If you haven’t seen the Moonshot Thinking video, I recommend it. It’s a great conversation starter for the new school year. The term “moonshot” stems from Google and refers the innovative projects underway at the company’s Google X lab:

“Moonshots live in the gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction; instead of mere 10 percent gains, they aim for 10x improvements,” according to Google. “The combination of a huge problem, a radical solution, and the breakthrough technology that might just make that solution possible is the essence of a Moonshot.”

Last week, I’m pretty sure I was witnessing moonshot thinking as an elementary school in my district connected with NASA for a 20-minute Skype call to the International Space Station (ISS). Checkout the 4-minute video below for a glimpse into the event.

Note: Here’s a link to the complete Downlink call.

I’m looking forward to watching how this awesome event shapes teaching and learning at this wonderful school site. Somehow when teachers, students, administration, parents, and community members team up for the purpose of promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activities, good things are bound to happen.


The drive to Palo Alto’s Gunn High School to attend the July 19-20 GAFE Summit was definitely worth it! With so many great sessions to choose from, narrowing down my choices was a challenge. I enjoyed and learned from each one. Below are a few of my takeaways:

Toward Better Technology Integration – Scott McLeod – I’ve been following Scott McLeod, both through his blog and on Twitter, since first watching his Did You Know videos. A visit to his 2014 EdTech Summit Palo Alto page will provide you with a ton of cool resources as well as a window into his amazing session Toward Better Technology Integration (scroll down a ways). Because I was also presenting during session 1, I missed Part 1 of Scott’s presentation, but am very glad I made it to Part 2 – in which Scott walked us through trudacot (technology-rich unit design and classroom observation template).

Two weeks later, I am still thinking about the potential of trudacot to leverage the power of technology to power up a lesson or unit of study. The template moves beyond technology integration frameworks, such as TPACK and SAMR, by helping teachers figure how to redesign lessons so it’s not about the tool or tools; it’s about the learning. It’s also about providing the context to allow learning to become authentic. Students move beyond studying about “homelessness,” for instance, to figuring out solutions to homelessness (like PBL).

The starting point in redesigning lessons is to begin with someone else’s lessons. In grade-level teams, for example, once everyone is comfortable to with the trudacot model via practicing lesson upgrades (in both the lesson design and meaningful integration of technology tools) using “model lessons” such as the ones listed on Scott’s Summit page, they can move on to analyzing and improving their own lessons.  In watching the sample lesson videos and then reading through the accompanying lessons, it was easy/energizing to go through the trudacot sections and discuss how the lesson met or did not meet the criteria, and then move on to ideas for bumping up the lesson – and learning.

What a great coaching  model and mega takeaway!

Performing the Google SlideMark Hammons - Loved Mark’s design tips, including switching out bullet points for an image + powerful quote = telling a story. Very excited to start playing with Pear Deck and weaving it into my G Slides.

Doctopus and autoCratDiane Main – Great session, with lots of WOW factors in seeing what the new Doctopus add-on can do for you. Wish I had updated to the new Drive prior to Diane’s session, as the Doctopus add-on doesn’t really work in the old Drive.

Better Student Feedback with Kaizena - Karl Lindgren-Streicher  - Love Karl’s presentation style: humor + insights from the trenches. His session link includes screenshots and tips to get started with this powerful Google add-on for providing students with audio feedback. In Karl’s words, “Kaizena allows you to give more, better, faster feedback on student work than any other tool.” Prior to Karl’s session, I’d thought of Kaizena more as a one-way flow of feedback – from teacher to student. I left the session thinking about the possibilities of two-way feedback/conversations. Awesome tool. Awesome presenter.

Critical Thinking and the Web: Searching in a Google-Infused WorldHolly Clark - I ended my Summit experience with Holly’s session on searching skills. Having Google Search Anthropologist Dan Russell join the session as a participant transformed the session from a presentation to a highly interactive discussion. WOW! Great way to wrap up an amazing two days of connecting, comparing/sharing, and learning!

A huge thank you to the EdTechTeam for all time, energy, and vision you put into planning this event! It was a privilege to attend, both as a presenter and a participant. I’m already checking the upcoming GAFE Summits and looking forward to attending several in the new school year.

Loved ISTE 2014! Between the selection of sessions and presenters, connecting with friends before, during, and after sessions, and having my first-ever bison burger (at Ted’s Montana Grill), it was a wonderful four days in Atlanta.

Below are a few of my conference take-aways:



  • Reinvent essay revisions: Using voice, video, and sites to critique – I’ve linked to ISTE’s session details page just to give you an inkling of what an entertaining and outstanding presenter Jon Spike is. I believe this was his first ISTE presentation (he’s only been teaching for a couple of years). I predict he will soon be a much requested presenter at local, state, and national conferences. My main take-away was confirmation on the power of using Kaizena for providing feedback on students’ writing. But I also loved his opening audience survey via Kahoot, which is a new tool for me – one I’ll definitely be sharing with teachers back at my district.
  • Digital Citizenship – Awesome panel discussion led by Mike Ribble, Jason Ohler, Kelly, Mendoza, Marialice BFX Curran, and Frank Gallagher.  Huge take-away: Working with teacher candidates – “it’s everyone’s civic responsibility to engage everyone in the conversation” (Marialice BFX Curran). Note to self: check to see how digital citizenship is woven into my district’s teacher credential program!


  • Tammy Worcester’s Google Spreadsheets – Great tips for all things Google are available on Tammy’s website, including on spreadsheet must-have formula that I knew about for making data easier to read, but had somehow lost/forgotten it: Transpose.
  • The Tomorrow Toolkit – Great to hear presentations from Adam Bellow, Kyle Pace, Michelle Baldwin, and Erin Klein – and to have each of their resources listed on the website. My biggest take-away was Erin Klein’s inspiring demo of how her primary students are exploring and loving augmented reality through Aurasma (another tool I’ve been meaning to play with).  Erin explains Aurasma  as “like taking something 2 D and adding 4D layer. Start with a map on wall, for instance, take a picture and do as overlay on video. Use some kind of sticker on what’s been augmented.” Bonus: Erin’s page includes link to 18-page guide for Aurasma.
  • Google’s Connected Classrooms – Loved ending the conference with my Google Certified Teacher buddy (#gctmtv12) Alice Chen. Besides checking out her slide presentation, I recommend reading her recent blog post on Connected Classrooms. I’m already looking forward to supporting teachers in connecting their classrooms to this powerful, free resource. From now through August, the events are mainly for teacher PD. Come September, you will want to head to g.co/connectedclassrooms to check for upcoming events.Three classrooms are invited to join each event’s Google Hangout. But if your class is not selected, all sessions are recorded, so you can catch and show them at your convenience.

I’m already looking forward to ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia:-)



Filed Under (PBL) by on April 20, 2014 and tagged , , ,

A year ago, a wonderful principal at one of my district’s elementary schools invited me to give a 1-hour workshop at his site on Project-Based Learning (PBL). I was thrilled to have the request come from an administrator and for the opportunity to organize my thoughts and resources into something useful for teachers.

I set to work on a Google slideshow, so that the teachers would have an easily-edible presentation to use with their students and parents. As you can see from the presentation (which includes the talking points), I pulled mainly from Edutopia and BIE (Buck Institute of Education), two rich, dynamic, free gold mines for PBL samples, resources, and best practices. The only thing missing from my slideshow was a PBL sample from my district, since this was an in-district workshop.  Thanks to the amazing work of 5th/6th grade teacher Jim Bentley and his students, that missing district element no longer exists.

On Thursday, one year later, I’ll be headed to Jim’s site to co-facilitate a PBL workshop that’s open to all district  teachers and administrators. What makes this workshop very special is that some of Jim’s students will also be presenting with us.

I celebrate that one year later, there is a small, but growing number of teachers in my district embracing PBL – with a common thread of having supportive administrators who recognize the value of students being engaged and feeling a genuine purpose for their work. So my idea is to offer our PBL workshop each quarter, with a different site/teacher(s)/students hosting the workshop.

In collaboration with Jim and other contributing PBL teachers, we’ll continue updating the slideshow. We’ll also be adding to our PBL digital handout. We would welcome more snippets of what PBL looks like from primary grades through high school, across the curriculum and content areas. If you have sources we should add, please share them via a comment.

If you are looking for opportunities for your students to speak out on digital citizenship issues, checkout the 2014 Digital Citizenship PSA Challenge. Students in grades 4-12 are invited to submit a 90-second (or less) PSA that addresses taking a stand on cyberbullying, building a positive digital footprint, respecting intellectual property, or protecting online privacy.

Sponsored by the Digital ID project, all the information for creating and submitting a PSA is posted to the PSA Challenge page, including a wealth of resources and even a link to printable flyer.

Prizes? Yes. Once again we* are offering $25 iTunes cards to student producers of the top three entries for elementary, middle, and high school categories.

Please let me know, by leaving a comment, if you have questions. Hope to see entries from your students!

*Disclaimer: I am a co-curator of the Digital ID project. As my fellow co-curator Natalie Bernasconi and I head into our 3rd year of sponsoring the PSA Challenge, we look forward to showcasing the work of students across the nation and globe. The Digital ID project and the PSA Challenge are in recognition that the most powerful, impactful teaching model is the students-teaching-students model.

In the eight years that I’ve been offering blogging workshops, I love watching teachers leave excited to start blogging with their students and with a vision of how blogging might transform teaching and learning. A great way to keep the excitement going is to connect them, directly or indirectly, with other classrooms – beyond their school sites and communities. The Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge is exactly that kind of opportunity – and it’s free!

Twice a  school year (October and March), Edublogs sponsors the Student Blogging Challenge. The Challenge is a wonderful opportunity for students to practice and improve their digital writing skills – and for teachers to promote  and support learning beyond the school day.

The March 2014 Challenge runs for 10 weeks, with weekly tasks designed to scaffold students’ online communication skills. The tasks range from digital citizenship to making global and local connections. Participating classrooms can complete all or as many tasks as they wish, and in any order.

Besides registering your own classroom(s) for the Challenge, you are warmly invited to sign up to mentor individual student bloggers.

Thank you, Sue Wyatt, Sue Waters, and Ronnie Burt, for continuing to support and host the Student Blogging Challenge. A huge time commitment on your part – but such a worthwhile project!

Filed Under (Google) by on February 16, 2014 and tagged

resources   2014 07 19 EdTechTeam California Summit featuring Google for Education


A week later, I’m still thinking about the Roseville GAFE Summit. What an amazing gathering of innovative educators! Here are some of my takeaways:


  • Dan Russell’s Opening Keynote – I’m a huge Dan Russell fan. Many of the tips I include in my Just Google It! workshop come from Dan. From his session, I’ve added a new word to my 21st century teaching and learning glossary: informacy – to use and interact with the  information. I’m also adding to my workshop Dan’s reminder of the power of Photo search, which allows you to search by image  and then drag that image into search image box. Or even more awesome, take photo of something (e.g., a caterpillar) and drag image into search image box.
  • Ken Shelton’s Google Sites Session – Ken demonstrated how to make a Google site not look like a Google site by encouraging students to take advantage of screen real estate and switching  navigation from vertical to horizontal. His great tips for selecting or creating a color palette are posted to his Site Design[ed] site. Loved learning about ColourLovers.com and You’re a Comic Sans Criminal.
  • Trevor Mattea’s Digital Photography for Elementary Students – I recommend going through Trevor’s slideshow, including his external links, to find great tips such as Mike Browne’s YouTube Channel and to be inspired by the work Trevor is doing with his 3rd graders.
  • Michael Wacker’s Even More Googiciousness – Wow, so many Google tips, I need to go back through his slideshow a couple more times. Glad to learn about Remote Desktop, which allows you to take over another person’s computer during a hangout, and Auto Awesome – if you take 5 or more images, it creates the animate “chip” for you.
  • Rachel Wente-Chaney’s Trees & Branches – Wish you had an easy-to-follow video tutorial to walk staff and students through the process of of creating “choose your own adventure” style Google forms? Checkout the link to Rachel’s Trees & Branches “screencast walk through.”
  • Megan Ellis’s Doctopus & Goobric – Beautiful job of bringing a packed room of eager educators on board with the power of Doctopus and Goobric! (Very proud to have been in the same MERIT cohort with Megan;-)

Based on the Roseville Summit, I’m pretty sure I’m on my way to becoming a Google Summit groupie.

Feb 5 = Nat'l DLD

Feb 5 = Nat’l DLD

February 5 marks the Alliance For Excellent Education’s 3rd annual national Digital Learning Day (DLD). I love the many ways the Digital Learning Day website and program encourages and showcases best practices in supporting students as digital learners and global citizens. The video below highlights the importance of digital learning from a student perspective, with a strong message that digital learning is no longer optional or simply an add-on:


If you are wondering how classrooms, school sites, and districts are participating in DLD, a great starting point is the Digital Learning Day Celebration Map, which includes a search bar and the registration form. As of today, Alabama, New Jersey, and California educators are the top contributors.

Of the many ways you and your students can participate in DLD, here are a few of my favorites:

 Another option we are offering through our Digital ID partnership with the California Writing Project is an #Upstanders Tweetout.

Wherever you are and however you involve your students in any of the above  or other DLD activities, please be sure to visit the DLD Map Celebration and enter your information.  I look forward to learning from and being inspired by a national network of DLD contributors!

Filed Under (EdCamp) by on January 12, 2014 and tagged ,

Saturday marked the first time an EdCamp has taken place in Sacramento. It was also my first time to attend one – and now I’m eager for more EdCamp experiences. If you’ve every attended an Unconference (e.g., Steve Hargadon style), then you know the format: attendees gather at the beginning, suggest sessions – which are shared conversations, not formal presentations, and then delve into day, with the understanding that if a session doesn’t fit your needs, you’re encouraged to switch to another (“law of two feet”).

Oh, and EdCamps are FREE.

As simple as it seems to host one (e.g.,no need to send out call for proposals in advance or print programs), I’m pretty sure the EdCam Sac organizers Colin O’Connor, Peter Strawn, Trisha Sanchez, Cynthia Cost, and Danielle Lemke did some heavy lifting beforehand to make sure the day ran smoothly.  Wireless worked, sites were not blocked, coffee and donuts were abundant. Bravo, Team EdCampSac!

I loved the opportunity to connect – and reconnect – with teachers within and outside of my district.

Kristen Swanson, a co-founder of the original EdCamp – and  also an attendee at #edcampsac, offers a more in-depth look at the rationale and power of EdCamps in her recent Edutopia article Why EdCamp. Judging from the group discussion at the close of yesterday’s #edcampsac, I think all who attended would agree that with Kristen’s summary:

The Edcamp model provides educators with a sustainable model for learning, growing, connecting and sharing. Everyone’s expertise is honored, and specific, concrete strategies are exchanged. When professional development is created “for teachers by teachers,” everyone wins.”


Thank you, Edublogs, for sponsoring the annual Edublog Awards event. Every year, I look forward to discovering new ideas and resources, learning from innovative educators, and the opportunity to give a shout out to those who have inspired me in the past year.


 My 2013 Edublog Awards Nominations:

  • Best Individual BlogKevin’s Meandering Mind – This is not the first time I have nominated Kevin Hodgson’s blog for an eddie, but this year, I’ve moved his nomination from Best Teacher Blog to this first category. Kevin’s love for teaching, music, poetry, comic creations, collaboration, reflection and more continue to inspire and recharge my thinking about what it means to be a connected educator.
  • Best Class BlogMr. Bentley’s 5th/6th Grade Loop – Last summer, Edutopia’s Suzie Boss asked me if I had a recommendation for a teacher in my district who immerses students in Project-Base Learning (PBL). Suzie now joins me in recognizing the amazing teaching and learning that happens in Jim Bentley’s classroom. If you can’t visit his classroom in real time,  Jim’s classroom blog will provide a window into his teaching. Be sure to check the resources he and his students have created for producing award-winning documentaries and PSAs.
  • Best Group BlogYouth Voices – An annual invitation to  ”youth of all ages to voice their thoughts about their passions, to explain things they understand well, to wonder about things they have just begun to understand, and to share discussion posts with other young people using as many different genres and media as they can imagine!
  • Best Ed Tech / Resource Sharing BlogFree Technology for Teachers - Richard Byrne’s blog is a treasure. So many great technology tools clearly explained and demonstrated.
  • Best Teacher BlogAlice in WonderTech – A year ago this week, I traveled to Mountain View (California) to attend the Google Teacher Academy, where I met amazing teachers from across the nation and world – including Alice Chen, a middle school ELA teacher. Alice is a fearless explorer of new technologies and a sought after trainer in her district, region, and state. Her blog posts are a reminder that even if we stumble a bit in adopting new ideas and tools, we are still moving forward.
  • Most Influential Blog Post of the YearUsing Writing to Combat Bullying and Cliques – OK, I’m not sure if an article posted to Education Week counts as a blog post, but in the month since reading David Rockower’s powerful article, I’ve passed it on to both colleagues and administrators (and even adapted a Google Doc version to center on cyberbullying).
  • Best individual Tweeter@LarryFerlazzo – I really appreciate the constant flow of outstanding resources and articles Larry shares through Twitter.
  • Best Twitter Hashtag – #upstanders – Margaret Mead’s words from the past sum up the power of this timely/timeless hashtag: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
  • Best free web tool - Mozilla’s PopcornMaker – What a great tool for introducing students to the art and power of remix.
  • Best Open PD /Webinar Series - Common Sense Media’s webinars (which include participation certificates) are a wonderful new resource and free online PD option for teachers to learn more about what it means to be a digital citizen.
  • Lifetime AchievementMike Ribble – With much appreciation for all that Mike has done to ignite conversations and communities around issues of digital citizenship.

Note to self: Next year do NOT wait till the last day to post nominations!