Connect Article published

logoI’m thrilled that Saint Mary’s Press asked me to write an article about technology in Catholic Schools for their January edition of CONNECT: A free newsletter for high school religion teacher, campus ministers and principals.

In this issue of Connect, Colette Cassinelli, of Valley Catholic Middle and High School in Beaverton, Oregon, introduces some manageable ways to use technology that can significantly enhance the learning experiences of our students. In doing so, she illustrates that it is possible to take steps into the world of education and technology without being completely overwhelmed by the possibilities that seem to multiply every day. Our own use of technology for learning can model to our students how they can use technology in responsible and useful ways.

In the feature article, Colette introduces the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS) and gives examples of ways to make these standards come alive. In “Making It Happen,” she gives more in-depth descriptions of using technology in the high school classroom.

Feature Article | Making It Happen | Resources | From Saint Mary’s Press

Catholic Educators and Twenty-first-Century Learning
by Colette Cassinelli

Everywhere around us the world is changing. Business, politics, and journalism are being transformed by rapid changes in technology, and education is slowly seeing technology’s potential. Catholic educators today must embrace a new pedagogy and embed collaborative technologies for a new society of learners.

Students in our classrooms today differ from those who came before them. Educational theorist Marc Prensky calls these students “digital natives.” They are well versed in the uses of computers, cell phones, digital cameras, and text messaging. They think and process information in a fundamentally different way than previous generations. The Pew Internet and American Life Project (2007) found that 64 percent of online teenagers (ages 12-17) engaged in at least one type of Web content creation, such as blogs and photo and media sharing. These students are creative, smart, and most of all, networked, and they want their education to be and feel meaningful, worthwhile, and relevant to the future.

Educational consultant Ian Jakes states, “The primary task of the educational system must be to give learners the right tools and provide them with a critical mind so that they can ask the right questions and make the right connections. The problem is that the world is not the stable, static place it once was. The world has changed and continues to change.”

How can we as Catholic educators adopt these new tools and contemplate ways the interactive Web can enhance our own practices and student learning? How can we encourage students to be lifelong learners and discover the power of self-learning? How do we rethink our curriculum and embed twenty-first-century skills into our teaching to create authentic learning tasks?

It is an overwhelming undertaking, and many of us educators who did not grow up with technology (Marc Prensky calls us “Digital Immigrants”) are hesitant to change and have no clear road map for how to begin.

National Technology Standards for Students (NETS)
An excellent place to start is with the newly refreshed National Technology Standards for Students (2007) outlined by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The new NETS provide a framework for educators to use as they transition schools from Industrial Age to Digital Age places of learning. These new standards focus on skills and knowledge that students need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital society. They focus on cognitive skills, as netsswell as creativity and innovation. These are the six standard areas:

  1. creativity and innovation
  2. communication and collaboration
  3. research and information fluency
  4. critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
  5. digital citizenship
  6. technology operations and concepts

All educators want their students to be creative and innovative. We embrace collaboration among our students because sharing knowledge enhances student learning. We provide opportunities for our students not only to be able to access information efficiently but also to be able to evaluate sources and synthesize the content. We desire to challenge our students to think critically and understand all aspects of a problem before making decisions. We insist that our students be responsible and ethical citizens of a digital world and leave behind “digital footprints” that represent moral and upright citizens. We hope that our students will be technologically prepared for a job in the future that we can’t even imagine yet.

Each of the standards outlined by ISTE contains simple and easy to implement technology skills. First, begin by examining your curriculum and identifying areas where you want your students to demonstrate understanding. Focus on student learning rather than on your teaching practice. Look for opportunities where students can embrace creative expression and share ideas digitally through written or multimedia formats. Start small–you do not need to embrace everything at once! Find a network of other teacher-learners like the online forum found at Classroom 2.0 ( and explore new technology tools together. (This Web site does a good job explaining that we have experienced the “Web 1.0” as a one-way means of getting information. “Web 2.0” is a new phase in Internet usage, allowing a two-way exchange of information, meaning that all of us can post material on the Internet and shape its content.)

Creativity and innovation. The proliferation of free Web 2.0 tools on the Internet provides educators with ample opportunity for students to be engaged in creative and unique ways. Digital storytelling is now easier than ever with free downloadable software like Microsoft’s PhotoStory 3 or by visiting Web-based programs like These tools allow students to upload images, audio, and narration for personal narratives, to demonstrate understanding of a skill presented in class, or to share stories from school events. VoiceThread projects take it a step further and allow classmates to comment and create conversations around digital images–either in a private or public forum.

Communication and collaboration. Another great way to encourage collaboration among students is to use a wiki for classroom instruction. A wiki is a simple, easy-to-use Web page that anyone can edit. Students can document the steps of a science experiment, participate in collaborative story writing, or list Web sites used for a research paper. The power of a wiki is the collaborative nature of the technology, and any student can add her changes to the document. The revision history is automatically saved so it can easily be reverted back to a previous version if necessary. Many wiki Web sites, like Wikispaces, will give educators free access with no ads.

Technology integration. One place to start with technology integration is among professional activities for your faculty and staff. With Google Apps for Education, schools can set up e-mail, a calendar, and collaboration tools right from the browser. Administrators and educators can work together on documents uploaded to shared “Google Docs and Spreadsheets” and assign editing rights to facilitate synchronous writing. Google Apps for Education is free, with no advertising, and is easy to manage because there is no hardware or software to maintain. You can even customize your search page with your school name and resources you want made available to your school community (calendar, news feeds, announcements, etc.). After staff members see the power of sharing documents among themselves, then teachers can embrace this same type of collaboration with their students.

Digital citizenship. When implementing any type of technology into the curriculum, it is critical to simultaneously teach and demonstrate appropriate digital citizenship. We want our students to be safe online, so it is best to have students and parents sign “acceptable use” agreements before allowing students to use Web 2.0 sites (note that some sites require students to be thirteen). Students should use only first names, no identifying descriptions such as age or school name, and consider using avatars (a computer user’s self-representation as a two-dimensional icon or a three-dimensional model) or icons instead of real photos. Along with digital literacy, teachers can also address serious topics such as cyberbullying and online safety when using social-networking sites.
Digital Fluency
Most of all, we want our students to be digitally fluent inside and outside the classroom. We want them to see learning as a lifelong goal, not something that only happens inside a classroom. Learning is an active process with the learner at its center. Technology can provide unprecedented opportunities to explore new areas and can actively engage students in a wider range of projects than have ever been possible before. As Thomas Friedman states in his book, The World Is Flat, “the most important ability you can develop in a flat world is the ability to ‘learn how to learn’–to constantly absorb, and teach yourself, new ways of doing old things or new ways of doing new things” (page 302). As Catholic educators, we can use technology to excite and inspire these “digital natives” and lead them down a road to developing their own passion and curiosity.

Expanding the Uses of Technology
by Colette Cassinelli

Computer class is not just about learning how to format Word documents, write formulas in Excel, or make a PowerPoint anymore. It’s about using creativity and communication tools to challenge students to dig deeper and further student learning with real-world lessons. While I may teach students how to use various technological tools in the ways I describe, they can be applied across the curriculum.

Students learn best when they are fully engaged in classroom activities. I believe that as Catholic educators we must ensure that materials we use in class are relevant to our students’ lives and emphasize ways that learning can be applied in real-life situations. I like to present students in my computer classes with tasks that are authentic, built on life experiences, and use real-world technology tools. My desire is to have activities that provoke the curiosity of students but at the same time produce relevant, high-quality digital products.

Long-Distance Interviewing via Skype
Chad Lehman, a K-5 library media specialist from Wisconsin, posted a plea on the Classroom 2.0 online forum looking for teachers from other states to collaborate on a state project he was doing with his fourth graders. As part of their research on the fifty states, he wanted each fourth grader to interview someone about what it’s like to live in that state and what they like best about living there. I replied to Mr. Lehman that my seventh grade students would love to participate. I downloaded a program called Skype onto one of the lab computers and brought my webcam from home. Skype is a software program that allows you to make video phone calls over the Internet. We arranged the time of the interview and the class waited excitedly for the big day. Two students were chosen to speak for our class and answer the questions. We projected the Webcam image of the interview onto a large screen so everyone could watch. Mr. Lehman and a fourth-grade boy interviewed our class. All of my students were 100 percent engaged in the interview. If our two representatives didn’t know the answer to a question, the other twenty-eight kids scrambled to see who could find the answer first on Google. The interview went off without a hitch, and my students begged to do it again. These relatively easy-to-implement technology projects made me realize that my students were eager to communicate with students outside our school. I decided to next try a longer, more in-depth project.

Blogging to Make the World a Better Place
Using the quote from Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” I challenged my middle and high school computer students to brainstorm how we could use the digital tools of today to “be the change.” Students used Inspiration (a dichangegital graphic organizer) to map out ideas of how they could accomplish this and went to work researching a topic of their choosing. I wanted to make sure the parents understood the project and sent home a letter detailing our proposal, including an explanation of how we were going to use a blog for our publishing platform. (A blog is like an online diary where the students could write posts about their topic and share resources.) I set up individual student blogs at This Web site allows each student to customize their own blog but still be connected to the larger class.

Students posted their first entry explaining their chosen topic and how they hoped to change the world. The topics ranged from encouraging people to give blood, protecting the environment, teenage depression, animal abuse, recycling, and more. They designed original Web banners for their site and research facts to give their blog credibility. To encourage students to read each other’s posting, I set up learning circles of four to five students who read and commented on one another’s blogs. We discussed appropriate commenting, how to encourage further discussion, writing in a manner that was professional, using accurate facts, and citing resources. This activity gave a real-world experience to everything I taught in my earlier digital citizenship unit. We used only first names, did not use identifying photos, and did not reveal our school name.

In addition to discussing their topic and writing personal reflections, students also embedded other forms of media such as digital comic strips and educational public service announcement videos. The students enjoyed receiving comments from their classmates but were eager for a larger audience. I located a group of teachers online who were also blogging with their students and invited them to read our blogs. My students participated in a “comment challenge” to read and post on other classroom blogs. Soon my students were discussing their topics with elementary and high school students from around the US and Canada and as far away as Australia. As a teacher I was able to review and approve all comments before they were posted. The overall reaction to the blogging activity was positive and encouraging. Many students worked on their blogs from home and were always excited to receive new comments.

Additional Ideas
Giving my students an authentic audience raised the level of student engagement and quality of work in my classroom. Other classes have also made videos for Peace Day, evaluated the nutritional content of school lunches by using Excel spreadsheets, mass produced letters to local representatives about legislation, interviewed locals for career VoiceThread projects, and more. Next year I plan on incorporating additional interaction with other schools by having the students create original digital postcards and embed them into a Google map. We will send the URL of the Google map to the other schools and encourage them to visit our map and add their images and research.

Our teens are social creatures as we know. Allowing them to communicate with other students around the country and the world can help them learn about important topics in a way that is real, immediate, and personal, enabling them to expand their worldviews and ask more critical questions about any topic under discussion.

View all the Connect articles at

Christmas came early this year

It was fun participating in the Second Annual EduVerse Secret Holiday Gift Exchange this year.  I had a lovely surprise waiting for me in my mailbox today from my secret Elfster, Sarah Hanawald – a copy of David Warlick’s book:  Classroom Blogging.  Sarah had David sign the book.  It reads, “Colette, For the love of learning, David Warlick“.  She even video-taped the signing and placed it on YouTube and left me a hint on my blog.

Wow!!  Thank you Sarah for your thoughtfulness and effort into my gift.  I am so glad you are part of my PLN.   Check out Sarah’s Literacy & Technology  blog at

ONE Project: FOUR Formats

In my attempt to embrace more of a constructivist method of learning in my classroom, I allowed students to construct their own career-centered research projects.  After reading about John Holland’s 6 personality traits and how matching your personality to your job results in more job satisfaction, students set out to learn more about one career or careers for their top personality.  I did not direct their learning – but told them they would have to share their learning somehow.   I encouraged students to find the right set of tools to demonstrate their understanding or ones that better suit their personality.

I was pleasantly surprised by not only the variety of tools used, but the level of depth and sharing and explanations that took place during their small group shares. The only requirement I made was that the student use a first-person resource and include quotes or audio from an interview in their project or presentation (so they would see this as real and not just an assignment).

After working on the project for a week, students brainstormed ideas for how we were going to evaluate the projects if everyone’s project were going to be different.  They settled on 3 main categories:

  1. Appropriate use of interview
  2. Quality of content
  3. Use of technology

The “content” area was broken down by the students even more.  When asked, “How do we evaluate the content?”, students responded by using a 1-10 scale for different research areas, such as:  Description of job, Training/ Qualifications, Earnings, Job Outlook and Related Occupations.

I was encouraged that the students recognized that in order to fully explain one career they needed to cover a wide range of topics.  The class constructed a Google form for evaluations.  Brainstorming these ideas and discussing expectations in the middle of the research project helped some student focus their research and provided good questions for the interviews.

Below are some examples of what they created to go along with their oral presentations.

Movie:  Laser Technician


View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: career teaching)


A student-created website about Artistic careers

Glogster Poster

Congratulations President-elect Obama

Dear President-elect Obama,

Congratulations on your historical win tonight.  I don’t envy you.  You are taking charge of a country in turmoil.  We need your vision of hope and your belief in change right now.

We need to stabilize the economy.  We need to look out for our neighbors who need basic healthcare.  We need a president who cares about LEARNING and making our schools the best they can be.

We need to restore the view of American leaders in the world.  Please work with other world leaders to solve the war in Iraq.

This has been a long, hard fought journey for you and your family.  Thank you for your service.  Thank you caring enough and wanting to make our country a better place to live.  God bless!

UPDATE:  If you didn’t get a chance to see Obama’s acceptance speech – please watch it here.  It is truly inspiring!!!!

Own Your Own CContent


Head over to Creative Commons and choose the license type that you want to employ for your blog.

I spend quite a bit of time teaching about Creative Commons licensing (especially with Flickr) to my students but I never place a license on this blog.  So I followed Steve’s advice and added a Creative Commons license for this blog. I selected non-commmercial and share-alike but would like attribution.

I’m loving these daily lessons.   Now … if I could find the 30 Days to be a Better … wife, mother, teacher, and housekeeper blog!!!

Creative Commons License

This work by Colette Cassinelli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Thank you Pepperdine OMET


Pick out a blogger who in some way influenced your decision to begin blogging and write them a thank you note.

A major influence in my professional development as a computer teacher happened during my Masters of Educational Technology program at Pepperdine University.  This online Master’s program introduced me to blogging as a reflective practice.  My cadre leader, Bill Moseley set up a group blog for us to review and reflect on our learning throughout the program.  It was awkward at first – “I have to write?” – but I found drawn to reading my classmates postings and realized how similar my journey was to theirs.  Especially for an online program it was critical to have this insight into each others learning process.  We also shared lesson ideas, links, and reviewed software programs.  Not all cadre members loved the blogging but I learned so much from reading and writing the blog and felt even more connected to my classmates.  It was a great experience.

During the program, I set up a blog on Blogger to document the results of my Action Research Project.    My focus was engaging students with authentic technology projects.  As I worked and reworked lessons for my ARP, I documented student progress, my reactions, and student’s own reflections.

I started this blog at as soon as graduated from the OMET program.  It has been a wonderful journey.  There have been times when I first started that I felt like I was talking to no one except myself – but slowly my personal learning network has grown.

So here’s my thank you.  Thanks to Bill Moseley, Gary Stager, Paul Sparks, Cynthia Solomon, Melissa Anderson, Jeff Lee, and ESPECIALLY all my Cadre 9 Bucca9ers for teaching me about learning – and learning how to learn.  I will be forever thankful.

30 Days to being a Better Blogger

During the month of November, Steve Dembo at has invited everyone to participate in the 30 Days to being a Better Blogger challenge.  My blogging has been sporadic lately – so I’m in.  Steve has asked participants to tag their posts with “30D2BBB”.


The About page is absolutely critical to a blog. It provides visitors insight into who the author is, what they can expect to see on the blog, and what sort of lenses the information is being viewed through.

There are two key questions your about page should answer.

  • Who is the author of this blog?
  • What is this blog all about?

So I took a peek at my About Me page and decided to make a few changes.  First of all, I’ve barely updated the page since I first started blogging.  I used terminology like “last year” and “upcoming” which are too vague even though I do include an updated date.

The brief introduction is fine and I share where and what I teach and some of my interests. The one thing that is lacking is a better description of my blog’s purpose and audience.  Right now that information is buried in an early post but I dug it out and refreshed it for my page.  I also included a link to my VoiceThread 4 Education wiki.


Take a good close look at your blog’s statistics. We want to know who’s visiting, where they’re coming from, how long they’re staying, and much much more. By watching your statistics carefully, you can learn all sorts of interesting information about your blog and your audience.

I use W3 Counter to track my blog traffic and the daily traffic is embedded right into my WordPress dashboard.  Since I don’t have quite as much traffic as Steve, I am always interested in when all of sudden the traffic to my site jumps up.  Usually its because I have blogged about a current news topic and the search engines pick up my post.  One of my top results still come from “motivational posters” when I discussed how I use Big Huge Labs to have my students make posters and embed them into their blogs.  I guess lots of people are searching for motivational posters on the Internet.

Twitter is a great way to drive traffic to your blog -but don’t overdo it.  Only link your blog when you want to share a special project when you are looking for collaborators or sharing an important story.   I also receive some traffic from Stumble Upon, RSS feeds at Google Reader, the Classroom 2.0 Ning and the wiki I made at VoiceThead 4 Education.

It’s good to review the stats and I’m going to take some time to review which posts are most popular and see if I can find a trend.

I’m not blogging for popularity – I do it for my own reflection – but it is interesting to see what I am saying has the most impact.


More ILC Reflections

Now that I am home from the Innovative Learning Conference 2008 and have had some time to process all that happened, I can truly say that overall it was good experience for me.

On Wednesday morning I attended a session by Josh Burker (fellow Pepperdine Cadre member) who shared Scratch – the kids programming language from MIT.  The program comes with different “projects” organized by category:

  • Animations
  • Games
  • Greetings
  • Interactive art
  • Lists
  • Music and dance
  • Names
  • Simulations
  • Speak up
  • Stories

Younger students can just play with games on the galleries – they don’t need to understand how the games are made – but older elementary kids will want to design their own.  This program is a great way to introduce logical thinking and cause/effect.  Projects can then be save to the Scratch galleries or embedded in a website or blog.  You can also purchase a Picoboard to connect to your computer and then your programs can interact with real objects.

The next session was by Steven McGriff, a professor at San Jose State University titled:  Anyone Can Be Visually Literate:  Graphic Design Tips for Educators. He shared with us how 3 design principals form a framework for working with graphic design:
1.   Perceptions (figure/ground, hierarchy (organizing) , Gestalt- the whole is greater than the sum of its parts)
2.   Tools (type, shape, color, depth, space)
3.   Actions (proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast)

The best advice he gave was “know your audience and design your presentation to match the audience”.

I gave my VoiceThread presentation at 1pm.  Handouts are located at and the samples are at  During the presentation, Brian VanDyke moderated the chat at the online PowerPoint at Overall the presentation went well even though I couldn’t get some of the VoiceThreads to load (grrr – no dedicated Internet line for presenters!!!) and folks asked good questions.  Thanks all for coming!!!

Another excellent session I attended was on Google Earth by Joe Wood.  I’ve used Google Maps extensively but I learned some new tips from Joe that I hadn’t ever done before – like changing the view of how you “fly” into a location in Google Earth, using historical maps, overlays for earthquake and new stories, and more.  Check out his excellent wiki for all kinds of ideas.  Thanks Joe!

Favorite t-shirt of the day from Diane Main:

On Friday I went to a great session from Leslie Fisher on Taking Digital Pictures Effectively.  Leslie’s sessions are always packed with great advice – even though I got schooled for having a Dell in a sea of Macs.

Common mistakes and advice for taking better pictures
  • not close enough –> “move in, take it again”
  • look around the edges to see if you want the things that are around
  • not focused –> use green boxes (when you press shutter halfway) Every camera has focus point
  • camera shake (nothing in focus) –> “lighting is too low in the photo so the camera needs expose the picture longer to take the image”; the shaking of your hand results in a blurry picture –> Fix: use a tripod and set the timer, use artificial lighting or change camera setting
  • composition –> wander around to try to figure out what is the best angle, composition, shoot high and shoot low. What do you want your picture to show? to say? – use law of thirds (get the focus in one of the central intersections- use cropping (but be careful that you not lose resolution) look for lines, spaces makes you think, shoot high/shoot low
  • lighting and speed are equal out of the box –>use action mode for action shot to make speed faster than lighting
  • too much flash –> use natural light in the photo
  • too little flash –> camera shake so stabilize the camera or introduce light
  • digital zoom –> turn it off (it zooms up on the pic and crops it)
  • Photoshop Resolution:  72 for web or PPT and at least 180 for print – uncheck resample image
Another great session on Friday was Screencasting by Ray Barbur.  He uses screencasts in his Chemistry classes for a variety of reasons:
  • To show rather than to explain (training, setting up email, attendance reports)
  • Addresses different learning styles
  • Can review material
  • When you’re out of the classroom
  • Students who miss class
  • Student’s who don’t get it
  • Aid in completing homework assignments
  • Distribution options – check out flash drives, burn to DVD
Some screencasting software he recommends:
1.  SnapzPro – mac only – original industry-standard
2.  Camtasia Studio – windows $179 academic – simultaneous video camera capture
3.  iShow U – mac – presets – video rendered immediately
4.  ProfCast – mac  drag and drop PPT
5.  Jing – both mac/pc -video saved as Flash only, limited to 5 minutes, uploads to, Jing ad, 2G space
6.  ScreenFlow
7.  Snapkast
ILC 2008 was a great conference.  I met a lot of virtual friends and was inspired to try some new things in my classroom to better meet the learning needs of my students.  Check out the ILC Flickr photo group at:

Retooling Computer Applications course

Eight years ago when I began as a computer teacher at my high school, the course I inherited was titled “Computer Applications”.  The focus was on practicing keyboarding and learning Microsoft Office products:  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Publisher.  Students worked through assignments in a textbook – but the lessons focused on one specific tool or skill and did not have any real world applications.

Over the years, I have completely transformed this course – yes we still use the Office products – but that is not the focus.  The focus is on learning — learning how to learn and demonstrating our learning in a variety of ways that have real world application.

This year I changed my unit descriptions to match the updated NETS*S.  I want students to understand that “Computer Applications” is not just about typing in Word or making a graph in Excel.  Today – this course embodies all aspects of what we want students to know and understand in the area of technology.

  1. Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  2. Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
  3. Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate and use information.
  4. Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.
  5. Students understand human, cultural and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior
  6. Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.

So now my thematic units are titled:

  • Creativity & Innovation
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Research & Information Fluency
  • Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

I was pleased how well my previous lessons fit so well into this new format.  I think the new organization communicates the wide variety of skills we cover and the importance of each.  I want my students (and their families) to understand WHY we are doing the lessons we are doing and what the focus for LEARNING is in each unit.

Mariel Zagunis wins Gold

I’m so proud of my former student, Mariel Zagunis who won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. She is an incredible student and athlete and one of the nicest people I know.

Gold medal winner USA’s Mariel Zagunis stands on the podium after the women’s individual saber competition at the Fencing Hall of the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Happy Blogaversary to me!

One year ago I began blogging at edtech VISION. Previous to that I had only blogged for my Masters of Educational Technology about my Action Research Project for Pepperdine University and occasional posts at Classroom 2.0.

Anyone who knows me will understand that a one-year anniversary is a big deal for me. I’m the queen of startups. I get excited about something new and charge head first full of excitement and energy.

My husband teases me that I have two speeds – fanatic and couch potato. I will begin a new project – whether its a new piece of software to learn or painting a room – and I jump in and completely immerse myself in the project. I will spend hours focused and gleam as much information as I can. My enthusiasm continues for awhile and then slowly the newness wears off and the project turns into “work” and there the project stays. Sometimes half-finished, sometimes done (but not cleaned up – yes, honey I am admitting to the mess I left in the garage) or sometimes i only occasionally pay attention but my heart is not really into it.

This blog almost became victim to my disease. Last Fall I went for almost a month without any postings. I wrote …

It’s not that I haven’t been connected. I am been dutifully reading my Bloglines and occasionally participating in Classroom 2.0 but just haven’t felt inspired to write lately. The truth is the end of the term, grades and personal activities have taken up my time (life? What’s a life?) and I haven’t felt the tug to share.

I also gave myself permission to take off time from this blog during the holidays and around exam time in January.

The thing that I noticed was even though I wasn’t blogging much, I was still connected to my network. I dutifully read postings in my Bloglines account, I added new people in twitter, I began listening to EdTech Talk and participating in the chats.

But the thing that really brought me back to blogging is my need to process what I was reading and reading a post somewhere who wrote in a post to not worry about blogging for an audience, just begin by describing what you do with your students.

So I began blogging about my classroom activities and began to get excited about sharing what I was doing with my students. i focused on the learning that was happening and not just the tools. I used my blog to prepare and promote workshops I was offering at local conferences. I blogged because I was inspired not because I felt like I needed to post something profound.

I am much more of a talker than a writer – but blogging has been a great exercise for me. I love meeting people at conferences who I have been following in Twitter or if I read their blogs. I have a different voice inside my head when I now see their posts and responses.

I love having the opportunity to broaden my personal learning network through the OETC EdTech Cadre, the monthly meetings of the local Catholic school tech teachers and the great folks at Google Teacher Academy.

Blogging for me will never replace these interactions for me – I’m too social. But I do value the quiet time I get to just get my thoughts down and reflect on how much I have shared and learned this past year.

So thank you to everyone who has taken the time to join me in my little corner of the blogosphere. I love having you here and I appreciate more than you will ever know when you take the time to say hi, leave a comment or respond to a twitter plea.

Thank you .. God bless – i can’t wait to see what the next year brings!!!!

Voicethread & Google Maps Postcard Exchange

I love Classroom 2.0 and the excitement that the teachers there bring to my network. I always read the posts about VoiceThread since I will be presenting a workshop on VoiceThread at the Innovative Learning Conference this Fall. I came across this Postcard exchange idea from Jennifer Albers.

In the past I have been a part of several postcard exchanges and my students loved receiving the cards and information about each state. This year I wanted to try something new. I created a type of state information exchange using VoiceThread. VoiceThread is a free program at It is a way to have conversations around media…the link is: am sending this email out during summer in hopes that you will get familiar with VoiceThread and want to use it during the school year… If you have any questions or comments my email is Enjoy!

I think this is great way to introduce your class to VoiceThread. I am planning on having my students look up some facts about Oregon and comment on the VoiceThread.

Here is another extension that I am thinking of incorporating:

Great a customized Google Map and have classes create postcards about their states and embed the images and additional text into the Map and then share that map with other classrooms for them to do the same.

I made a sample … want to give it a try? Got to this map and add a landmark. Let’s use this map as a sandbox to practice adding locations, images and text:

View Larger Map

Last year I participated in Postcard Geography ( but either one of these ideas could work along with that program.

New NETS for Teachers 2008

The new standards for teachers were unveiled at the 2008 National Education Computing Conference (NECC). I think these standards represent the shift from skills-based learning towards an integrated constructivist approach.

My plan this school year is to create a Google form and survey the teachers at my school to discover which of these standards they would like to see the focus of our professional development. I am hoping to create workshops in each area.

1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments. Teachers:
a. promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness.
b. engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.
c. promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes.
d. model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments.
2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS•S. Teachers:
a. design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.
b. develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress.
c. customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources.
d. provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching.
3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society. Teachers:
a. demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations.
b. collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation.
c. communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats.
d. model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning.
4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices. Teachers:
a. advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.
b. address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.
c. promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information.
d. develop and model cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with colleagues and students of other cultures using digital-age communication and collaboration tools.
5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources. Teachers:
a. participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.
b. exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others.
c. evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning.
d. contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching profession and of their school and community.

© 2008 International Society for Technology in Education.

Blog humor …

HUMOR:  “In my capacity as amateur psychotherapist to the blogerati, I have discovered a new raft of complaints as social media addicts adapt to the demands of new technologies and fluctuating social structures. The syndromes identified include”

  • Comment Guilt
  • RSS Reader Sisyphus Complex
  • Twitter Rage
  • Twitterhoeia
  • Six Degrees of Separation Syndrome
  • Plugin/Update Confusion
  • FOOcamp Anxiety


(tags: humor internet blog)

Featured in Google Docs for Education blog

Last month Google Docs sent out a request to educators to share how they use Google Docs in Education.  Selected entries are showcased on their blog and mine was chosen!!!  Here’s what i submitted:

In my attempt to avoid sitting through days and days of PowerPoint presentations in my high school computer classes (and boring the students in the process), I decided to upload each of my students Online Safety PowerPoint’s to a Google account and the class joined the presentation. One student talked aloud while everyone listened and chatted about the presentation.  The students asked questions in the chat, added their own information and followed along in the presentation.

For the first time I can EVER remember as a teacher – 100% of the students were engaged in the presentation and participated in the chat.  The students were enthusiastic and offered insightful and appropriate comments.  The students liked being able to add their input without interrupting the presentation.  I will definitely use Google shared presentations again.

I love Google Docs and use them all the time in my classroom.  Here are a few other ideas:

  • Editing stories written by newspaper staff
  • Collecting addresses for mail merge
  • Surveys
  • Collaborative group planning for projects
  • Collecting real time data (science experiment, calorie counting, etc)

Check out how other Educators are using Google Docs here!