Seventy-five years ago today, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent, many of them citizens, from the West Coast. Virtually overnight, an entire group of people lost their jobs, their homes, and their constitutional rights.
Thanks to a beautiful article in today’s SacBee from California farmer, journalist, and author David Mas Masumoto, I am reminded of the importance of standing up and speaking out on behalf of targeted groups. I teach in a school district that was once home to a hard-working community of Japanese-American farmers, who transformed the region into beautiful, productive strawberry fields. Following the signing of Executive Order 9066, the history of the Elk Grove-Florin region was abruptly and forever changed.
In honor of the many contributions of the Japanese-American community and in recognition of the need to stop history from repeating itself, I am proud to co-direct my district’s Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project (TOR). David Mas Masumoto’s words complement the purpose of the TOR project:
“We remember through stories. They frame events, add context to the past beyond a history of facts. Stories add rich and personal details that generate an emotional connection to what was and what can be.”
America is a nation of immigrants. In response to the current political climate and an executive order that is similar to 9066, the TOR project invites youth from across the nation to interview an immigrant or refugee and then share their stories on our TOR Student Gallery. We’ve created On Coming to America, both the lesson and teacher’s guide/toolkit, as an opportunity to showcase the sacrifices and contributions of immigrants and refugees. Again, David Mas Masumoto’s words sum up our commitment to documenting stories from our communities:
“To recognize today’s stories of hate against a class of people, to demand these stories be heard is a first step to building a more democratic and just nation. To be American is to remember all our stories.”
I love the many ways teachers in my district – and probably your district too – are guiding student-centered conversations about building positive digital footprints, protecting online privacy, and confronting cyberbullying. A shout out to Common Sense Media, iKeepSafe, and Netsmartz for the wealth of free resources and lessons you provide to schools on these key digital citizenship topics.
There is a fourth digital citizenship topic that many teachers are increasingly recognizing the need to address: intellectual property. By 5th grade, most students have been warned about the consequences of plagiarism, a conversation that is typically repeated throughout their middle and high school days. While plagiarism is certainly an important topic, in a digital age, copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons also need to be included in the conversations. Given how easy it has become to download, copy, remix, and upload online content, students need to have an understanding of both their intellectual property rights and responsibilities.
As a co-director of my district’s Digital Citizenship initiative and co-curator of the Digital ID project, I am always seeking teacher-friendly/student-friendly resources on intellectual property. I also facilitate district-wide and national workshops ( e.g., CUE and ISTE) to help teachers understand that copyright is different from plagiarism and that fair use and Creative Commons are also options for our students.
Hope you can join me and the fabulous Jane Lofton for our CUE Can I Use That? session (Saturday, 8:00)! If you have questions about the lesson or suggestions for updates to the Guide, please respond with a comment or contact me @GailDesler.
Friday night I headed over to Cosumnes Oaks High school to attend an amazing event: Hype Dance Showcase. For two hours, I sat mesmerized by the choreography, costuming, high energy, obvious passion, and jaw-dropping talents of the student dancers. I promise to update this post as soon as school’s video team uploads footage to their website.
Friday’s event was my third visit to COHS in the past two weeks. I blogged last week about the Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminar, which was also hosted by COHS. A few days before the seminar, I had an appointment to meet with our tech support team to check out the rooms reserved for the seminar. It was close to 4:00 when I made it over to the campus. The school day officially ends at 3:00.
Oh my, oh my, to hear the band practicing for an upcoming competition and to walk by classrooms with students choosing to stay after school to participate in a variety of clubs and meetings was pretty inspiring. I wish I had taken some photos of the stunning art exhibit several students were putting the final touches on. And come to think of it, I also recently blogged about a writing assignment from a COHS teacher a colleague had shared with me.
There are 64 other schools in my district. Could I find at least three activities, lessons, and/or events to boast about at each of those sites? Yes.
Wonderful things happen in our public schools. #PublicSchools
How to Bring Teachers in Your District on Board with Technology
I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had over the years to attend and present at educational technology conferences hosted by outstanding organizations such as ISTE, CUE, Google’s EdTechTeam, National Writing Project, and NCTE. Being able to attend keynotes and sessions by nationally known educational visionaries, such as Will Richardson or Kylene Beers or Rushton Hurley, provides sufficient inspiration and innovative ideas to energize my teaching throughout the school year.
When I attend conferences outside of the Sacramento region or outside of California, I’m also aware that very few teachers from my district have been able to find the funding to cover registration and travel costs. Many are just dipping their toes into the technology integration waters and are not yet ready to submit a workshop proposal, for instance, which might entitle them to attend a conference with registration fees waved (a benefit I frequently take advantage of). And those who do attend some of the two-day, three-day, or four-day conferences often share with me that they ended their conference experience a bit overwhelmed by all the mind-blowing tips and tricks from the many technology rock star presenters.
I love what my district is doing to bring teachers on board with technology integration. Last Saturday, we hosted our 2nd annual Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminar at one of our high schools. For a mere $20 (which covered breakfast and lunch costs – and was waived if you volunteered to present), teachers could begin the morning with an amazing keynote from nationally/internationally known technology innovator and #HyperDocs queen Lisa Highfill. Following the keynote, our teachers could then select four 1-hour, hands-on sessions to attend.
To give you an idea of the wonderful variety and range of topics, here are a few session descriptions:
Teaching in a [Semi]Paperless Google Classroom – Teachers of all grade levels can learn tips and tricks to setting up their Google Classroom and implementing assignments. Basic knowledge of Google Drive very helpful, but not required. I will show you what it looks like from teacher view and student view.
e-Portfolios for PRIMARY Students – Start an amazing journey to meet CCSS with authentic assessment using 21st century tools. Come learn how to create digital portfolios of student work to provide them with important opportunities to reflect on, curate, and showcase their learning beyond the classroom walls. Engage easily with parents and connect them to the heart and soul of your classroom. It’s EASY, versatile, and accessible from ANY device. You’ll love it!
Extension Must-Haves for Teachers – Chrome extensions can make you a millionaire! Okay, so not really, but they can help you and your students be more productive and isn’t that more important than money? Come learn how to install and use the top must-have extensions you need now.
NASA & Project Spectra – Come learn about various tools you can use to teach astronomy & magnetism, grades 6-12. Get hands on practice with interactive games, find resources that augment your regular class materials and try your hand at mapping magnetism on another planet. “Project Spectra!” is a science and engineering program for 6th – 12th grade students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. “Project Spectra!” emphasizes hands-on activities, like building a spectrograph, as well as the use of real data to solve scientific questions.
I believe what makes our Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminars so immediately relevant to attending teachers is that, other than our keynote speakers, every presenter is a district teacher. Across grade levels and curriculum, our presenters share best practices that work with our students – students who the attendees may have taught in the past or may be teaching in the coming years. Add to that motivating factor the fact that all presenters are easily accessible for an on-site visit or via district email, I know many attendees left ready to implement on Monday new ideas, strategies, and tools.
Given the manageable scope – and reasonable expense – of organizing and hosting a district-centered Saturday technology conference, I highly recommend this concept as an effective way to encourage technology “newbies” to explore how different tools offer new possibilities for teaching. I’m pretty sure the “newbies” who attended our Saturday Seminar are now ready to head off to CUE, ISTE, and other popular technology conferences – minus the intimidation factor. And based on the above session descriptions, I will be encouraging ALL of our presenters to start submitting proposals – beyond our 2018 Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms event.
If you are already sponsoring district-based/centered technology conferences, I would love to hear any suggestions or answer any questions!
From the moment I entered the multipurpose room, I could feel the combined energy of the awesome CapCUE team and the group of attending educators from across the Sacramento region, all looking forward to a day of sharing and learning about ways to enhance student learning and engagement through technology and best practices.
So if the EdCamp concept is new to you, here’s how it works:
Participants start the morning by jotting down whatever they would like to learn about on a post-it note and then posting their notes on a wall.
The CapCUE team then sorts through the post-its and assigns the most requested topics to designated classrooms.
Participants head off to whatever sessions best suit their interests. Although there will be a room facilitator, there is not a main presenter. All are invited to share their knowledge and/or ask questions about the topic or tool.
EdCamp Session 1 – I joined a group of teachers interested in discussing ways to use blogging and podcasting to promote student voice. Typical of EdCamp sessions, our group consisted of several teachers already very proficient with and excited about blogging tools, a number who had just started dabbling with blogs, and several who had not yet started their blogging journeys. All were also interested in learning more about podcasting with students.
As a long-time blogger, I really enjoyed being part of this conversation and was able to share a few resources on the Padlet site (which the CapCUE team had set up for each session as an easy way for participants to share resources).
As for the podcasting component, although I’m familiar with several audio recording and editing tools, such as Audacity, I haven’t used any of the growing number of programs/apps you can download to your phone. We were lucky to have Ryan O’Donnell join the session. Ryan and the equally awesome Brian Briggs produce the Check This Out with Ryan and Brian podcasts. Here are some of Ryan’s recommendations for podcasting apps:
Audacity – Like me, Ryan is also a big fan of Audacity, which allows you to easily edit your audio recording, add music, fade in/out, and then export and upload. Audacity is free and works across platforms. However, since you have to download the program, it’s not a good solution if your students are using Chromebooks.
Podomatic – Once you’ve created your podcast, you’ll need an online hosting service. Ryan recommends Podomatic. When you’re set up and have created a “show,” Podomatic will send you a .xml file, which allows you to tell iTunes each time you have a new podcast.
Blogging and podcasting … oh the possibilities!
EdCamp Session 2 – I joined the Virtual Reality group. With the dynamic duo of Brian Briggs and Ryan O’Donnell as room facilitators, this session was mind-blowing! Be sure to visit the session Padlet to learn about the apps that were shared.
I started dabbling a bit with virtual reality (VR) at the previous weekend’s EdTechTeam Summit by attending Jim Sill’s session on Google Cardboard Expeditions. So I was excited to learn about even more VR options. My plan is to little by little explore each of the sites and resources posted to the session Padlet. But, really, if I never venture further than Expeditions, I could already open the walls of the classroom exponentially.
But if I could rewrite my article for Larry, I would be adding VR as a powerful follow-up to videoconferencing. I’ve been thinking about a teacher in my district who recently took his 5th graders on a virtual visit to Yosemite through a videoconference with our National Parks. The videoconference was an extension to a story the students had read about John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt. I think a teacher-led Google Expedition of Yosemite would be one more powerful way technology can open the walls of the classroom (especially in our Title 1 schools).
Thank you again, EdCamp Team, for an engaging, energizing morning. I apologize for not being able to stay for the afternoon – especially since you included a delicious lunch from Olive Garden as part of this FREE event – but I needed to get to downtown Sacramento for the 2nd event of my unforgettable Saturday ….
Event #2 – Sacramento #WomensMarch – It will be a long time to come before I forget Sacramento’s #WomensMarch. To join 20,000 other marchers for this uplifting, unifying, inspiring event filled me with hope and a renewed commitment to hold our nation’s leaders accountable for their words and actions.
Start to finish, I am grateful for every minute of January 21 and appreciate all who added to the day’s events in so many ways. It’s a substantial list of shared ideas, innovative thinking, and hopes and dreams for the future of our schools, communities, and nation.
Thank you Roseville High School (via the awesome Marie Criste) for hosting this weekend’s Google Summit. Start to finish, what an awesome way to spend a weekend! Below are a few of my favorite takeaways:
Technology, High Expectations and the Art of Relationships – Having Jeff Heil kick-off the Summit with his opening keynote was an inspiring start. I had the good fortune to first meet Jeff at the 2012 Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View. We were in the same group/team (led by the amazing Jenny Magiera), so I already knew that Jeff is both brilliant and hilarious. But I did not know about his commitment to using technology as a tool for achieving educational equity, a passion ignited from his time spent working with homeless youth. I am still thinking about Jeff’s question/challenge: “How can the creation of something as simple as a relationship transform student achievement?”
Create Accessibility: Accessible Design for Classroom Creators – If Melissa Oliver’s engaging, hands-on session had been the only one I attended, it would have been well worth the drive to Roseville. As educators in a digital age, we all need an understanding of how to make content we post online – including student-created works – accessible to our readers. Visitors to our online sites, whether they be blind, deaf, colorblind, or elderly, deserve equal access to the content.
Melissa started her session with an easy accessibility first step: adding “alt text” to all images. “Alt text” is an abbreviation for “alternative text.” When you add an “alt text” to an image, screen readers for the blind and visually impaired will read out your text description, thereby making your image accessible. If you are a G Suite district (AKA Google Apps for Education district), I think you’ll appreciate that Google understands the importance of accessibility and has created a very helpful guide. In Google Docs and Slides, for instance, you can find the “alt text” option by selecting the image, clicking on Format, and scrolling all the way down to the last option. In Google Forms and the new Google Sites, select the image, click on the three vertical dots, select “Add alt tag,” and add your description.
Closed captioning (CC) was the second big item on Melissa’s agenda. We’ve been discussing this requirement recently in my district – and feeling a little overwhelmed. Given how many teachers embed or include links to videos on their websites and in digital lessons, I hope their reaction is not to delete all videos.
I am also hoping that students who are creating their own videos will not find the task of adding closed captioning too daunting. Since many teachers require a script before students start the filming process, they may already have text they can copy and paste into a closed captioning program. If not, they can use YouTube’s auto-generated captions and then edit them (and the auto-generated captions will need editing, but at least it’s not like starting from scratch).
In addition to three tips for closed captioning in YouTube, Melissa also shared Caption Creator for Google Drive. You will need to review and give permission to open the program first, and then select a video. What I love about this program is that as soon as you start to type in a caption, the program stops the video and waits for your next pause before continuing where you left off. Easy to use + free = a great combination! Closed captioning student video creations seem like a worthy collaborative project for parent/grandparent/community volunteers or even older students to tackle.
Given that my district was recently served notice by the Office of Civil Rights informing us that we need to make our homepage and all department and school websites (we have 66 schools) and teacher websites (tons!) accessible, my goal in attending this session was to gather useful resources and join a conversation on accessibility issues, solutions, and best practices. Mission accomplished!
How to keep other tabs open when in the presenter view of Google Slides: While in the edit view of your slideshow, click on the URL. Towards the end of the URL, where you see /edit, select and replace with present. You’re good to go!
How about adding a hyperlinked table of contents (TOC) in the footer of your Google Doc? Sure, you can add a TOC at the start of a Doc, but it doesn’t travel with you as you move down through pages. It’s all about Bookmarks. Start by selecting the words or phrases in your document you would like to be hyperlinks in your footer; then click on Insert > Bookmark. When you’ve finished setting up your Bookmaks, go back to Insert and add them to your footer. Type whatever corresponding text you’d like in your footer, select it, go to Insert > Bookmark. I’ve just added a hyperlinked footer to my On Coming to America HyperDoc. Love it!
Exploring Google Expeditions with Cardboard – If you have any extra smartphones you no longer need, I would love to have them … to insert inside Google Cardboard … and expand on the world of virtual field trip possibilities. Jim Sill’s packed session was a wonderful introduction to Google Expeditions! As we stepped into a very breathtaking 3D climb up Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan, I thought about a teacher in my district who recently took his 5th graders on a virtual visit to Yosemite through a videoconference with our National Parks. The videoconference was an extension to a story the students had read about John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt. I think a teacher-led Google Expedition of Yosemite would be one more powerful way technology can open the walls of the classroom (especially in our Title 1 schools).
Revenge of the Sheets: Learn to Google Sheets the Jedi Way – This was my first time to attend one of Jesse Lubinsky’s workshops. He shared a number of great tips for ramping up your Google Sheets skills. A new one for me was the Mapping Sheets add-on, a visual way to let data tell a story:
I also really appreciate Jesse’s comprehension digital handout, which includes links to his various presentations. Each presentation includes links to take you into, through, and beyond a specific Google tool. Thank you!
Back to HyperDocs…As I watched Lisa create a HyperDoc* from scratch on how she might teach students the correct use of there, their, and they’re, I found my session takeaway: Google Story Builder. I’ve known about Story Builder for a long time, but it hadn’t occurred to me what a powerful tool this could be for letting students build their writing skills.
* “HyperDoc is a term used to describe a Google Doc that contains an innovative lesson for students- a 21st Century worksheet, but much better.” From What Is a HyperDoc?
Student Agency EDU – Coming full circle, I ended my Roseville Summit weekend with Jeff Heil, this time joined by presenter/author Trevor McKenzie. They quickly had me immersed in an interesting topic: mastery vs. grades. What if we required students to reach for an A, rather then allowing them to slide by with a B, C, or D? The best way to make this shift happen is to allow students to explore topics and develop projects that they care about. But students will need some scaffolding to take them to this level/goal/expectation. I will definitely be sharing Trevor’s graphics, including the one below, to make visible what the process of moving from teacher-led to student-initiated inquiry looks like:
What a well-spent Saturday and Sunday! With much appreciation for all the planning, vision, and energy the stellar EdTechTeam puts into a Google Summit, I am already looking forward to the 2018 event.
On Coming to America – Small Moments, Big Meanings
We are a nation of immigrants.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.
The greatest gift we can give someone is the gift of their history.” HmongStory40
Yes, we are a nation of immigrants. I am fortunate to work in a school district that is yearly enriched by its history of cultural diversity. Last year, in recognition and celebration of the experiences, challenges, and contributions of those who have come to America, I collaborated on the Coming to America – Small Moments, Big Meanings Lesson and Teacher’s Guide. This year, I am adding another resource: On Coming to America Hyperdoc.*
Both these online lessons are invitations to your students to interview, document, and publish the story of an immigrant or refugee, with a shared goal of:
Introducing students to the differences between an “immigrant” and a “refugee”
Providing a collection of primary source interviews (videos) with recent refugees
Providing guidelines for students to step into the role of oral historians by conducting an interview
Encouraging students to publish their Small Moments, Big Meanings projects to an authentic audience via several online options.
How about your school or district? Have your students had the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and do the work of an oral historian? If not, I can promise that in the process of interviewing an immigrant or refugee, they will discover what I have learned: history happens one story at a time. It would be an honor to showcase your students’ On Coming to America projects.
Questions? Suggestions? Please leave a comment. Let the conversations begin!
*Note: The term “hyperdoc” stems from the ever-amazing Lisa Highfill’s commitment to use tools (such as Google Docs/Slides/Sheets) to create lessons with access to “instructions, links, tasks… to get kids thinking.”
Last week a school district colleague shared a beautiful letter her 9th grade daughter Emma had written for a homework assignment: Write a persuasive essay on a topic you care about. Emma chose the topic of equal rights for women – on a global scale. She wrote her essay in a letter format, addressed to President-elect Trump.
The English teacher was actually on maternity leave, so the assignment came via a long-term substitute teacher. But Emma’s letter was too timely and too well-written to not have an authentic audience, an audience beyond just the teacher. I shared with my colleague the National Writing Project’s Letters to the Next President website. Of all the phenomenal projects and communities the NWP sponsors, Letters to the Next President has to be one of the most timely.
In addition to addressing some immediate community actions/reactions in the days following the election, the panel also discussed the need for teaching media literacy. Links to referenced articles are posted on the site.
I am very grateful for an exponentially growing support group for “teaching and learning in a time of Trump” – with the NWP at the top of my list. I also want to recogize Harvard’s Project Zero: Children as Citizens project as as a second global microphone for students.
From my own region (northern California), I’d like to acknowledge Sacramento City Unified for stepping up to be the first school district in the greater Sacramento region to approve a resolution declaring Sac City a safe haven for students who may be “fearful of deportation and hate speech.” The resolution is in response to the “intolerant rhetoric made over the course of the 2016 presidential race.”
As the January 20 Inauguration Day fast approaches, a quote from Teachers Teaching Teachers panelist Dianca London continues to resonate with me: “Apathy is not an option anymore.”
It would be difficult to read a newspaper, listen to a news broadcast, or open any social media site without seeing some reference to “fake news.” NPR NewsHour’s recent interview How online hoaxes and fake news played a role in the election highlights this growing concern. There is definitely a need to bring media literacy into classrooms.
The Common Core State Standards call for media literacy:
“To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new.” Common Core ELA Standards
However, since the standards do not come wrapped in a curriculum package, it is up to each district to provide some clarity on what media literacy looks like in our K-12 classrooms. Thankfully, the list of resources for teaching media literacy is growing (see resource list at end of post).
From NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Education): “Media literacy is the ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, CREATE, and ACT using all forms of communication.”
In addition to Bill’s resources, I’d like to add the voices of students speaking out on the role of media literacy, via Canada’s Media Literacy Now site:
Similar to the above-listed definitions, the Ontario Ministry of Education defines media literacyas
“…helping students develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of mass media, the techniques used by them, and the impact of these techniques. More specifically, it is education that aims to increase the students’ understanding and enjoyment of how the-media work, how they produce meaning, how they are organized, and how they construct reality. Media Literacy also aims to provide students with the ability to create media products.”
How about some resources for teaching media literacy?
I hope these resources will be useful to you and your students, especially following an extremely contentious election year. As always, if you have resources to add or classroom practices to share, please contribute to the conversation by leaving a comment.
Friday night was book club night, a favorite monthly event. For 16 years we’ve been coming together to discuss, over wine and dinner, good literature, education and, occasionally, politics. Although we briefly discussed our November book choice (Kate DiCamilo’s YA Flora and Ulysses), for most of the evening, we tried to make sense of the election results, consider the ramifications of our President-Elect’s cabinet choices, and envision the possible impacts, both immediate and long-term. I’m guessing that across the nation hundreds of thousands of similar discussions were happening.