Celebrating Librarians

April is School Library Month and it brings an opportunity to highlight the work done and the impact made by librarians and media specialists. It is also a time when we can help students to build their media literacy skills. First sponsored in 1958 by the American Library Association (ALA), it originally got its start after the creation of the National Book Committee, a non-profit organization in 1954. After some concerns were raised about the amount of reading and research being done by students, they kicked off the First National Library Week in 1958 which had a theme of “Wake Up and Read.” There are several days that highlight the work of the librarians.

National Library Workers Day

National Library Outreach Day

Take Action for Libraries Day.

“Connect With Your Library” is the theme for National Library Week which will be held from April 3-9. The purpose is to highlight libraries and how important it is for people to continue to build their literacy skills especially when it comes to changing technologies and access to more information than ever before. The American Library Association (ALA) wants to promote the idea that “libraries are places to get connected to technology by using broadband, computers, and other resources. Libraries also offer opportunities to connect with media, programs, ideas, and classes—in addition to books.”

Another recognition is World Book Day which is celebrated on April 23rd this year. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proposed the creation of World Book Day as a way to celebrate reading and the joy that comes from reading. More than 100 countries celebrate this every year; after first being established on April 23rd, 1995.

In our schools: Recognizing the importance of libraries for learning

It is important to take time to recognize all that our libraries provide in our communities and our schools and the difference that librarians make a difference in libraries every day. As a child and even in high school, I always enjoyed going to the library to do research, to look through all of the books, to explore old newspapers. Whether at school or at our public library, we all relied on the help of the librarian for many things. Whether to find books, to learn how to use some of the machines to access older periodicals, to correctly prepare a bibliography or to read to use, they provided so much for students and teachers.

The work done by librarians and media specialists is essential and in schools, these educators take on many different roles. They lead book chats, they help students to develop research skills, they promote digital citizenship especially when it comes to accessing and evaluating the information that they receive.

Celebrating Librarians and Libraries with Capstone and PebbleGo

In recognition of these important events, there are many different activities that students can engage in depending on grade level and content area. For students that need to do research, making a connection with their school librarian and learning about all the resources that are available to them. In upper grades, perhaps exploring and making a case for having librarians available at all schools because of their impact on student learning and being available to help students to build skills in this highly digital world full of information. Via Capstone, “School librarians achieve better educational outcomes. In fact, 34 statewide studies confirm links between strong school libraries and student achievement.”

Capstone posted a great quote by author Neil Gaiman which said, “Google can bring you back, you know, a hundred thousand answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” But more importantly, librarians teach students how to discover and discern credible information for themselves.

Looking at the resources available through Capstone, librarians can make recommendations for books for students to read and help to guide them as they create a representation of what they have read. Leveraging Capstone and PebbleGo Create, students and educators can join in this month-long recognition of books and reading and boost creativity!

PebbleGo Create is a great way to share learning and bring it to life. There are so many templates and backgrounds that represent a library and a media center, that students can really find something to create that is authentic and meaningful and would be a wonderful way to recognize the work done by librarians in our school.

Seven Ideas to Join in the Celebration!!

Here are some ideas for having students join in the celebration of librarians and libraries. Using Buncee, students can record audio or videos to share how librarians have made an impact on their learning process and then post them on a Buncee Board or send their creations directly to their librarian!

  • Interview a librarian: a great way to learn about all of the impactful work that librarians do in our schools
  • Design a library: Create a new library space and add your favorite books to the shelves
  • World Book Day: Students can share what they learned in their book, design a new book cover, or write a book review. Choose from the amazing titles in the Capstone Library which promotes student choice and voice in learning and gives them a way to highlight their creativity.
  • Publish a library newsletter: Create a newsletter to inform classmates and the school community about resources available in the library and also to highlight the librarian!
  • Curate a group of books: Interview your librarian to get book recommendations and then create a virtual bookshelf!
  • Launch a campaign for librarians: Create a flyer about why we need libraries and librarians. Include some quotes from students or teachers about the impact librarians have.
  • Lessons from the Library: Create a reflection on what you’ve learned during your time in the library and how the librarian has helped you during the year.

Want to get started with some fun designs? Check out the “School Library Month” and “Library Week” Buncee templates here, If you want to find more, simply go to the search and look for relevant words such as “books,” “reading,” “library” or choose from some of the awesome ideas in the Ideas Lab!

Head to Capstone and check out these blogs: Reading is for everyone and school librarians curate book collections that both reflect their communities and expose students to ideas and experiences beyond their own neighborhoods.

Capstone loves librarians! Learn more about their resources here!

Meet the Author

Rachelle Dené Poth is an ed-tech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. Rachelle teaches Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview Junior-Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, and owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting. She is an ISTE Certified Educator and currently serves as the past -president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network. At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and a Presidential Gold Award for volunteer service to education. She is also a Buncee Ambassador, Nearpod PioNear, and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.

Rachelle is the author of seven books and is a blogger for Getting Smart, Defined Learning, and NEO LMS. Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU https://anchor.fm/rdene915.

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 6pm or 6:30 pm ET THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Buncee & Capstone!

Buncee March

March is Women’s History Month and throughout the month we take time to recognize and celebrate women who have made contributions to the world. The month-long celebration grew out of what started as a week-long celebration held and organized by a school district in California in 1978. Students at the school participated in a “real woman” essay contest. The event drew a lot of attention which inspired more school districts and organizations across the United States to participate. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation that declared the week of March 8th as Women’s History Week.

Six years later, the event became a month-long celebration in March after the National Women’s History project petitioned Congress to make the change. In March, we also celebrate International Women’s Day which first took place on March 8, 1911. Many countries participate by having celebrations and engaging in activities to recognize the contributions of women. Each year a theme is chosen for the month. This year, the theme is “Women providing healing, promoting hope.” It is focused more on recognizing how women from around the world and from different cultures have impacted society and supported others.

To help our students become more aware of these important events and to broaden their cultural awareness, it is important that we find resources that will help students to explore in authentic and meaningful ways. Once students have time to explore and learn, they need opportunities to create and share that learning with classmates and even beyond their school community. Buncee and PebbleGo Create make this possible because together they provide the right resources to create a meaningful and engaging learning experience for students.

Choosing a focus

To help students learn more about impactful women from history, teachers can get started by exploring some of the templates available and lessons from the Ideas Lab. Depending on the grade level or specific content area, there are a lot of options to choose from. Students can start with one of the templates available for Women’s History Month or start from a blank template to create something more authentic and personalized to their specific interests and needs.

For younger students using PebbleGo, they can choose from the resources to search biographies about women history makers. They can then design a Buncee to visualize and share their learning. Teachers can get started quickly with PebbleGo because it provides lesson plans and all of the materials that teachers need, which makes it a great choice.

Learning together.

Having students share their creations and learn from their classmates builds social awareness and understanding of different perspectives. To enhance learning and encourage students to share their work and build essential SEL skills, we can use a Buncee Board. A Buncee Board promotes collaboration in a digital space, helping students to develop many of the essential skills for the future and also to feel connected, especially if we are in virtual learning environments. Buncee boards can even be shared with other classrooms!

Check out some of the great examples for Women’s History Month in this Buncee Board.

Buncee Board of templates for Women’s History Month

Provide them with opportunities to share their ideas, engage in inquiry based learning, and explore different resources as they build their self- and social-awareness. By sharing their work with others, they focus on building social awareness and relationship skills during the learning process and develop a greater cultural understanding of others and their experiences. With Buncee, we have more choices available that will engage students in meaningful learning during Women’s History Month.

There are many templates and wonderful activities that you can do using Buncee and PebbleGo in your classroom. Perhaps have students select a woman from history to research and to create their own Buncee to share what they have learned about this woman.

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Students could even decide to interview someone about the work that they’re doing, a person that inspired them, it could be a family member, someone from their community, a business owner, anybody and they could use all of the features to share what they learned about that person in a Buncee. Being able to talk about what they learned using all of the graphics and media options available within Buncee would enable them to create something truly authentic and meaningful. And the best part is that students will be able to create something that is purposeful and will help others to learn about and honor influential women from history.

More ideas

Create a timeline and consider specific events that change history, for example in 1920 when women gained the right to vote.

Create a Buncee with a famous quote from a woman and express how students interpret it and share information about the woman who is known for it.

Explain an experiment, a process, a complex idea and find innovators and inventors throughout history who are known for work in this area!

Research writers or artists and create a Buncee to share information about them and create a work of art or a poem in their style.

Explore careers and women who are known for their work in these areas. Maybe a Buncee job shadow or career exploration would be a great idea!

Whether students choose to focus on a particular area, perhaps someone that made an impact in the medical field, in science, in history, in the arts, in sports, in any area of interest, promotes student choice and voice in learning. Connecting their own interests with learning about a person who made a difference in that area, will boost engagement and foster creativity in learning.

Rachelle Dené

Rachelle Dené Poth is an ed-tech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. Rachelle teaches Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview Junior-Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting. She is an ISTE Certified Educator and currently serves as the past -president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network. At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and a Presidential Gold Award for volunteer service to education. She is also a Buncee Ambassador, Nearpod PioNear, and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.

Rachelle is the author of seven books and is a blogger for Getting Smart, Defined Learning, and NEO LMS.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU https://anchor.fm/rdene915.

Buncee to join in the Hour of Code!

Using Buncee in the Hour of Code! Buncee is a great option to get students involved in the “Hour of Code” which takes place annually during “Computer Science Education Week.” CS Edweek recognizes the birthday of computing pioneer, Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. There are a lot of activities and events lined up for all grade levels and content areas for this year’s celebration which takes place from December 6-12. In my STEAM course, we join in throughout the week and students have an opportunity to explore coding on their own. Buncee offers some great ways to teach students about coding and provides ready-to-use materials for every classroom! Buncee has been a favorite of my students for many years!

The great thing is that you don’t have to be a STEAM or technology teacher to bring coding into the classroom or participate in the Hour of Code. Everyone can get involved and that is the goal for the week: to show that anyone can code and highlight how vital computer science knowledge is for today’s students. Data available on Code.Org provides statistics which support the growing need for students to have opportunities to learn about and develop skills in coding and computer science.

Since first participating in the Hour of Code in December of 2018, I’ve tried to include more activities and bring in more resources for my students throughout the year. There are a lot of options out there to choose from and during the Hour of Code, students from more than 180 countries participate in the activities that are available.

Explore the Hour of Code Templates!

When it comes to coding, students don’t have to design computer programs. coding is about learning or designing the steps in the process. Using Buncee, students can learn about coding and create something wonderful using one of the many ready-to-use templates available! Check out all of the choices in templates here. Simply choose one and make it your own! Great way for students to explore coding!

Get started with students in any grade level and let them choose what to explore for the Hour of Code. Students in grades 2 through 5 will enjoy these options and can then create a Buncee to share what they learned and have fun while creating and adding in animations, text and even recording a short video or audio to talk about what they learned!

Use Buncee to provide choices for what students might want to explore or create with coding. Check out this great Hour of Code choice board for use with middle school students!

Offer some options and include different media from the extensive Buncee media palette, and see what students create. Have them design a newsletter about coding, create a poster about the benefits of learning to code, or share a reflection on their experience with using one of the coding programs from the choice board! Each option promotes student choice and voice and gives students the chance to explore and create something that meets their interests and needs.

Here is another great choice board for students in grades 9 and up! For older students, have them select something from the choice board, and then they can design something to share what they have learned whether it is a short presentation, something visual with audio or video included so that they can talk about what they learned or created, and then have all students place their Buncees on a Buncee board to learn from one another.

These activities are perfect for not just learning about coding and the benefits of coding, but for giving students choices and helping them to develop essential SEL skills in learning. As they explore coding, they develop self-awareness and become confident in their coding skills. They make decisions about what to learn and decide what to create. Students build relationships while working with classmates and learning from one another. And these activities in new areas like coding will promote the development of their self management skills as they set goals for learning and work through any stress that may come with some of the challenges encountered depending on how they engage in the coding activities.

And it keeps getting better! There are so many great possibilities for using Buncee in the classroom and students can find exactly what they’re looking for. There are always new animations, emojis, stickers, 3D objects and more that it really does make creating a lot of fun.

Buncee is that we can use it for a variety of learning environments, whether in-person, hybrid or fully virtual. Join in the Hour of Code today, create with Buncee and get prepared to learn a lot from your students!

Author

Rachelle Dené Poth is an edtech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. Rachelle teaches Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting. She is an ISTE Certified Educator and currently serves as the past -president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network. At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and a Presidential Gold Award for volunteer service to education. She is also a Buncee Ambassador, Nearpod PioNear and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.

Rachelle is the author of seven books, “In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” (EduMatch) and “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” Rachelle Dene’s latest book is with ISTE “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World.” True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us, Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-Person and Digital Instruction and Things I Wish […] Knew.

Rachelle is a blogger for Getting Smart, Defined Learning, District Administration, and NEO LMS.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU https://anchor.fm/rdene915.

Poth: Building Digital Citizenship Skills with Book Creator

Sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Each October, educators and students have opportunities to participate in events focused on digital citizenship. This year “digcit week” will be held from October 18-22. Learning about digital citizenship is important not only during October, but should be something that we focus on throughout the entire year. With such an increase in the use of technology, especially during the past school year, educators need to intentionally create opportunities for students to build digital citizenship skills in our classrooms by exploring the digital tools and learning experiences that we can provide with them.

Book Creator for DigCit!

Using Book Creator, we can create opportunities for students to become more digitally aware and literate and to be responsible in using and creating with technology. Helping students to learn to safely navigate through what has become a highly digital world is something that we are all responsible for. Students need to learn how to collaborate online, to access and share information, to create and manage accounts and protect their personal information, which are essential elements of digital citizenship.

With so many students interacting and having access to social media and digital tools, they need to develop the right skills to navigate in these spaces and be prepared to deal with any challenges or barriers that may arise. When students have the chance to collaborate and create a book together, there are many benefits. Some of the positive outcomes include building essential SEL skills like strengthening relationships, becoming more self-aware and developing a greater understanding of diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

Ideas for a digital citizenship book with Book Creator

  • Creating passwords and Internet safety
  • Using social media and responsible posting
  • Cyberbullying and how to respond
  • Finding balance on social media platforms and with technology
  • Communicating and collaborating in the online space
  • Create a book about an experience related to the theme of digital citizenship or one of the focus areas.

Getting started with Book Creator is easy!

Book Creator now has three books available to help educators get started with activities and experiences focused on digital citizenship. In June of this year, the new books were created in collaboration with Common Sense Education and are available for use in classrooms with students ages 5 through 11. In addition to using these books, Book Creator is a great choice for having students create their own books to share what they are learning about being a responsible digital citizen. Students are able to collaborate with their classmates in the digital space and learn how to post responsibly, access and use information, and build their own digital citizenship skills during the process.

Book Creator promotes more authentic and meaningful learning that helps students to build content knowledge and the essential skills they need now and for the future. All books can include audio, images, text, and video. Why not have students select a relevant topic or one of the nine elements of digital citizenship, to create a book to share with others in their school community or with global connections?

Templates!

The Book Creator team worked with the Hillsborough County Public School district in Florida to design special events for their entire district. Using the Digital Citizenship Week curriculum from Common Sense Education, they created templates to use for activities which will be part of a competition. There are many important topics to choose from including: Choosing the right words, avoiding drama in the online space, social presence on the social media platforms, this is also great for educators. There are options available to use with students in grades K through 12 as well as for teachers. Everyone can use their templates which makes it easy to get started today with some digcit activities using Book Creator!

Having access to great topics and ready-to-use templates saves a ton of time! All you need to do is add the books to your library and with the “remix” feature, students and educators can really make the books their own.

Also check out the book by Dr. Monica Burns which is based on the 6 themes of the Digital Citizenship curriculum from Common Sense Education.

Join some of the events happening during #digcitweek through Common Sense Education and @BookCreatorApp. Be sure to sign up for some of the upcoming Book Creator webinars to learn more!

About the author

Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of six books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” and her newest book “Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-person and Digital Instruction” is now available.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at https://anchor.fm/rdene915

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 5pm EST THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here

Tract for Authentic Project-based Learning!

Tract for Authentic Project-based Learning! 

To create authentic and meaningful learning experiences for our students, we need to provide choices in learning. With the power of choice, students will engage more in learning while also developing essential social-emotional learning (SEL) skills that will best prepare them for the future. Project based learning (PBL) is a great way to do this. A method that works well for any grade level and content area and that provides many benefits beyond learning the content area, is project-based learning. 

Authentic PBL has been a great way to promote student choice as they explore areas of interest, brainstorm ways to solve a problem, or look for challenges that are impacting their community or the world. PBL promotes student-centered learning which empowers students to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, fosters creativity, time management, and leadership skills to name a few. When I first got started in my own classroom, I took time to learn about the elements of authentic project-based learning and the benefits for students before diving into it with my students. PBL has become a very popular topic of discussion, especially in the past school year as we have looked for new methods and tools to provide for our students that will amplify their learning potential. I have recommended that educators use PBL especially when having to transition between in-person and virtual learning environments.

Why Tract is perfect for PBL and more!

At the end of the past school year, I found Tract. If you’re looking to try out a new platform and get started with PBL, then Tract is definitely the way to go. In project based learning, students drive their learning experiences based on inquiry or trying to identify a problem happening in their community or globally, or they choose to explore an area of interest or curiosity. As they work through their research, they develop solutions, and may find additional challenges, which helps them to develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills. In PBL, students explore topics that are meaningful to them which then leads to greater student engagement and content retention.

Tract is a great space that provides teachers with what they need to get started with PBL in their classroom in a way that amplifies student choice and voice in learning.

Looking through the platform, you will learn that Tract is a web-based application, which means that teachers can access it from any device. Students become the creators and through Tract they have a space to share what they are learning. Throughout the process, they have fun with the gamification aspect of Tract by earning coins and giving awards through the Tract platform. Most of the awards available are digital and are things that will benefit others.

Beyond the classroom

Besides using Tract for project-based learning, it is a great option to use as an extra activity for students to explore on their own or for a school club. It would also work well for doing genius hour with your students.

Why Tract is different 

Unlike other platforms, students are in the lead and determine their path and pace.. Students can dive in and take classes that are already made and taught by students or they can choose to become the creators and design their own classes for other students to take. Teachers shift from being the sole creators of content and give students the opportunity to become leaders in the classroom and design their own learning experiences and even better, to share those experiences with others. Students can start with the 7-mission, self-directed learning path and will soon be creating and presenting their own  video lessons. What I really like about each class that is available is that it gives the overview and some guiding questions, it tells you what the subject or relevant areas are and the difficulty level is included. It also tells you a little bit of information about the creator so that you know their background and experiences and when you click on the about me it also links to other classes available from this same creator. Each class has missions to work on and as students complete it then they move on to the next mission.

To get started you can use my access code RACHELLE to try out the platform. Be sure to look at some of the many examples available and the different topics available for students to choose from.

Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network.   She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of six books including n Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking, Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU, The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead, Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us and her newest book Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-Person and Digital Instruction is  now available. 

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at https://anchor.fm/rdene915

Klassboard: School Management App

In Collaboration with Klassly

Over the past year, we have learned a lot about the importance of communication. Being able to connect not only with our students and our colleagues, but also to be able to provide essential information to families is critical. We need to have a reliable way to communicate last minute changes in schedules or inform about events happening in our communities. Being able to provide all this information and manage it within one space is essential. While many educators and schools may have been using a variety of tools, we’ve learned that it’s really important to streamline these communications to provide more consistent and reliable information in one space. Leveraging a platform where all stakeholders can interact, and access information and have support is key to avoiding the overwhelm that can come with the use of multiple tools.

Klassly is the parent-teacher communication app that can be used on any electronic device. It is easy to navigate Klassly and find the information you need when you need it because of the platform design. Klassboard is a dashboard for school leaders that is available as a web app. Klassly offers a centralized space for the exchange of information and for carrying out the essential daily tasks that educators and administrators need. There is greater consistency in communication between home and school which promotes more family engagement in the school experience.

For classroom teachers and families, The Klassly App, enhances the possibilities for more frequent communication about important issues including student attendance, upcoming events and the student learning experience and makes it easier to create a strong support system for students where families and teachers work together with ease.

For school leaders, Klassboard provides school administrators, principals, district leaders or any school leader with access to relevant data such as student attendance and the reach and deliverability of messages sent to parents. With Klassboard, school principals or superintendents can easily communicate with teachers and families which promotes smooth school-family communication. Klassboard facilitates the access and management, organization and guidance of the school community with a simple and free tool.

As we have all experienced this school year, being able to communicate in real-time and share resources is critical. With Klassboard, multimedia messages can easily be sent to the entire school community instantly, which helps to foster a strong and vital partnership between school, families and educators. Messages can include audio and video, documents, polls and essential information about school events. Leaders can broadcast messages as posts on the timeline of each Klassly class or as a push notification that appears on the mobile device of all school parents and family members who have the klassly app. It’s the most efficient option for real-time communications.

Klassboard makes it easy to communicate directly with teachers and families. It is easier to manage the communication that is being sent out to the school community and access centralized attendance reports. Principals can attach each teacher’s Klassly classes and then manage all communications within one place. Using Multicast, messages can be distributed to all parents of students. Quickly broadcast messages to all Klassly classes instantly, or send to a specific class or students’ families. In addition to scheduling messages, an SMS can be sent in the event of any emergencies, and notifications are received to inform administrators that the messages have been received by parents. You can schedule the time at which messages will appear on teachers’ and families’ apps, request they sign your message to prove they took note of it, or even allow a private reply that only you as the Klassboard manager will see.

Members can comment and react if this is allowed in their Klassly class on the message that appears in the timeline.

On their personal dashboard gathering all their classes, administrators can check the reports and look at the statistics related to student attendance, absences or late arrivals to school. The dashboard makes it easy to collect valuable information about the impact of your messages

Klassroom complies with GDPR and FERPA. All information is private and never transferred to any third parties. It is easy to get started; you simply go to Klassboard.com and create an account. Once you enter your school information you can then add the classes of your school for each of the teachers and link them to their Klassly timeline with their secret passcode (the class key) and then, manage the school all within one space.

When it comes to communication tools, choosing something comprehensive is essential to providing consistent and reliable information to families. We need to streamline the overwhelm that comes with the use of multiple apps and tools that are being used and instead, leverage all of the capabilities that can easily be done using one tool, Klassroom.

With Klassly, teachers have the power of a messaging app, calendar, event planner and more all within one safe and user-friendly platform.

With Klassboard, schools can better support parents, families and student learning. Having a district-wide communication platform establishes consistency and enables teachers and parents to communicate through messaging instantly, privately, and as often as needed.

About the Author:

Rachelle Dene is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of five books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World and her newest book “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” is now available. All books available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or directly from Rachelle.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at https://anchor.fm/rdene915

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 5pm EST THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here

Gamification and SEL with MyPeekaville

In collaboration with Peekapak

Everyone in the country is talking about social-emotional learning (SEL), and rightly so. Kids, teachers and parents alike have been challenged to their furthest extent throughout this pandemic and regardless of whether students are in-person, remote or hybrid, we need to find ways to focus on SEL and bring it to life to build resiliency. Doing this in a remote environment can be a challenge, as students are more limited in teacher and classmate interactions, and therefore, experience fewer opportunities to socialize in the ways they were used to. Social interactions are such an essential part of their learning process. Choosing the right methods and tools can help create spaces where our students feel more connected to us and to each other. Therefore, we must help students build academic skills, as well as essential SEL skills as the two go hand in hand.

As an individual involved in EdTech and as a teacher myself, I believe that we need to leverage technology to maximize student engagement and provide teachers with flexible, easy to use resources. I recently came across an SEL curriculum called Peekapak that offers an online game called myPeekaville as a complement to its teacher-led curriculum. This online game allows kids to practice SEL skills in real-life scenarios, which engages them further in the learning and embedding of SEL competencies. Games like these are fun of course, but more importantly, they can provide students with opportunities to learn and master strategies while building problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration.

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For example, in the first activity in myPeekaville, students help Leo the Hedgehog identify his nervous ‘first day of school’ emotions. This scenario is highly relatable to their own feelings about the first day of school and how to manage through this anxiety. This type of game-based learning also promotes more interactive learning experiences in class or at home. In Peekapak, the use of myPeekaville provides teachers with another way to understand students’ specific interests and gives parents an idea of the learning that is happening in our classrooms.

Another key benefit I appreciate in this digital resource, is that teachers can monitor and assess student progress and student moods, so they can identify which students may need additional support – particularly if they’re not seeing the student in person or if the student is not directly asking for help. The mood tracking lets students share their feelings and become more aware of the feelings of others which helps in the development of empathy.

When I see kids using the game, building their personal avatar, collecting berries and reading the SEL themed books, I can see how this technology can engage them in a variety of ways to build SEL along with the core skills of reading and writing. It reinforces academic areas that we are primarily focused on with young students.

Ultimately, it is important for children to be able to build SEL skills of self-awareness and self-management, especially in dealing with some of the changes experienced throughout this past year. As we work through what has been a challenging year and plan for the future, we need to make sure that we are focusing on the mental health and wellness of our students. To do so, we must be intentional about creating opportunities for students to build their social-emotional learning (SEL) skills in our classrooms.

Overall, Peekapak offers a robust platform and space for students to learn about themselves and to better understand one another, creating increased opportunities for social-emotional development. Explore Peekapak today!

About the Author:

Rachelle Dene is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of five books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World and her newest book “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” is now available.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at https://anchor.fm/rdene915

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here.

Looking for a new book to read?

Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

** Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 5pm EST THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here

Ziplet: A great tool for SEL and exit tickets

Having taught the majority of this school year in hybrid and fully virtual teaching, finding ways to assess students and to check-in with them regularly was a challenge.

As a Spanish teacher, it is important for me to know how they are doing with the content and how they are doing in general. I started to use Ziplet, which helped me to better understand where students were in ​the learning​ process​, do a quick check-in ​to monitor wellbeing, or use it for an exit ticket at the end of class.​ ​

When I look for digital tools ​to enhance instruction, ​whether virtual, hybrid or in-person, having a versatile tool like ​Z​iplet makes it easier to involve students in learning and be able to gauge their understanding quickly.

During this school year, as I had to transition between these learning environments, using Ziplet helped me with staying consistent when it comes to communication. I can send a quick announcement to my students in the group, ask questions and check in with them to see how learning is going or ask about any challenges that they are facing for just a few examples.

​Getting started​

​Using the question templates available within Ziplet makes it easy to get started quickly. ​What I appreciate is that you can choose from the response types which include emojis, ​multiple choice, open response​s​, or a rating scale. I like to select two different response types such as asking ​students an open-ended question and doing a quick check-in using an emoji​ or a scale.

Questions can be saved under your favorites so that you don’t have to create a new question every single time you use it.

[template options with sample questions that appear for each]

​Reviewing responses​

Accessing student responses is simple and through the scale or emoji options, it’s easy to get a quick glimpse at how students are feeling about a particular topic or their well-being in general.

Asking a quick question such as “How do you feel about the lesson covered?” and using the scale of 1 to 5 makes it easy to gauge a student’s responses and the text response helps students to elaborate or reflect on the lesson. Answers can be posted anonymously and responses are private between student and the teacher.

Messaging with Ziplet

You can also use Ziplet to send a quick message to your class. Since Ziplet integrates with Google Classroom, you can easily import your student roster and share questions directly.

If your school does not use Google Classroom, students can join using the group code provided by the teacher or can be added with email. You can use the email to post a question and students will receive an email message or a notification through the Ziplet app.

Ideas to get started

Start class with a quick check-in to see how students are doing or ask specific questions about the prior lesson. Another great idea is to use Ziplet for a 3-2-1 exit ticket which encourages students to think closely about what they are learning and help them to become more self-aware which is great for developing SEL skills.

Check out the example exit ticket ideas for different content areas here.

Key features

  • Ziplet meets all privacy and security requirements, COPPA and GDPR Compliant
  • Collect classroom or even school wide responses instantly
  • Use it for a daily check-in or a weekly reflection
  • Create announcements to share with students
  • Schedule questions in advance
  • Promotes timely and authentic feedback

Creating accounts

There are several options for getting started with Ziplet including a free plan for teachers to create up to three groups with 50 students and two teachers per group. There are additional plans including Ziplet Plus, a custom plan for K through 12 schools and even one for higher education.

Upgraded plans include unlimited groups and students with many additional features such as student response filtering, reply to all, ability to export response data, and more.

Ziplet, founded in 2016 and based in Melbourne, Australia is being used in more than 10,000 institutions including schools, universities and even in corporate training environments.

Ziplet is available on the App store and Google Play. Getting started with a new digital tool often takes time but that’s not the case with Ziplet as there are preloaded questions available that teachers can use to get started right away!

About the Author

Rachelle Dene Poth is an edtech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. Rachelle teaches Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting. She is an ISTE Certified Educator and currently serves as the past -president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network. At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and a Presidential Gold Award for volunteer service to education.

Rachelle is the author of five books available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Rdene915.

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here.

Looking for a new book to read?

Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 5pm EST THRIVEinEDU on Facebook.  Join the group here

EdLight

Sponsored post, All Opinions are my own

In the past year, we have seen the use of digital tools increase as many schools transitioned from in-person to fully virtual and hybrid learning environments. Educators have sought new ideas, whether tools or methods, in particular for assessing students in these digital spaces.

A few months ago I learned about​ EdLight, a​ digital tool that enables teachers to get a closer look at student work and provide authentic, meaningful and timely feedback to students in a variety of ways.

How does EdLight Work?

EdLight is a web-based app that gives teachers the chance to see student work as it is submitted. What I love about EdLight is that students can write or draw simply using paper and pencils, and submit their work directly to teachers. All student work can be viewed in the teacher dashboard. For each student’s submission, teachers can provide feedback using some of the different tools available within the platform. Students are able to use any device to submit work. EdLight integrates with Google Classroom and Clever which makes it easier to get started with, and you can also share a link with students to upload their assignment.

As students submit their work, it appears in the teacher dashboard where teachers can view student responses and provide targeted feedback. You can draw or write onto the student work, add stickers, or provide audio feedback which is something that I really appreciate about EdLight. Being able to explain or provide additional insight to students, especially when working in hybrid or fully virtual learning environments, makes a big difference.

Having taught in hybrid learning for half of the school year, finding tools that enable students to work on the same task and for us to be able to access their work and provide immediate and personalized feedback regardless of where they are learning from is essential.

I first used EdLight with my Spanish III class and they enjoyed using it. I provided a writing prompt for them to submit in Spanish. It was easy to see their work and use the different tools available to provide more specific feedback. I could underline or draw charts, and provide audio feedback as well. EdLight works on multiple devices so students don’t have to worry about having a specific device to be able to respond.

Teachers can also ask students to revise their work and resubmit it for further evaluation, which helps to complete the learning cycle.

It is easy to get started with and navigate the EdLight website, and teacher dashboard to create assignments, find student work, and track student progress. I love being able to see student work whether they are writing a response or illustrating a concept.

Benefits of EdLight

EdLight helps to promote greater awareness of student learning and facilitates better communication between students and teachers through the tools available within the platform to provide feedback.

It provides students with a way to look back at their work and see the feedback that they received, and plan their next steps in their learning journey. For teachers, being able to see student work in real time and be able to provide that feedback, especially for those students who are not present in the classroom makes a big difference.

You can also set this up to be used as a digital portfolio for students and explore some of the other ideas available in the blog on EdLight.

Here are a few options:

  • Have students do a drawing to express learning.
  • Take a picture of something they are reading and annotate or summarize it
  • Have students show the process of learning or solving problems for example in math or science classes.
  • Create student portfolios using EdLight

EdLight is a wonderful option for formative assessments, whether that means an entrance or an exit ticket or simply to use during class, especially if working in a hybrid environment. As we think about the next school year, wondering what tools we might keep that made a difference for us this year, I think this is the perfect opportunity to try some new tools to see what a difference they make for our students in our classroom.

Teachers can sign up to try EdLight for free and there are different types of accounts available for individual teachers or school or district licenses. Click here for a walkthrough and be sure to follow them on social! Twitter, Instagram Facebook

About the Author

Rachelle Dene Poth is an edtech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. Rachelle teaches Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting. She is an ISTE Certified Educator and currently serves as the past-president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network. At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and has received several Presidential Gold Awards for volunteer service to education.

Rachelle is the author of five books, ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” (EduMatch) and “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World” and her newest book, “True Story Lessons That One Kid Taught Us.”

She is also a Buncee Ambassador, Nearpod PioNear and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.

Rachelle is a blogger for Getting Smart, Defined Learning, District Administration, NEO LMS, and the STEM Informer with Newsweek.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU https://anchor.fm/rdene915.

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here.

Looking for a new book to read?

Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 5pm EST THRIVEinEDU on Facebook.  Join the group here

Spaces for Digital Portfolios

As we work to prepare students for the future, it is important that we find ways to help students focus more on the learning process rather than the end product. When we bring in learning opportunities that help students to reflect on their individual work and growth and collaborate with peers by giving feedback to one another, we will better prepare them for the future.

Spaces provides a great choice for creating digital portfolios and more. Digital portfolios enable students to compile artifacts of the work that they have done, including projects, sharing career explorations or community service activities that they engaged in during their high school career. Portfolios are a great way for students to display and reflect on their learning journey. Creating portfolios in a digital space gives students the opportunity to self-assess and track their growth over time as they build their narrative.

My start with using digital portfolios in my classroom began with my Spanish II and III students. They initially created a wikispace for their Spanish projects but we shifted to Google sites, and they added to it by including their other classes, sharing their interests, and designed evidence of their growth during each academic year. Now with versatile tools available like Spaces, it is easier to add work quickly which can include links, or audio, photos, and videos. Students can reflect on the work that they have done and be able to instantly share with teachers, family and potential employers or colleges.

Benefits of digital portfolios

As students continue to build digital portfolios, for use in the same class or across grade levels, educators better understand students and their interests and it helps with building those vital teacher-student relationships. A key part of this is that it helps to focus on the social-emotional learning (SEL) skills as students build their self-awareness and also self-management skills, when they look at the work that they’ve done and set new goals for their continued learning journey.

Spaces offers an opportunity to bring digital portfolios into your classroom and it is available for free! It is easy to get started with Spaces. By default, teachers’ first space is the ‘Class’ space; a place for classwide sharing, discussion and review. Teachers can also create “Group” spaces where certain groups of students can work together asynchronously while outside of the view from the rest of the class. Lastly, “Individual” spaces create a one-to-one teacher to student environment for students who might want to keep their portfolio work outside of the view of others but still want all the benefits Spaces has to offer.”

With Spaces, students can access and share their work from wherever they are. It promotes collaboration as students and teachers work together throughout the learning process. It also fosters better connections between home and school. Students can quickly share their work with teachers and engage in a conversation, which promotes real-time feedback and the opportunity to message, and discuss progress.

For educators, the use of portfolios better enables us to give authentic, meaningful feedback to students and develop a greater understanding of each student’s strengths and needs. These “spaces” also help to build relationships as we get to know our students, their learning needs and strengths more. Get started with Spaces today!

About the Author

Rachelle Dene Poth is an edtech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. Rachelle teaches Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting. She is an ISTE Certified Educator and currently serves as the past-president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network. At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and has received several Presidential Gold Awards for volunteer service to education.

Rachelle is the author of five books, ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” (EduMatch) and “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World” and her newest book, “True Story Lessons That One Kid Taught Us.”

She is also a Buncee Ambassador, Nearpod PioNear and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.

Rachelle is a blogger for Getting Smart, Defined Learning, District Administration, NEO LMS, and the STEM Informer with Newsweek.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU https://anchor.fm/rdene915.

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here.

Looking for a new book to read? Many stories from educators, two student chapters, and a student-designed cover for In Other Words.

Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks