Digital Literacy Badge #1 - Design Your Digital Self

Design Your Digital Self - Promoting Digital Literacy

An activity intended for all

My Digital Self - blogmaster

Digital Literacy Badges

Set a Goal and Earn a Badge! It's simple.

In an attempt to promote digital literacy and contribute positively to implementation of the Common Core I am pleased to introduce Beye Badges

Class Badges for 1-1 Goal Setting

Class Badges is a free online tool designed to help teachers use digital badges as rewards for accomplishing learning goals. The badges can be a useful tool for teachers to keep track of individual student accomplishments as they help learners focus on making progress.

Teachers can request a free account to generate a class code for students. Just add your students and choose from the many available badges. If you are in need of a unique badge of your own you can work with the folks at Class Badges to have them create it for you.

A Google Docs Template for Multimedia Research

The Google Docs Presentation is well-suited for use as a starting point  for short student driven research projects because of the availability of efficient integrated research tools right on the page. To introduce students and teachers to the built in features, I created a  simple template to guide the learning and help everyone discover the usefulness of the tool. 

An Updated Digital Differentiation Model

This is part of a Digital Differentiation model, my way i of weaving a web of flexible tools together for teaching and learning. To keep the model relevant, frequent updates are required, as new tools and trends emerge. 

To access the most current resources, please click on the tab at the top of this blog:

Digital Differentiation - Current 

A Guide to Facilitating an Interactive Learning Project

I have been creating a lot of student projects that use ThingLink as a tool for learning. I have also received a handful of questions from teachers who are highly interested in facilitating a similiar project of their own, but need help with the management involved.

"With so much active student engagement, how do you manage a project like this?"

A Playlist: Avatars & Internet Safety

For as long as I can remember I've been using avatars to teach Internet safety. It's a fun and engaging way to teach students the importance of protecting their identities when they are online and a great prelude to using a variety of web 2.0 tools to support the curriculum.

I just collected some of the resources I regularly use and created a  MentorMob  playlist for teaching students about Avatars and Internet Safety. If you want to use the playlist with your own students, just click the Share Playlist link at the bottom, then copy and paste the embed code into your own page.

My EduBlogs Nomination & Thank Yous

I am very honored to be nominated for EdTech Blog of 2012

My blog is an essential part of my workflow and it is my most important tool.  I would like to thank some amazing people who have kept me blogging.

Janet Barnstable
Thank you for encouraging me to blog and getting me started with my favorite and most useful tool. You always point me in the right direction and I am so thankful for you, your guidance and our friendship.

Edmodo & ThingLink: Extend the Walls of Your Classroom

Edmodo is a free and secure social learning platform for teachers and students to collaborate and connect in the  24/7 classroom. The design and functionality of Edmodo is similar to Facebook, but the focus is on teaching and learning within a protected environment. Students don't even need an email account to sign up.

Teachers and students can extend the learning by posting messages, holding online discussions, picking up work and turning it in.  Edmodo supports a variety of multimedia to provide students with flexible learning paths  including links, images, video and interactive graphics created with ThingLink.

An Interactive Tutorial: Google Presentation

Google Presentation is a great tool for helping students construct knowledge about a topic as they create. Here is an interactive tutorial designed to demonstrate how to use some of the handy built in features.

A ThingLink Toolkit for Teachers

I am excited to share a ThingLink Teacher Toolkit of Resources.

The toolkit is designed to provide teachers and students with all the resources needed to use ThingLink as an efficient and effective tool for teaching and learning.

An Interactive Thanksgiving Image

I used ThingLink to create an interactive graphic for Thanksgiving.

Feel free to use it, embed it into your own site, and use the comments section of the blog to send me links you feel would be great additions to the graphic.

Edublogs 2012 Nominations

Nominations for 2012 Edublog Awards are open. 
The purpose of the Edublog Awards is to 
"promote and demonstrate the educational values of these social media." 

The nomination process supports the goal of the contest because it requires nominations via a blog post with a follow up link to that post submitted to Edublogs. What a great way to share, discover and credit the folks whose work inspires us and contributes to our own success!

Research Tool Added to Google Presentation

Good news for Google Docs users! The powerful integrated research tool made available in the Google Document last spring has made it's way to the Google Presentation at last. The tool couldn't be easier to use. Just pull down the Tools menu, click on Research and search for information in the research pane that appears on the right side of the screen. Users never have to leave the page.

Digital Tools for Differentiating Vocabulary: K12Online

If you're looking for innovative ways to use free and user friendly digital tools to help students acquire vocabulary, please check out my session, Digital Tools for Differentiating Vocabulary Instruction at the K12OnlineConference. While you're there you are sure to discover more terrific 20 minute sessions, available for viewing at your convenience.

Teaching vocabulary today? Get ideas to "Kick it Up a Notch" at  conference.      innovate

TeachEm: Create Guided YouTube Lessons

TeachEm is a free and user friendly digital tool that allows users to capture YouTube content, organize it, and add time stamped flashcards to guide the learning. It's simple, smart and efficient which makes it a good tool for busy teachers interested in implementing a Flipped Classroom instructional model.

Common Core Connections: Using Multimedia to Present Knowledge & Ideas

Technology can be a powerful tool to help us meet the Common Core Standards and move our students forward to prepare them for success in school and beyond. In general, the Common Core calls for the seamless integration of technology into the curriculum. There are also specific Common Core standards dedicated to using technology. The Speaking and Listening strand across all grade levels asks students to create presentations that are enhanced by a spiraling complexity of multimedia components.

327 Common Core Aligned Playlists from MentorMob & LearnZillion

MentorMob and LearnZillion have teamed up to create a comprehensive collection of Common Core aligned learning playlists perfect for providing students with easy access to guided learning experiences. Currently there are 327 Common Core aligned playlists ready and available for free on the MentorMob site.

The Social Side of ThingLink

The folks at ThingLink have recently released some social features to make sharing and collaborating on interactive images a breeze. Please roll your mouse over the image below to explore this ThingLink image and learn more.

Explore the Great Barrier Reef: Google Wonders Project

The Google Wonders Project is an interactive website that allows visitors to discover many of the wonders of the world. Virtual visitors can get off the beaten path and explore wonders from 6 continents up close through Google's amazing street view technology. Virtual visitors can find factual information, stunning images, 3-D models and YouTube videos right on the page, which makes the World Wonders Project an amazing teaching tool.

Spin Xpress: Search for Creative Commons Images

Students today have had easy access to a tremendous amount of multimedia content for their entire lives and it's fairly safe to say that they can be careless about using it. When asked to create multimedia projects for school, many students simply search topics and use whatever they can find without giving much thought to copyright unless it has been addressed and reinforced by their teachers. It's never too early to start teaching students about copyright, fair use and Creative Commons.

Electing a President - An Interactive Graphic

I created an interactive graphic to provide students and their teachers with flexible paths to learn about electing a president and the electoral college. The image was created with ThingLink. I used some of the new storytelling icons to identify different types of resources.

Common Core Connections: Unpacking Academic Vocabulary

Are you wondering where to begin to adopt the Common Core Vocabulary Standards? While there are many specific vocabulary standards clearly listed in the K-12 Language strand, it's helpful and important to look at Academic Vocabulary from the big picture view known as Shift 6. Let's unpack it.

Google Docs New Integrated Research Tool

Google Docs has many useful features for helping students develop writing skills. When I recently opened a Google Document to plan a teacher training on Using Google Docs to Facilitate a Writing Workshop I was pleasantly surprised to find a new and powerful integrated research feature which couldn't be easier to use. Just pull down the Tools menu, click on Research and search for information in the research pane that appears on the right side of the screen. Users never have to leave the page.

Back to School With Google Docs

Last year all of the students in our school district received Google Docs accounts and I was kept quite busy all year getting students up and running and then finding innovative ways to use the tools for learning. Upon reflection,if I got the opportunity to do it all over again there are three things I would make sure to do at the start of the year to kick off Google Docs. 

ThingLink & Mentor Mob: Nice Integration Feature

Last week I learned that the folks at ThingLink and MentorMob had done some work together to integrate their tools, making it possible to embed a MentorMob playlist directly into a ThingLink graphic. After experimenting a bit I decided to remix some of the content I've been using for years to teach digital citizenship and the result is the creation of Avatar Adventure. For me, the exciting part about designing this learning activity was being able to create something that other people could understand and use. And yes, I certainly learned a lot as I was designing the activity.

Avatar Adventures: An Interactive Learning Opportunity

I created an interactive learning experience designed to provide students and teachers with opportunities to focus on digital citizenship while engaging in constructive play. I hope many will enjoy using it, contributing to it and interacting with it.

Many thanks to those who have already contributed content!

10 Minute Tech Tools on Pinterest

A few years ago I decided to wind up the school year by offering busy teachers the opportunity to collaborate with me to learn to use a powerful tech tool in 10 minutes or less. I must admit the idea was appealing to many teachers at that very busy time of the year, and it actually generated a lot of interest. After all, who doesn't have 10 minutes to learn to use a new tool?

Top 10 Tech Tools: An Interactive Graphic

With so many free and user friendly tech tools available for teachers, it's hard to know where to begin to put together a list of the best tools for teaching and learning so I decided to take a look at my own resources to determine which tools I use the most. Rather than posting another running list of tools, features and uses, I decided to present the information visually, through an interactive ThingLink graphic. I used the new colored nubbins available to make it easier for visitors to explore areas of interest more efficiently. 

Explore the World - Google World Wonders Projects

If you can't visit the great wonders of the world in person, Google's new World Wonders Project can get you pretty close. The World Wonders Project is an interactive website that uses the same street view technology used in Google Maps to allow visitors to explore many of the wonders of the world. In order to allow virtual visitors to get off the beaten path, Google used tricycles with cameras to explore territory closer than cars can go. In addition to exploring the World  through the amazing street view technology, Google provides factual information, stunning images, 3-D models and YouTube videos right on the page.

21st Century Research & Information Fluency on Scoop.It is a free and user friendly content curation service that allows users to collect information about a topic of interest and display it as an attractive visual magazine. The handy bookmarklet allows users to add content to a magazine with the click of a button while browsing the web. Users can follow others with similar interests and rescoop posts from one person's magazine to their own. also generates suggestions that match your interest. This is an efficient way to share content. 

Wallwisher Senbazuru - A New and Improved Digital Wall

Wallwisher is a free and user friendly online tool that allows users to create a digital wall of multimedia sticky notes. In addition to text, the notes can include images, links and videos. Create a wall, then invite others to add stickies.

Vokis in the Classroom

Summer is a time for constructive play. You might want to have a bit of fun and try creating a talking avatar with My Voki. Once you see how easy it is to create one, you have the rest of the summer to figure out how to use them in your teaching.

A Day of Learning

The folks at SimpleK12 are hosting several Days of Learning this summer featuring free webinars for educators which are certainly worth exploring. I'm excited to be hosting one again on June 20th that will continue to explore digital differentiation with a focus on using multimedia tools to support all learning styles. Please join us!

An Interactive ThingLink Launcher Unveiled

Check out this fantastic interactive graphic created by the folks at ThingLink featuring contributions from real users. Keep creating and sharing!

A Playlist of Search Engines

I have created a MentorMob playlist of tools to help students efficiently find information using a variety of digital tools to match unique learning styles. If you would like to use this with your students, click the Share Playlist link at the bottom to grab the embed code or link.

InstaGrok - Visual Search Engine & Interactive Learning Tool

InstaGrok is an intelligent visual search engine and interactive learning tool that collects educational content and displays it in the form of a cloud of related words. The tool is very appealing because it offers a variety of multimedia features to meet the unique learning needs of students. In addition to the visual map, content is displayed in the form of text, images, video and web links. Also, students can use the handy slider tool to access usable information by self selecting the level of difficulty of results displayed.

Thinglink in the Classroom

Thinglink is a free and friendly digital tool that provides users with the ability to turn any image into an interactive graphic. Users can create multiple "hot spots" on specific parts of an image and turn the image into a multimedia launcher. Embed video, record audio with the click of a button and a free SoundCloud account, or link to any website. ThingLink is a truly  amazing tool that is compatible with any blog or website with a widget to support javascript,

Wikispaces Features: An Interactive Graphic

A wiki is a website that allows members to easily edit and contribute content. Wikispaces is a teacher and student friendly tool that supports multimedia for collaborative learning.
  • A wiki provides teachers with a platform to design learning experiences that provide students with flexible learning paths to meet unique learning styles
  • Wiki's can support student-driven project based learning experiences to help students develop super skills for the 21st century: creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking.
  • Wikis are a simple yet efficient online tool for the 24/7 classroom
I used Thinglink to create this interactive graphic which illustrates my favorite features available in Wikispaces. Please scroll your mouse over the graphic to access the resources.

Update: Wikispaces to Support the Common Core on

Google Docs: New Fonts & Templates

Google Docs is making the transition to Google Drive and with that they have recently announce some improved features for Docs users. Most notably is the addition of  60 new templates and 450 new fonts.

Google Search Education

Searching for information and making sense of it is a process that involves critical thinking. Google has many tools to help students sift through the overwhelming abundance of web content, but those tools are often not utilized by students and teachers. 

Google recently announced the launch of Search Education. With it comes the promise of bringing educators the tools they need to help students become savvy searchers and independent learners. The site for educators includes lesson plans that are tied to A Google a Daya daily puzzle designed to develop complex search skills. The lessons are aligned with NETS and Common Core Standards, connected to content area subjects and differentiated on 3 levels. 
In addition to lesson plans, Google offers live trainings and archived videos of past trainings to provided educators with the background knowledge

Cool Tools to Curate Content

Content curation is one way to find and share useful knowledge efficiently. There are plenty of user friendly push-button digital tools to help you collect, organize and store web content in flexible ways to allow for shared resources that are accessible online.

Educators can use content  curation tools to streamline instruction by providing students with easy online access to a variety of resources to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Digital Notes: Combine Readability & Google Docs

One of my favorite tools to share with students and teachers is Readability. This handy bookmarklet tool scrubs webpages clean of distractions by eliminating the ads and creating a more readable version of digital text. By itself, it's a really useful tool for students, but when combined with Google Docs, it can be part of an effective and efficient method for taking digital notes.

SlideRocket Sample: Cool Tools for Vocabulary

As someone who creates and shares presentations frequently, I'm excited to add SlideRocket to my tech toolkit of cloud-based presentation tools. It's slick, collaborative and available for free with a Gmail or Google Apps for Educators account. A refreshing change from Google Presentation, SlideRocket is feature-rich and fast. Here are a few of my favorite features:

Promoting Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is a 21st Century Skill that requires students to interpret, use and create media in ways to encourage critical  thinking, decision-making, communication and learning.  With easy access to copyright-friendly digital images and a growing number of web 2.0 resources for manipulating them, it's certainly worth offering students the option of conveying a message visually.  Let's take a closer look at one way to design effective learning experiences to promote visual literacy.

Mentor Mob Playlist Sample: Maximize Instructional Time

Mentor Mob is a cool tool to help users create digital playlists of related content. I like this curation tool because it's visual, user-friendly and can be embedded into a blog, wiki or website. All you need is a theme, some websites to highlight and the ability to write  short and concise titles to guide users through each step of your playlist.

I understand the idea behind Menor Mob is to create mixes of web content, but I was in need of a new tool for organizing some of my own content so that is what I used to create my first playlist.

EasyBib: One Click Access to Google Docs & More

EasyBib is a free and popular tool for creating citations. By using this tool, students no longer need to learn to format citations, which means they can focus on the reason for creating the citations and the importance of giving credit to the author.  EasyBib has some really great features worth exploring.

Great Ways to Use Google Docs - Presented Visually

These days a good way to capture the attention of an audience is to present information visually. For this reason, I created a glog of popular ways to use Google Docs for Learning to share with the teachers at our middle school. Just look at the glog, find something that interests you, and click on a link to see snippets of samples implemented by our teachers. Looking for more information or about any of these topics? View my Google Docs for Learning page on this blog.

Use Glogster & Screencasts to Maximize Student Presentations

If you're a classroom teacher using technology to helps students uncover knowledge and create something original, you are certainly making good use of technology as a tool for learning. Unfortunately; however, you may be struggling with time management issues if you're still engaging students in traditional methods of presenting what they've learned by standing in front of the class. I'd like to suggest an alternate, more efficient presentation method to maximize instructional time and take advantage of an additional opportunity for engaged student learning.

Design Your Digital Classroom

I have just returned from the Illinois Computing Educators Conference where I had the opportunity to facilitate a full day session titled Design Your Digital Classroom. This session wasn't about the ratio of students to machines, nor was it a prescription for using one type of technology.  The focus was on how to use technology as a tool for learning to support all learners in the 24/7 classroom. The participants were dedicated, innovative educators from across the state of Illinois, each bringing their own expertise and needs to the group. Each leaving excited about something that worked for them. Differentiated instruction and flexible learning paths work for everyone!

Here are the resources I put together for this day.

Digital Differentiation

This Digital Differentiation model is my original example of weaving a web of flexible tools together for teaching and learning. The model was designed in February, 2012. To keep the model relevant, it is frequently updated as new tools and trends emerge. 

Use GoogleDocs Self-Grading Quiz as an Exit Ticket

Update 3.3.13:

Try Flubaroo to automate and add functionality to the GoogleDocs Self-Grading Quiz.

View new post on this blog

The GoogleDocs Form is an efficient way for teachers to collect small pieces of information because it automatically displays the information in a spreadsheet. Teachers can add formulas to those spreadsheets to create  multiple-choice quizzes that grade themselves. Since a form can be linked or embedded into a website, wiki or blog, students do not need email accounts to take a quiz. The form works well on any portable computing device or full-blown computer which makes it perfect for use as an Exit Ticket at the end of a lesson. One simple 3-5 question Exit Ticket Quiz has at least three great uses.

Wikispaces Projects Feature - Manage Projects Efficiently

Last fall Wikispaces added a new feature to the free education version of their collaborative website platform called ProjectsDesigned specifically for classroom use, this new feature has streamlined the process of organizing and implementing collaborative projects by allowing wiki organizers to set aside designated space for project based team work. With the push a button, wiki organizers now have the ability to setup a project,  assign students to teams, control editing and viewing privileges for each team space, and utilize templates created specifically for that project.  Basically, the Projects feature allows organizers to create a wiki within a wiki!

Oolone and More Search Engines for Students

Oolone is a new visual search engine that displays results as web previews instead of text, offering a nice option for efficient and intuitive searching.  An oolone search displays the top four results in a grid that allows uses to scroll over the images to  get a closer look at the site before actually selecting it.  Designed to be a quicker and more efficient way to search, it speaks to the idea that that sometimes an image is the best answer to a question.

Screencasts -Tech Support to Maximize Instructional Time

As educators in the 21st century, one of our goals should be  to design student driven experiences that offer flexible learning paths, using a variety of tools to meet the diverse needs of all students.  Fueled by essential questions, technology is certainly a fabulous tool for facilitating these types of experiences, but with limited instructional time, loads of content to uncover and varied comfort levels with the technology itself,  implementing these types of learning experiences can be overwhelming and can be an inefficient use of instructional time.  If educators are going to effectively use technology as a tool for learning, than the learning focus has to be on the content, not the technology.