WeVideo is one of the core digital tools for staff and students in Jeffco this year. As a result, students and staff have access to a wide range of opportunities to engage in deeper learning activities that personalize and authenticate learning through film and multimedia. Getting started with WeVideo is fairly straight forward and there are plenty of resources such as the WeVideo MMTS to help you get started. (Click on the image below to open the MMTS and start exploring.) However, getting started with using film creation and WeVideo for authentic tasks can be a little more challenging. Here we hope to provide a few ideas and inspirations to help you get started.
Capturing and creating videos as part of instruction can seem daunting at first however, it's doesn't need to be a complicated process. One approach is to begin with photo stories. Challenging students to capture or collect photos that tell a specific story and compiling those photos together with a narrative or background music allows us to practice compiling stories and using video editing tools. Photo stories can be about academic content such as a historical time period, scientific or mathematical processes, or about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They can also be about personal things such as our daily journey to school or our family history. Everyone has different perspectives so our photo stories can be shared to deepen the learning and understandings.
One of the biggest challenges to using technology in classrooms is to ensure it is not a distraction from the larger goals of learning and content mastery. A great way to begin addressing these challenges is to empower students to lead their own learning. As students gain foundational understandings of content, they can be challenged with application of the content and creating products to share their learning and additional understandings. For example in mathematics, we often ask students to memorize key facts and processes but seldom challenge them with application and sharing of the learning. We can empower students to lead their learning by asking them to look for examples in their lives where they can apply the content they're learning and capture those applications to tell their stories. With this challenge, students gain deeper understandings of why content is needed and ways in which it fits into their worlds. Students can then share their creative stories of content application with each other, another class, or students at another school, which leads to deeper learning of the content.
One of the essential skills across many content areas involves the ability to effectively conduct research and compile our findings so we can form argumentative or persuasive claims. As humans, we regularly find ourselves in situations where multiple views are represented and the need to understand and respond respectfully to others is a foundational aspect of any democracy. As students conduct research and capture evidence that supports their claims, they can put together short films with photos or video clips to support their stance. When sharing with each other, students have access to practice listening and summarizing skills that lead can lead to civic and global engagement or the continued development of communication skills necessary to succeed in settings beyond the classroom.
Teachers are experts at creating links between outcomes and learning which drives us all to the continuous search for new ideas and strategies. Here are a few tips to consider as you begin to design learning opportunities involving film and multimedia:
Back in July, Teach Thought published a short piece on 6 Powerful Strategies for Deeper Learning in Your Classroom by Dr. Monica Martinez who is one of the leading experts on deeper learning. These 6 strategies are a great way to get students engaged in learning that involves their passions and interests. Film creation can be used in a variety of ways to implement and achieve all 6 strategies. As students are challenged to create films demonstrating their knowledge and understandings, they are provided additional opportunities to share their learning. Not every film needs to be publicly shared, there might be some short films that are simple reflections allowing us to go back and revisit some of the learnings we gained. Think of them more as selfie videos that are for the purpose of journaling or compiling a personal narrative. Ultimately, remembering the last strategy of "Making Technology the Servant, Not the Master" will help us leverage the power of film in more ways. As we use technology to capture and tell stories rather than consume them, we will be the masters of the digital tools we use and the time in front of a screen will have far greater purpose and outcomes.
Looking for more ideas on how to use film in your instruction? The WeVideo blog is a great place to find ideas and examples.
A journey Begins
The 2018-2019 school year began a little differently for some teachers in the Pomona Articulation area. Elementary teachers in first and fifth grade partnered with the district to implement a 1:1 Chromebook program in their classrooms. Preparing for a new school year comes with some butterflies and many to-do lists. Additionally, our partner teachers embraced a growth mindset to use technology to transform the task with their students in their very own 1:1 classrooms. Teachers from Little, Parr, Warder and Weber Elementary are on a journey to provide learning experiences that prepare students to thrive in a digitally connected world. We are excited to capture their story and share it with others.
Starting with the "Why", not the device
Our beliefs drive our practice. Before unpacking devices, we need to unpack our school's underlying beliefs about teaching and learning with technology. Writing a school belief statement can help staff articulate the impact of going 1:1.
A common element of writing a belief statement is collaboration. Having multiple voices in the process can help build efficacy and ownership.
Resources which helped the Pomona area schools develop their "why" included:
Building a Roadmap
Communication & Partnerships
In order to open communication channels with families, each school sent home an informational letter and invitation to a family night. The open house was created in collaboration by the Digital Teacher Librarians at the four schools to be proactive to community needs. The event was held before devices were handed-out to students. A common Google Form was created to capture questions and concerns. The feedback helped create Frequently Asked Questions which was posted for families after the event. A goal of the evening was to strengthen the partnerships between families and schools.
Expectations and Digital citizenship
Preparing students to make smart choices online is a priority when going 1:1. Direct instruction and on-going conversations about these 6 topics are available for K-12 students in the Common Sense Media curriculum.
Pedagogy: Professional Learning Plan
"The Learning Labs effectively introduce new tools for teaching. [The facilitator] is intentional about supporting us in this learning by modeling how technology can be intentionally integrated to transform our classrooms rather than just as a shiny, new gadget. I always come away from our Learning Labs with tons of new ideas - maybe not things I will implement the next day just for the sake of it, but ideas that have changed entire units of instruction to be more meaningful and that ask students to think and work in new ways." 5th grade teacher
Transforming the Task
The Journey Continues...
Each school continues to engage in continuous learning and reflections about their 1:1 implementation and growth. We are thankful for the school partnerships and for their willingness to share their story with others!
Schools share a common desire with families to help students be healthy digital learners. The addition of technology as a learning tool provides new opportunities to strengthen the connections between schools and families and engage in conversations about digital wellness for students at home and at school.
What is Digital Wellness?
When we explore the impacts that our digital lives have on our well-being, we are monitoring our digital wellness.
How do I feel after spending time on social media?
I wonder if I can keep my personal data more secure?
Am I spending time with my friends online and in person?
Do I act online in a way that represents the real me?
Some examples of topics which can fall into the category of digital wellness include, but aren't limited to: cyberbullying, screen time, self-image and identity, violence in media, social media, online privacy and safety, healthy relationships, and digital reputations.
In schools, digital wellness is often a part of a larger Digital Citizenship curriculum.
It takes a village
Preparing students to be digital citizens and make safe, smart online choices has become a shared goal of many school staff including digital teacher librarians, counselors, school resource officers, social-emotional learning specialists, principals, and more!
Curriculum and resources have been developed to support learners of all ages (K-12) for teachers to bring to life real dilemmas and conversations with students.
Over the years, our blog has shared resources to support Digital Citizenship instruction in Jeffco for teacher and student supports:
Building Opportunities to Explore Digital Citizenship
Be Internet Awesome: Digital Citizenship and Safety from Google
Digital Citizenship: Lessons Now Available in C-CAP(now Bridge to Curriculum)
But in our outreach, we hear increasing desires to bring this learning beyond the walls of the classroom and connect to our strong partnerships in the home. So, this blog post will dive deeper into resources to support communication and conversations with families.
Host an Event
Digital Wellness events are great ways to engage the community in face-to-face conversations. Some schools hold special event nights with a focused topic invite a guest speaker from the community. Some schools combine events and share digital wellness resources at back-to-school nights, parent-teacher organization meetings, curriculum showcases, etc... I've even heard of a digital citizenship dance.
Preparing for an event has been made simpler with presentations for parents and families available from Common Sense Education. Presentations are ready-made and come with talking points for school-based facilitators. Parent packets provide hand-outs which accompany presentations and can additional resources for parent information tables or newsletters. You'll even find presentations and resources available in Spanish. Utilize the presentation in it's entirety or trim it to fit the time and needs of your event. Take a look at the research-rich presentations in support of digital drama, social media, or learning with technology. You just might find you are one step closer to hosting your very own family event at your school!
Facilitate a Conversation
Perhaps a whole-group presentation is not quite what your family event would benefit from. Do you have a smaller group of parents/guardians? Do you have an identified need that you'd like to engage in rich discussion? Then consider a facilitated conversation utilizing Conversation Cases from Common Sense Education.
Conversation cases contain curated research and questions to consider about a digital topic, family resources, and a digital dilemma (a fictitious scenario to spark conversations). For example, is media multi-tasking and distraction a shared concern of teachers and parents? There is a conversation case for that! Grounded in research and with the goal to make common structured discussions possible.
Check-out a Conversation Case and download the participant resources, facilitator tips, and even watch the short video to get a feel for how it sounds to facilitate the discussion.
Post, Share, Print
Digital wellness communication doesn't have to start with a big event. Consider, what are effective ways you already communicate with your school community? How might bite-sized digital wellness resources be shared in Friday folders, social media posts, or online newsletters? Consider running a campaign, or short concentrated bursts of resources on a topic for a set time period. For example, a post a day for a week all about screen time.
Common Sense Education has curated an educator toolbox and a family toolbox. Find your favorite article, video, or handout and then pass it along. Post it. Print it. Link it.
Ed Tech support
Are you a Jeffco school considering hosting a family event between now and May? Contact your Ed Tech specialist to learn more about available planning time, resources, and support.
Digital annotations are not new to the realms of technology and education. Digital annotation tools continue to be available and ever changing. The power of digital annotations rests with the user and their abilities to capture their thinking, as well as, share it with others. In K-12 classrooms, digital annotations can be a great tool that empowers learners to begin capturing their thoughts and ideas leading to artifacts of learning which demonstrate understandings. Digital annotations can also be a great source for digital/e-portfolios allowing learners to reflect on their growth and development.
Why use digital Annotations?
Why should digital annotations be a part of every classroom and learning environment? Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are all fundamental components of learning which lead to critical thinking and digital annotations have the ability to cover all four areas. Digital annotations empower us as learners to engage with text, capture our thoughts, share with others, and gain insights from others thinking. Writing is a great way to process our thinking and allows us to begin identifying the process to where our thinking is going. When we digitally annotate and begin to share those annotations in collaborative spaces, our annotations become the center of collaborative dialogue and learning in which we grow collectively. When we begin to learn about annotating for learning, collaborative spaces for sharing and engaging in digital discussion opens doors to understand annotation strategies and processes from other learners with more annotation experience.
Getting started with Digital Annotations
Where and how to begin using digital annotation tools can be daunting and intimidating however, there are a few simple tools that can empower us as learners to get started on the journey. The comment feature in Google is one of the simplest ways to get started. The feature is available on Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings and a few other tools in the G-Suite. It is even now available on any file housed in Google Drive. Comments can be added to PDF's, images, MS Word documents and more when stored in Google Drive. A simple highlight of targeted text or information allows a user to capture thinking and share thoughts collaboratively.
If you're looking for a more robust tool with increased options, Kami is a great selection. Kami has paid versions with additional features however, the free version has plenty of options that are perfect for learners to get started annotating digitally. Highlighting, underlining, and strikethroughs (in a variety of colors) are all available at no charge. Additional features include adding text, comments, and drawing shapes. Under a 14-day free trial when you begin your account you'll have access to drawing, text to speech and a few other advanced options to try them out. Collaborative annotations with Kami are a breeze and users can save their annotated files in Google Drive if need be. It also works well with Google Classroom.
Digital annotations can occur on web-based material as well. Hypothes.is is a great option to consider for annotating web sites. Hypothes.is is entirely free to all users for all features. The tool was originally created for medical professionals who were collaborating around medical journal readings to increase learning and growth. Hypothes.is requires a login which is fairly simple and free to set up. Users can highlight information on websites and even add annotations (notes) which appear in a side bar. Annotations can be public, private, or in collaborative groups. Tagging annotations is offered as an advanced feature at no charge as well for users to quickly access collaborative discussions or topics. Annotations appear to users when visiting websites while the Hypothes.is extension is enabled.
Digital annotations can be highly beneficial to us as educators along with our students. Collaboration is now easier than ever with access to new technologies and the tools shared above work just as well for adults as they do for kids. Curating and sharing resources saves us all time and energy and digital annotations can be a quick way for us to collaborate across schools, districts, states, and more. How are you thinking about using digital annotations whether for your professional practice or during instruction with students? We'd love to hear your thoughts using the comment section of this post and look forward to learning more about how you are transforming tasks through digital annotations.
Updated Curriculum resources
Common Sense Media is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and an independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. For years, they Common Sense media has provided resources for teachers and families to tackle digital citizenship. This year, they are updating their curriculum and have already released new information for grades 3 through 5. The new lessons are organized by grade level instead of units. Each grade includes six lessons, one for each of the key ideas: Media Balance & Well Being, Privacy & Security, Digital Footprint & Identity, Relationships & Communications, Cyberbullying, Digital Drama & Hate Speech, and News & Media Literacy. Changes in curriculum also include slide decks for each lesson, Google Doc handouts, Google quizzes for each lesson, new family tip pages, family activity pages, and family engagement resources.
Using the Cyberbullying grade 5 lesson as a case study, the ease of implementing the new lessons is visible. The lessons have a visual overview, which shows the sections of the lessons and the estimated amount of time for each section. The bottom section includes links for lesson resources; this lesson has a lesson slide deck, case study, lesson quiz, and section for take-home resources. The digital resources can be assigned in Google Classroom and Schoology. The Family Tips section connects to a website that overviews K-12 Family Tips to Help Kids Fight Cyberbulling and other Mean Things Online. The family activity lesson encourages families to spend time exploring digital sites like Minecraft & Fortnite. These sites, and others, with chat features are an opportunity for families to work together to learn how to block people, set accounts to private, and use help features. Finally, the Family Engagement Resources section is a toolkit for families and schools to use in navigating life in the digital age. All are great new additional resources to create a home-school connection.
Going Deeper- Recognition
Using their learning from the Common Sense Media, Be Internet Awesome and other digital resources, students have an opportunity to create landscape posters illustrating the safe use of Internet and/or mobile devices for MS-ISAC, the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center. Students can create hand-drawn and electronic art in either a single full page or a 4-panel comic. Winners from each age group (K-5, 6-8, 9-12) will be chosen and will have their artwork displayed in a calendar which is distributed throughout United States. The artwork is used in campaigns to raise awareness among children of all ages about internet safety and computer safety. The top four entries will also be produced as posters promoting cybersecurity practices. The contest is open now and runs through January 25th.
"To make the most of the internet, kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. Be Internet Awesome teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence."
Be Internet Awesome is a campaign launched by Google in June 2017 to support parents, educators, and students with the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety.
Designed for students in 3rd-5th grade, the campaign focus on five fundamentals:
Be Internet Smart: Share with Care
Be Internet Alert: Don't Fall for Fake
Be Internet Strong: Secure Your Secrets
Be Internet Kind: It's Cool to Be Kind
Be Internet Brave: When in Doubt, Talk it Out
Common Sense Education has developed a free K-12 curriculum to "empower students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly, in our digital world" (Common Sense Education). These lessons are aligned to the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards and are now directly available in C-CAP by grade level bands.