Webinar: Unpacking the CCSS Academic Vocabulary Shift

Are you wondering where to begin to adopt the Common Core Vocabulary Standards? While there are many specific vocabulary standards clearly listed in the K-12 Language Strand, it’s helpful and important to look at Academic Vocabulary from the big picture view. This webinar will unpack the Common Core Academic Vocabulary Shift by taking a closer look at the three targeted tiers of vocabulary. 

Join me and Simple K12  as we explore some free and user friendly digital tools and effective instructional practices to support the necessary direct instruction of tier 2 and tier 3 wordsSign up


The Ultimate Word Wall with ThingLink & Padlet

I am fortunate to be working with an amazing group of educators this summer for the ThingLink Teacher Challenge. This week’s challenge to design an activity to  help students Dig Deeper Into Vocabulary, a topic I am very passionate about.

I also love Word Walls and have been using them for as long as I can remember. While I was once frustrated by trying to keep taped images up on a physical wall, I now find the process to be streamlined and slick with the help of one of my favorite tools, Padlet

Benefits of Padlet at a Glance

  • Padlet is a free, flexible and user friendly tool that is available online, 24/7
  • Users can create account and design Padlets for a variety of purposes for teaching and learning. 
  • Students can contribute to Padlets without an email address, just tap to add an image.
  • Padlet works well on a computer and also from the web browser on an iPad. 
  • There’s no tape or physical space limitations with these types of word walls.
  • Padlet is capable is displaying text, images and video.
  • Padlet can be embedded into a blog, wiki or website.
  • Padlet supports ThingLink interactive images!

Using Padlet to Create The Ultimate Word Wall of Interactive Images

As the interactive images for the challenge started rolling in, I had the idea to build a Word Wall of vocabulary activities. The word wall is embedded below, but to get a better view you might want to visit the full wall on the Padlet site. 
Click on any image to preview and explore any interactive vocabulary image created by teachers from all over the world. If you want to explore the full version of an image, click the Share icon on the ThingLink image to grab the link. If you want to embed the image into your own space, grab the embed code.

Be sure to check back as many more images are submitted. This wall will grow throughout the summer.


For a better viewing experience go to Padlet to view this wall.

Join Us for the ThingLink Teacher Challenge

Embrace Change This Summer with Professional Development

Summer is the time of year when teachers can enjoy a break from the the highly scheduled daily routines of the school year. It’s also a great time for teachers to engage in professional development to keep up with the challenges of our rapidly changing educational environment and connect with others to build a PLN.

I am fortunate and excited to be able to offer a variety of professional development experiences this summer to help teachers embrace change and adjust to the instructional shifts that will ultimately help our students develop the 21st Century Skills necessary for success. 

My Professional Development Goals

Help educators
  • Use free and user friendly digital tools to transform learning.
  • Explore, connect with others, and learn together through constructive play as you build a personal learning network.
  • Align learning experiences to the Common Core .
  • Shift instructional practices to focus on student centered collaborative learning that engages students in the 4 C’s.
  • Maximize instructional time.
  • Model digital citizenship.
  • Effectively differentiate and manage the student-centered classroom.

    Explore My Interactive Calendar

    Learn more and sign up for professional development in June. I hope to make some new connections this summer and look forward to collaborating with some familiar and talented friends. 

    SAMR Through the Lens of the Common Core

    One of my goals is to weave digital tools into the Common Core to design flexible, student driven learning experiences that are Above the Line as defined by the SAMR model. While this might sound like a mouthful of EdTech, I assure you that combining all that is on our crowded plates is far better than tackling each individual initiative in isolation. This idea is supported by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

    “As education leaders incorporate the CCSS into school systems, P21 urges them to do so in a way that honors the fusion of the 3R’s (core academic content mastery) and 4C’s (critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, communication and creativity and innovation). It is imperative that the CCSS be considered the “floor” –not the “ceiling”– when it comes to expectations for student performance in the 21st Century.”   

     Weaving it All Together – In Simple Terms

    • The Common Core defines what students should be able to do.
    • Digital tools provide students with resources, flexible options and support to do it.
    • The SAMR model provides teachers with a point of reference to reflect on what they are asking students to do and challenges them to embrace technology to design learning experiences that allow students to do what couldn’t be done without the tech.
    This digital toolkit is filled with resources for compacting that crowded plate and embracing technology as a tool to fuel deep learning. It can be used as a launching pad to shift instructional practices that target the CCSS through active student participation, providing them with opportunities to engage in the 4C’s. Explore it and dive in, one step at a time.

    Learn More

    SAMR Through the Lens of Common Core Standards
    Webinar: 12/3 @ 4:00 CST, sponsored by MyInfinitec.org

    Are you looking for ways to leverage the power of technology to help students develop 21st Century Skills? Researchers have determined that technology integration typically moves through four specific levels: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR).The higher the level of an activity the greater the educational benefit. This webinar will demonstrate how to use the SAMR model of technology integration as a guide for planning and implementing classroom learning experiences that take student learning to higher levels. 

    Join me and Infinitec as we look at some traditional learning tasks, align them to the Common Core Standards, and walk them up the SAMR ladder to show how to transform your teaching and “Teach Above the Line.”

    Sign up

    Registration is open to all

    Instructional Shifts to Support the Common Core

    Are you looking for ways to effectively implement and manage the Common Core aligned classroom?

    The CCSS identify a spiraling set of skills necessary to prepare students for success. The standards are designed to teach students how to think. They call for increased comprehension, synthesis of information and the ability to clearly express learning. To facilitate the deep learning experiences supported by the CCSS, a shift in instructional practices is necessary. 

    The seamless integration of technology into the Common Core aligned curriculum supports learning through active participation and increases opportunities for all students to have access to the resources and information they need for success. With increasing numbers of Internet connected portable learning devices in our schools, access to information is readily available in a variety of formats and often in the palm of our students’ hands. While it’s safe to say that many schools are wired, it’s time to combine digital tools with innovative instructional practices to get our students plugged in. 

    Help students uncover knowledge
    Instead of teaching scripted curriculum defined by a textbook, consider putting your teaching skills and expertise to good use during the instructional planning phase by using essential questions to fuel the learning. Essential questions require students to construct knowledge and when combined with a flexible lesson design this type of learning can allow students to express learning in original ways. There is no room for answers that simply require copying and pasting, and worksheets become obsolete.

    Essential Questions

    To get started with essential questions, first take a look at the content you will be covering. Use Bloom’s as a guide to develop complex questions that require students to use higher order thinking skills to answer. Take a look at the Common Core Standards and identify several standards that can be woven into the learning process. Design a grading rubric for use as a guide to define expectations for students as they create a final original project to demonstrate learning. This will ensure that the student driven learning experience hits the targeted instruction and includes those Common Core Standards. Remember to make sure to dedicate an adequate amount of instructional time for students to answer complex Essential Questions

    Explore my toolkit of resources for helping students uncover knowledge and create something original.

    Explore this interactive graphic, created with ThingLink

    Final thoughts

    Technology is a powerful tool for learning that can be used effectively to help students develop the skills necessary to succeed in school and beyond. Students can develop transferrable knowledge and skills as they engage in learning experiences that require them to construct knowledge. 

    The Common Core presents new challenges and new opportunities to help us focus on deep learning. This requires shifts in instructional practices. We have the opportunity to redesign learning, let’s embrace it!

    Learn more

    I’m hosting a webinar onTuesday, 11/19 at 4:00 PM EST to explore Instructional Shifts to Support the Common Core. If you are a Simple K-12 member, I hope you will join us for a closer look at the ideas presented here.

    Instructional Shifts to Support the CCSS
    11/19/2013 at 4:00 PM EST

    Sign up and learn more
    Registration is open to Simple K12 members

    10 Terrific Tools in My Toolkit

    Flexible Learning Paths

    The key to successful technology integration is the efficient use of digital tools tools that are appropriate for the task. Technology provides us all with the ability to develop our own toolkit of flexible resources for use when needed. Here is a toolkit I assembled that is filled with tools I frequently use for designing flexible student-driven learning experiences. Starting with a good toolkit is essential.

    Explore this interactive image to take a closer look at my collection of resources for use with these 10 terrific tools. Try them yourself and remember to start with something simple.


    Explore – Wagon Wheel Project Toolkit

    And now for a mouthful of EdTech…

    I have been weaving together digital tools with the Common Core to design flexible student driven learning experiences that start out Above the Line, as defined by SAMR.

    Good news! My digital toolkit is filled with great resources to tackle these design challenges. Do you have a digitalt toolkit of resources? Take a look at mine.

    Essential Tools Used to Organize and Share this Project


    Wagon Wheel Project Toolkit

    Please explore this interactive image to learn more about each tool.