Final Project (due 12/5)

NOTE: There is no class on 12/5 (nor Thanksgiving). Turn in your assignment by editing and adding it to the wiki. If you have questions feel free to email me.

The assignment write up is somewhat long so it’s available via a shared Google Doc.

All work will be submitted to a wiki.

General steps:

  1. Access the wiki and create an account
  2. Select a standard and write an objective.
  3. Write up a short summary or abstract of a lesson idea around your objective.
  4. Explore a variety of technology tools that might “add value” to this lesson idea
  5. Select a tool and spend some time to learn its ins and outs.
  6. Create a wiki page with information on the lesson, the tech, etc. (see the assignment for the details).

Accessing the Wiki:

We are using a site called Wikispaces for this project. Part of the reason is to give you some experience with wikis and partly so we can share ideas. To access the wiki go to the site below and create an account. Once you have an account you can “request access” to the wiki. I will approve you and after that you will be able to add and edit content. I have included one example from a previous class. The sooner you get access the better.

Here is an example lesson from a different but similar project


Extra Credit Reading Assignment

This optional but reading and participating is extra credit. However, I’d encourage you to read it as I think you will find it interesting. You might even enjoy the whole book.

Below is a PDF of 2 chapters from a book entitle The Difference Engine: Computing, Knowledge, and the Transformation of Learning by Eugene Provenzo. The whole book is interesting, if a bit weird, but these two chapters in particular offer something of a counterpoint to our discussion thus far. So far, the majority of this course has focused on the potential for technology to transform the learning experience when used properly. We have focused our attention on understanding and defining the nature of proper uses and how to recognize and develop them. However, I am of the opinion that while technology does offer powerful opportunities its use is not neutral. In other words, there are potential hidden costs that we should be aware of. Ideally, these costs will be minimal with transforming uses, but that is not a guarantee and it’s unlikely all uses are or will be transforming.

I suspect that modern society is at a crossroads. We entered this crossroad around the turn of the millennium and it will take us about 20-25 years to figure out where we are heading. As we are near the midpoint of this journey, it is possible to look at what has transpired over the past decade or so and being to make predictions about the future. If you have been paying attention, it’s not hard to see that technology is greatly reshaping our world. People are becoming more connected but not always in personal ways. We are inundated with information that we largely have to ignore. We are increasingly distracted and there is evidence to suggest that how we access and filter all this information is actually rewiring our brains (see Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains for an interesting take on this). None of this is necessarily bad. Our cultural evolution may simply be heading in an unfamiliar direction which will ultimately become both normal and familiar (E. M. Forester’s short story “The Machine Stops” describes such a society though not in a very positive light).

As we wind down the course, this last reading assignment offers an alternative view of technology. It is merely food for thought. It is NOT intended to call into question whether or not we should be using technology at all, but to remind us that technology is not neutral and that we should be cognizant of hidden messages and how a technological interface can color, or even impede, learning experiences.

As a whole, the book seeks to define how the Internet and hypermedia tools combine to create the difference engine and its role in how we access and process information in the digital age. Anyone interested in understanding the potential broader implications of technology and in particular its impact on society and education should read the entire book. For now, we will look at chapters 5 and 6. Sorry for the quality. Not sure where that line came from.

Post your reflection by 12/1 for credit.

Difference Engine chaps 5&6

WordPress Project

As discussed in class, this is the last project we will be doing before the final. Sorry it took a bit longer to post. If you want to take a few extra days and submit by Wed, Nov 27 that is fine. However, don’t forget that your final (the lesson plan on Wikispaces) will be due the week after Thanksgiving.


This is a bit different from the other projects you’ve done so far. My hope is that you not only become familiar with a web 2.0 tool (blogging in this case), but also begin to build a digital presence in order to better connect with your future students. While some aspects of this project are a bit contrived as you are not currently in a teaching position, what you develop here should be usable down the road.

Although it may be the most obvious, Facebook should not be your go to profile. Also, given the overly social and often inappropriate nature of Facebook think carefully about what you post on any personal Facebook page you have. That said, teachers have successfully used Facebook to share class information and inform students and parents. However, I think this is a slippery slope. Students will likely want to friend teachers and they will use their personal accounts for this giving teachers access to students’ personal lives. Because of the potential to mix personal and professional relationships, any use of Facebook should be carefully considered. I recall reading about one teacher who lost her job because of Facebook posts. I suspect we will see school districts developing policies related to the use of social media by teachers.

The catch is that if you do not have a personal account on Facebook, you should probably set up a teacher (or personal) page that identifies you and tells people where they should look to follow you. At the very least, this helps prevent impersonation. In the event someone does try to post a fake page (this happened at my school) you have recourse with Facebook when you can show them the real you. If you have a personal account already then this is probably not necessary but make it clear to students that they should not try to friend you. Do you really want to give students access to everything you do and say when you are not a work and your guard is down?

A better place to set up a professional profile is Google+ (perhaps using your work email address to create a separate account from any personal Google account you may have) and start to follow some of the mover and shakers in your field. Students can also follow your Google+ without requesting permission or giving you access to their private posts. Followers see only what you post as public unless you bring them into one of your “circles”. Just like with Facebook, it would be unwise to add students to your inner circles. Best to keep it professional and public so anyone can follow. Another professional network worth joining is

Step 1 – set up a blog

Why? Mainly because your students live online. They have Facebook pages, are on Google+, tweet, hang out in forums, develop communities, game, and communicate via text, instant messaging and a host of other digital tools. In order to be a 21st century teacher you have to BE where your students are. For some background on this read Banning Student Containers by Alan November (part of your final reading discussion). We can no longer assume that we have the attention of our students just because they are in our classroom. They are growing up in a digital, connected and global world and they do not leave it just because they are confined in schools. In fact, students will only disengage more if we try to unplug them. We are immigrants to their digital Rome and as they say, when in Rome…

I prefer WordPress and it what we will use for this project. WordPress is probably the biggest and most developed blogging site. Google’s Blogger is probably right up there as well. When you are out in the working world you can, of course, use any tool you wish. For future reference, here is some more information on blogging and sites –

It’s probably worth mentioning that many school districts now have Content Management Systems that host their web presence as well as provide other tools like digital lockers, teacher pages, etc. In my experience, these catch-all tools don’t do anything well. They are cumbersome to manage and use. That said, you may be stuck using their tools. Maybe they will improve over time, but if you find them limiting you can always link out to something you like better (unless your school specifically prohibits that in which case you should probably ask why). SharpSchool was a tool I had to use last year and despite their marketing their site was horrible to use. Teacher pages were difficult to create and edit and publishing was cumbersome and often didn’t work.

Short version: set up a WordPress account. Here is a site I used with a 7th grade programming class you can use to give you some ideas. It’s by no means perfect but it was part of an actual class.

Step 2 – build your blog (you can do more than the minimum)

  1. Start by creating an about page where you provide some information about who you are, what and where you teach (fake it), your background, interests and anything else you feel like sharing. Also include at least a couple paragraphs outlining your educational philosophy. If you haven’t done this already in another class you likely will so now is your chance to get a head start. If you have written one before, consider how you might change it based on what you have learned in this class.
  2. Set up at least three other pages with resources or links to sites and tools you expect your students to use, assignments, class policies and expectations, future events, how to volunteer, a syllabus, anything you think will be useful.
  3. Add at least three posts on your home page. One could be a welcome post and the others information on an assignment, upcoming event, etc. Obviously this is not connected to a real class so you are faking it a bit. The idea is to get a sense of how you would use your site. Once you are teaching you should plan to add new posts at least once a week and even occasionally during breaks in order to keep your site relevant and interesting to students and parents.
  4. In one of your above posts, include an embedded video (you can put this on a page instead if you prefer – just embed video somewhere).
  5. Create one gallery of images (at least 3 images) on one of your above posts or pages.
  6. Get at least one classmate to follow” your blog and also follow someone else. WordPress allows for email subscriptions as well as following from your WordPress account. You can see these options on the site I linked above. WordPress calls all these sidebar tools “widgets”. This is mainly to get you used to do this if you are not already. Again, once teaching you will want your students and parents to follow your blog.
  7. Add at least 5 widgets you think will be useful to your student and parent followers and choose a theme you like (something clean and uncluttered is best). Pick a free one unless you really want to pay.

Doing the above will give you a good sense of what can be done with WordPress. It’s probably a bit outdated now, but I created a short tutorial on WordPress that you might find helpful – There are tons of other tutorials out there as well including lots of video ones if you prefer.

Step 3 – post the link to your blog here by 11/24 (or 11/27 if you want extra time)


  1. About page including useful information about you and/or your class and your educational philosophy – 20 points
  2. At least 3 additional pages – 20 points
  3. Home page has at least 3 posts – 20 points
  4. An embedded video is included somewhere – 10 points
  5. A gallery of images is included somewhere – 10 points
  6. You have a nice theme and at least 5 widgets to help your users – 10 points
  7. You are following someone and have one follower – 10 points (I really have no way of knowing this unless you add the follow button so honor system here)

Reading Assignment 8

This assignment is a collection of a few short articles on social media linked below. In a way, this serves as kind of a wrap-up for the semester. We’ve been talking all along about how teaching and learning in the 21st century must change and is changing. As Richardson (3rd link) points out, the current generation of students (and likely all future generations) are growing up in a new, highly connected world and the full ramifications of this have yet to be seen. Will schools continue to be more or less what they have always been or will they be forced to change and adapt? Things like Colorado’s new standards (which put a lot more emphasis on 21st century skills and inquiry) and SB191 (which is redefining what constitutes an effective teacher) suggest we may see real changes in education for what, in reality, might be the first time. As the next generation of teachers, you have the opportunity, or maybe the onus, to facilitate this change.

The articles here all dance around the idea of the connected classroom, connected student, and the connected teacher. How this is accomplished is really up to you. No one has yet found the right formula and it’s likely there isn’t one. Use this as an opportunity to start to define how all this will play out in your classrooms. This is particularly important as in all likelihood you will enter schools that are behind the curve. They may have limited resources. They may still ban technology in various ways creating unnecessary distance between students and teachers (Poudre is still fairly anti-everything). Your fellow teachers may be fairly tech illiterate, anti-technology, or simply holding on to outdated modalities any of which can make it difficult to be the teacher you want to be or make your school the school it should be. You might think all this will change as the old generation retires. Hopefully, but there are still schools of education turning out new teachers who were cast in the same mold as those about to retire. I have no idea where all this is heading, but I really don’t foresee any big shakeup. Instead, it will be a slow, gradual process that may end up taking decades to be fully realized.

The Will Richardson article is just a brief interview around his book Why School. You might want to read that at some point but not necessary for this class. There are also a couple other books worth checking out. They are linked below. The Shallows makes the case that how we access information in the digital age is fundamentally changing how we think. If so, think about how that is not changing, as it may be for us, but actually creating differences in the current and future generations. The Difference Engine is an odd book. As such, it’s hard to recommend as a good read, but he does make an interesting case. I’m actually going to post a couple chapters from this book for an optional reading assignment which you can participate in for extra credit or just for fun (right?).

Read the articles below and post your comments here by 11/17.

Additional Resources (optional but interesting)

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains – you can read part of this on Google Books.

The Difference Engine: Computing, Knowledge, and the Transformation of Learning

Alternative to Class this Thursday (10/31)

Being Halloween, many people were not overly excited to come spend time in class (can’t imagine why). So after a brief discussion we decided that in lieu of a face to face class this Thursday we are going to do a little web activity. It should take you about 1-2 hours. You have from now until Nov 6 to do it. Below are the instruction. It will be half of your participation points for the semester so don’t forget.


I briefly mentioned this when were discussing the Harouni article. This is an activity I’ve used with 6th graders for the past 3 years. It’s a good introduction to web research, evaluating information, and learning to trust your instincts.

  1. Select an article in Wikipedia on a topic about which you are very knowledgeable. Make sure it’s a detailed article. If it’s too short or incomplete you may not have enough content to work with.
  2. Read the article and look for things you do not trust or otherwise feel might be wrong. You are an expert on this topic so be critical. Find 3 examples. If you cannot find things you think are outright wrong, look for information that is incomplete, overly simplified, biased, or opinion not fact (opinions are not allowed in Wikipedia).
  3. Conduct research to discover the truth about your 3 items. Use multiple, reliable sources. Plan to cite at least 3 sources for each item. You may find that sources do not agree. That’s okay. Look for consensus and explain what you found.
  4. Create a document, presentation, video, whatever to share your findings. Share it by posting it here. Might need to upload to Google Drive and share the link. Include the following for each of your three statements:
    1. The statement you didn’t trust or felt was wrong.
    2. A summary of what you learned doing your research.
    3. Cite at least three sources you used to draw your conclusion.

Email me if you have questions. This isn’t a right/wrong type activity. It’s about making the effort to discover something about the nature of information on the web and an approach you might use with students to help them become better able to read discerningly and critically.

Google Project

(Due 11/8)


As with the digital story, this project is about exploring a new tool and ways in which can be used to teach or, more specifically, enhance the learning process. As we have been discussing, much of teaching and learning has traditionally revolved around regurgitation. As we learned with Bloom’s and newer approaches to 21st century teaching, education needs to shift the focus to creation and, in particular, creation combined with critical thinking and inquiry.

In this project you will be using Google Earth as another type of storytelling (sort of). In this case, the story will be focused on places and/or travel between places (an obvious limitation of Google Earth). One project I have done in the past with students is to take the rather traditional European explorers unit, which often resulted in regurgitative powerpoint projects, brochures, or other reports, and turn them into journeys. While explorers and journeys go well together, there are a lot of other ways in which this process can be used. For example, when learning about any country or region, learners can conduct research about the various historically significant places and/or events and then discuss and make decisions about the “top 5” that everyone should see or know about. From there, they create a travelogue of sorts where they not only take us to these places but explain why these belong among the top 5. What makes them more important than others? Obviously, this is subjective but that is the point – to have learners use information to make decisions.

Other Applications

While Google Earth seems most appropriate to social studies and geography type content, It can be used for a wide variety of subjects. An art class might create a tour of museums, biographies of artists of a particular style, or even the travels and influences on a particular artist. Google Earth offers a different approach to interacting with and creating content with products that can be shared and extended beyond the classroom. In a science class students might map the progression of a disease or infestation (bark beetle) or track the spread of invasive species. GPS data can be integrated into Google Earth. Advanced GIS ( tools exist, but Google Earth can be used in a similar, though more basic, way (schools can get the pro version for free and there is a free trial you might want to try ( In a mathematics class, students might integrate demographic data to answer statistical questions. While Google Earth is obviously limited, it is not so limited as to be useless in a variety of content areas. How and when you might use it in any content area is really only limited by your imagination. Even if the tool itself is minimally useful in a particular content, the process and skills around designing learning environments that integrate technology which you are developing are transferable.


For this project, start by exploring the standards for a grade/content you are interested in and select one that you feel might lend itself to this project. With some content areas you may need to be a little creative and imaginative. However, be selective and really consider how the selected topic fits into Google Earth.

Next, conduct enough research and/or collect needed data and using Google Earth, create a tour in a manner similar to how your students might approach your objective/project (i.e. similar to how you created your digital story). Be sure to consider what types of information are useful or necessary to meet your objective and include it in your tour where appropriate. Include a picture, chart, graph or other visual information as well. See for some information on how to create a tour. There are many other resources on the web so feel free to explore.


The project is worth 100 points. We will turn in and share the projects via a comment attached here. If working on school computers keep in mind that information may or may not survive over time so keep a backup of your work (for example, save the .kml file and other data to a flash drive). I do not know if all campus computers have version 5 of Google Earth installed. Obviously, if you are using your own computer you will need to install the latest version. If you have an older version you should update it.

The rubric for this project is fairly basic. Include all the parts and get full credit.

Required Parts:

  • A standard and objective (included in your comment) – 10 points each
  • A tour created in Google Earth incorporating at least 5 locations or data points – 20 points
  • Appropriate information (text, visuals, narration) to accompany each of your locations or data points – 40 points
  • An image or graphic (for each location/data point) with proper citation (a link is sufficient for now) – 10 points
  • A bibliography of the sources used for your research – 10 points

Collaborative Learning

As you may have ascertained, I am a fan of collaborative learning. As such, you may elect to work with a partner (groups of two only) on this project provided your project seeks to go beyond the above criteria. How you extend it is up to you. Be creative. I do not just want you to each do half the work. Instead, discuss and explore ideas to go beyond a simple tour. You might, for example, decide to use the Pro version and integrate GIS data, create a sequence of tours that build upon each other, develop differentiated versions for a more diverse audience, or integrate a tour into a larger video project. Again, be creative.

Reading Assignment 7

You’ll probably think I have Wikipedia on the brain, but it’s mainly coincidence that these two authors focused on Wikipedia. Or is it? Anyway, our next reading is called What It Means to Ban Wikipedia. While the author focuses on Wikipedia in particular, the overall argument is more about the research process and how, in his view, it’s being undermined by teachers focused on the final outcome. It is directed at a higher ed audience, but I think the overall pedagogical ideas are applicable to all grade levels.

One thing we should probably attempt to address is ways in which research is handled in early grades. Elementary teachers often have lessons where students are expected to “find information on…” and then use it in some way (often just filling in worksheets or similar). What is often overlooked is the process of how they are supposed to do that. Also worth considering is the benefit of “looking stuff up” and repeating it. That is NOT a 21st century skill. So how can we meet the needs of younger students while still recognizing their current cognitive development? Your reflection is due by October 22.

As part of your reflection consider a couple CDE standards for social studies – 3rd grade standard 1.2.d and 2.2.b. These can be found on the CDE site and are copied below.  Both of these require students to use historical or geographical/cultural (respectively) information in some way. How should students access and use this information? Do we give them pre-selected sources? If so, are we missing opportunities to teach how to find, access and evaluate information? If we let them find their own do we confine them to textbooks and encyclopedias? It will be increasingly common to use the internet for this type of work. Do we ban, allow, encourage Wikipedia? What about other sites? While you do not need to address all these questions in your reflection you should consider them and, perhaps most importantly, what sort of lesson would you design for this (heads up – your final project will be very similar to this). It would be tempting, but not very 21st century, to use a worksheet to “identify the factors…” Also tempting, but not transforming, is to have students make a nice PowerPoint to “describe the history…”

3rd Grade Social Studies
1.2.d – Describe the history, interaction, and contribution of the various peoples and cultures that have lived in or migrated to a community or region.

2.2.b – Identify the factors that make a region unique including cultural diversity, industry and agriculture, and land forms.

In addition, changes to state tests are on the horizon. The 2013-14 school year should see the first online assessments in science and social studies. You can view practice tests on the PearsonAccess site. Click “support” and choose one of  the ePAT tests. These are designed to run as they will in a test environment so they will sort of “take over” your computer until you exit. I have not tried them all, but the 7th grade SS test seemed pretty telling of where things are going. How we approach research based projects will likely influence how well students do on these types of tests.

Reading Assignment 6

Sorry for not posting this sooner. I started it and forgot to publish. It’s due 10/15 so you still have a week.

For your next reading assignment, read the article “High School Research and Critical Literacy – Social Studies With and Despite Wikipedia” by Houman Harouni. This article provides us a lens by which we can start to discuss transforming approaches to instruction as well as a solid pedagogical approach to research and developing information literacy skills. Although it discusses high school students, the challenges of research and critical literacy skills span all grade levels. The article highlights challenges we face as teachers and how one teacher responded.

One activity he does is to have students evaluate a Wikipedia article. I’ve done my own modified version of this for 3 years now with 6th graders and the outcome has been very interesting and it seems to help students develop some evaluation skills (one of the 21st century skills). I would encourage you to try this. Pick an article on a topic you feel well informed about and see if you can identify and verify errors. One of the basic skills this teaches students is to use multiple sources.

Before you assume otherwise, let me explain that I am not one of the teachers who tells students that Wikipedia is unreliable and should not be used. There are issues surrounding Wikipedia that students should be aware of, but they are not unique to Wikipedia. The web as a whole is filled with unreliable and highly biased information that was not written by professionals, vetted and edited by editors, and selected and pre-approved for display to students. The idea that Wikipedia is less reliable than anything else because it “can be edited by anyone” is simply false and the result of misinformation purveyed by those who do not fully understand the nature of the site nor the web in general. While the ability to be edited by anyone has the potential to introduce errors and misinformation, it is also the one thing that guarantees that the information there will improve with time and such errors and bias fixed. Consider a counter-argument. A hate group posts information on their personal site and makes it look official even going to length to cite sources, it is attractive and appealing to students with simple language, references to pop culture and may even include games or other fun activities. Because it is a private site no one can correct any of the information or even take it down. It persists and remains available for students. Its attractive nature and simple language appeals to students looking for quick and easy answers. On the other hand, any such information that is added to Wikipedia by the same group would be short-lived. If not removed immediately by the automated vandalism filters, the millions of well-meaning contributors and editors would eventually revert or repair. Students told they cannot use Wikipedia may easily end up using alternative sites that are much less credible and even damaging. Students need to develop the skills necessary to ferret out suspicious information (regardless of sources) and check the history of edits in Wikipedia.

Keep in mind that this article is a few years old now and Wikipedia continues to develop. What role do yo see Wikipedia playing in the future of education and even the broader collective intelligence – particularly as it continues to grow and develop? Wikipedia began in 2001. We will have a follow-up reading on research and Wikipedia, but for now also consider what message is sent to students when we dictate the types of resources they can or cannot use.

Digital Storytelling Project


The primary purpose of this project is to explore the potential for digital stories to more deeply engage students in content and encourage them to go beyond what would otherwise be possible as well as to develop some familiarity and proficiency with video and/or audio tools. For this project you may use any tool you choose that can edit and export a video (such as iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, websites like GoAnimate or Xtranormal, or others you may be aware of but NOT PowerPoint or Keynote). If you are unfamiliar with using these types of tools, this is your opportunity to become fearless and teach yourself (part of being a 21st century teacher). Also, skills you have developed using similar tools are somewhat transferable to new tools.

We are using the digital storytelling theme for a couple of reasons: it provides an opportunity to explore the potential for learners to use digital stories to develop and expand 21st century skills, align content teaching with National Educational Technology Standards, build your confidence in working with new tools, and it’s fun. You will be able to work in small groups (2-3) if you choose.

The project is very open ended. The rubric is simple and you are primarily graded on completion (see rubric below for complete details). In other words, the attempt is more important than the quality. You will 1) select a standard from a content area and grade level of interest to you. You will 2) write an objective that includes digital story creation as part of the behavior. You will 3) “meet” your objective by creating a digital story in a manner consistent with what your students might be expected to do. While not a direct requirement, a good story would have some sort of emotional connection? Why an emotional connection? Because it is your emotional connection that gives the story meaning and engages the audience.

We will be using the “educational uses of digital storytelling” site for background and tools for developing stories. Please spend some time exploring this site.

One problem with this site is their improper use of the terms goals and objectives. The ideas presented are fine, but they are not goals and objectives so don’t let their language confuse you.

For your storyboard, you may wish to explore vertical storyboarding. You can easily do this on a legal pad where you do your scenes top to bottom on the left with details on the right and then flip to the next page to continue. I like how this approach doesn’t imply a set number of scenes like a horizontal 6 or 9 grid sheet. The site linked above has lots of info and links on storyboarding so be sure to explore. Here is an example.

Basic steps:

  1. Select a topic
  2. Identify resources (personal photos or video clips, audio clip such as music or spoken words, other information or background research)
  3. Create a storyboard that meets your objective
  4. Create additional images, video or audio as necessary (will involve shooting your own video or taking photos – nothing borrowed)
  5. Import and edit using chosen software
  6. Add additional audio (music or narration)
  7. Share, elicit feedback, revise as necessary

Resources and templates, such as for storyboarding, are available on the site linked above. Your final video is Due at the end of the day on Oct 18. Please note that each tool has certain limitations. iMovie, for example, is available on campus Mac computers but you are tied to a particular computer until you finish and export. In other words, you cannot easily move an iMovie project from one computer to another (not an issue if you use your own). You may want to plan a time to start and finish the editing in one sitting to avoid loss. Windows Movie Maker does not have this limitation but is cumbersome in other ways (my opinion). Web-based tools such as GoAnimate do not have this limitation either but are limited in other ways such as video and audio sources available. Do NOT use PowerPoint. Take a risk and try something new. You are graded on the attempt not how nice it looks.

Some examples.

Due: Oct 18 – Points: 100


  • Identified standard (be specific and pick a single outcome or two at most) – 10 points
  • Properly written ABCD objective that reasonably leads to meeting the standard and uses digital storytelling as a behavior – 10 points
  • Storyboard (scanned or photographed) – 10 points
  • Final video uploaded to your Google Drive (or other site such as YouTube) and shared (anyone with link) and link posted as a comment here:
    • Video is the result of a standards based project and there is a clear connection to the standard and objective (0-20 points).
    • Video is exemplary of what students meeting the objective would produce such as the pizza video above (0-20 points).
    • Video is creative, unique and entirely original work. No content from other sources may be used (such as images downloaded from the web). You may include music you own or that included with the software you use. Include citations for music. Include a disclaimer stating all artwork and/or images are original (0-30 points).

No required length but 2-5 minutes would be ideal. Video should be at least long enough to meet the above requirements.

Any plagiarism or use of unoriginal content (e.g. you cannot download images from the web – draw your own or take your own photos) will result in a grade of zero and possible disciplinary action. Use of images and animations provided by websites such as GoAnimate are allowed as they are licensed for use by the hosting site. Projects that use or are based on a published story or poem are allowed but include a citation.

Turn in the first three items as documents, photos, or scanned images as a shared Google Doc (shared with just me). Be sure all members are identified if you worked in a group. No more than 3 people per group. Upload your final video to Google Drive and share it (public or anyone with link would work). Post the link in a comment for others to view. You can also post a link to a GoAnimate or YouTube video.


NOTE: we will discuss more about objectives before this project is due.

I will use the 7th grade science standard 2.4.b.

2.4.b – Use direct and indirect evidence to describe the relationship between photosynthesis and cellular respiration within plants – and between plants and animals.

Keep in mind that not all standards will lend themselves to a digital story. Choose wisely. Also keep in mind that you are approaching this as if you were one of your students. It’s easy to get sidetracked and create a video about the students rather than as a student. Do not create a tutorial. Students sometimes lose site of the assignment and create a video that teaches students how to do something (such as solving a math problem or doing a science experiment). Do not do this. A tutorial is not a story. Look at the examples above. Four of them are stories such as the sheep-sitting business but it included math objectives in the story. The claymation video is more a tutorial, but it teaches how to do claymation via a story. Consider how it might look if it was a pure tutorial. I know that can be a bit confusing. Khan Academy videos are great examples of tutorials (though not necessarily great tutorials  but that’s a different issue).

Objective: After conducting research on photosynthesis, cell respiration and the relationships between them, 7th grade students will create a digital story that effectively, accurately and completely explains how plants produce energy and their relationship with animals.

Not being a science teacher perhaps that isn’t as good as it could be but hopefully you get the idea. Higher order objectives tend to have a rather open ended degree which means a detailed rubric is often necessary. In this case, what constitutes effective or accurate? in order to fully implement such a lesson there would need to be a detailed lesson plan covering how and when the students will conduct the research, gather evidence, create the storyboard, film or draw and scan images, assemble the final story and a rubric detailing the various expectations for the research process, the storyboard and final product. Also note that 21st century teachers will assess process rather than product. In this case, you would be assessing various “milestones” in the process such as: research and notes, their storyboard/script, evidence or examples, and the extent to which their final product matched the project objectives, expectations for content, alignment with the storyboard, etc. You do not need to create the lesson plan or assessments for this assignment. Just recognize that such a lesson would be necessary in order for students to ultimately meet your objective.

Finally, complete a digital story similar to what you expect students would do if they were given this assignment. In other words, after creating the objective, switch roles and BE the student not the teacher.

Reading Assignment Five

This is long. Don’t freak. We’ll go over this in class. I’m also moving due dates to Tuesdays mainly for my own management. So this one will be due 9/24.

Resources for today:

Additional resources if you need them


Some of you may have had exposure to writing objectives. This may be similar or the same as what you’ve seen or it may be new. There is no “one right way” but it is important to have an understanding of what proper objectives are, how to align them with standards, and how we use them. Your will include at least one objective in each of your major projects.

To begin, it is useful to understand the differences between goals and objectives. While it is somewhat outside the scope of this course to fully develop this skill/understanding, it is important to be able to identify goals, write objectives and understand their role in teaching. One way to help separate them is to remember that goals are general statements about the long term outcome while objectives are specific, measurable and generally short term. You assess objectives and we use them as a proxy for whether or not students are meeting the goals.

In order to help make this more clear, you may wish to check out this website. In my experience, writing objectives seems to be the hardest thing for students to grasp so we will spend some class time on this. However, your own efforts in writing some example objectives that we can discuss will be very beneficial.

One important aspect to writing good lessons is writing good objectives. We will look at what are called ABCD objectives. This is simply a nice mnemonic to help you remember how to write good, measurable objectives. If you know anything about writing objectives this will be instantly clear. If you don’t, this should help make it clear. There are other ways to write objectives, but I find these usually result in clear and easily measurable objectives.

A = Audience (i.e. who will you be teaching this to?)
B = Behavior (i.e. what specific skill will the learner demonstrate?)
C = Condition (i.e. what tools or in what way will it be demonstrated?)
D = Degree (i.e. how accurately or how many times or to what degree should it be demonstrated in order to be considered “learned”?)

Example – from standard to objective

4th grade math standard 4.1.b

Use concepts of angle and measure angles. (CCSS: 4.MD)

  • Describe angles as geometric shapes that are formed wherever two rays share a common endpoint, and explain concepts of angle measurement. (CCSS: 4.MD.5)
  • Measure angles in whole-number degrees using a protractor. Sketch angles of specified measure. (CCSS: 4.MD.6)
  • Demonstrate that angle measure as additive. (CCSS: 4.MD.7)
  • Solve addition and subtraction problems to find unknown angles on a diagram in real world and mathematical problems. (CCSS: 4.MD.7)

This standard is asking that students develop the ability to use tools to measure and sketch angles. How is up to us. Lets have them use various shapes such as triangles and quadrilaterals. The audience (A) is pretty straightforward. It’s 4th graders. We can be even more specific and say “4th grades in the second semester” or “4th graders who have already completed a lesson on using a protractor” as that might be important to the lesson. The behavior (B) in this case is to measure the interior angles of various shapes with a protractor which is the condition (C). We might also add where the triangles come from like a textbook, worksheet or ones they draw themselves. The degree (D) is how well or accurately they do this or how many times they can do it before we consider them to have met the objective. So we might say, “measure angles within two degrees of accuracy and on at least five shapes without error.” Because objectives also guide our assessment we now know what we need to observe and under what conditions. Our final objective will be something like:

Given examples of several different triangles and quadrilaterals, fourth grade students who have already completed a lesson on how to use a protractor will measure the interior angles of at least five different shapes to within at least two degrees accuracy.

We might have additional objectives that involve sketching angles of specific size, using knowledge of interior sum to check their work (also a number sense standard) or to solve for an unknown which is also part of the above standard.

There isn’t one right answer to writing these objectives. There are any number of ways to state an objective, but the main point to remember is that your objective identifies the key parts in a way that is clear and ultimately measurable and leads back to the standard. An objective like “students will learn to measure angles with a protractor” is a good start but offers no way to assess whether or not the objective was met. If they can do it once is that enough? Can they make errors? Can they be off by 5 or 10 degrees and we will call it good? Regardless, we need to state these expectations in our objectives.

Because this example is a simple objective, our assessment will also be simple. We will simply check to see how many of the angles were properly measured. Students who cannot do this obviously need reteaching. One of the main reasons we assess is to know who learned and who we still need to teach. So, if one triangle had angles of 90, 45 and 45 degrees we would expect a proficient student to have answers ranging from 88-92 and 43-47 degrees respectively. Furthermore, we might expect that they understand the sum total would equal 180 degrees and adjust their answers to match. If that’s also important we would add it to the objective in the degree (angle sums must add up appropriately).

Please note that the above example is a low-level objective in that we are only asking them to recall how to use a tool correctly and show us as well as basic understanding of shapes. Your objective(s) for your projects in this class should be at a higher level. Low level objectives rarely lead to 21st century learning though they are at times necessary. As we’ve learned, Bloom’s Taxonomy is often used as a way to discuss the various types of cognitive objectives (as well as affective and psychomotor) which are sometimes grouped from low to high as recall, interpretation and problem-solving. 21st century skills are heavily weighted toward the high end of Bloom’s Taxonomy and an assessment of the learning would also need to be more involved.

21st Century Objectives

4th grade math 1.2.a

Use ideas of fraction equivalence and ordering to: (CCSS: 4.NF)

  • Explain equivalence of fractions using drawings and models.
  • Use the principle of fraction equivalence to recognize and generate equivalent fractions. (CCSS: 4.NF.1)
  • Compare two fractions with different numerators and different denominators,5 and justify the conclusions. (CCSS: 4.NF.2)

In order to have something that invites creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, etc., lets have students develop a device to create equivalent fractions for easy adding and subtracting. For example, a clock face can represent 1/12, 1/6, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2. 1/4 (15 mins) + 1/3 (20 mins) = 7/12 (35 mins). This might be the example we use to demonstrate the project. Obviously, students cannot just jump into this cold so our overall lesson would involve the necessary instructions and guidance. Here we are only talking about the objective. The rest of the lesson is developed out of the objective and assessments.

A = 4th grade math students
B = create a tool that can be used to find and generate equivalent fractions
C = using any common object or idea and in groups or 2-3
D = works and can be easily understood by other 4th grades to add and subtract fractions.

Using any common object or idea of their choice, 4th grade students working in groups of 2-3 will create their own tool for finding and generating equivalent fractions in such a way that other 4th graders could use the tool to reliably and accurately add or subtract fractions.

This particular objective includes a high level verb, create, with respect to Bloom’s. With higher order objectives it also becomes a bit harder to discuss condition and degree. Here the condition is open-ended and the degree is dependent on user testing and observation. Unlike measuring angles, it’s hard to pinpoint how well they do on an assessment like this other than to have a good rubric.

So far, these objectives do not involve any technology. Maybe none is needed for these. This course, however, is concerned with not only 21st century teaching but also understanding how and when to integrate technology in transforming ways. Keep in mind that technology is NOT the learning objective. Rather, we will use technology in a transforming way to help enhance the students’ learning of some piece of content. Lessons including 21st century skills will likely contain cognitive objectives at the creation/synthesis level. Technology will play a role in your lessons when appropriate, but not as an objective or the focus of the lesson. This is an essential point of this class to understand.

How Can Tech “Add Value”

The above objective is pretty good and would likely be fun and engaging for students and probably a little hard as well (which is good). They will need to user-test their ideas. The students in the class may not be good candidates because they are all busy coming up with ideas. One of the ISTE standards concerns working with others at a distance using digital media. Perhaps our class partners with another and students share their ideas via a website, blog or wiki and collect feedback. Their sites include a description of the tool, original drawings and/or videos, sample problems, and a space for feedback. Because our assessment involves having other students be successful with their tool, the feedback IS the assessment. Students “turn it in” once others successfully work with it.

Your Turn

Write up a sample objective for a standard of your choice. Include it in a comment below and be sure to name the standard and grade level and paste the particular outcome (I put mine in bold above).