Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Curating Resources

Help there is too much information! Or how do teachers keep resources and ideas together for students to use?

Curate them! What does that mean? Defined it means “select, organize, and present (online content, merchandise, information, etc.), typically using professional or expert knowledge” Thankfully there are also many programs to help teachers do that, here are a few to get started with that can be easily shared with students through Google.

Symbaloo is a great place to start, set up links for students with picture tiles, great for the “littles”
Link the Symbaloo to a website page or share through Google Classroom.
Screenshot 2017-07-05 at 1.51.17 PM.png

Another way to share links to websites with students is to use One Tab extension for Google Chrome. When teachers search for ideas for students, multiple website tabs get opened and tend to stay open while the teacher keeps searching. Once the One tab extension is applied to the teacher's account, clicking on the One Tab icon will put all the open website tabs in a shareable list that even gets its’ own QR code. Students can click on the links in the list to access any of the websites the teacher found for them.

Bookmarking is a great way to save resources until there are too many single bookmarks. Create Folders with Google's Bookmark manager and Bookmark Manager Extension. Bookmark Manager for Google Chrome is accessible from right-clicking on the bookmarks bar or from the 3 dots under the X in the very top right corner of the screen. Have a folder for each topic. Add images and notes for each bookmark. Export bookmarks to Google drive for sharing.
Diigo is another bookmarking service that allows annotations to bookmarks and sharing by group or by email. After a bookmark is created, it will come up in the right side of the screen when the teacher does another Google Search for the same topic.

An alternative word to curation is creating a “Playlist” for students =A series of video or media for students to interact with. With any of the resources below teachers can use playlists already created or create their own. Share with students through Google Classroom, Google account sign in, or PIN number.
  • A free resource made just for Virginia teachers are emediaVA. All resources are aligned by SOL
  • TES Teach is another free resource to create or use already created multi-media interactive lessons for students. TES (formerly named Blendspace) is very easy to use, works on Chromebooks and has an app for easy access from other devices. Students can access by class code.
  • Edpuzzle allows teachers to add video’s from any source and create questions to go with the video for students to answer digitally.
  • Nearpod - teachers can use this rich resource of quality interactive lessons or create their own. Some lessons are free and some have a cost.
  • TEDEd shares playlists with students through Google account or PIN number. Teachers remix lessons already created with new questions for their classroom of students.
  • CK-12 includes interactives and simulations as well as video to put together in a playlist with the flexibility to add teacher's own content.
  • OER Commons - a digital library and network of educational resources.

So many resources, too little time!! Let’s get organized and ready to share with students to save time for everyone.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Digital Learning Day

FROM:  Steven R. Staples, Superintendent of Public Instruction, VDOE
SUBJECT: Digital Learning Day 2017
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), in cooperation with the Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) and the Alliance for Excellent Education, is pleased to announce February 23, 2017, as Digital Learning Day. This event is part of a national campaign designed to celebrate innovative teaching; highlight practices that make learning more personalized and engaging for students; explore how digital learning can provide all students with the opportunities they deserve; and build the skills students need to succeed in college, career, and life. It also provides an opportunity to highlight the use of digital learning resources such as the Virtual Virginia Mathematics lessons in eMediaVA, GoOpenVA, and other Department of Education technology initiatives.
To access the full schedule for the VDOE/VSTE Digital Learning Day 2017 events, go to link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website for more information. To learn more about Digital Learning Day, go to http://www.digitallearningday.orgThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website.

From the Alliance for Excellent Education: What do we mean by digital learning?
“Digital learning is any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience. It emphasizes high-quality instruction and provides access to challenging content, feedback through formative assessment, opportunities for learning anytime and anywhere, and individualized instruction to ensure all students reach their full potential”

There are many ways that you can incorporate digital resources into your classroom.  It can be very overwhelming, so the idea is to take one step at a time and consider the technology that is available close to you. Ask your colleagues what they are using.
  • Have the students use digital tools to develop their own learning in a classroom Genius Hour. (shout out to Ms. Spangler and her class doing their second genius hour project this year.
  • Try out a hyperdoc to charge up student engagement.
  • Assign observations from a virtual tour with Google Street View
  • Use Digital Learning Day to focus on CyberBullying or digital citizenship
  • Allow students to use a tool to reflect on learning by creating with WeVideo, Thinglink, Little Bird Tales, or Pixton

  • Create playlists for self-directed learning with these tools and connect to Google Classroom or Seesaw assignments:
    PowerMyLearning Connect - activities for self-directed learning
    Blendspace -put together videos and interactive presentations for a complete student directed lesson.
    Youtube Edu - Upload youtube video’s for education to your own youtube channel by categories for each lesson.
    emediaVA - free educational content searchable by VA SOL that can be “collected” in a folder for use by students.
    Educreations or Edpuzzle- use or create a video of a favorite lesson and post it for students responses.

A spotlight is shined on Digital learning on this day to encourage everyday digital learning. Digital learning should take place every day!

Share what you and your students are doing to highlight DLDay:
#DLDay #stuvoice

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Children, Learning, and Engineering

The Virginia Department of Education and the Governor have designated February as CTE (Career and Technology Education) Month. AND February 21-26th 2016 is Discover Engineers Week. What do these things have in common? STEM and PBL

The Virginia Department of Education has supported the Children’s Engineering program for 20 years under the Instruction: Career and Technology Education Division. The Children’s Engineering program is full of engineering experiences for elementary students that will bring STEM (and more) into your classroom that aligns at the Adaptation and Infusion levels of the NKCPS Instructional Framework.

Quoted from the Children’s Engineering, Teacher resource guide: “Each experience is intended to reinforce specific VA Standards of Learning. Additionally, these experiences have been correlated to the Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology. The experiences promote critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and they build upon a child's capability to retain content described in the Standards of Learning.”

Students get the opportunity to “engineer” a solution to a problem. All of the example experiences have been reviewed and practiced by teachers in Virginia and each free experience requires the students to solve a problem using the engineering design process, with minimal materials!

Check out grade level lessons such as:

Kindergarten: How does your Garden grow?
1st grade: Clean it up!
2nd grade: Symmetrical Creatures
3rd grade:  Geometric Creatures
4th grade: Coal Train
5th grade: Extreme Fraction Makeover

These are just a few examples, there are more at this link: Children’s Engineering
Whole School Membership in the Children’s Engineering Council is available until August 2016 for $125.00. All teachers in the school will have access to the Children’s Engineering Journal and more activities provided by the membership. Look at this example of the “Bag Portfolio” project for 5th grade English SOL 5.3 and 5.7

AND MORE Free Resources:

NASA educators website:
How do we incorporate this with our already stretched too thin time?

  • Ask for parent volunteers to help gather supplies
  • Create a STEM box to keep all the supplies in
  • Do a “STEM” indoor recess
  • Ask students to brainstorm the solution and Ask for help.

Take the Challenge!


Friday, April 3, 2015

Digtial Citizenship Part 2

Explore the hotspots in this Thinglink.

Your digital footprint is your digital history and although it goes along with internet safety it is not the same concept.Thinking about your digital footprint is recognizing that every time you go online you create a digital trail that will stay with you forever! Creating a positive digital history in the digital world should be treated the same as creating a positive history in the physical world and is an important lesson for students to learn. 

Check out this new and awesome resource from Common Sense Media:

If you are considering a digital project with your students (blogging, podcasts, movie or story creation) planning needs to be done. Perhaps the students will create an online project map as an outline that leads to a written script, or they will be searching online, or collaborating. Before you start the project consider adding a digital footprint activity. Share this video from Common Sense Media and ask this guiding question:“What online information do you want connected to your name in 10-15 years?” 

A Great Article on this hot topic will help with that discussion. 

Still think you do not need to worry? Learn from these professionals at

 “self-reflect before you self-reveal”

Friday, February 27, 2015

Digital Learning

Digital Learning Day            DLD_logo.png

What does digital learning look like in your classroom? March 13th is Digital Learning Day! At George Watkins and New Kent Elementary, we will be “celebrating” all month.

The Superintendent for the Department of Education in Virginia has expressed his support of National Digital Learning Day. In a February memo, he describes this national campaign to  “...highlight learning that is more personalized and engaging for students.”  

What is Digital Learning?  From the  Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement  and Florida’s Virtual School:
Digital Learning is learning facilitated by technology that gives students some element of control over time, place, path and/or pace."

From the Alliance for Excellent Education and Center for Digital Learning and Policy:  
“Digital learning is any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience”.

Whatever the definition, digital learning should be the every day for all of us and that is what Digital Learning Day is all about.

There are many ways that you can incorporate digital resources into your classroom.  It can be very overwhelming, so the idea is to take one step at a time and consider the technology that is in your building already.  Some of the Teachers are trying things like Animoto, Kidblog, Twitter, and Google Classroom. Ask your colleagues what they are using.
Here are a few other resources that you can use to get started:
  1. The Digital Learning Day toolkit page has some great ideas.  
  • Try an interactive lesson plan from an innovative teacher.
  • Explore other educator’s ed tech perspective for encouragement.

  • Use the hashtag #DLDay on twitter to join the learning around the country.
  • Use Digital Learning Day to focus on CyberBullying or digital citizenship
  1. Visit one of the Digital Learning Day partners: Getting Smart Blog to learn more about the innovations in learning happening every day.
  2. Try Wonderopolis for a wonder-of-the-day discussion.
  3. Have the students use digital tools to develop their own learning in a classroom Genius Hour.
  4. Try my personal favorites, Google Earth, and Google Maps to explore places related to the content students are learning about.
  5. Start curating resources with these tools and create your own digitally enhanced lessons that your students can access using:
  • Youtube Edu - Upload youtube video’s for education to your own youtube channel by categories for each lesson.
  • - create a lesson “flow” of curated websites and apps by subject
  • emediaVA - free educational content searchable by VA SOL that can be “collected” in a folder for use by students.

  • Eduwidgets- developed in and for Virginia schools, this is an online authoring application that teachers and students can use to create interactive digital content for classroom devices, tablets, and the Web.
  • Educreations- video a favorite lesson and post it to share with others.

Once you have decided how you would like to celebrate Digital Learning day include your plan on the Digital Learning Day map.

Make digital learning an everyday occurrence in the classroom instead of just outside of it!
(followup post to January 2014)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Views of the Capitol

Exploring the Virginia State Capitol

Recently several representatives from New Kent County Public Schools traveled to Richmond to meet with the Governor's Secretary of Commerce and Trade (Mr. Maurice Jones) and the Governor’s Director of STEM (Dr. Megan Healy) to discuss the skills students need for the future workforce. The conversation centered around technology skills to meet the growing demand for a workforce that “needs to be comfortable working with robots” The visit was successful for the goal and for the learning that takes place when we are in interesting surroundings.

We did our research to prepare for the visit with Google, of course. The Governor of Virginia has a Cabinet, just like the President of the United States, and Secretary Jones is a member of that Cabinet. He advises the Governor on the economic, community, and workforce development of Virginia. One of the Departments that Secretary Jones oversees is the
Virginia Employment Commision. Dr. Healy advises the Governor on both STEM jobs and STEM in education around the State. These offices are a part of the Executive branch of Virginia’s government.

The Virginia Capitol and Capitol Square are impressive places that are only 30 minutes from New Kent County. They are, however, not visible from the street.

We learn a lot of Virginia History in school but can you point out buildings and landmarks when you drive by them? Who works in those really old buildings and why are the people walking around dressed up?  These are some questions young students might ask if you visit Richmond. Older students might ask, what are these old buildings and where is the Governor’s House?
view fromBroadStreet.PNGview from 9th street.PNG
view from 14thstreet.PNGview from bank street.PNG
Interesting Facts:
The capitol grounds are many government buildings on a hill bordered by Broad Street, 9th Street, Bank Street and 14th Streets. The Capitol Building is only visible from Bank Street. It was renovated in 2007 and has an entrance on the street that leads underground to the Capitol. It was designed by Thomas Jefferson and looks a little like the design of the White House in Washington, DC. The whole lawn on the Bank Street side of the Capitol building is a “green roof”. The huge fence that surrounds Capitol Square was set in granite stone in 1818. All of the buildings in the yellow boundary of the picture below are a part of Capitol Square. The Governor’s Mansion is only visible by walking the Capitol Grounds and is opposite the Patrick Henry Building which houses the offices of the Executive Branch of the State Government. The Governor can walk to work on this beautiful and historic ground. The ornate lobby in the huge Gothic style building known as the “Old City Hall Building” is open to the public.For safety reasons, all of the buildings are only accessible from inside Capitol Square.

For a taste of history take a virtual tour of the Capitol Square

Resources for students:
Learn more about Virginia State Government: is a great site for many subjects and the government in general. Great video’s too.

The challenge: explore more about Richmond history from a capitol walking tour ,it is only 30 minutes away, it’s free, interesting and not digital!

*Pictures from Google Earth, VA Department of General services, and the VA Capitol Foundation.