Muddling through the blogosphere

January 31, 2020
by blogwalker

Behind Barbed Wire – An Evening with Paul Kitagaki Jr.

Thanks to an email from a colleague, on Tuesday night, I headed to the Sacramento Library to attend Behind Barbed Wire, a powerful presentation from the Sacramento Bee’s Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Paul Kitagaki.

Flyer advertizing January 27 Behind Barbed Wire presentation by Paul Kitagaki Jr

Political cartoonist Jack Ohman, also a SacBee Pulitzer Prize winner, joined Paul on the stage and guided the discussion and presentation.

Paul Kitagaki and Jack Ohman on stage

Like so many children whose parents have experienced exclusion and forced removal, Paul grew up knowing nothing of the internment camps. In the 1970’s, during a high school history class, he first learned about Executive Order 9066, which authorized the removal of nearly 120,000 citizens of Japanese heritage from the West Coast. He went home with many questions for his parents, but they did not wish to discuss their interment experiences.

By the 1980’s, as a young photojournalist in San Francisco, Paul learned that Dorothea Lange had photographed his family in 1942, while they awaited a relocation bus in Oakland, California. He traveled to the National Archives, where he found Lange’s photographs of his family. In the photo below, Paul’s father is up front on the right side, with his aunt seated between his grandparents. The woman standing in front of the family was a neighbor, who had come to say good-bye and wish them well.

Photo by Dorothea Lange of Paul Kitagaki Jr.’s family waiting to depart from the W.C.C.A. (Wartime Civil Control Authority) Control Station, in Oakland in 1942 for the Tanforan Assembly Center.

By 2015, Paul made a commitment to search for the children whose images were captured in the iconic photos of Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and others, who traveled to the camps and photographed the internees. By now, these children would be in their eighties and nineties.

Yukiko Hayakaw Llewellyn (left) at age 66 and as a young child waiting to be relocated to a camp.

If you listen to the video clip below, you will see – and hear – samples from Paul’s growing WWII collection. Using black-and-white film and a large-format camera similar to the equipment of photographers in the 1940s, he has mirrored WWII photos to his contemporary photos, adding the voice of former internees sharing a childhood memory captured in the original photo.

Paul and Jack Ohman ended the presentation by inviting the audience to ask questions. The Q&A session was as riveting as the presentation. For every question asked, at least one or two people stood and shared their first-hand or second-hand stories from “behind the barbed wire.”

I started this posted by stating that it was through an email from a colleague (Laurie Doane) that I learned about the Paul Kitagaki event. Laurie’s father was interned at Heart Mountain. During the Q&A session, Paul mentioned Disney animator Willie Ito, who was also interned at Heart Mountain, where Ito and Laurie’s father became friends. One of my favorite takeaways from the evening was learning about a children’s book, Hello Maggie, written by Shig Yabu – and illustrated by Willie Ito.

I’ve blogged before that I co-direct/curate my district’s Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project, a collection of interviews from World War II and the Vietnam War. We will be updating the site soon with a post on Paul Kitagaki’s presentation and resources.

If the line had not been so long, I would have left the event with an autographed copy of Behind Barbed Wire: Searching for Japanese Americans Incarcerated During World War II. Next best thing…a trip to Barnes & Noble Folsom, which already has a copy in stock and has ordered a copy of Hello Maggie.

Thank you to the Sacramento Bee for hosting an unforgettable evening and event, a powerful reminder of how the stories from the past connect to the present.

March 24, 2019
by blogwalker

SFJAZZ 2019 Concert – A tribute to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“In every freedom and social movement, music has been at the center as a tool for communication.” Marcus Shelby

On February 22, in honor of Black History Month, SFJAZZ Education hosted its annual School Day Concert, featuring award-winning bassist, bandleader and community activist Marcus Shelby and his quartet, along with vocalist Tiffany Austin and poet Paul Flores. This year’s theme was a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with a focus on the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement.

SFJAZZ 2019 Concert

Marcus Shelby and SFJAZZ Education are committed to bringing rich music experiences and appreciation into classrooms, especially in low-income communities, by providing interactive performances infused with history and social justice themes. This year’s performance featured pieces that played a central part in our nation’s struggle for human rights and for civil rights, showcasing the work of Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, and more.

Over 800 students from schools in the San Francisco Bay Area traveled to the SFJazz Miner Auditorium to attend this free event.

SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco

Thanks to an ongoing collaboration between SFJAZZ and California’s High Speed Network, three California middle schools were able to attend the concert virtually: Preuss Middle School in San Diego, Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, and Elk Grove Unified’s Samuel Jackman Middle School.

Throughout the hour, the performers encouraged the audience to join them by clapping and singing along. They also intermittently called out to the Samuel Jackman and Preuss students and projected their rooms onto the large screen. (Brewer Middle School had to cancel at the last minute.) The performers ended the concert by inviting students to ask questions. Based on the number of students lined up in the SFJAZZ Center and at Preuss and Jackman, the concert organizers will probably want to allow more time for Q&A during their 2020 concert.

Setting up for the concert definitely involved a time commitment on the technology end, as the schools would be connecting with Ultragrid, a newly developed, high-quality video conferencing program from the Czech Republic. In Elk Grove, Technology Services and the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) started testing connections weeks earlier and continued troubleshooting right up till the day before.

Their efforts paid off. From start to finish, both the audio and video connections were excellent, making it possible for close to 1,000 middle school students (in-person + virtual) to enjoy, learn from, and interact with a highly talented group of professional musicians.

A huge shoutout to SF Jazz! Their Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights Concert was a remarkable event and a powerful example of using technology and bandwidth to bring innovative learning experiences directly into the classroom.

 Spending the morning with Jackman band teacher Benwar Shepard and his students was as inspiring as the concert itself. As the concert came to a close, Shepard summed up the importance of bringing jazz into our classrooms:

“Jazz education…and jazz as a style itself… is America’s truest art form. The seeds of jazz have led us to where we are today.”

Digital Citizenship in Action

October 1, 2018
by blogwalker

“Hacking the Learning Standards” with #DigCit Connections


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



August 6, 2017
by blogwalker

Blogging – A powerful digital literacy/digital citizenship tool

I work in the Technology Services Department for a large public school district. I love my job (technology integration specialist) and truly appreciate my department’s support of programs that promote digital literacy and the potential for students – and teachers – to advance from digital citizens to global citizens.

With this week’s start of the new school year, I’m getting lots of requests from teachers to setup Edublogs Pro classroom blogs, something I am happy to do … but not until we’ve had a conversation about their vision for their blogs. Because my department pays for our Edublog Campus accounts (worth every penny), I like to know how far up the SAMR ladder they – and their students – might travel via their classroom blog. If they simply want an online location to post homework and announcements, I suggest a free Google Site. If they need a little background on the SAMR model, I might send them a short video, such as John Spensor’s introduction, which makes the connection to the potential power of blogging:

Last week, in response to my blogging vision questions, a teacher sent me a link to the awesome Jeff Bradbury’s TeacherCast session: The Great EdTech Debate: Google Sites vs Google Classroom vs Blogger. I emailed back that Jeff was simply reviewing the suite of Google options; he was not commenting on the power and possibilities of  classroom blogging. (And I agree with Jeff that Blogger is not the best choice for a classroom blog.)

This morning, I came across Silvia Tolisano’s post Blogging Through the Lens of SAMR, I decided it was time to gather resources and rationale on moving a classroom blog from “substitution” (the “S” of SAMR) to “redefinition.” Silvia’s post, with its wonderful infographics, is a great starting point. I’m also including and highly recommending:

As a former classroom teacher, I witnessed many times the bump in literacy skills that happens when students know their work really matters, a change that generally requires an authentic audience. Blogging can provide a 24/7 microphone for students to join in virtual conversations with students and classrooms across the nation and world – and, in the process, cross the line from consumer of information to creator of information – and from digital citizen to global citizen.

I’m ending this post with two things: a blogger’s poem and an invitation.

#1) An if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie-style poem from Edublogger Ronnie Burt’s blog post A Rhyme? Why Not! Please note that “website” = “blog”:

If you give a student a website, at first, he isn’t going to be sure what to do.

He will start by wanting to decorate it and personalize it too.

He’ll no doubt choose some interesting colors and flashing widgets – making sure he has the most.

Once you go over expectations, you will assign the student to write his first post.

The student will ask, ‘is this for a grade?’, and he will probably groan.

But once he publishes to his new website, he’ll immediately want to pull out his phone.

He’ll post a link to twitter and facebook, out across the interwebs his post will be sent.

He’ll hit refresh in his browser, over and over, just hoping that a visitor has left a comment.

Before long he’ll see the comment notifications show up in his queue.

And an ongoing dialogue between his family, friends, and classmates will certainly continue.

So the next time he learns something new in your class, there won’t be much of a fight.

Before you even get the chance to finish, the student will ask if he can write another post on his website.


#2 ) An invitation to share classroom and student blogs I could showcase in my next post on blogging best practices. Please leave a comment with links!

Best wishes to everyone for the 2017-2018 school year.

PS Thank you Pixabay for cc licensed blogging image!


Fall CUE 2016

November 5, 2016
by blogwalker

Fall CUE 2016 – A few takeaways

This year’s Fall CUE Conference seemed like a drive-by event since I could attend on Friday only. (But don’t feel sorry for me for missing out on Saturday’s sessions; I was headed up to Amador County for an annual wine-tasting weekend.) Despite a rainy 2-hour drive to and from Napa, Friday’s sessions were worth the travel time.

Due a few traffic slowdowns, I unfortunately missed Dave Burgess’ (Teach like a Pirate) opening keynote, but from Session 1 on, I left with some great takeaways:

Steam Power Your School – I am a huge advocate for making sure the “A” is included in STEM (STEAM not STEM) programs, especially at the elementary level.  I loved the research pieces session leaders Jennifer Kloczko, Joe Wood, and Brandon Blom included in their slideshow, such as this infographic from the University of Florida. But what really made their session zing were the live clips of students at their school sites starting the school day with dance and/or having access to dance and music throughout the school day. I’m also adding Prodigy Island Math (free online game designed for students in grades 1-8 to use their math skills to battle wizards) and Math Olympiads (an $89 gaming program to challenge your advanced math students) to my list of engaging math programs.

Student Research Using Google Tools – At least once a year, I teach a Google Search workshop in my district or region, so I’m always interested to see what other presenters are including in their search sessions. I’m glad I attended Melissa Hero’s session. Her presentation is very similar is scope and sequence to my workshop, but I came away with a great takeaway: search queries to use if you want your Google search to return Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets for whatever topic you or your students are seeking:


So if I wanted to find Google Slides presentations on butterflies, for instance, I’d enter the following in the omnibar: butterflies. I’m not sure what the “d” stands for on the end of each query, but I’m headed to Google Mountain View on Monday for a Google Certified Innovator celebration, so I’ll pose that question and then update this post.

The World Isn’t Flat – Oh, my, such a mind-blowing session! Brian Briggs and Bill Selek opened a new world of teaching and learning possibilities with the 360° camera. Their presentation link takes you, via Thinglink, to a 360° field of sunflowers, with Brian (I think) in the middle. No, he did not have to swivel and take snapshot after snapshot – the camera does that for you. In thinking about historical events or scenes from literature, consider how often the story is – or could be – told from different perspectives/viewpoints. Imagine recreating a scene from the Civil War, for instance, with soldiers advancing and surrounding a key battle site. If I had had this camera with me during my recent trip to Rwanda, I would be working right now on an interactive lesson to pair with the movie Hotel Rwanda. Oh so many possibilities for taking digital storytelling to new levels.

If a 360° camera is not in your budget right now, a very good next-best option is the free Google Street View App. Thank you, Ryan O’Donnell, for joining the session and giving some tips on using this app.

I don’t usually showcase tools or programs that are not free, but I’d like to present a case to teachers and administrators on why the price of a Thinglink 3D account + a 360° camera (or the free Google Street View App) could seamlessly transform a lesson from Substitution to Redefinition.

Thank you to the wonderful group of teachers who joined me for my Can I Use That? session. Please feel free to contact me with questions on Creative Common, copyright, and fair use as they come up in your teaching assignments.

A huge thank you to the CUE team for all the planning and work that went into the 2016 Fall CUE Conference.  Your efforts were worth every minute!

March 20, 2016
by blogwalker

#cue16 – a few takeaways

cue16Just returned from the #cue16 conference. It’s a long drive from Sacramento to Palm Springs (9 hours), but so worth it! I was fortunate to travel and room with Elk Grove teacher extraordinaire Cathe Petuya, so the drive was as an integral part of the #cue16 experience. On the way down, we envisioned how to transform three of our elementary sites into demo schools to model powerful integration of technology onto the core curriculum – and beyond the classroom walls. With that purpose in mind, we discussed sessions likely to help us transform our vision to a reality. And, of course, other sessions that were just plain grabbers.

Below are a few of my favorite #cue16 takeaways:

  • eABLEing All Learners: Mobile Devices as Transformational Technology – This was my first time to hear Luis Perez. I actually stumbled into his session by mistake … and was immediately drawn into his passion for opening a world of learning and possibilities for special needs students through new technologies. Luis started with a Thinglink infographic on the SAMR model, and then moved on to awesome apps, such as Voice Dream Reader + Writer, an app that offers text to speech and more (checkout this review to see how this app allows for importing books for students with dyslexia – and it then does line and word highlighting.)  For some app-smashing, Luis suggested teaming Touchcast (a free app that mixes video with web content) and telligami (a great app for creating animated avatars). Start by creating your avatar with telligami; then record you voice via Touchcast – and watch your audio sync with your animation. Very cool!





  • Can I Use That? Fair Use for the Remix Generation – Yes, this was the session I co-presented with Jane Lofton, a treat in itself, but, oh my, what a great audience. Loved continuing the conversations as I crossed paths with participants throughout the conference.

#cue16 session

I also loved the opportunity to showcase an outstanding resource, filmed an produced by Jim Bentley’s 5th graders, for teaching Creative Commons. Love the model of students teaching students!

Two great resources for teaching Creative Commons


  • Transliteracy/Metaliteracy: An Unintentional Film Festival or 10 Big Things We Should be Teaching in 2016 – Thank you again, CUE, for bringing information literacy rock star Joyce Valenza to #cue16. The session description was right-on: “From a better understanding of intellectual property to best tools for telling stories and communicating new knowledge, Joyce counts them down and reveals granular strategies for delivering instruction, using illustrations from classic film.”
    Takeaways and tips from Joyce’s session included:

    • Curation – a must-have skill for our students. Using tools like EdShelf, you can model how you curate and organize your information world.
    • Knowing that “truth is fuzzy and contextual,” how can students test for credibility? Annotations – via tech tools (ie.g, Thinglink, youtube)
    • To help students build their awareness of Creative Commons licensing, include a link to the CC Search link on school/class websites.
    • Teachers can/should guide students in the transition from “digital citizens” to “digital leaders,” illustrated by Sylvia Duckworth’s infographic.
  • Choose Your Own Edventure: Creating Interactive Google Forms – Although I’m pretty familiar with familiar with Google Forms, I thought it would be a treat to watch Nicole Delasio and Bill Selek co-present. It was! Their resources were great! But equally important was their warm, humorous delivery style. I think my biggest takeaway from this session was a reminder that, when possible, always team with someone you clearly enjoy working with.

So many great #cue16 sessions and so little time! For every session I attended, there were at least three – five offered at the same time I would have loved to have attended. And the learning and fun extended beyond the conference into the evenings …


Palm Springs farmers market with Cathe Petuya and Barbara Bray


Friday night dinner with Joyce Valenza, Jane Lofton, Julianna Hedstrom, Cathe Petuya and librarian friends


… and the 9-hour drive back home pretty much flew by, with not nearly enough time to reflect on all that we were taking away from #cue16.

Heading into Twitter to see if I can find blog posts and resources from the sessions I missed. Thank you again, CUE team, for an amazing 3 days!

October 11, 2013
by blogwalker

Connected Educator’s Month – Off to a great start!

October 21–25, 2013

A huge shoutout to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology for once again (2nd year) sponsoring October’s  Connected Educator Month (CEM) and to Mike Ribble, Jason Ohler, Common Sense Media, and Cable in the Classroom for their combined efforts to declare the week of October 19 -26 as National Digital Citizenship Week. So many great opportunities to promote digital/global citizenship skills!

Students speak out through #UnfollowBullying

And if last week is any indication, CEM will be memorable from start to finish.  On October 1, I had the privilege of co-facilitating a booth for my district at the state capitol for the anti-bullying rally  Stand Up! Speak Out! What a privilege to have the opportunity to boast about the #UnfollowBullying student-created, student-led campaign, which, like CEM, is heading into its second year with students leading the charge.

On Saturday, I headed to UC Davis to join in the California Writing Project’s 40th year celebration. The collective energy, creativity, and passion for sharing past practices in promoting students as (digital, multimedia) writers and showcasing their achievements was infectious. I left with wonderful ideas for powering up the CCSS through primary source documents (e.g., tons of digitized documents from the Library of Congress collections) , great tools for engaging and supporting ELs (e.g., Tellegami with primary students, and even Voki), and great questions to take back to my district regarding the upcoming SBAC tests (California’s choice for CCSS testing). Peter’s Kittle’s Storify account will provide you with some insights into the day’s events – which started with a pitch to participants to tweet the event via Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s #Hashtag video.

Week one of Connected Educator’s Month was a blast. Hmm…I’m thinking every month should be about connecting educators and their students.

March 9, 2013
by blogwalker

Saying Good Bye to Wayne Maeda

Wayne Maeda

I will remember for a long time to come the beautiful memorial service, reception, and solidarity of the diverse community who gathered Friday at the Sacramento Buddhist Temple to honor the memory of Wayne Maeda. He leaves a huge legacy.

You can learn more about Wayne’s commitment to teaching for tolerance by reading his book Changing Dreams and Treasured Memories: A Story of Japanese Americans in the Sacramento Region.  Sac  State’s Asian American and Ethnic Studies program and department is a result of Wayne’s vision and passion for combating hate crimes and other social injustices.

I called on Wayne many times in the last eight years to meet with teachers in my district to provide the historical context needed to help build our Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project. He never once said no to my continual guest speaker requests.

Two years ago, I traveled with a group of Sacramento teachers and students to the legendary World War II internment camp Manzanar. I will never forget this experience. The trip was paid for through a California Civil Liberties Public Education Grant – written by Wayne.  Wayne also invited my friend and talented videographer Doug Niva to accompany us. The result was the I’m American Too documentary. I know that all who have watched the documentary and who knew Wayne, myself included, will consider the documentary a tribute to Wayne’s dedication to “never letting the mistakes of American history be repeated.”

November 26, 2012
by blogwalker

2012 Edublogs Awards – It’s that time of year again

As much as I look forward to opportunities to showcasing good teachers and good teaching, this year’s Eddies deadline kind of crept up on me. I am therefore not nominating in every category, just the ones where a nominee jumps right out at me.


  • Best individual blog – dComposing – Paul Oh continues to provide thoughtful reflections on education trends and resources
  • Best group blog – Youth Voices – supported by the National Writing Project, a great online community for students to connect with and write with other students on shared interests and passions.
  • Best class blog – Mr. Bentley’s Class Blog – a great resource for teachers hoping to weave movie making into the core curriculum.
  • Best ed tech / resource sharing blog – Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers blog is a treasure.
  • Best teacher blog – Kevin’s Meandering Mind – For more than a few year’s, Kevin Hodgson continues to be a key contributor to my online PLN.
  • Best library / librarian blog – Sheldon High School Library blog
  • Best individual tweeter – For the 3rd year, I nominate Jackie Gerstein – – every tweet is a valuable resource, tip, or insight.
  • Best twitter hashtag – #UnfollowBullying
  • Best free web tool – Twitter (90% of my PLN)
  • Best educational use of a social network – Teachers Teaching Teachers – I try to logon to this Wednesday night event as often as possible – and always end the hour rethinking best practices.
  • Lifetime achievement – Paul Allison – Year after year, he is the guiding light behind the Teachers Teaching Teachers community.


April 8, 2012
by blogwalker

Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum – It’s not too late the apply!

ShiftED 2012 Competition

I woke at the crack of dawn yesterday and made the 3-hour drive to the Krause Center for Innovation at beautiful Foothill College to participate in the ShiftED 2012 Innovative Educator Competition. With Milton Chen as the keynote speaker and a group of teachers ready to share “creative and inspiring examples of how educators and schools are using technology,” I knew I was in for a treat well worth the drive time!

To add to the excitement, I was joining my NWP colleague and MERIT teammate Natalie Bernasconi to present our Digital ID project. At 2:00, following the teacher presentations, a wonderful lunch, and a hilarious PD session by Microsoft’s Rob Bayuk, Rushton Hurley stepped up to the mic to announce the three finalists who will represent Silicon Valley at the national Microsoft-Sponsored Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum in Redmond, Washington, July 31 – August 1, all expenses paid…

Microsoft 2012 US Forum


…..Whoohoo!!!!  Natalie and I will be joining 98 other educators in Washington!

Wishing you could be one of the 100 teachers heading to the US Forum?  It’s not too late! You have until May 15 to submit your application directly to Microsoft.


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