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 http://vste.org/digital-learning-day-february-23-2017/This 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?https://goo.gl/dGeqch
1st grade: Clean it up!  https://goo.gl/A3Bkjd
2nd grade: Symmetrical Creatures https://goo.gl/0iC18A
3rd grade:  Geometric Creatures https://goo.gl/Sw48dZ
4th grade: Coal Train  https://goo.gl/V8XguO
5th grade: Extreme Fraction Makeover  https://goo.gl/8ZYrwV

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 https://goo.gl/EWPSwn

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. http://www.teachhub.com/10-things-your-students-should-know-about-their-digital-footprints 

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.
  • Graphite.org - 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: http://www.virginia.gov/government
Kids.gov 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.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Reflections, tips, and ideas

Virginia Society for Technology in Education Conference 2014

Last week I had the privilege of attending the VSTE Conference in Virginia Beach.
The weather was horrible but the conference gave me lots of ideas to share.

The big idea I left with is that when we talk about technology sometimes teachers and administrators feel that they have to know it all before they have their students use it. In Albemarle County there is a single vision of what is best for the student that guides everyone’s practice. The Director of Educational Technology and Professional Development explained the philosophy that:

“School is the Safest place to make a mistake”
Both adults and students in education  should be able to make mistakes and learn, we want to “teach and trust” .

Other useful tidbits:

  • In Google Classroom create an assignment spreadsheet and give students editing permissions. The students will create the “wiki” of resources for that assignment for the whole class to share.
  • Create a group on Diigo for the team or the staff- Diigo is a  free bookmarking service that will also annotate. You can place sticky notes or highlights on a website or website article for the group to pay attention to and the annotations stay attached to the link when it is shared.
  • Create fake email addresses for your students when they need to access a program that requires an email with Dispostable or GuerrillaMail. The emails are temporary.
  • This one is great for meetings - Decide already - enter a question and you and the team will be prompted make a decision; and the best part is the team does not have to be in the meeting!
  • Use Timeline from ReadWriteThink and the lesson plans that come with it for student research on any subject.
  • Try Countable with your students as a starting point for discussion or a topic to start research. This site tracks the bills and issues that our Government Representatives are working on now. You can vote on the issue and then track how the congress person voted.
  • Use a wireless mouse and keyboard to allow more students to interact with the SMART or Promethean boards.
  • Wolfram Alpha is great for getting answers to math problems (and any other question). The pro service gives access to the Wolfram Alpha Problem Generator which will generate problems to solve with step by step answers.

Special Recommendations for Administrators:
  • Studies show that parents get much of their information from social media. Start a blog or twitter account to keep communication going with all the interested stakeholders. Include your schedule for the day, sub lists for the day, changes for the day or other information.
  • Use HassleMe to set up reminders or Remind to notify parents and teachers of emergencies or upcoming events.

Speaking of Twitter:
  • Use tweetymail to tweet right from your email
  • Set up Tweetdeck to view the hashtags you are following in columns, create a list in tweetdeck to narrow tweets shown to students.
  • Tweet faster from websites with emph.it
  • Use tag sleuth to visualize the tweet trends and explore graphs of trending topics.
  • Share this with students: TwitterFall will display a preselected list of tweets, like a “waterfall”, with geolocation tags.

Networking news:
  • Information from the Virginia Department of Education: An initiative called the  Education Superhighway designed to get us all high speed broadband and connectivity by 2016 and  a heads up for new technology goals for 2016.
  • Goochland County is a 1:1 district that has told its teachers to stop teaching "to the SOL’s" and concentrate on project based learning, what will be the results?

Amazon echo and the future of education? This new device will answer any question.

This is just a small amount of the information shared at this conference. More ideas worth a mention are the virtual worlds Unity, Kitely, and MinecraftEdu where students can create content.

Rob Furman, Principal of South Park Elementary School in Pittsburgh  describes the idea of changing the "classroom” to a “classworld”  What do you think?