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.