Saturday, December 27, 2014

One of the most important findings of our committee, has been the need to teach new literacies. Here is a great article on the changes technology has made in the curriculum and delivery in the classroom. It makes us pause and think about the new literacies. Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief.

5 ways technology has changed K-12 education
Technology has had a major impact on teaching and learning inside today's K-12 schools. This article details five major shifts, including the growth of "cooler" classes, such as 3-D printing and video-game design; the popularity of tech-focused classes; and the increasing use of tablets and e-books. ABC News (12/22)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Here is a heads up on the trends expected in technoloy in 2015. Enjoy. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

E-learning trends to follow in 2015
Big Data, gamification and personalization are just a few of the e-learning trends that educators should watch for in 2015, according to this article and infographic. Others include mobile learning and calculating the return on investment when integrating often-costly technology. ZDNet/iGeneration blog (12/15)Bookmark and Share

Monday, December 15, 2014

Here are some great ideas for the use of technology at the lower grades. Enjoy. Courtsy of Choice Literacy.

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
December 13, 2014 - Issue #412

What Makes a Writer? 
Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.
                                                           Sylvia Plath
I have been thinking lately about what it is that makes someone enjoy writing. I've always loved it; I love getting the idea, capturing my thoughts, then revisiting them and cleaning them up so I am sure they make sense. I enjoy removing myself from my own words as I edit, stepping back and pretending to be a brand new reader.  And then I love it when I think: There. Done.  But how does loving to write start? What is it that will make a student want to write--and write well? 
Recently, I asked a high school AP English student I know that question.  He is a strong, tough kid--he stars on his school's state-ranked football team and is known for his aggressive play on the field.   He's also a voracious reader and an impassioned writer; he churns out his essays with apparent ease and a natural instinct for how to reach his reader.   And he likes it.  He hopes to go to college and major in English, heading on a career path in which he will, in some capacity, do some writing.
"How did you get to be such a fantastic writer?"  I asked him.  "You're pretty young to have writing skills that are this refined; and, quite frankly, it surprises me that you enjoy it so much." 
He blushed.  All 250 pounds of him seemed to be overcome with a sweet, overwhelming shyness. 
"What is it?"  I asked, touched by the gentle little upturn of his lips as he smiled at me.
"I found out I liked writing when I would write letters to my girlfriend," he confessed. "I know that sounds dumb, but we write letters to each other every day in study hall. I wanted to sound smart so she'd really like me, so I worked really hard on each word I used." He paused. "A lot of people don't expect me to like to write so much. They expect me to just be some dumb jock. But I like proving people wrong.  When I first started dating my girlfriend, she told me that she was surprised how intelligent and eloquent my writing was. I liked that."
That is sweet, I thought.  And I realized I had a similar story. When I was a high school student, I had a mad crush on the cute guy who sat a few rows away from me in science class.  I got his attention by writing a few short notes--first about homework assignments, then about mutual friends. Each time, to my delight, he responded. As the days passed, our correspondence got longer and more involved.  Eventually, he was my first real boyfriend.  We wrote letters to each other for the entire year we dated; I have those letters still. I also have the letters that led up to our eventual breakup. The letters chronicle the beginning, middle, and end of a relationship--each chapter played out with white notebook paper and the written word.
So there it is, I thought: young writers are born and built based on the connection between their words and people they care about. In these two examples, we see that writing can be the way we fall in and out of love. Beyond that, it can be how we develop and build our friendships, how we get out of relationships, how we fight, and how we care for one another.  It's a powerful antecedent to grow a lifelong writer when a young writer realizes how powerful his words can be on a friend or a crush. Or a teacher.
All this proves what a good writing teacher knows:  the writing we assign has to be authentic and it has to connect to real life.  The student who is writing the words needs to know that the reader will pay attention and will care what it says. That's important to remember when we read through the words our students write for us.
This week we look at using Twitter in classrooms. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Jennifer Schwanke
Contributor, Choice Literacy

Jennifer Schwanke is a principal in Dublin, Ohio. She also blogs about her personal pursuits at

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[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
Here are two features from the archives on Twitter and other online resources.
Franki Sibberson has advice for Getting Started with Twitter:
Heather Rader wonders what impact Twitter and texting have on spelling in The Affect of Tech on Splrs:
Katharine Hale explains how she creates Breathing Anchor Charts on her TEaCHivity blog, linking video explanations to the charts:

Create a DVD professional library instantly and save big with our DVD Bundle Sale. Order the 24 DVD Collection and save 50% off the list prices of individual titles. The bundle includes over 40 hours of video and features Jennifer Allen, Aimee Buckner, "The Sisters" (Gail Boushey and Joan Moser), Franki Sibberson, and many other master teachers working in classrooms with children. Choice Literacy members receive an additional discount of $100 off the sale price:
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Here is another "checklist" on how to make a plan to implement technology school wide. This focus is on teacher involvement. Courtesy of ASC Smart Brief.

Technology in the Classroom Tips for a successful school-technology rollout
It is essential to focus on how to lead staff through the transition when launching a technology rollout, Rob Dickson, executive director of Information Management Systems for Omaha Public Schools, writes in this blog post. He offers several suggestions to support technology in schools, including the importance of professional development. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (12/2)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Here is a great article that raises some crucial questions. Instead of spending millions on a common curruculum, I suggest, we may want to look at making technology - the 21st century - available to all. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Students' digital divide is drawn along economic lines
The digital divide among students has its roots in the socioeconomic divide, asserts Jordan Shapiro, who teaches at Temple University. In this commentary, he writes that many students are lagging behind because they do not have the same access to technology as their peers. The Hechinger Report (11/19)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Many of these games are a form of individualized learning. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Survey: More educators use digital games
A growing number of teachers are incorporating digital games into classroom lessons, according to a recent survey. An Illinois middle-school teacher profiled in this article introduces global history through the use of digital games that allow students to build their own civilizations. blog (11/7)Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 14, 2014

Calif. district installs high-tech kiosks
A California school district plans to install 90 touch-screen kiosks in December that will act as high-tech bulletin boards, displaying information and photos, and that enhance security by notifying police if a gunshot is detected in the building. The company, SkoolLive, plans to install 1,500 of the free kiosks in schools nationwide before the start of the next school year. The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, Calif.) (tiered subscription model) (11/9)

Friday, November 7, 2014

I am posting this because I think it is a great idea especially here in Maine. Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief.

How technology can keep students learning on snow days
Many states are establishing protocols for using online learning to keep students engaged when school is closed because of inclement weather. Some school districts in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia already have policies permitting the practice. District Administration magazine online (11/4)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

This article has some good information that is helpful for the regular classroom teacher. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

3 essential components of blended learning
History teacher Bill Tolley in this commentary explains how educators can introduce blended learning to their classrooms by focusing on three essential components. Among these is carefully allowing students increased control of the classroom. "Students will not just cotton on and take responsibility for their own learning -- they will buy in to a process that they co-create and co-own with you," he writes. Education Week Teacher (tiered subscription model)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, October 19, 2014

This article shares some good ideas on differentiaion. Well worth the read. Enjoy. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief

How teachers can begin using open educational resources

Cloud technology
Open educational resources can help educators tailor content to meet students' individual needs, asserts Tyler DeWitt, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. student and a student coordinator for the MIT+K12 video outreach project. This article highlights DeWitt's tips for getting started with OERs. eSchool News (free registration) (10/16)
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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

CCSS has now shifted to teaching how to read informational text to the ELA teacher as well as the content area teachers. Here are some great ideas for middle school teachers. Enjoy. Courtesy of Edutopia.

Ideas for using tablets to study informational texts with middle-schoolers
Tablet computers can be effective tools to help middle-grades students find, take notes about and synthesize informational texts in assignments, teacher and educational consultant Monica Burns writes in this blog post. She suggests teachers allow students to experiment with iPad apps, such as iMovie to make a public service announcements, or Grid to make a graphic organizer for notes. Core blog (9/22)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, September 28, 2014

This is a great idea. It helps students "discuss" with ease as well as prioritize their ideas and use of langauge. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Teacher introduces Twitter to class discussions
Students in a ninth-grade English class in Illinois use social media to participate in classroom discussions. Students tweet, retweet and pick favorites of their peers' ideas. Educator Chris Bronke says the method prompts a deeper dialogue in class and allows him to track students' comprehension and engagement online. The Atlantic online (9/15)
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

As we struggle with providing success for all students, we are being challenged to implement differentiation. Here are some options. Enjoy. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Report: How to use technology to serve at-risk students
A report released recently by the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education offers five keys to using technology to help at-risk students. Among them, the report suggests setting a goal of establishing a one-to-one technology program and making sure Internet connections are sufficient. T.H.E. Journal (9/10)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 13, 2014

This is an interesting study that may apply to some of your students. Enjoy. Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief.

Study: Technology may remove barriers for students with dyslexia
Preliminary research shows that reading on a smartphone or tablet may benefit students with dyslexia, in part, because there are fewer words on the page. Researcher and astrophysicist Matthew Schneps, who also has dyslexia, conducted a study of 100 students with the condition. PBS (9/11)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, September 7, 2014

This is a great article. The approach honors students' visual strengths as well as multiple intelligences. In my opinion this approach has the capability of equalizing education by providing poor schools the opportunity to give their students opportunities - i.e. field trips - they wouldn't normally be able to afford.It is well worth the read. Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief.

More teachers engage students with virtual field trips

Students using computers
(© Corbis)
In 2013, 25,000 teachers -- a 30% increase over the previous year -- joined Skype in the Classroom. The platform allows educators to bring virtual guest speakers into their classrooms and to take students on virtual field trips. Some educators say the technology offers opportunities for districts to find low-cost ways to engage students in lessons. ABC News (8/28)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Here are some thought provoking articles on meshing technology and literacy. Courtesy of Choice Literacy.

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
August 23, 2014 - Issue #396

Pure Enjoyment PD
There are many true statements about complex topics that are too long to fit on a PowerPoint slide. 
                                                          Edward Tufte
This is the season when literacy leaders are thinking about kick-off professional development sessions in the fall, and dusting off PowerPoint (and Keynote) presentations to be revised or designing new sets of slides for their audiences. But what would happen to your presentation plans if you found out PowerPoint presentations were banned at your school?
It's a reality many professionals in other fields are facing. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon (and the owner of the Washington Post), banned PowerPoint presentations more than two years ago. Presenters instead must write six-page memos, which are read silently by everyone in the group before discussion begins.
Although Amazon has moved to longer written narratives, most other workplaces that have ditched PowerPoint have moved back to the lowly whiteboard. Leaders have discovered PowerPoint slides can be a barrier to discussion and creativity in group settings.  It's a growing trend across many different professions. Andrew Askew, a professor at a physics forum that banned PowerPoints, explained,  "The communication became a lot more two-way instead of just the speaker speaking at length for 15, 20 minutes. The audience really started to come alive, to look up from their laptop computers and actually start participating in the discussion, which is what we were really trying to foster."
I'm not advocating a ban on PowerPoint presentations (we've even posted creative ideas recently for students developing them).  But the fact that so many leaders outside education have come to the same conclusion is great food for thought. If PowerPoint wasn't an option for your back-to-school professional development sessions or presentations to families, what could you do with a whiteboard and a few questions to launch a discussion? What would happen if instead of firing up your computer and your LCD, you began with questions, or a read-aloud?  If the thought of open-ended discussions or the group response to reading is scary, how healthy is your school community? Jeff Bezos once said, "If I could organize my day just in terms of pure enjoyment, I would be with other people around a whiteboard." What would a day of "pure enjoyment" PD look like for you?
This week we look at options for reader response. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy


Free for All

[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
Here are two features from the archives on integrating technology and reading response.
Katherine Sokolowski discovers some new tools for reader response in Audioboo, QR Codes, and Authentic Reading Response:
Shelly Archer is Rethinking Reading Logs with Wikis:

Cathy Mere shares some of her favorite digital tools for reader response with primary students at her Reflect & Refine blog:
Read more about why many businesses are banning PowerPoints:
Join us for Coaching the Common Core on October 18-19 at the beautiful Samoset Resort on the ocean in Rockport, Maine. Registration details are available at this link:

Have you visited Lead Literacy yet? It's our subscription membership site designed specifically for the needs of literacy coaches. You can view sample content at this link:
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Differentiation with e-textbooks - at last! Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

E-textbooks evolve to include more adaptive features
E-textbooks have evolved beyond words on a screen to include adaptive features that adjust levels of difficulty based on students' needs and offer translation functions. "Think of it as making the textbook a hands-on activity," said Andrew Miller, an ASCD faculty member and technology expert. "It's making the content come to life in a way that meets the needs of different learners -- auditory learners, visual leaders, text-based learners." District Administration magazine online (7/17)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Here is a great article on a school that went digital. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief

Lessons for schools considering going all digital
Just one year after his high school went all digital, vice principal Frank Portanova shares three tips for other schools considering what he says has been a successful and exciting transformation. In this commentary, he writes that the transformation does not happen immediately, that it is important to ensure that infrastructure needs are met and that teachers and students are on board. eSchool News (free registration) Bookmark and Share

Sunday, July 20, 2014

This new app has tremendous potential and should be pretty reasonable cost wise. Enjoy! Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief

Apple announces mobile app for iTunes U
Apple has announced the launch of an iTunes U mobile application that will allow educators to create and edit assignments using an iPad -- rather than logging into a Web browser on a computer. The program also will allow students and teachers to participate in group chats. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Bits blog (6/30)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Many states are re-thinking their decisions to use the CCSS due to technology glitches - technology wise as well as student preparation for computer use. This web site allows you to input information regarding the technology in your school and discover whether or not your district can handle the assessment online. Enjoy. Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief.

Website guides common core technology decisions

(Dražen Lovrić/NewsCred)
The Guide to Technology Requirements website -- launched by the State Educational Technology Directors Association -- seeks to help school leaders access information about technology requirements for common core assessments. The site allows users to input their information and access district-specific resources. EdTech magazine online (6/24)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, June 21, 2014

With the coming of the 21st century, many new "literarcies" are being created. Here is a thought provoking article on computer literacy. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Is learning to code as essential as reading and writing?
The U.S. is graduating fewer students literate in coding than are needed to fill the projected number of jobs in computer science, data show. Now, there is momentum behind a push to make coding the new literacy by not only teaching students how to code but also what the language of Java means -- a principle known as "computational thinking." Mother Jones (6/2014)