Archive for the ‘Common Core’ Category

Post 28 on the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeYour thoughts: Should Technology drive the curriculum or vice versa?

The answer to this is simple, the curriculum and learning come first. Technology, like pencils or any other tool, supports, enhances, and makes some of the learning possible. It engages students in new ways, adds various “21st century skills” like collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking to make the learning go deeper. 

This week the teachers in our schools are taking time away from their classrooms to plan together with their teaching teams. Each team has a half day to begin their planning on integrated units of study – whether those are project-based, problem-based, passion-based, or place-based (I call these the PBLs). The administration has set aside this time for teachers to integrate Common Core standards and Next Generation Science Standards. It’s also an opportunity for me to listen in and offer suggestions and ideas about technology integration in these units of study. But it’s the curriculum that comes first in all aspects of the planning. I’ll likely blog about the progress over the course of this school year.

In light of yesterday’s post about using weekends to explore new tools, I created a very short wideo about today’s prompt. Richard Byrne, at the wonderful Free Tech 4 Teachers site, shared this resource recently and I thought I’d give it a try.




Read Full Post »

Post 16 in the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging Challenge: If you could have one superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?


I don’t have a classroom of my own, so I’ll focus on one superpower that would help me with my work, and well, life.

I would want the ability to see into the future.

A recent post for the blogging challenge asked me to think about how I might be a different teacher in 5 years. It’s impossible to predict, with technology changing as quickly as it does, what things will look like in just 5 years. But it would be nice!



I often have questions about the not-too-distant future:

  • What will our schools look like? Feel like?
  • What role will technology play in schools?
  • How will the role of teachers change?
  • Will students really be in charge of their own learning? (I hope so!)
  • Will we truly be globally connected?
  • How long will the Common Core and SBAC last before the next thing comes around the curve?
  • What will I be doing? (That’s a big one!)

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a glimpse around that bend ahead of time so you could make adjustments and ensure that things turn out positively? Or is it better to control our own destinies by doing what we’re doing NOW, making the choices we’re going to make?


Read Full Post »

Wow- It’s been a month since my last post and I don’t know where the time went!

Here are a few things that have been happening:

Theme Week- Each year our building with 3rd-8th graders has a Theme Week hosted by the related arts teachers (Music, Art, P.E.) and the World Language teachers. Instead of students going to those classes, they go to a few workshops based on a central theme – this year it was the Olympics. Other adults in the building pitch in to make the groups smaller and the offerings larger. The tech integration team did a workshop using Augmented Reality this year. We only had our groups for one session, about 70 minutes. In that time, students created short videos about an Olympic sport, athlete, or country. Then they selected a trigger image and set it up in the Aurasma app on the iPads.

Some of the Olympic trigger images used to access the videos students made.

Some of the Olympic trigger images used to access the videos students made.

Voila! Now there are trigger images all over the school that anyone can scan and then view the videos that pop up.

We culminated Theme Week with the annual Faculty-Student basketball game. We streamed it live via UStream and recorded it for future reference. The students came from behind to win it- and the gym erupted at the final buzzer!

We have many more teachers using Voicethread or getting ready to use Voicethread. This ranges from first and second graders for an exploration of constellations, to middle school students describing their families in French for pen pals in France.

First and second graders have become news anchors and have put together a news video to share. The topics of their features have to do with various aspects of the community around our school.

Teachers had another in-service day focused on the Common Core. We also took a closer look at some SBAC sample items. In addition, the teachers shared and celebrated their work this year on implementing Common Core writing standards. We captured some of that sharing on video. I was happily surprised by the amount of technology being integrated into the Writing Workshop model. There were many teachers reporting out the positive aspects of Google Drive and blogging as critical elements of the writing process. (third-fifth grades)

I’m noticing that I am devoting less time to staying connected with my PLN via Twitter or Google+ and am reflecting on what’s taking priority over that. I feel disconnected and am not benefitting from this great resource of mine. Time to re-examine that!

Read Full Post »

Today I had the opportunity to work with our preK-2 teachers during a faculty meeting devoted to technology. We had some wonderful shares to open the meeting. One teacher shared an example of an iMovie project some first/second grade students created on iPads. Another shared a new collaborative Voicethread project that she’s hosting for other Vermont educators.

After that wonderful opening, we got to the nitty-gritty of the meeting. A colleague in our district went through all of the ELA Common Core standards and pulled out those that incorporated technology, by grade level. I shared the K-3 list with this element of our faculty. We looked for things we noticed, celebrated what we’re already doing, and brainstormed some next steps. One thing we noticed was that the Production and Distribution of Writing standard (the one that ends in .6 at each grade level) is essentially the goal we set as a school last year and that work continues this year as well. It was a validation that we’re on the right track on many levels.

Then we moved on to looking at the SBAC. In preparation for having one grade pilot a portion of the SBAC last spring, we installed the secure SBAC browser on our computers. Today I demonstrated how to access it, log in as a guest, and choose grade level and subject area (math or ELA). We went to the tech lab to give this a try with a special focus. I asked the teachers not to focus on the content of the sample items, but on the technology skills our students would need in order to feel comfortable taking the test. That was a challenge!

Teachers logged in and took a close look at the 3rd grade items. It was frightening for them, which wasn’t my intent. I wanted them to be aware of the technology skills embedded in the assessment. Our current 2nd graders will take this in the spring of 2015 as third graders. What authentic tasks can our students could do NOW to help them feel comfortable in that testing environment then?

Here are some thoughts and observations that were shared after about 15 minutes exploring some items. Students will:

  • Need to scroll up and down to make sure all items are complete.
  • Click and drag quite a bit
  • Draw lines, shapes, use tools
  • Highlight text
  • Use a notepad
  • Compose directly on a computer or device to respond to questions (no rough draft on paper first!)
  • Need strong typing skills/know the location of keys on the keyboard well
  • Need to be comfortable reading long passages online

Teachers were scared for their students. They were alarmed at the amount of reading required. They did thank me for exposing them to this now rather than later so that they could ponder next steps. Some ideas that came forth- blogging with students will support many of the skills, reading eBooks on iPads and responding to questions, teachers write longer blog posts for students to read online, and more.

Readers- do you have more suggestions or thoughts?

Read Full Post »

Already this summer, I’ve had many opportunities to learn. I should have been blogging about all of these things, but that didn’t happen.

I was fortunate to attend ISTE in San Antonio. It was wonderful to connect with members of my PLN, get inspired, and learn from others. That learning will always continue through those connections and Twitter.

Recently I taught, with an amazing group, a course for educators about Google tools. I learned while working with all of them- the other facilitators and the participants.

One special highlight took place last week. My friend Lucie deLaBruere (@techsavvygirl) put together a course called Making Mobile Media Camp for Educators. One of the best things about it was that it was an opportunity for technology integrators, library-media specialists, teachers, and others to get hands-on learning time. Lucie brought others in from near and far to help lead various sessions. We were creators, not consumers.

I had the pleasure of working with Jessica Pack (@packwoman208) for most of the week. Here are some of the things I explored:

  • Creating an iTunesU course
  • Creating a Powtoon as one component of my course. (a new tool for me!)
  • Learning about iBooks Author and starting the creation of a book.

The topic I chose for all components of my work was Digital Citizenship. My hope/dream is to complete the book and the course (ha!) in time for a day-long iPad training being held in our school in a few weeks. Ideally, teachers would explore the course, including the book, to get familiar with topics under the umbrella of digital citizenship. Then they’d use the same materials with their students as part of an introduction to iPads. Time is a huge factor – is it realistic for me to assume I can get this done and still enjoy my summer ‘time off’!?

In the process of doing all of these things, I learned so much about working with digital photos, editing video, structuring time, teaching, and much more.

We worked hard and learned a lot Monday through Thursday. My head is still spinning from the ideas, the tools, the techniques, and examples shared by Jessica. Friday was a bonus day during which we had a digital film challenge. Jessica led the way again, demonstrating how such challenges align with the Common Core and how much students learn from creating videos. We worked in small groups to simulate the film challenge in an abbreviated amount of time. For the challenge, each group had to make a film (using only iPads) that was suspenseful, including a fictitious name and the line “call me maybe”. It was a blast and there were many laughs while putting together our movie.

The week was perfect. I loved being a learner in that setting. I loved gathering ideas for how I might work with teachers and with students in an engaging, motivating manner. Thank you Lucie, and thank you Jessica for your patience, your resources, and so much more. I can’t wait to continue my learning!

Read Full Post »



Many (most?) of us in the country are preparing for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  Students will all utilize technology to take the SBAC. We are submitting data about our readiness in terms of the technology twice a year in preparation for implementing the actual assessment in the 2014-2015 school year.

At a recent in-service in our supervisory union devoted to work on the Common Core, one sample task from the SBAC was shared with educators. In that task, students need to click on a link that takes them to a video. Once there, they should watch the video, pausing it when necessary to navigate back to the assessment to respond in their own words to various questions. They would then continue as often as needed to go back and forth between the open-ended questions and the video.

To me, the embedded basic technology skills include navigating between windows and tabs, starting, stopping, and pausing video, and typing their responses directly on the computer without drafting on paper first. That means a comfort level with keyboarding or at least knowing where the letters are on the keyboard, so that the response they’re typing is not stymied by the act of typing.

Teachers who saw this example task worried about our youngest students (3rd/4th graders) being comfortable enough with the technology so that it didn’t impede their completion of the assessment task. What do we need to do to help prepare them and when do we start? In kindergarten?

I ask, how do we help all of our students gain comfort with these basic technology skills, in addition to those I don’t know about yet, in an authentic manner? We don’t want to have students practice these skills in isolation, just to prepare them for the assessment. That feels like teaching to the test.



Image credit, Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/41xp8a by cc511

Read Full Post »