DigCit Quick Hit: Wielding Your Digital Footprint

DigCit Quick Hit_ Digital Brand

According to CareerBuilder, 70% of employers use your social networks to research you during the hiring process and 47% are less likely to interview you if they can’t find you online. The stories we tell online through our social media accounts are important to craft carefully.


Here’s an activity that may open new perspectives to how you might wield your digital footprint to create more positives in your life or the lives of your students. Need help? Feel free to use this slide deck with the activity.

  1. Share some of the statistics collected in the August 2018 CareerBuilder Survey.
  2. Create a map of the things that represent you. What are you involved in? What interests you? What’s unique about you? What are you good at?
  3. Now describe the ways you could promote these aspects about yourself using social media. Where would you post? What hashtags might you use? What digital communities could you follow?
  4. Encourage your students to develop and execute a plan to positively promote their digital brand.

Discussion Questions

  • You are mostly in control of your digital footprint, how might you use social media to shape your personal brand?
  • In what ways do your friends and family shape your story online? How do you shape theirs?
  • What steps might you take to protect your brand? What privacy control settings might you use to make sure that you are in control of your own story?
  • What steps can you actively take to promote your strengths, your participation, your interests?


DigCit Quick Hits are short activities designed for educators to use with students, staff or community members. Our intention is to build awareness through open dialogue around pertinent topics in digital life that affect our communities. Please contact Keith Tramper at keithtramper@kentisd.org with questions, requests for support or feedback.

DigCit Quick Hit: Media Bias

It’s mid-term political season in America and you’re likely to see political ads, statements and news surface in your social media feeds. A news story posted by your uncle, another shared by your best friend and another served by an advertiser all seem to contradict each other. Understanding how news can be skewed based on the writer’s viewpoints, intentionally and unintentionally,  is critical to making informed decisions in the modern world.

The heightened role of social media and the ease of sharing makes it more difficult to form our own opinions. Thankfully there are some resources that can help you as an individual and as an educator understand the bias that a source may hold.

AllSides offers news, issues and talking points through a lens of bias. Read how stories about the same topic are different based on who writes them. AllSides also houses a strong media bias rating system that uses “crowd-wisdom” and statistical analysis to identify sources as left, center and right.

Media Bias/Fact Check also provides a strong media bias rating system. It generally has information on more sources than AllSides and also rates the factual credibility of the site.



Here’s an activity to try with your students, teachers or building staff to open a conversation about media bias and explore how it impacts your community. Need a little help? Feel free to use this slide deck with the activity.

  1. Take note of the news sources in your social media feeds. This can be done in any grouping (individually, as a class, as a building) that might yield interesting perspectives.
  2. Use AllSides or Media Bias/Fact Check to check out the ratings of the sources you recorded.
  3. Create a line plot for the articles you see.
  4. Draw conclusions from your graph and discuss.


Discussion Questions

  1. What does the shape of your graph say about your social media feed?
  2. How might getting information from these sources influence your thoughts and opinions?
  3. Is good or bad for Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, etc. to use an algorithm that serves you more posts, ads or articles that match your assumed political views?
  4. How might we use this information to build awareness of media bias in our community?


DigCit Quick Hits are short activities designed for educators to use with students, staff or community members. Our intention is to build awareness through open dialogue around pertinent topics in digital life that affect our communities. Please contact Keith Tramper at keithtramper@kentisd.org with questions, requests for support or feedback.

Opening Up Conversation About Life Online

Digital Citizenship Week wrapped up last week as educators and schools around the world renewed their focus to help students become good citizens in the digital age. As we’re learning just how prolific devices are in our student’s lives, the separation between citizenship and digital citizenship is fading. A recent survey from Common Sense Media found that 89% of teens have their own smartphones and that they’re experiences with using them are generally positive.

As advocates for digital citizenship we encourage you to find ways to help your students develop a healthy relationship with technology and wield their devices to make a positive impact in their world. Here’s a few ideas that you might consider using with your learners to open up conversation about life online.

  • Challenge your students to make famous person Instagram posts. Think “If Abraham Lincoln had Instagram”. What hashtags would he use? Who would he be friends with? What would he say? What norms of digital citizenship would he exemplify or break?
  • Analyze why (mathematically) it’s important to create a strong password. Each additional character in a password is 95 times harder to crack. An 8 digit password has 95^8 possible combinations while a 6 digit password has 95^6 possible combinations. See here for more ideas. Take it further by seeing what students think about this popular xkcd comic about passwords or this article encouraging passphrases over passwords.
  • Discuss “digital equity” and why it is a major topic around the world. What does digital equity look like in your area? Nationally, check out the efforts of InternetEssentials. Internationally, check out Google’s Project Loon. Hold a design challenge to see how your students would solve the issue of Digital Equity in their neighborhood.
  • Craft short stories retelling a classic story in modern times. How would the internet impact their main characters? How might the internet empower Romeo and Juliet to have an alternate ending? What adversity might Odysseus face in his adventures with new technology?
  • Encourage students to experiment to decrease their screen time this week and document their experience in a daily journal. Have them describe their energy levels, health, relationships.

As always, don’t hesitate to let us know how we can support you and your students as you navigate the ever changing impact of technology in our lives.

Learn about and create valuable resources for the classroom!

MDE, #GoOpen Michigan, University of Michigan and Collabrify invite Michigan educators to learn about and create valuable resources for the classroom.

Full participation will be awarded $200 with an opportunity to earn more.

Please read through the attached flyer and share with all of your educational staff and colleagues.

This is time sensitive so please act now!

Please view the Go Open Flyer-Revised for additional information.

Building Student Creators

Idea Creative Creativity Imgination Innovate Thinking Concept

The ability to communicate ideas and thinking in effective ways is highly prized in the modern workplace. This  can involve creating visual, text-based, or aural representations, and can include all three in interactive formats. Think digital flyers, project reports, social media, and other work that requires creative thinking and skills to deliver a message. See the Creative Communicator section on the ISTE Standards for Students page for more specifics about the skills students need in this area.

Cultivating these skills is not always easy for time-strapped teachers operating within defined curriculum, but there are some simple ways to build these into activities that can also boost core learning outcomes. Here are a couple to consider:

  1. Ask students to use Autodraw to represent a concept or model thinking. Use the autodraw feature, free draw, shapes, and/or text to create in ways that force students to grapple with your content and creatively show understanding. (other options include Google Drawings templates, or inserting a Pear Deck drawing activity in Google Slides)
  2. Use Screencastify to record a how-to, a message, an explanation, or something else. Students can save it to Google Drive and embed it in a Google Slide or share it by link. See this screencast guide for tips and ideas for teachers and students alike.
  3. Extra bonus: combine these elements in one place by copying, saving, embedding, linking, or other means. See this published Google Slide that includes an image from Autodraw, video from Screencastify, and a link made in Slides. It is by no means a great example, but not bad for 15 minutes of work.

As with any tech-based activity, these will have the most impact when students receive feedback (peer or teacher), verbalize their thinking (turn and talk), and work in authentic tasks (a local company…). While that’s not so easy, it is achievable, and guiding students to create and communicate with these modern tools will help them build towards the expectations that await them.

Need SCECH’s? Check out the REMC Virtual Courses!

thumb-2feffdd7d8a58decdb37bcd143a0f5a1The REMC Virtual Courses are free and open to Michigan school personnel. You can take courses “just to learn” or you can complete all assignments. SCECH credits are available for successful course completion.

Courses take place over three weeks. Each consists of two one-hour webinars and four hours of resource review, assessment development and written reflection and six SCECH credits are available.

Exception: the What, Why, and How of Open Educational Resources (OER) course takes nine hours and nine SCECH credits are available.

These courses are available through an agreement between Presidio/Dell and the REMC Association through its REMC SAVE device purchasing program.

  • REMC Virtual Courses are FREE and open to all Michigan school personnel
  • You can take courses “just to learn” or you can complete all assignments (SCECH credits are available for successful course completion)
  • Sessions take place over a three week period

Click here to view a multi-month schedule of course offerings. You may register for these courses at any time but note that courses have different start/end dates.

Use the REMC Virtual Course FAQ for answers to often asked questions.

Register Here

#professional-development, #remc

AssisTechKnow Conference @ Kent ISD – Oct 18 & 19

Do your teams need strategies to use right away with students?  Are they looking for ideas to increase student access, communication, behavior?  Want a chance to leave with an iPad, Chromebook, App codes, switch activity or sensory tool? Then they won’t want to miss AssisTechKnow 2018 at Kent ISD in Grand Rapids!  Learn from and connect with national presenter Beth Poss providing two days of sessions focused on early childhood and young learners.  Join Sharon Plante and Karen Janowski to learn strategies to support reading, writing, math, organization, executive function and professional productivity.

And they won’t want to miss tools and tips shared by 20 additional state and regional presenters with expertise on inclusive strategies to support all learners, technology supports that level the playing field, literacy and math supports, strategies for student writing and more!

Yes! AssisTechKnow is back and believe it or not – it’s bigger and better than ever before!   And the cost is still only $20/day!

  • October 18 & 19, at Kent ISD, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • 3 Presenters who are nationally recognized leaders in assistive technology, educational technology, differentiation and UDL – Beth Poss, Sharon Plante & Karen Janowski
  • Over 20 additional regional and state presenters
  • Topics ranging from early childhood through transition, general education strategies through complex needs, including reading, writing, math, executive function, professional productivity, AAC and more!
  • Idea & Innovation Showcase highlighting vendor products and local student creations
  • Low-Tech Maker Space and Make-it-Take-It Activities
  • And of course – another year of AMAZING Door Prizes – iPad mini, Chromebook, Hokki Stools, Gift Cards, App Codes, Switches/Toys, Sensory Tools, and much, much more!

AssisTechKnow has always filled, and registrations are coming in daily – so encourage folks to register now to secure a spot!  Come for one day or both, and leave with strategies, ideas and tools that can be put to use with students right away!

AssisTechKnow Website

AssisTechKnow 2018 Registration Link

Assistechknow 2018 FLYER

Discovery Education Experience: Instructional Strategies for Digital Learners

Learn what’s new with Discovery Education, including reading passages, lesson plans, digital interactives, virtual field trips, instructional strategies, VR, and more to share the world with your students and teachers. Rediscover the resources, strategies, and tools that help take your students anywhere – from the cities of China to the pen of a playwright. Whatever the topic, Discovery Education Streaming is the central hub for student engagement and achievement.

Discovery Education Logo

The Discovery Education Experience (DEXP) is a one-day no-cost experience for educators to immerse themselves in all things DE. The target audience is inclusive of ALL educators (teachers, principals, curriculum, instructional technologists, and many more). Together, all will explore and learn about the resources Discovery Education has available for them!

The day of interactive professional learning is brought to you by Discovery Education, in partnership with the REMC Association of Michigan and your local REMC 8.

Come join us on November 15, 2018 at REMC 8 – Kent ISD in Grand Rapids.  Click here to register and save your spot!  Seating is limited.  5 SCECHs are available for attendees with an application cost of $5.00

Contact Ron Houtman at ronhoutman@kentisd.org with any questions you might have.


#discovery, #pd

Real Talk: Using Targets That Engage Students

There are a number of teaching practices that are lauded as effective, but they are not always easy to enact in ways that students connect to. One is establishing a clear purpose for a lesson/activity. You can see this article on how Hattie and Marzano think about the subject.  From what I observe, this strategy often manifests as a learning target on the board with some time devoted to going over it in class. With evaluation models like 5D setting expectations that students be able to know and refer to targets, this strategy is commonly used, but teachers struggle to make it engaging.

The value of a clear of objective makes sense, whether it’s working with coding or learning sentence structure. Without some clarity of purpose, there may be some learning occurring, but it is random at best, and it may be kids just messing around. Now, I recognize the value of play and exploration, but I also recognize that without some awareness and assessment of what is being learned, the end result is typically lackluster. My ongoing question is how do we get students to give a rip about a learning goal, and, more importantly, how do we involve them meaningfully in the process?

One connection that makes sense to me is empowering students in the process. See this ISTE article on empowered learners to consider the importance of student choice, self-direction, scaffolding, and feedback among other things. Trying to set this up though, especially for every learning outcome, is overwhelming. That is what led me to create this empowered target example. It sets a goal, explains a connection/purpose, and establishes what success looks like. The doc provides scaffolds for students and asks them to find their own resources on the topic as well as set a plan for showing they know it. If a copy is provided for each student, a teacher could provide real-time feedback on the doc and even facilitate assessment of the target.

Full disclosure: I have not used this doc in any learning setting, but I feel confident about the thinking behind it. There are many other forms these ideas could take (example from Agile Classrooms), and I’ve seen how something like it has been used in PBL and competency-based / standards-based systems. It could certainly be used in any traditional approach as well. With an outcome defined, a process for students to be empowered, and avenues for extension, we can make learning targets meaningful, and having a digital structure in place will enable us to support students as they progress. As with anything, it will require refinement and iterations, and if it isn’t useful, it should be scrapped. I’d love to see what others are doing to be intentional, engaging, and supportive with students.

#competency-based-learning, #edtech, #google-docs, #iste, #mitecs, #pbl

Flipgrid is now free for all educators and students!

Flipgrid, the world’s leading social learning platform, is joining the Microsoft EDU family!    This is great news for teachers and students everywhere.  You can read more here: