Beat the Post Spring Break Blues

‘Tis the season of testing and student squirminess. That means many schools experience reduced access to student devices, and teachers need to dig deep to engage students in the waning weeks of school. Here are a couple options that might help:

1.) Digital Breakout games. Pirate kids image

You are likely familiar with Escape Rooms and Breakout EDU. You can run similar games in your classroom with just one device (though a couple more would help). Follow these steps:

2.) Use one of the options from our REMC Maker Kit. See our list of available options that you can check out – FOR FREE – for 1-2 weeks. Your students could design objects to be printed on the 3D printer, explore circuits with Little Bits, record with a green screen, and much more. Ron and I are available to train and to help facilitate activities with students.

Let us know if you have questions or needs we can help with. We are here to serve and connect.


#breakoutedu, #educational-technology, #maker

Edify Adds New Features

Edify, the learning platform developed by Kent ISD and Kickstand, has recently added some new elements that will help teachers better ascertain student understanding.

One change is the addition of highlighting and matching question types. Highlighting requires students to highlight portions of text passages, very similarly to M-STEP and other “next generation” question types. Matching questions provide options for grouping multiple items within categories, and they include multi-select functions as well. Both of these allow teachers to require an explanation and add to a suite of question types that make it more difficult for students to bluff their way through an assessment. As has always been the case, all questions in Edify can be aligned to standards.

Other recent additions include enhanced organization or user resources, an improved assessment generator page, and improvements with grading workflow. See more about recent updates to get the full details.

Edify is free to use for all Kent County public schools, and you can contact us if you want more information. For those outside Kent County, contact Kickstand at this link. Wherever you are, keep striving to know as much as you can about students’ learning and support them accordingly.

#edify, #educational-technology

Drawing for Assessment

The Gist: This post focuses on the Show Your Work question type available in the formative assessment website Formative. With this question type, teachers can provide a background for students to draw on or annotate (e.g. a grid or text passage) or just provide a blank space for responding to a prompt. When students are responding, teachers can view the live results and/or choose to display them to the whole class for formdiscussion, review, or analysis. See the bottom of this post for a screenshot of what that looks like. This supports all levels of formative assessment, and is fairly simple to facilitate.

Here is a portion of a workshop I led at last week’s MACUL conference. It is a guide that takes you through the steps from getting started to responding to results.

More Details: One of the most effective ways to determine students’ proficiency on a given topic is for them to demonstrate it visually. This has traditionally been done through paper assignments or on classroom surfaces (whiteboard, interactive board, etc.), but those examples can be difficult for teachers/peers to view and respond to. The Show Your Work option in Formative allows for a quick way to ascertain student understanding while providing students some creative license in how they represent their thinking. Teachers can also respond readily either through the system or in person.

There is much more to explore. This is just one tool to use as part of a more comprehensive approach to assessment. Check it out and see how it works for you.

form 2

Screenshot of live result example

#educational-technology, #formative-assessment

More Meaningful Math

In order to understand math, you need to interact with it. Desmos and Geogebra may be the best tools for bringing math to life, and I want to share some features in these systems that make it easy for teachers and students to use them effectively. See below for more:
Desmos (online graphing calculator on steroids)

  1. Search the pre-made activities on a wide variety of topics. You can post links for students to access without accounts, or you can sign up and tweak the activities for your purposes.
  2. When students have accounts, teachers have access to an impressive dashboard to use when facilitating activities. Here is a guide for the steps involved.
  3. Here is a general learning guide for Desmos that I have used when working with teachers.

Geogebra (a geometry and algebra platform built for action)

  1. It also has a library of pre-made activities with links that you can provide for students. You can copy existing activities and modify them with a free account. (the editing features are a little bit cumbersome, unfortunately).
  2. Similar to Desmos, teachers can create groups (AKA classes) in which participants can complete tasks, provide feedback, and more. See this help guide for more details.
  3. Here is a sample activity I created to help provide opportunities for M-STEP tasks without “test prepping”.

There is definitely much more to explore with both of these tools, but this is enough to infuse any math class with some boom. Get them acting, talking, and exploring. Repeating question sets is not the answer for building mathematicians; nor is it the way to excite and ignite.

#desmos, #educational-technology, #geogebra, #mathematics

Student-led TED in Your School?

On February 27, students from East Grand Rapids High School and Forest Hills High Schools are hosting a TEDx event. You can see more details about the program and the participating students in this School News Network article. This is an excellent example of students engaging beyond the classroom, and each of the speakers will undoubtedly get a big life boost from the experience. I had the thought that others might want to do something similar in their schools, so I thought I’d share some ideas and resources on how that might happen.


One idea is to start a TED-Ed club. Within these clubs, students can view and discuss TED talks as well as work towards developing their own. If you want to know more about what these are and what it takes to host your own, check out this list of FAQ’s.

You may be thinking that motivating students to do such things is unlikely, and I have heard of clubs faltering or disbanding. Typically, support and inspiration from adults is required, especially if a formal TEDx event is going to happen. I recommend a small team of adult leaders so that the responsibility isn’t all on one person. Also, many local citizens have given talks in various TEDx events, and they would be great partners or guest speakers. See this list of TEDx events, which maps all events past and future. You may be able to connect with one of the speakers.

Schools and teachers could also incorporate the TED structure in curriculum or presentation activities.This would increase the level of authenticity and perhaps get students intrigued about the format. There are also a number of lessons that utilize TED talks as a center point, which can expose students to the format.

Whatever level of exposure is provided, it is certain that the TED brand has staying power, and it is one of many ways we can empower, embolden, and enlighten our students. Thus, it is worth exploring.

#education, #educational-technology, #ted

New Primary Source Sets for Education

If you’ve not visited the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) in a while, you really should take a look.   The DPLA just released its second group of Primary Source Sets about topics in US history, literature, and culture, along with new features for navigating this growing project. DPLA

DPLA Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills by exploring topics in history, literature, and culture through primary sources.

Each set includes an overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide.

These are a fantastic way to use primary source materials as you continue to create your blended learning courses, and engage your students in their own inquiry, discovery and making sense of their findings.


#educational-technology, #history, #oer, #primary, #social-studies

Discovery Education Professional Learning Day at REMC 8 & Kent ISD

The REMC Association of Michigan, Discovery Education, and Kent ISD REMC 8 are pleased to present “Discovery Education Professional Learning Day” at Kent ISD.

  • When: Thursday, December 17, 2015 from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM
  • Where: Kent ISD – 2930 Knapp NE – Grand Rapids, MI 49525
  • Cost: FREE to public school educators in the REMC 8 Service Area

Discovery-Education-LogoThis free, hands-on, minds-on workshop will provide participants with exciting and enriching professional development, focused on creative ways to maximize Discovery Education STREAMING, emphasizing instructional best practices for digital media. Cindy Lane, from Discovery Education, will be the facilitator for this exciting day. Whether you are new to Discovery Education STREAMING or you are an “every day, every lesson” user, this workshop will provide you with creative ways to motivate students, engage higher order thinking, support retention and transfer, and achieve learning and curriculum goals with a myriad of creative integration strategies for using Discovery Education media assets.

This workshop will begin with the basics and will move on to explore how to use Discovery Education resources to create interactive lesson plans that support all curricular areas while differentiating instruction. You’ll leave feeling empowered to create rigorous and relevant, media-infused learning experiences that support all learners!

Please make sure to bring your own internet browsing device.

Note: Registration is open to public school educators in the REMC 8 service area. – The ‘secret code’ to register is: REMC8

#discovery, #educational-technology, #professional-development, #remc, #remcam

Sign up for Digital Assessment Series Pt. 2: Transformative Assessments

Our second of three Digital Assessment Series begins Tuesday, November 03. This series is called Transformative Assessment Tools and Strategies, and it will be building off the content from part one (note: you do not need to have taken part 1 to take this).

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 1.50.20 PM

We will explore ways in which you can utilize assessments that were previously impossible without technology.  Each week we will learn about a different tool and explore how students can represent their abilities while thinking about how it can be applied in the classroom.

Registration is free and participants can attend face-to-face or virtually.

Click here to learn more and register

#assessment, #blended-learning, #educational-technology

Join WGVU Education for the WGVU & PBS LearningMedia Summit!

PBS Learning Media FlyerJoin WGVU Education for the WGVU & PBS LearningMedia Summit!

November 9 – 4:30 – 6:30 pm

WGVU Studio, 301 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids

Learn how to integrate over 100,000 digital resources set to standards into your classroom for FREE!  Hear what’s new with LearningMedia.  Gain valuable information and training on custom features.  Share ideas/needs with other teachers.  Get your LearningMedia questions answered.

Light snack and dinner included.  Participants will receive LearningMedia gifts and be entered into a drawing for 2 adult round trip Amtrak tickets to Chicago.

Space is limited,  RSVP by contacting Mike Fillman, or call 616-331-6730.

#educational-technology, #media, #video

Free Microsoft Webinar – October 28 – “What’s New In Microsoft Education”


CDWG and Microsoft Education invite you to join a live webinar. Come learn how Microsoft is enabling district administration and educators to collaborate effectively in today’s digital environment and use cloud-based Windows device management tools that is shaping the future of Education. CDWG and Microsoft will also facilitate hands on learning experiences as part of the event.

RSVP today at this link.

Agenda –

  • 10:00 – 10:15 Introduction and Overview
  • 10:15-10:25 Office 365 Education – What’s New?
  • 10:25-10:35 Windows 10 For Education – What does it mean for schools?
  • 10:35-10:45 Microsoft Azure- What is it and how can it help me?
  • 10:45-11:00 Question and Answer

#educational-technology, #microsoft, #webinar