Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Colorado Google Summit 2018

On November 3rd and 4th over 400 educators, administrators, office professionals, and technology integration specialists descended on Meadowlark PK-8 for the 2018 EdTechTeam Colorado Summit. While Boulder Valley School District has hosted this regional event for years, this year saw a number of changes: a new host school, longer sessions in order to go deeper into application of technology, and a hands-on “playground”.

BVSD had nearly 90 district employees attend the Summit, including several who offered engaging, innovative sessions of their own! Kim Becker from Centaurus High and Dave Crowder from Louisville Middle shared ways to integrate PearDeck into the science classroom. Interim Director of Fine and Performing Arts Aubrey Yeh and her brother Kyle Yeh encouraged student-created BreakoutEDU games. 

Birch Elementary’s Kim Butler and Kelli Trenkamp inspired others to embrace the Maker movement. Kelly Sain, Kiffany Lychock, and Brent Caldwell facilitated a discussion about Meadowlark’s unique design and instructional philosophy. And BVSD’s newest Ed Tech Specialist, Lynn Gershman, led sessions on using G Suite in the math classroom and new ways to collect and interpret student data.

For some highlights from this year’s event, please check out this video:

Did you attend the Colorado Summit this year? We’d love to hear about what you learned! Use the comment section below to share your experiences. If you didn’t make it this year, we hope to see you in 2019!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

BrainPOP in BVSD: Molly Kirk

Our series of spotlighting teachers who use BrainPOP concludes with Molly Kirk, a 5th grade teacher at Foothill Elementary. 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 & Part 2 of this blog series!

Molly Kirk, 5th Grade Teacher | Foothill Elementary
21st Century Cohort 3.0
Class Website
Molly is currently in her 9th year of teaching 5th grade at Foothill Elementary. She has worked in BVSD as an elementary teacher, a secondary Language Arts teacher and in the GT and Literacy programs. Molly has a Masters in Education from University of Colorado and is endorsed K-12. She is a member of the BVSD 21st Century Cohort 3.0 and thinks the IT department is awesome!

How do you use BrainPOP in your classroom?

One of the things I love about BrainPOP is the versatility. I am able to find a BrainPOP video for almost any topic I teach. Along with the variety of topics, there are also so many different ways to use BrainPOP beyond the videos with Moby.

Recently, we watched two videos about the American Revolution as an introduction to the important events leading up to the Revolution. The kids did a scavenger hunt of sorts using the American Revolution Timeline in GameUp. They had a list of six events and needed to put them in chronological order using the Timeline as a resource. Then they could choose three battles of the Revolutionary War to read more about. The additional links in the game were informative and we found the students engaged and seeking additional information on topics that they found interesting.

What do you see as the benefits of using BrainPOP?

BrainPOP allows me to apply the 4 Cs easily. My students can be creative as they design their own Make-A-Map which also taps into their critical thinking skills. I love seeing their thinking as they share Snapthoughts with me which also allows them to communicate their thinking. We frequently use BrainPOP with partners or in small groups to allow students to collaborate. I can differentiate by using the FYI and Activities and I love having access to BrainPOP EspaƱol for my Spanish speakers. They can watch the videos in both English and Spanish to reinforce content specific language. One of my favorite things is that from time to time I will log on and see that my students are using BrainPOP at home to learn about topics they are individually interested in.
Editor’s note: For more information on how to use the educator dashboard, go to the BrainPOP Help Center.

If you had one piece of advice to give about BrainPOP, what would it be?

Go beyond the movies and the quizzes. BrainPOP has so much more to offer that allows you to tap into higher-level thinking skills. So much technology just entertains; the full spectrum of BrainPOP allows students to truly engage in the learning process.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Student Data Privacy in BVSD

A teacher is the first line of defense in protecting student data and privacy. On December 12, 2017, the BVSD Board of Education adopted a Student Data Privacy Policy, as required by the state. This policy includes some new training requirements for anyone who works with student Personally Identifiable Information (PII), including teachers and many district-level employees.

All staff members who work with student PII will be required to complete a 30-60 minute online course that is available in Schoology by December 21, 2018. To meet the board policy requirement, staff members must complete all modules, including discussion pages and quizzes. The goal of this requirement is to help all BVSD employees have a better understanding of their role in protecting student data.

Once the training is complete, it is also important to continue not only maintaining the protection of student data, but also educating our students on the importance of keeping their own personal data safe and secure. There are many resources to support all of us as we integrate this important component of digital citizenship into our instruction including:

BVSD Digital Citizenship website
Student Data Privacy in BVSD website
Data Privacy Practices Pinterest board

With these resources and advice, we hope to empower all BVSD teachers and staff to use digital tools that they believe will make a positive impact in their lives and the lives of their students while also ensuring the privacy of all students. If you have any questions about how to help teach your students about the importance of online safety and security, contact your Ed Tech Specialist today!

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.

      Monday, April 16, 2018

      Guest Blogger - Erin Mayer | The Road Less Traveled - Going Gradeless

      Erin Mayer, Science Teacher | Casey MS
      21st Century Cohort 4.0
      @Erinsmayer |

      The Road Less Traveled - Going Gradeless

      After a successful trial run last spring eliminating grades in lieu of feedback and reflection with my eighth grade science students (The Road to Gradeless), I decided to completely eliminate grades for all 155 of my sixth and seventh grade students this year. In September, after I felt that my students and I had begun to create and develop a collaborative, safe, learning community, I explained to my students that because our primary focus throughout the year would be learning and understanding, they would receive learning feedback from me, not grades. With the full support of my administrators, I also shared my vision with my student’s families (Learning and Grades Parent Letter).

      To provide and document feedback on student learning and understandings, I use Schoology in conjunction with single point rubrics focused on our learning criteria.
      If a student learner has met the learning criteria, they receive a “Proficient”. If they have not met the criteria, they receive a “Not Proficient Yet”. I include concerns, questions and evidence of advanced understandings in the comment column of the Schoology “gradebook”. I emphasize the “yet” in not proficient yet, consistently acknowledging and reminding my student learners that the learning process is messy and that it is often necessary to traverse multiple learning paths and revision processes to develop, refine and communicate understandings and ideas.

      Our school is on a quarter system and I still need to submit traditional letter grades each quarter. At the conclusion of each quarter, my seventh graders reflect on and evaluate their learning using a Personal Learning Reflection and Evaluation template that I share with them. At the conclusion of this document, each student determines what their quarter grade will be. Students mini-conference with me after completing their reflection. These conferences are critical and allow my students and I to dig deeper into their personal reflection and evaluation of their learning. Our class is self-paced which allows us to mini-conference during class time because all students reach the unit evaluation and reflection phase at different points.

      I discovered that my sixth grade students need more scaffolding to reflect and evaluate on their learning. Their most recent reflection, after a quarter-long problem based unit focused on bioplastics, provided this additional structure and focus: Polymers for the Planet Individual Learning Reflection.

      Overall, the feedback I have received about our gradeless learning environment has been positive. Parents and family members appreciate our emphasis on learning and communicating understandings. At this point in our journey, most of my students have developed a deeper understanding of what gradeless means. This has been a transition for many students, particularly my seventh graders. An emphasis on learning and understanding over grades requires students to own their learning. Their experiences in our science classroom are helping them understand that learning is messy. They are realizing that it is okay, and often beneficial, to slow down and focus more deeply. They are more aware that the ability to communicate their understandings, in ways that work best for them, is critical and can be very rewarding. As my students’ learning facilitator, our experience has convinced me that a gradeless environment is best for kids. It provides the opportunity for all of my students, many who are often labeled as “underperforming”, to find learning success in our science classroom and ultimately allow to develop their capacities as thinkers, learners and doers.

      Monday, April 9, 2018

      Getting Started With a Student Video Project

      BVSD Ed Tech’s YouTube show for teachers, Tech-A-Minute, is back with a series focusing on student video creation! If you missed the first episode, be sure to start there for an introduction to using video in the classroom. To complement the release of the second episode, we’re highlighting a few great resources to help you get started!

      A successful student video project requires a balance of structure and creative freedom. Thoughtful planning by both the teacher and the student ultimately makes the video creation process more efficient and the finished product better. You may want to consider the integration of the following components:

      Whether the plan is to record a voiceover or present a live broadcast on-camera, knowing what you are going to say will promote efficient recording and a coherent message. The scriptwriting process is a great way to encourage collaboration between students, allow for multiple revisions, and give the opportunity for teacher feedback. Video creation can be a powerful iterative writing exercise! For links to some great writing tools be sure to visit the Scriptwriting page on our Digital Storytelling website.

      A storyboard is a visual tool that allows students to begin thinking about what images, audio, and effects will support their script in the final video. Storyboarding provides an opportunity to consider the audience, pace their video, and identify media that needs to be collected. While many powerful online storyboarding tools exist, it is also easy and effective to do it on paper. This printable template offers a simple way to map out a video project. Below are a couple of examples of student-created storyboards (click to enlarge):


      Media Collection
      One of the benefits of digital video creation is the ability to use a variety of multimedia content to support a vision. Students will love integrating their own photos and video clips into their projects! However, there are also times when using existing images, videos, and audio is useful. It is important to teach students how to seek out legal, free-to-use (such as Creative Commons licensed) media for their projects. Not all online content is created equal! For a list of fantastic media sources, be sure to visit our Media Resources website.

      If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to BVSD Ed Tech on YouTube so you don’t miss the rest of our series on student video creation! If you’ve already done video projects with your students or have other resources to share, be sure to comment below.

      Tuesday, March 27, 2018

      IT Welcomes BVSD Staff at Open House

      On February 27th, 2018 the BVSD IT department welcomed staff members from throughout the district for its second annual IT Open House. Over 50 employees from 33 different schools and departments attended! Attendees had the opportunity to chat with the people “behind the scenes and screens”, with nine IT departments each hosting their own station. From the Project Management team demonstrating the PM process through cookie decoration, to Ed Tech’s hands-on demos of maker kit tools, participants had a wide variety of options to explore. In exchange for sharing their reflections at each station, attendees were entered to win one of over 20 raffle prizes including a trip to this year’s InnEdCO conference!

      Did you attend this year’s IT Open House? What was your favorite part of the experience? We’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below. If you couldn’t make it this year, we look forward to seeing you at the 2019 event!



      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.