Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sharing our Story in 15 Seconds

More and more, schools are seeing Social Media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Instragram as effective tools for communicating and sharing their story with the community.  While in the classroom, we still tend to see Social Media as a distraction and possibly even a danger for our students. Recently, I saw a quote from a student on George Couros' blog that said,

"Social Media is like water. It is all around us, you can let us drown or you can teach us to swim." 
We need to teaching and modeling the proper use of social media so that our students can indeed swim to success.  One way to do this, is to jump in as teachers and schools and use Social Media as a place to put our best foot forward for our community to see.

In her blog Langwitches, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano has a series of articles on using Social Media in powerful ways in school.  She shares of an exercise she did with educators where they had to create a 15 second video sharing the story of your school.

Challenge: Tell Your School or Classroom Story in 15 Seconds

An Instagram Video is 15 seconds.  I challenge you to share the story of your school or classroom in a 15 second Instagram video and then tag the video with #mvsddigital. This is a positive way for us to brag on the great things happening in our district.  Let's see if we can get at least one video (and hopefully more) from each school in the Mount Vernon District.  You can share your classroom story or your school story.  You can do it all by yourself, or you can enlist some colleagues to team with you. These videos will be posted to our Digital Literacy Google+, Twitter and Facebook pages oh and of course on Instagram.  (Have you liked or joined these groups?)

By the way, I recently had to sit through a 13 minute video telling the story of a district in our state.  Great district, but 13 minutes was too long to hold my interest.  You can get a much bigger bang for your buck if you practice your summarizing skills and keep it short and sweet.

Using Instagram in the Classroom
Social Media FOR Schools

When sharing photos or work of students.  Please be sure to check that their parents have not opted out of publishing student work. 
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A Very Smart Sidekick

This year, as I have visited schools, you might have noticed that I have a sidekick with me.  She is no ordinary sidekick, she is a very smart and talented sidekick and I am thrilled to be learning with Dr. Paula Dagnon at my side for the next two quarters.  Paula is a professor of Instructional Technology at Western Washington and she has chosen to work and learn alongside of me for her sabbatical.  This is a great win for the Mount Vernon School District as she has a lot to offer as we move forward with integrating technology in meaningful and transformative ways.   She and I brainstorm, plan and problem solve together.  Actually having my own PLC has been extremely helpful.  Paula digs in and helps in anyway I ask.  Currently, she is working on updating the iPad lessons that are used by specialist in some of our elementary schools.  We are also doing drop in visits at all of the schools and working with the teams of teachers who have received technology through the Early Tech Adopter Team Grants. Paula's is interested in learning all of the struggles and celebrations of teaching with technology in the K-12 environment so that she can better prepare her students at the university level.  So when you see Paula, be sure to give her a warm welcome and perhaps invite her into your classroom to show her how tech is being used in the Mount Vernon School District.  
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Googling my Weekend Away

This weekend I had the opportunity to present at the AppsEvent Seattle Summit Featuring Google For Education.  It was great to learn, be inspired and share with so many educators using Google from around our region and even around the world.  I picked up a few new tips and tricks that I am excited to use and share with others.  It is exciting to see how responsive Google's education team is to teachers and how they continue to tweak and improve products to help teachers and students.

Allison Mollica with AppsEvents shared a newsy presentation about several of the new features in Google Apps for Education.  She is one of my tribe who believes that there is power in sharing so she has given me permission to share her presentation here.

Another common theme throughout was the idea that Google Apps are just tools, what can make them amazing, or not so amazing, is how they are used.  Just by using Google Apps or other tech, does not mean that your students are getting a huge learning impact.  But when tech is used with good pedagogy, amazing learning can happen.

It is important for us to build our tool box of available tools and learn to use these tools well.  It is really fun when we get to the point where we can mash up the tools like a wonderful recipe for learning, using a dash of one tool and a cupful of another tool.  But all of this is even more amazing when we attach this engaging tech to great pedagogy and purpose.  Keep your goals in mind and don't get swept away in a sea of tools and apps.

Here is a link to the three presentations I did.  All three focused on using different types of tools for instruction, assessment and feedback.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Early Tech Adopter Team Grants To Be Reviewed Oct. 1st.

Tech Levy funds were used to place 13 carts of mobile devices for use with grade level (elementary) and content area (secondary) teams throughout the district.  As funds for the three year levy roll out, we will continue to place technology in teams where teachers have shown that they have developed a plan for use, for sharing and for professional development. Several Early Tech Adopter Grants have already been written and are ready for the process to begin.  We will be reading grants for the second distribution round on October 1.  If your team has already completed and turned in your grant, you may want to revisit it before that time to make sure all of the information still applies to your current needs and plans.  If you are thinking about getting a grant ready to be read, this is your heads up that the next reading will be happening in a few weeks.  
To find out more about the reasoning behind the grant process, and to access the grant, Please click on this link.   Pin It Now!

Friday, September 4, 2015

9-4-15 Fresh Start and New Ways to Learn

We are off to a great start in the Mount Vernon School District.  Students are excited, and teachers are ready and set for a super year.  That is one thing I love about teaching.  Every year, we get to start fresh.  We've reflect on what worked, we challenge ourselves to try new things and we dive in to another year of learning.  As you can see in the Doc below, we've created lots of ways for you to stay in the know about all things Digital Literacy in the district.  I certainly don't expect you to frequent all of these avenues, but hopefully, you will pick an avenue that fits into your style and be able to keep up to date and perhaps even share cool things that are happening in your classroom with others.


To get us rolling, I am going to offer a series of challenges each week.  Those who participate, will be entered into a drawing for a small, but exciting prize.

This week's challenge is to Like our Facebook Page.  Now if you have chosen not to be on Facebook, I will tell you that the chance of the small, but exciting prize will not be worth your effort.  Just wait until the next week and maybe you will find something more up your alley.  But, if you are someone who regularly checks Facebook, "liking" our page might prove to be the best way for you to receive tips and useful tools, Instagram photos from around the district and links to blogs written by other teachers in our district.

Just click this link and hit like and you are connected!

Like Mount Vernon Schools Digital Literacy on Facebook. 

For those 74 of you who have already liked the page, you are in the drawing as well.  :)

Here are some other ways to get connected.

Ready for more tech in your classroom?  Get your grade level or content team together and check out the MVSD Early Tech Adopter Team Grants.
Itching to learn new things?  Of course you are!  Check out the MVSD Digital Literacy Workshop Cloud Academy.  Set your own pace, try out new things and reflect on learning.  Earn clock hours in the process.
Mount Vernon Digital Literacy Facebook Page:  Join to get updates, resources and celebrations of all the great things happening in our district.
Follow @MVDigital on Twitter:  Pretty much the same info, but for the Twitter crowd.
If you are interested in Pinteresting, check out the things I am pinning on Pinterest.
Join our community on Google+ to get updates, news, ask questions and share learning celebrations.  
You must be logged in to Google+ in  Search for MVSD Digital Literacy Professional Development or try this link.
Not into Twitter and Facebook  (for work) quite yet?  Check out my blog, Opening Doors to Digital Learning or our new Digital Literacy Workshop blog which will (hopefully) have contributions from teachers learning and doing cool stuff with tech throughout the district.
Digital Literacy Workshop Blog
Opening Doors to Digital Learning:
Check out Mount Vernon Digital on Instagram.  My goal is as I am moving throughout the district to snap some of the cool and interesting things I see happening in teaching and digital literacy throughout the district.
If you are on Instagram, you can join in the fun by snapping photos and videos that show the spirit of learning in our district share with the hashtag #mvsddigital,  (Please be mindful when publishing photos of students that they have not opted out of being published.  Don’t caption pictures or videos with student names.  Just share what is happening. )

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

DLW Cloud Academy 2015-16 Digital Citizenship

I've completed another lesson for our cloud academy. Hoping to have several more courses done by the end of the summer. Everyone is welcome to review the resources. MVSD teachers can register, participate in the activities, take a quiz and earn clock hours. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Transforming Teaching with Technology (a preview)

I'm using my summer to create, explore and learn new things.  One thing that I am working on is a series of online courses for our teachers for the next school year.  This course is designed to provide some foundational understanding of the why behind tech in teaching and learning.  I am also participating in the Thinglink Teacher Challenge, so I chose to create my introduction to the course using Thinglink.  This is a bit of a mashup.  I used Canva as my main canvas for creating my infographic.  As I started working, I realised that I couldn't find the copyright friendly images I needed, so I created my own using Google Drawings.
 (Note to readers, if you create something that you don't plan on using to make money, consider using a Creative Commons license so that other teachers may use, with attribution, to build other great tools that they too, can share.)
 When I started looking for short and sweet introductory videos to link to my image, I found some really nice explanations that teachers had created (and shared) using Powtoon.  I will be creating another class on creating a Tech Tool Box. It's great to have tools like Thinglink, Canva, Google Draw and Powtoon in my Tool Box.

So here is a preview of one of my upcoming classes.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thinglink Teacher Challenge 2015: Design Your Digital Self

Doing a little rearranging and always a lot of learning during the summer.  I have plans for a new blog, but I am hoping to post on this blog as well as it will have a different audience.

I love the tool Thinglink, and so I decided to participate in the Teacher Challenge this year.  The first assignment is to create an avatar, upload it to Thinglink and then create active links.

This would be a fun idea for students at the beginning of the year.  An updated all about me.  It is also a great opportunity to teach students about digital citizenship and creating a safe and positive digital footprint.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

10--27-14 EdCamp Mount Vernon, Maiden Voyage

We did it!  EdCampMount Vernon is in the books!

 Music created by our EdCamp Sponsor Flocabulary

I thought about the line from Field of Dreams, "If we build it, they will come."  In the case of EdCamp, the line could be "If they come, it will be built".  Since its inception back in the Spring we have worked hard to learn all that we could about the EdCamp model and encourage teachers who have not experienced this model to give it a try. Our biggest concern and work had to do with convincing people to come, not with the organization of the event itself.

So, after many sleepless nights and doubts that anyone would actually come on Saturday to try a "new" type of PD,  I was excited to see the brave and innovative teachers come through the doors of Mount Vernon High School ready and willing to try something new.  And boy did these teachers step up to the plate and make this a great day of learning, sharing and collaboration!

During the kick off to the event, I asked teachers to share what they wanted to learn during the day.  Teachers immediately started sharing ideas:  writing strategies, global collaboration, hi cap strategies, making coding real, photo sharing, writing strategies, coaching strategies and even ROBOTS!  Before the kick off, I had the opportunity to visit with many of the participants, and as the teachers started sharing what they wanted to learn, I felt like a matchmaker, getting excited about the connections I knew would happen that day.  I got even giddier when I asked the next question.  "What would you be willing to share?"  Hands popped up right away. Lots of great ideas and topics, many fitting right in with the learning that people had shared earlier.  How exciting!

Next, I showed everyone an empty schedule board with spots for 20 sessions throughout the day.  Immediately, teachers went to work adding sessions to the board.  In no time, the board was complete and we were ready to roll.

The rest of the day was filled with great connections, and sharing resources.  We shared our learning on a collaborative Google Doc.  Check out all the sessions and the notes here.  There were sessions on coaching, Special Ed, getting students moving during class, video editing, digital story telling, ROBOTS,  coding, physical computing, the writing process, and more.  With teachers from 7 districts coming from as far away as Olympia there were many great connections made.

By the end of the day, everyone was asking when the next EdCamp Mount Vernon would be.  As we reflected on the day, we all were mulling over the possibilities for using this model in other ways including Staff meetings, district PD, even in our own classrooms. The folks who had joined us from Lake Stevens left ready to put a date on the calendar in February to host their own event and invite all of us.

I think that the model worked so well, because everyone who was at the event wanted to be there and came ready to learn and share.  How very exciting.

Even though I had hoped that hundreds would show up and remain a little disappointed that more teachers from the Mount Vernon School District didn't participate, The number of people who did attend seemed to be the perfect amount for a group of newbies trying out a new and different idea.  I know that after the teachers who participated today return and share with others about EdCamp, we will have many more in attendance the next time and even more learning and sharing.

I am so thankful for all the help from our EdCamp Mount Vernon Team made up of our Digital Literacy Coaches, our Teaching and Learning Team and our Tech Department.  Their hard work and support made this day possible.

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities:

November 15, Seattle Pacific University

E-ARTC Technology and Diversity Speaker Event October 29 WWU and NCTA (Mount Vernon)

Digital Literacy Workshop Calendar: Multiple events throughout the year.  Hangouts on Air open to all who want to join or watch the archives

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

E-ARTC Technology and Diversity Speaker Event

·         To RSVP (and provide us with an estimated # of attendees), click this link ASAP to Google forms and  indicate all sessions you plan to attend
Top of Form
·         For Driving Directions, as needed:
o    (a.m.) To WWU and Parking Office, in Bellingham
o    (p.m.) To NCTA in Mt. Vernon – driving directions are on the attached NCTA Parking Permit Doc
·         For Free Parking:
§  (a.m.) at WWU - drive to the Parking Office and ask for a free permit for this event
§  (p.m.) at NCTA – click on the attached ‘NCTA Parking Permit’ doc to print a free pass for your car
·         For Clock Hours (thanks to SETC), you must attend a minimum of 3 hrs. Go to  to create an account/register for clock hour session #108031. Open the 2 attached Clock Hour form docs for more details

·         For Questions, contact
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