Rounding Up a Community of Learners with the ThingLink Teacher Challenge

I’m excited about the great response to this week’s announcement of the next ThingLink Teacher Summer Challenge. So far, more than 100 teachers from 10 countries have signed up to participate, collaborate and create resources for use in our schools during this free, self-paced PD opportunity.

An Opportunity for Global Collaboration

Building a global community of learners is a powerful way to adapt to the changing climate facing educators today. This summer’s challenge offers educators the opportunity to build global relationships that lead to trust and turn collaboration into results. 

Explore this interactive Wordle of participant locations so far, and please consider signing up to join us for the next ThingLink Teacher Summer Challenge. The first activity will be launched on June 28, 2015 via the ThingLink Blog.


3 Reasons to Take the Next ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge

We are pleased to announce the 2nd ThingLink Teacher Summer Challenge, back by popular demand.  Sign up now to prepare to join us when we officially launch at ISTE 2015 during the week of June 28th.

About the ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge

The ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge is a free, self-paced, online professional development opportunity designed to help teachers explore the powerful possibilities of using ThingLink for teaching and learning. This 5 week challenge invites teachers to have fun learning to use interactive images, slideshow channels and interactive video to power up your pedagogy and redefine learning in the classroom.

Throughout the challenge, we will use the ThingLink flexible suite of interactive tools for schools to create media rich, customized resources for use in your classroom. The weekly challenge activities are designed to be beneficial to educators who are new to ThingLink and also to experienced users. We will explore all the flexible features of ThingLink and discover the tremendous potential for using this amazing tool. Here are 3 reasons to take the ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge.

Engage in Self-Paced Summer Learning Through Constructive Play

Summer is a time when teachers can enjoy a break from the highly scheduled daily routines of the school year and the ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge is designed to compliment your summer lifestyle. There are no rigid deadlines to interfere with your plans, so you can progress at your own pace and enjoy the freedom and time you need to learn and experiment through constructive play. Of course, there will be plenty of support available as you need it throughout the challenge.

Connect and Share with a Community of Learners to Build Your PLN

As use of technology in the classroom becomes more prevalent, and we strive to adapt to the changing educational climate, it can be difficult and sometimes overwhelming to keep up if we are trying to do it all on our own. The ThingLink Teacher Challenge is designed around the idea that we are all learning together.

One of the of the goals of this professional development opportunity is to connect, collaborate and build on the ideas of others through a shared workspace. We will utilize the streamlined management and workspace available within a simulated District Organization to facilitate immediate sharing of work and to inspire each other throughout the challenge. As a bonus, all participants will get a 3 month EDU Premium trial for use to provide you with the opportunity to unleash the full potential of ThingLink.

Create and Curate Resources for Use in Your Classroom

In addition to learning to use the powerful features available with ThingLink, each of the weekly challenges is designed to meet several EDU goals aligned with best practices and standards. The end result will be the creation of your own ready to use customized portfolio of differentiated resources to match your learning targets. In addition, you will learn to embrace the use of slideshow channels to curate a collection of resources created by others. You can use the resources as is, or remix them to fit your specific teaching and learning goals.

ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge at a Glance

Week 1: Design Your Digital Self
Get started with ThingLink, a very useful activity to get you and your students started

Week 2: Curate Incredible Content
Discover, collect, reuse and remix the work of others.

Week 3: Design an Interactive Collaborative Student Project
Learn to combine ThingLink with the power of Google Docs to create engaging learning experiences

Week 4: Explore ThingLink UnPlugged
Explore learning on the go with a mobile device without wireless access.

Week 5: Flip It with ThingLink for Video
Learn to create interactive video and include it in a slideshow channel.

Week 1 will begin on June 28th. Entries will be accepted until mid August.

Sign Up to Take the ThingLink Summer Teacher Challenge

Interested participants should sign up using the form below. This will allow us to share the invite code so you can join our district organization group and access the shared workspace. This will also give you access to the EDU Premium trial, only available through this challenge. We will also send a reminder to your inbox to remind you about the launch on June 28th.

We hope you will join us for this fun filled and excited, self-paced professional learning opportunity. Questions? Please email



Blogging to Learn

As the start of the school year approaches, educators are busy preparing for a great year. As learners, many of us will approach the new year with excitement and optimism after reflecting on our own teaching during our time away from the classroom. 

Those of us who sport a growth mindset typically start each school year with the intention of being better. We have collected new ideas, thoughtfully considered how to implement them, and we are excited to make a difference in the lives and education of our students. 

I truly believe that all educators should consider blogging as a tool for learning and this seems like the perfect opportunity to once again try to encourage all educators to blog!

Why I Blog

Blogging about experiences makes me accountable for taking the time to thoughtfully reflect on teaching and pursue ways to kick the learning up a notch. I learn more from blogging than from any other professional activity I participate in. Quite simply, I blog to learn. 

Why Educators Should Blog

Becoming a blogger is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to grow as an educator. For many, blogging can become an essential part of the workflow, requiring us to dig deeper, engage in research, explain and reflect. Good blogging should include exploring the blogs of others as models, and sharing ideas and resources with your audience. The audience may be students, teaching teams, parents, or educators across the world. Blogging will ultimately help you become a connected educator. 

Why Students Should Blog

Blogging provides students with authentic opportunities to improve writing, engage in research, read more and personally connect with their own learning through thoughtful reflection. If that’s not enough, please consider these ideas.
  • Blogs offer an exciting way for students to engage in real-world writing. 
  • Blogs give students a voice and an audience. 
  • Students write better and put more thought into the revision process when they are publishing for an audience.
  • Blogs allow for feedback through comments which can be very motivating.
  • Blogging requires students to engage in everyday research and dig deeper to construct knowledge through the synthesis of ideas.
  • Blogging provides students with opportunities to connect with their own learning by remixing content, developing new ideas, and thoughtfully reflecting.
  • Blogging provides educators with many opportunities for teaching students about digital citizenship, including Internet safety, crediting sources and practicing good online etiquette.
  • Student blogs provide parents with a convenient and personalized opportunity to connect with their children’s learning experiences.

Advice About Blogging

Throughout the course of my career as a blogger, I have helped many teachers get up and running with a blog. Here is my advice, based on The School of Hard Knocks, so to speak.
    1. Start simple! A new blog will have just one post. Write the post for yourself to explain why you have decided to start a blog.
    2. Since it takes time and effort to get people to check a blog, do not spend hours and hours filling your blog with information. Just use the blog as a tool for yourself, but write it for an audience.
    3. As you continue to experiment with blogging, explore the use of simple original images to capture visitors’ attention.
    4. Learn to embed.
    5. Model good digital citizenship. We expect students to use copyright-friendly images, credit sources and share their own original work, and it’s important for education bloggers to dig deep into Best Practices and try it yourself.
    6. When you are ready to share your blog with the world, use Twitter and other social media platforms to connect with educators and build your PLN.
    7. Share your blog with your students and provide them with opportunities to blog.

    Connecting with Some Amazing Educators

    I am truly enjoying facilitating the ThingLink Teacher Challenge this summer because it has allowed me to connect with some amazing educators. We are all learning, creating and sharing together. 

    One of the early challenges was to Design Your Digital Self as an introduction to other participants. We started by creating an avatar, then we added it to ThingLink and tagged our images with Rich 
    Media tags to define ourselves through multimedia.

    I used Padlet to create a wall of ThingLink Teacher Challenge participants and would like to introduce readers of this blog to these amazing educators. The activity itself can be used with students as you kick off the school year and establish best practices for Internet safety as you teach them about protecting their identities when publishing anything on the web. 

    Meet the ThingLink Challenge Participants

    I invite you to explore this Padlet wall of interactive images, connect with these educators on Twitter (#TLChallenge), join our Google+ community and expand your own PLN this summer!


    Created with Padlet

    For the best viewing experience, view the full wall on Padlet

    Why 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!

    Join Us

    There’s still time to join us and take the ThingLink Teacher Challenge. This free, online professional development activity is self-paced to fit in with teachers’ busy summer lifestyles. There are no deadlines and each challenge is designed to be flexible. New participants are joining every day.