Muddling through the blogosphere

image for Saturday Seminar 2017 flyer

February 1, 2017
by blogwalker

How to Bring Teachers in Your District on Board with Technology

I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had over the years to attend and present at educational technology conferences hosted by outstanding organizations such as ISTECUE, Google’s EdTechTeam, National Writing Project, and NCTE. Being able to attend keynotes and sessions by nationally known educational visionaries, such as Will Richardson or Kylene Beers or Rushton Hurley, provides sufficient inspiration and innovative ideas to energize my teaching throughout the school year.

When I attend conferences outside of the Sacramento region or outside of California, I’m also aware that very few teachers from my district have been able to find the funding to cover registration and travel costs. Many are just dipping their toes into the technology integration waters and are not yet ready to submit a workshop proposal, for instance, which might entitle them to attend a conference with registration fees waved (a benefit I frequently take advantage of). And those who do attend some of the two-day, three-day, or four-day conferences often share with me that they ended their conference experience a bit overwhelmed by all the mind-blowing tips and tricks from the many technology rock star presenters.

I love what my district is doing to bring teachers on board with technology integration. Last Saturday, we hosted our 2nd annual Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminar at one of our high schools. For a mere $20 (which covered breakfast and lunch costs – and was waived if you volunteered to present), teachers could begin the morning with an amazing keynote from nationally/internationally known technology innovator and #HyperDocs queen Lisa Highfill. Following the keynote, our teachers could then select four 1-hour, hands-on sessions to attend.

Photo of Lisa Highfill presenting at Elk Grove USD's Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminar

The ever-inspiring Lisa Highfill rocks the Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms house!

To give you an idea of the wonderful variety and range of topics, here are a few session descriptions:

  • Teaching in a [Semi]Paperless Google Classroom – Teachers of all grade levels can learn tips and tricks to setting up their Google Classroom and implementing assignments.  Basic knowledge of Google Drive very helpful, but not required. I will show you what it looks like from teacher view and student view.
  • e-Portfolios for PRIMARY Students – Start an amazing journey to meet CCSS with authentic assessment using 21st century tools. Come learn how to create digital portfolios of student work to provide them with important opportunities to reflect on, curate, and showcase their learning beyond the classroom walls. Engage easily with parents and connect them to the heart and soul of your classroom.  It’s EASY, versatile, and accessible from ANY device. You’ll love it!
  • Extension Must-Haves for TeachersChrome extensions can make you a millionaire! Okay, so not really, but they can help you and your students be more productive and isn’t that more important than money? Come learn how to install and use the top must-have extensions you need now.
  • NASA & Project Spectra – Come learn about various tools you can use to teach astronomy & magnetism, grades 6-12.  Get hands on practice with interactive games, find resources that augment your regular class materials and try your hand at mapping magnetism on another planet. “Project Spectra!” is a science and engineering program for 6th – 12th grade students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. “Project Spectra!” emphasizes hands-on activities, like building a spectrograph, as well as the use of real data to solve scientific questions.

I believe what makes our Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms Saturday Seminars so immediately relevant to attending teachers is that, other than our keynote speakers, every presenter is a district teacher. Across grade levels and curriculum, our presenters share best practices that work with our students – students who the attendees may have taught in the past or may be teaching in the coming years. Add to that motivating factor the fact that all presenters are easily accessible for an on-site visit or via district email, I know many attendees left ready to implement on Monday new ideas, strategies, and tools.

photos of teachers attending session to learn about Twitter

Awesome group of Elk Grove USD teachers delving into the power of Twitter.

It was my privilege to co-present Extending Student Voices Through Videoconferencing with Erica Swift and Twitter: What’s all the fuss about?! with Cathe Petuya. Already several teachers have contacted me with questions and ideas for weaving videoconferencing into their curriculum and others (via Twitter) to express their awe at the power of Twitter.

Given the manageable scope – and reasonable expense – of organizing and hosting a district-centered Saturday technology conference, I highly recommend this concept as an effective way to encourage technology “newbies” to explore how different tools offer new possibilities for teaching. I’m pretty sure the “newbies” who attended our Saturday Seminar are now ready to head off to CUE, ISTE, and other popular technology conferences – minus the intimidation factor. And based on the above session descriptions, I will be encouraging ALL of our presenters to start submitting proposals – beyond our 2018 Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms event.

If you are already sponsoring district-based/centered technology conferences, I would love to hear any suggestions or answer any questions!



June 26, 2011
by blogwalker

ISTE Day 1 – NWP Hack Jam Session

I’m starting my ISTE 2011 experience at the Science Leadership Academy at the HackJam Session, organized by the National Writing Project.

Chad Sansing startedthe session with a Monopoly game intro activity. Great beginning-of-the-year activity. I’ll post the link to his preso, which includes the game directions, as soon as Chad uploads the slideshow.

We moved on to, which allows you to easily change content on websites [an opportunity to “pimp your writing” (not my words)].  Click on the X-Ray Goggles link, and then drag the icon onto your toolbar.Just a click of the mouse and you can pull up the source code for any website…and then, if needed/desired, do a little editing.  Looking forward to following conversations on how to roll out this tool, ethically and powerfully, with students.

Very fun session!

June 30, 2010
by blogwalker

Live from ISTE NETS – Day 3 – Teaching ELLS…is there an app for that?

I’m really glad I was able to get into Arturo Guajardo’s Teaching English Language Learners…is there an app for that? BYOL session.

He’s opening with a YouTube video – Funny Surfer Dude – which illustrates his point that ALL students are AELLs – Academic English Language Learners.

Big Ideas

  • Teachers of ELLs should use tech tools to communicate better
  • ELL students should learn not only content but also communication skills (listening, verbal, visual)
  • Teachers and students should publish on the Web (most students do have access).

Audio Apps:

  • AudioBoo – Much more powerful than turn & talk to your partner!  Tends to up the ante for students, knowing their voices will be published. Audioboo works on phones and the Web. Will automatically post to Posterous.
  • Voice Memos App on iPhone – When you’re done sharing, you can email it to Posterous.
  • – > email > Posterous
  • Tips: Use a headset for recording and listening to their recordings. Helps with classroom noise, but also fosters re-doing recordings.

Video Recording Apps:

  • Ustream Live Broadcaster
  • Lumens Lady Bug – Record your lessons so students can watch later. Record button > Save as. Will record on to desktop. You can record to a SD card.  You can then post to Posterous….Have students do demo!  Publish it! Once they’re into the publishing mindset, they’ll work harder. Love this idea:-)
  • Canon Digital elph – Does great stills & video. Takes better still pics.

Drawing Apps:

  • SoundPaper – Problem – audio not synced to drawing.
  • Wacom Bamboo Pen – Lets students draw & explain thinking – into a journal – record into
  •– Set up class account.  Students login and get screen where they can draw & record voice. Best with tablet.

Excellent presentation – applicable cross grade levels and curriculum!

June 28, 2010
by blogwalker

Live from ISTE NECC – Day 1

I arrived at the Denver Convention Center too late for the Monday morning ISTE NECC 2010 sessions, due to a delayed flight out of NYC.  But the afternoon sessions made up for missing Will Richardson’s and David Warlick’s morning sessions.

BYOL Session: Free and Easy Bibliography: Scaffolding Student Research with Zotero – Having heard NWP colleague Troy Hicks refer to Zotero as a favorite Web 2.0 tool, I was excited to join Trevor Owns’ workshop.  His program description sums up this free, open source tool: “See it, save it, search it, and cite it with Zotero.” I loved Trevor’s presentation and also the fact that his workshop description will make it easy to replicate the scope and sequence of the session.

And if teachers or students need any help on downloading the program, saving links, annotating them, or being able to easily insert citations into a Word document in MLA, APA, etc., the tutorials and documentation on the site are excellent.

I’m looking forward to sharing Zotero with my colleagues. There’s definitely a wow factor built into this tool!

Spotlight Session: Tammy’s Favorite Free Web Tools – I love Tammy Worcester‘s fast-paced, humor-infused presentation style.  Out of her list of favorites, my top three are:

  • Today’s Meet – Create a chatroom on the fly – no login needed.
  • – Now at the top of my “Easiest tools for podcasting” list.
  • BibMe – Even easier than David Warlick’s bibliography maker

Looking forward to – and will blog – Tuesday sessions!

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