Category Archives: Ideas

Somewhat Disconnected


Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

It is “Connected Educator” month and I have connected with no one except my students and their parents.

It is the second year of Common Core implementation and I have worked harder than any of my previous 20 plus years of teaching.

But… the work is exciting and quite fulfilling. I finally can answer the question, “Why are we learning this?”

But… as in anything new the journey carries challenges. For me this has been,

  • Demonstrating and expecting students to back up a claim with text evidence.
  • Demonstrating and expecting students to make connections between people, events, and ideas in text.
  • Demonstrating and expecting students to determine central ideas and themes.
  • Helping students to understand this is new and success doesn’t happen on the first try.
  • Helping parents to understand this is new and success doesn’t happen on the first try.

It takes time, it is worth it, we will succeed. I believe.

ISTE 2013

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reflections: My attendance at this yearly conference comes at the end of a very busy working vacation. I am tired, jet-lagged, and feeling a bit separate from the scores of Tweeters who are energetically sharing their enthusiasm. Today’s sessions yielded a few bits of new ideas for the classroom but the ideas from Will Richardson brought me out of my weariness, causing me to think about an entirely new approach to teaching. It’s not the “cool tools” that cause a session to be packed that will make the difference. It’s looking at the way people learn in today’s world.

“Digital Storytelling in the Classroom” by Dr. Talitha Hudgens, School of Education, Utah Valley University

  • Should illuminate rather than illustrate – all elements should work together
  • Must have a dramatic question that will be answered in the story.
  • Engages the audience
  • Should be 2-3 minutes to tell story without overloading the viewer
  • Images should be used in such a way that without them there is less understanding, influence, and impact
  • Music is 50% of the experience
  • Can use Photo Editing software to insert images within images (ex. Dora into Mountain Men)
  • Some examples of tools: Photo Story 3, iMovie, Powerpoint, Animoto, Adobe Premiere, Flash, and (New program from audience member)
  • Should have students license their work through Creative Commons

“Leveraging Social Networks” by Michael Manderino, Assistant Professor of Literacy Education, Northern Illinois University and Lisa Ripley, Social Studies Teacher, Leyden High School –

  • Students’ lives saturated with social media and the platforms changes often.
  • Our job is to help them navigate and engage productively. Use with your (the teacher’s) content area to engage as professionals do.
  • What does it mean to think historically? Scientifically? Or as a literary critic?
  • Need to be able to make a claim and support it with relevant and accurate information.

“Abundant Learning: Four New Strategies for Connected Classrooms” by Will Richardson, @willrich45,

  • #iste13wr – to continue the conversation
  • “We can’t be creative if we refuse to be confused. Change always starts with confusion.” ~Margaret Weakley
  • Traditional Learning =Delivery, Just in Case, Vs. Modern Learning=Discovery, Just in Time
  • Abundance of information, knowledge, and teachers; supply of knowledge and information is expanding at an unprecedented rate; can’t predict the impact of technology on the future of learning and work
  • Key Shift – Institutionally-Organized Word to Self-Organized World
  • The abundance of knowledge, information, content, teachers, and technology shifts the balance of power for learning from the school to the learner.
  • “Why School” by Will Richardson, e-book from Amazon
  • “Better” matters little if what people want is different.
  • “Knowmadic” Learning – self-organized learning, based on passions or interests at the moment, not based on standards, “Knowmad Society” by John W. Moravec –
  • Top learning tool 2012 = Twitter
  • Design Thinking – help with a process to solve problems, “Design Thinking for Educators’ –
  • The Maker Movement – Because of new technologies, we can make products that solve problems, the realization that one can make something happen, Albemarle Schools in VA – Pam Moran
  • “Invent to Learn” by Silvia Martinez and Gary Stager

“Reading, Writing, and Wikis” by Stephanie Sandifer Houston A+ Challenge, #rwwikis @ssandifer

  • Requires organization
  • Explicit instruction on how to use the components of the wiki – profile page for example
  • Use names that you know so you the trail of student work/comments can be identified.
  • Make sure you are comfortable with using the wiki before using with students.

Transitioning to Common Core

Image courtesy of

I began the school year planning instruction using the Common Core State Standards instead of Tennessee’s. My thinking was that the ability to read and write critically would prepare a student for any type of assessment but more realistically give them strategies for the type of reading needed for authentic literacy situations.

Despite my meager knowledge of the subject at this point, I was amazed at the excitement I felt. Class conversations brought observations that eluded me. I didn’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time hunting for ways to make the learning motivating and meaningful.

But my time was spent on something tedious and that was helping the students to “unlearn” so many bad habits that well meaning instructors had instilled into my learners: a five paragraph response to any prompt, using such mundane phrases as “in my opinion,” and “in conclusion,” introducing the introduction, explaining the assignment rather than responding to it, and summarizing instead of forming a meaningful conclusion.

We rewrote (and when I say we, I mean all of us!) and returned to the same texts, offering new ideas, and sharing revisions. During a recent assignment, a student attached this comment, “Mrs. Shoulders, I now don’t use so much “I believe….” I always state my claim, and I don’t start off with I believe; thanks for teaching me that.”

The small steps are paying off; they (no I mean we) are starting to get it.


Authentic Computer Experiences????

Student Project

Computers can be wonderful but without a reason for being, so to speak, they are consoles that attract dust. I have eight computer technology classes. One half of the students meet for three days a week, the other students meet the remaining two days. Many of my peers believe this to be a necessary class so that students can learn to keyboard, making it easier on them when it comes to class writing assignments.

Oh, but if it were that easy! Keyboarding is like any skill; improvement comes with practice. There are numerous standards associated with this class and keyboarding is part of one. At the best of times, five minutes of keyboarding practice takes place.

I use the remaining time to teach literacy, which I believe is the key to success in today’s world. In these United States, people are class divided by education. Other demographics may be factored in but without education, it is difficult to make it.

This is a day-to-day conversation with myself. In what ways can I help to further more literate students? One thing, I decided to do this year was to have a book anchor each class. My 8th graders are reading “The Hunger Games” and my 6th grade students are enjoying “The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963.” Each day I spend about 10-15 minutes reading aloud and except for a few children, most are enthralled.

The task is to find activities that back up the books and teach computer skills. Here is one idea I used. Through a mini unit on characterization, the 8th grade students began thinking about the traits of Katniss or Peeta by making trading cards using an interactive at In addition to the obvious thinking about character traits, they learned about .pdf files. Most did not know what they were and that the universal sharing of information is important.

Next I wanted them to think visually, so I found a website that allows you to design and then buy a t-shirt. We talked about the things that were important to Katniss and Peeta and how these could be symbolized. Students chose images, which involved a lesson on Creative Commons and fair use, to design a t-shirt with symbols of that character. They then learned how to take a screen shot (and crop it) so that I could see it.

We progressed to what could be learned through dialogue. After discussion, my learners went to GoAnimate and created scenes between Katniss or Peeta and any other character in the book. The dialogue was made up but had to stay true to the characters. This proved quite motivating and taught them how to share a document with me through email.

The unit culminated with a project. Using all that they had learned, students compiled a scrapbook for Katniss or Peeta using Microsoft Publisher. This helped to understand the concept of a template, how to cite images, and reinforced word-processing skills. Of all the activities that I had them do, this was the weakest in creativity. I will have to reevaluate for next time.


This kind of thinking will be continuous – how do I use the computers, meet the standards, and thereby increasing literacy skills???


Rita Williams-Garcia, Angela Johnson, Jacqueline Woodson, Nikki Grimes, Sharon Flake

NCTE, November 2011

Friday: November 18, 2011

Reading Old Stories and Writing New Stories: Ideas for the Classroom (Deborah Hopkinson, Kirby Larsen, Jim Murphy)

  • The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. ~L.P. Hartley
  • Deborah Hopkinson: Use primary photos and encourage students to ask questions. Use clues in the images to figure out what is going on. Good for visual learners.
  • Writing to a Person From the Past – write a letter, begin by introducing yourself, What is familiar or the same about your life (you and I both…We both… Like you, I also…) what is unfamiliar, different about his or her life? (Nowadays, It might seem odd to you. In my day, we no longer…) End letter tell about some the person could never have seen (cell phone, computer, car, etc.) You never saw _______in your time. Let me tell you about it. If you came to visit me in my time we would… A cell phone is a ____ that _____. Let me explain what ______ is.
  • Kirby Larsen: Creating New Stories of Old – mining family history-using primary sources to create new stories. Censored letters – show and have students put back in the missing pieces. Library of Congress (, Genealogy sites ( can buy letters on eBay.
  • – use the letters to ask questions and look for items, which may not have changed (towns, businesses, etc.) Historical parks, sites have diaries of not so famous. Use websites with “memories, family stories, etc. to understand a particular time periods or events.) Locate post cards from the past, copy and have students write what would have been on them.
  • Jim Murphy: can find artifacts to encourage writing at auctions.
  • Deanna Day: Quick write on a personal memory and then change it to fit a particular time period. What would change? Language, Food, Clothing, Transportation? Use life experiences and put in a different time period.

Narrating Lives: Using Graphic Novels The Power and Possibilities of Literature (Sid Jacobson, Josh Neufeld, G.B. Tran)

  • Resource: Scott McLeod – Understanding Comics

Learning With Nonfiction, Writing It, Reading It, Loving It (David L. Harrison, Peggy Harkins, Mary Jo Fresch)

  • Peggy Harkins: Reasons why children do not choose nonfiction: Nonfiction is not traditionally used for pleasure reading, Children associate nonfiction with school assignments, Many people think nonfiction is boring. (Tunnel, M.O. and Jacobs, J.S., 2008)
  • Most people do not read or use fiction at their work (real life).
  • Types of Biographies: Authentic, Fictionalized, Biographical Fiction
  • Advantages of using Biographies: role models, historical insights, solutions to problems, writing models, fit across the curriculum
  • Use a selection of biographies: to create a readers theater script, as storytelling in first person, or eyewitness third person, internal/external – use outline of body of a person and write things you observe on the outside of the body, inferences on the inside of the body. Templates can be found at
  • Mary Jo Fresch: Leveling the Playing Field, Using Nonfiction Picture Books: they explore complex topics suited for older readers, extend and enhance the content through the images, provide more accurate information due to their expertise, engage reluctant, resistant, or ELL reader.
  • Middle School Physical Science Resource Center: reviewed middle school science textbooks and noted numerous errors in facts and none were scientifically accurate.
  • Support readers with an anticipation guide (might include statements of misconceptions), Vocabulary match-up game- divide students into three groups and give one group a word, one the definition, and the last one the origin. Then they have to find their partners and match up. Need to see a word 3-17 times to own it (use in your writing.) Text sets that appeal to multi-leveled readers to do further research.


Writing With Mentor Texts to Imagine the Possibilities (Lynne Dorfman, Rose Cappelli, Mark Overmeyer)

  • Lynne Dorfman: Establishing a Writing Identify: The Personal Dimension, Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. ~Henry Miller
  • Important to know who we are as writers.
  • Begin with the topics you want to write about, i.e. Heart Map, Fingerprint the Author -color code the items that are in the writing, i.e. yellow alliteration, blue proper nouns. Hand Map – put emotions/character traits on the fingers of an outline of a hand and then add one line that goes with that emotion.
  • Need a target audience to find your voice.
  • Rose Cappelli – Using a Mentor Text to Move Students Forward in Narrative Writing: Use of Mentor Texts – pieces of literature that you can return to and reread for different purposes, are to be studies and imitated, help students make powerful connections to own lives, help students take risks and try to new strategies, should be books that students can relate to and can read independently or with support.
  • When students are taught to see how writing is done, this way opens up to them the possibilities for how to make their writing good writing ~Katy Wood Ray, Wondrous Words.
  • Mark Overmeyer: Using Mentor Texts to Move Students Forward as Writers of Informational Texts – Expert books – students write on a subject in which, they believe they are experts, no research needed. Personal narratives are driven by ideas not events (i.e. Rollercoasters made me brave not the day I rode a roller coaster.) Good mentor text for Middle School – Charles R. Smith (multiple genre in the book.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting Reluctant Readers to Turn the Page (Liz Carr)

  • Liz Carr: I ___ solemnly promise, when reading a book for fun that it will be for fun. If I read the first page and don’t like it, I will put the book down and walk away. If I read the first paragraph and don’t like it, I will put the book down and walk away. If I read half the book and don’t like it, I will put the book down and walk away. Life is too short for books I don’t like.
  • When I ___ HAVE to read a book for class, I will look for what my brain can do with it. I will look for flaws. I will look for connections, I will look for stuff that is just plain weird, I will get out of my own way! I like it and I hate it are equally insulting if I can’t show why. I will back up my opinions.
  • As teachers, read, read, read, have books talks/recommendations, connections, introduce students to authors.
  • Places for book recommendations: Daria Plumb-, ALAN, YALSA, VOYA
  • Book Talks: Make connections to known books/author, leave them hanging, 2-3 minutes MAX, Shelfari or Goodreads
  • Connection Questions: What is the last book that wasn’t painful for you? What do you do when you’re not in school? What is your favorite thing in the world? What’s your biggest pet peeve?
  • Tell anecdotes about the authors of the books, you have in your class.
  • John Coy: writer of the 4 for 4 series aimed toward intermediate/middle school boys, “reluctant readers is a synonym for boys,” boys today are reading more than ever before because of social networking, gaming, etc. Don’t relate this to reading. Don’t like to read what adults say they should be reading. Jane Yolen: “We don’t have enough books that represent the genuine interest of boys.” Men need to step up and serve as leaders of readers, so perception of read changes. 5th Grade students helped revise “Eyes on the Goal” by helping author with what was authentic for kids. Students won’t choose books; need an adult to recommend or steer them toward books they might like. “ATV Racing”
  • Tommy Greenwald: author, “Charlie Joe Jackson” Have students create a title and the first sentence of a book they would like to read.
  • Janet Tashjian: author, “My Life as a Book,” “My Life as a Stuntboy,”  “The Gospel According to Larry,” Recommends “Calvin and Hobbes” for reluctant readers, After reading a book, have reader pitch it as a movie project and cast the characters defending why. “Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking”

Teaching The Hero’s Journey: Understanding Our Past (Dana Huff, Glenda Funk, Ami Szerencse)

  • Dana Huff: “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” “The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell, an interview with Bill Moyers
  • How is the pattern of the monomyth demonstrated by various cultures around the world in various time periods? How do archetypes inform our understanding of literature and the world? How are the hero, his/her quest, and his/her ideals still valid and useful in today’s world? How has the monomyth been influential in shaping subsequent literature and film?
  • Goals: Students will become well versed in literary theories of the monomyth and the heroic quest, Students will interpret and apply the monomyth to the various works of literature and film.
  • Student activities: – scavenger hunt, do presentations on Departure/Separation, Initiation, Return, Video with types/examples of the Hero’s Journey on website and Slideshare, (Use clips from Star Wars, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games/The Theseus Myth, The Matrix), Create your own monomyth as a picture book, Analyze a new text that has not been studied, Create a game
  • Glenda Funk and Ami Szerencse: Class Lines: Writing Beyond the Borders (Prezi) Collaborated on a Hero’s Journey project through Ning, “Story of Stuff: How Things Work” –Youtube (

Beyond Race: The Universality of Story (Sharon Draper, Sharon Flake, Nikki Grimes, Angela Johnson, Rita Williams-Garcia, Jacqueline Woodson)

  • Sharon Draper: Books are for all children not just a particular subgroup; her audience is the students who “show up” in your classroom. It’s the issues that make the difference, color of the character not important. Being different means many things (new student in the classroom, only one who wears glasses, mother in jail, etc.) unsure in your world, which is particular to adolescence. Don’t limit yourself, open door for all of us
  • Sharon Flake: Bang and Red Badge of Courage have similar themes: marching into manhood, death, and dialect despite different races, time periods, and conflicts. Accept the character’s way of speaking as it represents who they are rather than be concerned about “proper English.”
  • Nikki Grimes: Planet Middle School – new book, writers write about human topics NOT a black, white or Latino topic. Shouldn’t worry about students not relating to a character because they are of a different race. Students connect to a book because they like to read, like poetry, like to laugh, like drama, love a good read, and are all kinds of kids. May look different on the outside but we are all pretty much the same on the inside.
  • Angela Johnson: Transcendence – began with her grandmother (an 80lb farm woman who threw a horse down and read Shakespeare) represented beyond the perceptions of what a grandmother should be, writes for people v. specific groups,
  • Rita Williams-Garcia: “Make me no boxes.” ~George Balanchine, When I am myself, I am my natural self not an “other.” Characters are whoever they might be. Self and identify not limited to race.
  • Jacqueline Woodson: Whiteness is assumed unless otherwise qualified. Barrier needs to be broken. We are trying to make the world safe for all kids. Literature shares “the other stories, a place for all of us.”


Let’s Read: Literacy Approaches in These Early Days of Common Core Standards (Lindsay Oakes, Hilleary Drake, Liz Hollingsworth)

  • Any assessment can be criterion based or norm referenced as well as formal or summative.
  • Pizza parties and pep rallies don’t raise test scores, student reading scores go up when students KNOW how to read, don’t need luck when you’ve got skill.
  • Teaching testing as a genre, rather than teaching to a test (how to take, read, manage time)
  • Great Genre Race – use ten genres in different colors, challenged students to read 1000 books in a year. Make a paper chain. Encourage book discussion and served as tangible evidence of the student as a reader.


Practicing What We Preach, Improving Student Writing by Modeling Our Own (Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher, Penny Kittle)

  • Penny Kittle: need a place to collect thinking (notebooks, index cards, etc.), gather ideas and images – place to discover ideas, try things and sometimes fails, and place to show students where thinking begins. Tom Romano – the Rude Truth, A Relationship With Literature (English Journal), the writing process is filled with distractions, write and then go back and reread to find places to work with (highlighting/colored markers)
  • Kelly Gallagher: need teachers to model the writing process, no such things a writing process – these are steps in writing that change from writer to writer. Students need two kinds of models: 1) a teacher who revises (write, allow students to ask questions, write down and then revise in a different color to highlight the revisions. 2) Mentor texts: look at how it is said not what is said. “NPR: This I Believe” as a source of mentor texts, Move past the “one and done” writing mentality. What you do when you revise: replace, add, delete and reorder. (RADAR) Read, analyze, emulate.
  • Jim Burke: writing is the most public performance of our intelligence, “If there are not tears for the writer, then there will be none for the reader.” ~Robert Frost Focus line – kind of like a thesis statement (Donald Murray) Give students lists of words to choose for their writing increases the quality of vocabulary use, Use different colors for parts of the writing.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Who Would Ever Think An Ant Could Be So Important? Teaching for Social Responsibility Through Literature and Inquiry (Leslie Rector, Steven Wolk)

  • Shared texts that are inaccessible accessible (can do books above children’s reading level, models fluency, releases students from focusing on decoding, teachers can model think-alouds, helps get through texts faster)
  • Need an inquiry question to guide the anchor book. What is my responsibility to the environment around me? (City of Ember) Supporting book, One Well, How Much Water is Around Us – Rochelle Strauss – students recorded how much water they used. “Did Your Shopping List Kill a Songbird” op ed NY Times
  • Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose – allegory on abuse of power


Inquiry Circles: Combining Comprehension, Collaboration, and Inquiry (Debbie King, Michele Timble, Sara Ahmed Katie Muhtaris, Kristin Ziemke)

  • Debbie King: Principles of Inquiry Circles: choice of topics, digging deeply, heterogeneous/interest based groups, student led, use of comprehension/research strategies, multiple resources, active use of knowledge- sharing, publication, products, or taking action.
  • Types of Inquiry: mini-inquiries, curricular inquiries, literature circle inquiries, open inquiries
  • Stages of Inquiry: Immerse – invites curiosity, Investigate-searching for info, Coalesce- synthesize info, Go Public -share learning
  • Types of Lessons: Comprehension – read with a question in mind, Collaboration – using a work plan, Inquiry – choosing topics
  • Michele Timble: Leading a Curious Life: live like a researcher, ask questions, capture and track questions, seek answers
  • Modeling our inquiry – i.e.What happened to the workers in Japan’s nuclear power plant? Researchable questions – Now. Later. A Lifetime of Wondering.Research Notebooks: a borrowed tool from writer’s workshop, a place to jot questions and make plans, kids leave tracks from the mini lessons, validation for all questions big and small.
  • Sara Ahmed: Choosing materials – print materials, web materials, videos, and images -New York Times Up Front, Brainpo
  • Interviewing as a resource: home to school connection – builds accountable talk, lets them in the loop about what is going on at school, builds a culturally responsible classwork, builds active listening skills, authentic reliable research
  • Modeling: grab a colleague or expert, show students you’re prepared, and simulate an interview.
  • Interviewer – listens carefully and ask if they can record the interview, uses prepped question list, take jots, ask follow up questions for digging deeper, thanks the interviewee before or after when it over, writes as much as they can
  • Interviewee – agrees to the interview and understand the topic, feels safe and comfortable, does most of the talking, has a comfort item like drink, candy, or food
  • Kristin Ziemke: Strategies for active reading – monitor comprehension, activate and connect background knowledge, ask questions, infer and visualize meaning, determine importance, comprehension continuum –
  • Modeling/Think-alouds/Coding – Leave tracks of your thinking
  • Katie Muhtaris: Literature Circle Inquiry – generate questions, enhance/extend experience, inquire topics of choice, research with an authentic purpose, explore artistic and technological tools, build foundations that last





It’s A New Day for Professional Development


As an educator, professional development for me is continuous. Traditionally it is usually held at a school, surrounded by peers, involving a topic selected by an administrator.

Too bad that as teachers we are not given the opportunity to have choice and for me that choice is allowing me to choose what kind of PD I need. I love to attend conferences. I get a lot out of traveling and meeting people from all over the world. I also enjoy Webinars.

Webinars are PD sessions, often offered free that are virtual presentations. Today, I spent almost over two and half hours with The topics ranged from Google to Skype, each presenter sharing authentic ways of integrating technology into the learning and instructional curriculum. Presenters offered ideas using many free tools and eResources. No dressing up and leaving home, opportunities to ask anonymous questions, laundry and other house keeping got done in between sessions. What a wonderful way to learn!!!! The following are my notes.

K12 Webinar Series – July 20, 2011 #sk12

Google Tools For Visual and Spatial Learners

Google Sky – .com/sky

Google Image Swirl – part of Google Labs

Google Squared

Google News Timeline

Google Fast Flip

Google Trends

Wixify Your Webquests


Webquest  is inquiry-oriented, higher-level thinking, student centered, interactive, web-based (Teacher limits the searching for sites)

A website builder has more options such as clipart, ease of hyperlinking, templates etc, Presenter uses Wix- (fun, flashy, free)

Using Dropbox

Presented by Jerry Swiatek @jswiatek

Use to create a paperless classroom

Archives all the #edchat – includes info on Dropbox as well as utilities to use with it.

2 GB of free storage, if you refer people receive 240mg per referral

Will sync with the web, phone and any other computers; students can turn in work from home

#edcamp –

Easy 21st Century Projects Ideas for Core Curriculum-Grace Dunlap

Language Arts: Students choose a literary character or author and create a social networking profile page. Use

Science: Study and Survive Volcanic Eruptions – gather info from Internet on volcanos, create a timeline for a particular volcanic eruptions. Use Tiki-Toki: to create a free web-based timeline. Can add video and audio to the timeline.

Social Studies: Create Marco Polo’s Online Auction Site – research Marco Polo’s travels. Set up an online auction site for him to sell some of his travel finds. Can use MS Word, PPt but can also use Free Web tool – www, Online Photo Editing program- easy to use with most editing functions and can add text.

Can save to image format, email, or print.

Math: Deliver a Viral Video About Functions – share information and create content. Create an Internet Video about a function family but needs to motivate. Use to tape the desktop screen for up to 15 minutes. Free tool, can save the video. Upgrade is $12.00 a year.


Spark Creativity and Innovation: Help Students Create and Share Original Multimedia Works Online

Renny Fong – @TimeOutDad

Web 2.0 – create content instead of just using, save work and go back to work on it.

Kerpoof – owned by Disney, web-based, interactive, create original artwork, share work in safe environment, teachers can manage student accounts.

Most of site materials are free to educators.

Breaking Down the Four Walls of Your Classroom With Skype

Presented by Jerry Swiatek @jswiatek – free download for free calls to other Skype users

Shows students there is more to the world outside their classroom, bring in experts, connect with other classrooms, distance learning

In Skype – go to extras for plugins to extend the experience of Skype – video tape the session, crete a whiteboard for collaborating, etc.

ISTE2011 Philadelphia, The Final Day

My Final Session with Suzie Boss from Edutopia

My Final Session with Suzie Boss from Edutopia

Reflections on ISTE11

  • The ISTE staff spent an inordinate amount of time to give us a thought provoking, entertaining, conference filled with amazing presenters – A HUGE THANK YOU!
  • I really enjoy speakers who understand the difference between lecture and BYOB/Workshops. If you pay extra or sign up for a ticket you want to have time to play or create for use in the future. This is not the format for hearing about the speakers’ philosophies or a long drawn out how-to on tools.
  • Alan November is a dynamic speaker. I had never heard him speak. Look forward to hearing from him in the future.
  • I was intrigued by the number of people who brought laptops and iPads AND used them both.
  • Stopping in the middle of a crowded hallway to share a thought with your friend is rude. Please move to the side or a corner.
  • We can’t live without our mobile phones. Take a look at a long line when waiting for a session.
  • Door monitors must lack power in their private lives and enjoy enforcing it in this venue.
  • Easy Spirit shoes make all of the difference – no sore feet like last year.
  • The buzz words – collaborate, empathy, global, share. I MUST integrate these ideas into my curriculum much more.
  • My Macbook Air made connections and did things that the iPads all around me couldn’t. I think I will stick with it – it’s not much heavier.
  • Twitter is such an authentic tool for bringing the outside world into the classroom. I wish my district would open it up for use.
  • I have a lot of work to do in July to integrate all of the new ideas into my classroom.

Simple Ideas for Powerful Sharing – Wesley Fryer, University of Central Oklahoma, Dean Shareski, Instructional Coach, Canada

Serve an All-You-Can-Learn Buffet: Digital Age Differentiation – Catherine Laguna, Quakertown Community School District with Robin Ellis

  • Resources –
  • Note taking resource –
  • The All You Can Learn Buffet: Get to know your guests (Create an all about me project.), plan the menu (Organize resources), set the table (Ways to lay out resources), whet their appetite (get hooked and interested), be prepared for second helpings (what if you finish early?), did everyone get enough to learn (formative assessment), save room for dessert.
  • Get to know your guests: Students choose the tool to create a way to introduce themselves to their desk mates and let you know about them.
  • Plan the menu: Symbaloo, Wiki, Diigo – help to organize resources and give ideas for finishing early.
  • Setting the table: wiki, scriblink (online whiteboard), scribblar – online white board that can be locked, make sure tools are out or you won’t use them,
  • Whet their appetite: Engage their curiosity, might use a picture/song to guess what lesson will be about, provide choice, encourage creativity (i.e. podcasts),, make it social (backchanneling)
  • Second helpings: Extension activities, update their notes on whichever platform they use, play an interactive game, devise extension questions/activities, Picnik – photo editing
  • Enough to learn: creative choice projects, individual white boards, games, quizzes – testmoz, Google forms, Edomodo assignment, blog post, interview
  • Dessert: Put an element of fun into the class so that students want to keep learning – culminating activity (dress up, share with another classroom

Ripped from the Headlines: Real Events Yield Relevant Projects – Suzie Boss, Edutopia

  • What makes a headline worthy – age appropriate, able to integrate/connect to the curricular standards, messy problem, no right answer, relevance, high interest, ongoing issue or consequences
  • Connect online – Edutopia groups, Elluminate, Twitter, Wiki, Flickr, Delicous, share – online publishing, multimedia content
  • A Project Example: Learning Communities – “Voice on the Gulf,” Paul Allison,, Project that was inspired by Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill
  • Real events allow opportunities for teaching empathy by using social media with the “survivors” of the situation but don’t be an ambulance chaser.
  • PBL helps students learn the process of working in groups effectively to plan and run a project. These are life skills.
  • Should focus on the process of learning, not the content. This makes for much richer projects
  • How do we distinguish empathy from PC regurgitated answers from our students? Need the stories and photos.
  • Don’t have to use national headlines, can look closer to home for important issues.

Most Inspiring Day at ISTE11 Philadelphia

The Renown Kathy Schrock!

The Renown Kathy Schrock!

What a wonderful day!!!! I was inspired and learned so much from the following presenters. If only everyday of a conference could be so great!!!!

Beyond Words: Using Infographics to Help Kids Grapple with Complexity -Jane Krauss, Consultant with Diana Laufenberg, Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age

Empathy: The 21st Century Skill – Alan November, November Learning –

  • When teaching new tools, assessment is the weakest part.
  • Demonstration with book trailers on “Number the Stars,” Connecticut teachers enjoyed the trailers but Denmark teachers were angered. The issue of symbols is important, be careful of what images are used because images tell a story and may not be the story you want told,
  • To remedy, go to Root Zone Database – for country codes, then go to Google – site:dk “number the stars” to get their point of view. When using books or issues/problems that take place in other countries, make sure to represent that point of view by inputting the country code to get in country resources.
  • Asked CEO of largest bank in the world HSBS, What is the most important skill that separates top talent? Empathy – hold lots of different views at the same time. US citizens tend to be poor in this area believing that if it is done different, it is wrong. Personal Quality – passion
  • Globalize the curriculum – does any country touch what you teach? any global connections?
  • In US economy, 9% of GNP is trade with other countries. Germany 40%
  • A kindergarten classroom use Skype to grandparents, which included some from non-US countries. An Irish grandmother taped a local book and sent the book and recording to the students.
  • Use Twitter to get global contacts for information and add value to the curriculum, look for hashtags that will yield the information you want. Possible to find someone with Skype to get first hand interviews. (Building a global network.) Can add passion if we have authentic conversations.
  • Find a school in England teaching the American Revolution – site: “American Revolution”
  • Eli Pariser, TED talk, google in the bubble “Beware online “filter bubbles” People are getting a narrower and narrower perspective based on personal beliefs. Biased point of view based on prior experiences.
The Enlightening Alan November

The Enlightening Alan November

SIGILT Forum and Annual Meeting: I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Innovation! – Chris Lehmann, Science Leadership Academy and a sampling of his  amazing students

  • Process includes – Inquiry, Research, Collaboration, Presentation, Reflection
  • Technology should be like oxygen, necessary but invisible.
  • Students feel empowered when they have control over how they learn material and how they show that they have learned it.
  • Technology helps to make school a “second home,” by using social networking and communication tools to stay in touch 24/7.
  • Fresh Philadelphia – nonprofit begun by an SLA student. –
  • Pizza is a great motivator – way to collaborate and build vision.
  • Need creative/motivational test prep rather than a test-driven curriculum.
  • Make school about the way we live now – not what you will do in the future.
  • It’s not failure BUT trial and error.
  • Respect yourself, respect others, and respect this class as a place of learning.
  • Rubric addresses project Design, Knowledge, Application, Presentation, and Process –
  • Marcie Hull –,

ISTE11 Philadelphia – Sessions Day One

#tweet w/#twitter

#tweet w/#twitter

Engage Students as Writers through Digital Tools by Kevin Amboe – Tech Integration Specialist, Surrey, British Columbia –

  • “If our students are not reading and composing with various electronic technologies, then they are illiterate. They are not just unprepared for the future; they are illiterate right now, in our current time and context”. ~J. David Bolter
  • “Engage me or enrage me.” ~Marc Prensky
  • Digital Images:, use pictures to model various examples of perspective (mathematical, point of view, etc.)
  • Making Photographs: Vincent LaForet – renown photographer – making (taking photos with intention) and taking photographs are different concepts., USB Digital Microscope (Proscope, AirMicro)
  • Story Boarding/Graphic Novel: Comic Life – can print out and color or work digitally, could use one page to create directions, one page info, etc, Can use for a summary assessment by adding photos to the text, Toon Do, Pixton “Don’t storyboard, look for the emotional flow, plot out story like a wave, then do a peer pitch – sell the story – peaks, problem-solution. ~Jason Ohler,, iste2011
  • Peer Editing: word processors can make the writing process more collaborative when using peer editing or peer-mediated work, color code the inserts so that the work is not changed, i.e. one color for questions, another for insert of ideas.
  • Book Making: use hand produced images, digitally reproduced images or digitally made images, the book becomes a physical record, shows publishing, and may be at the students’ reading level and interest. iPhoto – make the book and save as a .pdf file to print.
  • Blogs, Wikis: Are powerful tools when they have a purpose and life of their own.,, embedding sounds and images make it more powerful
  • Podcasts:
  • Mindmapping: Brainstorming/Prewriting, Drafting, Inspiration – use Rapid Fire, limit to three icons, and then change to Outline View, then transfers into a word doc to begin drafting
  • Bernie Dodge – What questions are we asking for answers? WebQuest Taskonomy –
  • Google Earth as Writing Tool: push thinking outside the box, Google Lit Trips – “Hana’s Suitcase,” “Underground to Canada”

Educational Activism: How Would Superman Use Social Media Tools -Yvonne Marie Andres, Global SchoolNet

  • Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Isaac Asimov
  • Educational Activism Reasons Why – connected economies, information pollution (too much, unfiltered), workforce development (critical skills), collaborating for our future (possible, preferable, preventable.)
  • Resources: The World is Flat 3.0 (connectedness & globalization), Wisdom of the Crowds (many vs. few, finding the right crowd), Race to Nowhere (achievement at what cost?), Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (neuroplasticity), The Singularity is Near (non-biological intelligence)
  • Cyberfair – global school network – projects about community (8-high school), Doors to Diplomacy – global issues, compete for scholarships
  • Collaborative Learning – collective wisdom, co-created content, collaborative project management, virtual fieldtrips, global exhibitions, global competitions, wikis & flexbooks (contributed textbooks), blended learning spaces – face-to-face, virtual. Sakai
  • Global School Network offers a registry of projects that can be screened by your needs or register your own project.
  • – easy website creator

#teach w/#tweet – @brueckj23, @crafty184, @jonbecker

Comic Integration: Add Some POW to Your Classroom – Maryann Molishus, Council Rock School District

ISTE11 – Philadelphia: Workshop Day

Convention Center in Philadelphia

Convention Center in Philadelphia

The conference sessions do not officially begin until Monday but there are many things to keep one busy on the weekend. I chose to spend today in 3 hour workshops.

Using Technology With Classroom Instruction That Works, Howard Pitler, Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction at McRel, 2nd Edition of “Classroom Instruction That Works”coming out in January,

  • The nine strategies of Classroom Instruction That Works are actually categories. The strategies are part of the categories.
  • – Resources for this workshop and many great links to technology sites to support McRel categories/strategies.
  • Plurk ( like Twitter but allows threaded discussions
  • When employing instructional strategies always ask – “How do we know it works?”
  • In educational research .4 is a high for effect.
  • Polleverywhere – is free for about 35-40 responses
  • Setting Objectives: is the process of establishing a direction for learning, is a skill that successful people have mastered to help them realize both short term/long term goals, make sure objective is stated in writing and begins with “we” – not met unless everyone is involved, students should have opportunity to personalize the objective – “I want to know…” One way is to break down objective into subcategories, do a KWL and then add the students questions to the categories, students creates contract I know, I want to know, I will show this by.
  • Social Bookmarking – better way to disseminate information to colleagues and students rather than email or list links. Also better way for students to find information rather than Google Search.
  • Rubistar – helps students to understand at the onset of a instruction what is expected. Free, offers many different templates, and the ability to create your own.
  • Common Core app available to articulate the standards –
  • Track Changes (Word or Google Docs) allows you to demonstrate how to summarize using four rules (refer to workshop resources/summarizing)
  • BrainPop app for iPad
  • Lesson Structure for Notetaking/Summarizing
  • Advanced organizer on penguins with Inspiration – five areas.
  • Watch video
  • Take notes (personal preference) on five areas
  • Collaborate to construct five sentences – one per each area
  • Show video again. Modify thinking as necessary.
  • Create Combination Notes – template at resource link

Tuning Up the H.E.A.T.: Designing Rigor and Relevance into Learning Tasks – Bernajean Porter, consultant Porter Consulting

  •– resources for workshop including handouts
  • Students responding to what the teachers asks is NOT rigor.
  • “Technology accelerates something.”
  • Double loop learning – reflecting, responding, etc.
  • Gladiator Teacher – “Here’s the assignment, go forth, and good luck.”
  • Teaching the tool isolated from strategies does not = integration of the tool.
  • The highest technology is “questions.” Problem-based learning
  • Goal not to make a movie anymore but to make an impact – “Attention has now become the most precious nonrenewable resource on the earth.” Tony Hayes
  • The biggest factor in engagement is curiosity.
  • 38:1 is the ratio of teacher questions to student questions and about 85% are closed questions.
  • Raising the percentage of open ended questions increases test scores significantly.
  • Questioning website –
  • Without strong questioning skills, you are just a passenger on someone else’s tour bus. You may be on the highway, but someone else is driving. Jamie McKenzie
  • Idea for project – If you were a publishing market director, design a book-trailer that would SELL, SELL, SELL a book that needs to be read? Example of a good book trailer – The Graveyard Book” –
  • Story is how people organize data.
  • Tools are not higher order – the task is
  • – for citation
  • radcab – look for credible, reliable searches –
  • Voicethread – use to debate asynchronously