It’s Digital Learning Day!

Edutopia is a really great site for teachers, administrators and even parents.  It always has fantastic articles about education, resources, and you can sign up for a free membership and participate in groups on just about any education topic. (Full disclosure: I moderate a group on personalized learning for Edutopia).

Today, February 1, is Digital Learning Day, and they have posted a variety of great information there, including a link to over 30 digital technology resources. 

There are links to How to teach with technology, including this page featuring ideas and lesson plans you can use.  For those worried about the digital divide, there’s even information available on that, to help make access issues less of a challenge.

Take the time to go over and check out Edutopia,  You’ll be glad you did.


Why Teachers Need to Understand New Technology

Please watch this video of a baby, one year old, using both an ipad and a magazine….

and here’s the second video, showing the same baby is not confused by other forms of media…

And there are plenty of other videos on youTube including this one showing an infant using an ipad naturally and without instruction…

And here’s one with 6 year olds learning the 3 r’s using iOS devices:

What does all of this mean?

Clearly, students coming into school have had more exposure to technology and interactive media early on than ever before. This will effect their expectations of the learning environment, and we need to be prepared to teach these students- and we don’t have very long to adapt.

What About High School Students?

Now on the other extreme, a recent news item reported that a high school senior got in trouble for a tweet (twitter message) sent while on a field trip to see Gov. Sam Brownback in Kansas.
You can read more about the incident here and here where the item was picked up by CNN and other major news networks, including NPR, The Washington Post and more. I wrote a blog post about this over on my personal blog as well.

The long and short of this incident is that a simple message sent by a student can have bigger ramifications than that student can possibly understand when composing the 140 character message. As adults involved in education, I believe we have a responsibility to help teach our students good digital citizenship, and understand digital citizenship ourselves. What we say can have bigger consequences- this incident could impact this particular student’s college application process; it can impact her school record; the reaction made by the adults can impact their jobs and even electability. I stand behind this student’s right to free speech, and do not think anything she said warranted to response and reaction adults took to the tweet. The action was simple and silly- the over-reaction by others was more childish. But in the end, the important factor here is that we all have to begin to realize that the digital communication channels are changing the world of communication for good and for bad. It allows messages to be sent that may give voice to students and teach them to express their opinions and beliefs eloquently, or not. They can spread hate, lies, rumors, and more. It just does it a bit faster and more broadly than passing notes or calling friends on the phone after school. And because the ability for messages to be passed widely and instantly, we need to teach students more about responsibility at the same time. This is about more than bullying- it’s about helping our students develop a sense of digital responsibility that’s available to them now, even if we, the adults, are still coming to grips with it ourselves.

Time is running short. The world is changing before our eyes. We’re not fully prepared, and we know our kids aren’t fully prepared, either. But we can’t wait and hope this will go away, because the world is only going to move faster, not slower. And these kids are already sitting in your classrooms, and need your help in making good choices. What are you doing to help them learn these skills? What can we do together to help make this a reality?

Please leave your comments below on what you would like to see regarding digital citizenship and social media training.

The Ins & Outs of Google, Blogging, Digital Storytelling, & More – SimpleK12




There’s a great series of free online webinars on using Google in the classroom taking place Saturday, 11/12 starting at 9 AM.   The subjects change during the day and you can sign up for one or all of them, at your  discretion.  It’s really worth checking out.  You do have to register for the sessions in advance, so I’d encourage you to do so as soon as possible.  Here’s the agenda, along with a link to their page directly.

Simple k-12 also has a great series of free ebooks, on topics including interactive whiteboards, web tools and more- all free, and all worthwhile= go check them out!


Saturday, November 12th   
A Day of Learning with SimpleK12

Keynote: 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. (EST)sign up now button

  • Keynote Kickoff: Are You GaGa for Google?
    Watch a brief Day of Learning Orientation and learn some new, fun, and educational ways to take full advantage of Google applications.
  • Register Now:

Session 1: 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (EST)sign up now button

  • Flipping Your Classroom: It’s Easy with Khan Academy
    Do you wish you had more time for hands-on work, collaborative projects, or labs during class? Learn how to do all of that and more by flipping your classroom.
  • Register Now:

Session 2: 11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (EST)sign up now button

  • Social Networking with Students and Parents: It’s Safer Than You Think
    Learn a number of reasons why you should create a social network site for school or classroom use, and look at an example of a safe social networking site.
  • Register Now:

Session 3:  1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (EST)sign up now button

  • Stories on the Go: Digital Storytelling with Mobile Devices
    Discover some free and very inexpensive applications that help learners showcase their learning by creating digital stories.
  • Register Now:

Session 4:  2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (EST)sign up now button

  • 20 Web Tools in 20 Minutes: Revitalize Lesson Plans and Motivate Students
    Whether you are looking for some ideas to help you present material to your students or for kids to demonstrate understanding of content, this webinar will provide you a variety of intriguing technologies.
  • Register Now:

Session 5:  3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (EST)sign up now button

  • Creating Global Citizens with Meaningful Blogging
    Do you want your students to be global citizens who are connected with other children around the world? If so, then student blogging is for you!
  • Register Now:

Session 6:  4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (EST)sign up now button

  • Students Write More; You Grade Less!
    Learn how to use online discussions and group collaboration to support a variety of writing assignments and spend a fraction of the time grading.
  • Register Now:


The Ins & Outs of Google, Blogging, Digital Storytelling, & More – SimpleK12.

Twitter in Education

Many teachers look at social media tools like Twitter and say things like:

This seems like a waste of time to me.

I’m already busy- what does this offer me that I can’t get elsewhere?

Why do people think this is so great?

What’s the value to me and my students?

Isn’t this just another distraction?

Where am I going to find the time?

I’ll be the first one to say that Twitter, for example, can be a blessing and a curse.  It can be a great way to share information and links, and it can be a great way to waste time as well- it’s all in how you use it, just like books can be used for learning or entertainment.

What Teachers Say about Twittter

Mrs. Pripp, a teacher from Wisconsin, made this video to show what she gets out of Twitter and why it’s become an important resource to her.  This is probably a much better description from the eyes of a teacher than I could provide, so if you are curious at all about Twitter in education, take a few minutes and check it out.

What About the Experts?

The Pearson Center for Policy and Learning in the UK posted this article on their website about using social media tools to support professional development. Their full report, entitled Tweeting for Teachers can be downloaded by clicking here., run by the k-12 Teachers Alliance, published a great article about the 50 Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom. This list includes all sorts of ideas about how Twitter can be used to help engage students and parents, work as a research tool, and even act as a reminder service for assignments to help everyone stay on track. If you are intrigued about Twitter, this is a great resource to prompt ideas as well as show potential use as a teaching tool.

Twitter for Professional Development

Twitter has become a great way to engage with other professionals in the same field, in short messages, to share resources and ask questions. Some of the folks who help curate sites like Classroom 2.0 and Web 20 Education regularly host and participate in “Twitter chats” weekly online discussions about topics such as “how do we get parents more engaged in their child’s education” or “What is the best professional development resource you’ve seen?” to “Ideas for using my interactive white board”. The topics are always changing, but it’s great to connect to this virtual Staff room and share challenges and successes with other teachers.

Education “chats” on Twitter:  If you click on this link, you can find a list of dates and times that educators are gathering on Twitter to discuss topics.  You can even subscribe to this calendar in google calendar, tobe reminded of the time of any chat where you’d like to follow along or discuss issues important to you.

Give twitter a try. If you need help setting up an account, or figuring out who to “follow”, drop me an email at ldpodcast (at) and I’ll send you a list of interesting education folks on Twitter, in order to give you a good start at listening in to compelling discussions.

Education Week: Building the Digital District

This is a not-to-be missed article on how a district, which sounds a lot like ours, went one to one, and how it has fared.  As we consider whether or not this should be a goal of ours, everyone should consider the stories out there of how one to one programs have been implemented, and take note of successes and failures, so we can chart a good path forward.

Education Week: Building the Digital District.

Google Finally Introduced The Digital Bookcase

Google is experimenting with a Digital bookcase that looks pretty interesting.  As we begin to roll out Google apps, more and more of these apps will sync together- and this one looks particularly good for educators- check it out!

Google Finally Introduced The Digital Bookcase.

– Top 10 Sites for Educational Games




Many teachers consider using games as a way to engage their students, but how do you find the ones that are worth while?

This blog post with links to ten top education game sites was shared recently on #edchat-a twitter discussion with teachers from all over the country that takes place at various times each week.– Top 10 Sites for Educational Games.  Let us know which sites are most promising, and where you find games to help encourage your students and reinforce skills!

Apple’s New iPad in Education site

Apple has a new section of their website, dedicated to the iPad in education.

The site included downloadable e-books/manuals/guides for things like using the iOS (mobile operating system devices) in the k-12 classroom. This guide is comprehensive, covering apps, podcasts, iTunes U and more. It’s truly impressive and helpful and a great resource for any teacher.

This site also includes:

  • Guided tutorials for apps (videos)
  • Learning with the iPad (Educators speaking about how they are using it)
  • Apps in Education- a list of educational apps for use in the classroom (they also have a bulk app purchase program for districts considering “iPad carts” or other programs) and sections of the site for teacher-centered an, student centered and accessibility centered apps.  There are apps featured for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
There are also some great tutorials for teachers in managing classroom work flow, supporting writing in Pages, guides to creating student-led documentaries, curriculum and more .
Check out this video of how Science Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia is using Macs in a one to one environment.  SLA is also the host school for Educon in January, a fantastic education conference you really shouldn’t miss.

Digital Citizenship

Teaching Digital Citizenship is one of the most important things I think we can do for students.  Few students (or their parents) really understand the nature of their own “digital footprint” and how much can be found out about themselves online.  All of the information about you, available in digital form, can often be searched and aggregated by sites ranging from Google to Spokeo.  This information is increasingly being used by employers and colleges to make decisions, so helping students and parents to understand the importance of maintaining an appropriate digital footprint from early on is vital.

Mary Beth Hertz, a Philadelphia elementary computer teacher, wrote a great post on Edutopia about teaching Digital Citizenship in the Elementary Classroom.    She recommends that the good manners and social skills we tty to instill in kids from an early age should be extended into the virtual world as well, and perhaps at the same time.  Children as young as six are joining social networks like Club Penguin, and will need an understanding from early on that social norms, good behavior and  manners in person and manners online are equally important.

For teachers looking for a solution that can allow you to “practice” these interactions, Mary Beth uses “Schoology” (free) which looks a lot like Facebook, to create a virtual classroom.  While I’m sure this does not integrate well with Pinnacle or any of the other things we’re currently using, it’s interesting to see how these walled garden social networks are popping up for use in education.


Kids are growing up in a very different world than we did, and they are adapting immediately. We need to make sure they are ready to face the challenges before them, including teaching digital citizenship as early as we can.

If you need proof, watch this video of the baby and the magazine below. Much like my 13 year old son, who, on seeing his first live musical at age 3, wanted to know if we could “play it again” like it was a movie in the DVD player, or rewinding a VHS tape, children being born today will have an expectation to be able to interact with almost everything in their environment.

To a baby, a Magazine is an iPad that’s broken. Watch how she checks to make sure her finger works fine, and then gets frustrated when the magazine does not respond. These are your students in a few short years. Get ready.

New Grants and Resources Page

I came across a great website called We are Teachers which, in addition to offering resources, is a great clearinghouse for teacher grants, offers, and more. There seems to be many ongoing opportunities and rolling deadlines for applications, and many of the application procedures appear to be simple and not as time and energy intensive as some grant applications can be. This makes this site exciting, and something to consider putting on your weekly “check it out” list.

We’ve added a page to the website to allow us to put grant and award opportunities in one place, with links as appropriate, to make it more convenient to consider applying for a grant for your classroom.

We’d appreciate any help and websites you might know of that we can incorporate into this page, so we can share resources throughout the District. Please drop an email to Whitney at ldpodcast(at) with any suggestions or ideas for this page or any other portion of this site, or simply leave a comment below! Any feedback is helpful.