post their work. They produced a variety of creative works during the course, but their blogs are my favorite. Several teachers mentioned that they plan to keep blogging now that the course if over and I hope that they do.  Please take a look at their blogs listed below and follow and comment on them. Teachers need comments too! #Comments4Teachers

Thank you to the final nine educators that completed the course. Keep sharing your learning.

Below are some other highlights from the course.
+Victoria Schoonover's Sketchnote on Modern Learning Environments made with FlipInk
        +Angie Marshall's reflection on her progress with the ISTE Standards for Teachers. Infographic built with

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Multi-class Digital Citizenship Lesson with Google Hangouts on Air

Integrating digital citizenship curriculum into classrooms can be tricky for a variety of reasons. Two of the main issues for our teachers are time and comfort level with the material. Teachers have never been asked to formally teach digital citizenship and many need to learn the information themselves. Earlier this year I put out the expectation for lessons to be taught and grade levels decided upon specific lessons and put them on a shared calendar.  Still, these lessons went largely untaught this year. I reflected on this in my Share The Mess post in January.

I took this issue to our Educational Technology Committee and they came up with an idea to use technology to teach and model lessons. A few 3rd and 4th grade teachers committed to being a part of the first collaborative lesson and we decided to use Google Hangouts on Air so we could archive it. We chose to do the lesson, "You've Won a Prize!" from Common Sense Media

A week before the lesson, we did a practice Google Hangout so the students could meet each other and learn video call etiquette. We discussed how to mute when others were talking and how to take turns asking questions and sharing ideas.  The practice hangout was pure magic as the students discussed things like what they were learning in math and how many students were in each class. They were beyond excited to see and talk with each other in real time. One of our more rural, small schools was surprised to see how big the other classes were.

For the Hangout on Air we had the awesome +Tracy Campbell deliver the lesson and she asked the other classes to respond to discussion questions, always letting them know that they would be on deck to respond after having time to brainstorm in their table groups. Here is a copy of the lesson outline in case you are interested. You can also watch the full lesson below.

The lesson went amazingly well. Student collaboration and communication were elevated in this real world situation. Students from +Stephanie Disrude's class said they enjoyed 'sharing the workload', but that it was hard to sit still and be quiet during the lesson. They definitely wanted to do it again because 'It was fun!' and 'We learned something!'  Teaching this way directly addresses the ISTE Standards for Students: Communication and Collaboration, 'Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.' (ISTE, 2007)

In the future we would like to conduct more lessons this way so that other classes can view them and we can also use them to show teachers how lessons work with students in the classroom. We are also thinking about doing math or science lesson via Google Hangout on Air. What an amazing tool to bring our classrooms closer together and show us the we are all #bettertogether.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

ThingLink: Always Improving for EDU

This week I was notified by Susan Oxnevad that I was chosen to be a ThingLink Expert Educator. Exciting news as I have been a fan of ThingLink for over a year. Creating media rich and interactive images is a powerful tool for both students and teachers. To the right is an image I created about Bacteria for an introduction to a unit You can see my more of my creations here.
ThingLink is a free webtool for educators. You can use the web or mobile version to create interactive images packed with resources. Students can do this on mobile devices with or without wifi, which makes it great for field trips! ThingLink images can be used by teachers and students to enhance learning. From introducing new content to providing feedback on student work it is a powerful tool. To learn about these ideas and more  you can view my presentation about iPad authoring tools.

New Features Announced Today

I am super excited about some of the changes happening with ThingLink that will help schools use this awesome tool in the classrooms. Until now, I have mostly been using it to share information and create images for teachers in my work as an Educational Technology Coordinator, but now I am hoping to see more teachers use it with students. Today, ThingLink announced verified accounts for school districts along with the release of an updated iOS app that is well suited for educational use, making ThingLink EDU better than ever for teaching and learning!

Here is a summary of the new features (from Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners Blog)

Benefits of Verified District Accounts

A verified organization on ThingLink EDU serves three goals. First, verification is used to establish authenticity of an organization. Once this is done, the organization gets an invitation code that can be used to easily invite staff and students to ThingLink EDU. A verified organization account will be equipped with a dashboard to easily manage teachers, students, and groups. Third, a verified organization account gives schools and districts easy access to all of the ThingLink resources created by teachers and students across the district. These features make it easier than ever for teachers and students to create, share and curate multimedia rich content with ThingLink.

ThingLink iOS app Updated for Educational Use

More great news! The ThingLink iOS app has been updated with education in mind. When browsing for existing ThingLink content, students can only see images created by other teachers and students. Safe-search has been enabled to provide students with age appropriate content when searching for media to annotate images. The updated version of the app now includes student and teacher signup options with invitation codes, making it easy to manage students and engage them on mobile devices like never before.

Explore this slideshow channel of interactive image to learn how ThingLink can be used on a field trip on a mobile device without wireless. Be sure to click the arrow to advance to the next image to see how students can extend the learning at school and at home, using whatever device is handy at the moment.

How To Request a Verified Status for Your Organization

ThingLink has the ability to transform teaching and learning, so grab your verified district account, add the updated iOS app and embrace this amazing EDU tool!
Send an email to

Saturday, January 31, 2015

#SharetheMess Whats not working this year

Inspired by LS_Karl's #SharetheMess post about what didn't work in his classroom, I am writing today about something that has not worked for me this year.

Last Spring I wrote our district technology plan and one of the focus areas was to implement digital citizenship curriculum for all K-12 students district wide. We adopted Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Curriculum and I modeled lessons in several classrooms with an overwhelming positive response. Grade level teams were tasked with deciding which lessons would be taught when for their grade level using this Digital Citizenship Curriculum Planning Doc. This would allow teachers to have choice when implementing the curriculum. The goal was to create equity and insure that all students in the same grade level receive a guaranteed curriculum.

Using BrightBytes at the beginning of the year, we collected data on digital citizenship teaching and learning. We will be collecting more data late this spring.
Our data from the beginning of the 14-15 school year about teaching students to legally use web content
BrightBytes data gives us valuable information about critical areas to address.

We are now just over half way through the year and while some teachers have taught digital citizenship lessons, most have not. All students are not receiving the same instruction in digital citizenship. Feedback from teachers varies. Some state it is a lack of time to implement the lessons, others think they don't have access to adequate technology for the lessons, and some are just uneasy teaching a subject they know very little about. So, my plan was not working and I needed to do something before the year was over. To begin to address these misconceptions and get to the heart of the problem, I took the issue to a recent technology committee meeting.  We discussed the issue and the members came up with some great ideas.

Here is our plan. On March 10th we will broadcast a digital citizenship lesson via Google Hangout in five different 3rd grade classrooms. One teacher will lead the lesson and the other four will facilitate it in their classrooms. We plan to make it a Google Hangout on Air so it can be archived for all third grade teachers to use with their students. We also plan to have a second person in each of the rooms to serve as tech support and deal with any issues while broadcasting. If it works we will do it again with 1st grade teachers.

Will it work? Will we see increased implementation of digital citizenship curriculum? Will teachers feel more at ease after seeing a lesson taught? We are hopeful and excited about our plan.  Look for another post in March after the lesson.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Power of a Teacher Challenge

What professional learning activities truly change my practice?

I would have to say Teacher Challenges.  They are better than most workshops, seminars, or trainings at creating a lasting impact on my growth and learning.

What is a Teacher Challenge?

They are free professional learning events that feature daily or weekly tasks around a specific focus. The purpose of these challenges are to increase teacher skills with the support of mentors and colleagues.  In one of my Voxer chat groups, someone referred to challenges as a way for us to 'lovingly support and hold each other accountable' as we learn and try new things.

Here are a few of examples of teacher challenges:
Edublogs Teacher Challenges
Thinglink App Smash Challenge
TeachThought #Reflectiveteacher Blog Challenge
Global Cardboard Challenge - get students involved!
Your #EduStory Challenge 2015

Why are they so effective? 

I think it is because of four things:

  1. Community  - Teacher challenges are social and learning is social. When I participate in one I want to 'keep up' with others as well as contribute to the learning and discussions of others.
  2. Accountability - In a challenge, I am motivated to stay the course and complete it to the end. Knowing others are waiting to see what you post is an effective motivator!
  3. Collaboration - In every challenge I meet new people and learn new ways of doing things.  Many of the folks I am closest to in my personal learning network participated in challenges with me. We are always #bettertogether.
  4. Creativity - We are all creators at heart. The feeling of taking an idea through to a product that can be shared is rewarding.  We get so busy in our jobs and the day to day grind that we forget to nurture our creativity. Taking time to edit a photo, construct a video, build a model or write a story is invigorating and empowering. Let the creativity flow!

My past Teacher Challenges:

Thinglink, Teacher Challenge 2014
The Seven Day Daily Create Mashup Challenge
#ReflectiveTeacher 30 Day Blogging Challenge by TeachThought

Current challenges in which I am participating:

GEGNorCal Blogging Challenge
Thinglink STEAM Challenge

Challenges I created or helped with:

No Worksheet Week Teacher Challenge - with creator Matthew Weld
Admins Edtech Challenge for school site leaders and administrators (Coming Feb. 2015)

Here is my challenge to you:

Participate in at least one challenge before the end of the school year.  I try to do three per year, one in the spring, summer and fall.  Whether you complete the entire challenge or just one or two activities, it will be a rewarding experience. So take the plunge, accept a challenge and get started.

If you have a Teacher Challenge you would like to share please post in the comments.