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.

Friday, September 12, 2014

09-12-14 My One Word: SHARE

Invest in Sharing from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 Jonathan McIntosh, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio
Several of my friends in my PLN (Professional Learning Network) have challenged me to identify one focus word for the year.  My word is SHARE.  For those of you who know me, you will not be surprised by my choice.  The message of the power of sharing is something I SHARE often.  Here are a few of the ways I see that playing out in my position as a Digital Literacy Specialist this year.





I realize that we all have different workflows and avenues for getting information and learning new things.  So one of my goals is to do my best to SHARE where my teachers are.

Online this means, sharing on my blog, on Facebook, in e-mail, on my website, in webinars, on Pinterest in Google Docs and wherever else I find our teachers accessing information.

I also want to take every opportunity I can to be in schools, in classrooms, in PLCs and other conversations.

That is how I plan to share, but another part of this goal word for me is to encourage our teachers to participate in the power of sharing.  We have amazing teachers doing amazing things in their classrooms, trying and learning new things and even sometimes making mistakes that are very much worth sharing so that the rest of us don't end up taking that same path.  I do not believe that our teachers are stingy and don't want to share.  But I do believe that many lack the confidence to share or the belief that they have something worth sharing with others.  One of my goals this year is to be a cheerleader for these teachers to help them see that they have great things to share and that sharing can be a powerful force in improving learning.

I mentioned my PLN earlier.  I have cultivated this amazing PLN from educators from around the world who freely share and collaborate with others in a variety of ways in variety of places around the web.  I always know that I can go to my PLN to ask questions, get ideas and learn new things.  I have to admit though, that I feel like I am much more a consumer of this amazing knowledge and content than a producer.  This year I also want to make a concerted effort to share my ideas and the resources I create with others.

So here goes to a great year of sharing, learning from sharers, encouraging others to share and creating things to share.

Speaking of people who do an amazing job of sharing with others.  Susan Oxnevad of the Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners is always creating and sharing great things. (One of my heroes)  In my effort to share in the "places" our teachers are hanging out, I decided to set up a Pinterest account just for sharing Digital Literacy ideas and resources with our teachers.  As I was cruising around Pinterest looking for things to pin, I kept finding these amazing ThingLink creations where teachers had used this tool to create differentiated lessons and tutorials on a variety of subjects.  This had the fingerprint of Susan Oxnevad all over it.  These creations were made through the Thinglink Teacher Challenge that Susan facilitated this summer.  The challenge is now over, but the lessons and the creations remain.  Here is an example of a differentiated lesson created with Thinglink from Cindy Darden. .




Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities



Registration is now open! 

October 25, 21014
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Mount Vernon High School
Find out more here... 



Next Google Hangout: Google Forms : 9/22/14


Going Google (Secondary): 10/10/14


EdCamp Mount Vernon : 10/25/14



Digital Literacy Calendar Pin It Now!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

09-09-14 New Year's Resolutions


New Year's Resolutions

 from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 uhhhhlaine, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

Happy New Year!  Coming from a family of teachers, the beginning of a school year has always been a more significant start to a new year than the traditional celebration on January 1st.  As teachers and students we are blessed with the opportunity to make a fresh start every year.  Sometimes that means a change in position and other times, it is just a resolve to improve yourself by trying or learning something new or different.  And just like the traditional New Years Resolutions, we often start off strong and then at some point, resolve to try again next year when we didn't quite make the changes or progress or go in the direction that we had planned.  Last year at this time, I resolved to return to my weekly blog. Well, if you scroll down this blog very far at all, you will see that I was not very successful with that goal.  Life got in the way, I got spread too thin, etc.   But with a summer to reflect, plan and regroup, I am ready to give it another go.  My main reason for giving it another try is that my plan this year is to really focus on Google Apps for Education in the classes I offer . I  want to build a culture of collaboration with these tools and to do this, we all need to be able to "speak Google". In doing this, I feel like I am stepping back a few steps to make sure that everyone is on board.  I see this blog as a place where I can go beyond the basics and share not only with those just getting on the bus, but with everyone on the journey of learning how to better create, connect, collaborate and engage through the use of technology.  I plan for this to be a window to all the great ideas and teaching happening in our district,  A place to share news and about upcoming events and also a place to share about ideas, tools and resources, (not necessarily Google apps related) that can be helpful in your teaching and learning. Right now, my list of things I want to share is overwhelmingly large.  So many cool things I have been learning about that I want to share.  But I am going to do my best to serve it out in bite sized pieces.   The great thing about a blog is that if you can't read it until Winter Break, it will still be there waiting for you. I do encourage you to try to at least skim this each week to make sure you are getting the news of upcoming events etc.  There is a lot of great stuff going on this year.  You will want to be in the know.


Going Google:

 
In case you missed it, here is the archive of our Digital Literacy Workshop Hangout on Google Drive.
Remember to register to attend one of our two Sandbox Sessions coming up next week to explore all the possibilities of drive further.


9/15/2014
3:00:00 pm - 4:00 pm
MVHS
1415.0908+
9/18/2014
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
District Office Tech Lab
1415.0908+


Resources:

GoNoodle:
Check out GoNoodle for "brain breaks" for your students. (And you too.) Sometimes taking 2 minutes to move or breathe can make a world of difference in the rest of the lesson. This is free and especially elementary students love this. Might be a little bit more difficult to convince a middle schooler that this cool, but it is certainly worth a try. (Nikki Klinger, you are going to love this.) 





ThingLink:  

  Check out Susan Oxnevad's wonderful ideas on how to do amazing things with this tool.




Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities




October 25, 21014
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Mount Vernon High School
Find out more here... 





Next Google Hangout: Google Forms : 9/22/14


Going Google (Secondary): 10/10/14


EdCamp Mount Vernon : 10/25/14



Digital Literacy Calendar Pin It Now!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

09-04-14 Speaking Google



Speaking Google

Einstein Google Logo At Google Kirkland from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 Danny Sullivan, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio


This year, I am challenging myself to narrow my focus, dig deeper and share more.  The narrowing the focus is really difficult to me because the possibilities are endless. And I get really excited and want to share everything I am learning. But instead of just throwing new stuff at you all year, I want to work to develop a common culture of collaboration.  I want us to all be able to speak the same language and take advantage of the unique and impressive amount of knowledge we have to share with each other.

To this end, I am focusing on helping us to all "speak" Google Apps for Education this year.  One way that I plan to support teachers in learning these tools is to do a little bit of flipped instruction.  We will start with an online Google Hangout on one of the Google Apps.  After attending the webinar(Hangout) or watching an archived version, you will have the opportunity to join me in a lab after school to explore the app further, get questions answered and begin creating tools for your classroom.  I am calling this part the "sandbox".  You will be extending your learning by exploration and practice with other teachers during this session.  I am excited to see how teachers will use this time to play with their newly learned skills.  Our first Digital Literacy Hangout will be held live at this link on Monday, September 8 at 4pm.  This session will be an introduction to Google Drive.  In order to join the webinar, click on this link now, and say "yes" you will attend.  You will then receive an email reminder with the link before the event.  If you can't attend the webinar at that time, you will be able to watch the archive on YouTube.  To follow up, there will be two sandbox sessions.  One to meet the elementary schedule and one to meet the secondary schedule.  You are welcome to attend whichever makes most sense to your schedule.

Digital Literacy Workshop Hangout: Getting Around in Google Drive Monday, Sept. 8, 4:00 pm - 4:30pm

Register to attend a Sandbox Session: 

9/15/2014 Digital Literacy Sandbox Google Drive 3:00:00 pm - 4:00 pm MVHS (For secondary schedules.) 

9/18/2014 Digital Literacy Sandbox Google Drive 4:00 pm  - 5:00 pm District Office Tech Lab (For elementary schedules)

For more information about Digital Literacy Workshops and other opportunities.  Check out the schedule for the year here.




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Save The Date! EdCamp Mount Vernon is Coming

EdCamp Mount Vernon

We are super excited to bring an EdCamp to Mount Vernon, Washington.  This un-Conference model puts the teachers in charge of their own professional development. Your Digital Literacy Coaches are hard at work making preparations for this un-Conference.  What we aren't doing is planning the presentations and the agenda. This is up to you, the attendees.  You get to decide what you want to learn and what you want to share on this day.  How empowering! In the following weeks, I will be sharing lots of information about the EdCamp model and what you can do to make the most of this day of learning.  But for now, just a quick taste and an urging for you to put this date on your calendar and plan to attend.

Saturday, October 25 9am - 4pm
Mount Vernon High School. 
Learning will be free! 
Great prizes! 

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Hour of Code is Coming!



Next week is Computer Science Education Week.  This is a way to bring to light the careers and opportunities available to students who gain a Computer Science Education.  The emphasis will be on coding.

I have said many times to teachers that as the technology gets more complicated, it actually gets easier for the consumer.  Even our most technophobic teachers, can order something on Amazon, play Candy Crush on their phone and get cash from an ATM.  So with the growing ease of use, comes the growing number of consumers and the growing number of jobs for those with Computer Science skills.

Teaching code to kids is a great way to have kids problem solve, think logically, and collaborate.  Kids (and adults) of all ages can learn how to code.  And coding can be fun.  We even have a few coding apps on the iPads for Kindergarteners to get started learning the process at there level.  And one of the coolest things about teaching kids to code is that in most cases, it is self directed and self motivated.  All you have to do is provide the right opportunities and point the students in the right direction and they're off on their own, testing ideas, trying to solve their own problems etc.

Greg Doud, at LaVenture has been running a Coding Club for kids after school.  He is really excited to see how the kids have run wiith this activity and continue to push themselves to learn more.  I have added coding activities and sites on our Elementary Tech Lab resources page so that students in our labs and at home can explore and learn coding.

I encourage you to share the Hour of Code resources with your students and perhaps even plan to do an Hour of Code with your students during the week.  (or in the future.)

Here are a few resources to get you started.


Computer Science Education Week
Coding for Kids
TED : Let's Teach Kids to Code
7 Apps for Teaching Coding to Children Pin It Now!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Celebrate Learning and Win!

In September, I won a Keurig Brewing System at a conference.  I wondered what this non-coffee drinker should do with this device that so many coffee drinkers covet.  I could make tea and hot chocolate I suppose, but I decided it would be fun to offer this device as a prize for a drawing in  hopes to get teachers using a little technology and sharing the amazing things that they are doing in their classrooms.

So today I introduced the contest.  Teachers are asked to share learning happening in their classroom by creating a slide for a collaborative presentation.

So far, three teachers have shared.  I am excited to watch this presentation grow.


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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Getting Connected with the Global Read Aloud

Photo by Lyndsay Craven
Several teachers in our district joined over 100,000 teachers and students across the globe this week in an exciting global connections event.  Teachers and students are connecting with other students via Skype, Edmodo, Kidblog, Twitter and more to share their ideas and impressions about common books they are reading in their classrooms.  This project is the brain child of Pernille Ripp an elementary teacher in Wisconsin, originally from Denmark.  She started this project with her students in 2010.  they chose one book and she connected with her Professional Learning Network on Twitter and asked others to join in.  The response was great and the students were able to connect with students all over the world reading the same book at the same time.  Each year, the project has grown.  Last year, they had over 30,000 students participate.  And this year, the number is well over 100, 000 students from all over the globe.  Books and authors at different reading and interest levels have been chosen to expand the project.  There are even groups participating in the project in Spanish and French.  This year students will participate in a variety of global collaborative activities, over the next 6 weeks while reading either, Eric Carle books, Marty McGuire by Kate Messner , Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper and Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach.

I am really excited about this opportunity for many of our teachers to take their first dip into this type of global collaboration with their students.  Lisa Condran, Library Media Specialist at Lincoln Elementary is quite tech savvy, but she has taken on the new challenge for her of connecting about half of the teachers in the school with different classrooms around the world  using a variety of collaborative tools and reading a variety of books.  The classroom teachers will read the books in class and Lisa and Tech Instructional Assistant Mark Johnson will make the connections with tech in both the library and the lab.  Students will be connecting with students across the country in Canada and even as far away as Indonesia.  Deena Franklin, 3rd grade teacher extraordinaire at Jefferson, is doing what great teachers do.  She is modeling new learning to her students and continuing to challenge herself and grow as a teacher.  Tech is a scary word for her, but she is facing her fears head on with support from her peers.  Her students will be connecting with a class in Wisconsin via Edmodo and sharing with tools such as Padlet.  As the project continues, I hope to be able to share how this project is impacting our students across the district as they join together and learn from students and teachers around the world.

For more information about this project and to follow along visit the Global Read Aloud Project.
To explore some of the tools that teachers will use to connect and share visit these sites.
Edmodo.com (MountVernon.Edmodo.com within our district)
Kidblog.org,
Skype in the Classroom
Twitter for Educators Pin It Now!

Digital Literacy Workshop Webinars

We are starting to get into the groove with our weekly Digital Literacy Workshop webinars.  They have been described as short and sweet.  The hope is that 20 minutes on one topic is doable and not so daunting with our busy schedules on a Monday afternoon.  So far, the topics have all focused on our new adoption of Google Apps for Education.  As our year progresses, we will explore other topics as well.  We've landed on 4 pm as the weekly time for these "Short and Sweet" webinars, because this is the first time in the school day when all teachers are out of school.  It is not ideal for those teachers who have been out since 2:30, but it seems the best option.  The good thing about a webinar, is that those teachers with an earlier ending time can access the webinars from a coffee shop or a comfy couch at home.  The webinars are also being recorded and archived so teachers can access at a time convenient for them.

Here is a link to the archives.

And here is the latest video where we familiarize ourselves with Google Docs.



As I reflect on my own learning process through this, I am finding that doing a 20 minute webinar on my own feels like a whirlwind.  So many things to keep up with and remember at the same time.  And Google Apps for Education is a topic that I am pretty excited about, so keeping it short and sweet and not expanding on ideas is difficult for me, but I am learning.  For each webinar, I share a Google Doc with Collaborative notes.  I put all the links and resources, suggestions etc.  In there.  If others in the webinar have ideas or resources to share, they can share those as well.  I also share the Google Presentation with the group so that they can explore later.  After the presentation, I put  the recording and resources on an archive page so that people can revisit.  I think that it is a good system.  I do wish that I had someone monitoring the chat window for me.  So much to think about and it goes so fast.

One exciting thing that has happened so far is that I have actually had other teachers who are interested in being a guest presenter for a webinar and sharing what they are doing in their class.  This makes me very happy.


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Friday, September 13, 2013

Teaching and Learning with Technology: Blended Learning Group

Teaching and Learning with Technology: Blended Learning Group

I am excited about the opportunity to work with a small group of Mount Vernon teachers throughout the year in a blended learning model.  Teachers involved in this project will meet a 3 times during the year in a group and then will participate in online discussions,webinars and projects as they practice what they are learning in the classroom.  I will also be visiting with these teachers in their classrooms and modeling lessons. This class will be designed to meet the needs and goals of the teachers who are participating.  

If you are a Mount Vernon Schools teacher interested in being considered for this group.  Please complete this form.  If there is more interest than space available, you may be placed on a waiting list with priority for the next school year.

Applications will be open until September 20.  I will review the responses and send out invitations and waiting list notices on Sept. 23.

Limit: 10 teachers ( preference to a variety of grade levels and content areas)

Kick Off Session: October 10, 4pm-5pm
This will be an overview session where we will begin to develop a plan for the year, learn how to use the tools we will use to communicate, share and collaborate and explore ideas we would like to focus on this year.   (1 clock hour)

Group Session: October 16, 4pm - 6pm
In this session we will come prepared to share our goals and project ideas.  We will spend the session building out these plans and gathering the resources and knowledge needed to get started. (2 clock hours)

Final Group Session: May 1, 4pm - 6pm
In this session, we will celebrate our progress by sharing student work, products and accomplishments.  And plan next steps. (2 clock hours)

Webinars: Throughout the year, there will be opportunities to participate in webinars that will help you in your process.  You will be able to select from a menu which webinars would best meet your goals and interests.  (A short written reflection will be required to receive clock hours.)

Edmodo Group: The Edmodo group will be a place for communication, sharing ideas and questions and examples of student (or teacher) work.  Each week we will have a prompt to help keep the conversation and learning going. ( Weekly participation will be worth 5 clock hours)

Classroom Visits: During the year, I will schedule times to meet with you individually in your classroom and also plan times to come in and work with students.  

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Look for the helpers."


"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."








I have had the blessing in my life to live and travel all over the world.  Because of this,  I have had the opportunity to witness good people doing good things all over the world.  Contrary to what you may see on the evening news, there is no shortage of this.  And this type of “helping” behavior doesn’t stem from what nation we are from, what our skin color is, or whether we are rich or poor.  Parents love their children, teachers devote themselves to their students, strangers come to the aid of strangers in need, neighbors look out for each other, children are curious and eager to learn, and many people share more of themselves than it seems like they possibly could.  There is also evil in the world, and this also, does not stem from nationality, skin color, or wealth or lack there of.   I believe the good far outweighs the bad.  
by Brittney Le Blanc


They say that living abroad changes your personality.  I know it changes perspective.  Anytime we have the opportunity to learn more about each other, the more opportunities we have to discover the amazing good all around us.  The more we know about each other, the more we are likely to love more and hate less.  

As a teacher, I want to make every effort to make sure that our students have opportunities to get to know a lot of good people and see people doing good things not just in our own community, but all over the world.  I’ve often said that my ideal classroom would be a school bus, but even better would be a jet, or a ship.  Since that isn’t likely to happen,  I can help kids to explore beyond our classroom by connecting via, blogs, Skyping, epals, etc.  I want my students to learn to recognize and appreciate, in fact, celebrate both our sameness and our uniqueness.  I want them to learn ways to love more and hate less.
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