ITSC notes – Marco Torres

Listening to Marco Torres on Sunday at ITSC was motivating and inspiring. As a film maker and storyteller he brings passion and a creative vision to his work with students. Watching the films his students have made me reflect on my own curriculum and how I inspire my students in Digital Video class.

I realize that even though I give students a lot of flexibility in their films, that I still approach the class with a “set” curriculum. I have specific “types” of films I want my students to produce. What would happen if I change that and instead say “what story do you have inside of you that needs to be told”. How would this change the authenticity of the films my students make? I am hoping that the focus will move away from the entertainment to reflective and imaginative films that include more interviews, family stories, personal thoughts and musings, and creative expression.

More on the iCan film festival after the workshop…

ITSC notes – new tools/sites

Tumblr – easy blogging tool that does not require email authentication.

Nicenet – A simple tool for classroom teachers to set up their own threaded discussion boards. Functional – not fancy.

SmugMug – photo sharing website

Jajah – Low cost global phone-to-phone calls without a computer or Internet capable mobile phone

Kuler – color swatches that can be downloaded to Adobe products

EdTech 20/20 blog by Tim Chase

Ad Council – Cyberbullying – PSAs to show to students about cyberbullying

Instructional Technology Strategies Conference (ITSC) – February 17-19, 2008

Engaging Students with Authentic Technology Projects – Sun, 2/17/08, 7:30-8:30 pm

Handouts located at:

Embrace 21st century strategies to create an instructional learning environment that moves away from teaching isolated computer skills towards an integrated thematic approach. Come learn how you can combine everyday productivity tools with Web 2.0 to support curriculum integration and collaboration.

The National Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S) recommends that educators establish new learning environments that provide real world opportunities for students to utilize current information and technology resources (ISTE, 2000).

According to The American Youth Policy Forum (2000) instruction in today’s high schools must change. Disengagement from the learning process is a widespread problem in high schools as students do not perceive how lessons are relevant to their lives.

The American Youth Policy Forum reports that lecture style classes continue to dominate classroom instruction and content is divorced from the real world. Schools need to embrace new strategies for learning based on current research of how students learn, implement effective uses of technology in the classroom, and develop “21st Century Skills” while maintaining a rigorous academic curriculum (Burkhardt et al., 2003

It takes vision and planning to engage students in authentic learning experiences. Teachers must identify which instructional strategies are most effective and understand how to infuse technology into lessons with real world applications.

Instead of asking the question “What technology skills must students have to face the 21st century?” should we not be asking “What thinking and literacy skills must students have to face the 21st century?” These skills are not tied to any particular software or technology-type, but rather aim to provide students with the thinking skill and thus the opportunity to succeed no matter what their futures hold.” Justin Medved, Dennis Harter
Curriculum is designed from the best practice approaches to teaching and learning found in Understanding by Design

The Essential Questions for the 21st Century Learner are:

  • How do you know information is true?
  • How do you communicate effectively?
  • What does it mean to be a global citizen?
  • How do I learn best?
  • How can we be safe?

These questions speak to thinking, critically evaluating, analyzing, and communicating. They emphasize the value in responsible behavior and knowing yourself as a learner.

Career Unit – Based on John Holland’s six personality traits

Goals: critically evaluating, analyzing, communication

Work Samples:


Make a PhotoShow Full Size

Career Resources:

Lunch Nutrition and Recycling Unit

Goals: analyzing, communication, evaluating

Work Samples

Nutrition / Waste Recycling Resources

Other Classroom Activities:


  • Valiant Pride: New student edition – a newspaper that my students designed for new incoming students (samples:
  • Search Engine Extravaganza – PowerPoint presentations to teach our school community about unique search engines
  • BE SAFE ONLINE! Projects made by students to discuss online safety (including chat rooms, cyber bullying, online profiles, photo sharing, etc)
    • Wiki to store document sources used in projects
    • Samples of projects made on blogs, Flickr, and Google presentations (work in progress)
  • Curriculum Review Quizzes – Note: action buttons and hyperlinks do not work on slideshare – you must download the PowerPoint first

Note: Some of the lessons in this session are based on activities that I designed for my Action Research Project for my MA in Educational Technology from Pepperdine University. Three complete thematic units are located at


Works Cited

  1. American Youth Policy Forum
  2. Best Jobs for the 21st Century, 4th Edition by Michael Farr. ©2006 JIST Publishing, Inc.
  3. Curriculum 2.0
  4. enGauge 21st Century Skills: Literacy in the Digital Age (Burkhardt, G., Monsour M., Valdez, G., Gunn, C., Dawson, M., Lemke, C., et al., 2003) North Central Regional Educational Laboratory and the Metiri Group,
  5. National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S)

Upcoming presentations at conferences

I will be presenting the same workshop at two conferences next year. My topic is “Engaging Students with Authentic Technology Projects.”

Embrace 21st century strategies to create an instructional learning environment that moves away from teaching isolated computer skills towards an integrated thematic approach. Come lean how you can combine everyday productivity tools with Web 2.0 to support curriculum integration and collaboration.

coffe-cup.pngI will first hold a hands-on workshop at Instructional Technology Strategies Conference (ITSC) sponsored by OETC next February 17-19 in Portland, Oregon. My program description is at .

The following week I will present the same information at the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) in Seattle, Washington on Thursday, February 28th.

I am looking forward to hearing Wesley Fryer speak at the conference.  Patrick Crispin (Pepperdine Alum!) is also an entertaining and informative speaker.  Visit the NCCE website for more information about conference speakers.

Please send me a note if you will be attending either conference.  See ya there.