NCCE 2015 Technology Educator of the Year

2015 NCCE Technology Educator of the YearAt the #NCCE2015 conference I was surprised and honored to be selected as the NCCE 2015 Technology Educator of the Year.  I have been attending or presenting at the NCCE conference for over 15 years and am thrilled to be part of this organization.  I have seen it grown over the years to know include hands-on workshops bringing in innovative speakers and educators.

I have to first thank the administration and colleagues at La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.  Ever since I received my Masters of Educational Technology from Pepperdine University, I have been seeking an educational environment that embraces technology and has a strong vision for student-centered learning.

La Salle Prep commits to a strong professional development for their faculty.  I love that our faculty works together to grow professionally.  We went 1:1 with iPads this year after three years of planning, collaborating, and working towards a common vision.  Faculty members share iPad best practices, collaborate on common assessments, focus on questioning strategies, and plan for literacy development throughout the curriculum.

I also want to thank my educational technology community.  My learning and teaching has been challenged by the experiences I have encountered throughout my career.

10415622_10203875812803171_2226749199090434807_nI accept this award and share it with all the educators I have met and worked with at:

And the various organizations that have shaped my teaching throughout my career:


Thanks also to Troxell Communications for sponsoring the award.


Library of Congress lesson plan: Childhood Poverty


Last week I attended a two-day Primary Source workshop from the Library of Congress sponsored by NCCE.  During the course of the workshop we looked through all the fabulous resources gathered by the Library of Congress.  There is so much information its a bit overwhelming at first – but once you dive into it you begin to understand the search features.

On the main LOC website you will see the main collections divided into 9 sections.  I especially found the Prints & Photographs, American Memory, Manuscripts and Veteran’s History sections to be helpful.  Make sure you check out the Teacher’s section because the LOC has already curated their collections into Primary Source sets and Themed Resources.

We use the analysis worksheets to help us review the primary sources – there is also a helpful Teacher’s Guide to assist you in using Primary Sources.

Each workshop attendee create a lesson plan using Primary Sources.  The focus of my lesson was using primary source photographs as a discussion around the theme of childhood poverty.  Our school’s theme next year is childhood poverty and this summer every student is choosing to read The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls or The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore.  My lesson is to look at primary source photographs and compare them to the characters in the novels and then create a VoiceThread narrative project emphasizing how economic, cultural and geographic condition factor into poverty.

Click here to download the Childhood Poverty Lesson plan

Activity Name Childhood Poverty
Activity Overview
Big Understanding: Poverty affects both children and adults
Essential Question(s): 

  • How does poverty affect children in terms of economics, culture and geography?
  • How has poverty changed throughout history?
  • How would my life been different if I grew up in poverty?

Standards (State or National) Oregon Grade 9 – Social Studies 3.6.1 

Analyze and evaluate the impact of economic, cultural or environmental factors that result in changes to population of cities, countries, or regions.

Oregon Grade 9 – Language Arts 2.5

Listen to and Read Informational and Narrative Text: Skill To Support the Standard: (For the purpose of noting key skills that support classroom instruction of the standards) Understand and draw upon a variety of comprehension strategies as needed–re-reading, self-correcting, summarizing, class and group discussions, generating and responding to essential questions, making predictions, and comparing information from several sources.

Oregon Grade 9 – Technology 3.A

Students select and apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, validate, and use information.

Time Required 3-5 class periods
Objectives Students will analyze primary documents to identify signs of childhood poverty. 

Students will propose scenarios of how the child in the images was affected by poverty in terms of economic, culture or geography.

Students will reflect how their life would have been different if they had been affected by extreme poverty.

Preparation Background lesson:  Students have chosen to read one of the novels:  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls or The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore for their summer reading selection. 


Copy analyzing photographs and print worksheet

Copy VoiceThread graphic organizer

Set up VoiceThread accounts.

Gathering microphones for recording


Procedure Engage prior knowledge:  Discuss themes from novels.  What struck you about the experiences of the characters?  How did poverty affect their lives? 

Analyzing Prints from Library of Congress

Access the When They Were Young collection of prints from the Library of Congress.  Locate images that show children in poverty.

Use the Analyzing photographs worksheet to make observations, reflections and questions about the images.

Question Prompts:


Describe what you see.

What do you notice first about the children?

What is the physical setting?  What, if any, words do you see?

What other details can you see?


Why do you think this image was made?

What’s happening in the image?

How does this represent poverty?  How do you know?

When do you think it was made? Who do you think was the audience for this image?

What can you learn from examining this image?

What’s missing from this image?  If someone made this today, what would be different? What would be the same?


What do you wonder about… who? what? when? where?  why? how?

Compare the primary source images to the images you created in your mind to the novel you read for Summer Reading:  The Glass Castle or The Other Wes Moore.

Discuss:  How are they the same?  How are they different?


In pairs, students will choose an image related to poverty from the Library of Congress website to save.

Students will write up a scenario of how the child in the image was affected by poverty in terms of economic, culture or geography. Each pair of students will record a short 1 minute story about their chosen primary source using Audacity.

Students will upload their image and audio recording into one slide of the class VoiceThread project.

Classmates will be required to visit one slide of the class VoiceThread project and make a comment on the story by either asking a question about their story or adding their own comment.  Students could also add comments about the novels they read and relate it to the scenarios.

Hint:  Use the following sentence starters to shape your thoughts and comments while viewing or participating in the VoiceThread presentations. Comments based on these kinds of statements make VoiceThread project interactive and engaging.

  • This reminds me of…
  • This is similar to…
  • I wonder…
  • I realized…
  • I noticed…
  • 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…


Assessment/Reflection Use graphic organizer to respond to the class VoiceThread project.

The organizer includes questions such as:

  • Highlight a comment from our Voicethread conversation that closely matches your own thinking. Why does this comment resonate—or make sense to—you?
  • Highlight a comment from our Voicethread conversation that you respectfully disagree with. If you were to engage in a conversation with the commenter, what evidence/argument would you use to persuade them to change their point of view?
  • Highlight a comment from our Voicethread conversation that challenged your thinking in a good way and/or made you rethink one of your original ideas. What about the new comment was challenging? What are you going to do now that your original belief was challenged? Will you change yoru mind? Will you do more researching/thinking/talking with others?
  • Highlight the strand of conversation from our Voicethread conversation that was the most interesting or motivating to you. Which ideas would you like to have more time to talk about? Why? What new topics does this conversation make you want to study next?


NCCE 2011 is in Portland, yeah baby!

I’m so thrilled when NCCE 2011 comes to Portland because that means I get to sleep in my own bed and show my PLN buddies the beautiful city.  Early bird registration ends January 31st so get your registration in ASAP.

Here are my plans:

Wednesday 3/2/11 Attend the Teacher Librarian Summit II with Mike Eisenberg.

Thursday I will be giving a workshop in the afternoon:  Integrating Google Tools 4 Teachers.

Friday:  I will attend the concurrent sessions.

Building at PLN at NCCE

I got home last night from the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) conference in Seattle.  I’ve attended this conference off and on for many years and have presented sessions the last two.  I was really looking forward to meeting more of my NW friends in my PLN.  There wasn’t much activity on #ncce10 the week before the conference but I tried to reach out to those who said they were attending and say Hi and introduce myself.

Hanging out and learning in the Blogger's Cafe at NECC09. Photo by Kevin Jarrett.

I arrived Wednesday afternoon, and to my disappointment, I found out that there was no designated “Blogger’s Cafe” or “PLN Plaza” for folks to meet one another, share new ideas or just hang out in between sessions.  I found this time so valuable last June at NECC09.

Throughout the NCCE conference there were a few people Twittering about their sessions and I gleamed a few good ideas from their tweets and even added some new folks to Twitter –  but never really had the opportunity to meet very many people face-to-face except a few GCTs and DEN folks.

I was expressing my concern about the lack of a designated hang out space (that had free Internet access)  with fellow GCT Martha Thornburgh at lunch and she agreed and she suggested we bring up this idea to the NCCE Program Chair, Becky Firth.  We caught Becky in the hallway and explained our idea of the PLN Plaza and offered our assistance for next year’s conference. Becky was open to the idea – so now we need to figure out how to make a PLN Plaza some place people want to hang out, share, and learn from each other.

Developing a strong PLN takes time, commitment and leadership.  If you have any ideas of how you have organized or participated in the planning of this type of space at a conference –  we would appreciate your ideas.

NCCE 2010

If you are attending the Northwest Council of Computer Education (NCCE)  conference in Seattle this week – please introduce yourself or Twitter using the hastag #NCCE10 so I can find you.  Or better yet –  stop by my presentations and say HI!

Wednesday 3/3/10:   5-8 pm Using VoiceThread for Interactive Projects workshop (fee)

Thursday 3/4/10:  3:30-4:30pm  Google Tools vs. Google Apps concurrent session – Rm 612

Friday 3/5/10:  9:45am – 10:45am What is a PLN and Why do I need one? with Martha Thornburgh – Rm 612

What is a PLN and why do I need one?

Martha Thornburgh and I are presenting “What is a PLN and why do I need one” at the upcoming NCCE 2010 conference in Seattle.  We are fleshing out some of our ideas for our session so I thought I would blog some of our ideas.

A PLN is a Personal Learning Network.  A PLN is a reciprocal network that you create to learn from, connect with, gather information or resources, create with and finally share what you have learned.  A PLN can occur in your school, face-to-face, online, at conferences or through reading, reflecting and sharing.

The benefits of having a PLN?

Teaching can be a very isolating profession.  Having a PLN allows you to connect and share with other educators in your subject area.  Think of the Verizon network commercials … your network is always there support you, answering questions, inspiring you and encouraging your own learning.

It can take time to build up an active PLN – so don’t get discouraged.  It takes time to build community – but once its established – you can benefit from the sharing.

Our session plan is explain how to develop a PLN and then share various tools that can make that happen.  We are planning to share Twitter, Blogs, Social Networks, Webinars, and Collaborative Projects.  Here’s some notes about our first tool:  Microblogging (stay tuned for more posts).

Microblogging: Twitter/Plurk

“Twitter is the water cooler of the Internet”
~Neil Chambers


Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages.  People write short updates, often called “tweets”  of 140 characters or fewer.  These messages are posted to your profile or your blog, sent to your followers, and are searchable on Twitter search.

Plurk is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send updates (otherwise known as plurks) through short messages or links, which can be up to 140 text characters in length.


  • Be active.
  • Find other educators in your subject area to follow by following  the followers of edtech leaders or use Educator listings, such as (and skip the celebrities!)
  • Response to tweets using @username or use a #hashtag for specific topics
  • Use ReTweet (RT) to repost your favorite tweets.
  • Use third party tools to manage Twitter
    • Tweetdeck – A desktop application that organizes your tweets into groups, lists, or by #hastag.
    • Twubs- Twitter groups built around #hashtags


  • You can get immediate response to your questions or requests for help.
  • There is an active educator community online who love to share resources and ideas.
  • The RT feature furthers the sharing of ideas & resources that users find valuable or insightful
  • Has great search
  • Plurk keeps threaded conversations


  • Hard to use effectively when you don’t have many followers
  • You miss tweets when you aren’t online.
  • Addicting:  Can be distracting to tweet when you should be doing other computer work
  • A lot of companies are now using Twitter for gimmicky contests or spamming their followers.


  • Dennis Grice posted a Google form to Twitter and Plurk asking his PLN to answer the question “What did you have for breakfast” after reading “George Washington’s Breakfast” with his 3rd graders.  He received responses from all over the world and posted the results in a Google Map.  More info …
  • Every Tuesday, a group of educators hold #edchat on Twitter and discuss the topic for the week.


We know this isn’t an all inclusive review of Twitter and a PLN – but would love your thoughts, ideas or examples of best practices.

Reflecting about my own learning

Last Saturday during a two hour drive,  my husband and I had a great discussion about learning, failure and success.  We were discussing people’s attitude towards problems in your work environment and failure in general.  Some folks are crushed by failure, beat themselves up, or try to do everything to avoid acknowledging that things didn’t quite go as planned.  Other folks have an easier time brushing themselves off, looking for lessons learned and bouncing back.

We each identified our own attitudes and behaviors.  It was an interesting discussion about fear of failure, what motivates us to finally act after procrastination and our willingness to be transparent with our shortcomings.

Argg ... NCCE pirate themeDuring the drive home later that evening, I finally had a chance to reflect about my experience presenting at NCCE.  My mind wandered through the events of the conference in the quiet of the night.  While I absolutely loved meeting and connecting with the educators in my Personal Learning Network, my mind drifted to my own presentations and I found myself evaluating my “performance” –  what I wished I had said or not said and what I covered.

It’s easy at this point to beat yourself up.  It’s nerve-wracking standing up front of 60+ educators and put yourself out there.  Two of the three presentations were new for me this year and I wanted them to go well.   Questions like, “Did I explain myself clearly” and “Did attendees learn anything new” or “Did I cover the material well” swam through my head.

For the most part I do not beat myself up if everything doesn’t go perfectly.  I tell myself that if I had at least taught some folks to do something new or try a new way of looking at technology tools, or inspired them to learn more — then I did what I set out to accomplish.

Both Jeff Utecht and Richard Kassissieh blogged about the lack of conference sessions that focused on teaching and learning and too much focus on tools.  Richard wrote:

Excessive focus on the technology itself in the absence of an intentional learning environment reinforces unhelpful stereotypes about technologists and technology. 1) You can improve education just by adding technology; 2) Technologists aren’t interested in teaching and learning. Most of the conference attendees are teachers. Let’s upset the usual stereotypes and return to what matters.

Other discussions I had with members of my PLN also centered around how we could make this conference better and help technology-loving educators connect with one another.  I reflected on my experience of teaching the tools vs. focusing on the pedagogy.  How did I do?

I want to see “problems” as learning opportunities — not failure.  I want to be able to review my experiences and be proud of what I accomplished but at the same time be willing to correct mistakes next time — not see them as failures — but just as opportunities to try something else.  It’s called learning.  Realizing it’s not the outcome you wanted and try again.

Jeff ustreamed my Google Apps for Education presentation and I watched the archived video – and I did cringe a few time when reviewing, but for the most part was happy with the presentation.  Watching yourself is great for learning – as long as you can keep the focus positive.

So after a few days to think about my experience and what I “learned” , I noted a few things down.

  • Focus on student learning first and then how the technology tool can improve, help, or encourage learning.
  • Encourage discussion and conversation among the educators in smaller groups, backchannel or discussion board/questions.  Each person needs a chance to reflect, ask questions, and discuss for the idea to be “sticky”.
  • Be clear about your objective at the beginning of the presentation and the skill level  you are covering and stick to it.
  • For hands on workshops, have the participants create authentic material and not just “practice” the skill.
  • Have resource material available but don’t feel like you have to cover everything (especially 1 hr concurrent sessions).
  • Skip the “how I got here” intro and jump right into the presentation.
  • Constantly tweak your Powerpoint presentations (note:  I’m ready to start over on this one!)
  • It’s OK to be nervous – just breath deep — get in touch with  your passion inside – it will help you relax.

What have you learned about yourself lately?

NCCE08 – Eric Langhorst

history.jpgSpeaking of History – Eric Langhorst
South Valley Junior High

Here are some of my notes from Eric’s presentation: Microsoft and Web 2.0 tools


  • A Whole New Mind – Daniel Pink
  • The World is Flat – Thomas Friedman

Students are different. Information is everywhere – understanding how to use it is critical. Learning can take place anyplace anytime. We have the ability to reach students with multiple learning styles; Reaching higher order thinking skills, creative

Eric has created a network with other educators around the world with his podcast. He records his podcasts with Audacity (cross platform audio recording). Here are some of the things he has podcasting:

  • Interviews with authors
  • Lessons plans from classroom
  • Break up letter lesson – Declaration of Independence
  • Museum visits
  • Interview curator
  • Student projects
  • Comments on Ed tech topics
  • Reflections on teaching
  • Review of online resources

Other Ideas:

  • StudyCasts – Record audio interview for upcoming test
  • Post MP3 file on Internet
  • Students listen at home on Internet, MP3 player or CD
  • Record test for students who have modifications for taking tests
  • Books have been read and recorded (with permission)
  • Record young student reading for fluency
  • Currently part of pilot using Microsoft’s Zune MP3 player
  • Transfer pictures and audio with wireless connections – StudyCasts, presentation notes
  • Students are conducting family history interviews – give copies for family and local museum
  • AT&T grant to create historical information about Liberty using Guide by cell technology
  • Students will narrate museum artifact information


  • Keep content for student simple – no background music
  • Allow students to use this tool for other projects
  • Use USB microphone – $20-30
  • Create a folder of medial elements in advance for your students to use
  • Good source of images from Flickr
  • Keep projects short

Allow students to become producers of the content they use not just consumers.

  • Microsoft PhotoStory3 – create video from still pictures
  • Microsoft MovieMaker2 – create video from video

More Ideas

  • Do a family videos first – interviews of how parent’s met
  • Boston Massacre LIVE! Newscast (imagine CNN was there and do a broadcast from Colonial and English perspective. Interview: Colonists, King, Paul Revere) then that leads to discussion of the historical perspective and power of media POV. Citizen media – record with cell phone.
  • Create a 30 second TV ad for historical election – 1860 Lincoln Election
  • Create a TV commercial supports either the Federalist of Anti-Federalist in the ratification of the Constitution
  • Liberty Minutes – 3-5 videos on local historical topics – show to local historical society

WEB 2.0 ideas:


  • Book Blog Project – 350 copies of book – student and parent’s blog with home school students in CA & Author participates in project
  • Donner Party Debate – record class debate. Send experts MP3 of debate and they respond with comments; Email questions to experts – teacher sends 10 questions from class
  • Online assessment – Quia and quiz star (Immediate data and feedback) Include a pretest of the next information after the chapter test

Learning at NCCE08

It’s great to see the good people of Seattle have so much wisdom to share with tech-loving educators this year. I have already been to several excellent sessions:

Karen Fasimpaur – Free Content + Open Tools + Massive Collaboration = Learning For All


Karen discussed the Open Educational Resource (OER) movement. She first addressed copyright and the creative commons licensing ( She shared several open source tools that I was already familiar with, like: (MediaWiki, WordPress, Moodle, Open Office, The Open CD, GIMP, Audacity, and CamStudio).

The focus of her presentation, though, was on open CONTENT that can be used for educational purposes. She gave permission for all of us to share her resources so here I go:

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Open Licenses You Can Use

Creative Commons –

(The CC BY-SA or CC BY are recommended licenses for education.)



MediaWiki (wikis) –

WordPress (blogs) – will host your blog as well.

Moodle (course management) –

OpenOffice (productivity) –

The Open CD (various) –

GIMP (image editing) –

Audacity (sound editing) –

CamStudio (screen recording) –


Freely Usable Audio Content*

ccMixter –

Wikimedia Commons music –

Spoken Wikipedia –

The Freesound Project –

Common Content

Internet Archive –

Freely Usable Photo and Video Content*

Wikimedia Commons –

flickr –

creativecommons/ Common Content –

Morguefile –

Stock.XCHNG –

* Make sure to read license terms for individual content sources.

Educational Content/Curriculum

Wikibooks and Wikijunior –

Free-Reading –

Curriki –

WikiEducator –

OER Commons –

Learn NC

MIT OpenCourseware –

Audio Books and Ebooks

LibriVox –

Spoken Alexandria Project –

Telltale Weekly –

Project Gutenberg – –

Lit2Go –

How You Can Share with the World

  • Post photos to Flickr with an open license
  • If you see a mistake or opportunity for clarification in Wikipedia or another wiki, do it!
  • Add something to a topic you know about in Wikipedia
  • Create a new article in Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikitravel, or elsewhere
  • License your content (web site, lesson plans, photos, PPTs, etc.) with a CC license (We recommend CC BY SA for education.)
  • Contribute to Wikibooks, Curriki, WikiEducator, or other OER sites
  • Teach your students about open content
  • Tell your friends about OER

Join me at NCCE

Engaging Students with Authentic Technology Projects – Colette Cassinelli
Computer Teacher, Valley Catholic School

Thursday, February 28, 2008, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Do you want to learn how to redesign your curriculum to include 21st century skills? Come learn how a HS teacher utilizes thematic units to engage students in authentic technology projects. You will come away with new ideas that showcase Web 2.0 tools and innovative projects based on standards.

I’ll be twittering (ccassinelli) and on skype. Look me up if you are there!

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.