Tag Archives: assigning

things 1-10 capstone

I decided to create an infographic for my capstone. If you click on the image, you will be taken to the Piktochart site where you can view it with the embedded video too. And if you click on the presentation mode button it looks even better!

Infographics are really useful tools that I can see using frequently in my blended class. They are a great way to present information in an easy to follow, easy to understand format. I foresee using these alongside videos, and perhaps even replacing many of my slideshows with these. They are time consuming to create, but I think they are worth the extra effort. I can also see having my students create infographics for projects to assess their understanding and their ability to make connections between current units of study and previous concepts.

things 1-10 capstone, infographic on unemployment

thing 6 – introduction to differentiated learning and udl

Differentiated Learning

Content: I focus my teaching on main concepts and have our learning objectives for each class period posted at the front of the room. Instead of small details and facts to memorize, students get a big picture idea of how everything works together; I intersperse examples that support the overarching concepts and themes we study. I use numerous materials like presentations, practice problems, small group and individual practice, and video to present ideas to students.

Process: I use many different types of grouping in my teaching, ranging from whole class discussions to small groups to pairs, to individual practice. Rarely do I have a class period where students work independently the entire time. Most of the activities I do involve group discussion and idea sharing.

Products: I assess students frequently throughout each unit using Moodle questions, small white boards and practice questions, open ended responses, class discussion, one on one discussion, and group presentations. Most of the projects I do give students several options to express their understanding; they may have different product options to choose from or different paths to take to create the same end product. The goal with my assessments is to use them as teaching tools so that students have to apply what we’ve been discussing in class to their process of creating their end product. Even my tests have retakes so that students can master the material and learn from their mistakes.

Diverse Learning

One thing that jumped out at me in the article is using our online textbook to help students who are struggling. They can install Diigo to highlight and annotate sections and make sticky notes to themselves; they can use VozMe to have the text converted to audio. Students could also use graphic organizers to create outlines of the material they read. This would be useful for ALL students, not just struggling learners, as it will help reinforce what they are reading and learning.


A couple of tools that would support UDL in my class that I could use even more are Google Docs and Prezi. They allow for real time collaboration with one another, and Google Docs allows for annotation and commenting. Students can comment on one another’s work and I can comment and offer suggestions too. Using these tools opens the classroom up to be anytime, anywhere. Students can do group work asynchronously and not have to worry about emailing a file back and forth. They can be creative with how they use the tools to express their understanding. And they can share their work together and learn from one another.

Text-to-Audio Conversion

This could be useful for struggling readers, English Language Learners, and even students who are really busy and could download the textbook as an MP3 file to listen to while they walk or drive to and from school. For struggling readers and ELL’s, hearing the text as they read will help them learn the sounds of the new vocabulary and glean more meaning as they can connect it with surrounding text and concepts discussed in class. For busy students, audio text helps them multitask and learn as they move from one place to another.

thing 6 - vozme


thing 4 – communication tools

Skype in the Classroom

My Skype username is colleen.davenport81 and here is evidence of me using Skype to chat with my husband and my sweaty baby on a humid summer’s day. 🙂

thing 4 - skype


I’ve been brainstorming for awhile how I would use Skype in my classroom and I’ve come up with these ideas:

  1. Contacting a professor at MSU or another university and having him/her explain a tricky economics topic to my classes.
  2. Each semester I have a banker come speak to my classes about personal, real-life banking, investments, and budgeting. I think using Skype to do this would be great because then they can stay at their offices and get some work done in between classes, plus they don’t have to travel. While they have given out materials to students in the past, I could have them mail materials or drop them off ahead of time (or I could pick them up). I think this saves everyone time and still gives students an interactive opportunity.
  3. Chatting with students who are absent about what we covered in class, even if I chat with them from home. I’ve had some students miss extended amounts of time due to illnesses and this would be so helpful! Even if students missed just a day of class and wanted to catch up and clarify, this would be helpful.
  4. Chatting with students and creating an online office hour session (I could create a group in Skype for this) for students to ask questions. This would be really great with a hybrid class that doesn’t meet everyday. I could set up office hours during the time we would normally meet and/or have times in the evening for them to chat.
  5. Have students work in groups even if someone is absent. They can Skype and discuss what they need to work on.

I’ve also used Google Hangouts (and I’ve even used it as a baby monitor when we forgot our monitor while visiting friends) and I really like how it’s integrated with my Google account so that I don’t have to log in to another tool.

BackChannel Chats

I haven’t really used back channel chats before, but I can see using one while I’m explaining a concept, or even just having one open during most class sessions for students to ask questions of one another. I suppose not every activity we do would require a back channel chat, but it would be nice for students to be able to get ideas from one another.

thing 3 – collaboration tools

Google Templates

I found the following budget spreadsheet template and it would be super useful for the personal finance unit I do with my students. Part of the unit includes creating a detailed budget based on the starting salary of the job they hope to get once they graduate college or trade school. I would make some modifications to this template, but I think it would be more useful than having students do this portion in the word document I share with them. The most useful part is that students can enter in their numbers and it gives them totals in the spreadsheet so they don’t have to do it by hand!

thing 3 - budget template

Google Docs and Doodle

Here is a presentation I use for my students that I made in Google Docs on Demand Elasticity. I had Dan make some comments in it as well of things I could improve with it.

thing 3 - google comment

And here is a Doodle I made with Dan. I’ve used Doodle for several years now and I really like it. It’s such a simple way to see when people are free and to schedule a meeting or plan an event. We use it with friends and with colleagues since it’s such a useful tool!

thing 3 - doodle

Student Usage: I use Google Docs quite often with students. I often create spreadsheets for students to post links to share their work and I encourage them to use Google tools to work together on their assignments. For example, when students create their budgets, they work together for one section of it and so I have them use Google docs to share their work and collaborate in real time instead of sharing files back and forth. I also have them create websites together and presentations about econ concepts together.

Trello and Lino

Below is an image of a Trello I made for home/personal use. We have an old house that needs some updating, so I made this to start organizing the projects and to create checklists for them. I can also see using this tool in my classroom to organize the lessons I need to create or update for units of study. (I’d probably give each unit it’s own board with it’s own set of checklists). This tool definitely beats using sticky notes because all the information is in one place instead of on several notes!

thing 3 - trello

While I didn’t create a new board on Lino, I did brainstorm a bunch of things I’m excited to do with it. I’ve used a similar tool in the past called Padlet (it used to be called Wall Wisher) and it’s a fun, easy tool to use. I think Lino might be even easier though! I plan on having students use it to:

  • read articles and post their summaries and their responses to questions about those articles. I would put students into groups and each group would respond on their assigned board.
  • create boards to present to the class on an assigned topic
  • create boards to organize group projects in class and list out what they are each going to contribute and post links and images to share with their group members
  • build a wiki-type page that is much more aesthetically pleasing (and easier to use) than an actual wiki

I think I could also use it to post lists of resources for each unit of study as well. I have a class website with that information on it, but maybe I will experiment with creating a Lino page and seeing if students like viewing the information in that format better. I can put the links and images and assignments I use all on a Lino page and link to it from my website so students have everything all on one screen.

thing 2 – face of my classroom

How I use my classroom website

thing 2 - class website

I have had a classroom website for several years. It’s an invaluable tool for communicating with students and parents, posting assignments, posting due dates and information about upcoming assessments, and to have a class presence that students can access at any time and any place.

I have recently updated my class website; I originally had it hosted on my own domain, but since I didn’t teach this year and I may not go back next year, I decided not to continue paying for the domain name. So, I migrated everything into WordPress instead (which was easy since I had WordPress installed on my other domain!). When I migrated over, some of the links to the videos I use as well as the links to assignments that I share with students via my dropbox, were disabled. I re-enabled a few of the video links and the first assignment link on this page so you can get an idea of what I share with students.

When students go to my site, they will see the weekly assignments and due dates as well as the learning objectives for each day’s lesson. When they click on a unit page, they will find video resources and links to assignments. If they ever forget what they are supposed to do for the class, it’s all on the website! They can also find links to note-taking tools and reading guides. I rely so heavily on my class website that I can’t imagine teaching without it. It’s where I put ALL of my classroom materials and supporting tools so that students can access the class all of the time.

In addition to the class site, I use Moodle as a place for students to upload assignments and to complete formative and summative assessments. Using Moodle has enabled me to give students almost immediate feedback, and because of that, I have more time to give students to re-take assessments in order to master the material. If you’d like guest access to my Moodle class, let me know and I’d be happy to let you take a look around!

thing 1 – cloud initiation

Part 1: Diigo

Link to my diigo page: https://www.diigo.com/user/teacherleenthing 1 - diigoDiigo will help me be more productive because I can access my bookmarks anywhere, on any device. If I’m planning at home and need to find the link at school, it will be in diigo.  So helpful!  I used to use Delicious, but I hadn’t used it in years so I think my account was terminated. 😦 But as I lesson plan and find new tools, I will add them to diigo and I will use their “Lists” feature so that I can organize the sites I find even better. It definitely beats emailing myself links to sites to use in the future because every site I add is in one place, is organized into a list, and is tagged for easy searching.

Another diigo feature I discovered is that when I highlight text on a webpage, it gives me the option to annotate it and save my note for when I visit the page again. That is awesome! I can see having students use that feature to do research and using it myself to leave “sticky notes” on pages to remind me what I use/need on a particular page.

Part 2: Dropbox

thing 1 - dropbox

I have used Dropbox for several years now and I don’t think I could go back to uploading documents to a flashdrive or my school’s teacher drive. It’s so convenient to be able to access my files anywhere at anytime, and to know that when I save something to Dropbox I have the most up-to-date version. I remember accidentally sending my flashdrive through the washing machine years ago and feeling panicked that I lost all of my work (even though it was on my computer, I wasn’t sure if all the changes I had made to files had been updated in both places.) Thankfully it still worked, but with Dropbox, I don’t need to carry that with me. I also don’t need to email myself documents to use at work or home since they’re all in one place. I love Dropbox and will probably never go back!



thing 16 – research + reference tools

Part 1: MeL Database Compare/Contrast

InfoTrac Junior Editionthing 16 - infotrac jr  InfoTrac Student Editionthing 16 - infotrac student
 I did a simple search for frogs in both databases. Then I did a search on texting. Below I will examine the appropriateness, useablity, content, and credibility for each database’s articles.
 Appropriateness Frogs: Age appropriate magazine articles from magazines like Highlights for Children and Scholastic News. I still had to sift through the articles, though, as some were stories and editor’s notes and not actual information about frogs.Texting: Lots and lots of information and relevant articles from sources that are geared for younger students. Frogs: This search led to a mix of children’s book reviews along with articles about frogs. This might be off putting to some high school students as they would have to do a bit more sifting. This just might not be the right database tool for the job, but I’m certain there are others that would work and be much better than searching Google.Texting: Just like the Junior Edition, this edition had tons of information that was directed at a slightly older audience.
 Useability For both searches, this was pretty user friendly, but I noticed that some of the images were omitted, which might deter some students. The articles were a good length for elementary students, though. The articles, especially for texting, were very user-friendly and easy to use for a research project.
 Content I love that there are magazine articles, news article, audio and video clips, and books and images. Students would have to sift through some of the information to make sure they were getting facts if they were doing a research report, but they would have to do this on Google too. There seems to be more content on texting than there is on frogs…probably because this database is geared toward current event and pop culture information.  Same as the Junior Edition…
 Credibility Every resource has a citation! And because these are databases, students and teachers can feel comfortable knowing that the information they find is reliable and has been published elsewhere before being housed in the database. If there were factual errors, they would be discovered and edited immediately. There is no chance of a hoax article here.  Same as Junior Edition…
In conclusion, I think these databases are great for pop culture and current events type research. If students are looking for topics that are more general science topics or social studies topics, they would probably want to use a different database. But overall, these were much better resources to use than a Google search, as all the information is reliable and accurate (and the citations are provided too!).

Part 2: Advanced Student MeL Database

I did a search for greenhouse gasses and global warming on Academic OneFile.

thing 16 - academic one file

Appropriateness: All of the articles are actually about greenhouse gas emissions…if I had done a Google search, I would have gotten some articles and websites about greenhouse gas emissions, and a whole lot of biased information or commercial advertising for products having to do with greenhouse gas emissions. Some of these resources in the database may be a bit advanced for struggling readers, but I could find another database for those students or I could pair them with a more advanced student.

Usability: Again, all the information is about greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on what type of information students need, there are news articles, videos, magazine articles, and academic journals about the topic. They could use the journals for background information and the news articles to examine what is happening around the world in relation to their search. The news articles seem much more helpful to me than a Google search would be; the academic journals may be a bit much for high school students, but I think some of the other resources, like the videos, would be very helpful.

Content: The content has been researched and proven reliable. It is professionally written and its purpose is to educate the readers/viewers of it. Compared to a Google search, this material is much more meaty and the search has more relevant results.

Credibility: Every resource is from a reliable news organization, magazine, academic journal, etc. Students and teachers can rest assured that the information they find is accurate; when compared to a Google search, every article (even if not exactly pertinent to what students are looking for) can be vetted, whereas a Google search may yield some questionable results.

Part 3: Bogus/Hoax Websites and CARRDSS

Dog Island: This site seems like it could be real since it gives statistics, and if you don’t look carefully, you might be taken by it. But, when you look closely at it, you can tell it’s not real. To begin, the Credibility is questionable. There are adds all over and if you scroll to the bottom of the page, there is a disclaimer next to the copyright. When you click on the disclaimer, it tells you up front that the site is created in jest and is not real.

thing 16 - dog island disclaimer

As for Accuracy, well, the disclaimer tells you the site isn’t real, so the information is clearly not accurate.  But if you miss the disclaimer and peruse the site, you’ll see that there really isn’t any information. It talks about legislation but gives no details. It tells about the number of large, medium, and small dogs, but gives no details as to what defines each category. There are just too many missing details for the information to be accurate and ReliableAlso, if you click on the links for the Press information about Dog Island, none of the links go to articles about Dog Island. And this link goes to a site that is in Japanese, but is supposedly a link to a radio station in Escanaba, Michigan. Clearly not a reliable Source Behind the Text that supports the page. In fact, none of the links that navigate outside the page are useful sources of information for Dog Island or for dogs in general.

thing 16 - dog island reliability

This would definitely not be a Relevant site if I was doing a search for dogs; maybe if I was searching for dog friendly vacation places, but even then, I would quickly find upon reading that humans are not allowed on Dog Island, which would put up red flags in my mind about the site being real. It also uses the word, “Dogologists,” which is not a real word. A quick Google search will bring up sites that are for dog training businesses, as well as the Urban Dictionary’s definition of the word. Definitely not reliable or relevant.

The Date on the site is today’s date and the copyright date is 2013, so that would not be an easy indicator that the information is real…you definitely have to read the information to figure that out. Finally, there seems to be no Purpose to the site (unless you read the disclaimer, which states the site is to make people happy) and there is no real Scope. The information is not very detailed, the links lack any information to support the site, and if you try to get more information there really isn’t any to be found.

The Republic of Molossia: Being a social studies teacher, I know Molossia is not a real country. And to verify, I would use a site like the CIA World Factbook to verify. But students might not want to go this far…

To start with Credibilitythe URL is not even an official sounding country URL. It is a .org and ends with /countryeng.html. From that alone, I would question whether or not the site was credible. (http://www.molossia.org/countryeng.html) Additionally, the “Ministry of Propaganda” is the one who created the site. When you click on the link for it, it is a mailto: link that opens up your email to compose a message. Plus, the word propaganda should be a big red flag since the purpose of propaganda is to get people to believe in a cause or in something that may or may not be real.

The site claims the country is “still at war” with “East Germany.” East Germany no longer exists, thereby calling the Accuracy and Reliability of information into question.

thing 16 - molossia accurate

If you click on the links on the menu to find information out about the country, they provide information, but it’s clearly very silly. For example, the page about the Molossian Navy says,

We tried having an Army, but the US Olympic Committee used it against us. We tried having an Air Force, but the plane never flew, and anyway it was too small to fit anyone inside. So, here in the depths of the desert, we have created the Molossian Navy. Yes, the Navy. And we even have three boats.

Our goal with the Molossian Navy is to explore those watery places that dot the western landscape like gems in the sand. There are actually quite a few lakes and reservoirs through the western desert, and we have set our sights to explore as many as possible. In addition, our Navy stands ready to defend Molossia whenever necessary, through the means of our valiant Naval Infantry.

Clearly this information doesn’t make any sense and is made up for fun; it is definitely not reliable or accurate.

As for Relevance, if you were searching for information about a made up country, then this would be perfect! But if you happened to mistype the name of a country like Malaysia or Mongolia, you might stumble across this site. Or if students are non-native speakers or have difficulty with reading and/or spelling, they may run across this site and they would have to use the other elements of the CARRDSS systems to verify that this site is what they want. Additionally, if you were searching for the ancient Greek state of Molossia, then this site would not be relevant to what you needed, and it even makes a disclaimer at the bottom of the homepage stating such.

The Date on the site seems to be current, so this would not be an immediate red flag about the content of the site, but the Sources that the site links to that are supposed to provide media information about the country don’t link to actual pages. And there don’t seem to be any links that provide information about who made the content other than the one for the Ministry of Propaganda that I mentioned above.

thing 16 - molossia sources

Finally, the Scope and Purpose of the site seem to be to provide made up information and stories about a made up country. Reading some of the links on the homepage, as well as information on the homepage itself seem to suggest that someone just made everything up since all the information is a bit preposterous.

Overall, I think the CARRDSS system is a great way to review a website and it’s also pretty quick. I will definitely plan on using this system with my students in the future and will probably create a page on my class website about how to quickly evaluate web information.

Part 4: Citation Tools

thing 16 - citation


Katz, Lawrence F., and Kevin M. Murphy. “Changes in relative wages, 1963–1987: supply and demand factors.” The quarterly journal of economics 107.1 (1992): 35-78.

thing 14 – web tools to improve your performance

Part 1 – Evernote

I love Evernote!  I’ve used it for several years now and find it super useful for lesson ideas, as well for things like sewing projects and quotes my kids say. (Although Pinterest is starting to replace some of what I would’ve put on Evernote, I still use it for things I don’t want to pin or things I want to annotate.) Here is a note I created last spring of Benjamin and a quote…

thing 14 - evernote

Part 2 – File Conversions

I use file conversions all the time, especially .doc to .pdf. I have a .pdf printer installed because I upload every document I give to my students to my class website since I want them to have access to the class whenever and wherever they like.  I also convert presentations to .pdf so students can go back over them outside of class.

thing 14 - file conversion

Part 3 – Google Calendar

I’m not sure Dan and I would be able to go back to life without Google Calendars!  We share our calendars for everything so we can schedule our lives.  I’ve also used it in my classroom so students know what we’re doing everyday, and so they can see what’s coming up next in the class.  It’s super useful because they can subscribe to the calendar if they want and they can plan ahead (if they actually do that!) Plus parents can see what we’re doing everyday and have a better idea of what’s going on in my classroom.

thing 14 - google calendar

Part 4 – URL Shortener (I like goo.gl!)

Original URL: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AglId_gtM0CsdGRTX21JSVhjWi1vNlZ4SmZ3TnZQckE&usp=sharing

Goo.gl URL: http://goo.gl/68g5CA

thing 14 - url shortener

thing 13: interactive tools

Part 1: Google Earth/Google Maps

Here is a screenshot of my house on Google Maps.  We will be removing the bushes this spring, as the previous owners (not the same people who owned this house when the photo was taken) never cut them and they were 6-7 feet high when we moved in. Crazy. We cut them back and they look pretty shabby, so we’re just going to remove them and have a bigger yard.

thing 13 - google map house

Part 2: Quizlet

Here is a screenshot of my first ever Quizlet! I love that the definitions are pre-populated with other user’s input!  It made it a snap to create a set of flashcards for students to access. I will definitely use this in the future and will probably have students create their own sets so they can apply course vocabulary to the content we’re covering and relate it to their daily lives. Click on the image below to see the whole set!

thing 13 - quizlet

Part 3: Interactives for Classroom Content

I checked out NuSkool and PBS Learning Media and found two different lessons I could use parts or all of to teach different concepts in Economics. With the NuSkool site, I searched Pop Culture and Economics and found a lesson that uses Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a way to demonstrate the concepts of supply and demand. While I already have a similar lesson, using the video is a great reinforcement tool!

On the PBS site, I found a lesson on where your tax money goes.  I have a unit on taxes and government spending and the lesson I found gives students a very practical and useful look at how much of their paychecks will go to taxes and what that money will be used for.  I wish I would have done a lesson like this before getting my first job!

thing 13 - nuskool thing 13 - pbsmedia

Part 4: Interactives for Classroom Content Reflection 

I found three interactive tools that I haven’t used before (I think I have used PBS before, but it’s been a loooong time) that I can definitely incorporate into my teaching.

Quizlet is a great tool to help students review key vocab terms from each unit, and I plan on adding sets to my class website for students to access during each unit. It is a great study/review tool before quizzes and to use throughout the unit to reinforce the new terms. I will also have students create their own sets, as I mentioned above, where they will use the terms in their own words and create sentences/scenarios that use the terms and show students’ understanding and application.

NuSkool is fun because it adds recent and relevant media to lessons that students can relate to. I can definitely see using this in the future to supplement my lessons and to give students some more real world scenarios.

Like NuSkool, PBS Learning Media has recent news and media that I can use with students.  I’m really excited about the tax lesson I found because I find that unit (Taxes and Government Spending) particularly challenging to make interesting and engaging.  I have picked up some ideas here and there, but video and practical application will make the content so much more interesting!