Muddling through the blogosphere

February 18, 2019
by blogwalker

Protecting Students from Hate-Motivated Behavior

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Ruby Bridges and marshals leaving William Frantz Elementary School, New Orleans, 1960. Image in Public Domain.

What resources does your district make available for “protecting students from hate-motivated behavior”?

Kathleen Watt and I were recently asked this question by our district’s Educational Equity Specialist, in preparation for the March 5 school board meeting. The board will be addressing current board policy, which calls for “providing professional learning to staff in recognizing and preventing hate-motivated behaviors and providing instruction to students and families to do the same.”

Below are the resources we shared. Like many large districts, our district departments often operate in silos, not necessarily aware of the work Kathleen and I do. So we prefaced the list with a quick introduction:

“EGUSD is a Common Sense District. This designation is due to 76% of EGUSD schools teaching Common Sense lessons as part of their required digital citizenship curriculum. CS lessons are designed and developed in partnership with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Hate Speech is included in one of the six topics (Cyberbullying, Digital Drama & Hate Speech) addressed through CS curriculum.These lessons meet standards for Common Core ELA, CASEL and ISTE.”

Online Resources

From Common Sense

Grade 3
The Power of Words – What should you do when someone uses mean or hurtful language on the internet?

Grade 4
Super Digital Citizen – How can we be upstanders when we see cyberbullying?

Grade 5
What’s Cyberbullying? – What is cyberbullying and what can you do to stop it?

Grade 6/7
Upstanders and Allies: Taking Action Against Cyberbullying – How can you respond when cyberbullying occurs?

Grades 6-9
Upstanders, Not Bystanders – I created this lesson on what it means to cross the line from “bystander” to “upstander” several years ago for Common Sense.  Note: Although the lesson is designed for grades 6-9, the Upstanders Not Bystanders VoiceThread is an invitation to Kindergarten – Senior Citizens to share an “upstander” story. The project was inspired by Margaret Mead’s above quote.

Link to Upstanders Not Bystanders VoiceThread: (you must be logged in to view)

Grade 8
Responding to Online Hate Speech – How should you respond to online hate speech?

Grades 9-12
Breaking Down Hate SpeechHow can you create a community culture in which hate speech is unacceptable, both online and offline? Several years ago, I had the privilege of observing how a high school English teacher and a history teacher wove this lesson into a unit on the Holocaust, making a powerful connection from “then and there” to “here and now.”
Turn Down the Dial on Cyberbullying – Which factors intensify cyberbullying and online cruelty, and what can you do to lessen them?
Taking Perspectives on Cyberbullying – How does online cruelty affect the people involved?

Other Resources

In addition to Common Sense resources, we share other national resources addressing hate motivated behavior and strategies for confronting all forms of exclusion and intolerance:

Teaching Tolerance – In addition to lessons and resources for confronting hate and intolerance, Teaching Tolerance also offers online professional development through webinars. Teaching Tolerance is project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which also offers a variety of resources, including 10 Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response.

Media Smarts – Media Smarts, a Canadian organization for promoting “digital and media literacy,” offers excellent, vetted resources, including a guide for educators on Responding to Online 

Anti-Defamation League/Crossing Lines Summer Seminars – The organization has expanded its resources and lessons beyond its initial mission of combating anti-semitism to include all forms of exclusion, hate and intolerance. We’ve connected with staff members of ADL through No Place For Hate workshops over the years.

ADL representatives have also been regular presenters at our Crossing Lines Summer Seminars.

Media Literacy Workshops
As part of our media literacy workshops, district and statewide (ISTE, CUE and CA League of Schools), we include resources such as The Dangerous Speech Project, strategies for deconstructing URLs (Stormfront and other hate organizations) and confronting bias (our own filter bubbles) and hate.


Never underestimate the power of a single story to change hearts and minds. I’ve read and loved many of the books on Common Sense’s Books That Teach Empathy list. I strongly believe that promoting empathy through stories can be an effective strategy in derailing hate speech.

Anne Frank, Montessori School, Amsterdam

I often think back to 7th grade, the first time I studied about the Holocaust. The staggering statistics were unimaginable to me. But a single story, the Diary of Ann Frank, provided a window into the genocide of over six million Jews.

Although I probably did not recognize it at the time, Anne’s story was life-changing, starting me on a journey that led to attending the Shoah Institute (back when it was on a back lot of Universal Studios), joining the TOLI Holocaust Educators Network, making the pilgrimage to Manzanar, bike ‘n barging across Holland with Holocaust survivor Hannie Voyles, initiating the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project, and joining humanitarian Carl Wilkens for a journey to Rwanda.

Hannie Voyles,, Montessori School, Amsterdam

I hope to return on a regular basis to update this post with additional suggestions. For now, here’s this list:

I doubt there has been a time in history when hate speech did not exist. A downside of the digital age is the spread at which it can now be spreed.

But we can make a difference. The many stories shared in the Upstanders Not Bystanders VoiceThread stand as testimony to our ability to make a difference, whether through a group effort/movement or by a single individual. I am looking at my copy of I Am Malala and thinking about the incredible difference a single child can make and the power and pull of education to inspire action. Next to Malala’s book is my copy of I’m Not Leaving, Carl Wilken’s story of how respect, compassion, and empathy were the driving forces that kept him in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.

I have more room on my bookshelf. Please keep the upstander stories coming, along with curriculum and resources we can bring into the classroom to protect our students from hate-motivated behaviors.

February 16, 2019
by blogwalker

Navigating Digital Information: John Green’s Fantastic Crash Course

I am a huge fan of author John Green. I’m currently reading Looking for Alaskaand The Fault in Our Stars has a permanent space in my bookcase. So I don’t know why it even surprised me that John Green would also focus his creative talents on developing a fantastic media literacy resource: Navigating Digital Information. This 10-episode Crash Course series was developed in partnership with the Poynter Institute MediaWise project:

MediaWise is part of the Google News Initiative, funded by, and aims to teach 1 million teenagers how to spot fake news on the internet by 2020, with at least half of them coming from undeserved or low-income communities.

The centerpiece of the project is a new curriculum being written by grant partner Stanford History Education Group that will be available to schools across the country in the fall of 2019. Stanford is writing this curriculum after studying how professional fact-checkers, college students and historians navigate digital information. The foundation of the Stanford lessons is built on skills that professional fact-checkers use after Stanford discovered that fact-checkers and journalists are more critical and think very differently about what they read on the internet and how they sort through misleading or flat-out false information.”

If you have colleagues who ban the use of Wikipedia, be sure to share with them Using Wikipedia: Crash Course Navigating Digital Information:

A year ago, after reading Mike Caulfield’s What Reading Laterally Means and watching this Common Sense video, my colleague Kathleen Watt (co-director of our district’s Digital Citizenship program) and I wanted to include a lesson on lateral reading in our Media Literacy Resources. We could not find one. So we created Flex Your Fact-Checking Muscles – Lateral Reading. In the Media Literacy Vocabulary section, we included a video for each term – except for lateral reading because, again, we could not find one. Yesterday I revisited our lesson/hyperdoc and added  John Green’s Check Yourself with Lateral Reading:

If you visit our Flex Your Fact-Checking Muscles lesson, be sure to scroll to the bottom, where you will find an invitation to your students:

Students-teaching-students is a powerful teaching model. We have included a video in the Explore section of a teacher talking to other teachers about fact-checking and lateral reading. We would love to replace this video with a student-created video, slideshow and/or infographic to show what lateral reading looks like from the perspective and experience of a student fact-checker. Go for it!”

We extend the above invitation to students across the globe.

Media Literacy / Digital Citizenship 4 Themes by Elk Grove Unified School District is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

photos of students using devices.

February 5, 2019
by blogwalker

Digital Citizenship – Joining the #michED and #DigCit Tweet Chat

I’ve marked my calendar for 5:00 pm (PT), February 6, to join Kristen Mattson for the #michED Tweet chat on digital citizenship.

Tweet chats are public conversations, via Twitter, connected by a unique hashtag (#).  If you haven’t participated in a Tweet chat before, I can promise you it’s a fast-moving hour! For that reason, I’m drafting my initial responses to Kristen’s seven questions in advance so I can fully focus on the chat. Thank you, Rachelle Wynkoop, for posting and sharing the questions a week ahead via the graphic below.

Each of the seven chat questions invites discussion at a global, national, district or school site level, starting with Q1. The challenge is to limit your answers to 280 characters (the maximum number of characters allowed by Twitter).

Q1: To help develop a shared understanding of ‘digital citizenship’ as a concept, please complete this sentence:

I want my students to be digital citizens who can/are ____________.

A1: I want want  my students to be digital citizens who are ready and willing to confront hate speech & other acts of intolerance by crossing the line from bystander to upstander, changing school culture and climate where/when needed. #michED

Q2: Who “owns” digital citizenship lessons in your school or district? When/where are students receiving these lessons?

A2: We are hoping to see a shift in our district from #DigCit lessons being taught as stand alone lessons during advisory period or computer lab time to a more integrated approach. We are also reaching out to see if/how other districts evaluate #digcit on report cards. #michED

Q3: A lot of digital citizenship curriculum focus on personal behaviors over skill development. What are some of the skills digital citizens need to be successful in global communities? How are you helping students gain those skills?

A3: Using technology to take student voices beyond the classroom and zip code is a priority. Today thru tools like blogging, videoconferencing, VoiceThreading, etc., students can effectively read, write and communicate with authentic audiences on topics they care about. #michED

Q4: Digital citizens should have opportunities to explore digital ethics. For example, “Should the government be able to access data collected by private companies?” What areas of digital ethics do you think students should explore?

A4: Although protecting online privacy is one of four main themes for our district #digcit program, this year we’re putting a focus on protecting student data privacy. The sample question is a great one to spark classroom conversations and drive interest-based research. #michED

Q5: A hot topic in digital citizenship right now is balance. How do you balance time online and off? What does “balance” mean to you? How might you help student reflect on their digital practices and achieve a healthy balance?

A5: I’m trying to find that balance myself. If I were in the classroom, I might share my “screen time diet” plan, which starts with cutting back on the number of times I check my phone. Will also be using iPhone’s screen time weekly stats. #michED

Q6: Reflect on your own knowledge and abilities as a teacher of digital citizens. What is one way you can grow this year? How might you go about improving your content knowledge or practice?

A6: In 2018, #MediaLiteracy for students was a top priority. In 2019, #MediaLiteracy/#DigCit for adults is a priority. We could all benefit from a #MediaLit skill set. Would love to hear what others are doing on this topic. #michED

Q7. What are some of your favorite resources for teaching digital citizens? Hit us up with links to activities, blog posts, books and more.

A7: Common Sense is at the top of my list. I love the range of relevant resources, for parents as well as for students and teachers, covering all areas of #DigCit. #michED

A7: For the latest research on cyberbullying,  I appreciate Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin continually updating the Cyberbullying Research Center website. #michED

A7: For tips on protecting student data privacy, I like the Connect Safely’s Parent Guide  and Common Sense’s Tips for Teachers short video. #michED

I’m looking forward to joining and learning from Wednesday’s #DigCit chat. If you would like to join the chat, but need a little guidance on how Tweet chats work, here is a great guide from Janet Fouts. If you cannot join the chat live, you can always follow up on the questions and answers by putting #michED into your Twitter search bar.

Hope to see you Wednesday.

Photo from Twitter stream of keynote speaker Glen Warren and teachers Cathe Petuya and Gail Desler

January 31, 2019
by blogwalker

#SatSeminar19 – Celebrating Powerful Teaching

If you have read any of my recent blog posts, you know that I’ve participated in a number of state and national technology conferences. I welcome the opportunity to learn about new technology tools, activities and strategies teachers across the state and nation are excited about. But I also believe in the power of offering an annual technology conference within our own school districts. Hence, last Saturday I joined over 300 teachers and administrators for Elk Grove Unified School District’s 4th annual Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar.

Elk Grove USD's Annual Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms website

Like any well-thought out conference, it’s always a good idea to bring in an inspiring, energizing keynote speaker who can set the tone for an exceptional day of learning, sharing and networking. That speaker was Glen WarrenEncinitas Union School District‘s “Director of Literacies, Outreach, and Libraries, in other words, he is the LOL Director.”

Photo of #SatSeminar19 keynote speaker Glen Warren

Keynote speaker Glen Warren kicks off #SatSeminar19 .

Last May, my colleague Kathleen Watt and I attended the California Department of Education’s first Media & Information Literacy Summit here in Sacramento. Minutes into Glen’s keynote, Kathleen and I turned to each other, nodded and gave each other the thumbs up, meaning that Glen Warren had to be the keynote speaker for our 2019 Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar. Mission accomplished.

Following Glen’s awesome, pull-the-whole-audience-to-their-feet keynote (captured by Julianna Hedstrom), teachers headed to whichever sessions seemed relevant to their teaching levels and subject/interest areas.

Session 1

My goal for Session 1 was to circulate around the Cosumnes Oaks High School to make sure all our presenters were good to go on the tech end. In addition to 13 sessions to choose from, 12 lucky teachers, on a first come/first served basis, signed up for one of five Escape the Bus experiences, a collaborative group break out challenge.

Escape Bus – Team 2 #SatSeminar

What the Escape Bus participants did not know was that, at the end of the day, we would be raffling off 3 tickets to bring the bus for a full day to the winning ticket holders’ school sites.

Session 2

For Session 2, I joined our Director of Technology Services for the What You Should Know Before Clicking “I Accept” workshop.  Below is our session description:

Balancing new technologies with the need to protect student privacy and data might seem like a daunting challenge, but it is also a must-have skill in an age when data privacy issues are increasingly in the headlines. Come learn the legal requirements, explore free classroom resources, and leave empowered to safeguard student data and to help your students do the same.

Thank you Common Sense for all the tips, tools and resources to help teachers and parents protect our students’/children’s online privacy. We hope our attendees left the session with better understanding of why, as a district, we block apps or websites that are not FERPA, COPPA, or CA AB 1584 compliant.

Session 3

I had the privilege of joining the incredible combo of Erica Swift and Cathe Petuya for their Amplifying Student Voice Through Videoconferencing session. When teachers open up the walls of their classroom via videoconferencing, this is when tech integration becomes transformative, enabling learning opportunities in ways not possible without the technology (as explained in the SAMR framework). I’ve been a long-time advocate of videoconferencing, which, today with free programs such as Skype, Google Hangout, and Zoom, can easily connect your students with NASA scientists, authors, subject matter experts, other classrooms and California State Parks. Via the PORTS program (California Parks Online Resources for Students and Teacher), we were able to bring Ranger Jenny Comperda, live from Calaveras Big Trees State Park, into our session. 

Poster from Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Note: The signature PORTS videoconference, Carroll Elementary & Columbia State Park, features Cathe and her 2nd graders, and the Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly videoconference features Erica and her students. In both examples, which are from a few years back, we used a $6,000 Polycom camera. Today, our classrooms connect via a $35 webcam. I cannot imagine a subject area or topic that could not be extended through the power of videoconferencing.

Session 4

Session 4 was my first opportunity to co-present with EGUSD 6th grade teacher Conrad Bituin for our  Twitter: The Absolute Best PD on the Planet session. What a fun session to end the day with! Kind of amazing, but if you click on the live Twitter stream below (from Julianna Hedstrom’s session Tweet), from across the globe, Edublogger Kathleen Morris replied to the Tweet…Welcome to the Twittersphere! Love the many ways Twitter helps us become connected learners and educators.

As in the past, we ended our Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar by bringing everyone together for a raffle. This year we went a little over the top with prizes. As I mentioned above, three very lucky attendees had the winning tickets to bring the Escape Bus to their school site for a full day of digital age collaboration and learning.

Start to finish, #SatSeminar19 was a wonderful district-based event and day. Because our own teachers are the presenters, attendees will leave each session truly able to implement their seminar takeaways on Monday – without running into filtering issues or mandated student privacy laws followed by individual districts and/or specific states (which can be the downside of national tech conference takeaways).

Thank you to all who attended #SatSeminar19. Thank you to Glen Warren for the wonderful keynote + 3 break out sessions. And a big thank you to Julianna Hedstrom (Roseville  Joint USD) for being our Honorary Librarian of the day.

Photo from Twitter stream of keynote speaker Glen Warren and teachers Cathe Petuya and Gail Desler


January 24, 2019
by blogwalker

#EdTechTeam 2019 Summit Roseville – 3 Impactful Sessions


Time to reflect on my top takeaways from this weekend’s #EdTechSummit in Roseville (California). If you haven’t been to a Google EdTechTeam Summit, this is what they are all about:

The Summits are high intensity two-day events that focus on deploying, integrating, and using G Suite for Education (formerly Google Apps for Education) and other Google Tools to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education. The program features Google Certified Educators, Google Innovators, Google Certified Trainers, practicing administrators, and many local rockstars.”

I missed the Saturday sessions, as I was downtown participating in the #WomensMarchSac, but what a great way to spend my Sunday, starting with Jeff Heil and Ken Shelton‘s session: Equity and Inclusion – You Are the Binder. Before you click on the link to Jeff’s session website, you might want to pour a glass of your favorite beverage because you’ll be heading down a rabbit hole of  thought-provoking resources.

In the past year, I’ve attended a number of inspiring PD sessions within my district on the topic of equity and inclusion, but until Sunday, I hadn’t thought about the importance of “knowing our own identities to determine how who we are effects institutional inequalities that contribute to the predictability of who succeeds and fails on our schools …If you don’t know who you are (your cultural identity), then how can you know who your kids are?” 

Ten minutes into the session, two videos sparked emotions and whole group/table group conversations:

With Jeff guiding the discussion and Ken challenging us to dig deeper into the language of “isms” and racial inequality, we began to explore our own identities through the Personal History of Otherness slideshow. The task was to examine the major categories of isms and then determine whether you are part of the dominant or subordinate group.

Question: How do you tackle and present complex topics in a 90-minute session?

Answer: If you provide your participants with a window into equity issues, as Jeff and Ken did, via a website with powerful resources, such as the Equity and Inclusion – Be The Binder wakelate, participants can and will (I’m sure of it) continue a transformative learning journey beyond the session.

I would love to see the 90-minute session develop into a week-long workshop.

Jeff Heil #EdTechTeam Roseville


I made another good choice for my second session: Projects with a Purpose! Ignite Student Interest with Google’s Applied Digital Skills Curriculum!  This was my first time to hear Natasha Rachell present and also my first time to explore Google’s Applied Digital Skills Curriculum.  The lessons are correlated to ISTE Standards and integrated with Google Classroom, with an emphasis on digital citizenship – three big selling points!

Lessons range from conducting research and writing a report to creating a budget spreadsheet. I started with the If-Then Adventure Story unit, which fits beautifully into both English/Language Arts as wells History/Social Science.  I love the relevance of the topics and the flexibility of each unit, both for subject area and grade level.

I agree with Natasha’s closing statement: “I think we are finally getting to the answer to all teacher’s favorite question: ‘When am I going to use this in real-life?'”


I ended the day with Kimberly Lane Clark’s Blended Learning – Shifting the Paradigm session.  I appreciated Kim’s emphasis on student voice and student choice being central to blended learning and her accompanying resources:


Choice (Thank you, Kasey Bell, for one of many, many resources you freely share!)

Using the video below, Kim guided us through a whole-group discussion on the differences between three terms associated with blended learning: individualization, differentiation, and personalization and then gave us time to turn ‘n talk about how we might tap into some apps and websites to support a blended learning environment.


Spending Sunday at the #EdTechTeam Roseville summit was a rich learning opportunity, starting with Kim Lane’s keynote: Where my Girls At? Shifting the paradigm!  Following on the heals of the Saturday #WomensMarch19, what a timely message:

Computer science is foundational knowledge for all students in the 21st century but a shift in paradigm must happen in order to get ALL students learning about computer science. Even more so there is a huge gap in diversity of women that are learning about computer science. Did you know that Women make up 48% of the workforce, but only 23% hold jobs in STEM! Statistics have shown that there is a lack of women being represented in all STEM fields especially in computer science. In order to change this somber statistic there must be a shift in the mindset of who is represented in STEM fields by involving girls at an early age.”

Kimberly Lane – Sunday keynote – #EdTechSummit

I’m already looking forward to next year’s #EdTechTeam Roseville Summit. Thank you, Marie Criste, for bringing this event to the Sacramento region, and thank you, EdTechTeam speakers for sharing your expertise and inspiring all who attended to continue to “explore and connect.”

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

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