Monday, March 19, 2018

BVSD Ed Tech on Social Media

The use of social media is pervasive in our world today. With the many services available, there’s no shortage of ways to connect with friends, family, and colleagues. But are you maximizing the potential of these tools as a way to grow professionally? The BVSD Ed Tech Team is committed to providing you with resources, ideas, opportunities, and food for thought through our social media channels. This blog is one of the many ways we connect with our professional community.

For more timely updates, visiting and/or subscribing to our Twitter feed is a great option. You can count on us to provide teacher and student highlights, updates on exciting events, links to intriguing articles, and more. Twitter is a terrific platform for educators to share ideas and connect with each other. Find a leader on this list and connect.

If you’re looking for a collection of resources organized by topic, please check out our Pinterest page! From articles on digital citizenship to the use of gSuite for Education, you’re sure to find something relevant and interesting. In fact, we even have a Pinterest board dedicated to the use of social media!

We’ve recently begun giving our YouTube channel some extra attention, so if you haven’t visited it in a while we strongly encourage you to do so. Subscribing to our channel will ensure you don’t miss an episode of our new web series Tech-A-Minute, and will give you easy access to other useful curated content.

We would love to connect with you on these platforms! What would you like to see from BVSD Ed Tech’s social media? Feel free to comment on this blog post (or even better, send us a tweet!) with your thoughts.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Digital Portfolios: Sharing, Assessing, & Reflecting on Learning

Thank you for watching the BVSD Ed Tech Team’s first miniseries, Tech-A-Minute, where we break down hot ed tech topics into easy to implement steps. To see each episode about digital portfolios, check out the video above.

Let’s set the’s the final semester of school or the last few weeks before the end of the school year...we’ve all been there. You’re frantically scrambling to assemble many different papers into plastic page protectors or reprint things when you notice a typo, and you are wondering if the 3” inch binder is going to be large enough for all of your portfolio elements. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t see the benefits of using a portfolio in the classroom, and more and more, teachers are moving to a digital format for these projects.

A digital portfolio is a curated collection of work and other artifacts in a digital format. As opposed to a traditional portfolio, students can add in numerous media types like presentations, reports, essays, videos, goals, and products from web tools like ThingLink, Padlet, and Piktochart. A digital portfolio allows students to share what they have learned over time and reflect on their growth as a learner. Additionally, teachers are able to assess student proficiency and growth throughout the school year.

An important thing to remember about digital portfolios is that they aren’t just a more visually appealing way to showcase student work. By having students work on these portfolios throughout the year, they are using digital skills like uploading and importing files, authentically practicing keyboarding skills, and mastering a variety of web tools. They’re also experimenting with web design, graphic design, and video creation with their audience and purpose in mind which empowers themselves as learners to choose the tools, platforms, and formats to best showcase their learning. And most importantly, they are developing a positive digital footprint for the years to come.

For many teachers, the move from a traditional paper portfolio, like a cum file or record, to a digital version can seem overwhelming. But the great news is that there are several resources that can support you as you begin. If you are a teacher, click here for a hyperdoc that can be used for professional development about using digital portfolios. In addition, here are some resources about digital portfolio platforms that can help you choose which tool you want your students to use:

Schoology portfolios


Google Sites

Google Slides

Still not convinced? Read these 10 Reasons Why You Should Implement Digital Student Portfolios or check out how BVSD teachers Lisa Cooper and Kristen Donley are using them in their classrooms. As always, if you have questions you can leave them below or tweet us @BVSDEdTech. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you won’t miss our next episode of Tech-A-Minute!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Guest Blogger - Kristin Donley | Monarch HS

Connecting with Content at A Higher Level 

Kristin Donley, Science Teacher | Monarch HS

In November 2017, I attended the Google for Education Summit in Louisville, Colorado. At the Summit, I was inspired by Sylvia Duckworth and her sessions on Sketchnoting. I was excited by the idea because it employs the use of simple sketches in addition to words in note-taking. Research shows when students use pictures to represent ideas, they are connecting with the content at a higher level and are more actively engaged. 

“...sketchnoting helps me use both sides of my brain…”

To kickoff my student’s sketchnoting journey, I showed them a simple video on how to use sketchnoting and then I asked them to read text from a site called Actively Learn. I asked them to create Sketchnotes on the assigned topic: osmosis and factors that affect it. After the assignment, I asked students if this way of taking notes helped them understand the topic better than the strategies they were employing previously, and I was encouraged to hear, “I am artistic and I like science, sketchnoting helps me use both sides of my brain and it is a great visual way to help me memorize information.” Another student said, “I love drawing and colors, this method engages me more as I am a visual learner; the pictures with the words helps me understand what I am learning better.”  

“I am seeing more engagement and better writing…”

I have noticed students are taking more notes, and the notes are not just copied paragraphs from the text. Rather, they are creating concept maps with words and pictures that are helping them comprehend, synthesize and analyze information to a greater extent. They are employing Bloom’s taxonomy from remembering to understanding to analyzing, evaluating and creating. It is early in my journey of using sketchnoting in the classroom, but I am seeing more engagement and better writing in their formative assessments. The best outcome so far is that I have noticed several students using sketchnoting in their other classes! I am excited to see how our journey in sketchnoting evolves over the rest of the year!  

Resources from Kristin’s Class

Here is the sample lesson I gave in Schoology:
“Click on the links, read the articles and watch the videos. In class I will teach you how to do sketchnoting which will help you increase your memory and engagement with the content you are learning. This information will help you be successful on the osmosis inquiry. While watching the videos and reading the articles, take some sketchnotes as well as answer the questions in the black boxes in Actively Learn. Upload your sketchnotes to this assignment...can take a picture or scan in.”
Videos to help you understand the content:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

VoiceThread in BVSD

Did you know that BVSD teachers and 6th-12th grade students have access to VoiceThread? VoiceThread is an interactive media platform that can be used for many types of presentations, assessments and more. After creating a VoiceThread project, others can engage with it in a number of ways, encouraging an ongoing conversation about the work. For more information on the platform, please watch the video below, visit the VoiceThread YouTube channel, or stop by their K-12 website:

Many BVSD teachers have already empowered their students by using VoiceThread to support the 4Cs. Mark Haxton, social studies and computer teacher at Aspen Creek K-8 had the following to say about his experiences:

Why do you think teachers should use VoiceThread with students?
There are a number of great reasons to use VoiceThread, both as a teacher and with students. First of all, it is a great collaboration tool. Multiple users can create and edit the same VoiceThread project simultaneously, so students could collaborate within the same class period or different periods. Second, you can incorporate many different types of multimedia - websites, video, audio, google docs, and it even has a drawing tool. This would be great to use in any subject area. A student could voice record their thinking while using the drawing tool. Third, it is extremely easy for students to login. It is in their launcher, no need to worry about logins and passwords. Finally, all projects allow for commenting by viewers. Students will get great feedback not just from teachers, but from peers and anyone else they choose to share it with.

What is an example of a successful project you've done using VoiceThread?
I’ve used this both for myself and with students. I’ve taken images of text, uploaded them to VoiceThread and recorded myself reading it while highlighting specific areas on the text I wanted students to notice. This is great for struggling readers. I’ve also uploaded images of maps and used this to point out different parts of maps and different types of maps for a sub to use in the sub plans.

Here are a couple of examples of student projects about Invasive Species we created this year.
Example 1 Example 2

What advice would you give to other teachers interested in using VoiceThread with students?
Creating sub plans using VoiceThread would be a great idea. Recording yourself introducing the lesson and objectives for the day. With students, one specific piece of advice I would give would be to introduce the tool and allow them to be creative in the way they want to demonstrate their learning. I use this as just another tool students can use to demonstrate their understanding of curricular concepts.

Lester Lurie, a social studies teacher at Casey Middle School, has found value in using VoiceThread to help develop students’ oracy skills. Mr. Lurie even uses VoiceThread to provide students with project instructions and model its usage. One successful project he has done with his students is a “Digital Atlas”, where students highlight different regions around the world and include various geographical and statistical information. Click here to view an example of this innovative project. A piece of advice Mr. Lurie provided is to simply, “take the leap and do it”, noting that students will likely teach you things throughout the process.

Are you interested in learning more about using VoiceThread in the classroom? Be sure to check out their free online workshops! If you are using VoiceThread already or have any questions, please leave your comments below.

Monday, February 5, 2018

21st Century Cohort 3.0 Graduation

After three years of hard work and dedication, members of the 21st Century Cohort 3.0 celebrated their graduation on January 23rd. Principals, family members, and friends joined together to honor their accomplishments on this special occasion.

Every school that participated in Cohort 3.0 was asked to create a digital story that captured their cohort journey and demonstrated evidence of personal and student growth. Digital stories came in all shapes and sizes, including videos created in WeVideo, Powtoon, Sock Puppets, and even an I Am Poem. Check out some of their videos below:

Molly Kirk, Foothill Elementary

Bethany Konz, Louisville Middle School

Kristin Bialick, Birch Elementary

Molly Hoverstock, Casey Middle School

When teachers were given the chance to share a brief word about their three years in the 21st Century Cohort, some of the highlights included:

  • Appreciation of a risk-free environment to try new tools and strategies
  • Gratefulness for the opportunity to extend their own learning
  • The benefits of collaborating and learning together in a community over three years
  • Excitement about new connections that were developed as a result of this cohort
  • The cohort was not about tech, but about connections, collaborations, and pedagogy

It was a great honor to work with this talented group of leaders and risk-takers over three years. We wish them the very best in their classrooms and school buildings as they continue to learn, reflect, and share.

Monday, January 22, 2018

1:Web Expands in BVSD with a New Cohort!

As we begin the new year, one of the highlights for the educational technology team is the expansion of BVSD’s 1:Web program! BVSD began visioning a 1:Web initiative in 2013 and instituted a pilot program in 2014-2015. The board approved the 1:Web program for 5th-12th grade in March 2017, leading the way for this expansion.

After a successful pilot at Centaurus High and Broomfield High, we have extended digital access and equity to seven new schools this year: Arapahoe Ridge High, Boulder Universal, Nederland Middle/High, New Vista High, Angevine Middle, Aspen Creek Middle, and Broomfield Heights Middle. All 9th graders (at the participating high schools) and 6th graders (at the participating middle schools) will be receiving Chromebooks in January 2018!

This is a picture collage of Boulder Valley School District teachers and administrators working together. Each picture has a representative group from one of the new 1:Web schools.

Although we are excited about the Chromebooks in our 1:Web schools, the 1:Web program is much more than the device. Teachers and administrators have been meeting as a cohort since last May to prepare and learn from each other. At each school, the staff has engaged in professional development about how to use technology to truly enhance student learning, focusing on the 4 Cs: creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. The 1:Web program is also a key piece of our efforts to address the digital divide in BVSD and give all students an equal opportunity to learn.

This is a picture of two students using a Chromebook, an iPad, and WeVideo software in a classroom.
Photo cred: Jill Williams @jillcolo
Students are receiving direct instruction in digital citizenship, as well as practical tips about how to care for their device. They are also engaging in conversations about when it is appropriate to use these tools and when they need to be put away. Many of the 1:Web schools are using this as an opportunity to have students create their own digital citizenship messages. Check out the picture below of Arapahoe Ridge students creating video projects to teach other students about digital citizenship using WeVideo, Chromebooks, iPads and more. As our world becomes an increasingly digital place, it is more important than ever for educators to incorporate these conversations into the classroom! A YouTube playlist has been created to share these student creations. Check back as this resource continues to grow.

This is a picture of a crowded library at the school. Parents and students are at tables while the principal, Chris Meyer delivers comments at the front of the room.

Schools are actively involving their parents every step of the way. The 1:Web program would not be a success without the partnership between the schools and their families. Prior to implementing the program, each school has invited families to engage in a discussion and demonstration regarding instructional and learning shifts in classrooms. At each meeting, teachers and administrators outline the why, the process that the school has taken, the professional development that the schools and students are undergoing, and how parents can continue to stay involved as the journey progresses. 

This is a picture collage of Boulder Valley School District teachers on special assignment working together. Each picture has a few people collaborating and team building.

We are excited for all of the learning that will occur with the approximately 800 devices we are deploying in January! Additionally, we look forward to implementing the 1:Web Cohort 2.0 with new middle and high schools who will be joining the program in the 2018-2019 school year.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Putting the YOU in YouTube

Video is an ever evolving form of educational technology, however more often than not, the way educators have used video in their classrooms has not evolved quite as quickly. One invaluable tool that is available to all teachers throughout the district is YouTube. Below are five tips for better utilizing YouTube in your classroom.

1. Uploading Your Own Content

YouTube isn’t just a place for you to watch videos, you can also create your own content and upload it to your channel with ease. To get started making your own videos, we recommend checking out the district-supported tool, WeVideo. Once you have your videos created, you can upload them, then customize everything including the video description, title, privacy settings, and thumbnail.

2. Building Playlists

Playlists are a feature of YouTube that allow you to organize a customized collection of videos. You can build playlists with your own content or by curating other videos, then share the lists out for others to view or add on to. Learn how to make, find, edit, and delete your playlists here. Also, don’t forget that in order for your students to view the videos in your playlist, you need to make sure each video is approved for BVSD by checking the blue status bar at the bottom of each video.

3. Sharing your Channel

Sharing your YouTube channel with students, parents, and the community can be a great communication tool. If you’re nervous about who can see your content, have no fear! YouTube allows you to adjust the privacy settings to customize it for your intended audience.

privacy settings.png

Share your videos easily by clicking on the “Share” button at the bottom of every YouTube video. From here you can grab a link to send or the HTML code to embed it on your website or in Schoology.

share embed.png

4. Go Live with Broadcasting

youtubelive logoA live broadcast gives you the capability to interact with your audience in real time, easily share your videos with very little lag time, and save your broadcast for others to view later. YouTube Live is an easy-to-use tool that is available to all teachers in BVSD with their Google accounts, and all you need is your Chromebook! Check out this video to see how to use YouTube Live (*Note that some features listed are not available in an educational account).

5. Find Other Great Channels

One way to keep up with valuable content on YouTube is to subscribe to different channels. By clicking thesubscribebutton, you will add the channel to your list of subscriptions, plus you can choose to receive alerts whenever the channel posts a new video by clicking thebell

icon. Subscriptions are also great for finding channels that are specific to the content that you teach so you can view the most up-to-date resources. Below are some great channels for you to check out, plus don’t forget to subscribe to the Ed Tech Team YouTube channel!

BVSD Ed Tech ChannelMinute Physics channelWords of the World ChannelAnimal planet channelKhan-Academy Channel
science show channelcrash course channelGoogle Science Fair channelHistory Teachers channelYouTube Education channel

Hopefully using these quick tips will help you get started using this valuable video tool in your classroom. If you are interested in putting more YOU into YouTube, contact an Ed Tech Specialist or tweet us at @BVSDEdTech.
Subscribe to BVSD Ed Tech's YouTube Channel!