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


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.

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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

SAMR: Design a Flexible Toolkit for Success

SAMR: Design a Flexible Toolkit
I just finished putting the finishing touches on the presentation for a webinar I’m hosting on Tuesday of this week, SAMR: Design a Flexible Toolkit for Successful Tech Integration. This free webinar is sponsored by Infinitec and registration is open to all.

Assembling the resources has caused me to dig deep into my toolkit to examine ways the tools I frequently go to can be used effectively to align with each level of the SAMR model. I have been evaluating the usefulness of my favorite tools and reflecting.

What is SAMR?

SAMR is a model designed by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, Ph.D. that provides a framework for viewing technology integration in the classroom. The model identifies four specific levels of use and a clear point at which technology can be integrated into the classroom to go beyond engagement and transform learning to provide greater educational benefits.

The SAMR model is useful for helping teachers think about their own tech use to begin to make small shifts in the design and implementation of technology driven learning experiences in order to Teach Above the Line and take advantage of higher level learning. Teachers at the Substitution and Augmentation levels use technology to accomplish traditional tasks, but the use of tech doesn’t result in increased student learning. The real learning gains are achieved when technology is used to facilitate learning experiences that could not be accomplished without the tech. At the Modification and Redefinition levels, traditional tasks are transformed, allowing educators to use technology to design learning experiences that were not possible without it.

A Flexible Toolkit is Essential

A flexible digital toolkit is essential for helping teachers design learning experiences that reach the Modification and Transformation levels of the SAMR model. As I reflect on my own digital toolkit, I recognize that none of the tools I frequently use are content or task specific, rather they are blank canvasses powered by features I can use to design any type of learning experience I can imagine. The tools in my toolkit allow me to start with the learning goals and higher order thinking skills and make use of the technology to design learning experiences that provide students with opportunities to achieve those goals. 

My favorite tools are those that support multimedia to provide flexible options for student success by supporting their unique learning styles. These tools are user friendly, allowing teachers to begin to use the most basic features at the Substitution and Augmentation levels and take advantage of more features as they increase their comfort levels and make strides towards Teaching Above the Line. 

My Flexible Toolkit

This blog is filled with examples and ideas for using digital tools for learning. My favorite tools are woven into many different learning experiences that are most often at the Modification and Redefinition levels of SAMR. If you are interested in a clear bundle of specific examples to learn how these tools can be used to support teaching at each level of the SAMR model, I invite you to attend the free webinar I am hosting on Tuesday, November 5th, sponsored by Infinitec.
SAMR: Design a Flexible Toolkit

SAMR: Design a Flexible Toolkit for Tech Integration

Tuesday, November 5th
4:00-5:00 PM CST
Sponsored by Infinitec

Registration is free and open to all!

Webinar: SAMR Through the Lens of 21st Century Skills

SAMR Through the Lens of 21st Century Skills October 15, 2013, 4:00 PM CST

Are you looking for ways to leverage the power of technology to help students develop 21st Century Skills? 

This webinar will demonstrate how to use the SAMR model of tech 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 focusing on 21st century research and writing and walk them up the SAMR ladder to help you “Teach Above the Line.” 

Registration is open to all


Back to School with Google Docs

Google Docs is truly one of my favorite tools for teaching and learning because of the features it offers to support research, writing and collaboration in the 24/7 classroom. Here are some things to try with Google Docs as you make plans to use a little more tech and embrace change this school year.

Google Docs for Research

Google Docs supports a full-featured integrated Research Tool that is conveniently located right on the page of any Google Document or Presentation. This powerful Research Tool provides students with convenient access to information in manageable chunks that are ready for use. Students can narrow search results to find images, quotations, definitions, and more. 

In addition to helping students efficiently find information, the Research Tool can help students engage in real world writing by streamlining the process of creating hyperlinks and appropriately formatting citations. All this can be done with the click of a button found directly under each source in the Research Toolbar. The push button features provide teachers with the opportunity to introduce important digital citizenship skills to students as part of the research process in a way that is efficient, timely and manageable. 

Google Docs for Collaborative Writing

According to Sharon J. Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project: 
“Today’s young people are using a range of digital tools to compose and create in new and exciting ways. It is a game-changing moment for teachers of writing. The very notion of what it means to write is shifting, and educators are faced with adapting their teaching practices to integrate new technologies while redefining writing and learning for the 21st century.”

Google Docs provide teachers with a great starting point for helping students develop 21st century writing skills because they are collaborative, available 24/7, and stored in the cloud. The tool is well-suited for facilitating digital writing workshops that combine peer editing with cooperative grouping and small group fine-tuned writing instruction. Here are some of the powerful writing features:

Sharing and Commenting
Sharing and commenting options provide students with opportunities to receive immediate feedback on their writing from teachers and peers in the 24/7 classroom. Student can write, edit, revise, collaborate and share one copy of a live document, providing them with the resources and opportunities to significantly improve their writing. Students can collaborate in real time, creating opportunities for virtual mini-conferences. Of course, students are more likely to revisit their work if they know someone else will be commenting on it and they are more likely to edit their writing if they have the opportunity to publish it for an audience.  

Integrated Writing & Reference Tools

The integrated writing and reference tools provide students with convenient writing support right on the page.  A built-in dictionary  supports 12 languages and allows user to look up words without leaving the  document. Word Count capability provides feedback on number of words in a selection or the entire document. Built in Google-powered smart spell check allows students to easily identify spelling and grammar errors and access  suggestions as they type. For students using a variety of sources, EasyBib will save a bibliography in a student’s Google Drive with the click of a button. 

Revision History

The revision history features provides users with access to digital documentation of changes made to any Doc. Review edits or revert to a prior version of a document at any time. Use the Revision History to track contributions made by individual students or to measure progress made on a document. 

Final Thoughts

Google Docs is an efficient tool for for use as a starting point for teachers who want to provide students with opportunities for research, writing and collaboration in a digital workspace because of the availability of so many amazing features. If students in your school have access to Google Docs, it is definitely worth exploring beyond the basic features to discover the benefits of the using the tool for teaching and learning. If you are looking for more ideas, be sure to check out additional resources on this blog.

Google Docs for Teaching and Learning

Mastery Connect – An Essential Tool for the CCSS

Without a doubt, the most useful reference tool I use when planning CCSS aligned technology powered learning experiences is Common Core, by Mastery Connect.

I have the widget installed on my websites and wikis. I have the app on my iPad and iPhone. I use MasteryConnect when designing learning experiences to provide me with quick and easy access to snippets of the information I need. With that information at hand, I can fine-tune the learning experiences I design to target skills necessary for success in school and beyond, as identified by the CCSS.

If you haven’t tried CommonCore, you should. Get the Common Core Standards App in the iTunes store or visit MasteryConnect.com to learn more and get the widget.

Open School ePortfolio for Authentic Assessment

An ePortfolio is a collection of student work that is used to document effort, progress, and achievement over time. Students become actively involved in their own learning as they engage in goal setting, decision making and self-reflection. ePortfolios are powerful tools for authentic assessment because they require teachers and students to dig deeper than a multiple choice test. As we scramble to fully implement the Common Core Standards, ePortfolios can be an extremely useful tool to help students develop skills necessary for success in school and beyond.

I have been an advocate for using ePortfolios for authentic assessment for quite some time. While I have made several attempts to help teachers learn to design and mange ePortfolios using a variety of digital tools to accomplish the task, I’ve discovered that teachers don’t always have the time or patience to see it through. I’ve come to the conclusion that if we are going to use ePortfolios as a standard assessment tool, the teacher buy-in needs to begin with a tool that is easy to use. Fortunately, I have recently discovered Open School ePortfolio and I am excited about the possibilities it offers.

Open School ePortfolio is a free and user friendly CoolTool designed to help teachers and students easily manage the portfolio process. Teachers can sign up for a free account and use the built in tools to add students to classes without requiring a student email address. Teachers can create projects that can be assigned to specific groups of students for differentiation. There is also an option to improve the home school connection by inviting parents to login in participate in the process.

When creating projects, there is an option to create a grading rubric. The rubric creation process is streamlined and easy to use. It includes drop down menus with CCSS Standards for ELA and math, and it also includes standards for other content areas that have been assembled by Open School ePortfolio. Rubrics are easily visible to students with each assignment for use as a guideline for meeting goals. The built in rubric creator is certainly one of the best features of Open School ePortfolio.

As a student tool, ePortfolio is easy to use and designed for success. When students log in they receive notifications about new projects with a link for viewing. There is a goal setting area to immediately prompt students to reflect on their learning goals and motivate them tool to invest in their own learning. Students can complete the assignment or projects by contributing text, images and video, which makes Open School ePortfolio a flexible tool to meet the unique learning styles of all learners. 

Submitted projects can be easily graded by teachers through the use of sliders connected to the rubric. Graded project rubrics are automatically visible to students and notifications are sent when the process is complete. Teachers can also initiate digital discussions with students about their work through the use of a comments feature.

Open School ePortfolio works on any computer with an Internet connection and there is also an iPad app that makes the tool easy to use, even for younger students. The iPad app provides students with the ability to capture video with the click of a button, useful for capturing and reflecting on the wonderful learning going on in the classroom every day. The Open School ePortfolio App is free and available in the apps store.