Educators Sharing #WhyIWrite to Celebrate The National Day on Writing


In 2009, the Senate passed a resolution recognizing October 20 as the National Day on Writing.

Every year, thousands of educators, students, and writers celebrate by tweeting reasons why they write using the hashtag #WhyIWrite. Celebrations and activities are planned in classrooms across the nation uniting writers, recognizing the benefits of writing, and voicing the importance of writing!

Getting Students Involved

In the classroom, my former students shared their voices on Twitter. Beautiful and profound statements were succinctly tweeted followed by a curation of their favorite tweets throughout the day. As a class, my students gathered their favorite tweets from the #WhyIWrite feed and created multimodal projects sharing the many voices. For example, some  used Storify to collect and share their favorite tweets. Other tools my students used to collect, create and share were:  iMovie, YouTube, Pinterest, blogs, and Word Cloud generators.

This year I challenged educators to share #WhyIWrite.

whyiwrite-1  tony

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More Information

Thank You and Be Sure to Follow

If you have a #WhyIWrite message to share, please send it to me and I will add it!

Posted in #iaedchat, #tcrwp, #teachwriting, #whyIWrite, beliefs, Blogging, communication, Digital Literacies, edchat, Literacy, NCTE, storytelling, Student, Teacher, teaching, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Digital Portfolios with Bloomz


As a high school English teacher in a technology-rich school, I realized the importance of digital portfolios to capture and showcase learning. Upon graduation, each one of my former students left with both a digital portfolio and a YouTube channel accessible across platforms and shareable via links .

Can you imagine how powerful a digital portfolio would be if students began capturing their learning as early as elementary school?

A digital portfolio, I believe, holds 2 main purposes:

First, it is a curation of learning and experiences students can use in reflection. Reflection provides cognitive insight into themselves as learners, as well as an account of their learning journey.

Second, a digital portfolio is a living artifact in which students can share their skills, passions, and understandings with a larger community or a potential employer. Having a positive digital footprint is essential for young people. Employers and colleges rely heavily on what they see and read online about potential employees or students, a digital portfolio could help in this area.


In a few of my more recent posts, I shared an exciting school to home communication app called Bloomz. Recently Bloomz launched another option perfect for students to demonstrate understanding and to enhance digital portfolios –  Video.  This new feature allows teachers and students to share videos via  phone or other previously recorded videos from the library.

Student Timeline

The addition to the new video feature, Bloomz allows students full capability of creating a multimodal digital portfolio utilizing the Student Timelines feature. The Student Timelines feature allows teachers and students to post to the class feed as well to individuals (parents). Teachers can edit, annotate, and review work that students submit to their timeline before it is posted. Photographs, texts, and now videos shared in a Student Timeline provide a real-time insight into learning and conceptual understanding.

As you can tell, I am a huge fan of this award-winning app. As both a parent and an educator, I love when digital resources are agile in capabilities and serve multiple functions. Every student should graduate with a positive digital presence. Bloomz makes this easy to do with Student Timelines!

Posted in #edchat, Assessment, communication, Digital Literacies, Digital Portfolios, edchat, Education, Literacy, reading, Skills, storytelling, Student, teachers, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Alternatives for Generating Citations


Just as one should always backup their pictures, documents, and videos in multiple places; so should educators always have a backup for their favorite digital resources, tools, and apps. In the blink of an eye, something that was accessible yesterday could vanish into the digital abyss just as the recent deletion of the Research Tool in Google Docs. Educators and students had grown accustomed to the search and citation options available with the “Research Tool” and many are now scrambling for alternatives…

Here are 3 Citation Generating Alternatives to Consider:


  1. logo-easybib-cheggEasyBib – A free citation generator that is available online, as an app, extension, and as a Google Doc Add-On. EasyBib is also offering a free EasyBibEdu account for all educators for the 2016-17 school year. Not only can you generate citations using MLA, APA, and Chicago styles, with EasyBib, you can also create notecards, outlines, and avoid plagiarism and check the reliability of websites.


  1.  citation-machine-logoCitation MachineA free tool that helps “students and research professionals properly credit the information that they use. Its primary goal is to make it so easy for student researchers to cite their information sources, that there is virtually no reason not to.” It allows users to choose from 4 styles – MLA, APA, Chicago, and Tribune. It is a web resource that is simple to use.


  1.  refme-logoRefMe – Also a free web tool that allows users to create citations and manage them by scanning the barcode. Choose from over 7,000 styles to fit requirements. RefMe also allows you to share your list of citations with others making it perfect for collaboration and group work. RefMe is a web resource and also an app. Cut and paste citations into documents or download the entire bibliography.


No one is happy when a widely used digital tool suddenly disappears.

As educators, we need to model to our students how to readjust and seek alternatives. And remember, most digital tools have feedback options so users can share their likes or needs with the creators. You can find Google’s feedback form here. Help to improve Google’s products for all user, let them know your thoughts.  

Posted in #edchat, #Googleedu, #tcrwp, #teachwriting, Chrome Extensions, Citation, Collaboration, communication, cross-discipline, Digital Literacies, edchat, Education, Google, Literacy, Multiliteracies, multimedia, reading, Skills, Strategies, Student, Teacher, Teacher Beliefs, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Guided Reading Made Simple


Guided Reading is appropriate for any grade level and is part of a balanced literacy program. Even as adults, we gain skills to understand new or difficult texts (epubs, infographics, poetry, microblogging). Guided reading helps educators differentiate in the classroom and aims to “develop independent readers who question, consider alternatives, & make informed choices.” – Mooney 

By the time students enter the third grade, they have decoding skills and guided reading is used to provide explicit instruction to develop powerful readers. Reading is understanding! And through guided reading students continue to add strategies to their toolbox that will help them understand any difficult text they encounter.

Before starting guided reading:

  1. Establish routines that support independent work and classroom management so small groups can be pulled for instruction.
  2. Identify groups of 5 or 6 students that read at the same instructional level or who have similar strategy needs.
  3. Groups are temporary and dynamic, based on need and should be changed when assessment and behavior dictate.
  4. Older students are less likely to display reading behavior because most processing is done automatically and unconsciously, but they are able to write and talk about their understanding and reading processes better than younger students.

Once groups have been established:

  1. Select text based on the instructional level of readers.
  2. Introduce the text, modeling strategies good readers use to understand what they read.
  3. Students read the whole text or designated portion of a longer piece. This is done independently and silently. During this time, teachers can observe and note reading behaviors, have individual students read a portion orally, work with another small group or conference with individual students.
  4. When the everyone is done reading, students discuss the text with the support of the teacher.
  5. Based on notes or the discussion, the teacher models 1 or 2 strategies students need and then apply to the text.
  6. Two optional guided reading components include an extension activity. Students continue learning through writing activities,  sketchnoting, or even a multimedia response. Word work is another option that could take place after the text is read.

Guided reading is effective and efficient to boost student achievement in the area of reading comprehension.  Often it is met with hesitation, educators are unsure of how it “looks” in the classroom. Following the framework above helps to alleviate those  fears providing structure to a powerful balanced literacy component.

Source: Fountas and Pinnell



Posted in #edchat, #tcrwp, Differentiation, edchat, elementary, Literacy, multimedia, reading, Skills, Strategies, students, Teacher | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Public Behavior Charts: Just Say No!


Grace emerged from the bus last. I could tell from the look on her face that she was upset. She looked in my eyes and immediately broke down, tears streaming down her cheeks and unable to catch her breath through the whimpers. I hugged her with every ounce of love I had in my body. We walked home, she tucked under my arm while I stoically led the way. When we stepped inside the comfort of our home, Grace tearfully gasped, “I was on Red today.”

Public Behavior Charts Hurt Kids

In schools across America, students are adjusting from summer routines to classroom routines. Excitement to see friends and meet their new teachers is overshadowed by the behavior clip-down chart looming at the front of the room. They are constantly reminded that one mistake would catapult their designated clothespin from the top to the bottom, serving as a visible disappointment to every adult and peer in the room.

I am not naïve enough to think that my children never have bad days or make mistakes. In fact, I expect them to have hiccups as they learn to navigate through school. But a public behavior chart has punitive consequences that outlast the offense itself. Ridicule from peers and negative self-thoughts do not belong in our schools in any form.

There are many options educators can use as an alternative to the Public Behavior Chart:

  1. A simple note home or a weekly graph of the same behavior system can be shared privately with parents or slipped into a folder and transported home.
  2. A Google spreadsheet can also replace Public Behavior Charts. Sharing a Google spreadsheet with both the parents and the child keeps the information private, as well as acts as an ongoing update on behavior.
  3. Another alternative, and one of my new favorites, is the “behavior tracking” option found in the Bloomz app. This digital alternative allows teachers to share successes and concerns with parents in a private and secure way. Along with a number of other options, this school-to-home app keeps the lines of communication open without retributions attached to more public options. A private messaging option promotes dialogue between child, parents, and teachers.

Educators work to develop and support the whole child, which includes much more than just scholastics. Behavior, both positive and negative, should be shared with parents but not posted publicly. Using a digital, secure and, most importantly, a private alternative such as Bloomz is what is best for kids. Just Say Yes!


Posted in #edchat, beliefs, edchat, Education, elementary, Student, students, Teacher Beliefs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments