Muddling through the blogosphere

January 17, 2019
by blogwalker

A Few Takeaways from the California League of Schools Technology Conference


CLS/CUE Tech Conference 2019

I’ve just returned the 2019 California League of Schools / CUE Technology Conference in beautiful Monterey, California. This was my first time to attend this annual event – well worth the beautiful drive ( 4 hours down Hwy 99; 4 hours back on Hwy 101). It was a wonderful opportunity to co-present with Rob Appel and to attend some great keynotes and sessions.

Below are a few of my takeaways:


Opening Keynote: Go Forth and Be Bold: Educating for the FutureWeston Kieschnick

If you’re looking for a dynamic, engaging keynote speaker to bring to your district, I would recommend Wes Kieschnick. It’s rare at a tech conference for a keynote speaker to not necessarily promote technology. But Wes repeatedly reminded the audience of something I strongly believe: “Wisdom informs innovation. We must not abandon the wisdom of the past for new tools, but instead, bring the wisdom of the past into the future.”

One of Wes’s opening slides included an image of a primary source document from the Huntington Library, which he challenged the audience to read.

Those of us in the audience old enough to have been taught cursive writing could read this powerful statement from the past:

“We are fighting the Rebels with only one hand when we should be striking with both. Unchain that black hand!  ~ Frederick Douglass    Dec. 11, 1861

Not everyone in the room could decode the message. Wes again reiterated: “It is a dangerous game when, in the name of innovation, we determine that the skills of the past have no purpose in our future.”

If you are at an elementary school that no longer teaches cursive writing, you might ask your colleagues and administrators to rethink this trend. Because I have a letter dated 1915, sent from my grandfather (whom I never met) to my grandmother, I made sure that my own children learned to read cursive so they could decode the lived experiences of their great grandparents. A few years back, I was accepted for a summer fellowship at the Library of Congress, where much of our nation’s history is documented through cursive writing. 

During a turn ‘n talk part of the keynote, I learned about the work of educational researcher Professor John Hattie and his book Visible Learning  Based on Wes’s recommendation, enthusiastic endorsements from several teachers in my turn ‘n talk group, and Hattie’s 2013  TED Talk, I just ordered a copy – along with a copy of Wes’s book Bold School – Old School Wisdom /New School Technologies – Blended Learning that Works. Both should be on my nightstand by Friday.

 “We need to be as excited about pedagogy as we are about technology.”  Weston Kieschnick, #clstech19

Think, Pear, Share – Denise Douglas

I really enjoyed the short time I was able to spend in Denise Douglas’s session. (I had to leave about 15 minutes into her presentation to answer a few work-related phone calls and emails).  It’s always powerful to hear presenters who are classroom teachers, “speaking from the trenches.” Seriously, every session on the #CLSTech19 program sounded relevant and exciting, but Denise’s session description included a component central to my teaching:

Come learn how to use the PearDeck Addon for Google Slides and give every student in your classroom a voice.”

Based on my 15 minutes with Denise, I look forward to learning from her on Twitter and hopefully catching her at another conference (Spring CUE?).


Opening Keynote: Learning Is Like a Rubber Band – John Eick

John Eick - #CLSTech19

How to capture in words John Eick’s super high-energy, hilarious presenting style … that is the challenge! I’ll start with the program description:

Using high energy, laughter, and his 20+ years of #Edu-Experience, John Eick will launch a day of exploration at CLS Tech 19 – inspiring every one of us to stretch our learning. From the stage, John will foster each of our passions for establishing a classroom culture of creativity. Focusing on empowered growth for students and staff, attendees will gain not only inspiration to engage in the lessons offered during CLS Tech 19, but useable techniques that help to bridge learning from the conference directly to the classroom.”

John definitely delivered on the program description!

Below are a few of my favorite quotes from his keynote:

To learn more about John’s work, visit his blog Learn with John Eick. If only I could figure a way to bottle his energy! But lucky me, John is also from the Sacramento area and a lead learner for CapCUE, so I know I can anticipate joining future keynotes and workshops.

And one last quote:

“Technology is awesome. Teachers are better.” John Eick, #clstech19

Connect to Students’ Brains through Their HeartsMike Lawrence and Delaine Johnson

Mike Lawrence and Delaine Johnson led an information-loaded, super fun-packed, thought-provoking hour! The video below (that’s me, up front on the left) will give you a window in the energy  and positivity ignited in this session.

I appreciated that Mike and Delaine provided the link to their slideshow because, given the speed of the session, I love that I can revisit it and delve a little deeper into their message.

I also will be sharing with colleagues other resources from Mike’s Maverick Learning/HeartMind website, starting with the California Department of Education’s Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS ). In a nutshell, MTSS provides a framework for “aligning initiatives and resources within an educational organization to address the needs of all students.”

California Dept. of Ed Multi-Tiered System of Support

Mike has also included a number of straight-to-the-heart resources, such as the Thurston Middle School Back to School 18 Video – Hamilton Style.

Coincidentally, my friend/co-presenter Rob Appel attended Thurston.

The closing challenge to the audience: Reclaim the teacher’s lounge – make it a space of positivity and support.”

Don’t Sleep on the Google KeepJennifer Young

I can’t imagine a day that does not include tapping into the power of the Google tools and even though I’ve given workshops on Docs, Slides, Forms, Sheets, Drawings, Sites, search skills and more, somehow I’ve skipped over Google Keep. No more. Jennifer’s session was a great reminder of all “the endless possibilities that Google Keep has to offer”

Thinking Critically about the (Fake) NewsRob Appel and me

Rob and I connected on the topic of fake news and media literacy at last year’s CUE Conference. This year, besides presenting at #clstech19, we’ll also be presenting at the March CUE Conference. Almost weekly, we send each other new resources, tools, and breaking news items that have made us very aware of the critical need to be providing students and staff with media literacy skills. We will continue to update the digital handout we shared with our participants. If you missed our presentation, we hope you can join us at CUE.

A huge thank you to the California League of Schools for hosting #clstech19. The location was spectacular, including – but not limited to – the panoramic view of the Monterey Bay from the 10th floor. The CLS staff was there on the spot to help when needed – special shout out to Kandy!!

I hope this year’s CLS event will be my first of many to come.

Mike Lawrence, Delaine Johnson, Gail Desler – #clstech19

January 10, 2019
by blogwalker

A Tribute to My Grandmother and the Women’s Movement

This month, I will join hundreds of concerned citizens in the Sacramento area for the 3rd annual Women’s March. Each year, I have marched as a way to speak out for the rights of all women, but also as a tribute to my grandmother.

My grandmother and my father -circa 1911

My grandmother comes into my thoughts often, even though I was only 15 when I said my last good bye to her. She was a single mother, “widowed” in 1915, with few rights or benefits, including the right to vote.

In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, better employment opportunities were available for women, as they were now needed to fill the factory jobs. So my grandmother and father left their Sierra Foothills town of Murphys, California, and moved to Vallejo, where she worked/served as a yeoman at Mare Island Naval Ship yards. War years salaries for women were high enough that she was able to purchase the small house where she lived with my father until he graduated from high school and went off to college. Although my grandmother’s formal education ended in grade 4, she was forever an avid learner and planted that seed in my father.

Fifty+ years later, I continue to marvel at her strength, her unwavering kindness, her ability to live simply and to spread/exude acceptance of people with different beliefs and from all walks of life.

When I sit at my computer, I glance at my World War II Rosie the Riveter poster (a gift from a friend) that hangs above my desk and serves as a daily reminder of the ongoing struggles and accomplishments of working women. I think about my grandmother’s life, spanning two World Wars – a timeline of resilience and positivity.

A new picture now hangs beneath my Rosie poster, a moment captured from last January’s Women’s March by Sacramento artist Susan Silvester. Titled We the People, this picture is also a reminder that yes, we can do it. It was my grandmother’s generation that started women down the pathway to equal rights. Generations later, the Women’s March is a reminder to stay the course.

We the People – Susan Sylvester

On January 19, when I once again put on my pink pussy hat and head to the capitol to join “people of all backgrounds–– women, men and gender nonconforming people, young and old, of diverse faiths, differently abled, immigrants and indigenous … to march in solidarity, celebrating women’s rights as human rights,” I hope I make my grandmother proud.

Standing with Hannah Jane Kile and  Lady Liberty (Juilanna Hedstrom) – Sacramento 2018 #WomensMarch

January 3, 2019
by blogwalker

Why I Blog

Come March 2019, BlogWalker turns 13. I’ve loved being part of the Edublogs’ global community, a vibrant, ongoing source of inspiration and learning. I have experienced first-hand the unlimited possibilities and benefits blogging offers for being an active, contributing digital citizen.

I was blogging before Twitter came into my life. Through an RSS feed, I received alerts when my favorite bloggers (i.e., Kevin Hodgson, Bud Hunt, Troy Hicks, Will Richardson, Monica Edinger, Joyce Valenza, and more) posted a new piece. At some point, Twitter replaced my RSS feed, so today it will likely be a Tweet that directs me to a post from Kevin, Bud, Troy, Will, Monica, and/or Joyce.

In 2006, it was important to me that others were reading my blog. While I still very much enjoy having a reader drop by BlogWalker and leave a comment, today Twitter is where I mainly connect and interact with other like-minded educators. But blogging still serves an increasingly essential role in my learning journey. BlogWalker is where I document and reflect on my learning. It’s my digital file cabinet. I love that I can put ISTE or CUE in my search bar, for instance, and read through sessions I attended and favorite takeaways going back over 10 years. Eight years ago, I had no idea how many other teachers would appreciate that I shared resources and strategies for passing the CTEL test. And my 2016 trip to Rwanda – love that Carl Wilkens has used that post as a window into what educators will experience on his life-changing tours.

When I do blogging workshops for my district, I introduce Edublogs as a tool for both teachers and students. I am passionate about every student graduating with a positive digital footprint and an ePortfolio. I love George Couros’ strong recommendation for students to use Google as their working portfolios, which they regularly curate, selecting pieces for their professional ePortfolios/blogs. He too loves the flexibility of CampusPress/Edublogs, which allow students to upload/embed multiple platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), practice their digital citizenship skills (respectfully commenting, respecting intellectual property, etc.) and take their blogs with them – beyond graduation.

Poster from the awesome Edublogger Kathleen Morris –


Blogs are a simple, yet powerful, way for students to reach “redefinition” on the SAMR ladder, taking student voice beyond the confines of the classroom and providing an authentic, potentially global audience.

My 2019 resolution is to continue to promote and support blogging through offering workshops and participating in PLN-building opportunities such as the January Blogger’s Challenge. I hope you’ll join me!

December 30, 2018
by blogwalker

A Few Lingering Media Literacy Thoughts from 2018

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.”

Mark Twain 

Nope, the above quote is not from Mark Twain, despite being commonly attributed to him … and I admit – until just recently – to being one of the misquoters. For insight on how quotes become misquotes, I recommend Niraj Chokshi’s New York Times article That Wasn’t Mark Twain: How a Misquotation Is Born.

Misquotes are just a small slice of an enormous bank of online misinformation (’s 2018 word of the year). For educators, I think the year has brought a greater awareness that we all need to be media literacy teachers, no matter what grade levels or subject areas we teach.

I started the year by organizing resources in my Media Literacy in a Post-Truth Era site. (Note: post truth was the 2016 Oxford Dictionary word of the year.) Several months ago, I began gathering resources on a possible misinformation trend that emerged in 2017 and continued to spread throughout 2018: deepfakes. Like any technology, deepfakes can be used for good or for ill. Computer scientist Supasorn Suwajanakorn explains in the TED Talk below how a deepfake is created — “and the steps being taken to fight against its misuse.”

We all need to get into the habit of “putting on our skepticals” (and a few other tips from BrainPop’s Tim and Moby) and recognize when to check if a person really said the words we’re hearing in a video.

I’m ending the year with the realization that actually “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.”  Jonathan Swift (sort of)

Over a holiday meal, I listened to an example of a low-tech misinformation story. Last summer, my daughter traveled to Fergus Falls, Minnesota, with her boyfriend to attend his cousin’s wedding. Two weeks ago, the cousin, Michele Anderson, made national and international news: The Relotius Scandal Reaches a Small Town in America. Michele and fellow Fergus Falls resident John Krohn fact checked Claas Relotius, the DER SPIEGEL journalist who published a “tendentious, malicious portrait of the small, rural town. The reporting contained so many falsehoods that Anderson and Krohn limited themselves to citing just the ‘”top 11 most absurd lies.”‘

We all need to be fact checkers, willing to challenge and confront the spread of misinformation.

High on my list of 2019 resolutions is a commitment to curate, create and share innovative media literacy resources, best practices, and lessons. I hope you will join me.

Flex Your Fact-Checking Muscles –

November 26, 2018
by blogwalker

Grading … Please add to the conversation!

Over the past year, I have looked at literally hundreds of teachers’ report cards, from kindergarten to 12th grade. They have questions stemming from my district’s new student information system (SIS). In order to troubleshoot an issue, I need to actually access their grade books. In the process, I am realizing what an individual concept grading is. Even at the same school site and grade level, teachers can have very different approaches to determining student grades. The one constraint they do have in common is that ultimately they need to be able to transfer student grades to district-adopted report cards.

In my years as a classroom teacher (elementary and middle school), which included four different districts, I don’t remember ever sitting through a faculty meeting or training that mandated a particular way to grade. Grades were simply due by a given date. You might have to explain to a parent or two how you arrived at a grade, but, other than that, overall grading practices weren’t driving faculty conversations.

One thing I always appreciated about the freedom to choose my own grading practices is that I could easily modify or change my approach as new ideas and resources came my way. Although I no longer have my own class, I still find grading practices a fascinating topics, which is why Trevor McKenzie’s recent Tweet on report cards caught my attention.

November 22 Tweet from Trevor McKenzie

If I were still in the classroom, I know I would adopt Trevor’s collaborative process. So simple, yet reflective and action-based.

Besides retweeting Trevor’s message, I also bookmarked it via Diigo, tagging it with the category Grading. I was surprised to see that, despite my interest in this topic, Trevor’s Tweet is only my 3rd item in that category. The other two are blog posts, and also equally thought-provoking:

  • Grading Practices That Grow Writers – A guest post on the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) blog from Arina Bokus. “Two years ago, I started to question my grading practices and what they communicated to my students. What mattered in my class – the learning process and growth or the outcome and fixed skills?” I love Arina’s recommendation to build a grading rubric that includes both the drafts and final product, plus a reflection.
  • Delaying the Grade: How to Get Students to Read the Feedback – A guest post on the Cult of Pedagogy blog from Kristy Louden. Oh, when I think of how much time (Saturdays!) I put into providing feedback on student writing, I wish I had known about Kristy’s system: “Return papers to students with only feedback. Delay the delivery of the actual grade so student focus moves from the grade to the feedback.”  Read the article for a more detailed walk-through of her six steps, listed in her infographic below.
Infographic with steps to get students to read feedback.

Infographic created by Kristy Louden.

Three is always a good number, but I’m betting there are more great articles on strategies for grading practices that promote student agency, encourage next steps, and spark on-going conversations. You are warmly invited to leave a comment with any resources and/or recommendations you might have.

good grades by Gan Khoon Lay from the Noun Project

Fall CUE logo

October 20, 2018
by blogwalker

#FallCUE 2018 – Some highlights and great resources

Fall CUE image, large version

I just returned from a jam-packed weekend at the 2018 Fall CUE Conference in Napa (California’s wine country). The challenge at any CUE Conference is trying to decide which of the many enticing sessions I should attend. I think I made some great choices.

Saturday Sessions

Empowering ELLs in the Google Age – I loved starting the conference with Abby Almerido‘s session. Although the focus was on ELLs, the speaking and listening activities were applicable to all students. If you check out her presentation, you can see that visual literacy – a must-have 21st century skill for all students – is at the heart of her work.

Using her slides, Abby challenged us to team with another person and:

  • View a fuzzy photo (slide 6), form an opinion, and provide 3 support statements as evidence.
  • View 4 images (slide 7) and come up with a common theme to connect theme. 

4 different images for students to find a common theme.

  • Come up with a question that invokes some tension (slide 9).
  • Consider the power of using moving images (slide 10).

Such simple, yet powerful, strategies to not only build speaking and listening skills but to also scaffold students into writing activities. Loved all the shared conversations from this session!


Painless Privacy: Empowering Educators to Safely Create Content  – If you are a classroom teacher, I recommend that you go through the entire presentation from Calif. Dept of Ed’s Geoff Belleau and Elizabeth Wisnia. I know how frustrating it can be for teachers to start a lesson, only to find that a website they wanted students to use is now being blocked, sometimes for inappropriate content, but often for student privacy issues – another 21st must-have skill.

Some issues and terminology we all need to be aware of:

  • Phishing and Whaling (slide 8) – “Whaling,” a new term for me, refers to scams that tackle organizations. “Ransomware,” which is usually generated based on click-bait, can quickly set off encryption all your personal data. A good reminder to back up your work!
  • Teens & Social Media report (slide 16) – From Common Sense – If you are looking for resources for a Parent Night, this is a great resource. I like the video because it includes both negatives and positives of social media.
  • Future Ready Schools (slide 18) – Kudos to the California Department of Education for developing the Future Ready Framework, a format for “thinking holistically about the challenges and possibilities of technology in K-12 spaces,” and sparking conversations on ways to enhance and maximize data privacy and technology efforts. I appreciated Geoff’s recommendation to not get overwhelmed by all 7 gears; instead, start off by choosing two gears to focus on. Framework implementation can be done at district and site levels.

Future Ready Schools 7 gears image

  • K-12 Cyber Incident Map (slide 19) – If you haven’t visited, this is a wake up call! The map includes  “D Dos (Denial of Service) attacks” (red pins), which any teen can activate by paying a small fee to a 3rd party that is able to flood a school’s network and shut it down, for instance, so students will not have to take an online test scheduled for their next class period.
  • Think Like A Cat (slide 22) – If you haven’t already seen Common Sense’s excellent videos on student privacy, head back up to slides 36-38. Then check out the Think Like a Cat video, part of a PBS series, that shows how news can be manipulated.
  • Shorty Awards – The Best in Social Justice (slide 44) – Cannot wait to share out about this award, which “honors a program, project, or initiative that seeks to address and dismantle systemic structural and interpersonal inequities based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability status and any intersection(s) thereof.” A great tie-in to digital citizenship initiatives!

So glad I attended this session. Teaching students about the importance of protecting their online privacy is one of four themes my district focuses on for our #DigCit program. Love having all these resources in one place.


Lunch Break with PORTS – Can’t think of a better way to spend a tech conference lunch break than PORTS booth at Fall CUEwith the California Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) team. PORTS is  one of my favorite resources for bringing California’s parks into the classroom virtually. Although it’s a little hard to see the screen behind us in this photo, Ranger Ben Fenkell  and I are connecting live with Ranger Parker at La Purísima Mission State Historic Park (near Santa Barbara). This California Mission videoconference is one of the latest offerings in the growing PORTS options for bringing grade-level appropriate history, geography, science, and architecture virtual field trips into your classrooms – for free. And, of course, I have to boast a little that the 3rd grade Gold Rush videoconference on the PORTS landing page features an amazing teacher from my district, Cathe Petuya, and her students.


Information Overload: Media Literacy When Fake News Is a Thing – I joined Scott Padley’s session, hoping to take away a few new thoughts and resources on teaching media literacy. And I did. It’s truly a challenge to pack such a dynamic, challenging topic into one hour, but Scott did. His Teaching Truth site and his slideshow, are both treasure troves and include:

  •  MIT’s research on fake news – a fascinating article and video with MIT’s findings that “fake news spreads further, faster than real news.”
  • Ladder of Inference – I had not seen this infographic before. Scott explained how it illustrates the thinking process that we go through, consciously or unconsciously, to move from a fact to a decision or action.

infographic to show progression of ideas that influence us.

  • Search Tips: “It’s all about algorithms which reinforce our biases.” Part of stepping out of our “filter bubbles” is to recognize how our Google search returns are quite possibly reinforcing our biases.

What could be better than attending Scott’s media literacy session? Having Scott join Kelly Mendoza and me for our Sunday morning session. 😊

Sunday Sessions

Adding to the awesomeness of the Fall CUE experience, I had the pleasure of teaming with Common Sense’s Kelly Mendoza for two sessions:

  • Thinking Critically About the (Fake) News – Here’s the link to our digital handout.
  • Can I Use That? Teaching Creative Commons, Copyright & Fair Use to the Remix Generationdigital handout

If you weren’t at Fall CUE, but will be attending Spring CUE in Palm Springs, we’ll be doing both sessions there. Please join us or stop by to say hello.


Make Digital Citizenship the Norm…Not the lesson –  Nicole Nadiz’s session title captures my #DigCitCommit for the 2018-19 school year. Nicole’s expertise and resources made for a highly interactive, thought-provoking hour, and some wonderful takeaways:

  • Educating staff has to be part of the process of rolling out digital citizenship.” As co-director of my district’s digital citizenship program, I email and post regular updates to our school site #DigCit coordinators with new resources for them to use with students. With Nicole’s quote in mind, from now on, those emails will include tips and resources for site coordinators to include in staff meetings.
  • Collaboration in Common – I learned about the CiC resource last May while attending Sacramento’s first Media & Information Literacy Summit. With support from California’s Department of Education, CiC “allows teachers to discover and share resources and to connect with educators from across the state in virtual communities focused on the topics that matter most for teaching and learning.” I #DigCitCommit to being a regular visitor and contributor to CiC, and look forward to connecting with and learning from other California educators around media literacy topics.

I recently blogged about Nicole in my “Hacking” the Learning Standards post. Given that she also lives in the Sacramento area and that our paths seem to be crossing on a regular basis, I am fortunate for the face-to-face opportunities to learn from her. The good news is that anyone, anywhere can learn from Nicole by visiting her blog 3 Rs 4 Teachers: Promoting Rich, Relevant and Rigorous Teaching and Learning.


Sparknado – Ending my Fall CUE experience with Brandon Schut’s fast-paced, humor-infused session was a good call. Although the digital handout for his session is on a Google Site (one of my favorite tools), the session was all about Adobe Spark, Adobe’s fantastic tool for “transforming your ideas into stunning visual stories.” My big takeaway from this session was an advantage for students of Adobe Spark over Google Sites: the built-in image library includes the Creative Commons citations, which are automatically added when you embed an image. And the citations will also be listed at the bottom of a Spark page.

Images shows credit to the photographer is automatically generated when you embed an image in Adobe Spark.

Although Google Sites are automatically filtered to find images licensed as CC0 or Public Domain, which means attribution to the creator is not required, creators most likely appreciate the recognition – and you eliminate possible copyright questions your readers might have. Although you can track down attribution information on images found in a Google search or insert, having the credits already populated in accordance with Creative Commons’ recommendation for “ideal attribution” is a time saver.

I think Greg Eiler’s Tweet and gif (below) will give you a bit of window into Brandon’s energy and dynamic presenting style.


A huge thank you to the CUE staff for putting together an outstanding event. As you can see from my post, the Saturday/Sunday event was well worth the trip to Napa. Thank you also for providing delicious box lunches both days (along with a coffee stand/truck that even sold kombucha). The lunch breaks were a perfect opportunity continue conversations sparked by the Fall CUE 2018 innovative presenters.

Apparently, it’s not to soon to start the countdown to Fall CUE 2019, as the logo is already being widely shared. See you there.

Fall CUE logo

Digital Citizenship in Action

October 1, 2018
by blogwalker

“Hacking the Learning Standards” with #DigCit Connections


“Stop thinking about digital citizenship as a stand-alone technology topic and begin thinking about it as an essential component of a well-rounded humanities curriculum.” Kristen Mattson, Digital Citizenship in Action

A top priority of my day-time job is co-directing my district’s Digital Citizenship program. Last week a teacher at one of our elementary sites reached out with concerns about a recent string of events, ranging from cyberbullying to even an attempted hack into some of their canned curriculum programs. As the computer resource teacher (CRT), he is the single staff member tasked with teaching digital citizenship, the norm for most of our elementary schools.

Yes, that would be teaching “digital citizenship as a stand-alone technology topic.” My co-director, Kathleen Watt, and I are constantly rethinking best practices to help teachers embed digital citizenship into the core curriculum in ways that go beyond stand-alone or one-and-done approaches and that bring students into an on-going conversation and commitment to practice good citizenship in person and online.

We often share (tweet, blog, text, email) #digcit tips from Kristen Mattson, pulling from her wonderful ISTE publication Digital Citizenship in Action – Empowering Students to Engage in Online Communities. So I was delighted this week to receive the fall edition of ISTE’s quarterly magazine, Empowered Learner, in which Dr. Mattson’s article “Embed digital citizenship in all subjects” is the featured spotlight article. The article is a reminder and wake-up call to start “hacking learning standards to create opportunities to weave digital citizenship education into content area classes.” This process is exactly what Kathleen and I needed to help our elementary teacher.

Adding to the process, Saturday morning I received an email notification that Nicole Nadiz had posted new content to my Collaboration in Common feed: Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Digital Citizenship. I love this Google Doc! It’s a road map to “hacking learning standards.” Nicole has paired CCSS with Model School Library Standards (MSLS) and Common Sense Education. It took all of 3 minutes to add Common Sense Digital Citizenship connections to the Teacher Notes of our ART of Reading Laterally lesson. One down, three to go (The Forbidden Treasure, On Coming to America, I’m Not Leaving).

Whether it’s your own curriculum or district-adopted curriculum, having Nicole Nadiz’s document really speeds up the process for making the digital citizenship connections for whatever Common Core ELA Standards are listed in a lesson. Please note that Nicole has also invited educators to add their lesson samples via this Google Form. I just submitted The Art of Reading Laterally.

“Helping students explore the fine line between our technology and our humanity can be the work of every educator if we’re willing to be creative in the ways we think about curriculum and the ways we think about digital citizenship.” Kristen Mattson



August 26, 2018
by blogwalker

Rethinking Reading Logs

Renoir 1880 Young woman reading a Journal

Renoir 1880 Young woman reading a journal. Image in Public Domain.


I’ve been part of a book club for almost 18 years. Every month I look forward to sharing what I liked or didn’t like about the selected book with my fellow “Bookies” and listening to and enjoying their perspectives. Recently I tried to recall the title/author of a YA novel we had read a few years ago. I wanted to recommend it to a friend. Dang! I wish I had been keeping a reading log.

Reading by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images


Today I did a little research on the value of having students keep reading logs. Only minutes into my search, I could see that reading logs are a contentious issue in the K-12 community. The awesome Pernille Rip posted three years ago On Reading Logs, discussing both the pros and cons and giving five tips, with Keep it in class and Stop rewarding at the top.

The reason I am proposing reading logs is because I see them as a much better option than requiring students to use computer-based programs to track, rate, reward and/or restrict their reading. Although these programs can help students find books at their current reading level, reading levels are flexible. Too often reading levels are used to limit student choice and to impose forced point quotas, two steps guaranteed to kill the love of reading. If your school is still supporting these online programs, I highly recommend reading Pernille’s After Accelerated Reader and Donalyn Miller’s (AKA “the Book Whisperer”) How to Accelerate a Reader.

In line with Pernille’s tips, the purpose of the reading log would be to provide students with a place to keep track of what they have been reading and to become mindful of their own reading habits. The reading log would also provide teachers with a window into their students’ choices and interests.

The reading log would not require students to log hours/minutes or number of pages read. It would not require nightly parent signatures. I’m going with a Google Spreadsheet (inspired by the amazing Alice Keeler). Here’s a link to my first draft for a Student Reading Log (which could easily be shared with students via Google Classroom). I would love any feedback or questions you might have!

P.S. My book club is reading Barbara Shapiro’s The Art Forger this month. And, yes, I am going to start logging our books!

Photo by Tim Geers on / CC BY-SA

July 29, 2018
by blogwalker

#DigCitCommit – Heading into the New School Year

With the start of the new school year only days away, it’s time to send out some new #digcit resources to teachers and administrators. This annual email is something my colleague Kathleen Watt and I send off in August as part of our district’s digital citizenship program. Typically, the new resources come from sessions attended or vendors booths visited during the annual 4-day summer ISTE Conferences, which take place the last week in June.

This year, some wonderful #digcit conversations started a few weeks prior to the ISTE 2018 Conference, thanks to a Tweet from the awesome Nancy Watson. The Tweet included Nancy’s thought-provoking infographic gem 5 Stages of Growth into a #DigCit State of Mind.

Ten years ago, when tasked with supporting district-wide digital citizenship initiatives and programs, Kathleen and I can definitely remember site administrators and teachers who were at Stage 1: Digital Aversion. Over the years, thanks to organizations like Common Sense, ISTE, and Google, we’ve continued to share timely, relevant resources on #digcit topics, ranging from taking a stand on cyberbullying to building a positive digital footprint. This school year, we look forward to being involved in conversations ignited by the 5 Stages infographic as our school sites develop and submit their 2018-19 Digital Citizenship Implementation Plans.

Besides the infographic, Nancy’s Tweet included a powerful hashtag: #digcitpln. Even if you were not at ISTE, a quick Twitter search for #digcitpln will bring up lots of opportunities to participate in upcoming digital citizenship related discussions, chats, and events.

#digcitpln – an invitation to action!

There is another Twitter hashtag we’ll be including in the email: #DigCitCommit. It still gives me chills when I think back to this year’s opening ISTE keynote speech. Chief Executive Officer Richard Culatta’s emphasis on the importance of making sure we are grounded in what it means to be contributing digital citizens set the tone for the conference. His invitation and challenge to share our 2018 commitments to model, teach, and promote positive digital citizenship practices can be followed via #digcitcommit.

Richard Culatta #ISTE18 keynote

There is one more ISTE takeaway we’ll be sharing in our district email. This takeaway is not actually from the conference. It comes from two questions posed by Matt Hiefield on ISTE’s Digital Citizenship PLN Discussions page:

How are school districts assessing digital citizenship behaviors and communicating these behaviors to parents?  Has anyone put digital citizenship language on report cards?”

Matt shared a draft from his school district:

ISTE PLN discussion post from @MattHiefield

If you, like me, are in a large school district, then I’m sure you already know there would be many steps and committees involved in changing district report cards. But baby steps could have a powerful impact and ripple effect. For those monthly student awards assemblies, for instance, how about changing the Good Citizenship Award to the Good (Digital) Citizenship Award?

I know parentheses are typically used to include information that clarifies or is an aside note. I’m proposing that, in the case of (Digital) Citizenship, the parentheses indicate something that goes without saying.

In the 2018-19 school year, I hope to see more school sites recognizing that not only is “digital” part of our students’ lives, but it can also be documented and acknowledged as part of their school day. Students who are using their online voices to address issues and make positive contributions to all the communities to which they belong (online and face-2-face) are already stepping into Stage 5: Digital Advocacy territory

One more bullet point I’m thinking of adding to Matt’s list is “Students verify information before posting or sharing.” I’ll also draft a sample letter that teachers or principals could send home to parents to explain the integration of “digital” into grading practices and policies. The more stakeholders involved in the conversation, the better.

It’s possible I already have an elementary school ready to start the (digital) citizenship conversations.


July 22, 2018
by blogwalker

Already Missing Alaska

Oh, Alaska, I miss you. It’s 100+ degrees this week in Sacramento and the air quality is pretty bad. But memories of last week’s ocean breezes, stunning mountain ranges, breathtaking inlets, and endless blue skies dotted with eagles are only a photo away. It will be a long time to come before I forget the week-long Seattle-to-Skagway cruise I shared with my daughter.

Friday, July 6 – Departing from Seattle

Lucky me! My daughter lives in beautiful Seattle. So when I mentioned to friend and colleague Cathe Petuya that I would be in Seattle for the 4th of July, she highly recommended that, instead of flying home on the 6th, my daughter and I should board a cruise ship and head to Alaska. And we did.

On deck of the Celebrity Solstice, leaving Seattle.








Saturday, July 7 – At Sea

From walking the many decks, to Zumba classes, to nature talks, to kicking back with a good book, to breathing in the fresh air, a day at sea kind of sets the tone for the trip.

Walk, relax, watch the skyline.

Great nature talks from Brent Nixon.

So many great spots to enjoy the quiet beauty.



Daylight coming to a close (9:00 pm).













Sunday, July 8 – Ketchikan

Ketchikan is located at the southernmost tip of Alaska’s “Inside Passage.” Exploring Ketchikan by foot was a wonderful way to start our first day in Alaska. An afternoon kayaking trip was the perfect finish.

My first eagle encounter, as we climbed to an overlook point.

Ketchikan’s Totem Heritage Center houses a “priceless collection” of totem poles retrieved from Tlingit and Haida villages.

All totem poles in the Totem Heritage Center were carved from western red cedar, the “tree of life” for native people of the region.






Entering the Tongass National Forest (17million+ acres!) for a kayak outing, paddling around the Tatoosh Islands. First time to see enormous orange jelly fish.

Tatoosh National Park residents.














Monday, July 9 – Tracy Arm Fjord

Waking up to chunks of ice floating all around us as the ship entered Tracy Arm Fjord and approached Mendenhall Glacier was definitely a trip highlight…as was heading back to Juneau for an early evening whale watching trip.

The beautiful jade-colored water is due to silt run off from Mendenhall Glacier.

Rachel leading the way down the trail for a close-up look at Mendenhall Glacier.










Although I saw a number of Juneau’s humpback whales breaching and blowing, my iPhone photo-taking skills did not do the sightings justice, but, if you look closely, you will see a pod of orcas. Our captain was over-the-top excited about the orcas. He shared that he could always count on whale sightings; orca sightings he could not guarantee.

Tuesday, July 10 – Skagway

Skagway marks the cruise’s farthest point north and is where the great Klondike Gold Rush lives on through its restored 19th-century buildings and its historic railway. A short bus ride out of Skagway and we were off on another kayaking adventure.

What’s a little rain when you are surrounded by incredible beauty.

Heading back to shore with the wind giving us a boost.










The return trip to Skagway via the historic White Pass Railroad provided a window into the Gold Rush, with Chilkoot Trail visible during most of ride.

Boarding the White Pass and Yukon Trail train. Note: tracks are only 3 feet wide to accommodate the many twists and turns.

Wednesday, July 11 – At Sea

Sailing the Inside Passage on our way to Victoria, British Columbia.

500 beautiful miles from southern Alaska to Victoria, BC.

Thursday, July 12 – Victoria

Victoria is a jewel of a city! So inviting, so walkable (I hit 30,000 steps on my fitbit by nightfall).

Viewing arrival in Victoria from Captain’s deck.

Yes, that is Washington’s Mt. Baker in the background.










Friday, July 13 – Back in Seattle

The view from Seattle’s Queen Anne’s lookout – the perfect end to a magical week.

I can still remember the day Alaska joined the union (January 3, 1959). My teachers did a happy dance because Texas was no longer the biggest state. But until this trip, I hadn’t thought about just how much bigger Alaska actually is:

You could fit Texas into Alaska 2 times! One-fifth the size of the Lower 48, Alaska is bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined!” How Big Is Alaska

Wait, how big is Alaska?

You could fit California into Alaska 4 times!”


Yes, it’s been hot this week in Sacramento, with possibly some record-breaking temperatures predicted for next week. But I will be able to pull from treasured memories of a beautiful trip and enjoy the feeling of contentment that comes from traveling to new places.

“People don’t take trips… trips take people.” John Steinbeck

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