Coaching our teachers

Posted by dmlevin Jun 25, 2013

I attended Want to be a Tech Coach? with Les Foltos and Tina Jada this afternoon. I believe it to be one of the most helpful and informative sessions I have been to this week. Foltos made many key points, stating: if you want to change practice, you need to implement coaching. Workshops and other professional developments provide great resources, but they don't change practice. Additionally, another key point he made was that collaboration amongst teachers is essential to successful pracitce. I believe in these principles in my work as a manager for teacher development. Too often, as a coach, I've had a mindset that I need to have all the answers and simply give them to those I support, but this is far from effective coaching. A good coach works alongside his or her mentees, and a good coach knows that it's okay, and it's right, to pursue solutions together. Coaches need to dig in, model, use the resources or technology with their teachers, and explore different solutions to problems that arise. I look forward to implementing this change in my coaching approach this summer and fall, and I look forward to becoming a more hands-on, collaborative coach with each of my teachers.


Where Good Ideas Come From

Posted by dmlevin Jun 25, 2013

This morning, Steven Johnson presented as the Keynote speaker based no his book, Where Good Ideas Come From. Collaboration, creativity and innovation were the key ideas he stressed. In order to maximize our individual impacts, we have to focus on creating connected learning within a collected world. One of the key ideas Johnson spoke about was diversity. The type of diversity he meant does not focus on our backgrounds, but on a diversity of ideas. He believes, as I do, that when we surround ourselves with people who are different from us, we gain more knowledge, can make smarter decisions, feel more inspired or even surprised about what we learn. At the core of this is a desire for a world that collaborates. Often, we need to talk through our ideas to sculpt them, to better create them, and unless we are willing to dialogue about our thoughts, it's difficult to put them into action. With today's social media and online communities, there is every opportunity to have these discussions. Johnson is right in believing we need to diversify our interactions, spark more conversations, and push each other's thoughts - this is the best way for our world to keep innovating and for us to keep learning.

I have been amazed by the myriad of resources, programs, apps, etc. that I have learned about at ISTE. As someone who always believed myself to be quite tech-savvy, I realized that there were so many things that I just had no idea about. My biggest takeaway from ISTE is that the use of technology in education cannot be ignored and that teachers have the responsibility to use technology in the classroom in the most effective and meaningful way for their students.  At my school, we were lucky enough to have access to our own iPad carts, but I found that iPad time easily became a time for teachers to disengage and let students independently use a program or two.  Our access to iPads merely became a block of time during the day for teachers to rest and students to play, instead of using these tools to their utmost ability and realizing that technology should be immersed in the classroom throughout the day and across all subjects.  As teachers who are lucky enough to have access to great technology in our schools, we must first take the time to study and explore the technological resources we are given and impart this knowledge on our students, while also engaging with them in the process.  At ISTE, I realized that there were a million more things that I could have been doing with my students on the iPads - furthermore, the programs I could have been using were challenging, highly engaging, appropriately scaffolded, etc.  I learned that the use of technology is not just isolated as a block of time during the school day, but that the use of technology in the classroom is the same as it is in our daily lives - a constant and valuable resource that assists and augments our everyday routines.  While I have left the classroom and am now entering into a teacher development role, I am incredibly eager to share all of the new knowledge that I've gained with teachers, and to also share my reflections about my newfound appreciation and understanding of the right way to use technology in the classroom.


NBC Learn

Posted by jiun.kimm Jun 25, 2013

This is a resource I would have fought for in my classroom.  NBC Learn is an online resource that uses an immense collection of NBC's historic and current videos and aligns them to state standards.  The program is very easy to use.  You just find your grade and state and the site displays videos that are aligned to your criteria.  From there, teachers have the autonomy to use this information to start a debate, form a project, or give an informal/formal assessment to students.  As a news junkie who taught in a school with no formal social studies curriculum, this resource would have been a great and simple way to engage students in the past and present and the domestic and international.  Real video from all around the world makes the resource even more engaging and supports multicultural thinking.  Yesterday's events can quickly be found and presented to students the next day, keeping our students up-to-date in our ever-globalizing world!


Online resources for ELA

Posted by jiun.kimm Jun 25, 2013

I was lucky to attend a session about open-ended web tools that can be used for ELA curriculum. As a second and third grade teacher in a school that recently adopted PBL curriculum, I was shocked to see the many web tools that I could have been using with my students but had not idea about! I will note the resources that I am excited to try out with corps members and students... is a program that students can use for poster and flyer-making.  The notable aspect of this program is the ability to input video and photos onto the flyers, creating a unique and more interactive experience. enables students to create animated slideshows.  Different from a regular powerpoint, this program makes the experience of creating a slideshow more engaging as the level of animation and the opportunity for creativity is much more powerful.  Lastly, This is an online book creator.  In my classroom, there was nothing more exciting for my students than producing their own books.  What I like most about this program is that final products can be printed. In each of the PBL units in my classroom my students created books.  I would have loved to use this program to create books online and then print and laminate them for my students!


UDL and Assessments

Posted by jiun.kimm Jun 25, 2013

How do we evaluate and measure UDL? This was one of the big questions at a session about Innovation and UDL.  UDL reduces unnecessary barriers in instruction for students by assuming variability while maintaining high standards for students of all learning levels. While UDL curriculum has proven effective, it has not eliminated the debate over assessment as, ultimately, students still live in a paper-and-pencil testing world.  While I firmly believe in the UDL framework and the idea that students must have accessibility and variability in their educational experiences, I also know that we must keep in mind that students’ state tests, college entrance exams, graduate-level exams, etc. have not expanded in variability.  What most struck me about this session about Innovation and UDL was facilitator David Rose’s point that, as educators, we are in the business of “preparing our students for future learning”.  Whether “future learning” comes in the shape of a paper-and-pencil test or a video game, it is our responsibility to ensure that students are ready to tackle whatever assessments come their way.  Therefore, my biggest takeaway is that UDL is not about an elimination of paper and pencils or textbooks, it is about an expansion and addition of the many methods by which students learn.

In a discussion during the Insights from a 21st Century Classroom, the session's speaker, Ian Fogarty talked about the issues he had with implementing a laptop for every student. He said that he would try having students work collaboratively using laptops, but only one student would end up learning or doing all the work. Others would fall off task or not feel heard. He eventually concluded that he could have students work collaboratively using the Smart Boards in his classroom. He saw results improve immediately. This session taught me that students need to feel a part of the discussion, that they must be engaged with the technology, and they must have the tool in their hand (in this case, the Smart Board's pen) in order to fully contribute. Ian seemed like a fantastic teacher but he emphasized that the level of engagement students needed could not be provided just from him or even from laptops alone. ALL students must be a part of the discussion, and technology like the Smart Board allows us to provide that space. Too often, we use the Smart Board as a teacher tool, only occasionally involving students by circling or moving something on the board. Instead, the Smart Board should be the tool that helps students expand their thinking, and we should move to facilitate, rather than direct, that learning.

Representation, expression and engagement. These three principles echoed throughout the day, both in sessions and in my own internal understanding of what a strong education looks like for kids. I was impressed to see the different ways these principles took form today (especially in the SETSIG session), both in hands-on learnings with technology as well as the changes in overall classroom structures this will mean for educators. Differentation has never been optional for our classrooms - each one of our students demands an education that works for them - but past approaches haven't taken into account their needs and the different ways they learn. It was inspiring to see how technology can be used in all grades, for all levels of learners, for general education and special education, for students with disabilities and those without. I was particularly moved by the way students with special needs were able to use technology as a manipulative, and how this had become such a core component of their education. One speaker this morning mentioned that schools are often eager to try new ideas, but not give up on any of the old ones. I wonder how we can build this 21st century type of classroom within each one of our schools... and fast. After all, it's the students who will benefit the most from this approach - we have to push for a differentiated learning experience for all of our students.


The History Explorer team is looking forward to a great conference this coming week! We'll be hosting a BYOD session and a poster session on technology-rich resources from the National Museum of American History. Hope to see you there!


Poster Session:

National Youth Summit: Connecting Kids to History and Each Other

Monday, June 24, 8:00-10:00 in Tower View Lobby, Table 16


BYOD Session:

Real Stories, Real Stuff: Teaching with Resources from the Smithsonian

Monday, June 24, 12:45-1:45 in SACC 004



National Museum of American History

Staff from EDSITEment, Joe Phelan, and Kelly Granito, will be demonstrating how to use the free historic newspaper database, Chronicing America, to find primary sources for Common Core classrooms.

Wednesday, 6/26/2013,  8:30am–9:30am, SACC 005


Purpose & Objectives

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce participants to the historic digital newspaper database, Chronicling America, and to offer them the information necessary to employ a wide array of teaching techniques. Participants in this workshop will be able to work the digital newspaper repository into well-crafted lesson plans and activities at the instructional, guided practice, and assessment phases, and will thus be able to build in students' 21st century skills as outlined by the Common Core State Standards (particularly evidence-based reasoning, close reading, critical analysis and argument evaluation).



  • Leveraging Chronicling America as a Classroom Source:  (10 minutes)
    Presenters and group members introduce themselves and presenters direct group to the EDSITEment Chronicling America mini-site, give a brief history of Chronicling America features, and view part of short introductory video, “What is Chronicling America?”
  • Searching Historic Digital Newspaper Sources: (10 minutes)
    Presenters will direct group to navigate to the Chronicling America digital newspaper search page of over 5 million pages of digital newspapers where they will outline “Tips and Techniques” for browsing and searching and highlight special challenges presented by searching historic primary source content, particularly historical vocabulary differences.
  • Common Core Standards and Chronicling America (10 minutes)

Presenters unpack Common Core Standards for ELA, specifically, working with careful reading and critical analysis of primary sources, and illustrate the opportunities Chronicling America represents for gathering and evaluating information, document analysis, comparison and contrast, and critical thinking.

Researching and Constructing a Classroom Activity with Chronicling America (20 minutes, respectively)
Led by presenters, the group will search a predefined topic from Chronicling America and locate, clip, download, and save the articles each deems relevant.

Facilitated by the presenters, the group will develop a targeted activity that aligns with CCSS and is based on their chosen articles using downloaded images and word processing software.

Reflections on Utilizing Chronicling America to meet the CCSS (10 minutes)
Group discussion and feedback of issues with Common Core and Chronicling America


Supporting Research

The National Digital Newspaper Project, created through a partnership of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress is a unique, free resource that gathers the nation's regional newspapers from 1836-1922 (searchable from 1690-present) in searchable and downloadable database form and offers a comprehensive look at America in history.


Presenter Background

Dr. Joseph Phelan is the history and social studies specialist with the National Endowment for the Humanities EDSITEment website and is responsible for the site's award-winning history and social studies content. He is also an Assistant Professor of History and Government, University of Maryland University College. Dr. Phelan has helped conduct NEH focus groups with teachers on the use of Chronicling America in the classroom, presented on Chronicling America at history and social studies conventions and has presented to Chronicling America grantees (those responsible for the database) on in Chronicling America in the classroom. He has been instrumental in the formulation of NEH's Chronicling America National History Day awards for 2013 and 2014.


Kelly Granito is a candidate for the M.A. in American Studies at George Washington University and holds a B.A. in Secondary Education (a field in which she has taught for four years), from Western Michigan University. As an NEH intern working on the EDSITEment website, Kelly has helped to spearhead the CCSS history initiative, which includes optimizing Chronicling America resources in the classroom for EDSITEment

cups_117.pngI was leaving school one afternoon when I encountered Ima Teacher, standing in front of the shredder with a piece of paper in her hand.


"Listen," said Ima, this is important, and the secretary has already left. Can you make this thing work?"


"Sure," I replied. I turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.


"Great!" said Ima as her paper disappeared inside the machine. "I just need one copy."



Hello and 'Welcome to the ISTE Conference 2013' being held in beautiful San Antonio, Texas. I'm delighted to see you join this Thinkfinity Community group established for you to share with others the highlights of the ISTE 2013 Conference. Rather you are attending the conference in person or participating virtually, please share your own technology stories, both serious and funny. We want to learn from you.


napkin_117.pngIn this ISTE Conference 2013 group we can follow the activities at the conference and ask questions that those of you attending may be able to answer.


If I can help you navigate the community, use the features of your group, or just chat about what is going on at ISTE, please write me at


-Jane Brown, Community Manager