• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Dokkio Sidebar (from the makers of PBworks) is a Chrome extension that eliminates the need for endless browser tabs. You can search all your online stuff without any extra effort. And Sidebar was #1 on Product Hunt! Check out what people are saying by clicking here.


Teaching Essential Skills with Digital Tools - Potterville

Page history last edited by Bill 7 years, 6 months ago

Teaching Essential Skills with Digital Tools - Potterville School District


Direct link to this resource collection:  http://bit.ly/TIGPottervilleJan15 


Backchannel for Today's Workshophttps://todaysmeet.com/TIGPottervilleJan15 


Folder Containing Editable Versions of TiG Handouts: http://bit.ly/TIGHandoutCollection 


You know what the iGeneration looks like in your classroom: iGeners are plugged in, having inherited a world with almost universal access to the Internet. Earbuds hang from backpacks, and cell phones are stuffed in pockets. Text messaging has replaced telephone calls, streaming video has replaced waiting for television shows to start, Wii has replaced Atari, digital photography has replaced film, and cable Internet has replaced dial-up modems.


But iGeners aren’t always the best students. Working quickly instead of carefully, they “info-snack” their way through class, flitting from instant experience to instant experience. Reading deeply, considering multiple perspectives, and interacting meaningfully with others -- the kind of higher order skills emphasized in the Common Core State Standards -- are pushed aside in a race for instant gratification.


Moving learning forward, then, begins by introducing teachers to ways digital tools can be used to encourage higher-order thinking and innovative instruction across the curriculum. Today’s students can be inspired by technology to ponder, imagine, reflect, analyze, memorize, recite, and create—but only after we build a bridge between what they know about new tools and what we know about good teaching -- a process introduced by full time classroom teacher Bill Ferriter in this one day workshop.




Handouts for Today's Workshop

Handouts - PDF

Handouts - DOC


This link connects to a PDF version of every handout that participants will explore during this workshop.  It is HIGHLY recommended that participants print a hard-copy of this file out to use during our time together.  While every handout is posted electronically in this session wiki, navigating the hard-copy can be easier than navigating the wiki for many participants.


*Note: Session presenter Bill Ferriter has converted the complete session handouts into a Word Doc to make it easier for participants to edit files as needed.  Be aware, however, that converting from PDF to DOC is not a perfect process.  Some files may need some formatting before they are usable. 



Slides for Today's Workshop

Slides - Potterville January 2015 (pdf)


While session presenter Bill Ferriter doesn't spend a ton of time working through slides in his presentations, participants can download the slides for today's workshop by clicking on the link above. 


Tech Tools that Make TEACHERS More Efficient


Sometimes, the first step towards learning more about helping STUDENTS to use digital tools to make their lives more efficient is finding tools that can make YOUR life more efficient.  When teachers use digital tools to be more effective in their professional work, they are far more likely to be convinced of the importance of helping students to find digital tools worth embracing.  


In this portion of the workshop, we will (1). discuss the common practices that consume the time of classroom teachers and (2). look at three tools that can help teachers to save time while tackling those common tasks.



Finding Online Resources for YOUR Content Area and/or Grade Level





One of the most important steps that teachers can take in order to become more efficient and effective in their work is to start following the Twitter hashtags that are being used by teachers who are working in the same content areas and grade levels.  By following Twitter hashtags, you gain access to an ever-updated collection of resources that are being shared by people with similar interests and needs as your own.  That means you also gain access to new ideas on the role that technology can play in supporting effective instruction in classrooms just like your own.


Following Twitter hashtags can be done whether you have a Twitter account or not. Simply visit http://twitter.com/search and type in the hashtag being used by teachers working in the same content area as your own. To find hashtags being used by the teachres working in the same content area as your own, visit either http://bit.ly/edhashtags or http://bit.ly/officialchatlist




Why Don't We Formatively Assess More Frequently?


One of the core practices in classrooms where students make the most learning gains is formative assessment.  Bob Marzano's research has shown that timely and directive feedback is the second most important school-level factor for improving student achievement.  John Hattie argues that "the simplest prescription for improving education must be dollops of feedback."  And Mike Mattos believes that until we get to a point where mastery is tracked by student and standard, we have no real chance of effectively intervening on behalf of struggling students.  Spend a few minutes thinking about the role that formative assessment plays in your classroom and/or school by answering the questions below with your table partners:


Questions to consider:


  • How frequently are students in your classroom/school given timely and directive feedback about their progress towards mastering essential skills?  What are the challenges that make providing timely and directive feedback to students difficult in your classroom/school? 
  • How effectively are teachers tracking progress towards mastery of essential skills by student and by standard in your school?  What are the challenges that make tracking progress by student and standard difficult in your classroom/school?
  • Are teachers on your learning team or in your school generally open to the notion of formative assessment?  If giving timely and directive feedback was doable, would teachers embrace the practice? 



Tracking Student Progress with Mastery Connect




Developed by a team of former educators, Mastery Connect's goal is to make formative assessment -- measuring progress by student and by standard in a timely fashion -- doable.  The free version of the tool allows teachers to create, administer, score, record and report the results of 10 question assessments that are tied either to state standards or to the Common Core in minutes using nothing more than the webcam of your computer.  


Many early elementary teachers in Bill's technology workshops find Reading Bear to be useful for similar purposes.  Designed to help students learn the basic phonic skills that go along with reading, Reading Bear also provides chances for students to take quizzes and for teachers to track student progress towards mastery.  



Making Digital Tutorials for Students




One of the most useful steps that teachers can take in a digital world is creating digital tutorials for their students.  Digital tutorials can be used for review, remediation and/or enrichment.  Digital tutorials can also be used to give directions to students working independently in class.  The best news about digital tutorials is that once they have been created, teachers can use them again and again -- saving preparation time in the long run.  


Two of the best tools for creating digital tutorials are Screencast-o-Matic and the Show Me App for iPads.  Screencast-o-matic is perfect for developing tutorials from desktops that are designed to introduce students to anything that would typically appear on a computer's screen.  Session presenter Bill Ferriter uses Screencast-o-Matic to develop tutorials that introduce the basic steps for using common classroom computer programs that students can refer to when working on activities.  The Show Me App is perfect for developing tutorials reviewing basic skills and functions in classes like math and physics.  Many teachers use the Show Me app in the same way that they use Airliners or overhead projectors in class.  


Here's a sample of a Show Me tutorial that session presenter Bill Ferriter created for his daughter:






Analyzing the Difficulty of Text with Lexile.com



Designed to help teachers quickly and accurately evaluate the complexity of the text that students are being asked to tackle in class, the Lexile Analyzer at Lexile.com allows users to upload reading passages that are automatically scanned and scored for difficulty.  With Lexile.com, teachers can efficiently identify text that provides the kind of challenge necessary for meeting the new expectations defined by the Common Core State Standards.



Tailoring Nonfiction Text by Reading Level



One of the challenges that session presenter Bill Ferriter has when it comes to integrating nonfiction reading passages into his classroom instruction is finding leveled passages about the same topic that his students can study.  That's the exact challenge that the Newsela website is working to address.  Newsela staffers grab articles about high interest current event stories and rewrite them at different lexile levels, making it possible for classroom teachers to easily provide appropriately challenging text to every student in their classroom. 



Organizing Collections of Bookmarks for Students




Another task that teachers often have to tackle is organizing collections of bookmarks for students to explore.  Sometimes, students use those bookmarks as a part of a learning station in the classroom.  Other times, students use those bookmarks as a part of ongoing research projects.  Kindergarten teacher Matt Gomez uses Symbaloo to organize these collections for his students.  Explore the different collections that Matt has created and then answer the following questions:


What do you like about the way that Matt is using Symbaloo to organize bookmark collections for his students?  Is Matt's strategy for organizing bookmarks better than the strategy that you are currently using?  Why?


What don't you like about the way that Matt is using Symbaloo to organize bookmark collections for his students?  Is your current strategy for organizing bookmarks better than the strategy that Matt is using?  Why?


Can you think of a way for students to use Symbaloo in THEIR work?  Would you ever consider requiring students to create a Symbaloo collection as a part of a classroom project?  Which one?



Tech Tools that Make STUDENTS More Efficient


One of the simplest truths that students and teachers in today's digital world need to embrace is that access to MORE information doesn't automatically make learning easier.  While students are only ever a few short clicks away from thousands of resources connected to any topic, successful learners need to learn to sift and sort their way through those resources efficiently and effectively.  Otherwise, they end up spinning their intellectual wheels simply trying to access new ideas.  


In this portion of the workshop, we will (1). discuss the ways that students CURRENTLY search the web, (2). examine two tools that can help students to become more efficient and effective at searching the web and (3).  examine one tool that can help students to become more efficient and effective at creating content for the web.



Introductory Activity: Thinking Metaphorically about Search Practices


Participant worksheets:

(Word Doc) (PDF)


Given the important role that the Internet plays as an information source in today’s world, one of the most important skills for students to master is searching the web efficiently and effectively.  Before we explore tools that can improve student search skills, spend a few minutes working with partners to describe the ways that the students in your classroom CURRENTLY search the web.  Use the handout linked above to guide your collaborative thinking.  



Exploring Google's Reading Level Feature 


One of the greatest challenges for student researchers is finding resources that are at an appropriate reading level.  That's where Google's Reading Level feature comes in.  With just two clicks, Google will automatically sort search results into basic, intermediate and advanced categories. Teaching students to use the Reading Level feature can help them to quickly find content that they can actually read -- which will help them to be more independent, successful readers.  To learn more about the Reading Level Feature, consider exploring this video: 




InstaGrok Can Help Student Researchers find Starting Points


One of the greatest challenges that student researchers have is finding starting points when working on projects.  Because they lack background knowledge on many of the topics that they are studying, they simply can't formulate effective searches in popular search engines.  The result is the helpless hunting and clicking -- called 'fortuitous searching' - that you see when students are working on the computer. 


To help students search more efficiently, introduce them to Instagrok:


Instagrok - Instagrok is a tool that will automatically generate an interactive web for any topic that can point student researchers to related topics.  What makes it especially valuable is users are connected to external links on the topic that can be sorted by reading level.  Instagrok also automatically generates a glossary for important terms related to the topic of study. This handout can be used to introduce students to InstaGrok.





Using Canva to Create Influential Visuals


Student Canva Sample 1 - Cranberry Sauce


Handout - Exploring Influential Visuals

Handout - Planning Your Influential Visual

Handout - Influential Visual Rubric


In a world where visual images are becoming an increasingly common way to communicate powerful messages, students must become efficient and effective creators of visual content.  The tool that Bill Ferriter encourages his students to use when creating influential visuals is Canva.  What Bill loves about Canva is it provides users with access to several highly polished templates for creating everything from posters and PowerPoint slides to infographics.  That means students can spend less time trying to master a new tool and more time thinking about the message that they are trying to communicate.  



Optional Session*: Teaching the CCSS with Tech Tools


*The resources introduced in this session will only be tackled if there is enough time remaining at the end of our day.  We may not look at them together.  The resources can, however, be explored individually by teachers.


One of session presenter Bill Ferriter's current passions is developing tech-driven learning experiences centered around the Common Core.  In this portion of the workshop, we will (1). discuss the relative importance of two skills found in the literacy standards for the Common Core and (2). examine the role that two free #edtech tools can play in introducing students to those skills and (3). evaluate two student work products created using those tools.



Teaching Students to Evaluate Reasoning using Scoop.it






Regardless of grade level, mastering the literacy objectives outlined in the Common Core State Standards for History and the Sciences depends to a large extent on a student's ability to identify the differences between facts, opinions and reasoned judgments in a text and to identify places where authors support their core positions with convincing evidence.  Developing these skills in students requires a TON of practice.  Students need to read nonfiction text with a critical eye time-and-again before these dispositions become second nature.  


Scoop.it -- a service that allows users to curate public collections of weblinks around individual topics -- is a digital tool that session presenter Bill Ferriter is using to give students multiple opportunities to evaluate the reasoning that authors use to take stands on controversial topics.   What makes Scoop.it unique is that it automatically searches for new content that users might want to add to their public collections and then makes adding that content -- along with a short written description of why it is worth believing -- easy. 


Recently, two of Bill's students used this handout to create a public collection of resources related to the New York City soda ban and to the costs of space exploration.  Notice that Bill's students posted a short annotation to every resource, explaining both the author's position and the rationale for adding that resource to their public collection.  Bill wrote about his experience with Scoop.it in the classroom here.




Teaching Students about Speaking and Listening Using VoiceThread




One of the keys to creating highly engaged classrooms is giving students opportunities to wrestle with key ideas together.  Not only are today's students driven by opportunities to interact with one another socially, but social interactions allow students to refine and polish their positions on controversial topics -- skills emphasized in the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards.  "An important focus of the speaking and listening standards is academic discussion," argue the authors of the Common Core.  "Formal presentations are one important way such talk occurs, but so is the more informal discussion that takes place as students collaborate to answer questions, build understanding and solve problems."


In session presenter Bill Ferriter's classroom, wrestling with key ideas together and learning more about the role that reasoned discourse and academic discussion can play in society starts and ends with VoiceThread.


VoiceThread - VoiceThread is a simple tool for creating asynchronous conversations built around a wide range of digital content.  With just a few clicks, teachers can have their students working together to think about quotes, images and videos connected to the controversial issues that they are studying.  Need an example of what VoiceThread conversations can look like in action?  Then check out this  student VoiceThread conversation titled Why Do People Hate.  Use the handout titled VoiceThread in Action to guide your reflections.


The following handouts can help you to structure more effective VoiceThread conversations in your classroom:


Previewing an Asynchronous Conversation (doc)- According to the Common Core State Standards, successful participation in conversations depends on coming to conversations prepared to make contributions.  This handout -- which is designed to be used by students BEFORE they jump into asynchronous conversations -- can help to make that preparation easy.  It asks students to identify strands of conversation that they agree with, disagree with, and are excited by.  


Commenting in an Asynchronous Conversation (doc) ) - Teaching students about thoughtful discourse starts by introducing them to the kinds of actions that effective participants take to move collaborative conversations forward.  This handout details four different types of comments that students can add to asynchronous conversations.


Reflecting on an Asynchronous Conversation (doc) - It is important for students to recognize that learning from a collaborative conversation doesn't end as soon as the conversation is over.  Instead, effective participants in collaborative conversations are constantly reflecting on the thoughts and ideas shared by peers -- a practice reinforced by this handout.  


Scoring Student Participation in Asynchronous Conversations (doc) - While session presenter Bill Ferriter NEVER grades student participation in classroom conversations, this rubric outlines key indicators that can be used by teachers who ARE interested in rating the work that their kids are doing in asynchronous spaces.  



Additional Resources to Explore


During the course of any one-day technology workshop, session presenter Bill Ferriter tries to do his best to introduce participants to a small handful of tools that he finds useful in his classroom.  The tools that he selects resonate with large numbers of classroom teachers -- and most participants can find SOMETHING that they could integrate into their classrooms immediately.  It is impossible, though, for Bill to present tools that are perfect for every teacher working at every grade level simply because of the diversity of his audiences.  With limited time, Bill's goal is to present tools that resonate with the most people.  


If you didn't find any tools in Bill's presentation that were perfect for you, consider exploring some of the resources below:


Bill's Quick Guide to Web 2.0 Services - Bill is often asked to share his favorite Web 2.0 tools with people.  That's why he developed this list.  It contains every tool that Bill is currently using in his classroom to teach the essential skills included in Teaching the iGeneration.  


Bill's Quick Guide to Tools for BYOD Classrooms - Over the past year, Bill's school has started to implement a BYOD policy.  The result:  Bill has had far more devices in his classroom than he's ever had before.  This list includes tools that he's begun experimenting with to try to take advantage of the new opportunities that those tools provide.  


Ten Good Apps for Elementary School Math Practice - Teachers in the elementary grades in Potterville have access to iPads in their classrooms.  That means they are probably pretty interested in checking out apps that other teachers have found useful.  This post from Richard Byrne's iPad Apps for Schools website includes 10 math practice apps that may be useful.  


Ten MORE Good Apps for Elementary Math Practice - If the ten apps recommended by Richard Byrne don't float your boat, check out these apps recommended by Monica Burns at Edutopia.


Show Me - One practice that has become increasingly popular in schools is flipping learning spaces.  In flipped learning spaces, teachers develop tutorials designed to deliver content to students in advance, creating additional time in class for group work and/or reflection.  Show Me is one of the most popular apps for creating these tutorials.  




Final Reflections: SWOT Analysis on Integrating Technology into Instruction

(doc)  (pdf)


Let’s take a few minutes to reflect on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that you will face when working to integrate technology into YOUR classroom practices and/or the classroom practices of the teachers that you are currently working with.  Use the template linked above to guide your thinking.  Then, work with partners to answer the following questions:


  • Did members of your reflective group identify any strengths and/or opportunities that you hadn't considered?  Are those strengths and/or opportunities available to you?  Are they strengths and/or opportunities that you can cultivate? 
  • Are there any common patterns in the weaknesses and/or threats that members of your reflective group anticipate facing as they work to integrate technology into their classroom practice?  Can you identify potential solutions to any of those weaknesses and/or threats?   
  • Whose support will you want and/or need in order to successfully move forward with your efforts to integrate technology into your classroom practice?  Are they already on board?  How will getting them on board make integrating technology into your classroom practice easier?






Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.