A New Start – Library Media!


Learning should be ongoing.  My Internet Technology and Digital Media class is over, and now I am immersed in a new endeavor. I am super excited to be enrolled in a Library Media Program.

The program started at the end of August, but I feel like I have already accomplished so much.  One of my favorite parts of this program is our 100 book reading assignment. I now have an excuse to relax with a book in hand; it’s “homework!”


The most recent book I completed was Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  It is a really creative take on the classic Cinderella story, and it is set in futuristic times.  Imagine Cinderella as a Lunar cyborg!  This book is first in a series.  The overwhelming number of series sometimes drives me crazy (my two chief complaints: series seem money motivated, and why not tell the whole story in one book?!).  This book may be among those that are series worthy.

There is no question in my mind that incorporating love of books and reading with technology is a perfect mixture for me.

“A good book has no ending.” – R.D. Cumming


Final Reflection – Narrative Essay


The final assignment of my journey in the ITDML program has been the most challenging!  Developing a lesson plan that incorporates online content creation was the easy part.  Figuring out how to tie it to an ethnography was the part I struggled with!

I thought of many ideas, such as developing and supporting themes of favorite novels, or analyzing the author’s depiction of a teenager before settling on the idea that made the most sense to me.  I decided to focus on narrative writing because it is the first writing project my students complete during the year.  It is a unit that needs a breath of fresh air.  Ultimately, it connects most to creating an ethnography that allows me to comfortably reveal some autobiographical information.

After some research, I decided to use Replay to create my video.  I also used Fotor to create the photo collages for my video.  Deciding which pictures and events to focus on was a challenge.  My students may have an easier time with this step if they are used to making photo stories or videos already.

It can be tough to compress your life down to a selection of moments or people, yet this is exactly what my students will need to do. Some will not want to share very personal moments (understandable!).  I know I chose to keep many important parts hidden from my video.  The point is that it’s an overview and a starting point.  I began thinking about important parts of my life, namely family and friends.  These created the building blocks for my story.  From here I drafted out the pictures and words I wanted to include, and then the legwork of gathering the pictures began.  I found Replay pretty easy to use which greatly helped the process!  I ended with song selection that I felt matched with my words and images.  I think students will enjoy this part of the assignment.

The entire process made me think about how all of our lives are full of stories.  I can’t help but hope that my students will appreciate this sentiment as they work through the process themselves.

Here is my lesson plan for Narrative Writing.  Here is my ethnography.  Enjoy!


ePortfolio Fundamentals


I am embarking upon the final weeks of my year-long journey in the University of New Haven’s ITDML program.  My final project is to create an ePortfolio.  There are many possibilities to consider in its development and I will use this post to organize my thoughts.  I will explain a brief definition of ePortfolio followed by the most crucial elements that I intend to include in my own.

I believe a teacher ePortfolio serves a similar function as a student portfolio which is a culmination and celebration of knowledge completed electronically.

One of the first considerations is the audience.  In my case, I intend my audience to be my classmates and colleagues. This determination will guide my choices differently than if I intended it for students and/or parents.

The fundamental first step is an About Me section. This section will include a brief background of my career/experience, a picture, my teaching philosophy and contact information.

Next, I will include samples of my writing and reflective process by linking to my blog.  My blog is an important product of my thought process through my past year.  It includes my thinking about topics that have been addressed in my classes. The blog also contains links to projects such as Storify and others.

The most interesting part of my, and in my opinion any portfolio, are the artifacts.  I need to selectively highlight the most important samples of tasks that I have accomplished. Lesson plans will certainly be part of this collection, as will tutorials I created and any new technology that I tried for myself.  I would like to showcase the variety of digital media choices I have utilized considering these samples are an integral part of the program.

At this point I am unsure about what platform to use to build my portfolio.  I started a Wix site when I created my learning hub that I am unsatisfied with.  I know if I stick with Wix I will start from scratch.  I am considering the idea of a Live Binder.  The very clear, organized format appeals to me.  The drawback is that it lacks visual appeal.  It doesn’t have that “wow” factor that I would like to achieve in the end product.  Irregardless, the navigation needs to be clear and easy to follow.  I have included a visual of the Bubbl.us I created.  It is a working map of what I am thinking now.

At this point I have very clear ideas about what my ePortfolio will include. I need to decide how to showcase these successes!  Stay tuned for the results.


Image Credit

21st Century Teaching, Learning and Assessing


Twenty-first century learning can be defined as thinking that surpasses basic content knowledge.  This is opposed to “dated” learning, in which students commonly sat and listened/took notes while a teacher lectured.  Students were tested on the material before beginning the process over again.

Tony Wagner’s TED talk explains important points about 21st century learning, including that “knowledge is a commodity,” and that it’s more important to focus on the question: “What can you do with what you know?”  This means that knowing facts isn’t the end goal.  It’s more important to focus on the process of learning, such as becoming a problem solver and creative thinker.  These skills, along with many others, will be most valuable for students as they move into the professional world after completing their education.  As much as it pains me to say this, it is true that my English students don’t need to know what “dynamic character” means in their lives outside of school (unless of course they are going to teach English).  It will be more important that they can think about characters as representations of people and the world, and that they can support their points well, along with other concepts.

Many different skills are listed as important to achieving 21st century learning.  The points that are most reiterated and that stand out to me from Tony Wagner’s talk, Gary Marx’s article, and from Will Richardson’s ideas are: problem solving/critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, effective oral and written communication, digital literacy, global understanding and metacognition.  I have plotted these on the scatter chart below using Richardson’s graph.  “Importance of Learning” is the x-axis from least to most important and “Ease of Assessment” is the y-axis from easiest to toughest.



I think that oral/written communication, collaboration and digital literacy are the top skills that can be easily assessed.  People need to effectively communicate in any potential job, especially the job market of the 21st century.  Being able to work well with others, whether with coworkers or with the public, are important life skills. Our world has become digital and chances are by the time our students graduate this will be even more true.  This is why digital literacy is a necessary component of teaching and learning. These three items can be easily assessed in a classroom as well because they are obvious functions observed in speaking, writing, group work and ability to access/use digital media.

Problem solving, global understanding and metacognition are all important skills that range from a bit to much more difficult to assess.  Metacognition is how one thinks about his/her own learning.  While opportunities for self-assessment can help a teacher to assess this skill, there is much room for error if not properly used.  Students may be good at solving some problems while not as proficient at others.  This again makes it difficult to assess.  The case of the the boy making a crumpled paper ball as an example of thinking outside the box in “Paper Airplane Movie” certainly shows creative thinking, but this can be problematic if certain expectations weren’t met by the teacher.  This proves that teachers need to be flexible about their expectations as well.  Overall, my point is that these skills are on the subjective side and therefore can be challenging to accurately assess.

A technology that strongly supports the skills of digital literacy, collaboration, critical thinking and effective oral and written communication, which are all important to my subject area of high school English, is Google Classroom.  Students have a common place to receive and submit work online.  Teachers are able to link a variety of materials for student use in the Classroom, including links to websites such as You Tube, Google documents and more. Students have the ability to use Google Docs or Presentations to work collaboratively and then submit the work to the Classroom assignment.  Creating presentations and having easy access to the Internet allows plenty of opportunity for creativity.  I have used Google Classroom extensively this year in all of my classes.  Unfortunately I can’t link to my Google Classrooms to show a sample because they are available only to my district.  I highly recommend getting in touch with a technology supervisor in order to implement Google Classroom.  I think it is a great starting point.  If Google Classroom is not an option, Wiki Classroom is an alternate option with similar capabilities.

These 21st century skills are important components of education and students should have practice using them in their classes.  The teacher’s job is to incorporate opportunities for this type of thinking in the classroom.


Works Cited:

Marx, G. (2014). Sneak Peek: Twenty-One Trends for the 21st Century – Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/marketplace/books/sneak-peek-21-trends-for-the-21st-century-gary-marx.html

McMillan, M. (2010, March 3). Paper Airplane Movie. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37TQZyDMEP8

Richardson, W. (2012, August 3). The “Immeasurable” Part 2. Retrieved from http://willrichardson.com/post/28626310240/the-immeasurable-part-2

Wagner, T. (2014, February 25). Ted Talk – 4 Min. Video. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7eFyNvA1uU

Photo Credit 

Note: I used onlinecharttool to create my graph.  The site was easy to use except for numbering the x-axis to my liking and saving the material.  I made and lost two graphs before throwing in the towel.  This graph is a picture representation of my first attempt which didn’t save properly.  It gives a basic representation of what I hoped to express, although the link to it is missing.

Formative Assessments


Formative Assessment is a crucial component to effective teaching.  Teachers need to keep track of students’ abilities continuously throughout the year.  A classroom without regular assessments is like driving around aimlessly.  You will eventually arrive somewhere, but it might not be close to where you hoped to be.  Formative Assessments are the guide to future instruction in the classroom and they ensure you will arrive at the correct destination.

I developed a Google Slide presentation that explains how I would use three different Formative Assessments to gauge student understanding of theme and primary claim.  These concepts relate to one another and are often difficult for students.  I geared each option toward use with technology, although all could be adapted for use without technology too.

My first option of using a Google Form can be adapted to be self correcting.  Paula Dillon’s “Digital Formative Assessment” offers a tutorial to link your Google Form to Flubaroo so that it corrects.  This allows an easy glance at results for grouping purposes and a game plan for further instruction.  My understanding from her tutorial is that this will work with multiple choice only, so open-ended responses will still need to be checked.

Image result for twitter

There are TONS of other options for providing Formative Assessments besides the three I selected.  Options range from no technology and immediate feedback (such as cold call also known as no hands up) to technology based and more involved (presentation).  There are options to appeal to every age range/grade.   The overwhelming variety can make it difficult to decide where to begin.

My advice would be to peruse several lists of options, then choose a few to try out.  This advice is similar to Kathy Dyer’s first step in her “New Year’s Resolution – Implement Formative Assessment in Your Classroom” article.  In this article she advises to begin with one to three options, tell the students what you are doing, let them use it too, use it daily and “celebrate” the changes in the classroom.  I think it’s also important to try out a few at a time to give the teacher a chance to properly prepare. Technology offers great ways to engage students in different types of formative assessments, but often requires some time to set up.  For example, to use a Google Form as I mentioned above, teachers would need to set up their own Google accounts to create the Form.  They will also need to make sure that their students have access to computers or a device to get online to complete the Form.  The same type of set up is true for using Twitter and many other options.

Time is necessary to thoughtfully plan meaningful formative assessments.


Dillon, P. (2013, January 26). Digital Formative Assessment. Retrieved from http://www.sophia.org/tutorials/digital-formative-assessment

Dyer, K. (2015, January 15). New Year’s Resolution – Implement Formative Assessment in Your Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.nwea.org/blog/2015/new-years-resolution-implement-formative-assessment-classroom/

Photo Credit

Assessment and Technology


There are two ways to approach the subject of assessment and technology.  The first is assessing students by using technology. The second is assessing students’ ability to use technology. This week, my class was asked to explore sources relating to one of these two options.  I will explain some of the key information that was shared for each topic.     The first topic appears to have many more exciting options. Classmates mention important ideas from their sources, such as that providing assessment and feedback are among the most important roles a teacher has (Cari).  I certainly agree with this statement.  Teachers need to thoughtfully assess their students to best instruct them in their needs.  Providing clear feedback will provide guidance to students for future assignments.  Another idea is that the incorporation of technology into class instruction makes the way a teacher assesses more complex (Josh). Again, I agree with this.  Students may create/share their learning in many ways making it important to assess based on the technology they are using.  A blog response will be graded differently than a YouTube video or Google Presentation.  A final idea is that assessing with technology shouldn’t merely replace the type of test a student might take with paper and pencil (Mimi).  This makes a lot of sense, but may be difficult to avoid at times.  Even completing an online quiz is for all intents and purposes the same idea as taking a quiz on paper.

This leads me to one of the ideas brought up that I am at odds with.  This is that assessments must engage students.  While this would be the perfect scenario, I don’t think every test will be exciting to take.  This is not realistic.  There are certain skills that need to be assessed (such as essay writing for English) that may not lend themselves to excitement.  Planning the paper using Coggle first may engage students, but ultimately they have to type the paper.   So my point here is that while it’s important to create engaging assessments, there are are also times when students will need to take a “boring” test. In this case, it’s the way a teacher builds it up, or provides choice in subject matter, that can be appealing.

Several extremely exciting ideas for assessing with technology were shared.  Some that stood out to me were Socrative and Kahoot which are helpful for creating online quizzes, Zaption which allows for an interactive video experience by adding questions, and Lino which uses a board of sticky notes for quick assessments.  I immediately signed up for a Kahoot account and began exploring the site.  I hope to give it a try with one of my classes soon!Image result for tests The second option of assessing student ability to use technology did not create many responses.  I wrote about TRAILS, which is an assessment of students’ skills for acquiring information.  One other classmate wrote about  a Reading Workshop Site which provides a rubric to assess student blogs.  I think that these sources are a good starting point to address different ways that students use technology.  Because there are vast uses of technology (searching information, playing a game, participating in social sites, blogging, etc.), it is overwhelming to imagine the many possibilities there may be to assess a student’s abilities to perform these tasks.  I believe it would need to be determined which digital literacy skills are most important for a particular subject area before a teacher could select the most pertinent technology use assessment.  For example, if my class does a lot of research, then I would want to assess their ability to search and locate relevant information.  This would make using the TRAILS assessment worthwhile for my class.

All in all, technology is here to stay.  Using technology to enhance assessment as well as knowing what student capabilities with technology are will be crucial topics in our classrooms.

Photo Credits:

Boy with Options

Girl on Computer

Infographic on Personalized Learning

My Infographic

PL with Tech


My most recent assignment was to choose a topic for research and to create an infographic that high lights its key components.  I completed my infographic about Personalized Learning with Technology.  I will review main points learned about this topic, the process of creating an infographic and how one may be used in the classroom.

Personalized learning is when teachers create opportunities for student choice in their lesson planning.  The choices allow students the chance to work on items in a way that appeals to their preferred method of learning.  This will keep them engaged and constantly advancing at a pace that is comfortable to them.  Technology allows for even more variety in how students learn.  One important point brought up in my research is that personalized learning and differentiation are not synonymous.  Differentiation tailors learning to a student’s ability level while personalized learning adjusts to meet student’s ability level through a selection of methods to achieve an end result.

An infographic is a visual way to present information about a topic.  It incorporates words and images to convey the message and is the equivalent of a digital poster.  After watching the tutorials for easel.ly and piktochart, I decided to use Piktochart for my assignment.  The directions were a bit more clear to me. There are not the greatest variety of templates and I couldn’t find one that matched my information so I decided to start with a blank template.

This is where the most difficult work began!  It took a lot of time deciding how to break up all my notes into organized sections for the infographic.  I did not have any numeric data for charts or graphs so I knew that I would need to rely on pictures and key words/quotations to convey important points.  It then became tough to weed through the different menus for backgrounds, icons, text styles, etc.  I finally decided to be pretty consistent with my layout.  I feel that someone who is artsy or into creative visuals could really get into designing this project.  For me, it was a bit of a struggle because I do not consider myself artsy or to have a good eye for visual elements.  My end result is consistent and straightforward.  I was happy to have positive feedback from some of my classmates.  I had one suggestion about the layout which I fixed to ensure there wasn’t an overlap of words.

I think creating a piktochart could be a great opportunity in class.  It could be a way for a teacher to present new information to the class.  It could also be a choice for student’s to present information about a topic.  This would particularly appeal to students who enjoy working with design.