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.
BY GUEST BLOGGER Christopher Brannon Church
Brannon Church is a technology teacher at Carmody Middle School. He has been a teacher in Jeffco for 19 Years. For the first 18 years, Mr. Church taught 6th Grade and this year has joined the Carmody team as their Robotics Teacher. Here he shares how he is making impacts in student lives through the development of Jeffco Generations. Mr. Church provides some great examples of how students learn with technology and ways teachers can access resources to begin integrating technology that engages students in creative learning opportunities.
I have always felt the need to incorporate technology into my day. I realized early in my career that very few things can improve student engagement like introducing a new tool or program. However, this usually only works if the teacher is as excited to explore new opportunities with their students. Fortunately, opportunities are much easier to come by nowadays because of the availability of chromebooks and free software. 95% of the curriculum we are exploring at our middle school comes from free programs that coexist with student Google logins. The Jeffco Ed Tech team is extremely supportive, and has equipment/resources for teachers to borrow to show their administration how important purposeful play can be in learning.
With all the free resources out there that appeal to the STEAM driven teacher, there is no excuse for not trying to implement computer science into some aspect of their day. Most educational apps use the Google Identity Platform which eliminates the burden of student login problems. I feel that Jeffco is headed in the right direction when it comes to preparing students for a successful future.
Demonstrating how to use Makey Makey & Scratch:
An Exit Ticket Using Makey Makey. Students were given the opportunity to create a project using Makey Makey and Scratch. I wanted them to see that they are limited only by their imagination. One on my administrators came to me looking for ways to make exit tickets more engaging and relevant. With student input, we created our interactive exit ticket using Makey Makey and Scratch. It was a huge success, and students immediately tried to jump on the “aluminum foil switch” idea for their own projects.
Jeffco Generations Skills:
These are examples of using technology as a tool to develop Self Direction and Personal Responsibility as well as Communication skills from Jeffco Generations. As an initial activity with Makey Makey, students were to research their favorite childhood song, find the sheet music, create a piano in Scratch, and use the controller from Makey Makey to recreate their song. The most amazing part of this activity is that students completed this project with very little guidance. Students relied on each other to figure out how to fix bugs in their program to make their music selection work.
How do I get access? - I am extremely fortunate to have 1:1 chromebooks in all of my Robotics classes, and nowadays there are hundreds of reputable websites that are available at no cost. Many of the hands on materials that I rely on have come from my own pocket, or were funded through the Donors Choose website. Any student can learn to code!
Funding is out there - After borrowing Makey Makey kits from Jeffco Ed Tech I decided that I had to have a set for my class to take our scratch lessons to the next level. Believe it or not, it was fairly simple to acquire the funds needed for a Makey Makey kit. Donors Choose and Google’s CS First are practically giving away money to teachers that complete a few simple activities with their class.
Skill Application Across Content Areas:
One of the favorite parts of my job is giving students an opportunity to show off what they have learned in Robotics/Coding and using those skills in other content areas. An example this year is a 6th grader who decided to retell the entire story of Maniac Magee using Scratch by taking her character on a journey through the story. It was amazing! This clearly demonstrates proficiency in computer science as well as a deep meaningful comprehension of a novel in literacy.
Below are just a few activities where application of the following Jeffco Generations Skills were imperative to complete the activity. As students completed these activities, they developed these Jeffco Generations Skills:
Sphero Bridge Build: Students were to demonstrate Critical and Creative Thinking along with Communication skills as they used the Engineer Design Process to research, design and build a bridge with drinking straws. Bridges needed to support the weight of a Sphero and span over 50 centimeters.
Friday Fly Day: During this activity, students were to research ramp design and create their own ramp to support the weight and acceleration of Sphero. This activity supports Collaboration and Leading by Influence.
Sphero Battle Tanks (captured with a 360 Camera): Students demonstrate Agility and Adaptability during their Sphero Battle Bots competition. Students used the Engineer Design Process to create “tanks” for their Spheros.
Merge Opportunities: During our introduction to 3D design, students were able to use Merge Cubes and AR/VR Goggles to check their 3D Prints. Instead of wasting printer filament, we are able to upload our designs to Object Loader and see if there are any flaws to our design. Students demonstrate Self Direction and Personal Responsibility as they create their own designs using Tinkercad, view their design in Augmented Reality, and print a clean final project.
In conclusion, I would urge all educators who are interested in integrating tech into the classroom to join Twitter. I have found so many creative educators on Twitter that share an endless number of incredible projects or ideas. Feel free to follow me @MrChurch (shameless plug) and make some connections with teachers all over the world that are passionate about integrating technology into their classrooms.
The Global Read Aloud: One Book to Connect the World
Read their blog: theglobalreadaloud.com/blog/
It all started with Facebook. The Global Read Aloud Facebook group is where teachers find a classroom, other than one in their school, to connect and collaborate with each other. The premise is simple; groups pick a book to read aloud to students during a 6-week set period. During that period, classes try to make as many global connections as possible. The Facebook group helps to bring understanding about what The Global Read Aloud entails. Students don't actually access Facebook. They engage in collaborations using a variety of digital tools. The website (linked in the title) matches up classrooms where students from different schools engage in digital activities together.
The Facebook group does host educator book studies. There is one starting in January called, "The Passionate Readers Winter Book Study" The book study discusses teacher reading identity, student reading identity, classroom libraries, and of course, share must-read, must-add titles for you to consider adding to your classroom. The book club is free, all you need is your own copy of Passionate Readers and to join the Facebook group where the questions and discussion will happen.
Teachers across the groups will plan purposeful instructions with tech infusion. One goal is to match a digital tool with the task, in order for students to collaborate. The K-1 class at Peiffer is partnered with another school in Virginia, a kindergarten class. Algonkian Elementary, which is named after a Native American tribe that is widespread and in Virginia. We have done a Mystery Google Hangout to launch our connection (both classes got to ask questions to guess where the class was located), a Flipgrid coming up soon, a Padlet this week, and Seesaw Blog. We have shared the various activities we have done in Seesaw through our blog. We have answered prompts like "What fills your heart with happiness?" "How do you hold someone up?"-
Digital Tools used in the Peiffer Global Read Alouds
The teachers at Peiffer are using Seesaw Blog to communicate among students from the two schools. The picture above was taken from the blog. You can learn more about this free tool by watching this video.
I was lucky enough to witness a FLIPGRID that the K-1 class at Peiffer used to draw pictures from a main idea in the the book and the explain their thinking. Flipgrid is a website that allows teachers to create "grids" of short discussion-style questions that students respond to through recorded videos. Each grid is effectively a message board where teachers can pose a question and their students can post 90-second video responses that appear in a tiled "grid" display. Click here to try FLIPGRID out!
Transforming the Task in the Global Read-Alouds
Peiffer teachers have been Transforming the Task using the SAMR Model, as well. They are creating, transforming, and evaluating student tasks that register M/R on the SAMR Model. For more information on the SAMR model and how strong learning happens when tasks register on the M/R, check out this Multi-media Text Set.
"Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results." ~John Dewey.
Digital discussions have become regular practices in our everyday lives. From text messages and social media posts to blog and YouTube comment streams there are continued learning and sharing opportunities with global connections on a regular basis. Many of us are often hyper-active in daily digital discussions as we connect with friends, family, and world-wide audiences.
As we continue to implement the Jeffco Generations skills and Transform Tasks, digital dialogue and discussion opportunities present engaging opportunities to authentically develop skills and concepts beyond the basic acquisition of facts. Through participation in digital discussions with global audiences we are exposed to the challenges of content application, concept justification, and social understandings in our ever changing world.
The New York Times provides a number of incredible resources to educators and students for elevating digital discussion opportunities that engage learners in relevant and meaningful topics. Through The Learning Network, they began in 2014 with 200 Prompts for Argumentative Writing which grew to 650 Prompts for Argumentative Writing in 2016 and is now over 1000 Writing Prompts for Students in 2018. The prompts are broken up by topic areas such as Social Media and Smartphones, Gender Issues, Dating and Sex, Music, Literature and Art, Being a Teenager, School, Health and Nutrition, Science and Animals, Government and Leadership, Personal Character and Morality, and more. Under each topic is a list of questions that are linked to a short articles followed by more specific questions for students to consider and answer. The list of 650 prompts are also available via a handy PDF for easy access and sharing.
So how does this apply to our daily instruction as educators? Francis Bacon said, "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man". Reading, writing and discussion are a critical components of our everyday learning and growth processes. As educators we know high quality instruction in any content area or discipline contains regular opportunities for learners to engage in reading, writing, and discussion to further develop critical and creative thinking skills.
Using the resources above, learners can be given a prompt and the associated article to read. Following the reading, learners can engage in a short writing activity to gather thoughts and develop ideas. Learners can then share their thoughts with others and ideas to seek feedback for further development and discussion. Some ideas might include:
Reading, writing and dialogue can and should take place in all disciplines, not just literacy. For example, math teachers can leverage prompts like #327 which centers around a distribution graph of how many A's schools hand out or #289 "Are You Afraid of Math?" and #290 "Do We Need A Better Way To Teach Math?". Science teachers can leverage the wide variety of prompts in Science & Health (1,066-1,146) involving Science and The Environment, Animals and Pets, or Exercise and Health. Art teachers have a vast array to choose from in Arts and Entertainment (75-248). Whichever discipline you teach, there can be resources for you to leverage to support students with engaging in reading, writing, and dialogue.
How will you leverage digital discussions as a way to Transform the Task and support learners with developing the Jeffco Generations skills? The Jeffco Ed Tech team is available to support you in thinking through ways you can leverage reading, writing and discussion with students in your instruction. We would also love to hear from you around how you are already leveraging digital discussions or have done so in the past. We learn a great deal from examples and experience so we invite you to share with us as we continue to grow together.
"Make something that does a thing." This was the challenge put out to 10th grade students at Golden High School by their teacher, Mr. Gitner. Students were engaged in a very broad PBL. The sky was the limit. Their task was simply to create something that does something.
Gitner said of the task, "If I do not explicitly name a tool for them, at the end they create something that they feel is important. It ended up being a passion project where I just became the coach." The students went out and decided what they wanted to learn and found the right tool for the job. “What you know isn't what is important anymore, it's what you can do," says Gitner. At the very heart of this task was the foundation of student choice.
The results from the students was phenomenal. One student got her artwork on a brochure that fights to end violence against women. Another student created a mockumentary. This student learned a valuable work-life lesson. He says of the leadership within the project,
“What I really learned is how difficult it is get people together without intrinsic motivation. Bringing people together and giving them a task is not enough. It takes true leadership to engage others." This is the essence of The Jeffco Generations skill, Collaboration and Leading by Influence.
Last year, Gitner created a task called "Walk in Someone Else's Shoes". He had students create Trello Boards. A Trello board is a list of lists, filled with cards, used by you and your class. It's a lot more than that, though .Trello has everything you need to organize projects of any size. Open a card and you can add comments, upload file attachments, create checklists, add labels and due dates, and more. Here is a video Andrew made for his students. You can also access his example of a Trello Board here. You can find this lesson on the Bridge to Curriculum in the Teacher Resource Library.
Andrew started his school year by reading Bold School this summer. This book was written by Jeffco parent, Weston Kieschnick .
This book overlays SAMR with Rigor and Relevance. Andrew says he creates experiences for students that span the SAMR model, but spends a fair amount of time creating experiences for students that asks them to Augment. "Students can't always be in Modification. Student experiences should span the range of the SAMR model." The Jeffco Ed Tech Team will be hosting a Bold School Book Study in the Fall. More information coming soon!
So what is next for Gitner's 10th graders? A phone scavenger hunt at the Clyfford Still museum. Students will use their phones to complete tasks around the museum.
Back in my high school years, each ELA teacher required that students write a variety of essays. These essays were scored, entered into the grade book, passed back to us for a quick review of our grade, and then saved in our teachers' filing cabinets. At some point, usually in the late spring, the teachers returned all of our essays and asked us to pick the 3 best samples to create a portfolio. I'd make the recommended changes my teacher had listed and hit print -- good enough. Knowing that my teacher was going to be the only one who would be reviewing my work (again) did little to motivate me to think critically and improve my writing. Usually, my score did not change.
"If students are sharing their work with the world, they want it to be good. If they are just sharing it with you, they want it to be good enough." - Rushton Hurley
In my college years, after all my learning had been finished, I was again asked to build a portfolio as the cumulating task. After hours of scrapbooking and collecting artifacts, I had a beautiful 3" binder full of lesson plans, photos, and beautifully designed (and protected) pages only my professor would ever see. My hard work would never be looked at by a future employer or anyone in my industry. Although I was proud of the final product, much of my time felt wasted and little was actually learned by doing this task, with the exception of becoming a better scrapbooker.
If you think back to your educational years, I'd bet you have a similar experience building portfolios to demonstrate learning. Creating a portfolio of student work can be a very beneficial activity for both the student and the intended audience, but how we build them can be better than what I experienced. To do this, we can consider having students create digital portfolios. Essentially, digital portfolios are the same as a traditional portfolio, but what differs is the manner in which the learning is presented. What makes digital portfolios relevant is that they give students the ability to demonstrate growth of learning, skills, and reflection over time to an authentic audience. This authenticity helps build confidence and a sense of achievement for the learner as they share their work with the world. It also encourages them to go beyond "good enough." In secondary years, students can develop a brand or image for who they are as they apply for continuing education and seek employment opportunities.
"Digital portfolios aren’t just a way to archive work—they’re also an excellent vehicle for students to reflect on their growth and learning." - Avra Robinson
3 Types of Digital Portfolios
The Google Infused Classroom, by Holly Clark and Tanya Avrith, outlines 3 different types of digital portfolios that could potentially be created by students in any grade level or subject, as a demonstration of learning. If you haven't read this book, it's a great one to add to your library. Here is a brief synopsis of the different portfolio types:
The Process Portfolio:
The purpose of the process portfolio is to make students' thinking visible by documenting and reflecting on learning. Throughout this process, students create, reflect, receive feedback, and publish. Students' very best work is mixed in with work that shows improvement over time.
The Showcase Portfolio:
The showcase portfolio highlights a student's very best work. This type of a portfolio is an assessment of student learning. The students create and then publish only their final products. The 3" binder portfolio from my college years was an example of a showcase portfolio.
The Hybrid Portfolio:
As you might guess, a hybrid portfolio is a combination of a process and showcase portfolio. In this portfolio, students create, reflect, receive feedback, then select one (or more) of their favorite pieces to share with a global audience. A hybrid portfolio can be a great way to carry learning forward from year to year as a student progresses through grades. My first experience with the high school essays was a hybrid portfolio.
Digital Portfolio Tools
Although there are many options for creating digital portfolios, the new Google Sites and Seesaw are two of our favorite tools for this purpose.
"It sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn't online, it doesn't exist." - Austin Kleon
A few last thoughts...
The purpose of digital portfolios is to create an opportunity to share learning with a larger and more authentic audience. Sometimes this can feel frightening when thinking about student data and privacy. Instead of limiting an audience and locking down a portfolio, consider having students use their first initial and last name, or just a first name, to keep student work global but their identities private. Also, remind students not to share personal information such as their address or phone number on their portfolios.
As you are considering ways to integrate digital portfolios into the student learning experience, it is important to remember that not all artifacts have to be digital. Snapping a photo of a physical piece of evidence, or recording a video of a student speaking, is a great way to allow the physical and digital worlds to collide and create a bigger picture of what a student can do!
Want to Know more?
Be a connected educator
Welcome to week 3 of Jeffco Ed Tech's Twitter Challenge. Now that you've gotten the chance to lurk and read a few tips for posting a variety of tweets, you'll have the opportunity to become more connected on Twitter by both consuming and producing content during a chat. Save the date: Thursday, Oct. 19 @ 7pm MST! In this post, scroll to find information about how to participate and etiquette during the chat.
Final Challenge: Lead Your Nest's V Formation
Participate in a Twitter Chat hosted by Jeffco Ed Tech.
Here are the questions you can anticipate during the chat:
Move to sharing!
Welcome to week 2 of Jeffco Ed Tech’s 3 week Twitter Challenge. This week is all about going beyond the basics and moving to sharing ideas with your followers.
When you take flight in the Twitter world, it might take awhile to get your wings. At first, your flight pattern might be to glide through the Twittersphere lurking around.
But as you get comfortable, flap those wings! Take your Twitter experience to the next level and dive into this week’s Twitter challenge!
CHALLENGE #5: WHO'S IN YOUR FLOCK? CHECK YOUR FOLLOWERS!
You can see who is following you by clicking “Followers” in the upper-left hand corner of your screen. See who has joined your flock, and feel free to follow them in return.
Challenge #6: Hop around the nest: tweet a picture, tweet an article or website, or tweet a gif!
As a fledgling, you’re beginning to hop around Twitter and explore. You have probably come across great resources for your school or classroom. To learn how to tweet a link to the article click here!
Did you get a photo of you and your teammates dressed up for homecoming week? Tweet your photo to show your school spirit!
Perhaps you came across a humorous GIF that your fellow educators would enjoy. Share it! They might need a laugh today!
challenge #7: spread your wings! Tweet an original thought
It’s time to soar! Compose a tweet of your own original thought. Twitter is all about what’s happening in your world and what people are talking about right now.
So hop out of the nest, and tell us what’s going on in your world!
overwhelmed? Use this "tweet sheet" to understand the in's and out's of twitter.
Still haven't "dove" into
the world of Twitter?
We are going to give you the wings you need to take flight. To celebrate Connected Educator Month, Jeffco Ed Tech is hosting a
Take part in a 3-week challenge to start to build your PLN (Personalized Learning Network). Following and connecting with educators on Twitter can help you gain knowledge and ideas to help transform the student learning experience. Details for starting the challenge are below.
Week 1: Be a Lurker - Twitter Basics
Challenge #2: Find some Flight Patterns.
Search for @jeffcoedtech and click the blue "follow" button to follow us on Twitter. Find some other Ed Heads to learn from. Here are some suggestions that we follow:
@COJasonGlass @GoogleForEdu @iste
@alicekeeler @JeffcoSchoology @E_Sheninger
@rmbyrne @ShakeUpLearning @ColoradoSTEM
Challenge #3: Retweet. Find a quote or article that someone you follow has posted. Click the icon to retweet their post. You can also show you like or agree with a post by clicking the heart icon.
Challenge #4: Start Watching the Flocks.
Become a lurker by just checking in regularly and see what people you are following have to say and share. You will be building your PLN in not time!
TUNE IN TO NEXT WEEK'S BLOG FOR WEEK 2 OF THE JEFFCO ED TECH TWITTER CHALLENGE!
what is a PLN?
According to TeachHub, a resource in my PLN "In the education world, PLN stands for Personal Learning Network. What it means is that an individual has developed their own personalized "network" of fellow educators and resources who are designed to make them a better teacher".
For me, it is a way to further my learning and understanding of educational concepts that I am passionate about and support my work. My PLN allows me to easily connect with like minded educators from all over the world at my leisure. Learning and professional development can happen anywhere, even if I am at home in my pajamas or working out at the gym.
The following video describe in just over a minute, what a PLN is and how it can be beneficial for teachers to build their own network.