Tag Archives: teched

Lights, iMovie, Action: 10 Video Project Ideas Students Can Create in Any Content Area

After a recent #edchat this week on activities to try with our students in the new school year, the topic of video production came up. I love having my students create videos and I have compiled a list of a dozen different video projects I have done with my students that can be adapted in any content area classroom.

Majority of my students have smart phones and use the video camera on the phone to make their movies. We have come to love Vimeo, iMovie, and VideoStar apps for easy movie making, editing, and uploading onto the web. Students upload their videos directly to youtube or email me their video file to add to our class playlist. I usually offer a video project every month with some that are two day projects and other’s can take weeks.

1. Book Trailers – The first month of school I had students make a book trailer for their favorite summer reading book. Here are a few of my student’s trailers.

2. Character Music Videos – When we read Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None students selected one of the characters, choose a theme song for the character, and created a music video to convey the character. Here is the assignment:

3. Art Comes to Life – Inspired by a wordless picture book, students used an image from Chris Van Allsberg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick as a catalyst to create a video that expanded on the mystery of the picture presented in the book. Here is one student example:

4. Films Genre Project- A lot of times I give my students choices with the projects they create in my classroom. When students were studying Shakespeare I gave them the option to present a scene as a silent film, rap, or musical. You can have students reenact a scene using any film genre.

5. TED Talks – We all watch them. What if we had our students create a short TED Talk about their own passion and interests.

6. Prezi Screencasts – Take a prezi or powerpoint and screencast the presentation part.
Here is an example one of my students did on mobile learning for our Flat Connections global collaborative project this past spring.

7. Lego Movies – My son is obsessed with legos and he watches many lego movies online. This inspired me to get him to help me create a lego version of a few scenes from MidSummer Night’s Dream. We took still pictures of different lego scenes and screencasted the images and text together. I showed the video in class to help my students better understand the text.

8. Common Craft Videos – I love the ideas and images presented in many the Common Craft videos. Technically this is a screen cast of an illustrated presentation. You can have your students create Common Craft style videos on their own or using the Common Craft build program (depending on your budget).

9. Choose Your Own Adventure Video – Youtube has a feature that allows you to link videos within videos. Last spring my students created a series of videos that analyzed critical theories of gender, race, and class in Disney animation. We linked all the videos together allowing the viewer to choose what he or she wants to learn about. Here is the original blog post with more information how to create your own CYOA videos.

10. Stop Motion Animation – This is inspired by one of my student’s Genius Hour projects. She wanted to learn how to create a stop motion animation. Here is her video but think about the possibility of students creating a stop motion animation to explain a math or science concept. Sounds like a cool idea to me.

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Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age

Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age (ISTE, 2014) edited by Mark Gura is a compilation of eighteen different technology projects for any classroom. Tech projects include audio, video, blogging, and podcasting using web tools such as Animoto, Evernote, Wordle, and Audacity. All the chapters were written by teachers with the intention of designing classroom learning experiences that would engage students and at the same time require them to use technology tools and skills to create meaningful content.

I contributed a chapter on using podcasting to teach narrative and expository writing in my Speech and Debate class. Below are some highlights from my chapter, “Building Literacy Radiolab Style: Podcasting to Foster Speech and Debate Skills.”


My obsession with NPR’s Radiolab began more than five years ago when I would drive home on Friday afternoon from school and listen to the weekly podcast. Somewhere in the middle of the fifth or sixth podcast I realized there was a formula to the radio show and it mirrored an informational speech. Only, the podcast was enhanced by various sound effects and audio clips to draw my attention to the show and it’s content. I also realized that the majority of the topics presented were science based, and even though science was never my passion, the show’s format helped me to engage, empathize, and reflect on the scientific elements presented. Soon, my listening to the show was not only for enjoyment, but to deconstruct and study the craft of the show and think about how to apply this in my classroom.

I wrote down all the engaging transitions and really paid attention to how support material was weaved into the show to present information and inform the listener. I created an entire handout for my students with all the “moves” I heard the Radiolab hosts, Jad and Robert, say throughout various podcasts. These transitions benefited the listeners by inferring what they needed to do with the information presented.

The end result after having my students listen and study different Radiolab podcasts was for my students to partner up and create their own Radiolab style shows. Students wrote, edited, and recorded their own podcasts with added listening effects. Overall, the project was successful and Radiolab is still is my favorite show on NPR!

For more specifics about the assignment and process of creating the podcasts you can check out Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age: Inspiration for all levels and literacies edited by Mark Gura.


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Media Literacy in Action: Teaching Critical Thinking and Digital Citizenship

This Friday I will be presenting at the Media Literacy Research Symposium at Fairfield University’s Dolan Business School. Below is a summary of my presentation and resources for teaching media literacy and digital citizenship.

Media literacy entails being able to read, review, reflect, and react to all media, both print and electronic. Today’s information and entertainment technologies communicate to us through a powerful combination of words, images, and sounds. Being literate in a media age requires critical thinking skills that empower us as we make decisions, whether in the classroom, living room, the workplace, or the voting booth.

Media Savvy Kids was designed to expand the notion of literacy to include the ability to read, analyze, evaluate, and produce communications in a variety of media texts. Throughout the elective, students have the opportunity to examine how mass media is constructed and produced, and discuss how mass media shapes our understanding of the world. The elective focuses on all aspects of the media including movies, television, song lyrics, the print media, and due to the predominance of digital media, the internet and social media.

Media Literacy is essential in our globally digital world. Students are spending more and more time accessing, utilizing,and contributing to media through their mobile devices, tablets, and computers. Schools need to address media literacy across the content area in order to support students and address the Common Core Learning Standards alongside the International Society Technology Standards. If students are to positively participate in our digital and global society, media literacy is as necessary as reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical thinking.

Global collaborative projects lend themselves to poignant conversations about digital citizenship. The purpose of the global collaborative project is to educate and promote responsible online choices as well as immersing students in an online educational community for learning and collaboration. Students collaborate researching and writing a report using a wiki and create a school-based action project that is documented on the wiki.

In our technologically advanced world today, digital citizenship can mean a lot of things. Students need to engage in conversations around these topics so they can make good decisions as digital citizens when it comes to etiquette and respect, responsibility and safety.


Additional Resources for Media Literacy & Digital Citizenship:

Media Education Foundation

Project LookSharp (Ithaca College)


New Mexico Literacy Project

Listen Up: Youth Media Network (PBS)

Paley Center for Media (NYC)

Museum for the Moving Image

Media Smarts (Formerly the Media Awareness Network)

Common Sense Media

Google Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum

Flat Connections Global Projects

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Technology + Differentiation = Tech-erentiation for the English Classroom

Two conferences in one week!  I am making my way to the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention in Boston, MA where I will be presenting a poster on many of the techerentiated projects that I have my students complete for reading and writing assessments.  Below are links to the projects that I will be sharing at the conference.

2-5-8 Menu Board for Outside Reading Project

RAFT Reading & Writing Assessment for Outside Reading Project

Think Tac Toe for To Kill a Mockingbird

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Throw Out the Journals: Twitter in the English Classroom

Don’t throw away your journal or composition books just yet! But Twitter is a great alternative for writing and reading comprehension in the classroom.  After a Twitter chat this past weekend with fellow educators, the discussion turned to how to use Twitter in the classroom.  As a middle school English teacher and daily Tweeter, I have slowly integrated Twitter into my classroom for checks for  understanding and various writing activities.  

I request that my students create Twitter accounts to use in my classroom for educational purposes if they already have a Twitter account.  Twitter is a tech tool that any teacher can use for content area teaching, checks for understanding, analysis and synthesis, and to promote positive digital citizenship.

Here are five ways to utilize Twitter in the English classroom:

1. 140 Character Micro Story or Poem. Twitter is a micro blog that allows 140 characters (punctuation and spaces included) or less to communicate in a tweet.  Hence, one needs to keep a tweet short and simple. 140 characters is all that one has.  I want my students write clearly and concisely, with little rambling and filler.  Twitter is great in the sense that one has to communicate his or her message effectively in so few words.  From a creative stand point, students can create 140 character stories or poems.

2. Exit Tickets & Quick Responses. Need a short summary of a key idea or concept.  Want to check for understanding. Have students tweet their responses to a writing prompt or question.  

3. Backchannel for Film Discussions. If the class is watching a movie in class students can use twitter to have a silent discussion during the film.  As students are watching the film version of a book read in class, students can tweet the similarities and differences between the two texts. This activity meets CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.7 Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).

4. Book Discussions and Literature Circles. Last spring I had my students initiate their own book discussions about To Kill a Mockingbird and bring in the transcripts of the Twitter discussions.  I was so impressed by my students questions and reflections about the book.  This semester I am having my students engage in Twitter book club discussions (meeting once a week) with the book Bystander by James Preller (A must read for any middle school teacher). 

5. Be the Character. What would the main character say, do, or think?  How might they react?  Tweet the unspoken words or tweet from another character’s perspective.  You can do this with a fiction or non fiction text. Students can take on a persona and give voice to someone who has been silenced in the text.

To collaborate with other English teachers or gleen ideas on Twitter you can participate in the weekly #engchat discussion on Mondays at 7PM EST or Wednesdays at 7:30 PM EST participate in #tcrwp (Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project) twitter chat on topics related to literacy. 



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5 Things I Will Do Differently as a Result of #Edscape 2013

Today I attended the Edscape Conference at New Milford High School in New Milford, NJ.  If you participate in #Satchat or the 140Characters Conference you might know many of the innovative educators presenting at Edscape, sharing ideas about innovation, collaboration, and transformative teaching and learning practices. The conference is organized by principal, Eric Sheninger of New Milford High School and Teq.  Throughout the day I was inspired, made connections, and collaborated and networked with many educators.

Here are a few things that I am going to as a result of the conference when I go back to my classroom on Monday morning:

1. “Be More Dog”

George Couros, principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with Parkland School Division in Alberta, Canada kicked off the conference with a hilarious and meaningful keynote. He spoke about meaningful creation, disrupting our routine, and allowing our students the opportunities to do the extraordinary.

2. Create a Paperless Digital Classroom

Each year I challenge myself to use less paper and teacher at NMHS, Vikki Smith, shared how she has gone completely paperless in her High School science class this year by using Nearpod, Edmodo, mobile devices, and Classmarker. Class wikis, blogs, and Google Drive are also great tools to help reduce the amount of paper used in schools for worksheets, and handouts. I am going to try out the Classmarker for creating and administering a quiz this month.

3. Participate in the Global Collaborator Network

This fall my middle school students are participating in the global collaborative project “Digitween” created by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis of the Flat Classroom Project. The project centers around digital citizenship. But digital citizenship is not one lesson that is taught one day. Rather, teaching digital citizenship is ongoing so that my students understand their responsibility as a global citizen. Bill Krakower and other teachers of the Global Collaborator Network shared many more global collaborative projects that teachers and students can participate in.

4. Allow Opportunities for Voice, Choice, and Authentic Audience

The assessments and projects that my students do in my class need to matter in life, not just in school. Dr. Robert Dillon addressed how voice, choice, and authentic audience need to be central to learning. These three elements are the keys to engagement and integration.

5. Use Twitter for Reading Comprehension and Literary Analysis

Teacher Matthew Morone shared his experiences with his class using Twitter as a tool in his English classroom. As my students are reading we will try out Twitter as a web tool to record observations, define terms, decipher allusions, apply critical theories, argue claims, and justify connections with others.

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the Edscape conference

My head is pulsating with many ideas that I gathered today at the Edscape Conference in New Milford, New Jersey.  The idea around the conference is to “bring together passionate educators who firmly believe that innovation is essential to increasing student engagement and achievement.”

The Cool Cat Teacher and co-founder of Flat Classrooms, Vicki Davis, kicked off the morning with a keynote that was heartfelt, empowering, and engaging speech.  One of the things that she said is that “the most important A in your classroom is your ATT-I-TUDE. She spoke of building learning pathways and getting students involved in the evolution of technology integration in your classroom.  As teachers, we need to find meaning and encourage others so that we can set ourselves up for serendipity.  Davis shared personal stories of her studies and stressed upon teachers to encourage strengths in every child.  Students are more than numbers and test scores. “We are not making copies, we’re making originals.”

There were workshops galore following the keynote.  I attended one on Edmodo, Evernote & Livebinders: Websites that can Transform Learning in all types of classrooms presented by Media Specialist, Elissa Malespina and teacher, Melissa Butler of South Orange Middle School (my hometown!).  I am very interested in this moleskin paper notebook from Evernote that lets you take physical notes and then take a picture of the notes to upload and transcribe directly to Evernote.  Very cool!

Edmodo was also brought up in the next workshop I attended, Web Tools for Interactive Classrooms.  Since the conference was sponsored by Teq, the Teq staff offered many workshops throughout the day.  One I attended was on Using Your Smartboard to Support Achievement of CCLS.  I learned a few little SMARTboard tricks and recommend SMARTBoard users to check out the awesome resources and lessons on Teq’s website.

The final workshop I attended was on Connecting Kids & Teachers Across the Globe which is a project that I am looking to set up.  I hope to connect with the Japan Society this spring to do a global project between my middle school students and students in Japan.  More information about that will be in future posts.  The global projects and ideas presented by art teacher, Tim Needles were great and I might even steal a few to use with my students.

An amazing day overall, and I hope the links that I provide in this post will give you more information and some inspiring ideas to bring into your classroom.

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Web 2.0 Bingo for Teachers


On August 2nd,  I had the honor to present at the EDU 140 Characters Conference: Exploring the State of Education Now in New York City. My talk was titled Get Wiki With It and addressed what innovation looks like in the classroom.  Many  of the speakers at the conference talked about throwing out textbooks and breaking down the walls of the classroom, but can that be a reality in education today?

For the past ten years I have been teaching without textbooks and have founds that Wikis are one technology tool to help classroom teachers move towards innovative learning experiences that are paperless, tap into social media and engage students in authentic learning experiences.  Wikis are transparent for teachers, students and parents and at the same time catalogue student learning and understanding.  Wikis can be student centered and student driven.  The projects that my students post on the wikis are not the typical poster or book report, rather they are inspired by real world ideas and work.  Students have posted their own RadioLab podcasts after studying the craft of NPR’s RadioLab reporting. This past spring students collaborated online using Google Docs to write opening statements and research evidence files for debates on controversial topics in education.  Students have written their own supplemental chapters to The Yale Anthology of Rap (2010)  which were posted on the Wiki.  Students created their own Glogsters on careers that were of interest to them which we embedded on to the Wiki.  When I find a new technology tool or program I think how can I use it in my classroom to help my students showcase what they know and what they have learned.

Throughout my talk I mentioned lots of additional tech tools and widgets that can be used with wikis as well as on their own.  Rather than list all the web 2.0 tools mentioned throughout the talk, I have created Web 2.0 Bingo listing twenty-five of my favorite (and free) web 2.0 tools that I use in my classroom with my students.  How many do you already know?  Do you have Bingo (complete an entire row or column or diagonally across)?  For more of a challenge, can you complete the entire Bingo board?  Also, please feel free to share any additional Web 2.0 tools that I might have left off by posting a comment below so we can continue to compile more great tools for teachers.

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