In the end…


Incorporating more technology into my ELL classroom has allowed for students to express their understanding in a variety of ways. Students have been able to show their reading comprehension through writing, summarizing and synthesizing information in blog posts but have also done this through videos. Using multimedia methods has drawn out different strengths in students that may not have been visible using some other methods.

It has also led to increased engagement. Although student success at reaching learning targets is different, and even if students are more engaged with the features rather than fully focused on the content, they are still learning tools that can help their voice be heard. I just need to find ways to draw out their voice in meaningful tasks.

It can often be difficult for ELL student voices to be heard, but by incorporating different media tools students have different ways to express themselves. This expression goes beyond simply the words they type or the content of their videos but how they design their web pages, the books they chose, the video themes they enjoy, all of these things tell us something about our students that we can’t get from simple pen and paper writing.

Students seemed to understand privacy and pick it up much faster than I thought. We had discussions on digital citizenship and it made sense to them. We will have to continue these conversations when we start commenting. I also like the idea of adding a student pledge that they sign about committing to being a good digital citizen.

Access to these programs can also be limiting. I tried to pick programs students can access at home via the Internet or school based sites, but in addition to limitations at home there are also limitations at school. Some of these tools take a while to get these processes in place. I had to work through other groups of people, meet based on their schedule, got miss information, may have had to contact outside parties and then found something that worked. Once we got started the process has been much faster. In my ELL class I am lucky enough to have a set of computers that only we use. However, we get to use them because they are an older version of computers that the district won’t fix. We basically have them until they break and many of them are in really bad condition, don’t get consistent updates and thus sometimes we still don’t have quality access. With wevideos we were able to start right away but the creation process has been slower.

Here are some of my students videos:

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.13.13 PM

Did I Mention I Love You

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.14.01 PM

Dogs of War

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.13.31 PM

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.14.14 PM

Many students were self led, 3 students needed little guidance once given the sites and project criteria. One of these students has already asked if she can continue using the blog on her own over the summer. I was thrilled to know that this tool is something the student sees as valuable to her own experience and not just with the purpose of being for a teacher or only for school.

The other students needed help in different aspects; particularly two students needed just help using and navigating the tools smoothly but needed less scaffolding with the content goals. The last 2 students in class needed help with both. It is time consuming to use the tools, buttons and features, some of my less motivated students get more distracted by the features instead of actually creating the actual content. However, they already do limited work already. I would like to improve, in the future, my scaffolding techniques to utilize the skills of the students who needed little guidance and best support the students who were struggling.

An unanticipated result of this has been students feeling confident to explore more tools on their own. One of my students shared with me a site she found called pic monkey where you can digitally edit pictures. She said she found it playing around at home and thought to share it with me. Again, this was encouraging to see students doing positive things with tech, exploring cool sites to create original work. It would be interesting next year to have students teach each other about different sites and how they can be useful in their classrooms (kinda like a student version of speed geeking). This could be especially helpful in an ELL classroom because they students can then use and apply the strategies that they connect with.

Overall I look forward to continuing my work with technology in my classrooms and am excited about how I will be intertwining it into my curriculum and teaching. I’ve already been using wevideo to make “sub day” directions for students when I’m gone and hope to also think more deeply about how I can use technology to increase student creativity and access to scientific and engineering thinking.


Telescopes, Rockets and More

Welcome to my final reflection! I really enjoyed using sway and was able to find some fun science analogies to connect with my reflections from this quarter.  These include connections to telescopes, evolution, rocket girls, and more.  I also ended up included two connections to digital citizenship and equality that weren’t talked about in class but I had made connections with as a result of class. I find these connection fascinating and important, so if the rest of my reflection is uninteresting, I recommend others read at least the last two parts about the Congo and Women in Science.

Anyways here is my Sway final reflection:

Blogging with Weebly

I finally got to blog with my students and they are off to a great start! In fact, we had 2 hour block periods this week as we finished up state testing and they worked on their blogs for almost 2 hours straight.  I offered breaks, I opened it up to them to work on other classwork, but the majority of them just worked straight through; talk about engagement!

The last time we tried blogging we found out that blogger was not a district approved google app and I was going to have to use school wires.  School wires is a program provided to teachers for us to use to set up our classroom websites.  It is fairly useful for it’s purpose but when it comes to blogging with students it would have been complicated.  Therefore I went searching for other approved sites and luckily I stumbled upon Weebly.  I don’t think I would have recognized it as a blogging site if it hadn’t of been for my inquiry research a few weeks ago.

Webbly has turned out to be an easy to use site, with engaging features, quality pictures and is easy to navigate.  Here are a few screen shots of my students pages thus far:

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 9.48.03 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-28 at 9.48.18 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-28 at 9.48.40 AM

You can see in the last two images pictures of the book trailers they made.  All three students featured here have finished their book trailers and written a caption summarizing what their book is about. Together, both the summary and the book trailer give me a much more in-depth look at their comprehension of the book they have been reading.  For example, these three students, all whose first language isn’t english, fully comprehended their books.  However, the first student read a book that was a few levels below grade level, the middle student used the book summary from the cover instead of her own and the last student summarized a grade level book in English.  Thus, differentiation strategies have been used to help students express their ideas at a level that is both accessible and challenging for them.

Here is a link to my class page that links to all of the student sites.  Each site is password protected so e-mail me if you would like access to them.  Currently the videos can only be viewed by people who have an account (we did this using privacy settings on youtube). In my final post I will share some of the videos since they will have to be shared differently than on the site.

Differentiation 2

Talk about differentiation has increased over the past several months within my school district as a result of some curriculum and program decisions that were up for a school board vote. Most of the discussion surrounded whether or not teachers can differentiate.  Many parents seemed to have the preconception that differentiation was so difficult, that it was nearly impossible, and to ask teachers to do it is unfair.  Several teachers, supporting the same program decision as the parents feed into this and often discussed how difficult differentiation is.

As a result of my inquiry project in addition to this debate within my district I thought I would blog about a few more thoughts, background information, etc. about differentiation before our presentation.  If anything, this blog is just for me, a place to write out some of my own thoughts and process what has been going on in my district.

First, to summarize differentiation I will quote a paper I wrote in 501 when I started the masters program. This paper consisted of a literature review and a proposal to complete some data collection through survey methods to see what teachers thought about differentiation and how prepared they thought they were to do it. Here is the quote:

“Differentiation is a pedagogical approach rooted in the understanding that students come to school with different levels of readiness, different interests and differences in learning profiles (Tomlinson, Brighton, Herterg, Callahan, Moon, Brimijoin, Conover, & Reynolds, 2006).”

To me this quote shows, that differentiation is necessary. It should be common sense to teachers that students come with different interests, readiness levels and learning preferences.  The difficult part comes with practically applying these ideas to classrooms of 25+ students and, for middle school, 150+ students a day.  Hopefully the tools we present in class will help give some ideas for how to make this more accessible to teachers.

Our tools we are presenting include:

Kaizena – feedback tool

Popplet – concept mapping tool

Thing Link – info graphic site

Tackk – portfolio building site

Zaption – video led discussions

Schoolology – online classrooms

Diigo – resource organizer

Tagboard – social collaboration site

From my experience, as I’ve looked through these with my group I have seen some tools that will be great for allowing student interests to be expressed and some that will allow for varied tiered supports for students. I hope that through sharing these tools we can inspire lots of other thoughts and ways to use these tools to help teachers think of ways to meet the needs of their diverse student populations.

The best laid plans…

Good News: I tried blogging today.

Bad News: It didn’t work.

Good News: Blogging didn’t work because the program was not accessible to my students. However, I e-mailed the tech people I was working with and they said by tomorrow it should be approved for all use 6-12 or at least approve for my students. This means we will try again Wednesday.

Current Situation:

As a result my students continued working on their book trailers and they are turning out really well. Some students are summarizing longer novels they have read and some have chosen to summarize children’s books, depending on their confidence level with making videos and with English language. Once some of these videos are finalized I will share some of the videos as they seem to be the majority of my service-learning project instead of blogging at this point.

In addition to starting the blogs I am also thinking about how I want to teach students in relation to commenting on blogs. On one of our class sites I remember a teacher sharing some of these sentence starters. I can’t remember whose site I found these ideas on so hopefully you comment and I’ll give you credit.

Example Sentence Starters

“Comments based on these kinds of statements make blog conversations interactive and engaging.”

  • This reminds me of…
  • This is similar to…
  • I wonder…
  • I realized…
  • I noticed…
  • I liked that you mentioned…
  • I am interested to know more about…
  • You can relate this to…
  • I’d like to know…
  • I’m surprised that…
  • If I were ________, I would ______________
  • If __________ then ___________
  • Although it seems…
  • I’m not sure that…

My ELL students really thrive when given sentence starters. They use them repeatedly and share more in depth thinking when they are provided versus when they are not. Thus, sentence starters are an essential tool for my students as they are commenting. What I also like about these starters is it gives some variety to the comments so that students can think about what they want to say, and how they want to say it, from many different perspectives.


I’m also working on a brief list of reminders for students to do when leaving comments. I might make these sentence starters and list into a rubric for students to use when writing and reviewing the comments they are making.

Be polite and kind – leave comments that build on ideas, not break each other down.

Be thoughtful – think about your comments, proofread them and include details.

Be safe – use your fake name, don’t use the name of our school, report any strange behavior.

Hopefully, we will get to use all of these before this quarter is over and before the school year ends.

Thoughts on the 9 P’s

The 9 P’s of what students should know brought up some interesting ideas I hadn’t thought about needing to know within an educational setting. I think mainly because I’ve never been trained, taught, or made the time to look into some of these things, they never jumped out as essentials for students to know. Below are some of my thoughts on a few of the essential P’s.

Licenses for your own work

  • Honestly, these seem like a lot of work but I found this site that might be helpful in looking into licensing work. I could see this being particularly important in art and digital design classes. As of right now I don’t see myself needing this in my science classes but if I wanted to learn more I think I would start by talking to my Art and CTE teachers as well as the librarian at my school to see what paths they take in their classes.

Permission to use work

  • What does this look like for student projects? What if it is a one time educational use?
    • Some permissions you have to pay for thus, what can be expected for students to look into
  • I know music department and drama department need to get permission to use certain pieces and plays so they may be good resources to talk to and collaborate with at school
  • You can teach students the four points of fair use (only in certain situations: schoolwork and education, new reporting, criticizing or commenting, comedy or parody)
    • Use a small amount
    • Add new meaning to make it original
    • Use for nonprofit purpose
    • Rework and use in a different way

In addition to these P’ I also liked the idea that to teach students about these ideas a teacher could design lessons to have students teach each other, setting up lessons where students present on how to protect yourself. This idea tied in really well with Bedell’s article which stated that “ we need to help young people see themselves as creative, collaborative, self-organizing problem solvers”. Giving students a voice and recognition as problem solvers can take the pressure off the teacher to solve all the problems and know all the answers.

Getting Ready to Blog

I met last week with one of our tech guys to discuss setting up blogs in my classroom and we should get to start working on them next week, most likely Monday. This process seems to have taken a while, we have state testing this week, which has shifted our schedule, and various tech people have been out of town so my students have worked on creating book trailers and podcasts through wevideo or quick time. These projects have been going really well and I look forward to sharing a few as they finish this week, perfect timing for setting up our blogs.

Summary of tech meeting – blogger is going to be really easy to use!

Set up: Since our students have Google accounts already we can set up the blogger sites through their school accounts. Students will have the option to make multiple pages so they can post about their book readings and then possibly in the future have other blog posts related to their interests.

Privacy: I don’t need to seek any additional privacy permissions from students. Blogger is included in our districts approved tech so parents have already given their approval for its use. I will need to go over with students how to keep their information private, how to chose a name for their blog and will most likely have students pick pseudo names for their blogs.

Monitoring: I also learned that through Hapara I can view and monitor students blog posts and comments. Hapara is a site where I can see student folders, documents, sites they are logged onto, and blog information. This is incredibly helpful because this allows me to make to easily read, grade and approve comments to make sure students are participating and participating respectfully.

Other: Blogger will also be easy for students to upload videos, pictures and more into their sites so integrating their book trailers or podcasts should be fairly simple.

Overall, I’m hoping that students will get to have a least a few blog posts before this quarter ends, though I will continue the project through the end of the students school year. I’m excited, they seem engaged and motivated to explore tech which makes things flow a lot easier.

Differentiation 1

silly differentiation memeStarting this research I am pleased to be working with ideas surrounding differentiation. (Picture source:  One of my first papers in the UW program was mostly composed of a literary analysis of research in differentiation. Currently, there is some debate in my district that differentiation is too difficult for teachers, and this argument is being used to support the idea of tracking students into separate (perceived) ability groups.  Personally, and from the research I’ve reviewed, I think differentiation is something most teachers already do , it’s accessible, and there is always so much more we can do. Thus, I’m glad to be working on looking for more tools to help differentiate.  These tools will be able to help teachers who desire differentiation but view it as a less feasible option

To start with I’ve started using the class resources list to compile some preliminary information about differentiation for our group inquiry project.  One of the sources discussed differentiation and how it is based on lesson structure or student voice.  Two tools I looked at related to student readiness (within the student voice category) include: Kaizena and Weebly. In addition to these two tools I also looked at two additional tools related to student learning profiles (another aspect of student voice) including: Edynco and Popplet.

P.S. Excuse the memes, I was in the mood to share some friendly encouragement

Here are some details about each of these tools:


Basic Info: Site that allows teacher to give digital written or spoken feedback to students through  messenger like platform.
funny teacher meme

Goal: Teachers can use this app instead of one on one student conferencing to provide timely feedback to students on their work.  Teachers can also comment back and forth with students so that it is more of a two way conversation.

Thoughts: I’m not sure if this would be more or less time consuming than giving student written feedback on their work.  However, if all students have access to the internet and computers, this allows for a more timely conversation about student work. The features seem similar to adding comments into google docs, but easier to read and follow.


Basic Info: Site that you can use to create blog pages.

Goal: Teachers could use this site to set up different pages containing a variety of information. This could be used in having “interest stations” or other types of stations for students to work at their own pace or work on information of their choosing.  Teachers can  tailor the information to meet the needs of different students, record video directions, etc. to make it accessible to different students.

Thoughts: I’m not sure why this site is featured in the articles I read over other blogging sites.  I think any blog building site, including wordpress and blogger, could be used in this way by creating different pages or posts for students to go to as stations.

Edynco and Popplet

Basic Info: Both of these sites allow for students to make digital concept maps.

Goal: To allows students a different way to show and express their thinking than the more typical essay format.

Thoughts:  I haven’t practiced with the interfaces, but if these are simple to use it might be a more engaging way to have students map their ideas.  I see these tools working more on a substitution level, replacing pen and paper concept maps.  However, doing them on the computer or as an app could allow for great collaboration or the ability to share their ideas within a community of learners more easily. Because of this it has the possibility to be transformative if used differently.

I <3 Librarians

This week I am in the library with my ELL class, working on my service learning project.  Together we are going to be making book trailers and/or podcasts about books we are reading.  Students are in the process of scripting out their trailer or podcast and we should start creating them on Thursday.

Throughout this process, my school librarian has been an excellent resource.  She has helped find good examples of book trailers, she’s connected me with the people I need to get blogging started and we’ve struggled together to find young adult – friendly podcasts that aren’t 30 minutes long.  The readings this week really couldn’t have come at a better time, because it’s emphasized how nice it can be to have another person to go to, who is well educated in tech at school.

In particular I have really appreciated how much my librarian knows about privacy policies of different programs and how to search for district approved tools.  Without her I would spend many more hours searching, but my simply reaching out, asking questions and seeking collaboration I have more time to work on other aspects of the project.

For book trailers we will be using wevideo or possibly youtube editor.  Wevideo is approved by our district and if students use youtube editor through their school accounts, privacy can easily be set up to limit who views student work.  For podcasts we found that it is really easy to use quick time to record audio and import it into youtube editor or we video.  Or we may also use audible, though we aren’t sure if this has been district approved yet and are still looking into the privacy policy.

Overall I’m lucky to have a good school librarian, and I hope you are too.


(Picture found at:

P.S. I met with the “tech guru” today and blogger is going to be really easy to set up with students! I can also easily monitor and approve posts and parents have already agreed to all the privacy policies so I don’t need to do any extra paper work.  I’ll blog more about this meeting, but I’ll save it for another post.

Choosing Your Words Carefully

This week, reading about privacy, algorithms and individualized learning I noticed a trend: language is important. What we chose to write, what we chose to say, how we chose to categorize and label, all show what we think and value. The words we search for influence what we find, the words we categorize by show what we think and the words we use to build algorithms mimic what we’ve learned. This can be seen in what is being created in the tech world and how this tech is being “written”.

We’ve talked in class before about men dominating the tech work places. Therefore, it’s mostly men writing the algorithms, no matter how you try to write we are always influenced by our thoughts. We place value on different things, value different types of connections and think based on our values. With racism and bigotry being deeply ingrained in our institutions it should not be a surprise that our algorithms are biased, instead we should assume that from the beginning and work towards making them as neutral as possible.


This article reminded me of a recent story where Microsoft created a “bot” to interact with people named Tay. Shortly after she was released, society had turned her into a hateful bigot. Although, this was not the original intention of Microsoft, and I’m sure most of the trolls did it just because they could, the NPR interview brings up the point that we should work to make sure our tech doesn’t turn into these types of things.

However, if we continue thinking along these lines, what are appropriate ideas to filter out and what should remain? This type of question is heavily dependent on our societies values. Should tech systems not allow any kind of racism? Does this influence the freedom of information? Of speech? Could we as a society collectively decide what gets filtered? Would this lead to unbiased searches or does access to technology influence this too? As discussed in Danah Boyd’s article, we are all individuals and we are all parts of networks, what is our role in this and how as educators can we best help our students question these systems in order to make change?