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Building Amazing Digital Portfolios

Building Amazing Digital Portfolios

To build a great portfolio, it needs to be reflective as well as summative. 
I remember admins coming into my room and asking my kids three questions:
  • What are you doing? 
  • Why are you doing it?
  • How do you know it's good enough?
These three questions are good for students to keep in mind when adding a piece of work to their digital portfolio.   They can add it to the end of each piece of work as they go or can add it in a text box after they insert it.  Also be selective!  Don't have kids add everything they've worked on.  Pick and choose the best pieces.

Now I'll share how to put a digital portfolio together using the new Google sites. Make sure you're using the new Google sites as that's what I'll be referring to.

First, you need to create a new site.  Give it a name.  That first page will be the main home page.  On the right, you will see a pane with three options: insert, pages and themes.  

Go to themes first and choose one that fits your personality.  Don't worry about the picture.  You can search for a replacement or upload your own.  I made a folder with different class images and shared it with the kids.  Just go to the bottom left and click change image.  You can adjust the size or type of the header too.

Then go to pages.  Consider what types of pages you want.   I chose one for reading, one for writing, math and science.  You can add sub pages too by dragging them into the page.  Give them cute titles such as Readers Rock or Author's Chair...whatever you think sounds good.  

The fun part is when you can insert.  On the top, you can insert text boxes, images, embed a url or upload something.  You can insert dividers if you want to separate work by semesters or trimesters.  The Google embeds are YouTube, Calendar and Maps.  But the best part is Google Docs.  It is so easy to add docs, slides, sheets, forms and charts directly from your Google drive.  Just double-click on docs (or whatever you created) and it's in!  You can also drag it to whatever side (left, center or right) you want it on.  Super easy.

Once you're done, you can preview your work by clicking on the eye. You can also add collaborators if you want students to work on portfolios together. When ready, click publish.  You can keep it closed to people within your organization or make it public.  This is the final digital portfolio demo page I came up with. 

I hope I was clear.  It is super easy.  I'm going to be doing this with my kids this coming year for sure!  Good luck!  Do you have any ideas on what else we can do to make the portfolios better?  Let me know in the comments!

Strengthening instruction by sharing best practices for innovative classrooms!


Keynote: Jaime Casap #ArcadiaInnovation

I went to a great tech conference today sponsored by the Arcadia school district. #ArcadiaInnovation Here are the notes from the keynote:
Jaime Casap, Chief Educational Evangelist from Google, @jcasap
Discussing the importance of education.  Education lifts you up.

Did you know the graduation rate in 1910 was 8%.  The amount of knowledge that kids need to know today has grown exponentially.  Think about it...when do parents stop helping kids with their homework?  

We can we build an educational system that supports jobs for the future. That’s our job.  And the future involves computer science.  Parents (9/10)  want their kids studying computer science.  Computer science graduate makes 40% more than a regular college graduate.  Today, there are 68,000+ computer jobs open today.  In 2015, only 4,000+ kids graduated with CS degrees.

Research on good education says it must be engaging and relevant and personal.  Tech will let us do this. Today, computers revolve around the core of everything we do.  

Generation Z doesn’t know what the world was like before wifi.  They are the first true digital generation.  They think about learning in a different way.  Think about VR and AR and the possibilities there!  Because jobs are not being replaced by people, they’re being replaced by machines/robots.

What are the skills needed by generation z, as stated by major corporations:
  • Problem solving, team working, communications, critical thinking, creativity, literacy, digital literacy, leadership, foreign languages, emotional intelligence

Stop asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, instead ask, what problem do you want to solve?  And What do you need to learn to solve that problem?

Iteration is the result of critical thinking.  Constantly making things better.  We live in a team based world.  Collaboration is how problems are solved.  Google looks for leadership-can you influence, build consensus, take a step back to let others lead.  We need digital leaders that can learn from tech in smart ways. For example, do they know the difference between sponsored sites and news sites.

We need a culture shift.  Converting information into intelligence.  7% of Americans can name the first four presidents: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison.  Don’t ask that!  Ask, what did the first four presidents agree on?  They’ll remember that.

Student centered learning.  Nothing is more important than moving away from our current model and move towards iteration and innovation.    Iteration and innovation drives transformation.  And transformation has no end point.  This is Google today!

Think about a five year old and your current technology...and this is the worst tech they will ever see.  In 20 years, they will find this in the thrift

How do you plan to allow transformation to occur in your classrooms?

Strengthening instruction by sharing best practices for innovative classrooms!


Innovation Lab for LRA!!

Innovation Lab

Hey!  So our school is making an innovation lab!!  An innovation lab is a place where students focus on STEAM and explore, create and design!  Here is what we're thinking...

SMART board
I was given a SMART board SB 685.  I know, huh?  Yes, I said given.  We hope to mount it this summer and learn to use it.

Green Screen
So here we plan on having an area that has a green screen permanantly up. Then students can use iPads and apps such as Tellagami, VeeScope or Green Screen by Do Ink to put together videos to transport them around the world. 

We are eternally grateful to Eaton for awarding us a grant to purchase robots for our students.  With these robots, students are able to code.  We have Dash, Dot, Spheros, Ozobots, Code-a-pillars and Ozmos.

Maker Space
A maker space is an area with materials and tools for design and creative thinking.

Claymation/Stop Motion Animation area
This area will have an ipad and a television for students to create video.  They will either create with clay or using stop animation.

We are just starting.  Do you have any other ideas on how this space can be used?  I'm so excited!!  It'll be great!

Strengthening instruction by sharing best practices for innovative classrooms!


Why CGI? A Quick Intro

CGI Mathematics
A Research based Approach

So I'm taking an online course with Megan Franke. OK, she doesn't know who I am but I know who she is and I'm super excited!  She is THE CGI Guru from UCLA (my Alma Mater)!!  We have been doing CGI in our school but haven't had formal training outside of pd at our school meetings.

Here is what I've learned so far...
First, it's not a curriculum.  It's more an approach to teaching math. 
Guiding Principle
Make sure kids explain their thinking.  Give them time to explain how they got their answer.  They may not have gotten there how you think.

Things to think about!
How can we create ways to allow kids to participate? Allow for all different modalities and preferred methods for tackling math.  We want all kids (and adults) to feel competent in math.  Let students put the work together as they wish.  Say you tell them to take out 12 blocks... they can organize in a line, groups, a mix up- let them do it as they wish.  If you stop them, it can gum up the works!

Build on strengths instead of focusing on weaknesses.  Stop returning papers with all the wrong answers circled.  Let's look at what they did right instead.   That is a big aha for me!  Build on what they understand!

Overarching idea
We want kids to become great problem solvers!  To be successful at applying mathematical skills at real world problems.

Big Findings:
Explain your thinking orally or in writing
Explaining your thinking to others helps you and the other person too!

Need help getting started?

I created an interactive bulletin board set that incorporates CGI thinking.  You can find it here!



Becoming Google Certified

Becoming Google Certified

So it's Google for Education PD Week June 5-11

As part of this week, they are giving out a code to discount your certification!  So I decided to try it out!!  Once you register, they send you a link and you have seven days to complete the test.

There is a whole training center to prepare you and teach you things you may not have known!

So this is what to expect...At Educator level 1, you need to complete the fundamentals training.

First, there is the engage in professional growth and leadership component.  This has two units.

Then, there is the Increase efficiency and save time part.  It has 6 units. I really liked the Having a mostly paperless classroom.  I already use Google Classroom but it gave me some more tips I hadn't known.  Don't worry about the time it shows.  It didn't take me half that time.   Every component has a place to take notes and watch videos.  Then there is a lesson check.  Finally there is a unit review.

They last section is Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity, which has five parts.

Then you take your assessment and become a Google Certified Educator.  There is a level two, too, if you dare...

I think, all in all, it took me two whole, long afternoons to go through the training.  Right now I'm still practicing.  I hear the test will take three hours! I only want to take it once!

Good luck!

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