Friday, January 30, 2015

Showcase: Collaborative Tools in the Math Classroom

Padlet an online collaborative sticky board has been around for awhile, it was previously called Wallwisher.  We have seen Padlet used in lots of classrooms.  I wanted to showcase Elena Jones a math teacher at Goddard Middle School using this with her 8th grade students in Geometry.

Rather than a typical study guide Elena decided to shift this from an independent activity to a collaborative activity that held students accountable for the information they were sharing.

Elena created a different Padlet for each topic (chapter) that was going to be assessed on the midterm exam. Students were required to contribute to at least five different boards. Their next step was to analyze each board to see if all vocabulary was covered. As they worked, students would ask her to "clean-up" or organize the board by re-arranging student comments so they were all visible. As they found a word missing, the students would ask who wants to add this missing information.  As Elena saw duplicate vocabulary words on a page, she would address the two students and have them discuss their definitions and come up with one 'best' definition. When students didn't know the definition of a word, she encouraged them to use their resources (internet...).

Here is one example of her student generated boards.

Students used these boards to study vocabulary and concepts for their midterm. Students really enjoyed collaborating and critically reading other student contributions to create these collaborative boards.

When I asked Elena if she would do it again and how effective she thought this was she responded. “This was a very effective and efficient way to engage all students to review for a dreaded mid term. Students had to collaborate to review vocabulary rather than complete a study guide. I will do this again for the final!”

In addition to using collaborative tools in her class, Elena is presenting at the InnEdCo Conference this summer at Keystone and has previously presented at our district Inspired Learning Conference that happens each April.  If that was not enough she also has a class set of iPads that she uses very effectively in her math classroom.  If you have questions or want to get a hold of Elena Jones check out her class website.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Showcase: Outsmarting the Smartphone: Using Technology to Create/Enhance Student Work

Only a LPS teacher for one year, Colleen Monahan has already become an outstanding addition and leader to our LPS teaching staff.  She is an educator of 8th and 7th grade students at Powell Middle School.  Not only did she come to Littleton Public Schools with a National Board Certification (2008) but she came with a clear connection to middle schoolers and how to use technology to ignite a topic and have students create amazing student work products.

Let me share just a few examples.
Project 1: Colleen used WeVideo which is an online video editor.  Last year students created book trailers. This year she is using WeVideo to create short story trailers.   Take a look at her WeVideo Presentation presented to teachers at the LPS District Inspired Learning Conference 2014.
Additional Documents: Student Directions and Collaboration Space (Google Doc)

Student WeVideo Example: Hatchet
If you are viewing this at LPS you must go through the filter to view the video below 

Project 2: Vine/Instagram
Students created 6 second (on Vine) or 15 second (Instagram) videos to demonstrate the understanding of the main idea/supporting details in an article from Junior Scholastic!  The purpose was for students to share the main idea with supporting details.
Sample Student Product: 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Project 3: Poll Everywhere
Here students used their smartphones or chromebooks to access Poll Everywhere, an online poll.  This was used to integrate math into language arts.  Students answered where they were in their reading progress based on a list of choices.  They then calculated averages and discussed how to analyze a bar graph.

Project 4: Project Discovery
Purpose: To get out of the box and have students try something new (volunteer, crochet, indoor skydiving, new food, skiing, sport...) Only topics off limits (video game, movie or book)
Students used their smartphone to take a photo of themselves outside of school trying out their Project Discovery choice.  
Project Discovery Student Guide  Students needed to:
  • identify/create research questions ( not ‘look-upable’ - as Colleen tells her students )
  • reflect on their experiences and research
  • present online through Ustream where parents could login and watch presentations online
  Parents had great feedback.  Here is just one of many parent emails.
Good Morning,
I want to tell you how much fun it has been learning about, cupcakes, bell ringers, pasta, sushi, scuba diving and horses!   
My Mother and I have been watching for a few days, as I have been sick and recovering from surgery.   
It has been fun watching the smiles, nervousness and creativity of your kids.
Thank you so much,
Tina ( parent )

Parent Communication Colleen used to participate in the online viewing of student presentations

All of these projects can be done using a smartphone and/or chromebook/other device.

To top it off, Colleen was accepted to present at CCIRA (Colorado Council International Reading Association)  
Her session write-up: Outsmarting the Smartphone (middle school)
This presentation will focus on how educators can easily use technology to increase student engagement and meet standards. Attendees will walk away with an array of tech tools, and tips for successful implementation in the classroom!

Take a look at the other tools she uses with students and will be showcasing at CCIRA.  
Vine/InstagramWeVideoPoll EverywhereRemind 101UstreamSocrativeClass Dojo, Twitter, phone camera feature and Google split screen for PARCC prep
If you are interested in learning more about what Colleen Monahan does with her students using technology, check out her class website.

If you are involved in innovative work in your classroom let us know so we can highlight your students great work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Showcase: Blogging: Writing about what you read.

Blogging: Writing about what you read.
Writing about what you are reading is a great way to share with others your thinking about a book or topic.  Writing in an online format allows you to share with an even larger audience.  Jill Maxey a teacher at Franklin Elementary School has a successful and authentic way this is happening for her students.

Jill’s last two book blogs have focused on historical fiction.  She has had three main purposes:
  • dig deeper into the text
  • better understanding of setting ( historical events - great depression )
  • increase audience along with parent / student conversation

Last years 4th graders participated in a blog around the book Watsons Go To Birmingham.  
This past year her now 5th graders have just started participating in a blog around the book Bud Not Buddy.  

So far this years parents are participating in high numbers, which brings great conversation and skills of how to disagree with someone in a respectful way. Even your mom or another parent :-)
see below
Kris ( parent ) AddyD ( student )

Here is how Jill got parents involved.  Parent Invitation Letter to Blog
This letter outline was initially created by Penny Potts another amazing teacher at Franklin that also blogs with her students.

To add another layer, Jill also has a Gifted and Talented blog where GT students respond to topics about their emotional health in learning.. Fear of Failure, Peer Pressure, Do Overs, Self-Esteem….  Check It Out at

Consider blogging in your classroom. Here are some Littleton blogging resources.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Showcase: Student Feedback

Student Feedback: Exemplars / Writing Conferences / Student Generated Tutorials
New to 5th Grade this year Betsy Sise is already leading and sharing out how she uses a Chrome Extension called SnagIt to give student feedback.  She was initially introduced to SnagIt at the Boulder Google Summit this past fall and started using SnagIt to create video tutorials for directions, how to's and student exemplars. After sharing this with the Littleton Inspired Writing Cohort and having conversations with other teachers in this cohort she moved from tutorials and student exemplars to student writing conferences.

Student Exemplar Example using SnagIt: 40 Book Blog

Betsy uses SnagIt videos for her advanced students to set goals and guide their work so they can self-pace and continue to grow.  She uses SnagIt with her struggling students by recording her sit down writing conference with them.  This allows students to go back and listen to the conference again, remember the focus area and review their goal for the writing piece.

Betsy is already thinking ahead of these great practices and is providing students voice by giving them the opportunity to lead by creating their own video tutorials on their topic of choice.  

Continue to check back with Ms. Sise's website at Runyon Elementary to see this great work continuing to develop over the year.

Runyon Elementary

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Showcase: Authentic Student Work

All of our LPS buildings do great work.  This is the first of many posts to showcase our amazing LPS students and teachers that help guide them.

Authentic student work

Online Student Newsletter: Twain Times - January Edition
Just started this month, the Student Newsletter at Twain has begun with a Bang!  Initiated by students and guided by Laura McKone, this newsletter has everything to become a success.   Student authors are including opportunities for the entire Twain student body to feel like they have a voice.  Art Contests, Recipes, Student and Teacher Spotlights, Writing Contests and more.  
They even have a Debate section.  Their first Debate Topic was "Is technology taking over?".  They had persuasive writing pieces included that supported both sides of the topic, just like professional journals.  These future journalists understand how to connect and give voice to their audience.  Good Luck and I can't wait for the February Edition!

Online Student Morning Announcements: BLOG
Started in 2008 Twain has been creating daily Student Morning Announcements.  These announcements are led by students.  They highlight teachers, events, issues and give different students each day the opportunity to gain leadership and speaking skills.  Led by Liz Aucone this is one of the student led activities that really defines Twain.

Twain Elementary

LPS Presenters at InnEdCo 2015

We are excited to share with you the Littleton Public School staff names that have been accepted to present at InnEdCo (Innovative Education Colorado June 22-25) 2015 this year.

We pride ourselves in high participation at this conference and usually have a strong turn out of presenters.  This year we are extremely proud of the high quality and number of presentations that were accepted.  Presenting at a conference takes time and energy to submit and create a presentation.  We could say we are surprised by the number of teachers that do above and beyond what they are asked, but we know that in LPS we are fortunate to have an amazing teaching staff that continues to reach out to learn, grow and share their expertise.

Please take a minute to look at the list and possibly take a minute to congratulate any of them that may be at your school.
FirstLast NameSchoolPresentation Title
EmilyLangillArapahoePractical Ways to Use Google Apps for High School
KellyAlmerCentennialGoogle Hangouts On Air
JimReinerCentennialGoogle Hangouts On Air
ChristinWorsleyCentennialTechnology Integration Into Special Education
HannahYabrove-RosnerCentennialGoogle Hangouts On Air
ChrisMooreEastCollecting Data Quick: All Devices Welcome!
NicoletteVanderVeldeEastGoogle+ and Hangouts: A Two Room Extravaganza!
NicoletteVanderVeldeEastGAFE for Administrators
Dana LevesqueESCInspired Writing
Randy StallESCCreating Classroom Hubs Using Google
MarissaDarnellEuclidCreating/Using Online Interactive Text
Kelly CainField21st Century Self-Directed Student/ Parent/ Teacher Conferences
JuliaMontanaFieldUsing Creativity and Collaborative Tools in the GT Classroom
SallyMooreField21st Century Self-Directed Student/ Parent/ Teacher Conferences
ErinGonshorFranklinStudent Feedback - Various Forms of Communication/Differentiation
Penny PottsFranklinStudent Feedback - Various Forms of Communication/Differentiation
Penny PottsFranklinVirtual Exit Slips - Data Collection and Teacher Collaboration
ErinGonshorFranklinVirtual Exit Slips - Data Collection and Teacher Collaboration
ElenaJonesGoddardInteractive Tools that Make for a Collaborative Math Class
NateUbowskiHeritageUnleashing 100% genius with 20% time
NateUbowskiHeritageStaying Sane in a Paperless Classroom with Add-ons in Drive
KevinBrooksLHSSchoology and Google Drive
KatieChristieRunyonVisual Learning with Google Slides and Drawings
KatieChristieRunyonVisible Learning: Utilizing GoogleSites as Classroom Hubs and ePortfolios
ElizabethSiseRunyonDigital Conferencing to Maximize Time
Laura McKoneTwainUsing Creativity and Collaborative Tools in the GT Classroom

Monday, January 5, 2015


What: A free “un-conference” for educators by educators to share knowledge and work collaboratively. It’s an empowering approach to professional learning, where we provide the space, and you are the talent. Want more information about EdCamp? 
When: January 31, 2014 8:00am - 2:00pm 
Where: Grant Beacon Middle School
1751 South Washington Street Denver, CO 80210
Twitter: @EdCampDenver 
Google+ Community: EdCamp Denver

edcamp Denver Save the Date