Monday, December 2, 2019

Igniting Student Learning Through the Use of WeVideo

When you hear the 4 C’s, you may naturally think of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. With a focus on creativity, WeVideo, an online video editing site, has developed the 4 C’s of Planning for Creativity. The idea is to help students narrow down their thoughts and choices by scaffolding them throughout the video creation process. Let’s take a look at what these 4 C’s are, and how they impact the creativity of the students that sit in our classrooms every day.

Why are we doing this? Students ask this quite frequently as we live in a world where students are often questioning the relatedness of classroom content to their reality. In preparing to create videos using WeVideo, students should first begin with the purpose of their creation. Is there a problem to solve? A personal story to tell? What emotion should the viewers feel when they press play? The use of a storyboard where students can lay out their thoughts and ideas comes into play here. Provide students with a paper or digital copy to allow them to map out their storyline during these early stages of creation. Delving into why their work would be valuable to the intended audience sets a clear purpose for their creation.

Students truly want to be successful and that begins with clear expectations and guidelines from their teachers. When assigning projects that will be created with WeVideo, consider providing students with a guide or rubric of what the end product should include. Depending on the level of the students, this could be as simple or complex as needed. Be cautious in providing too many examples. This could stifle the creativity of some students or cause them to duplicate what was shown. Providing checkpoints throughout the process is valuable for both the teacher and the student. Ongoing feedback helps the students stay aligned with the provided criteria, and helps the teacher gauge the progress before project completion.

Images, video, sound effects, music, and documents are all the types of files that are compatible with WeVideo. Considering that these options are available, students should do upfront research and curation to find the optimal media to include in their project. Because of the variation of compatible file types, students can opt to record an experience firsthand or provide content from the WeVideo Essentials library. The library is full of media that is safe to use which aligns with positive digital citizenship skills. WeVideo connects seamlessly with Google Drive which gives students the ability to pull in files for screen recording or voiceover. Planning what to do with content is the bulk of any project.

I’m sure that most classroom teachers can agree that WeVideo project creation takes time. That time must be well thought out and planned so that students have ample time to be successful. Another thing to consider is access to outside resources. Within a one-to-one classroom, students have the ability to gather input, resources and other information from all over the world. Giving students this opportunity requires teachers and students to be innovative in their thinking. What resources do your students have access to and what are the other possibilities within reach?

The 4 C’s of Planning for Creativity gives the most flexible structure to student creation within WeVideo. When teachers use WeVideo as a tool to support other areas of learning, students are able to connect to the world around them and create high-quality videos. With thoughtful planning, students are able to create pretty powerful projects that show just how creative they really are!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Hour of Code - December 9-15

Hour of Code

“The 'Hour of Code™' is a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week [] and [] to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming.” During the week of December 9-15, schools all over the world will be devoting at least 1 hour for students to problem solve, critically think and use their creative skills...building 21st Century foundational skills. 

Here is a great graphic telling WHY coding is important for every student, Kindergarten through 12th grade.
10 reasons to teach coding

We recently worked with elementary level principals introducing them to Scratch -  and Ozobots. We chose the activity "Code with Anna and Elsa" to explore the concept of angles in math. We designed a storytelling literacy activity with the Ozobots. Debriefing after the activity, Principals' conversations revolved around almost every single one of these reasons coding is critical for our students that are listed in the graphic. We encouraged our Principals to go back to their school, plan a great week with their Technology and Learning Coach for their school to promote computer science and coding. 

If you are reading this and do not have a Technology and Learning Coach at your school, here is a list of resources matched with grade-level appropriateness that could help you start your journey. If you do not have experience with coding, there are coding programs/websites that teach the students through video and application during the hour of code. I think it would be great if you sat with your students trying the coding activity with them. Anyone can learn to code, at any age. 

Type of coding
Block coding
Block coding
Python/Java Script
Core levels are free
Block Coding
Java Script
Python/Java/HTML coding
Free trial
Block coding
HTML, CSS, JavaScript
HTML, CSS, Python, JavaSCript
Free courses
JavaScript, Python,
JavaScript, HTML, CSS

If you have a great, "free" resource that you use with your students and is not listed on this chart, please leave a comment below. We want to add it to our list to be sure it is up to date. 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

I love❤ these two new features in Google Drive, the new Priority homepage and Workspaces. Google is always adding things to increase your productivity.  I am always accessing the same files over and over again, so much so, I have bookmarked them. Unfortunately, the more I bookmark file the less screen real-estate I have in my Bookmark bar.  In swoops Google Priority homepage and Workspaces to the rescue.

Through machine learning, Google will list files on a new Priority homepage.  The files listed are presented in a carousel and the files presented here on the Priority homepage are files that have been recently edited, commented on or have had a share request.  You will see a preview of the file and what action has taken place on that file. This saves time on searching and locating files that are used by you in your My Drive or a Shared Drive you are a member of for quick access.

Google Priority is great but Workspaces is even better.  Drive will automatically suggest Workspaces to group files you access frequently.  You can also create your own Workspaces to easily group files you access around a related topic, like PD presentations, curriculum-related materials for class or weekly meeting agendas for quick access.  Whatever the need is you can create a Workspace to group those files for quick retrieval. 

Give these two new features, Priority homepage and Workspaces in Google Drive a whirl.  Now in a meeting, I can quickly locate a file and not have to weed through a search or navigate through a bunch of folders to find a file with the information I need.  Googles Priority homepage and Workspaces has saved me time and screen real-estate and for sure. To learn more click here Work smarter with the new Priority page in Drive.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Capture your students' attention with images

How do you introduce a new unit or any lesson to capture the attention of your students? Do you pose a question? Was it creative and unexpected? Maybe it was a simple review of what they learned in the previous lesson. There is a purpose of hooking your students for that fresh learning and setting the objective for each lesson. It can help activate prior knowledge, set the learning expectations and allow students to make connections between the content and real world. The use of images can be that creative and unexpected way to capture your student’s attention with the anticipation of new learning.

Strategy 1 - Half the picture

  1. Locate an image that shows a big idea of the unit or lesson.
  2. Make a copy of the image in order to edit using a photo editing tool to cover half of the picture.
  3. Display the image that only shows ½ of the picture.
  4. Using the 3-2-1 strategy, a great AVID strategy, have students organize their thoughts about what they think is happening in the picture.
For example

Half the Picture
3 - List 3 things you notice in the picture
2 - 1 prediction of what might have happened before the picture, 1 prediction of what happened after the picture
1 - What evidence from the image proves your prediction?

Have students pair up to discuss their ideas with a peer.
Whole image

Display the entire picture and lead a discussion of what actually happened and compare students’ ideas that were shared before.

Strategy 2 - Create a Six Word Story

Having students create a six-word story encourages them to creatively select critical ideas and summarize their own thoughts.
  1. Display your image of choice that relates to the content.
  2. Ask students to share what they see. Depending on the grade level you may want to record the ideas on the board for students to refer to when they write.
  3. If this is a new strategy, you may want to model how to write the six-word story or ask students to work in pairs to write their stories. 
  4. Have students publish their story on a shared Google document or Padlet to promote students.

Strategy 3 - Instagram captions

Students enjoy when they are able to use social media like activities to display their knowledge or understanding. It can provide a creative way for students to write about the content in the way they do in their personal lives.
  1. Insert your image into the Instagram template on this Google Slide. Text boxes have been created as a guide.
  2. Duplicate the slide for each student and, if needed, assign a slide to each student.
  3. Instruct students to do a quick write to represent the image. Include the hashtags in their writing in order for the image to be “searchable”.
  4. Assign students to provide peer feedback to at least a peer to promote the processing of the learning.
Of course, there are many ways to use images in a lesson. The strategies shared today hopefully provides some new creative ways to hook your students in the day’s learning and promote writing for learning. Leave a comment below and share how you have used images in your lessons or creative ways you have hooked your students’ attention.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Every Week is Digital Citizenship Week

Where are the good digital citizens? They show up to our classrooms everyday! This affords
us the opportunity to develop positive digital characteristics that will follow our students beyond the classroom. As we recognize Digital Citizenship Week on October 14-18, 2019, think of some ways that the conversation can go beyond the week. Below, we have shared some ways that teachers can naturally implement digital citizenship so that it becomes a part of the everyday classroom.

Exploring Citations
Media Literacy is a major part of digital citizenship in regard to resources provided by others. When conducting online searches, encourage students to use the Explore tool to search the web within Google Docs and Google Slides. This feature generates a citation in the footnote on the page. There is also an option to change the format of the citation to MLA, APA, or Chicago. Guiding students to utilize this tool shows them that a good digital citizen gives credit for others' work.

Set norms for online discussion
Collaboration and communication are truly skills that need to be taught. Rather than avoid these opportunities, guide students on the appropriate way to do this online. The classroom is the perfect space to teach students how to communicate respectfully. Have you considered guiding students in how this is done? Develop a list of norms or expectations for online discussions between peers. This will be beneficial as students are given opportunities to comment, question, or reflect in
                          in spaces like Google Classroom and VoiceThread.

Become a Model
-Wait! Before you copy and paste that image from online in front of students, is it safe to use?

-Most of the morning has been spent doing online research. Let students know that the
next activity will give them a break from screen time in order to create media balance.

-Your close read article this week may, in fact, be about real and fake news and you require students to look for the theme of the passage. Your students will be mastering standards and learning online responsibility at the same time.

It’s not only what a teacher says that students learn from, but also the actions of their teacher as well. Trust me, there are opportunities that present themselves for modeling so be very intentional. Find ways to integrate #digcit in your everyday lessons. In what ways are you modeling acceptable digital citizenship behavior?

Click Play!
There are plenty of video options that cover various topics of digital citizenship. Whether it’s from Common Sense Media’s video bank( K-5, Middle School, or High School) or the Richland Two Responsible use Policy videos, open up the discussion about #digcit as a follow up to these resources. This is a great opportunity to include some AVID Writing or Collaboration strategies. 

3’s Company
We all know that Digital Citizenship is a shared responsibility between the student, home and school. Help empower families to set boundaries and expectations for their households.

Through your parent communication, consider sharing the following ideas:
  • Model positive online behavior.
  • Set household expectations: 
    • Android Users: If your family uses Android devices, Google’s Family Link can help you set certain digital ground rules, manage apps, keep an eye on screen time and remotely lock your child’s device. 
    • Apple Users: If your family uses Apple devices, Apple Families provides tools that help keep parents in the loop. 
  • Have your child log into their Richland Two Google Account to show you the digital tools that they’re using in the classroom.

All week long, we will provide you with some tips that will get you thinking on our social media pages. Follow us on social media to get tidbits on how you can celebrate #digcitweek on October 14th-18th and beyond! 


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Google Keep Can Keep You Organized

Have you ever needed to take notes or create a list quickly?  If the answer is YES!, then Google Keep is the tool for you and your Student  Google Keep allows you to take notes on the fly from any device with the app or internet access.  Haha, did you get the pun “fly?” It is supported on every platform, IOS, MAC, Android, Chromebooks, and Windows.  Keep is integrated into the sidebar and Tools menu of Docs, Sheet, and Slides. Notes you create on your cell phone can be accessed on your computer or any other device that has the Keep app. You can even create a note by recording your voice.  Also, you can color-code notes, create categories for your notes, add an image, take pictures, create a drawing, create a checklist, assign a reminder date and the best is you can share them with others, brilliant!

Google Keep is an excellent AVID organization tool for your students as well.  Students can keep vocabulary and spelling lists handy for review on cellular devices.  By clicking the Keep icon in the sidebar of Docs, Sheets, and Slides, students can create Keep notes that contain links to items you shared with them in class in Google Keep.  This provides easy access to these resources from a cell phone. So while they are on the activity bus to a game or downtime at practice, they can be reviewing classwork or studying for a test.  Students can snap a picture of one of your slides, annotate with the draw feature of Keep right on the picture. Students can take notes for class and color code notes by subject and even share notes with a student that might have been absent of for peer review. A group of students collaborating on a project can manage a project checklist. Keep notes can be shared with others so when one student completes a task on the list the other students see that the task has been checked as complete. Keep is a great place for students to store journals.  When they are out and see something that inspires them they can snap a picture and journal about it. Google Keep facilitates good organizational habits for students on the go.

Give it a try, it is worth the time to learn Google Keep and introduce your students to this tool that can help them stay organized. Click on this link to learn more

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Voices in Tech: How edtech coaches aid classroom instruction

We are excited to share an article from District Administration featuring our very own Nichole Allmann.  See the excerpt below and be sure to head to the full article to read about all of Nikki's experiences and wisdom. 

"A well-trained team of coaches helps teachers manage the potentially overwhelming integration of new technology"
By: Emily Ann Brown | August 8, 2019

...Technology never takes center stage In the coach-teacher partnership. Instead, coaches help teachers examine standards and curriculum, and identify learning goals. They then recommend tools that will facilitate desired outcomes, says Nichole Allmann, a technology integration specialist who oversees coaches at 10 schools...

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Getting parents up to date with technology

Social Justice, Media Literacy

What is your school doing to inform parents of internet safety, media balance, and learning with technology? What are you doing, as an educator, to provide ongoing information so parents are learning how to “monitor” their child(ren)’s technology use at home? Just as we did not grow up in the digital age, the parental community in each of our schools did not either. They are just as unequipped and unaware as we are when it comes to digital citizenship.

As an educator, it is imperative we are knowledgeable and stay up to date with how to develop our students to be responsible online users. Much of what we do with our students is online and can be overwhelming, ensuring they make the right choices and be informed users of the internet. Many of our students are currently developing an online reputation that will impact their future. Just as we are learning how to teach this to our students, parents need to learn what steps they can take to keep their child(ren) safe and responsible when they are at home. Common Sense Media has many resources to help us teach and reach our parents in a variety of ways. The beginning of the school year creates many opportunities for parents to be in our schools; whether it is “meet the teacher”, “parent orientation” or parent university events that tend to be centered around various topics or curriculum. Here are some simple ways to inform parents at these events.

      • talk about tools
      • talk about expectations
      • talk about privacy
      • talk about parent-teacher communication
      Icon, Polaroid, Blogger, Rss, App
    • Another way to reach our parents is through newsletters, school/teacher websites or blogs. Create a section that gives parents a tip a week to keep their child(ren) safe online. If a lesson you are doing that week requires students to communicate online, share a couple of tips about appropriate ways to communicate online.
    • October is National Bullying Prevention Month. This is another perfect opportunity to share those online tips for parents to learn what cyberbullying is, the effects of cyberbullying and how to deal with their child if they are either being bullied or are bullying another child. Common Sense Media provides a toolkit already prepared for you whether it is through your newsletter, handouts or an event at your school.
    Some of these events may have already come and gone at your school, but don’t let that deter you from starting today. Start including tips on your website or newsletters. Your parents will thank you.

    Thursday, September 5, 2019

    The 5 steps of Focused Note-taking (with Google Slides!)

    For years, the AVID instructional framework recommended a specific note-taking strategy, called Cornell Notes, to support students in processing the information they learn in class.  Recently, however, AVID revised the note-taking recommendations to be more broad rather than solely focusing on Cornell Notes. The new recommendation is that educators teach students to use a focused note-taking strategy.  This is fantastic because it allows for student choice and voice in how they process their learning and can incorporate technology in powerful ways.  This blog post will overview the 5 steps of focused note-taking along with some digital strategies that align with each step.

    Step 1: Taking the notes

    This is an obvious first step!  In this phase, students are capturing information using a method they feel most comfortable.  If students are new to taking notes, very young, or have instructional accommodations, teachers can just share the notes and skip step 1.  Plenty of learning, as you’ll see, happens in Steps 2 - 5.

    Obviously, there are many ways to support students with a focused note taking strategy. This example, using Google slides, just offers a support that can be highly visual and very powerful with sharing, linking, and commenting capabilities. Share your favorite focused note taking strategy in the comments!

    Step 2: Processing notes
    Notes are meaningless if you don’t do something with them!  In this phase, students are asked to review, reflect, and manipulate the information in their notes.  

    In Google slides, students can adjust text formatting adding highlights, underlines, or colored fonts using the toolbar, but they can also easily add headings via their slide format and paste in images from the toolbar to highlight key information.

    Step 3: Connecting Thinking
    In this step, we ask students to think deeply about the information they are learning and connect it to other content knowledge.  

    Technology adds a great value to this step because students can share their notes with a peer to see if they generated the same connections and key concepts as another student.  They can also easily hyperlink to additional content (their previous notes or other media) within their digital notes.  Using Google slides, arrows and lines can be drawn to visually represent connections.  Commenting features can also be used for students to track questions they have as they process their notes.

    Step 4: Summarizing and Reflecting on Learning
    For step four, students create summaries of their learning.  Technology adds value because students can easily share and compare their summaries.  In the example using Google Slides, students can use the presenter notes section to write a summary of their learning.

    Step 5: Applying Learning The final step of focused note taking takes place outside of Google slides. This is where the student is able to use the notes to apply the learning in an authentic context. By now the notes have been reviewed by the student multiple times with additional layers of learning and understanding being added in each step. In this example, students could use the notes to create their own models of different cell types or use the notes during a lab activity where they classify organisms seen under the microscope.

    Obviously, there are many ways to support students with a focused note taking strategy. This example, using Google slides, just offers a support that can be highly visual and very powerful with sharing, linking, and commenting capabilities. Share your favorite focused note taking strategy in the comments!

    Tuesday, August 27, 2019

    Stream Now With SCETV Resources


    It’s that time of year where you are looking for additional media content to add to your direct or blended instruction. We (re)introduce to you SCETV Streaming Resources and the best thing about these resources is that they are all completely free. 

    Know It All
    Since 1999, this interactive web based media has been frequently adding South Carolina based content. The site provides 21st century educational experiences for K-12 educators and students with content that can be searched by the South Carolina State Standards or by grade level. Some of the most popular series are Artopia for visual and performing arts and GullahNet that shares experiences of the Gullah culture. If you’re looking for content and resources to support upcoming events or celebrations, Knowitall has a blog that includes links to resources inside of their site to support your topic.

    PBS Learning
    Maintained by SCETV and PBS Media, PBS Learning’s K-12 platform consists of over 100,000 classroom-ready digital resources. Resources here are organized by Common Core and National Standards, grade level, and subject area. Teachers are able to build lessons, quizzes, and storyboards for students to have interactive learning experiences with multimedia content. To help users stay organized, LearningMedia offers folders where users store media to be able to share with others including students. For teachers that have a Google Classroom, there is the capability to import a class from Classroom right to PBS Learning classes
                                                    for seamless sharing.

    Learn 360
    The Learn 360 media collection gives users the ability to segment video, pull citations for resources, and create playlists for pertinent topics. This platform provides lesson plans and activities to accompany its robust content collections. These collections include maps, audio, and printables to support student learning at every grade level. The calendar feature gives users content that is applicable to a day in history or a particular celebration during that time of year.When clicking on the date, users will find media to support these topics.

    Whether you’re looking for a map of France, a simulation on how balloons fly, or a narrative SCETV has developed and curated resources to meet the needs of all K-12 teachers. With a couple of clicks, teachers gain access to over 100,000 free resources that offer students 21st century learning experiences.

    The Influential Parent - Episode 9

      The Influential Parent - Episode 9, Summer Care Tips   With devices going home for the summer in our district, we wanted to take some ti...