Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Friday, April 28, 2017

Digital Citizenship Parent Morning Coffee with Merve from Common Sense

On Tuesday, April 25, Merve Lapus, Director of School Partnerships for Common Sense Education, came to the Union School District board room to talk with parents about current media trends in the lives of our kids.

He shared eye opening videos and statistics from a 2015 Common Sense Census of more than 2,600 8-18 year olds regarding tween and teen media use and a 2016 Common Sense Census of about 1,800 parents titled Plugged in Parents of Teens and Tweens. This helped open up a discussion about strategies for tackling the surrounding issues. Parents asked lots of questions and shared their own personal experiences and tactics for dealing with technology and media use in their homes. Merve stressed that it is always a good idea for parents to have open conversations with their children before jumping to conclusions and simply taking devices away. I was drawn to a quote that he shared from a 2014 Common Sense Focus group, "Adults don't get it. They think I'm addicted to technology - but I'm not. I'm addicted to my friends." Todays kids deal with the same basic issues that we dealt with when we were young, just in a very different way. With the power of social media, teens can now show their popularity by the number of likes that they have on their Instagram or Twitter feeds. Instead of having 100 friends, they can have thousands of followers.
Media Use by Tweens and Teens Full Infographic

Merve also shared Common Sense Education resources and gave tips to help parents connect with children on important issues regarding technology and media use. Common Sense understands that it may be difficult for adults to keep up with their children these days. He shared that parents can find descriptions and read parent tips for apps, tv shows, movies, websites and video games on their Reviews page. This is particularly helpful in helping parents decide weather or not to allow their child to watch something or play a game that may be popular among peer groups. Parents can also find a whole section titled Parent Concerns where they can find answers to frequently asked questions.

Connecting Families
Before closing out the presentation, Merve talked about a whole community approach to digital citizenship. He emphasized that it is OUR responsibility to reinforce that kids think critically, participate responsibly, and behave safely when engaging with media and technology on a daily basis. As teachers, we have to do our part to educate our students in the classroom, but it is equally important that parents do their part at home and in the community. He even shared with them Common Sense's Connecting Families page and how easy it is to hold parent group discussions using their Series of Conversation Cases that includes event fliers and discussion guides with questions about carefully selected videos that open up great conversations about tough topics like Cyberbullying, Video Games & Violent Content and Sexual Imagery & the Internet.  

The two hour presentation flew by and at the end of the event, parents were lining up to speak with Merve and thank him for his knowledge, expertise and advice. One parent came up to me and said, "We need to hold more events like this. All parents should come and see this." After sharing my sketchnotes about the event on Twitter, Merve tweeted, “great turnout today, & parents from room to parking lot praised the event.” 

Here's a link to his presentation slides: Don't forget to check out all Common Sense parent and educator resources at

Friday, April 21, 2017

Path to Presenting

We all agree that Union School District has a number of amazing teachers who are doing amazing things with students. Some of our teachers have accepted the responsibility to share their best practices outside the district at local and state conferences. Fifteen of the accepted presenters at the recent Teach through Technology, SVCUE conference, were from USD! Helen Kamali and Jackie Knudson, both Kindergarten teachers at Noddin, were two of the presenters.

As a math lead, one of Jackie’s responsibilities was to present to her grade level. Helen’s introduction to presenting was as a Tech Teacher Leader. She presented a Union University session. Both got their feet wet in a supportive environment, to a known audience of colleagues, in a familiar setting.

Since then, Jackie and Helen have had the opportunity to present outside the district to increasingly larger audiences.

“I never wanted to do presentations. That has never been my goal,” said Helen, “but there are so few sessions for primary teachers.”  Jackie added, “We didn’t think what we were doing in our class was special. But we were encouraged to present and share what we were doing, and now here we are, soon to be, CUE RockStar Faculty!”

Jackie was part of an Android tablet pilot. Her kinders had one-to-one tablets, as did Dianna Talley’s first graders. Mary Fran Lynch, always a Google advocate, encouraged them to submit to present at Fall CUE 2015. Jackie remembers writing the proposal with Mary Fran’s help, and hoping they wouldn’t get chosen. Against hope, they were chosen. The upside was getting to attend Fall CUE. Knowing that being accepted to present at a pre-approved conference means getting to attend, Jackie knew she wanted to present again!

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About the same time, she and Helen had gone to Lakeshore to buy a book on STEAM in Kindergarten. Helen was especially excited and encouraged Jackie to jump in. “Let’s just do it.” So they did.

Their passion, excitement, and growth mindset (“Lots of times we failed.”) led them to develop STEAM centers, run for two hours on Wednesdays with the help of parent volunteers.

Knowing they had something special that should be shared, Jackie and Helen were encouraged to present, by Cindy Loper who told them, “You can do this,” Genevieve Pacada, who asked if they would consider presenting at SVCUE, and Mary Fran Lynch, who helped them write the presentation proposal and encouraged them to resubmit their proposal when their 90-minute workshop proposal was rejected by National CUE.

Even with presenting at Fall CUE to 30 people and at SVCUE to a classroom full of people, they didn’t know what to expect from National CUE where they presented to over 150!
“We focus on why would people want to see our session and what can we give them that they can turn around and use next week in their classroom. And, we practice.”

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“Presenting is an opportunity to make connections, help other teachers, and learn about what is happening in other districts. And, we get to attend the conference.”

Interested in taking the first steps towards presenting? At Union SD, you have a lot of opportunities to hone your skills. Consider presenting to your colleagues either at a staff meeting, a grade level meeting, or at a Union University. Next, apply to present at a local conference like one of the CUE affiliates, like SVCUE. Or, suggest and facilitate a discussion at an EdCamp. Then, you might like to consider presenting at a larger conference.

Learning & Innovation is thrilled for you to represent USD at conferences. Follow these steps to help you on your journey from a district presentation to presenting at ISTE!

View with working links at:
Before applying to present, make sure you receive approval from L&I (email the conference details to Andrew at Pre-approval is required if you would like to have your travel expenses and sub days covered. Many (but not all) conferences provide free or reduced rate registration for one presenter, so, make sure you check before accepting. If you are presenting along with a colleague, check with L&I to ensure the co-presenter’s registration will be covered too.

Here are some conferences and deadline dates you might want to look for:

Conference Dates
CUE Affiliates
eg. East Bay Cool Tools, Sept. 30
CA Math Conference
Pacific Grove, Dec. 1-3
Palm Desert, July 16-17
CA STEAM Symposium
San Francisco, Dec.10-11
CLS Technology
Monterey, Feb. 2-4, 2018
Annual CLS

Fall CUE
American Canyon, Oct. 27-28
National CUE
Palm Springs, March 14-17, 2018
Chicago, June 24-27, 2018

When you are ready to take the next step, any of the ToSAs would be happy to help you complete the presentation proposal form. While that is no guarantee for acceptance, having another set of eyes before pressing Submit can be helpful.

Good luck! And thank you for considering sharing the great work you are doing in your classrooms and here are USD!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Looking Ahead to Showcasing Student Digital Portfolios

It is already April! It won’t be long before families will be visiting to celebrate the learning the students have done over the year.

One of the ways to catalog and showcase student work is through their digital portfolios. Whether your students have created Seesaw portfolios, Google Sites, or chosen another platform, students can display much of their digital work through these sites.

Often, a URL can be uploaded. In the first example, the student added the URL of an Adobe Spark video through “Link” in Seesaw.

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That same video can be added to Google Sites by using the URL.

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When students chose that method, the link will take the viewer out to the original website where the student work was created. The downside, is that if the work is deleted from the website, the URL will no longer work. The plus side is that the work can continue to be edited and reposted.

To avoid losing work when website work is deleted, work can be saved on the device and uploaded.  The downside is that downloaded copy of the work will not be editable in the iPad’s Camera roll or through Google Drive.

Here, the student used Download to save a copy of his Adobe Spark video. Once it is downloaded, it can be uploaded or saved to Google Drive. From there, it can be added to Google sites by using the insert function. See how to save it the file to Google Drive on a Chromebook by reading the blog post, Adobe Spark Update with Help from John Funk's 6th Grade Class .

In this case, the video will play in Google Sites.
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If you choose to upload a video from Google Drive or from the iPad Camera roll to Seesaw, there is an extra step. Make sure, you choose to use the Upload Video option when you Upload File.

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There are lots of creative web and iOS apps that can be showcased in Seesaw and/or Google Sites. Check out this Symbaloo site for some examples.

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Looking at all of these apps can be a bit overwhelming. Your Tech ToSAs are happy to talk to you about what you are doing in class and how an app can integrate into your curriculum, and provide your students a way to demonstrate their learning. We’d love to help. Please contact us at or at