Monday, July 16, 2018

BrainPOP in BVSD: Michelle Eckstein

Our series of spotlighting teachers who use BrainPOP continues with Michelle Eckstein, the Elementary Technology Teacher at Peak to Peak Charter School. To get started, visit the BrainPOP in BVSD webpage, and for more ideas about how to use it in the classroom, check out Part 1 of this blog series!

Michelle Eckstein, Elementary Technology Teacher | Peak to Peak Charter
21st Century Cohort 4.0
@mdeckstein | Website

Michelle has been teaching in elementary schools for 10 years, and is currently the Elementary Technology Teacher at Peak to Peak Charter School. Prior to joining the staff at Peak to Peak, she was the TAG Educational Advisor at High Peaks Elementary and Lafayette Elementary Schools. She has a Masters in Gifted Education from the University of Connecticut and endorsements in elementary education, gifted education, and instructional technology. She loves seeing students authentically engaged when they are creating with technology.

How do you use BrainPOP in your classroom?

I use many of the digital citizenship videos and activities in my classroom as well as using the BrainPOP videos to introduce coding to students. Students and I really like the Meaning of Beep. In this game students compete against the computer or a classmate as they improve their academic vocabulary on the topic being studied.

What is one of your favorite things that you have done with BrainPOP?

One of my favorite BrainPOP features is the SnapThought tool. Using this tool students can capture their thinking while playing a game. It’s a great tool to use as students play Sortify. SnapThought allows students to grab a screenshot at a moment during game play. They then reflect on their thinking. In the example below, a student is playing Sortify Multiplication and uses the SnapThought tool to take a screenshot during game play. They then explain their thinking and submit their thinking to the teacher. Students love game play, and the SnapThought tool increases the cognitive demand by asking students to explain their thinking.


How is BrainPOP helping your students?

Students enjoy the BrainPOP characters: Tim, Moby, & Annie. The characters and humor in the videos keep students engaged. I find BrainPOP a great way to introduce a topic and build background knowledge, and then I can use many of the activities for students to engage with the content. I love the number of choices for students to show what they know and think critically about the content. I like using Make-a-Map as a collaborative activity for students to think together about most important ideas of a video. The creative tools of Make-a Movie and Creative Coding provide opportunities for collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication. I’m really looking forward to using these new tools more often!

If you have one piece of advice to give to another teacher, what would it be?

My advice to others wanting to get started on Make-a-Movie or Creative Coding is to start with a small group. Give them some time to learn how to use BrainPOP to create and then have them be your “experts”. In the beginning it can be a bit overwhelming for some students to figure out how to create with Creative Coding or Make-a-Movie. Having a few student experts will enable you to focus on helping students with higher level thinking and not get bogged down with teaching the tool. I’m planning to start with my 4th and 5th grade Student Tech Team as experts and they will then train others in their classes to help as well.

Anything else to share?

The BrainPOP Certified Educator program is a great way to get to know some of the less frequently known features of BrainPOP. I’d highly recommend this free training.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

InnEdCO 2018

As the BVSD Ed Tech team continues to ride the wave of excitement from this year’s InnEdCO conference, we wanted to take this opportunity to share some highlights. Over fifty BVSD teachers, counselors, administrators, and district staff joined us up in Keystone, Colorado for several days of learning and networking! 

Did you attend this year? We’d love for you to share your reflections in the comments below.

BVSD Presenters
BVSD was represented at the conference with twenty seven fantastic sessions! A wide range of topics were presented, giving attendees a diverse sampling of our expertise and passions. Monday’s Leadership and Digital Literacy academies included a workshop from Aspen Creek K-8 administrators and a panel of teacher librarians from across Boulder Valley and St. Vrain school districts. Throughout the main conference, BVSD inspired teachers from across the state with sessions on student engagement, project-based learning, ISTE standards, student tech teams, creative note-taking, grading, and a whole lot more.

Attendee Activities

Attendees from BVSD had some new opportunities to connect with each other this year. One addition to the activity lineup was a conference-long scavenger hunt! Using Goosechase, a digital scavenger hunt platform, participants worked with their teams to complete a series of “missions”. These challenges had teams exploring the Keystone resort and checking in at specific geofenced locations, recording team choreographed dances, and posing for pictures during team lunches, keynote presentations, and at vendor booths.

Thank you to all who participated in this team building event! Teachers and leaders from different areas of the district were able to connect with others they did not know prior to InnEdCO. We look forward to an even better game next year.

BVSD Tweets at #InnEdCO18

Using social media, especially Twitter, to connect with others during a conference is rapidly becoming the norm. Our BVSD attendees used the platform to share session takeaways and provide support to fellow presenters. Below are a few tweets from InnEdCO. To see more, check out the #InnEdCO18 hashtag on Twitter!

Mark your calendars now for InnEdCO 2019 in Keystone June 10-13!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

BrainPOP in BVSD

Did you know that BrainPOP is available in BVSD for all K-8 students? If you are not already using this resource in your classroom, check out the BVSD BrainPOP page to get started!

How can you make the most of this awesome resource?

Some of our BVSD teachers share their best tips & tricks below!

Along with these fun projects, teachers shared how they appreciate the way BrainPOP allows students to access content, no matter what their academic level is. The visual animation is attention-grabbing and effective, and Tim & Moby, the funny and friendly guides, are an instant hit with students! One growing resource is their digital citizenship collection, which can be used with any content area. The activities change with each movie, so they never get boring, and many are available in a printed format if needed. Additionally, because the videos are short, they are easy to incorporate throughout a unit of study.

How have you used BrainPOP in your classroom this year?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Innovate@BVSD 2018

Innovate@BVSD 2018 is just around the corner! As you are making your summer plans, be sure to include an excursion to Meadowlark PK-8 on Monday, July 30th and Tuesday, July 31st. With keynotes from thought leaders Sue Meyer & Todd Burleson, deeper learning workshops, and a fantastic schedule of presenters, it is sure to be two days of inspirational and valuable professional learning!

Register & Share!

  • BVSD employees register via MyPassport: Course Code 16666; section #22633. 
    • Attendance is FREE and BVSD attendees can earn .5 salary credit*. 
  • Out of district attendees are welcome! Please fill out the registration form at
    • There is a nominal registration fee.

Attendees will:

  • Tour a BVSD Innovative school that models innovative learning community environments;
  • Investigate education software solutions and maker education tools via ½ day hands-on workshops;
  • Explore the Student Innovation Showcase and experience how Project Based Learning and Design Thinking methodologies promote authentic learning & student agency. 
  • Be inspired by your peers as they share how they bring the 4 Cs to life for their students. 

Bond Phase Schools

BVSD schools in Bond Phases 2 & 3, don’t miss this opportunity to experience open and flexible classroom designs, test-drive innovative furniture options, attend sessions offered by architects that specialize in school design, and connect with staff members currently experiencing the instructional shifts brought about by these student-centered spaces.

     *Salary Credit option fee is $15.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Revenge of the Podcast People

Podcast imagePodcasts have been around for years but are quickly making a resurgence in the education world.

At least 112 million Americans have listened to podcasts, a figure up 11 percent from last year [2017], with 67 million listening to podcasts at least monthly. (Forbes)

And for good reason- teachers are able to both create and consume podcasts to get on-demand professional learning in an informal environment and students have an impromptu, candid platform for their voices. Podcasts are a unique form of auditory learning because listeners get to hear the voice of real-life experts and people that influence and inspire them all while feeling like they are a part of the conversation.

Are you ready to hit record and try something new? While we have your ear, listen to our podcast below to learn more about how you might use podcasts professionally and within your classroom.
Not a Rocking Chair Librarian logoNot A Rocking Chair Librarian | Episode 17

As mentioned in our podcast, use the resources below to help you get started with podcasting in your classroom.

"Why Podcasts Are Popular (And 4 Content Lessons To Learn …) - Forbes." 11 Jul. 2017, Accessed 8 May. 2018

Monday, May 7, 2018

5-6-7-8 Who Do We Appreciate? TEACHERS!

The first full week of May is National Teacher Appreciation Week, aka Superhero Week! This is the perfect opportunity to honor and celebrate our educators. The year is winding down, stress levels are high, and energy tends to wane. What better time to show appreciation, gratitude, and invigorate one another?

How can we show gratitude?
  • Teachers to teachers: Remember we are all in this together! Stuck in line at the copy machine? Turn around and simply give a smile to brighten your colleague’s day!

      • Teachers to students: Your students may be anxious to leave your classroom and a positive, meaningful note left for them could really make an impact. 

      Why is appreciation SUPER important?

      Appreciation not only lifts spirits, it creates a positive work environment, fosters relationships, and reduces stress. Just like learning styles and working preferences, everyone has ways they give and receive appreciation. But how can we make sure we are showing our gratitude in a meaningful way? Having a one-way-fits-all approach, say the same thank you card given to everyone, might not feel authentic and could end up making your colleague feel even less appreciated. Be creative in your approach to add a personal message in the thank you card, or an appropriate gif in an email or text. The key is to build a relationship with your students and colleagues to help understand what truly makes them feel valued. Chapman and White have studied these preferences and summed them up in the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. (See below.)

      Try “speaking” these different languages of appreciation on a regular basis to help build a positive culture in your classroom and your building all year round. What ideas have you tried? Tell us in the comments below.

      The BVSD Ed Tech Team is extremely grateful to work with all of the innovative, forward-thinking, and thoughtful teachers throughout our district. Know that as your school year is coming to an end, we’ll always be there to hold your cape!

      Monday, April 23, 2018

      Screencasting Savvy

      If you have been watching our Tech-A-Minute mini-series, you know that we have been exploring different options for student video creation. In our latest episode, we discussed screencasting.

      A screencast is essentially a recording of your computer screen that allows you to capture the action on your screen while you narrate. Most screencasting tools also allow you to create a webcam recording from your device’s camera. You may have seen a screencast in an instructional video or as a presentation with a voiceover. While this can be a very powerful tool for teachers to deliver course content, create remedial content, differentiate for a student, or communicate with parents, it can be especially powerful when put in the hands of students.

      As explained in this article, screencasts can turn students into digital teachers. They can present a project, answer an assessment question, and make other informal videos within just minutes. Some tools allow students to create more polished, edited videos, while others give students a platform to quickly express their ideas and show their understanding. Check out some of the examples of student-created screencasts below:

      Examples from Mark Haxton at Aspen Creek K-8
      Math Problem Solving example
      Circle Hockey Presentation example
      Close Reading example

      Now that you know why you might want to have your students create a screencast, we can explore the how. Below are a few tools that your students can use across many devices, including Chromebooks. Check each one out to find a tool that will best meet your students’ needs.

      Helpful Resources
      A web-based tool that allows users to instantly capture their screen with audio commentary. There is both a free and paid version available.
      Users can choose to save their video file on their device, upload to the Screencast-o-matic cloud, or to a YouTube channel.
      A Chrome extension that allows recording from a tab, desktop, or webcam. The free version of this tool allows students to create videos up to 10 minutes long.
      Screencasts save directly to their Google Drive for easy sharing.
      A “record” option in a video edit that gives the option to record your screen or webcam. This option allows for editing and does not have a time limit.
      WeVideo automatically saves finished videos to your WeVideo account, but can also save to Google Drive or a YouTube channel.
      A Chrome extension that allows you to capture your screen or record a video and add in your own annotations.
      Users can choose to upload to Google Drive, copy it to the clipboard, or share using a direct link.

      As you get started with screencasting with your students, there are many resources to support you. Check out Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Screencasting in the Classroom or the Ultimate Screencasting Guide for Teachers and Students. And don’t forget that we’d love to see your BVSD examples of student screencasts. Tweet us @BVSDEdTech or leave your comments and questions below.