Saturday, July 2, 2016

Global Collaboration

In order to prepare students to apply rigorous learning to new and real-world situations, educators must provide opportunities that foster critical and creative thinking, communication and collaboration.

Importance of Global Collaborations

Common Core State Standards demand students to collaborate with diverse partners, thereby expanding students' global awareness.

Some of the benefits of collaboration might include:

New 2016 ISTE Standards for Students

I recently attended the ISTE Conference in Denver, where they unveiled the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students. Besides the upgraded section on digital citizenship, I also noticed the spotlight on "Global Collaborator" -- "Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally."

Technology should be used actively and purposefully for student learning. Digital tools should be used to:
  • Collaborate with diverse partners, and to examine issues from multiple perspectives (2016 ISTE Standards for Students).
  • Contribute to team projects, presentations, and ideas (2016 ISTE Standards for Students).
  • Explore local and global topics, problems, and solutions (2016 ISTE Standards for Students).
  • "(Encourage) elaboration, questioning, and explanation, such as prompting students to explain information and arguments as they read," (CA ELA ELD Framework, Ch. 10).
  • "(Teach) with examples and cases, such as modeling how to prepare a presentation or provide constructive feedback to a student author," (CA ELA ELD Framework, Ch. 10).

Structures that Allow Connectivity

Global collaborations should be built into classroom learning opportunities, as students also learn about ethical and safe online interaction.

Each district has different infrastructure and policies in place. Within the parameters of the district, students should benefit when teachers provide opportunities for collaboration beyond the four walls of the classroom.

Global Collaborations

At #ISTE2016, I had the privilege of sharing about the Student Blogging Challenge with Sue Wyatt, the organizer of the challenge. I know I've shared ample times that I learned how to blog through the Teacher Blogging Challenge, and went on to understand how to blog with students while participating in the Student Blogging Challenge. Every year, I continue to participate as a mentor in the challenge.

Our session at ISTE, with posters created by student participants. 
Some other global collaborations that I recently learned about while at ISTE include:

  • Centre for Global Education -- "The mission of The Centre for Global Education (TCGE) is to educate 21st Century students for a 21st Century world by providing global learning opportunities, enhanced through technology, informed by sound research and innovative teaching."
  • Global Encounters -- "Global Encounters is an international student video conference program, offered through a partnership between the Centre for Global Education (CGE) and TakingITGlobal (TIG). We've hosted dozens of events on critical global issues such as child soldiers and armed conflict, women's rights, mental health, climate change and many more."
  • Global Oneness Project -- Raise global awareness about international issues such as trash in the sea.
  • Global School Network -- "Global SchoolNet's mission is to support 21st century, brain-friendly learning, and improve academic performance through content-driven collaboration."
  • Great Global Project / Global Collaboration Day -- Resources and opportunities for educators and students. Create your own project and share to make collaborations, or join an established collaboration.
  • MyHero Project -- Publish stories, films and artwork to celebrate the best of humanity.
  • TakingITGlobal -- "TakingITGlobal empowers youth to understand and act on the world's greatest challenges."
  • Wonderment -- "In the Wonderment, kids can join around the globe to explore, creatively collaborate and solve problems on a global level—and be supported with resources to make a real impact on their communities and the world."
  • Write Our World -- Author or co-author cultural books and publish online. 

Final Thoughts

Making connections beyond the four classroom walls is not optional, it's an expectation. Let's create systems that will support ethical and safe practices, and continue to share global collaborative opportunities to support educators in this process.

  • What are some of your favorite global collaborations? What might you add to this list?
  • What might be some other benefits of making connections beyond the four classroom walls?
  • What thoughts would you like to add to this post?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Urgency with Coding Now for the Future

I've heard Anne Jenks share numerous times the importance of teaching coding in school, especially with so many STEM professions available. If computer science careers are the number one source of jobs in the US, then we should have more computer science graduates, and therefore more coding/programming opportunities in K-12 classrooms.

The time is now to start teaching digital fluency and coding as part of literacy. Being literate in today's world, includes computer literacy.

Luckily, there are organizations, such as, dedicated to giving students opportunities to learn computer science.

How do you get started?

Below are a few places for getting started:

Device Elementary Secondary
iPadDaisy the Dinosaur
Tickle (older app)
Scratch Jr.
Laptop/Desktop Scratch
Khan Academy

Final thoughts

There are so many more resources/sites available on multiple platforms than those aforementioned.

  • What are your favorite coding/programming sites to use with students?
  • How are you building STEM opportunities in your classroom/school/district?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Google Classroom 101

Google Classroom integrates Google Apps for Education (GAFE) tools such as Google Docs, Gmail, and Google Calendar to name a few. It then allows the teacher to distribute and collect assignments paperlessly.

Google Classroom with iPads too

Google Classroom is not just for Chromebooks, it's a useful management tool for other platforms such as iPads as well. For instance, one great way to collect student creations and manage the workflow on iPads is through Google Classroom.

What is Google Classroom and how does it work?

Why should I consider Google Classroom?

Here are a few reasons why Google Classroom should be considered:

  • It helps organize discussions, assignments, projects, or assessments online.
  • Classroom helps students organize their projects, assignments, tasks, etc. and keep track of upcoming assignments, or assignments already turned in and teacher feedback or grades.
  • Classroom could foster communication.
  • Classroom saves time, especially when working with Google Apps, and it is free. NOTE: You must have a GAFE account to qualify to use it.

Using Google Classroom with iPads or Android?

  • First, you'll want to download the app in iTunes or Google Play.
  • Below is an overview for using Google Classroom with iPads:
  • Click here for a tip on saving from the iPad to Google Classroom. 

More Tutorials and Resources

Where can you go to find out more about using Google Classroom? -- See below:
Final thoughts

I remember the first debut of Google Classroom, and appreciate how it has evolved and improved the e-workflow in the classroom.

  • What might be some other benefits of Google Classroom?
  • What are some questions you still have about using Google Classroom?

The original draft of this post was sent as a series of emails, shared Google Docs, and an unpublished draft in 2014, which has been updated and published... finally. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

QR Codes in the Classroom

QR (Quick Reader) Codes are like bar codes to quickly connect you to text, websites, audio clips, videos, etc.

QR Code Reader

The device will need a QR Code Reader. My current favorite is still i-Nigma because I've found that audiences typically do not need to leave their seats to scan the QR Code from the screen I'm presenting from, while other readers have not been as reliable.
There are also QR Code Readers for Chromebooks and other devices that have cameras.

QR Code Generator

There are several ways to create QR Codes, however my current favorite is Below are the instructions for two different ways to use it:

Using QR Codes in the Classroom

There are many ways QR Codes can be used in the classroom beyond quickly viewing a website. Some ideas and more resouces are listed below:
Final Thoughts
  • How might you use QR Codes in the classroom?
  • What questions do you still have?

This information was previously referenced in my 2012 post at, and has since been updated.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Deeper Thinking and Revised DOK Flowchart

About a year or two ago, I noticed my DOK Flowchart floating around Pinterest. I didn't think much of it because the thought process behind the flowchart was documented on my post titled, Striving for Higher-Order Thinking and Depth of Knowledge.

This flowchart was created to help teachers in my former district categorize their own questions by DOK level, to look for patterns and trends, in order to set goals regarding their quest for deeper thinking. It was a flowchart that worked with many question patterns we commonly saw, but was not intended to be definitive.

For example, when it came to a question in math, we knew there was a right and wrong answer -- for example, 3X4=12. However, we considered how there were multiple approaches to get to that correct answer. While, that was a discussion we had face-to-face, my original flowchart did not reflect those conversations. Therefore, I revised the flowchart to help clarify:

Click here to download as PDF.

Below are some examples of various questions/tasks with DOK levels:

Final thoughts

While this flowchart might help identify the DOK levels for questions, it probably will not work on every single question because there is more to DOK than a simplified guide could provide. However, if it helps promote deeper questioning, then I am happy that I've shared it with others.

  • What might be some benefits of this flowchart? How might you improve it?
  • What are some possible examples of deeper questioning and tasks for students?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Posters, Resources, and ELD Standards

I've lived in California for almost a year now, and am becoming very familiar with the California English Language Development Standards. My goal for this post is to share a few of the big ideas I've learned about the CA ELD Standards through the use of two tools: Canva and Tackk.


I learned about Tackk through +Lisa Johnson (TechChef4u) when I stumbled upon her post about Tackk. I quickly realized that it was a useful tool to create and curate content. I think of it as an online poster or magazine article.

It seems like an easy tool to use because you can just drag and drop content into it. Headlines, text, images, graphics, vidoes, audio and playlists, GIFs and media, Google Maps, PayPal, contact forms and RSVPs can be added.

I've downloaded Tackk on my iPad, use it on my desktop, and can install it on my Chrome Browser. There are also several templates for educational use.

Click here for more information on Tackk.


Another tool that Lisa Johnson introduced me to is Canva. I use this tool to design slides, posters, and visuals. The visuals I created in my Tackk poster (top) were created in Canva.

Final thoughts

There are many other tools that I use for these same purposes, but I wanted to try something new and accessible across multiple platforms.
  • What are some educational uses for Canva, Trackk, or other similar tools?
  • How might you use Canva or Trackk?
  • What did you learn about the California ELD Standards?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Digital Storytelling and Stories for the Desktop

Digital storytelling is an art form conveying a message. It uses images and voice narration to convey emotion with the message, and to ignite empathy from the audience. It incorporates storyboarding and writing a script. It is created with digital tools and published on the Internet.

I often think of digital storytelling as something done in first person because it creates that personal connection. Whereas, I think of a digital story as an anecdote or story typed or narrated in third person.

Image attribution: Lyn Hilt's Slideshare, used with permission.
Original work: "Writing- Pen & Paper" CC-by Laurie Richie

Here are some of the many benefits of digital storytelling and digital stories:

    Get Adobe Flash player

  • The 21st century skills and ISTE's Standards applied are critical and creative thinking; written, oral, and digital communication; collaboration; authentic learning; digital fluency; informational fluency; and project management.
  • It is great differentiation for all students including ELs, gifted, and special needs.
  • It increases student engagement in a meaningful and relevant task.

State Standards

Many specific content standards can be addressed through digital stories. Here are some of the Common Core Standards that digital storytelling and digital stories address:
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences. 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Here are some of the ELD Standards: ELD.P1.9-12

Types of digital stories and some prompts

Digital storytelling and stories can take shape as a:
  • Short Story: This narrative shares an insight, a perspective, or an entertaining story.
  • Myth, Legend, Tall Tale, Folk Tale, or Fable: While each of these are a little different from one another, they tend to describe origins, values, beliefs, accomplishments, or special events. 
  • DocuDrama or Historical Storytelling: This digital story is told from the point of view of a person (or object) in a different era. It requires researching a time period, then using creativity to have those facts come to life.
  • Describe and Conclude or Reflective Storytelling: Tell about something you're learning and the impact it has on you.
  • Public Service Announcement, Advertisement, or Persuasive Story: This digital story has the purpose of calling others to action for or against something else.
These prompts were inspired by Bernajean Porter's Digital Storytelling Across the Curriculum

The art of digital storytelling

Several years ago, I participated in an outstanding webinar by ISTE's Special Interest Group for Digital Storytelling, where Bernajean Porter shared about the "Art and Soul of Digital Storytelling." After being inspired by the webinar, I created the following page summarizing some of my key take-aways:
Click here to download PDF

Below is an example of digital storytelling by Siobahn Quigg.

Step 1: Writing the script and planning the project
Click to download
  • Prompt: I'd choose one prompt to introduce the process of digital storytelling to students. I might even do the first one as a whole group with parts and roles shared by the students. (Here's the first try from a second grade class and a Kindergarten student). As our class becomes confident with the process and media, I'd open it up to more choices and smaller groups/individual productions.
  • Teaching about the writing: Teach the importance of first person for adding spice to the story; share an interesting problem, perspective, or insight; and use strong word choice to convey the message.

Step 2: Production and digital tools
  • Choose the tool: When I am introducing the digital storytelling process to classes, I choose the tool for them to use. Once the process is established and they have a toolbox of sites (or apps) to use, I give them a choice in tools.
  • Images and Creative Commons: Have students create their own images, take their own photos, or find photos that have Creative Commons Licenses and have them properly cite the photo either on the same page as the picture or at the end.
  • Background music and Creative Commons: If there is not music to choose from on the app or site, then find music that is legal to use in your video. I select music from the list suggested by Creative Commons, Dano Songs, or Melody Loops. However, background music is not a necessity, especially if it's new to the class. 
  • Production: Before production, I treat this part of the process much like I would the rough draft of a writing assignment with editing and revising. Here's where the mini-lessons come in about voice, word choice, etc. I like to conference with my students to make sure they are ready for production, then I allow them to start once they've gathered all of the photos and music (optional).

Digital Story and Digital Storytelling tools

There are some amazing products that I've taken students to in the past but are no longer feasible options due to issues with privacy, security, and/or advertising. Here's my quick test to see if I'll use the app/product:
  • Am I concerned about student safety with using this app/site? If so, I have no qualms with finding a different app/product. 
  • Does it have advertisements on the site? If so, I'm shying away from using that site.
If it passes the aforementioned questions as a safe site that doesn't advertise, then I ask myself:
  • Can I log students on without giving away their last name, email address, or other personal information? If not, and I can't work around it by logging in as me, then I'll need to find another product.
  • How does it protect, store, and secure student data? 
  • Is it compliant with FERPA, PPRA, and COPPA, and meet state legislation?
Below are a few sites that can be used to create digital stories and storytelling. Some are more for narration; others for story books; and several allow digital storytelling with visual and narration.

More resources

Step 3: Publishing and connecting with an authentic audience

Celebrate their creations by sharing with others.

Building an authentic audience to view the digital stories is powerful for students. They are no longer creating a project just for the teacher -- it's for their families, friends, and people around the globe.

Each of the apps listed above have a description for sharing on the Internet. Emails can be sent to parents with the URL for where the digital story is published (or through the RSS subscription for the class blog). When shared on a teacher's blog, a Tweet can also be sent through Twitter asking for comments on their work by adding the hashtag #comments4kids. If your school uses social media, you can ask to share the link there.

Reflection, evaluation, and rubrics

Providing specific feedback along the way with daily goals is part of the process. Self-evaluations using the scoring guides or rubrics are strong formatives for the students to target their next steps.

Formal or informal student reflection is part of the process. It's important that a positive class atmosphere is established for this step.
  • Asking reflective questions: Have partners share their work with one another and ask them, "What parts or images captured your interest or attention?" 
  • Tracy's Rubric: This rubric was created as an introduction to storytelling, with the purpose of focusing on Common Core Reading Standard #6, "Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text," by applying it to digital storytelling.
  • Digital Storytelling Rubric: I discovered Jason Ohler's post about assessing digital stories from Lyn Hilt's wiki. This is an extensive list of ideas on assessing digital storytelling.
  • Create your own rubric: If you end up creating your own rubric, remember to focus on your content standards the most with only a little emphasis (if any) on the technology piece.

Final thoughts

Digital storytelling is fabulous for content learning, 21st century learning, and active engagement. If task predicts performance, then my money is on digital storytelling.
  • What apps or digital resources would you add to this list?
  • What tips or questions would you add to this conversation about digital storytelling?
  • How else does this post connect with you?

Portions of this post was originally published in 2013 and as part of AJUSD professional development with netbooks.