Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Students Have Created Blogs . . . Now What? Feedly

Managing student blogs created for academic classroom content and discussions can be daunting . . . especially without an organizational system to facilitate easy access.  How will you as the teacher keep up with blog posts and replies?  It is unrealistic to think that you will be able to manage a bookmark for each student's blog in your bookmark bar, unless of course you want an extended bookmark bar framing the top and right side of your Chrome browser!  Therefore, many Park Hill teachers are looking for organizational solutions that meet individual organizational  needs and styles.  One solution is to use an RSS Reader such as Feedly.
Use An RSS Reader:  Feedly
The most convenient and efficient tool that I have found for managing student blogs is using an RSS Reader, such as Feedly.  Feedly provides four key advantages:

Allows Users to Create Categories or Organize Blogs
Feedly is a free RSS Reader that can easily be added to your Chrome apps or can be added to a Symbaloo dashboard.  Feedly allows you to organize your blogs into categories, so teachers can organize by class periods or even by project topics and themes.  Feedly is visually appealing because it provides a magazine-like appearance to the blogs within each category for reading ease.  

Syncs New Blog Posts
In addition, Feedly automatically syncs so that new blog posts are automatically delivered to your reader. Therefore, you do not have to go to each individual blog to check for published blog posts.  

Allows Users to Mark Posts as Read
In addition, within Feedly you have the ability to mark each published post as read; therefore, after you have read the synced post and mark it as read, the post will be removed from your new post list.  

Encourages Student Communication Through Replies
In addition to using Feedly to organize your classroom blogs, consider assisting students in setting up Feedly, so they can follow their classmates' blogs.  This enhances communication options so that students have immediate access to new posts in order to promote student comments and foster a true sense of real-world digital communication and writing.

Let's Get You Organized:  Steps to Set Up Feedly
In order to quickly set up Feedly, you first need to collect each student's blog URL.  An easy way to do this is to create a quick Google From.  Below I have created two tutorials.  The first tutorial shows you how to create a Google Form to collect individual URLs from your students.  Even though I am using the Google Form in this example to collect URLs, specifically for student blogs, consider how you could use this same form to collect any student project that requires a URL.  Due to Google Forms spreadsheet view, teachers have quick access to organized URLs, whether it be a blog, a SlideRocket presentation, a Prezi, Glogster, etc. The second tutorial shows you how to set up Feedly to organize your students' blogs.

Video Tutorial:  Using Google Forms to Collect Each Student's Blog URL

Video Tutorial:  Setting Up Feedly to Organize Students' Blogs

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Creating high-quality, engaging lessons that align to Common Core State Standards is a top priority for all teachers.  Sometimes, especially with a new curriculum, teachers just don’t know where to start. Elementary principal Eric Westendorf, in collaboration with education consultant Alix Guerrier, created a solution with LearnZillion.  Learn Zillion is a collection of free video lessons created by teachers. In a recent Edutopia blog post, LearnZillion was described as “the Khan Academy of Common Core.”

According to LearnZillion's website the resource database came from Westendorf, who wanted to save time, share best practices among teachers, and ensure all students had access to high-quality lessons. To do this, his expert teachers began sharing screencasts within his school.  From there, the idea grew into a national conference called TeachFest where selected expert teachers were able to come together and create  aligned lessons that teachers, parents, and students could access on LearnZillion.

By signing up for a free account on Learn Zillion, teachers are able utilize screencasts for Math grades 3-9 and ELA in grades 3-8.  

Teacher Use:
  • Search videos to get ideas on how to teach a particular lesson
  • Assign students video lessons, practice problems and prompts, and quizzes to re-teach standards
  • Differentiate lessons based on students’ needs (Think RtI)
  • Track student progress as they navigate through lessons
Student Use:
  • Access a number of videos to re-learn a lesson from class
  • Learn in a different medium
  • Practice and refine skills from previous lessons
  • Go beyond what was taught in class
So whether you use it to just get an idea, or you sign up your students to extend the learning beyond your classroom walls, Learn Zillion is a great resource to help you and your students.  

Check out this video to see an example video from LearnZillion.  Also be sure to visit the LearnZillion YouTube Channel to see tutorials and example lessons.

-Lindsay @lstutzman13


Friday, September 13, 2013

Creating Individual Student Journals within D2L

Many Park Hill teachers are interested in components within Desire2Learn that provide individualized and interactive learning experiences to engage and inspire students.  One option is to create individual student journals within D2L.  This tool transforms the traditional handwritten journal into an evolving collaboration between each individual student and the teacher by providing more opportunities for differentiation, creativity, inquiry, and reflection.

In addition, students have the ability to go beyond the traditional journal options due to the HTML editor functions.  Within D2L, students are not just substituting an electronic notebook for a handwritten/paper and pencil notebook. Instead, D2L provides enhancement through augmentation with functional improvement of a traditional journal, modification through task redesign, and redefinition since some tasks within the D2L journal were inconceivable in the traditional mode.

With a D2L journal, students are able to address Common Core State Standards and Common Core Anchor Standards by:
  • Accessing Video Note and providing a verbal response, entry, reflection, or reply
  • Including images, both self-created and computer generated, to enhance understanding and apply visualization strategies
  • Revising and editing posts based on teacher reply comments in realtime
  • Asking questions (inquiry) based on teacher reply comments in realtime
  • Providing evidence or support for posts from reliable sources (links, supporting videos, etc.)
  • Representing personal ideas in various forms by embedding tools
  • Integrating information from several sources
  • Progressing in pace and proficiency at individualized levels based on teacher's reply prompts (in both video form and written form)
In order to assist you in creating individual journals for each student within a D2L course, I have created a short video tutorial.  Click here for a print copy of the instructions.

If you are interested in using D2L journals to create a reader's workshop notebook for "Shared Text" and "Independent Text," click here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

4 Reasons Students Should Blog in the Classroom

Many teachers are using blogging in the classroom as a tool for developing real-world writing experiences. Blogging allows students to develop digital citizenship skills and literacy skills across curricular content areas while writing for a real audience.

The advantages of blogging is exemplified in the story of Martha Payne.  Payne created a personal blog called "Never Seconds: One primary school pupil's daily dose of school dinners," which documented her perception of student lunches in her own school.  Payne's motivation for starting her blog derived from that real-world connection:  "I wanted to be a journalist, and I asked my dad if I could write everyday.  Dad suggested a blog, and we looked at some.  I like the fact there is a publish button because it's like I'm a real newspaper writer."

However, Payne's blog also brought about controversy within her school.  Her deftly honest accounts and ratings of her school's lunches created a backlash from school leadership----which, according to, led to a worldwide phenomenon.

This 9-year-old did more than write a food blog, she created a movement.  Media from around the world began following Payne's blog, and as a result, Payne gained the attention of food revolutionist Jamie Oliver and won several awards.

Martha's story provides the framework for reasons why teachers should be integrating blogging into the classroom.  Here are four reasons students should blog in the classroom:

1. Provides Students with an Opportunity to Develop Voice and Choice
Blogging enhances student engagement through ownership.  Students not only have choice in content, but also in expression, which allows students to develop an individual writing voice.  Students have the opportunity to develop a point of view and express that point of view in their own style.  As a result, students develop a relationship with their target audience.  This provides students with the opportunity to experiment with sentence structure, tone, punctuation, use of appropriate slang, jargon, etc.

2.  Allows for Real-World Writing and Real-World Collaboration
Blogging provides real-world writing experiences because blogs are live and active on the worldwide web. Blogs demonstrate an important lesson to students:  writing isn't just read by the teacher!  Instead, readers across the world can access, comment, and collaborate in academic discussions on common interests via blogs.  In addition, blogs provide real-world avenues for authentic collaboration.  The commenting feature on blog posts allow for predicable and unpredictable responses from target audiences.  This generates authentic collaboration among readers and encourages academic critique of content.

3.  Promotes "Quadrant D" Learning Experiences
Dr. Willard R. Daggett's Rigor and Relevance Framework emphasizes Quadrant D learning experiences. Quadrant D combines real-world application of predictable and unpredictable experiences through the action continuum with higher-level thinking skills of the Knowledge Taxonomy such as application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation through the thinking continuum.  Blogging provides an avenue for students to engage in Quadrant D learning across curricular content through designing, composing new pieces of works in a genre, rewriting, making inferences about effects of history on current situations or issues, proposing possible solutions, teaching others, providing advice based on research, devising plans or creating proposals, etc.

4.  Aligns to Common Core Literacy Standards for All Content Areas
Blogging also provides a way to integrate the Common Core State Standards in Literacy for ELA, history/social studies, science, and technical subjects as well as integrating the corresponding College and Career Readiness (CCR) Anchor Standards.

  • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (WHST.6-12.4, W4-12.4) 
  • Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (WHST.6-12.5, W4-12.5)
  • Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology's capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically. (WHST.6-12.6, W4-12.6)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Creating Shared Folders with Students in Google Drive

Cluttered tables, scattered books, and piles of papers can easily change the climate of a classroom from calm and inviting to chaotic and stressful. Like most teachers, I would stress the importance of maintaining an organized desk, workspace, and classroom.  I always found it valuable to take the time at the beginning of the school year to model creating folders and organizing binders for each subject to help my 5th graders keep track of their papers and avoid the panicked looks when I would say "Take out your math worksheet from yesterday."

As we move to a more digital learning environment, students still need to learn the skills to organize and manage a digital workspace.  With the the implementation of Google in the Park Hill School District, managing and sharing a digital workspace between teachers and students is easy. 

See the link and video tutorial on how to set up shared Google folders in your classroom.

Creating Google Folders

Creating a Checklist Using Evernote

At the beginning of the year, the amount documents to keep track of can be a little overwhelming. There are notes, permission slips, and countless sign-up sheets that need to be accounted for. If you rely on paper, a pencil, and a clipboard, you often end up with several sheets of paper that can easily get misplaced or shuffled into the many other sheets of paper that can be found on a teacher's desk. If you have an iPad or rely on electronic organization via your laptop, you might be interested in a quick and easy way to develop a checklist that you can manage from the cloud. While there are many tools that provide checklist options, one that I like it using the checklist option in Evernote. Below you will find a short video tutorial on creating these checklists.

-Lindsay @lstutzman13

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Five Tips to Making Twitter Your New Professional Development Source

Believe it or not, each evening, I glean valuable professional development tips from educational leaders, innovative teachers, and educational technology gurus worldwide.  Did I mention that I don't even leave my home?  BT (Before Twitter), I would spend hours perusing the web in search of professional development that met my immediate needs.  The problem . . . I spent more time searching than actually learning about the professional development topic.

And then . . . last summer my professional development searchflow changed . . . with Twitter.  My professional development access AT (After Twitter) allows me to practice what I preach as an Instructional Technology Facilitator by using 21st century skills such as communication and collaboration in a 2.0 environment; this virtual PD has no walls, no boundaries, and provides immediate and relevant access to the best tips, ideas, strategies, and resources that align . . . wait for it . . . to my individual needs!

Regardless of your current Twitter status, BT or AT, I have outlined five tips to assist you in making Twitter your new professional development source.

Tip 1:  Create a Twitter account dedicated solely (or mostly) to your professional development needs.

While many teachers have Twitter accounts for their classrooms and personal Twitter accounts, I recommend that you create one account specifically for your professional needs.  This provides you with a focused venue and will entice more educationally focused users to follow you.  As a result, you will widen your professional repertoire.  Even though I follow a few personal interests on my Twitter account, I rarely RT (retweet) or communicate through this account on a personal level . . . other than a few RTed running quotes.

Feel free to checkout my Twitter account @jillwatkins1010 and the ITF Twitter account @parkhillitf. We would love to have you all as followers so that we can share the great resources we find and expand our collaboration outside of the school day.

Tip 2:  Follow educational gurus who share your vision and pedagogy.

One question that I hear from teachers regarding Twitter is "I don't know who to follow."  This can be the hardest part about getting started with Twitter, but once you find educational experts who can provide you with tips, ideas, links, blogs, other websites, videos, and research, you will be hooked!  However, BEWARE:  Twitter is an addiction! You can find Twitter users to address all of your educational needs and interests.  From curriculum topics like Common Core State Standards to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and educational technology from Google Apps to lesson plan ideas and templates, Twitter is a hub for educational resources.

Consider following some of these educational professionals to get you started!

@ijukes Ian Jukes is a speaker, co-author of 14 books, consultant, self-claimed educational evangelist, and co-developer of the 21st Century Fluency Project.  Jukes tweets about 21st century learning and teaching through transforming direct instruction, tools for teaching, and using technology to offer real-world experiences.

@tncollins97 Nate Collins is an Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Virginia, USA.  He is a collaborative and reflective leader who tweets about tools and strategies for fostering 21st century learning and includes a lot of Google Doc tricks and tips.

@RigorRelevance The International Center for Leadership in Education tweets tools that align to higher-order thinking and real-world application as outlined in Daggett's Rigor and Relevance Quadrants.

@kylepace Pace is an Instructional Technology Specialist, Google Certified Teacher, the 2013 Ed Week Leader to Learn From, ASCD emerging leader, and educational presenter from Kansas City, USA.  Pace is active in #edchat, #edcamp, and #moedchat.  He focuses on developing the web 2.0 classroom and effective tools for curriculum integration.

@TDOttawa Tom D'Amico is a Twitter guru with over 4,000 followers who focuses on learning and teaching in the 21st century with a focus n EDtech, web 2.0, innovation, technology and creativity.  He is a superintendent in Ottawa, Ontario.

@classroom20 Classroom 2.0 is a network that provides resources for a student-centered classroom and global classroom, including videos, templates, tool tips, etc.

@isteconnects ISTE tweets are from @HeidiEllis and @BritniHartford as they provide tips to advance learning and teaching in regard to Common Core, flipped learning, and blended learning.  They also offer webinars and whitepapers.

Tip 3:  Use hashtags to search for information related to a topic and to tag your tweets.

#Hashtags are useful ways to search for tweets and to tag your own tweets.  The Park Hill Instructional Technology Facilitators will be using #phitf.  If you tweet a tool, tip, or resource that would benefit our team, please add our hashtag to your tweets!  Below, I have listed some popular and useful hashtags used by educational professionals.

Also, Twitter hosts educational chats!  You can follow (or, as I call it, "stalk") or participate in a Twitter chat by a hashtag.  Consider trying one of the many Twitter chats.  Here is a Google Calendar with educational chats for all content areas.

Tip 4:  Add the Twitter app to your iPhone or Android and add TweetDeck to your Chrome homepage.

Oh, I know . . . at this point you think that you would never use Twitter from your phone or need a desktop app for your Twitter timeline, interactions, tweets, or favorites.  But . . . remember, Twitter is addictive!  The Twitter app for the iPhone or Android gives you access to your professional educational Twitter account 24/7--not that you need to follow it 24/7.  The best part about Twitter is that the good tweets resurface because someone, somewhere is retweeting.

TweetDeck is, well, absolutely awesome!  TweetDeck is a free Chrome App that allows you to quickly access your Twitter account and view all activity:  timelines, interactions, mentions, followers, messages, tweets, favorites, and even trends.  My TweetDeck is set so that I can access both my @jillwatkins1010 and @parkhillitf accounts.  This means that I can follow tweets and create tweets from either account from my desktop simply by opening the app.  I've included a screenshot of my TweetDeck below.  In the words of one of my ITF counterparts:  "It's super-cool!"

Tip 5:  Use Twitter as your personal forum to tweet, retweet, collaborate, request feedback, and generate ideas specifically for your classroom. 

Twitter is a one-stop tool to connect you to the educational world.  You can tweet resources you find and retweet great tips and tools from users you are following.  However, the most powerful element of Twitter is the ability to collaborate, request feedback, and generate ideas specifically for your classroom.  For example, through Twitter, I connected with an author and Tweeted a question:  "Would you be willing to Skype with a classroom in my district to discuss your book?"  The Reply:  "Yes!  Let's set it up!"  It really was that easy! Twitter gives teachers the ability to ask questions, gather responses, and use those ideas in the classroom.

For you savvy and experienced Twitter users, these tips might not be enough to extend your current use of this social media turned professional development tool.  But . . . I have a few other Twitter tips and tricks up my sleeve that I will be sharing in future posts!