Muddling through the blogosphere

February 26, 2020
by blogwalker

ISTE Digital Citizenship 2020 Award – Go for It!

If you know a teacher or administrator who consistently “models and promotes excellent digital citizenship and who mentors and leads others to be more active digital citizens,” please nominate them or encourage them to apply for the ISTE Digital Citizenship PLN 2020 Award

Two years ago, I was awarded this honor. The value of he award goes beyond the lovely engraved plaque and the national recognition given during the annual ISTE Conference (with free registration included). Having Kathleen Watt, who co-directs our district #DigCit program, help me through the application process, greatly added to the honor.  Each question (see below) sparked a review, reflection, and evaluation of our #DigCit commitment and journey. The fact that mine was the award-winning application was simply the icing on the cake.

Whether you are nominating yourself or a colleague, I strongly recommend having a thinking partner (like Kathleen). It’s easy to forget or underestimate the scope, sequence, and impact of your efforts to model,  share, and promote digital citizenship resources and activities.

Just do it! But act fast. Applications are due March 1. Here’s the link to the application

Application steps:

  1. Upload a current CV or Resume.
  2. Provide a brief biography of yourself and your work (500 words max).
  3. Describe a project completed in the last year that demonstrates exceptional work in the area of digital citizenship. (500 words max).
  4. Upload an artifact that demonstrates the planning and implementation of the project.
  5. Describe the ways your work has advanced teaching and learning in the area of digital citizenship? (500 words max)

Can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend than highlighting your dedication to promoting #DigCit at your schools – and then celebrating with colleagues at the ISTE Conference, June 28 – July 1 (this year in Anaheim, CA)!

July 5, 2019
by blogwalker

Unpacking #ISTE19

Oh my, #ISTE19, so many great sessions, presenters, and takeaways! Due to a fractured right hand (the result of a bike accident in Holland), my notes are a little sketchy, but, hopefully, will provide you with a window into this year’s amazing annual technology conference for educators.

Day 1 (Sunday)

Listen to This! Tech Tools for Listening/Speaking – Katherine Goyote: This year, a conference priority was to bring back resources and tips for boosting students’ speaking and listening skills (which are now included in my district’s new elementary report card). Katherine’s session was outstanding and her presentation is one of my top takeaways.

Did you know that, via your device’s microphone, you can now enable closed captioning while presenting with Google Slides? What a powerful option, not only for hearing impaired students, but also for our ELs.

Throughout the session, Katherine stressed the importance of listening as an active activity and that listening must be purposeful, with opportunities to interact. She encouraged us to explore speaking and listening tools such as Screencastify and resources like Eric Palmer: PVLEGS. How about a YouTube video to illustrate what active listening does NOT look like:

Be sure to checkout Katherine’s blog: WonderExploreLearn.

B.Y.O. Digital Citizenship: Hands-On Pathways to Drive Change – It was a privilege to join Dr. Mike Ribble (author, ISTE DigCit PLN), Dr. Marty Park (Chief Digital Officer, Kentucky Dept.of Ed.), Dr. Kerri Stubbs (BrainPop), Mike Jones (Illinois State University- Lab School), and students from Kentucky’s Bourbon High School for this dynamic panel discussion on digital citizenship resources. What a great audience we had, including teachers from Mexico City and Guadalajara.

My big takeaway was Kentucky’s Digital Driver’s License program. Thanks to Marty Parks’ vision, teachers and students in Kentucky school districts need to complete the DDL requirements before signing out a school laptop. The goal is for students and staff to move from digital literacy to digital fluency. I’m excited to learn more about the collaborative efforts of Marty and Mike Ribble to seamlessly integrate digital citizenship into the school day and subject areas.

Beyond the Slideshow: Unleashing Student Creativity With Google Slides – Eric Curts: I’ve been a long-time fan of Eric Curts. His generosity in sharing and posting technology tips and resources is much appreciated by a broad national audience (34.4K followers on Twitter). Eric’s session slideshow is the most complete walk thru of Google Slides I’ve ever seen. Did you know Google has recently made it easier to embed audio in a slide? Yay!

When are Facts Not Facts? Media Literacy in 2019 – Susan Brooks-Young: Susan’s ISTE 2018 session on media literacy was one of my favorites, so I hurried across the convention center to join her 2019 session. Although she did not share her slideshow, here’s the link to her resources. Just added CBC Deep Fakes Explained Video to my #MediaLiteracy bookmarks.

Day 2 (Monday)

Creative Storytelling With Adobe Spark – Claudio Zavala: I became an instant fan of Adobe Spark earlier this year when I realized this free, high-quality Adobe presentation product automatically attached Creative Commons licensing to any images inserted from their Unsplash/Pixabay/Noun Project collections. Claudio Zavala, logically and stunningly, used Adobe Spark for his session presentation. He is a wonderful presenter and is right up there with Eric Curts in sharing and posting resources and tutorials on his website. Here is the link to his Adobe Spark tutorials playlist.

Becoming an Awesome Digital Citizenship Leader – Dr. Mike Ribble and Dr. Marty Park: The link to Mike and Mark’s presentation will give you an idea of the scope and sequence of their session and their combined wealth of knowledge and resources. I’m looking forward to conversations back in my district on how to promote #DigCit leadership at our school sites. Kathleen Watt (co-director of our #DigCit program) and I are hoping that by opening our Digital Citizenship workshops to faculty and staff (not just our site coordinators), we will leave no grown ups behind in understanding and tapping into what it means to be a contributing citizen in a digital age.

Copy of autographed book

Digital Citizenship: 3 educators, 2 frameworks, 1 shared visionDr. LeeAnn Lindsey, Dr. Kristen Mattson, Nancy Watson: Loved having three of my major #DigCit role models presenting together, with each posting a page of great resources. I recommend starting with Nancy’s Everyday DigCit App:

An important session takeaway: Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and #DigCit should go hand-in-hand across the school day.

”Not all adults in our students’ lives are positive #digcit role models. We can be that role model.” Nancy Watson

Real or Fake? Strategies for Truth Finding – Dean Shareski: Although Dean did not share his presentation, the websites he shared for teaching media literacy were some of my best #ISTE19 takeaways:

  • – Facebook Status Generator: “Build your own fake Facebook Status and prank your friends. You can change ANYTHING, use emoticons and even upload your own profile photos for post and comments. This generator is in no way associated with Facebook. All graphical material is protected by the copyright owner. May only be used for personal use.”
  • Crap Detector Resources – From Howard Rheingold, inspired by Ernest Hemmingway’s words: “The essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, bullshit detector.”
  • Science VS – “Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between. Science Vs is produced by Gimlet Media.”
  • – “Whether it’s removing the background from an image, making a double exposure, adding in text or retouching a favorite pic, Pixomatic photo editor has everything you need to customize your images.”
  • FotoForensics – “Submit a JPEG or PNG for forensic analysis.”
  • Media Bias/Fact Check – “We are the most comprehensive media bias resource on the internet. There are currently 2800+ media sources listed in our database and growing every day. Don’t be fooled by Fake News sources. Use the search feature above (Header) to check the bias of any source. Use name or url.”

Monday Night Highlight: National Writing Project Reunion

A wonderful #ISTE19 memory: An after dinner walk with Troy Hicks, Sandy Hayes, Erin Wilkey Oh, me, and Christina Cantrill = 13 years of a shared #NWP digital writing learning journey.

Day 3 (Tuesday)

Going Rogue With Microsoft — Complete With Tips and Tricks – Leslie Fisher: I’m excited about the multiple ways MS Office 360’s new tools take Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to new levels for accessibility, creating, and presenting. Thank you, Leslie, for sharing your session presentation.

I recommend clicking on every single one of Leslie’s hyperlinks for insights into extending teaching and learning via MS Office 360, starting with the immersive reader tools for Word and the Presenter Coach in PowerPoint:

Beyond SAMR: 6 Design Questions for Empowered Teaching and Learning – Alan November: Over the past 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of hearing Alan November present at a number of conferences…and every time I leave with new takeaways:

  • Bing VS. Google – Just a reminder not to limit searches to Google. Try using to see Bing and Google search results side-by-side.
  • MathTrain.TV – Students teaching students has always been the most powerful model for learning. “The evidence is overwhelming that students will watch student-created videos over & over.”
  • PRISM – “Prism was created by novice student developers in the Praxis Program. Prism is a tool for “crowd sourcing interpretation. Users are invited to provide an interpretation of a text by highlighting words according to different categories, or ‘facets.’Each individual interpretation then contributes to the generation of a visualization which demonstrates the combined interpretation of all the users. We envision Prism as a tool for both pedagogical use and scholarly exploration, revealing patterns that exist in the subjective experience of reading a text.”

Common Sense Education #ISTE19 Booth – As a Common Sense Ambassador and long-time fan of the innovative, continually updated ways Common Sense “supports K-12 schools with free, timely, research-based tools that take the guesswork out of teaching in the digital age,” I loved joining the team in the vendor’s hall for a couple of hours to meet and greet the many educators who stopped by to learn more about Common Sense resources or who just wanted to thank this dynamic organization for its on-going commitment to supporting digital citizenship and media literacy education.

Common Sense Team #ISTE19

Day 4 (Wednesday)

Hey Google … Take Me on a Trip – Tricia Louis: I loved this session. Tricia Louis delivered on her program description: “Explore tools that focus on how to use maps and other geographical-based information in any content area. Tools that will be shared will be Google MyMaps, Google Tour Builder, Google Earth, Google Tour Creator/Poly, Google Story Speaker and GeoGussr.”

Over the past few years, I’ve dabbled a bit with most of these tools, but Tricia’s beautiful presentation is the motivation I need to revisit some of my travel posts, such as Holland with Hannie, and transform them into interactive explorations.

Conscientious Creativity: Where Creation and Copyright IntersectDr. Monica Burns, Kerry Gallagher, Kristina Ishmael, Lynn Kleinmeyer: Copyright and fair use are topics I teach and follow with great interest, always on the lookout for new resources and insights. I’ve been sharing Kerry Gallagher’s Educator’s Guide to Creativity and Copyright in my workshops, so it was fun to hear her present this resource. And I’ve become a big fan of Monica Burn’s work with Adobe Spark – a free program for teachers and school districts that automatically includes Creative Commons licensing with any images uploaded from their collections (drawn from Unsplash, Pixabay, and the Noun Project) – a built in digital citizenship lesson.

Besides the infused humor, pace, and inter-activeness of their presentation, I loved the simplicity and design of their session slideshow.

ISTE Author Spotlight: Fighting Fake News: Teaching Media Literacy in the Digital Age – Darren Hudgins: I ran across 3 buildings to catch the last few minutes of Darren Hudgins‘ ISTE Authors Spotlight session. I left this last #ISTE19 session not only with an autographed copy of Fact VS. Fiction: Teaching Critical thinking in the Age of Fake News but also with a copy of the Fighting Fake News Jump Start Guide. (Note to Self: Find funding to purchase the Jump Start Guide as a give-away for upcoming Media Literacy workshops.)


Thank you to the ISTE Team and all who presented and generously shared  insights and resources – and especially to Sandy Hayes and my @WritingProject colleagues – for making #ISTE19 an unforgettable learning experience. Philadelphia, I miss you already.

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.

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



April 22, 2018
by blogwalker

Five #DigCit Shout Outs to ISTE

I’ve been a long-time fan and promoter of ISTE’s significant contributions to digital citizenship resources for teachers and students. So I wanted to give some #DigCit shout outs:

Shout Out #1: ISTE Standards for Educators – Standard 3: Citizen – I love the emphasis on students as creators and contributors, not just consumers of information. And in an age of fake news, Standard 3B is a must-have skill.

ISTE Standard 3B graphic

Includes link to download and print poster.

Shout Out #2: ISTE #DigCit Posters and Infographics – Starting with their Citizenship in a Digital Age poster, which compares citizen vs. digital citizen, to their more recent Today’s News: Real or Fake infographic and accompanying article, ISTE’s #digcit visuals provide an instant window into current topics and issues.

Click on the graphic to open a printable version.

Shout Out #3: ISTE Publications – From Mike Ribble’s Digital Citizenship in School, to my most recent purchase, Kristen Mattson’s Digital Citizenship in Action, and, of course, the quarterly entrsekt publication, I love being able to share hard copies of “thought-provoking articles on edtech trends, columns by influential and innovative leaders from within and outside the education world, as well as examples of best practices and edtech in action.” ISTE publications have a designated space in my bookcase.

Come join the Digital Citizenship in Action book study!

Shout Out #4: ISTE #digcitPLN – Several weeks ago, the awesome Nancy Watson tagged me in a Tweet that drew me into ISTE’s #digcitPLN. The Tweet included a link to her blog post How We Grow into a #DigCitStateOfMind, where she has embedded a Piktochart: Stages of Growth into a
#DigCitStateofMind. If you need a quick way to ignite school and/or district conversations on strategies for moving from Digital Aversion (Stage 1) to Digital Action (Stage 4), send your thank you’s to Nancy.

#digcit poster/conversation starter from ISTE’s Nancy Watson.

Last week, I joined the #digcitPLN chat, and look forward to more ways to connect with this dynamic group committed to tackling #digcit challenges and opportunities.

Questions from April 19 #digcitPLN chat.

Questions from April 19 #digcitPLN chat.


I am also hugely honored to be the recipient of the ISTE #digcitPLN inaugural Digital Citizenship Network Award. The opportunity to join and meet other ISTE Professional Learning Networks awardees for a special breakfast will be the highlight of my 2018 Conference experience.     


Shout Out # 5: ISTE & Teachers Guild Collaboration – The Teachers Guild had a great idea: Sponsor an online challenge for teachers to create lessons that “empower students to be better digital students,” open a voting window, and award the top three entrants with a year’s membership to ISTE and the opportunity to present their ideas and lessons at ISTE’s annual conference in June.

ISTE and Teachers Guild sponsor a contest for creating digital citizenship lessons.

Eleven #digcit lessons made it to the final round.

I am honored that Can I Use That? A Guild to Creative Commons, Copyright and Fair Use made the top three!

Thank you, ISTE, for the many ways you continue to walk your mission talk:

ISTE inspires educators worldwide to use technology to innovate teaching and learning, accelerate good practice and solve tough problems in education by providing community, knowledge and the ISTE Standards, a framework for rethinking education and empowering learners.”


I’m starting my countdown to the June Annual Conference – and the opportunity to give my #digcit shout outs in person to all my ISTE heroes.

ISTE 2017 logo

July 16, 2017
by blogwalker

ISTE 2017 – My top takeaways

ISTE 2017 Conference logo

San Antonio’s River Walk + the ISTE 2017 Conference = a winning combination. Three weeks later, at last I have a little time to reflect on some memorable takeaways:

Day 1 – Sunday

Global Education Day – Joining Steve Hargadon and Lucy Gray for this 3-hour, highly interactive forum was an awesome start to my #ISTE17 experience. Check out the Agenda for an overview of the event.

Global Education session icon

Below are links to Ignite Talks, each one from an innovative global leader:

And the Round Table discussions were a great opportunity to make connections, as you can see from Table 6’s  “Breaking Barriers & Building Bridges: Why Global Collaboration is Vital” Google Doc.

A few more notable resources from the closing speakers – who were winners of the Great Global Project Challenge:

And a few more outstanding resources/projects:

  • Sustainable Development Goals – In partnership with the United Nations, oh so many ideas for students to make a difference as global citizens.
  • Commit 2 Act – Love this project! Reminds me of “think global; act local.” Your students can track how their actions are making a difference as they view actual data about what they’ve done to help the earth.
  • Taking IT Global – Global Gallery – Wow! This is an amazing site and project for students who want to change the world. How did I not know about the Youth Media Gallery?!
  • Digital Portfolios: The Whole Child; The Whole Story – Yes, I promise that watching this 37-minute video and following up on the included resources will be time well spent! For me, this video connects the dots between three topics I teach, support, and promote: digital portfolios from elementary – secondary, digital/global citizenship, and taking student voices beyond the walls of the classroom.

So glad I made my way through the wait list and was able to attend Global Education Day.  Am feeling empowered to bring global education/citizenship into the new school year – and proud to be a member of the Global Education Network.


Ending Day 1 with dinner and river walk with long-time NWP friend and colleague Sandy Hays,

Day 2 – Monday

Monday started with another gold mine:  Susan Brooks-Young‘s timely Recognizing Lies: Literacy in a Post Truth Era. The session description was a grabber for me:

The spread of misinformation is nothing new, but websites and social media make it far easier to distribute and more difficult to detect. This session explores strategies educators can use themselves and with students to effectively evaluate the truth in what they read, see, and hear.

Susan’s session was a reminder that today, “in a time when blatant falsehoods are being put out there,” digital citizenship programs need to include digital literacy.

Here’s a brief recap of her content-rich, engaging Agenda;

Where to begin:

  • How you look at numbers – Here’s where you can integrate media literacy across the curriculum. Math teachers, you have a treasure trove of resources to connect your lessons on computing mean, median, and mode to the world of advertising and current events.  As  a non-math person, I really appreciate Susan’s reminder that averages involve three different ways to look a numbers. In the world of media, if you want to show growth – give median, not the mean. If you want something to look lower, give mode. Love the Statistics – How to website page on Misleading Graphs. And remember: Pie charts have to add up to 100%.
  • How you look at words – Let’s start with “post-truth,” the Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 word of the year: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” As Susan shared a range of resources, I starting thinking about the importance of her opening message:” We need media literacy as much as our students do. We need a Common Sense Media resource for adults.” Although last December’s Pizzagate  Conspiracy Theory story (a media hoax created by a kid in Macedonia) seemed like an extreme example of an adult lacking discriminatory skills, when Susan showed Nathan for You, the Petting Zoo Hero (below), I wondered how often my media literacy skills are influenced by what I would simply like to be “true.”

In a “post-truth era,” we all need to skeptical; we all need to do our fact checking, Three top sites for fact checking are:

Susan closed her session by referencing three great quotes …

“There is badly written news, there is news I didn’t get, but there is not such a thing as fake news – it’s lies.” Even NPR will now say it’s lies – no “alternative facts.” Sir Harold Evans

“There are not always two sides to a story. Sometimes the truth is obvious. Sometimes it’s right in front of your face.” Bob Simon, CBS 

“We’ve spent so much time focusing on math & reading. We’ve abandoned taking the time to teach critical thinking skills.” Daniel Levitin, Weaponized Lies – How to Think Critically in a Post-Truth Era

… and an excellent TED-ED Talk from Damon Brown – How to Choose Your News …

… as well as Susan’s LiveBinder Digital Citizenship resources.

So glad to have attended Susan Brooks-Young’s #ISTE17 and greatly appreciate her invitation to share out her tips and resources. Thanks to the layout and content of her agenda, I feel ready, organized, and inspired to offer a Recognizing Lies workshop in my district and region.

Digital Consumption & Creation in a Changing LandscapeSteven Anderson & Shaelynn Farnsworth’s session was the perfect follow-up to Susan Brooks-Young’s session. I appreciated the reminder that “every educator is an educator of literacy, regardless of subject area” and the importance of viewing technology tools as verbs, not nouns:

“Don’t focus on the tools without asking how to use them. We can’t focus on the tools (nouns); we have to think of the  functions (verbs).” Marc Prensky

In teaching students how to be curators of information (able to find, vet, organize, and share information), Steven suggests three questions (from Common Sense Media) for students to ask as part of the curation process:

  1. What story are you trying to tell? What is your goal with this resource? What will I use it for?
  2. When will you use? “We live in an age of rapidly changing info”
  3. Just how good is it? Is it reliable and valid?

I appreciate Steve’s Fictitious Websites doc, which also includes a link to California State University, Merced’s, CRAP Detector, as well as “Resources for Developing Healthy Skeptics.” Nice to have a 1-pager for students.

Day 3 – Tuesday

The Untold Story of Limitless Potential – Very possibly the most inspiring keynote I’ve ever heard! In 2012, I attended the Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View. For sure, a highlight of the GTA experience was being in Jennie Magiera’s group. If you listen to this short clip from her keynote, I think you will have a window into her passion for teaching, her leadership in educational technology, and her infectious humor.

From recounting her mother’s immigration story, to the teacher who made a difference, to Jennie’s own personal struggles, every minute of this keynote was quote-worthy and inspiring. Drawing from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDTalk The Danger of a Single Story, Jennie made a compelling case for educators and students to find and tell our own untold stories.

Feedback Tools for Google Docs – I am a huge fan of Eric Curts and stand in awe of the wealth of resources and tutorials he regularly creates and freely shares on his website.  So being able to actually meet with him in person was definitely a favorite #ISTE17 takeaway. The best way to follow every step of his session is to read through his Four Fantastic Feedback Tools for Google Docs. Be sure to read the comments too.

And thank you, MERIT11 colleague Karen Larson, for taking our sort-of-selfie with Eric.

Traditional, Transitional, Transformational –  Dang! Lost track of time and only made it to the last 5 minutes of Will Richardson’s session. If you haven’t yet subscribed to Will’s Modern Learners’ white papers, you should! Only 5  minutes with Will, and still some takeaways:

  • A live-from-ISTE17 podcast

AR, VR, AI, and BS: The Modern Learners Podcast, ISTE17 Edition

  • A couple of great quotes:

“Technologies come and go, so we need a culture that allows you to constantly renew yourself.”

“Get connected. Read widely.”

Tools to cultivate connections and deeper learning – I missed the first half of this panel discussion (got waylaid in the Exhibit Hall), but fortunately arrived in time for Kyle Pace’s presentation on the Google Arts & Culture Center. I loved:

Google Cultural Institute - 11 women who changed the world

I recommend pouring yourself a glass of your favorite beverage before you start exploring Google’s Arts & Culture Center. It’s like falling down the rabbit hole. Right now I’m exploring Stories from the Holocaust and will head next into Cuban Arts & Culture.

Day 4 – Wednesday

The Power of Pivot Tables –  What a well-crafted hands-on session!  To teach a packed room of educators how to create and use pivot tables – in  60 minutes – really requires some serious prep time! Clearly Todd McDonald and Joel Handler thought through the scope and sequence of their presentation, with a perfect balance between instruction, tips, and hands-on time. Learning about pivot tables has been on my to-do list for a long time. At the end of their session, I walked out excited about pivot tables, along with an 11-slide presentation (yep, only 11 slides) that has everything I need to review and practice pivot tables and to move on to the next level. Perhaps, more importantly, I will be rethinking my own technology workshops and aiming to make each one as compact and informative as Todd and Joe’s session.

Consuming, Connecting, Caring: Embrace New Literacies to Succeed in a Digital World – I ended #ISTE17 with Alec Couros’s session, a good choice – as you can see from Alec’s accompanying Consuming, Connecting, Caring Resources doc. Like Susan Brooks-Young and Steven Anderson, Alec referenced the need to keep adults up to date with media literacy, and for both educators and students to understand that “information is easy to spread; correcting it – not so easy.”

Alec started with a look at today’s culture of learning, using 5-year-old Jordan as an example of how kids are teaching themselves about topics they care about.

I’m betting many first grade teachers will have students like Jordan spending the next school year with them. It’s hard to imagine Jordan thriving in a classroom that’s adhering to publishers’ scope and sequence charts or district-mandated curriculum.

A few gems from each of Alec’s topics:

Consuming:  On the topic of students as consumers of information, I like the pace and content of John Spencer’s The Problem with Fake News (and how students can solve it) video, and the message that “critical thinkers are good for democracy – and that’s good for everyone.”

Connecting: Leave to The Oatmeal  (Matthew Inman) to provide a conversation/explanation/walk-thru/challenge on “why do we easily soften to some ideas but not others? Why do we gnash our teeth when presented with evidence counter to our beliefs?” You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you could be a powerful conversation starter – for adults and students.

Caring: How do we teach for empathy? That’s a question that’s come up in many recent discussions with colleagues. I think teaching, supporting, promoting, and modeling all forms of citizenship (face-to-face, digital, global) is a starting point. Below are the citizenship resources from Alec’s doc.

Alec also added the Minimum Max video:

I’m adding Project Empathy to the list (which I believe Alec mentioned during his session). I just started exploring this website and have already discovered an excellent video from Brene Brown on the important difference between empathy and sympathy.


Three weeks later, I am still reflecting on my #ISTE17 experience. Not all the sessions I attended are included in this post, but those included are the ones that have started me thinking about new possibilities and visions for teaching and learning in the upcoming school year. For each one mentioned, I anticipate blogging about the process and impact of implementing one of the shared resources, strategies or tips.

I also had the opportunity to meet Curran Dee, an exceptional young man, who at age 8 gave his first TED Talk (below) and at ISTE gave an Ignite Talk. If I can find a recording of his Ignite talk, I’ll add the link. Here’s a link to Curran’s website. At the top of my #ISTE17 follow-up list is to connect Curran with students in my district to discuss digital/global citizenship. Student-teaching-students – always a powerful, effective model for learning!

Thank you to the ISTE team for a fabulous conference. I can only imagine the countless hours of planning and energy that went into this year’s conference. Thank you, thank you!

One last river walk. Good bye, San Antonio. #ISTE17

I’m already looking forward to and planning for #ISTE18 in Chicago.

October 17, 2016
by blogwalker

Creating a Culture of Civility


entrsekt - October 2016

entrsekt – October 2016

The October issue of entrsekt, ISTE’s quarterly journal, immediately caught my attention – with the cover boldly featuring Jennifer Snelling’s “A Culture of Civility: The New Tenets of Connecting in the Digital Age.”

In a highly contentious election-year atmosphere, I really appreciate having at my fingertips the research, examples, and reminder that “Civility and citizenship come from understanding alternate viewpoints and being able to have conversations and respectful debates.” 

When ISTE released the 2016 Standards, I was delighted to see Digital Citizenship as an integral component. In reading “A Culture of Civility,” I was struck by the connection between Digital Citizen and Global Collaborator, and how both standards promote “vital skills to empower students to thrive in an uncertain future.”


In my day job, I serve on a district committee tasked with making sure teachers have access to a wealth of high-quality resources, such as Common Sense Media, for teaching and modeling digital citizenship skills with their students. Initially the topic tended to be taught in isolation, as part of an homeroom advisory period or in a computer class, for instance – too often without providing students with opportunities to put their digital citizenship skill set into practice. The arrival of Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education has thankfully brought technology integration into the core curriculum – along with the need to make sure all students are firmly grounded in what it means to be a positive, contributing digital/global citizen.

One of the many note-worthy quotes from Snelling’s article is from psychiatrist Dr. Helen Riess, who stresses the importance of developing listening skills, a first step in building empathy:

As soon as there is a culture of disrespect for opposing opinions, we lose the art of not only listening but also of compromise and negotiation, and that’s what’s contributing to this polarized society.”

In response to Dr. Riess’s concern, I’d like to share that, occasionally, when visiting classrooms in my district, I enter just as a student has apparently posted something inappropriate online. Instead of taking away the Chromebook, I love how teachers are tapping into technology misuse incidents as teachable moments on how to respectfully disagree. It is inspiring to watch students come to understand that being proficient in the genre of commenting is a non-negotiable, must-have skill for the digital age.

I am bundling the “Culture of Civility” article (which does require an ISTE membership in order to access) with two of my favorite digital citizenship resources on teaching the art of commenting as a genre:

  • From Linda Yollis’s 3rd graders: How to Write a Quality Comment

With interactive technology tools such as Google Docs, blogs, wikis, and videoconferencing making it so easy to take student voices beyond the classroom, creating a culture of civility is an essential step in empowering students to listen to and learn from a mix of shared and alternate viewpoints.

If you have resources to add to the topic and conversation of promoting a culture of civility, I warmly invite you to share them by leaving a comment.


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