Argumentative Commercials

So this year I have been “trying on” Writer’s Workshop.  I have had little to no training and little to no support, but I understand the general concept, so I thought I would try it out.  I have LOVED pieces and parts of it and one of the ideas that I love is that we don’t always have to publish every essay we write.

My 8th-grade students did a flash draft of their essay on What is the biggest problem in the world today?  I lead them through 5 mini-lessons where they gathered ideas, “tried on” some topics, did some research, and then they wrote their little hearts out and man did some of the write!  It was amazing.  So instead of editing/revising and publishing our piece, I walked them through storyboarding and they created an Argumentative Commercial.  This allowed them to see a real-world reason for writing an argumentative piece.  And of course, I don’t have to remind any of you but ADOBE SPARK VIDEO is the best!


They loved it and it was simple and quick.  I loved their thinking, collaboration, and creativity.

Here is a link to three of the videos they created!




Physical Education Fellow Finding Inspiration

I LOVE how excited my Physical Education fellow is this year!  She expressed to me that she loves meeting with me because it rejuvenates her and sparks joy in her teaching.  I also love how willing she is to try anything and everything.

So she just recently fell in love with Google Forms.  So we created a Google Form to test students knowledge of their muscles in a wide range of different ways.

Of course after creating the form, assigning the form and analyzing the results of the form we clearly realized that the teaching that was done to prepare the students did NOT actually prepare them.  They did NOT have a true understanding of the muscles except for period 5!

After much discussion of what to do moving forward, we concluded:  Let’s have period 5 TEACH the other classes.  This would give period 5 an authentic audience, a chance to share what they know, and challenge them to go above and beyond.  So we created a project where they are going to do some research about their muscle group and build a video to teach the other classes about the muscle group, what activities use that muscle group, and how to best stretch and strengthen that muscle group.  Students will also be required to create their OWN Google Form quiz.

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I was super excited that she was willing to differentiate her instruction and challenge herself and her students.  She was hesitant that her students would be able to perform and produce something quality, but I KNEW they could!  Here is an example!

She is now no longer afraid to step into the realm of allowing her students to create and teach.  She has moved from a teacher centered classroom to a more student-centered classroom.


Voice Creations from Middle School to High School

I have facilitated quite a few projects lately where students have engaged in critical thinking and collaboration through creating voice overs.

The beauty of this lesson is that it is very versatile.  I implemented it in a middle school Spanish, drama, and ELD class and a High School Spanish class.  This lesson supports writing and speaking by allowing students the opportunity to creatively communicate their thinking independently and make connections to and around oral expression.

  • The lesson begins with teachers using this Google Doc to inform students of the project.
  • Students can write their script digitally or on paper.  Some teachers gave them a graphic organizer, but we found that they didn’t really use it.
  • Students choose from one of these videos to voice over.  Here are instructions for the teacher on how to get videos to the students if using iPads.
  • Using iMovie, students pull in the video and record their voice over the clip.
  • This lesson can be adapted to laptops by using Edpuzzle.  Here is a direction sheet and video to help students through the process.


iMovie can be used on iPads and Macs


EDPuzzle can be used on PCs


Here are a few student samples:


Okay everyone!  I have stepped into the world of HyperDocs and begin to see the beauty and fun!  So here is my first ever created and implemented with students!

So there are a TON of different uses and layouts but I really like this template:

Although it did feel like a lot for me so I stuck to just a few of the steps:

Engage (short collaborative activity to get kids thinking)  Here are two examples of easy and effective ways to engage


Explore (students are given a variety of different resources with a wide range of types of media to explore and learn about the topic)

Explain (students engage in responding to the new knowledge)

  • Use of Essential Questions.
  • Provide sentence frames

Share (students collaboratively share their ideas with the class or an authentic audience)

Create (I added this…I want students to take what they have learned and build, model, form something original to really apply what they have learned)

If you would like to explore the world of HyperDocs, you should begin in these two places:

HyperDocs Website and this Padlet!

Made with Padlet

Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Communication with Actively Learn

I LOVED being in a class where I saw students take control of their learning and work together to read and understand text.  Students in Mr. Osorio’s class brought in their own articles, shared them with their peers, and read and annotated together.  From that, they worked together to answer some Text Dependent Questions and some Under the Surface Questions.




Adobe Spark

I LOVE Adobe Spark!  This is definitely worth your time.  It is super simple and easy to use on both the IPad and on the web.  There are 3 different parts to Adobe Spark.


Here is an example of an Adobe Spark Page

Here is an example of an Adobe Spark Video that a student made



Let’s ReCap

Today is a technology post.  I am trying out a new piece of technology:

I am excited to see what this looks like and if it is effective.  I am careful not to jump to conclusions.  I want to make sure that the tools I use do the following:

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I know that ReCap:

  • engages students because it is about the students and they like that, picture Snapchat meets education…maybe
  • engages students because it peeks their interest
  • connects students because it allows students to use their voice and communicate…this is super important for our ELLs
  • assesses student information quickly because it captures it and allows me to give immediate feedback

So what is Recap…essentially it is a tool that allows teachers to pose a question to students and gives them an opportunity to respond via video.  Teachers can add multiple questions, the questions can be typed or a video question.  Teachers can give feedback and/or share a link to an individual response to share to others.

Candace does a pretty good job summing up all of the features of Recap on her blog.

I am using it for the first time with my fellows that I coach.  I will let you know what I think in the future.  I would definitely not want to use this for something that I want them to carry with them in the future (that I would have them place on their blog) but I could see this as quick, verbal formative assessments.

I LOVE Learning

Today was a great day back in TUSD.  I love learning from the greatness around me.  I was given the opportunity to present two different sessions today.  I felt great success in one session and not as much success in another, but that is okay.  I feel like I can reflect, grow and learn.  I love learning from my mistakes, I love analyzing what I could have done differently to better meet the needs of the teachers, I love figuring out better ways to share information…I LOVE LEARNING.

I also love technology.  One reason why I love technology is because of days like today.  While I was presenting, there were many other presentations going on and I was not able to attend, but with technology I can go back to Haiku (our learning management system) that has all of the presentations and I can learn independently.

I am not stuck living in the dark and missing out on what others have to share.  That today is why I love technology.  

I also enjoy having challenging conversations.  Understand I do NOT like to debate, to argue or to engage in conflict.


to talk about the impossible

to dream about what could be

to challenge the status quo

to think outside the box.  

Why not try something new?  Why not be courageous and try something that may fail, probably will fail?  Why not? What do I have to lose?  Oh…but what do I have to gain!!!!

So here are my ideas (I would say crazy but they aren’t really crazy, they are just different for ME):

  1. I really, really want to create a culture of blogging at my school.  I want to create a Staff Blog where each a week a different staff member will blog about ANYTHING!  I want students to have a blog where they can write freely (within limits of course) about their passions, about their learnings, about their failures.  In PE, I want them to create a blog about how to do a skill…  I want math students to take screen shots of a difficult problem they attempted and show it on their blog (with our without solving it).  I think this could create a culture of writers, a passion for writing, and a ton of mentor texts.  😉
  2. I walk through classrooms all of the time and see so many amazing practices.  I want to capture them and share them out with my staff.  When I observe something GREAT, I want to do a short screen cast or better yet have the teacher do a short screen cast and share it with the staff.  A JOT, if you will.  Just One Thing.  I want to capture this and send it out weekly, or heck why not put it on our STAFF BLOG!
  3. I want to create a really AMAZING task in math to launch a unit.  A task in which students have to think, problem solve, preserver, take a risk, do some math.  I want this task to be so well thought out that it can connect throughout the unit.  “Remember when we did….that is this math concept”.  I want it to be challenging, but not impossible.  I want it to be multiple layers, but not too time consuming.  I want it to be so AWESOME that our teachers feel like they should do that more often…monthly….weekly…daily.

I don’t know exactly what this year holds for me, but I want to fail.  I want to go big, try a lot, challenge the norm, encourage creativity and be bold in my learning.  Let’s go 2016/2017!!!

Thoughts on blogging from George Couros

On Friday I was able to attend and present at the Arcadia Innovation Summit!  Being a Digital Learning Coach has been a great challenge for me and at Arcadia I was able to stretch myself a little bit more by presenting.  I was able to present two different sessions and felt very challenged and great success.

I was then able to attend two sessions and one of them was about Blogging and from that I was challenged a lot about Blogging for me as a professional and to use as with students.  George Couros shared a wide range of ideas and thoughts about this.  He discussed that there were two different types of blogs/portfolios.

Showcase Portfolio vs. Learning Portfolio

Showcase Portfolio:  He uses his blog as his showcase/resume.  Here is a link that shows what his looks like.  There is such beauty in being able to show who you are as a professional and your growth over time is such a simple but deep way.

Learning Portfolio:  This is to show a person’s growth over time.  Here is an example: 2 to 28.  I think this is what I want for my students, a place where they can show their growth over time with evidence, with their creation, with their words and their thoughts.  There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to do this in education because of their age, but I think I will begin exploring what this might look like.

Of course, I went big and decided to try out Word Press and am pretty impressed with how simple it is.  I even started a Blog for all three of my children that I hope to hand over to them one day as they begin to take over telling their story.