Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Friday, January 27, 2017

Authentic Audience and Increased Family Engagement with Digital Portfolios

As early as 1993, educators have recognized the importance of offering students the opportunity to share their learning beyond their classroom walls.  Families love the opportunity to see what students are doing in school, and studies show that engaged families promotes student achievement.

While there are many tools teachers and students can use to share student work digitally, this week’s guest bloggers, Sarah Williams, 4th grade teacher at Alta Vista, and  Rachel Schaffer, TK teacher at Athenour,  tell us how they use digital portfolios to share student work and increase family involvement.

Sarah Williams, 4th grade teacher, Alta Vista

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 10.04.07 AM.pngEver wonder what happens to all of those wonderfully written papers we pass back to our students? Do families ever get a chance to see their student's work? Digital portfolios offer students a place to display their wonderful creations. They also allow families to explore work that previously may have landed in the recycle bin before even leaving the classroom.  This year my class created their own websites using  the new Google Sites.
Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 12.06.21 PM.png
Making the websites was quick and easy.  The updated Google Sites format is kid friendly and very easy to follow.  Check out this tutorial for help. My students created sections for each subject. Now, each time my students create a piece of writing, or a digital project, they add it to their website. In the end, they will have an everlasting chronological journey of their year with me.  Here is one of my student’s, work in progress, portfolio. I definitely plan to use digital portfolios every year and find them valuable and meaningful to me, my students, and their family.


Rachel Schaffer, TK Teacher, Athenour

Last year I discovered the most amazing technology tool: Seesaw! It was love at first sight!

Seesaw is a free app for students to capture photos, videos, text, links and audio in a digital feed. Students can use it on iPads (find it  in the App Store) or on Chromebooks (web version).

Seesaw is a:
  • digital portfolio
  • student learning journal
  • school-home communication tool
Best of all, my 4-5 year old students can use and operate this icon rich app independently. Seesaw is by far the most versatile technology tool I have come across. If you introduce your students to one technology tool this year, I hope that it is Seesaw.

A few ideas to get you started...
Students use Seesaw to:

Teachers use Seesaw to:

Record Performance-Based Assessments
This has totally changed the way I think about assessments. Students can record themselves, and I have a record of 24 performance-based assessments, done in 1 day!

I can also share videos of students explaining their work to families during conferences. Warning: This can be a powerful experience. One parent even cried as she listened to her child talking.

Send families video newsletters or quick reminders (right to their cell phone) Seesaw also allows you to see how many have viewed your post...very helpful to know who you need to follow up with later.

Connect with classrooms around the world!
← via connected Seesaw blogs.

It is not often that I spend free time perusing an app’s help center for ideas, but Seesaw’s help center is the exception.
The help center includes the following:
  • Tips for Getting Started
  • Tutorial Videos & Webinars (Seesaw offers free webinars led by teachers.)
  • Activity Ideas for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
  • Teacher Stories

To get started, check out a presentation that Marika Parnell and I gave at the October 31st, 2016, PD, especially for examples of how you can use Seesaw in your classroom.

Please feel free to contact either of us with any questions. We would love to share more with you about how we have used Seesaw to streamline and increase communication in my classroom.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

And the Winners Are...

Digital Citizenship Media Contest Winners

Last month, just before the holiday break, students submitted digital posters, stories, and videos for this year's Digital Citizenship Media Contest. We were very impressed with all of the creativity and innovation that all of the participants displayed. It was not an easy decision, but here are this year's winners:

Our TK-2nd grade winner is Diya from Ms. Nguyen-Ebadi's 2nd grade class. Her class, at Noddin Elementary, used StoryBird and Make Belief Comix to write stories based on what they learned about staying safe online. Read Internet Safety to learn about how Stitch Bunny teaches his friends about password protection, email safety, and kid-appropriate websites. Diya uses StoryBird's stunning artwork to tell her digital citizenship tale in a clever way.

The 3-5 winners from Ms. Landis's 5th grade, Guadalupe Elementary class are Shannon and Lexi. We were truly impressed with their Harry Potter inspired story that was created using Scratch coding. Watch the video to find out how Harry deals with cyberbullies at Hogwarts. It is a great example of how STEAM can be used in language arts.

View HyperDoc
The middle school winners are from Ms. Zangwill's 7th and 8th grade technology class at Union Middle School. In the digital graphics category, Summer created a Piktochart infographic that sums up the most important points about digital citizenship in a visually stunning way. Adriana and Angelina won the award for best video with their interesting use of text, visuals and music to convey a powerful digital citizenship message using WeVideo. Finally, in the published story category, Sahith did an amazing job creating a Google Slides Choose Your Own Adventure story where you, the reader, have multiple decisions to make, leading to a different outcomes based on your choices.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Digital Media Contest! If you missed it this year, but would like to try out some of these digital storytelling tools with your students, check out the Digital Storytelling Hyperdoc to get your students creating!

Hour of Code Winner

Congratulations to this year's Hour of Code winner, Danielle Blomseth, kindergarten teacher at Oster Elementary! This year our STEAM ToSAs did an outstanding job encouraging more teachers and students to participate than ever before. It is so exciting to see how teachers are finding cross-curricular integration of coding into their classrooms. Keep up the great work and if you haven't started coding with your class yet, it's never too late to start!

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Four C’s and STEAM: Preparing 21st Century Learners for Success by guest blogger, Kaitlin Klein

In the hope of receiving better, more prepared candidates, employers from businesses far and wide have helped to pinpoint the four essential skills they look for when hiring prospective employees: The Four C’s. Above all else, they are looking for people who are skilled in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. So what exactly does that look like for our students?

In his TED talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” Sir Ken Robinson, makes the case that creativity is as important as literacy for preparing our students as 21st Century Learners.

At USD, we are lucky to work in a district that seems to agree with many of Sir Ken’s ideals and is embracing the need for change, by looking towards the future in preparing 21st Century Learners!

Critical thinking: Critical thinkers are able to evaluate multiple options, make decisions, use different kinds of thinking based on different situations, and solve problems by creating innovative solutions.

Communication: Twenty-first century communicators can use different technologies effectively to communicate. They have developed excellent listening skills and the ability to articulate thoughts and ideas orally.

Collaboration: Effective collaborators are flexible and skilled in their ability to work with diverse groups. They are able to be responsible for individual tasks that contribute to group success and actively contribute ideas and skills to group projects.

Creativity: Creative students can think of new and innovative ideas and solutions. They think outside of the box, while taking into consideration the constraints of a particular problem. They aren’t daunted by failure, but instead, look at failures as opportunities for future success.

Teachers in our district are already doing amazing work with incorporating The Four C’s in lessons, but if you’re looking for a new way to bump up The Four C’s in your own class, one way to help foster these skills is through all things STEAM, especially the engineering design process.
With engineering design, students are tasked with answering a complex, real-world problem that needs a creative solution.

In the imagine phase, they get their creative juices flowing by brainstorming as many solutions as possible, without questioning whether or not the ideas will actually work.

In the plan step, they work with a team to decide on an idea in which they would like to delve deeper, which requires effective communication within the team and critical thinking skills to identify the best option, given their constraints.

In the next two steps, create and improve, collaboration and critical thinking are key. Teams must work together to create a prototype of their solution, each person contributing to the final outcome, while evaluating problems and solving them creatively, in order to improve their prototypes.

And lastly, all of The Four C’s are brought into play in the explain phase, where students must determine the best way to articulate their ideas and present them to a specific audience.

Engineering projects are fun for students, and they hit a lot of standards in one swoop, especially math and the NGSS. They can be tied to literature and social studies, too! Try one out in your own class, and watch The Four C’s flourish with your students. Here are some to get you started, and a planning sheet for your students to use either digitally, or on paper. If you would like help with a project, the STEAM ToSA’s are always available to help in any way.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Make the Most of PD with Sched and Shared Notes

With so many interesting sounding simultaneous sessions that compete for your time, attending a PD day or conference can be overwhelming.

Sched provides lots of ways to view, choose, and save sessions. Creating a Sched account is the best way to keep track of the sessions you think are interesting. Here is a short Youtube how-to. While it was created for another district’s event, it will help you make the most of using Sched. You can save more than one session per time slot, helping you narrow down the possibilities. Once you have sessions saved, add them to your calendar, print the schedule, or better yet, access Sched from your smartphone.

To make the most of your day, consider planning with your colleagues to spread out and cover as many sessions as possible. Then, create a shared Google Doc to take notes on. While there are many ways to do it, here’s an example of one created by Carla Dunavan for the Fall CUE. Since it is a shared doc, many attendees can edit at once. Just choose a cell and begin adding text, hyperlinks, and images.

Breaks or lunch is the perfect time to discuss what you’ve learned and what inspired you with your team members. Shared notes is a great way to spark discussion and provides a jumping off point for all of you to plan ways to bring new ideas to your classroom.

The most important thing of any PD is to have fun, to be energized, and for your  students to benefit from the stimulating lessons, apps, and ideas you will integrate into your curriculum.

Friday, January 6, 2017

So Much Happening in Education!

There are a number of movements in education that strive to help educators create a more student centered learning environment. You might like to consider Global School Play Day, No Worksheet Week, or Global Day of Design in your planning over the next few months.

The third Global School Play Day (GSPD) is scheduled for Wednesday, February 1st. Inspired by Dr. Peter Gray’s TEDx Talk, the founders of GSPD believe, “Unstructured play is a vital part of proper child development!” and advocate that we give the “gift of play” to students one day each year. It’s easy to participate. Just tell your students to bring anything they wish to play with to school on Wednesday, February 1st. The only restriction is they must only bring toys and games that  DO NOT require batteries or electricity. Then, on February 1st, allow your students to spread toys out around the room or take the kids outside and just PLAY!

Also in its third year, No Worksheet Week, scheduled for February 27th to March 3rd, began with a blog post. Believing that students learn more through creating, communicating, critical thinking and collaborating, this movement’s goal is to get students to discover answers and share ideas. A week is a huge commitment. Beginning by trying a day of no worksheets might be easier than you might have imagined. Ideas range from student led edcamp-style discussions, to Mystery Google Hangout, or giving students passion-project/Genius hour time. Still need a nudge? This video shows you why encouraging students’ creative thinking is important.

Global Day of Design, planned for May 2nd, focuses on the design thinking process. The website has Maker Projects and Design Challenges,many from Stanford's D.School, to help you and your students prepare for the day’s special 24 hour challenge. Want to learn more about how the design thinking process works? Watch this video by John Spencer, to see how he thinks about using the design thinking process with students.

Upcoming PD

We are so fortunate to live in an area with so much going on in education. Here are a few upcoming local (many free) events you might like to know about.

Sat., Jan. 21, 2017
Sat., Jan 21, 2017
Sat., Jan 21, 2017
Sat., Jan. 28, 2017
Sat., Feb. 11, 2017
Sat., Feb 25, 2017
Sat., Feb 25, 2017 (tentative)
Sat., Feb 25, 2017
Sat., March 4, 2017 (held at UMS)
SVCUE Teach Through Technology Event
Sat., April 22, 2017 (held at UMS)
Sat., April 29, 2017