Digital Literacy: Climbing the Ladder, One Rung at a Time

Blogging Begins to Take Root

Students at Bertie Early College High School are reluctantly taking the plunge into the blogosphere. We’re also asking a few to ditch the old spiral pads and create digital notebooks. Among them are a few kids who can see the benefits of it, excited about what it means for their writing. I feel a bit like a dentist in some cases, but there’s one young lady who is embracing the idea.

A few weeks back, I gave a couple of science classes a rather compelling spill about blogging and keeping digital notes (my Oscar is in the mail). Fortunately, the teacher is the person who jumped on board first! She’s still got to get the hang of it, but her students are well on their way!

Vanessa Hernandez

Vanessa Hernandez

Today I sat down with Vanessa Hernandez to talk about how and Evernote has changed the way she thinks about writing and taking notes in school. Here’s what she had to say:

Me: Vanessa, your Earth/Environmental Science class recently started blogging. How has it changed your classroom experience?

Vanessa: With blogging I feel like I can express myself more in my work and it will be a lot easier to turn in my work.

Me: What’s the name of your blog and the URL? Continue reading

Students Explode Onto the Blogging Scene!

We all know it…it’s very difficult sometimes to get high school students excited about writing (and almost anything else these days). We proved this week however, that once you give them a voice, add a dash of guidance, and a splash of technology… viola! We’ve got kids writing like crazy at one high school.

This week, three classes at Bertie Early College  were exposed to training on blogging. Mr. Michael Everett allowed me to come into his Creative Writing class and conduct a workshop for his students on Evernote Web, Evernote Web Clipper, Clearly, and of course, WordPress. The kids were enthusiastic and engaged!

Let me tell you just a bit about what started the blogging revolution. Earlier in the week, I visited with Ms. Rhonda Taylor’s Earth/Environmental Science Classes. Their task was to research an event relative to human’s impact on the environment, and summarize their findings (on paper). This assignment needs some pizzazz, I thought. TechChic to the rescue! Continue reading

What You’re Doing Wrong With Classroom Tech

The answer is that you’re likely under analyzing one important factor:

Using vs. Infusing (According to Merriam Webster)

1use noun \ˈyüs\

: the act of using something

: the state of being used

: a way in which something is or can be used

in·fuse transitive verb \in-ˈfyüz\

: to cause (a person or thing) to be filled with something (such as a quality)

: to cause (something, such as a quality) to be added or introduced into a person or thing

Back in the early 2000’s, I was a young budding high school teacher, and arguably the first in my building to begin substituting the old green chalkboard and the messy overhead transparency markers with Microsoft PowerPoint® presentations to deliver my lecture notes. Keeping a moist towel near the board to wipe the powdery gook from my fingertips after every sentence was getting old.

Besides, it was a health hazard! The yellow mess was everywhere: on my clothes, on my papers, in my hair, on my forehead, all over the floor and my desk. Washing the board and beating the erasers on the brick walls of the building wreaked havoc on my sinus cavity! On the days I used the washable markers on transparency sheets, the ink usually bled on my hands, where it remained many hours into the night. Let’s also remember the TV/VCR cart, and the array of movies in the media center (and the film strips if your tech was really dated). Continue reading

Go Wild With Social Media In The Classroom! Sort of…

Are you tired of constantly being on the prowl, looking to reprimand students whom you catch using social media during your class time? Unless your school has strict digital device policies, or the ability to block all connectivity to the outside world, it’s an everyday task. However, today I’ve got a couple of tools for you from that your little social media enthusiasts will love! So, let’s take a traditional research paper/PowerPoint (substitution) assignment, and move it into the Modification/Redefinition levels of technology integration.

MJ Cover

Continue reading

Top Tools for the Backchannel: Engage Students With Powerful Discussions!

Amplify Your Lesson With a Backchannel Chat!

So you’ve planned your lesson, and tailored your lecture so that you tell your students all they need to know about a given subject. You’ve pulled up a PowerPoint presentation you saved on your flash drive two years ago, and made some minor updates. Student’s will need to copy these slides into their notes. Then you picked the perfect YouTube video and prepared a list of questions for students to answer afterwards. Right? Are you bored yet? Your students will likely be. This is a classic example of a teacher-centered lesson.

There are a couple of ways you can take this plan and move from the substitution level to the higher order thinking levels of technology integration, according to the SAMR model.  The best blog that describes this model that I’ve seen is Kathy Schrock’s Kaffeeklatsch!

The SAMR Model

The SAMR Model: Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D.


For this lesson, we’re going to take it up one level from the Substitution Level to the Augmentation Level of the SAMR model by using the Backchannel discussion strategy. Continue reading

What Academic Rigor Really Looks Like

Blooms-taxonomy revisedAhh, Rigor. The term that spews out of the mouths of American educators as if prompted by a microchip secretly inserted at the bases of our necks! It’s heralded as the answer to the fall of education in recent years. I’m not sold on the assumption that everyone knows what rigor looks like in the classroom.

The Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy gives us varying levels of critical thinking verbs that begin at the “Remembering” level, and extend to the “Creating” level. In fact, it’s my determination that rigor as a term, is remembered by most educators, but understood, applied, analyzed, evaluated, and created by an uncertain number; a much lower one.

Could it be that if it is true that learning is a lifelong process, that teachers still need information delivered to them according to their individual learning styles (as do children)? Is it that because we utter “rigor” as a buzzword more so than as an expectation which is a natural part of our academic culture, that the connection is not made?

The Essential Question: How do you know your dendrites are growing? Continue reading