Digital Differentiation on Simple K 12 Today

Sharing resources from my Digital Differentiation Webinar today, sponsored by Simple K-12. Explore these flexible learning tools through this interactive graphic, created with ThingLink for teachers.

This is part of a Digital Differentiation model, my way i of weaving a web of flexible tools together for teaching and learning. To keep the model relevant, frequent updates are required, as new tools and trends emerge. 

To access the most current resources, please click on the tab at the top of this blog:

Digital Differentiation – Current 

7 Tips for Rookie Bloggers!

Yesterday I was thrilled to hear from a friend and valued member of my PLN, Bobbi CapwellShe published an insightful guest post to share struggles, experiences and advice about becoming a blogger. Her post is sure to inspire educators to blog!

It is with great pleasure that I share Bobbi Capwell’s post with tips from the heart for rookie bloggers. Read the entire post on and follow @BobbiC07 on Twitter. 

 Congratulations to Bobbi, and blog on!

Read the post on >>

Blog Like the Big Dogs! 7 Tips for Rookie Bloggers!   by Bobbi Capwell 

small plantI love learning and growing-that may sound sappy but it is the truth. I feel that learning is very similar to gardening. As a person that struggles with growing anything other than grass in my yard, it will sound even stranger! When I found myself getting frustrated, I had to remember that every plant grows at its own pace. I can learn at my own pace too but can I write? Sometimes I tend to forget my own learning and that is why I wanted to start a blog. I wanted to share what I was learning by writing it down. (In my head, I had planted the seed! 

Read more on >>

Content Curation Through the SAMR Lens

With an abundance of information to sift through, content curation is an important survival skill for teachers and students today.

Content curation is a method of collecting and managing web content for sharing and reuse. With so much content to collect, and so many free tools for curating content, it’s easy to get lost when trying to take on this task. It’s also difficult to know where to begin.


Blog On, Educators!

It’s Spring Break for me and it’s time to reflect on my own blog, started 5 years ago while I enjoyed a similar break from school.

The blog was originally created for a targeted pilot group of 13 teachers I was working with to explore ways they could use a laptop and Web 2.0 for teaching and learning. We were just getting started. Most teachers did not have school issued laptops, we were limited to options available in a 1 computer classroom, and Web 2.0 tools were not as abundant as they are today. In fact, the iPad was not yet invented. 

Why I Blog?

Blogging about experiences makes me accountable for taking the time to thoughtfully reflect on teaching and pursue ways to kick the learning up a notch. I learn more from blogging than from any other professional activity I participate in. Quite simply, I blog to learn. 

Why Educators Should Blog

Becoming a blogger is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to grow as an educator. For many, blogging can become an essential part of the workflow, requiring us to dig deeper, engage in research, explain and reflect. Good blogging should include exploring the blogs of others as models, and sharing ideas and resources with your audience. The audience may be students, teaching teams, parents, or educators across the world. Blogging will ultimately help you become a connected educator. 

Advice About Blogging

  1. Start simple! A new blog will have just one post. Write the post for yourself to explain why you have decided to start a blog. 
  2. Since it takes time and effort to get people to check a blog, do not spend hours and hours filling your blog with information. Just use the blog as a tool for yourself, but write it for an audience. 
  3. As you continue to experiment with blogging, explore the use of simple original images to capture visitors’ attention. 
  4. Model good digital citizenship. We expect students to use copyright-friendly images, credit sources and share their own original work, and it’s important for education bloggers to dig deep into Best Practices and try it yourself.

Start Blogging

Throughout the course of my career as a blogger, I have helped many teachers get up and running with a blog. Here is my advice, based on The School of Hard Knocks, so to speak.
  1. Start simple and build your toolkit of resources. 
  2. Learn to embed.
  3. Demonstrate good digital citizenship by crediting sources.
  4. Learn to create simple original images. Try WPClipart for a jump start.
  5. Explore the blogs of other educators for inspiration. 

An Example

Here is an example that includes the Get Started steps explained below the image.

Learn more about WPClipart

  1. The simple toolkit of resources used here includes WPClipart and Kwout.
  2. The image you see here is embedded in the post. 
  3. The source of the image is properly credited. I used Kwout to quote the image with an image map. This push-button bookmarklet tool is a good tool for modeling digital citizenship, since it includes links at the bottom of the image. 
  4. I created a simple original image, with WPClipart to attract the attention of visitors and included it at the top of this post.

    Final Thoughts

    5 years is a long time in the world of EdTech, but this blog has continued. It has evolved and grown with me over time because it is a flexible tool. This blog is expected to hit the 1,000,000 visitor mark this year. Blog on, educators!

    Google Docs Add-Ons – A New Feature

    If you open a Google Doc or Spreadsheet you will find a new option in the menu bar named Add-Ons. An Add-On is a way to add functionality to Docs and Sheets through integration with 3rd party apps. It’s similar to the Google Chrome Apps store. 

    There are many useful tools to Add-On to Google Docs to improve the efficiency of working in Google Docs. You’ll find Add-Ons to help you get your own work done, and also for use in the classroom.

    To grab an Add-On, select the Get add-ons… option from the Google Docs menu bar on any Document or Sheet. You will be taken to the Add-ons store where you will find many useful Add-Ons to choose from. 

    Many of the Add-Ons are well suited for the type of work teachers and students do, such as Hello Sign for utilizing electronic signatures, and Table of Contents. With so many Add-Ons to install and explore I decided to narrow the results and take a closer look a Add-Ons labeled for education. At the time of this writing, there are three. 


    The EasyBib Bibliography Creator provides Google Docs users with direct access to citation formatting. Users can create citations, format them, and insert them directly into a Google Document. this one click access is an extremely useful way to streamline the process of teaching students about acknowledging the relevance of the works of others. Watch this video to learn more.

    Text Help Study Skills Highlighting Tools

    Highlighting just got more efficient with the use of the Text Help Highlighting Tools. This Add-On provides the functionality of collecting and organizing highlighted text that is displayed in separate document for use. This trick to using this tool could be the need to think about and define the organizational structure of a piece of writing prior note-taking so the colors can be used effectively. One way to teach students to think about organizing notes as they highlight information is to  help them define the organizational structure of a piece of writing through a well-designed rubric.  

    Kaizena Shortcut

    The third option labeled for education as a Google Docs Add-On is a shortcut to Kaizena. When users choose this feature their document leaves Google Docs and opens in Kaizena for even more options. Since this Add-On requires more than one click to access, I haven’t yet fully explored it, but you can learn more about Kaizena by watching their tutorial. 

    I’m looking forward to learning more about Add-Ons and watching them develop.

    Become a Google Tools Expert

    Join me an Simple K12 for a free online event today and and Become a Google Tools Expert

    Simple K 12 is a popular membership based teacher learning community that features 30 minute action packed webinars for live viewing that are recorded and archived. You’ll find an abundance of resources and bundles of content along with an extensive collection of webinars available in this well-organized online learning community.

    Occasionally, Simple K12 features free events on popular topics to introduce teachers to their online learning community. Today’s topic, Become a Google Tools Expert, is packed with a series of webinars that are sure to inspire teachers to use Google Drive more effectively.

    II’ll be hosting one of the webinars included in the event at 3:00PM EST: Improve Digital Writing Skills with Google Docs. The entire day of learning is free to all.

    Using Google Drive Forms to Power 1:1 Instruction

    As I explore teaching and learning in a 1:1 iPad environment I’m excited about the potential of using Google Drive Forms as a teaching tool. Forms display well on any Internet connected device, and they are packed full of features that can be used to collect feedback, communicate, check for comprehension and best of all, teach. 

    I’ve created several successful surveys since we launched our 1:1 initiative at the end of January and I am eager to share these ideas with other educators

    Google Drive Forms to Create an Interactive Survey

    When our school improvement team decided to take on One School, One Book this year, I designed a Google Drive Form as a vehicle for collecting information and more in one shot. 

    The form efficiently collected votes from our entire school community, a diverse group of stakeholders age 5-105. The form functioned like an interactive multimedia powered journey. It introduce participants to the book selections to help them make informed decisions before casting a vote for their preferred book. Call it one stop shopping, or simply call it efficient, this form worked well. Please check it out for yourself to understand the power of the tool. Feel free to actually submit feedback, it has served it’s original purpose and is no longer in use. 

    Explore a Copy of the Survey 

    More Innovative Google Drive Forms at a Glance

    Within the past month I’ve used the Google Drive Form to drive instruction in quite a few efficient and effective ways. Here are a few highlights.

    • Educreations Expertise – I created and successfully used a form to introduce students to all the features of Educreations prior to a collaborative project with 1:1 iPads. 
    • Flipped Lesson for Parents – I recorded and narrated a required slideshow presentation for parents. I embedded the video broadcast into a Google Drive Form along with questions to check comprehension and eventually provide answers.
    • In Box – I’ve been creating and using Drive Forms as In Boxes to collect and organize student assignments for more than three years now. This is a very popular idea otherwise known as an Assignment Tracker which originated on the blog of an innovative teacher, John Miller.

    Learn More About Google Drive Forms

    Join me and Infinitec for a free webinar designed to highlight the best features of Google Drive for Collaborative Learning. I’ll be sharing forms, ideas and demos along with some updated highlights of a Google Docs Glog I designed in 2012. The webinar is open to all.

    Webinar: Using Google Docs / Google Drive for Collaborative Learning
    Tuesday March 11th
    4:00 PM CST 

    Weaving a Web of Flexible Tools with ThingLink

    ThingLink is a flexible tool for teaching and learning that can be used for a wide variety of purposes in education. At it’s most basic level, teachers and students can start with an image, define it through multimedia and pack it full of content to present knowledge and ideas. It’s a great tool for teachers at any level of tech integration because of it’s simple, flexible design.