Thursday, December 19, 2013

Three Tips for PBL

While creating a Project Based Learning unit it is important to remember it is about the journey, not the destination.  It is easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about planning lessons that may have multiple standards, take multiple class periods, and could include some unforeseen detours and road blocks.  Here are three tips from the ITF's to consider while developing an effective PBL.

1. Address Your Standards

When thinking about creating a PBL for students, it is important to always begin with the standard(s) that you would like to address.  Ideally, you would choose multiple standards from different subjects that lend themselves to self-directed learning and a culminating event. Students could work to create a product or presentation or solve a problem.

From a teacher's perspective, PBL allows for collaboration among teachers whether they be grade level or across subject areas.

2.  Begin with the End in Mind

As you begin to think through a Project Based Learning experience for students,  it is important to first think about what you would like to have the students accomplish.  After beginning with the standards, decide how students will demonstrate their learning through a real world or real world "like" scenario.  While thinking through how your students will demonstrate their learning, it is also important to incorporate 21st century skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration, and creativity and innovation.

3. It's Not All About You!

Project Based Learning will look different from your traditional classroom.  Teachers will no longer be the "sage on the stage" but a facilitator of student learning. Teachers will not plan out lessons day by day, but rather teach through the workshop model based on student needs.  Therefore, groups within the class will mostly likely be working on different skills at a different pace/time.  In addition, students should have voice and choice in the project.  Students are choosing the vehicle to demonstrate their mastery of standards.  The teacher will not be dictating the project or product students create.  Although there will be an "ending" point to your PBL, students can demonstrate their learning throughout their journey of Project Based Learning.  The assessment of standards should not be solely based on the final product, presentation, or project.

If you or your team would like support in creating a PBL, please contact an ITF team member!

Happy Planning!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Copying D2L Content - Fall 2013

Need assistance copying D2L to 2nd semester course(s)?  Watch this short video to learn how.

Nonfiction Text Resource:


News ELA is an innovative tool to help students build close reading skills and critical thinking skills through relevant nonfiction text. Each News ELA article is written at multiple levels of text complexity, and each student has the ability to adjust the text to a Lexile level that is most appropriate for his or her reading ability. Lexile levels range from the 2nd-3rd grade “stretch” Lexile band (420-820L) to the 11th grade-College and Career Readiness or CCR “stretch” Lexile band (1185-1385L).

How does this tool support individualized instruction and differentiation for students reading at various Lexile levels within a class?

Each News ELA article includes five versions, each written at a different Lexile.  In the screenshot below, the article "Getting Kids to Go to School So That They'll Do Well in Class" is available in five different Lexile levels: 550L (Grade 3), 700L (Grade 4), 940L (Grade 7), 1180L (Grade 8), and MAX (Grade 12). This provides differentiation for individual students; however, the entire class is still reading about the same topic.

Do the articles align with the Common Core State Standards?

While all articles have Lexile differentiation, some articles are specifically aligned to anchor standards. Each article aligned to one or more anchor standards are signified with an anchor icon followed by the anchor standard number. The article in the screenshot above is aligned to anchor standard 2: central idea (determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas).

Currently, articles in News ELA align to one or more of the following anchor standards:
  • Anchor Standard 1: What the Text Says
    • Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • Anchor Standard 2: Central Ideas
    • Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • Anchor Standard 3: People, Events, and Ideas
    • Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
  • Anchor Standard 4: Word Meaning and Choice
    • Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • Anchor Standard 6: Point of View and Purpose
    • Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
  • Anchor Standard 7: Multimedia
    • Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

In addition, all articles aligned to anchor standards have accompanying quizzes aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The quizzes are leveled to align with the Lexile level; therefore, the rigor level of the quiz increases with the text complexity and Lexile level, further differentiating the article to individual students.

How can a teacher signup for NEWSELA.COM?

Currently, is a free instructional tool. Teachers can sign in with their Google account. Once a teacher is signed in, the teacher can create one or more classes. Each class will be assigned a five letter class code that the teacher will be able to share with students so that students can enroll in the teacher’s class without registering for a separate account.

Teachers can then build class Binders, which means they can assign individual articles to students. When students log in, they will have a list of articles and accompanying quizzes that they will need to complete. Once students read and take the quiz, the data is easily accessible to the teacher by individual students or by article.

Quick Search Tip:

Teachers can search articles by topic or by anchor standards by using the following link :  Simply replace the number “2” with any of the anchor standard numbers.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Adding New Students to Exiting Individual Student Journals in D2L

Many teachers have already created and are utilizing student journals within Desire2Learn to provide individualized and interactive learning experiences to engage and inspire students by providing opportunities for differentiation, creativity, inquiry, and reflection. However, when new students are enrolled in PowerSchool and automatically added to teachers' D2L courses, teachers have to manually add these students to the existing individual student journals in D2L.

The following steps outline the procedures necessary to add new students to an existing individual journal. All new students will be added to D2L when they are enrolled in PowerSchool.  However, you will have to follow the steps below to add each new student to an individual journal within D2L.  This is a two step process.  First you must attach the new student's name to the student's group # in D2L.  Then you must attache the new group # to a Topic within the individual journal.

Step One:  Attach the New Student's Name to the Group #

  • Go to Edit
  • Select Groups
  • Scroll through the list of Groups and locate the Group # not assigned to a student to a student
  • Click on that Group #
  • Select Enroll Users
  • Search for the Student's name which will be assigned to this Group # (Make note of this # for Step Two)
  • Select the Student
  • Click Save

Step Two:  Attach the New Group #/Student to a Topic within the Individual Journal Discussion

  • Go to Edit
  • Select Discussion
  • Select the Forum that holds the individual journals
  • Click the Dropdown arrow beside the Forum name and select Add Topic
  • Change the Title of the Topic to the Student's Name
  • Click on the Restrictions Tab at the top
  • Go to Group and Section Restrictions
  • Select "Restrict this topic to the following groups and sections"
  • Click on Add Groups and Sections
  • Select the Group # that you previously assigned to the student in Step One
  • Click Add
  • Click Save and Close
Below is a short tutorial on adding new students to existing D2L individual journals.

For information on how to create individual student journals within D2L, please click here.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Glossi is a free online publication tool that allows you to create digital magazines from your desktop, mobile device, or IPad. Users are able to easily incorporate different types of multi-media to enhance their Glossi by including images, photos, videos, animations, links and even audio from Soundcloud with no design skills necessary. After signing up and confirming your FREE account, students will have the ability demonstrate their learning by creating a new, sleek, polished, real world e-magazine that fosters creativity, innovation, communication, and decision making.  Glossi provides several features, but some of my favorites include the following:
     Glossi Provided Page Templates
o   When you begin creating a Glossi, there are a plethora of page layouts that users are able to utilize.  These template pages take the headache out of organizing images, videos, and text to create a professional look.   These layouts can be adjust of built from scratch by using the “Custom” layout.

·         Usability of the Glossi Editor
o   The Glossi editor allows users to manipulate any page by adding, deleting, and manipulating the page set-up to easily get the look and layout you are trying to achieve.  While editing a page text boxes, images, videos, and audio can be added and resized.  Glossi also allows users to “clone” pages to easily re-create and add a page that has been added or edited. 

·         Glossi Images/Clippings
o   When adding images to your Glossi, users have the ability to add images from their computer or find them using Google or another website.  When images are added, Glossi help you organize these images into a “My Clippings” folder.  Once the images are added, you simply can drag and drop photos to where you would like them in your publication.  Glossi also provides Stock Images that include Backgrounds, Effects & Textures, Frames & Borders, Numbers & Symbols, Photos, and Speech Bubbles. 

·         Sharing Capabilities
o   When a Glossi is published, you have the choice to make it listed or unlisted (in a school setting, I would suggest going with the unlisted option).  Once you click “publish” you will receive an embed code to use on a web page or blog, the ability to share via other social media sites, or simply grab the link to your Glossi to share with others through email. 

If you are interested in creating your own Glossi, check out the screencast below or contact an ITF to assist you and your students!

Happy magazine making! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013



Screencast-O-Matic is a very easy tool that can be used to quickly and easily create a screencast from your desktop or laptop computer.  Users can create screencasts that are 15 minutes or less, and it is FREE to do so!  This is a great tool for teachers to use in their classroom and here are a few ideas on how to use it:

  • leave tutorials for substitutes
  • do a mini-lesson for students when you are absent
  • do a mini-lesson for students who are absent
  • show colleagues how to access or do something on the computer step-by-step
  • allow students to create screencasts to demonstrate understanding
  • allow students to create screencasts to tutor other students on a new program or web 2.0 tool

To get started, simply go to and you have two options from here:

  1. Download it to your computer. I recommend this option simply because it is the easiest.  If you download it, you simply have to access it from your start menu and you are ready to go!
  2. Create an account and login every time.  This option requires you to go to the website anytime you want to create a screencast and login.  
Whichever way you choose--they are both relatively simple and easy!  I am including a link to help videos that will provide you with very brief tutorials on how to do various aspects of screencasting.  

Friday, November 22, 2013


Student collaboration is key when facilitating classroom environments that are student-centric and rich in 21st-century learning experiences. With the myriad of educational technology resources available, it is easy to become overwhelmed when searching for a tool to support digital collaboration amongst students. Fortunately, for students and teachers in the Park Hill School District, we have immediate access to an incredible suite of tools that can quickly and easily enhance learning experiences. That tool is Google Apps for Education.

A few years ago, the Park Hill School District decided to integrate Google Apps for Education. This robust suite of digital collaboration tools is always evolving and changing to incorporate new tools and resources. In short, students are able to share documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and more in a way that allows for real-time editing. This can be a real game changer as it allows students to collaborate across classrooms, buildings, states, and even nations. It easily breaks down the walls of the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom to extend learning beyond the confines of the physical school building and traditional learning hours.

Quickly gaining popularity, teachers K-12 are incorporating this tool within daily instruction. One common question that teachers have, however, is how to effectively and efficiently share pre-created documents or templates with students. Prior to January of this year, the response was typically to create a template, “share” it with your students, have them “make a copy” to place on their own Google Drive, and then have them “share” that document with collaborating peers and back with the teacher for comments and feedback as well.

While this process was effective, it was often times cumbersome and inefficient when trying to maximize instructional time. Managing workflow and following student naming conventions from the teacher’s side could quite frankly be an absolute nightmare.

Enter Doctopus.

Doctopus, one of many Scripts now offered by Google, acts as a digital photocopier. It can easily copy any type of Google Docs to individual students, groups, or even the whole class with the click of a button. With ease, teachers can now differentiate instructional resources without students knowing the difference. From a management side, it creates well organized folders that allow the teachers quick and easy access to student work. If you are interested in trying this, follow the directions shared in this step-by-step PDF. Don’t hesitate to contact an ITF, should you need help! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Problem-Based, Project-Based, Inquiry-Based . . . What’s the Difference?

As teachers shift their classrooms from teacher-driven to student-centered learning environments, teachers are working to redefine learning tasks to increase rigor and incorporate 21st century skills: problem-solving, higher-levels thinking, collaboration, communication, self-directed learning, and research.  In order to accomplish those goals, teachers are incorporating instructional strategies that shift the focus of the lesson from "teacher do" to "student do," "student think," and, ultimately, "student think and do."

One strategy that teachers could implement to provide more time for higher-level thought within the classroom is to incorporate flipped lessons to share quadrant A information that traditionally devours most of the class time.  According to Dr. Scott Spurgeon from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, teachers, unfortunately, have spent the last 15 years in quadrant A,  focusing on lower-levels of application which requires students to simply acquire knowledge and store pieces of information in order to understand or remember a concept within one subject or domain.

However, if our goal is to ultimately provide personalized educational experiences with real-world connections for our students, we have to think about our instructional methods differently.  One of my favorite quotes is by Dr. Willard R. Daggett, "Learning should be an active process.  Too often, students come to school to watch their teachers work."  Instead of the traditional classroom where "teachers do" and students watch "teachers do," we have to provide student-centered education in which we integrate product-focused learning, rigor, and 21st century skills.

Therefore, this emphasis shifts the instructional process through problem-based learning, project-based learning, and inquiry learning.  As Daggett says, "When students use what they learn (quadrants B and D), they remember the information better and understand the utility of what is being taught.”  In addition, this type of learning aligns with the Common Core State Standards, "which is about helping students become independent thinkers who can gather information on their own and use knowledge for real-world tasks" (Davis, SmartBlog on Education, 2013).  The 21st Century Learning Academy describes this shift as "Schools of Consumption" vs. "Schools of Production."  Do we want our students to regurgitate information, focus on a single outcome or search for a single answer, follow the factory model of education, and, ultimately, be followers?  Or, do we want our students to apply information to multiple outcomes and be able to search for multiple solutions by defending their solutions with text evidence and challenging opposing perspectives and, ultimately, becoming leaders in our own communities?

With this information in mind, challenge yourself by trying ONE of these instructional shifts:  problem-based learning, project-based learning, or inquiry-based learning.  Below is a short explanation of each method, adapted from Lauren Davis's blog, Senior Editor of Eye on Education (Feb. 2013).

What is Problem-Based Learning?
Problem-based learning allows students to research and propose solutions to real-world issues and problems.  Problem-based learning doesn't require a project like project-based learning; therefore, it doesn't take as long as project-based learning.  However, like project-based learning, it does still incorporate research.  Problem-based learning should provide the opportunity for students to investigate multiple solutions because there is no one "right" answer.  This type of learning works well in science and math.

Watch Nancy Sulla, from Eye on Education, discuss two examples of Problem-Based Learning from the classroom.

What is Project-Based Learning?
Project-based learning is when students become self-directed learners who collaborate in diverse student-driven teams to address a driving question or challenge and create a publicly-presented product. Project-based learning should not simply be a presentation in which student reiterate information or knowledge from a lecture, textbook, etc.  Project-based learning incorporates research!   This type of learning works well in English language arts, international languages, and history/social studies, health, science, mathematics, and engineering.  Below is a quick video by Edutopia that provides an "Introduction to Project-Based Learning."

For a more detailed "Overview of Project-Based Learning," watch the following video by Edutopia.

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?
Inquiry-based learning is similar to problem-based learning.  Inquiry-based learning is usually associated with science.  This allows students to develop a research question, investigate, and then redefine research questions based on the investigation and continue the investigation cycle.  Inquiry-based learning allows students to draw inferences based on their research questions and investigation cycle.

Applying 21st Century Skills, Goal Statements, and Rigor to Problem-Based, Project-Based, and Inquiry-Based Learning
In addition to trying one of the above instructional models, review the list of 21st century skills below. Below are 21st century skills with goal statements and learning targets that apply to problem-based, project-based, and inquiry-based learning.  Think about how these skills and goals increase rigor.  How would student expectations and rigor increase by implementing a problem-based, project-based, or inquiry-based instructional method?

Student Thinking:  Problem-based, project-based, and inquiry-based learning would allow students to
  • apply acquired information in one or more discipline areas or to real-world situations. (Quadrant B)
  • use knowledge learned in one discipline area and look for patterns and relationships, as well as make predictions and draw conclusions. (Quadrant C)
  • discover unique characteristics and look for hidden parts. (Quadrant C)
  • organize information and identify components, often leading to new ideas and concepts. (Quadrant C)
  • use creativity (flexibility, elaboration, originality, modification, associative thinking, attribute listing, and forced relationships) to make something new based on their extensive knowledge base. (Quadrant D)
  • formulate a plan of action to solve problems and come up with solutions, even when there are confusing unknowns. (Quadrant D)
Problem Solving:  Problem-based, project-based, and inquiry-based learning would allow students to
  • use information to solve problems across the discipline areas and in real world problems. (Quadrant B)
  • understand when essential information is necessary and use it to solve predictable and/or unpredictable situations (Quadrant B)
  • ask important questions that shed light on various points of view and lead to better solutions. (Quadrant C)
  • use logical thinking and reasoning skills to solve problems in the discipline. (Quadrant C)
  • use innovative and conventional methods to solve unfamiliar interdisciplinary or real world problems. (Quadrant D)
Collaboration:  Problem-based, project-based, and inquiry-based learning would allow students to
  • demonstrate the ability to work respectfully in student-led teams. (Quadrant B)
  • work effectively in diverse student-driven teams, exemplifying flexibility in planning, compromise to accomplish a common goal, and shared responsibility for collaborative work. (Quadrant C)
  • work effectively in flexible groupings in order to effectively meet changing problem-solving demands and needs of the group while maintaining the value of individual contributions made by each team member. (Quadrant D)
Communication:  Problem-based, project-based, and inquiry-based learning would allow students to
  • use communication (oral, written, and nonverbal) and listen effectively to decipher meaning of materials, including knowledge, values, attitudes, and intentions for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate, and persuade). (Quadrant B)
  • communicate effectively in diverse environments, including utilizing multiple media and technology, and clearly delineate effectiveness of justifications or arguments based on predictable circumstances. (Quadrant C)
  • communicate effectively in diverse environments, including utilizing multiple media and technology, and clearly delineate effectiveness of justifications or arguments based on unpredictable circumstances or perplexing unknown situations. (Quadrant D)
Self-Directed Learning:  Problem-based, project-based, and inquiry-based learning would allow students to
  • use acquired knowledge to solve teacher-designed interdisciplinary and real-world problems, design solutions, and complete work.  Teacher designs pace, learning environment, instruction, activities and assessments. (Quadrant B)
  • co-design learning goals, pace, learning environments, instruction, activities, and assessments that include learner voice and choice and require students to extend and refine their acquired knowledge. (Quadrant C)
  • design challenging learning experiences, activities, and assessments based on learning goals and exhibit evidence of learning.  (Quadrant D)
  • select necessary pace and instruction needed to achieve learning goals and demonstrate the competence to think in complex ways and to apply their knowledge and skills. (Quadrant D)
Research:  Problem-based, project-based, and inquiry-based learning would allow students to
  • gather information to answer knowledge and comprehension questions and solve teacher-designed problems, design solutions, and complete work. (Quadrant B)
  • conduct self-generated research from multiple authoritative sources that extends and refines acquired knowledge in order to analyze an solve problems and create solutions. (Quadrant C)
  • narrow or broaden the research inquiry when appropriate and synthesize multiple sources on the subject. (Quadrant C)
  • conduct self-generated research from multiple authoritative sources to gather and transform information in order to create solutions and solve complex problems with perplexing unknowns. (Quadrant D)

What Can We Do for You?

In case we have not formally met, or you are still a little unsure about who that new team at Central Office really is, be sure to check out our video.

If you are wondering how exactly you could utilize an Instructional Technology Facilitator in your own classroom, consider these five ideas:

1.       Re-Define Lessons From Previous Years - Instructional Technology Facilitators can come to your school and work with your team to augment, modify, and re-define lessons that you have previously taught to enhance the lesson and allow for a more student centered approach to learning.

2.       SMART Boards – The ITF team can come and provide SMART Board trainings in your building after school.  You will need a minimum of six participants.  Each sessions is from 4-6 PM and you will be paid $20/hour stipend.  We currently have two trainings that we can provide. 

·         Basic – Learn the skills you need to operate the basic features of a SMART® Board and the SMART® Notebook software. This session, intended for beginners, will cover the basic features offered by the Board and how to quickly integrate this software into everyday classroom use. Participants will also learn how to locate and adapt SMART® Board lessons crafted by other users to quickly enhance classroom learning. Your laptop is required in order to participate in this course.

·         Intermediate - This intermediate course builds on the skills you learned in SMART Notebook Training (Basic). Learn how to use SMART Notebook collaborative learning software strategically to build more attractive, clear, organized lessons. During this session, you'll build a SMART Notebook lesson to use in your classroom or improve one that you bring with you. Users who choose to attend should be able to effectively integrate the basic features of the SMART Board and SMART Notebook software within the learning environment. You must bring your laptop to this session in order to participate.

3.       Teaching/Co-Teaching Lessons - The Instructional Technology Facilitators would be more than happy to join your class to teach or co-teach lessons that integrate technology.  These lessons could include, but are not limited to:
·         Digital Citizenship
·         Blogging
·         Several Web 2.0 tools
·         D2L 
·         Google Apps for Education

4.       Set-Up G-Class Folders – The ITF team can set-up G-Class Folders for you and your students within each class. G-Class Folders create shared folders for each student by class.  G-Class Folders provide a folder to edit, view items, and also an assignment folder that is shared between the student and teacher.  G-Class Folders allow teachers and students to seamlessly share and edit documents.

5.       Try Something Completely New – We would love to come to your plan time, team collaboration, or even before or after school to help you create a new, innovative, student-centered lesson based on the CCSS and the NETS.  We could even work to be there to offer support during your lesson with students. 

These are just a few ways that the ITF team can support you and your students.  Feel free to contact us with any other questions or requests. We are here for you!

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's Fall: The Perfect Time for SMORE!

Fall is the perfect time for SMORE!  Some of you might immediately think of a yummy campfire treat:  crisp graham crackers, gooey melted marshmallows, and rich Hershey's chocolate bars.  However, the SMORE I'm referring to is not the fall treat described above. Instead, this SMORE is a web 2.0 tool!

Below I have embedded a SMORE that I created to explain why I love this presentation and publishing tool. This SMORE is the perfect combination of a website, newsletter, and Glogster!

To create your own account and try this tool, visit SMORE.


If you are having issues viewing the entire SMORE above, click the direct link to the Project Flyer or Newsletter.

This is a great tutorial from YouTube that might help you create your very own SMORE.

For additional support and detailed FAQ to assist you in this tool integration, including items on profile, print and export, analytics, editor, flyer settings, promotion, and flyer management, login to and click on the HELP button in the navigation bar at the top of the screen.

What Can I Do With a Glogster EDU Free Account?

A few years ago, I used Glogster in my classroom, but honestly had forgotten about this great tool until recently. Glogster EDU is a web 2.0 tool that allows users to create virtual posters to demonstrate their learning and share with others in a creative way. Students will have the ability add text, audio, video, and images to enhance their virtual poster presentations.  Although the premium version of Glogster EDU does cost money, there are still several ways that your students can create and share Glogster for free in your classroom. 

PROS of Glogster EDU Free Account
·         Allows teachers to sign-up using their Google account
·         Fosters creativity and the use of multi-media to express new understandings
·         Students do not have the use an email or register to use Glogster; they simply use their teacher's code (this code is provided to teachers when they sign-up for an EDU account)
·         Teachers can manage up to ten accounts while additional students can be registered using the teacher code
·         Students can share their Glog with their teacher by simply sharing the link

·         Glogster provides several tutorials on creating and enhancing your Glogs

Happy Glogging!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Who are the Park Hill ITFs?

If you have been reading our blog or following our Twitter feed, you might be wondering who makes up the Park Hill ITF team.  Let us introduce ourselves . . .

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Looking for a Quick and Easy Sticky Note Tool: Padlet

Why use Padlet in your classroom?
One of the easiest and most convenient ways to integrate communication and collaboration in the classroom is through sticky note tools.  Sticky note tools create virtual, real-time boards which create a venue for collaboration in the learning environment.  If you are looking for a simple, user-friendly sticky note tool for both the teacher and the students, try Padlet!  Padlet provides a space for students within a learning environment to collaborate and communicate virtually, not only in the classroom but also beyond the school day.

What are some possible goal statements for sticky note tools like Padlet?
Padlet provides 21st century learning aligned with Common Core Anchor Standards.  Sticky note tools like Padlet proves students an opportunity to:
  • Clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions
  • Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives
  • Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas
What options do I have when I create a Padlet wall?
  • Teachers can logon to Padlet with their Google account, and students do not need to login at all.
  • Teachers share Padlet walls with a URL, which can be personalized within Padlet under "Address" options.  
  • Padlet walls can be modified with existing wallpaper backgrounds, or teachers can add their own wallpaper background by uploading an image. 
  • Padlet walls can be built as freeform walls, (posts can be put anywhere and can be resized) or built as a stream (posts are placed one below the other).
  • Teachers can set visibility options for each Padlet wall.  These include private settings, password protected settings, hidden link options, totally public options, invitation by email, and even moderator rights.
  • Teachers can set notifications so that they are emailed each time a post is added to a wall.
  • Each wall can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Linkedin.
  • Each wall can be exported as a PDF, Excel file, or CSV file.
  • Each wall can be subscribed to an RSS feed, such as Feedly, emailed, or printed.
  • Padlet walls can be embedded in D2L through the embed code.
  • Padlet walls can be accessed through an automatically generated QR code.
Check out this short tutorial!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cool, New Way to Make Presentations Interactive: Nearpod

PowerPoint used to be the "in" presentation tool.  Many teachers relied on Power Point to present information to students.  However, these presentations were lecture-style lessons with little or no student interaction. However, with more classroom sets of laptops through 1:1 learning environments or even 2:1 learning environments, students have the opportunity to become more engaged in the lesson with technology.
This leaves one question:  What do teachers do with all of those old PowerPoint presentations?

Answer:  Nearpod!

Nearpod is a web-based tool, with Google login capabilities, that allows teachers to upload previously created PowerPoints, or new PowerPoint presentations, and add engaging interactive slides.  Teachers have the ability to insert polls, open-ended questions, quizzes, and images (pictures or text) for students to annotate.  The presenter has the ability to control the pace of the presentation from his/her computer.  Students "join" a session (without a logon name/password) by entering a presentation pin that is automatically created once the presentation is published and started in a "live session."  In addition, once students have joined the live session, they sign in with their name and/or a student ID.  This allows the teacher/presenter to track interactions and gain feedback instantly.  At the end of a session, teachers even have the ability to send themselves a report, via email, that summarizes each session's activity, including the number of students in the session, the overall student participation, a student list with each student's percentage of correct responses, and student's individual responses for each interactive question/prompt.

Very few tools leave ITFs in awe.  This tool is one that allows teachers to begin shifting from teacher-centered learning to student-centered learning by increasing engagement.  If you are looking for a simple shift to move your instruction from being the "sage on the stage" to being a facilitator of learning, check out

Nearpod from a Teacher/Presenter View

Nearpod from a Student View

Monday, October 7, 2013

What is VoiceThread??

Collaborating with peers and reflecting on work are two very important skills that kids should be practicing daily in the classroom, but in actuality, it doesn't happen as often as it should.

VoiceThread can change that!  It is a great tool that allows students and teachers to utilize a wide variety of media in order to collaborate, demonstrate understanding and reflect on their learning.  There is no software to install, because it's a completely web-based tool.  In simple terms VoiceThread is a multimedia slideshow that allows anyone with the link, anywhere in the world, to collaborate!

Once a VoiceThread is created, collaboration becomes possible when the creator shares the link.  The audience can comment through the use of text, video, audio and doodling on the actual presentation.

It's very easy to get started. Just create a free account and you can begin uploading documents, images, and videos to create your first VoiceThread!

Below are a couple of examples of how VoiceThread can be used in your classroom:

Example of students using VoiceThread to demonstrate expertise and teach or tutor a classmate.

Example of a teacher creating a VoiceThread to demonstrate expertise and teach or tutor a classmate.

Example of students working together to solve word problems.