Posts tagged ‘Technology’

Creating a F2F Self-Paced Professional Learning Experience

“Being a student is easy. Learning requires actual work.” by William Crawford

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Recently my team and I challenged ourselves to create a face to face, self-paced professional learning experience. Why? For two reasons, we wanted to show how we take risks, like we are asking of the educators we support and also because from what we knew it had never been done before yet it mirrors a personalized learning classroom.

We first decided on what our objectives would be for the learning experience; as this allowed for us to backwards design our content. Our objectives were:

  • Teachers would be able to gain knowledge about personalized learning environments through active learning
  • Teachers would be able to identify the differences between game-based learning, gamification and how they can also fit together through a modeled experience.

We then designed content such as the why behind game based learning and gamification. After we finished all the content pieces we went back and added the fun! Our theme was “Let the Games Begin…” and we created different missions that highlighted our different content objectives. We created a Hyperdoc to host our content into missions. Each mission allowed participants to earn points (and level up) which created the gamification portion of the learning experience. Our missions were: 

Mission 1: Entering the UnKnown – During this time they learned how the learning experience was set up and what to expect. They also completed a self assessment to see what type of gamer they were.

Mission 2: Understanding the Why: During this mission the participants learned about game based and gamification learning.

Mission 3: Mission Control Station: During this mission, participants experienced four different game based learning activities which had content about personalized learning.

Mission 4: Transformation: During this mission the participants self reflected on how they could use the things they learned and apply it to their classroom.

We transformed the room into the different mission stations with balloons and signs to guide them. We played mission control music throughout the professional learning experience as we facilitated if there was any questions.

The participants LOVED the training, as we did as well. It was a lot of front loading but during the training it was smooth sailing! We will do this again but we will make a few tweaks. One tweak would be during mission three, some of the games would also review the content from mission two verse only being personalized learning content. The second tweak would be to set up mission two away from the music because it was hard for the participants without ear-buds to hear the video content.

We look forward to making more self paced, professional learning experiences and we hope you do as well. It not only models what you want to see in the classroom but it also allows participants to critical thinking, communicate, collaborate and self-reflect.



Incorporating Digital Learning Strategies in the Classroom

“Curriculum tells you what to teach, but doesn’t tell you HOW you have to, make the shift to the 21st century learning environment.” by Stacy Behmer

Digital learning is when instructional practices is coupled with technology. It can work in any grade and subject as it is a way of learning, not a type of learning. Digital learning encompasses digital tools and content, along with practices such as eLearning and blended learning. Digital learning has the potential to increase opportunities to personalize the learning for the diverse needs of our classrooms.

In order to create a successful digital learning classroom environment there are a few strategies that will help you:

  1. Start with one digital learning tool, content or practice then master it before moving on. For example, using digital assessment offers students and teachers real time data allowing teachers to use data to drive instruction.
  2. Choose digital tools that allow students to be active, engaged and use higher order thinking skills such as iMovie, Toontastic or podcasts.
  3. Identify student digital leaders so students have someone to go to when they need help besides the teacher. You can create digital student leaders daily, weekly or monthly but allowing students to also be digital experts in the room builds stronger classroom culture.


Learnings from #EDCampQC 4.0

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” by Walt Disney
Yesterday I had a great day at #EDCampQC. It was awesome connecting with new and previous colleagues to learn about what others are doing/trying in their classroom. Below are just a few of the cool new tools I learned about and will be trying. I plan on trying one at a time until I master it, so I do not feel so overwhelmed!

  1. Telestory is an iPad app. It allows students to be creators of content and show mastery through different modes such as creating a music video, news report,  writing their own stories etc. 
  2. Kid-Pix: is a tool that allows students to create drawings and flip books.
  3. RoundMe is a paid web site that allows people to create virtual reality. 
  4.  My Maps: Teachers and/or students can create and share custom private maps. You can add icons to locations and insert images and text to that location.
  5. Deck.Toys is in beta and is a real-time classroom engagement platform that allows you to teach and manage students. I like how you do have the option of allowing self pacing for students and that is how I would utilize this.


My New Favorite Gadget: Rocketbook’s The Everlast Notebook

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” – Albert Einstein

I am very excited to share my new favorite gadget/toy with you! I first learned about Rocketbook on Shark Tank where it was rejected! I was shocked as I thought it was so innovative. On Shark Tank they introduced Rocketbook The Wave, a reusable notebook that you can erase by putting it in the microwave after scanning the pages and saving them into the cloud. The notebook provides a pen and paper experience, yet is built for the digital age; how cool is that! So I have been watching the company as they tested out more ideas and products and moved them from beta to market even though my husband thought I was crazy!

I did not get The Wave because you can only reuse it so many times and I wanted to use this notebook all the time! I purchased the Rocketbook Everlast Notebook on Amazon, as it is endlessly reusable! The Everlast feels like a traditional notebook and connects to all of my favorite cloud services such as Google Drive and Evernote. When you write using any pen from the Pilot Frixion line (which also work on regular paper too), your writing sticks to Everlast pages. When you are ready to send your notes to the cloud notebook of your choice, click on one of the symbols at the bottom of the page that you have created a destination for via the Rocketbook App, then all you have to do is scan and it will send your notes to the right place. After you fill up your pages, take a wet paper towel and wipe it away as the notebook erases like magic!


I wasn’t sure if I would be able to connect to all my different Google Drives as I have multiple accounts for school, work and business but you can using the different symbols. The only thing I would suggest for this as a way to make it even better is I wish it had lines verse the dot grid but I am assuming that is how the magic happens so I am okay with it.

I have been using my notebook for a few days and it has been awesome. No more scrap paper needed for my many to-do lists, no more filling up regular notebooks and putting them some where in case I need to go back to those notes and no more wasting paper as everything I need to access is in the cloud!  Read more about Rocketbook and how educators are using them:

How Rocketbook’s EdTech Solutions Help Students and Teachers Connect

Math Teacher Uses Rocketbook Wave to Bring a New Magic to Learning with the Traditional Pen and Paper

The Everlast Notebook is filled with smart, scannable pages that are also reusable


Move It: New Favorite Chrome Extension

“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.” By  Carol Welch

I love many chrome apps  but a new favorite is called Move It! Move It integrates brain breaks through reminders that pop up on your screen. You get to set how often you want to be reminded to move and then a random brain break or exercise pops up for you to complete. Here is an example below:

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Once you complete it, click done and you will return to your screen. If you are in a  groove and don’t want to stop you can just click done to go back to your original screen. When introducing this extension to your students. Set up rules and expectations of how this is used in your classroom. It is easy to keep active with the Move It extension for your chrome browser!





Hidden Gem Resources for your Classroom

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun” By Mary Lou Cook

Below are sites I like using in the classroom that you won’t find on a typical education best apps/website, article or blog post; as these sites are hidden gems!

White Noise:  I like to have different areas in my classroom such as a collaboration zone and a quiet zone. (See previous blog post on Classroom Zones if you want to learn more) Background white noise drowns out the excess classroom noise around allowing them to better concentrate. There are apps you can buy such as iOS White Noise but I like using the free You Tube white noise channel, a soft murmur or Noisli.

Icons and Photos: Noun project has millions of curated icons, created by a global community that are free! This is great for not only teachers but students too when they are creating projects that need images. The site helps teach digital citizenship skills as the images, when downloaded cite the creator of the image! See below for an example. Another site Photos for Class also does the same thing for images.


Content Resources: I recently stumbled upon DKFindout, a secure site for students to find, explore, and learn about anything. I like providing this site to students for PBL’s and/or Genius Hour as it gives students a place to start exploring different ideas/topics. You do not need to create an account to use it!

Creation: Beatbox academy is lets you create beats using the drum icons they display on their homepage. While you unfortunately can’t record, save, or export any of the rhythms you create on their site; my work around is I have students create their beat and record it using the voice memo on an iPhone or iPad. This is of course after their create the rap/song lyrics about the content they are showing mastery of. Then in iMovie audio they record the lyrics over the beat. Creatubbles is a safe global community for creators of all ages. Students can share any type of art, music, video or craft with the world!

I would love to hear what hidden gem websites you have found that work for the classroom!


Engage Students Through Creating Podcasts

“Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator.” Michael Fullan

Podcasts are a series of audio recordings that you can listen to at anytime. Podcasts are great in the classroom because students can show what they know in a different format and other students can listen to them and learn too. Here are five ways you can use podcasting in the classroom:

  1. Book Talk: When students finish a great book they want to share, they can create a podcast highlighting the book for the book talk series. Other students can listen to the podcasts to see what book they might want to read next.
  2. How To:  This podcast series can be subject based on open to all areas. Students post “how to’s” to show what they know and help other students. For example: How to annotate text or how to apply properties of operations as strategies to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients.
  3. Student Spotlight: Spotlight a student each week. Students share about themselves to help build classroom culture and climate.
  4. Untold Stories: Students choose a different perspective of a historical event, book etc.
  5. Current Events: Students chose a current event, summarize the event and why it is important.


It is important to plan, produce and the publish! Before the students record their script, they must have it written out and get it approved by me. Then the students produce the podcast using the voice memos app that is on the iPad. Below are the directions that are posted, which I have previously modeled for them. I also have a podcast helper if a student gets stuck. 

  1. Press the record (red button) and start your podcast.
  2. When you are finished click on the record button again to stop the recording.
  3. Then click done and it will ask you to save your voice memo, click save.
  4. Label it with your last name and episode number. Example: Thompson E1.
  5. Click on your recording again and it will open up and give you three options share, edit or delete. Click on the share button and email it to me (the teacher).

Once they send it to me, I edit the files using iMovie to add the theme music and take out any pauses etc. You can also use Garageband to edit as well. Depending on the age level students can do this process too.  Finally you publish; I chose to use my website as the host for the podcasts. This way the students always know where to find them.

Here are a few other tools that have helped with podcasting in my classroom:

Podcasting tips: Use this resource before writing your script to get ideas.

Script Timer: Use this web tool to help determine the length based on your script.

Benefits of Podcasting:

  • Students are practicing reading, writing and listening based on multiple content standards.
  • Students are using high order thinking skills to create and critically think.
  • Students are being assessed in a different way.
  • Podcasts don’t have to be individual but students can collaborate too!


Please share ideas you have done in your classroom using podcasting!

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