21 Inspiring EdTech Women You Should Know!

-music expresseswhat i simply cannot-Writing this third and final post in the EdTech Women Trailblazers series was bittersweet. Educators are often the most humble group of professionals one could meet and I was encouraged, inspired, and filled with joy as I read the thoughts and advice from all of the women I featured throughout March. (You can read Blog Post 1 & Post 2 to learn about other women in this series.) This series was my personal way to give back to the hundreds of educators I have connected with throughout my career. There are many inspiring educators doing what’s best for kids around the globe, this was just a small sampling of those I hold dear in my PLN. The resources, collaboration, and passion from these women often goes unnoticed; now is the time to celebrate! These trailblazers are helping to lead the way in creating a change in the field of education and I am truly honored to know all of them!

 

starrStarr Sackstein, Hybrid teach/teacher coach

  • “I’ve been a long-time advocate for every child/teacher to be an active participant in his/her learning experience, including their voices in everything from curriculum development to assessment.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Twitter, Voxer, GSuite
  • Advice: Develop relationships with your students and really listen when they tell you what they need. The more present you are for them, the more they will be for themselves.
  • Connect with Starr: Twitter @mssackstein or EdWeek Blog “Work in Progress”

 

franFran McVeigh, Literacy Consultant for Great Prairie AEA

  • “Being literate is the key to having the power to learn from text (books, stories, print, art, video, and nonverbal cues of people) and is within the realm of possibilities for EACH and EVERY student in school and for the rest of their lives.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Hyperdocs, Twitter, Voxer
  • Advice: Relationships, relationships, relationships! Treat everyone with the respect and dignity that you want to be treated with.
  • Connect with Fran: Twitter @franmcveigh    Blog, franmcveigh.wordpress.com

 

melissaDr. Melissa Nixon, Director of Title I

  • “Being an educator is committing to children and their families with a life of service and dedication for a better tomorrow.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Voxer
  • Advice: You make a difference to someone every day.  Be kind. Be generous. Don’t be afraid to care deeply.
  • Connect with Melissa: Twitter @mmnixon73  Email mmnixon73@gmail.com

 

katieKatie Siemer, Director of Curriculum and Technology Integration at Forward Edge. I serve districts in Ohio as an integration consultant and edtech coach!

  • “I face each new day in education with determination to make a small impact one teacher at a time, all while finding humor every step of the way!”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Google Tour Builder, Eric Curts’ Resources, ISTE EdTech Coaches PLN
  • Advice: Be passionate about something… your content area, using technology, an after school club with the kids… anything! Education is going to be really hard sometimes, so you need something you really care about to pull you through the not-so-glamorous times or you will burn out really quickly. Every kid needs a champion, and you can’t be a champion if you’re just going through the motions. Love what you do, do what you love, and don’t forget to laugh along the way!
  • Connect with Katie: Twitter @Katie_M_Ritter Blog http://talktechwithme.com Email ksiemer@forward-edge.net

 

KKharimaharima Richards, Education Consultant

  • My goal is to continue connecting with other educators & leaders as well as learn new and innovative ways to provide our students with 21st-century learning experiences.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Twitter, GSuite, Canva
  • Advice: Create a vision that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. ~unknown
  • Connect with Kharima: Twitter & Instagram  @Kharima4 Linkedin or Email ksrichards4@gmail.com

 

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Mandi Tolen, HS Math Teacher

  • “I want to make education better for students by making myself better and helping those around me be better.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Bitmoji, Desmos, GSuite
  • Advice: Learn something every day and be willing to share it with others.
  • Connect with Mandi: Twitter @TTmomTT Blog Infinitely Teaching   Instagram    Snapchat

 

 

erinErin Olson, Instructional Leader and Curriculum Director

  • “I do not want my students and my children to be the best in the world, I want my students and my children to be the best FOR the world. ”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Tweetdeck, Flipgrid, AdobeSpark
  • Advice: The learning experiences we design and the environment we create stays with students long after they leave our rooms…our students still learn from those experiences and that environment long after they leave our rooms. Bring love, compassion, and grace to the classroom.
  • Connect with Erin: Twitter@eolsonteacher Email mrseolsonteacher@gmail.com

 

AmberAmber Bridge, Digital Learning Consultant at Grant Wood AEA

  • “As an educator, I love to explore and create different learning structures and see the outcomes of risk-taking, creativity, and problem-solving in those structures.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Makerspace Movement, Green Screen by DoInk, Google Keep
  • Advice: Every individual in a classroom is a learner and a teacher if you chose to listen.
  • Connect with Amber: Twitter & Instagram  @abridgesmith

 

claraClara Galan, Community and Content Marketing Lead, Amazon Education K-12

  • “My passion is to help teachers and schools nurture students to become the next generation of independent creative problem solvers.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Remind, Kahoot, GAFE, OER Commons, Padlet. Buck Institute for Education, Common Sense Media and Edutopia
  • Advice: Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone – you never know where it will lead! Also, there isn’t one silver bullet (or tech tool) to solve the issues in education. Each group of learners (and each student) is unique in their needs and approaches.
  • Connect with Clara: Twitter @MsClaraGalan

 

amandaAmanda Dykes, Instructional Technology

  • “My goal is to help as many people as possible while keeping the focus on students and remembering school isn’t a place for adults to work but for students to learn.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: GSuite, YouTube Creator Studio, Adobe Spark
  • Advice: Don’t forget they are kids. They are not always going to sit still or stay quiet, they are not wired that way. Compliance isn’t what they are created to do. But they are created to make a difference and it takes understanding and love.
  • Connect with Amanda: Twitter h@amandacdykes

 

stacyStacy Behmer, Coordinator of Digital Learning, GWAEA

  • “You can’t steal second with your foot on first, take risks and keep on learning to make a difference for students.“
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Google Expeditions/VR, Voxer, Google Keep
  • Advice: Relationships are essential, get to know your students, parents and other educators and what passions they have and what type of learners they are because it enables you to better support and also builds your PLN!
  • Connect with Stacy: Twitter  @sbehmer

 

meghanMeghan Zigmond, 1st Grade Teacher & ITS

  • “Create an environment where all learners are encouraged to share their passions and curiosities, then build and grow them as a community.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Koma Koma Koma, Student Skechnotes / Doodles for visible thinking, & SeeSaw
  • Advice: Find your own passions and interests outside the classroom, then share them with your learners. Your passion and excitement for lifelong learning breeds more excitement! I think it makes learning more authentic for you and them, no matter if they are 6 or 36.
  • Connect with Meghan: Twitter / Instagram / Snapchat at @MeghanZigmond Blog zigzagstech.com   

 

bethBeth Still, Innovative Teaching and Learning Specialist

  • “My passion is to help educators discover the amazing things that can happen when they allow their students to have a voice.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Google Tour Builder, Google Sites (new), and Google Keep
  • Advice: Be brave enough to follow your dreams.
  • Connect with Beth: Twitter@BethStill

 

andreaAndrea Townsley, Curriculum / PD Leader and Instructional Coach at Benton CSD

  • “Everyone has something valuable to share and bring to the table, so making connections with colleagues within and outside of the district, community members, and families is a passion to help me to continue to learn, grow, and recharge.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Seesaw – as a parent and as a coach, Podcasts – Cult of Pedagogy & HACK Learning, & Train Ugly
  • Advice: Dance with your fears; don’t be content with your comfort zone.  Be a Jungle Tiger
  • Connect with Andrea: Twitter@townsleyaj  Blog townsleyaj.blogspot.com  Instagram @ajtownsley  

 

wandaWanda Terral, District Technology Coordinator

  • “By empowering others, I empower myself.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: G Suite, Adobe Creative Cloud, Twitter
  • Advice: Embrace your imperfections. Many of us are perfectionists and, while that quality often makes us great at what we do, it also fuels our stress and frustration. Continue to strive to do your best and push the envelope while also embracing your imperfections. Remember, your imperfections are the stepping stones on your growth journey. Without them, personal growth stagnates.
  • Connect with Wanda: Twitter @wterral Google+ (+WandaTerral) Blog ignitionEDU.com), and a variety of other spots which are detailed on about.me/edtech

 

ValerieValerie Brinkman, 1:1 Coordinator/Tech Specialist

  • “My passion as an educator is to spark a lifelong interest in a topic or issue for students.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Bloxels, Digital Breakouts, Socrative
  • Advice: Remember that each student in an individual and comes to you with their own story. Take time to learn their story and connect with them on a personal level to allow for great learning and better educational experience.
  • Connect with Valerie: Twitter @BrinkmanValerie

 

kristinKristin Ziemke, Teacher & Author

 

jenniferJennifer Williams, Professor, GlobalEd Program Developer, ILA Board of Directors

  • “To take action for social good and transformational teaching and learning through the sharing of stories, perspective, and experience in our global classrooms.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Nearpod, Participate, Global Oneness Project
  • Advice: Endeavor to be a teacher where all the children of the world are your students and all lands of the earth are your classrooms.
  • Connect with Jennifer: Twitter @JenWilliamsEdu Website: www.calliopeglobal.com  

 

JuliJuli-Anne Benjamin, Instructional Coach

  • “Dedicated servant to the successful trajectory of children Everywhere.“
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Kahoot. Global Goals/Teach SDG’s and all things Culturally Responsive Pedagogy.
  • Advice: Work to build and curate relationships with children. KNOW them when they are in your space and ground your pedagogical practice in student choice and student voice.
  • Connect with Juli-Anne: Twitter @JuliB224  Email edcampbrooklyn@gmail.com  

 

LauraLaura Gilchrist, HS Instructional Coach in Kansas City

  • “I am passionate about creating a citywide ecosystem to support learner innovation, agency, and opportunity access both in schools and in cities so that our kids can walk into their futures self-identifying as connected learners and leaders.“
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Google Keep, NYT VR app, Podcast app (subscribe & listen to podcasts)
  • Advice: Believe in yourself, think big, and connect with educators and ideas beyond your school. Your unique voice and energy make a difference in many lives–a bigger difference than you will ever know! Keep leading and lighting the way for our kids and for each other!
  • Connect with Laura: Twitter @LauraGilchrist4  Linkedin www.linkedin.com/in/lauragilchrist4 Blog www.lauragilchrist4.com

 

mariaMaria (Galanis) Arfanakis, iCoach

 

 

annAnn Feldmann, District Instructional Technology Specialist, Bellevue Public Schools; Adjunct Professor, Peru State College and Doane University

  • “Once upon a time I was a young girl and had a dream of being a teacher.  I wanted to create a classroom that students would want to run to every day. I am happy to say, I am living my dream! I’m in a position to influence and foster a culture of teaching and learning that provides engaging, personalized, differentiated, and choice-driven learning for all students.”
  • Current Edtech Favorites: Seesaw Classkick Schoology Voxer and iPads
  • Advice: Being an educator is an awesome responsibility and a great privilege and honor. Never forget that our job as educators is to serve our students and staff. Embrace the opportunities that are presented each day. Use your strengths and talents to encourage one another. Be present and positive while you listen, learn, and lead. Inspire all the people in your path. It’s in the spirit of working together and celebrating successes that new ideas are generated and people have the courage to implement something new.  Anyone who works with me knows, that my philosophy is that we are better together and build a community strength on strength.  “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” -Helen  Keller
  • Connect with Ann: Twitter @annfeldmann1

 

When I started writing this series to celebrate Edtech Women Making an Impact I realized how fortunate I am to be connected (both virtually and in-person) to Trailblazers in the field of education. From Authors to Makers, Coaches to Advocates the passion exudes from these women who put kids first, share generously, and leaving their mark on the world!

Technofy Your Vocabulary Instruction

Technofied Vocabulary Instruction

I do love a challenge, and my friend and fellow Certified Google Innovator, Alicia Brooks offered the perfect one a few weeks ago. Alicia wanted ideas for blending sound vocabulary instruction with intentional technology. I gladly accepted the challenge, it was a way to blend my passions in literacy and technology.

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Technofied Vocabulary Instruction  (1)All learning is based in language! It is also a part of the Common Core State Standards, based off of the work of Isabel Beck.  But instead of aligning vocabulary instruction to a mandate that could change as quickly as politics, I like to instead anchor my beliefs in what’s best for kids. Word learning is a way to understand concepts more deeply, connect to topics and information intentionally, approach challenging words with strategies good readers use to make sense of complicated texts, and to transfer this understanding into consumption and creation! Along with those beliefs, I also knew there were two important research-grounded assumptions on word learning.

  1. Word learning is not incremental – it is not like an on – off switch; instead, it is more like a dimmer switch, strengthening what we know.
  2. Students learn many more words than we can teach them during school hours or with direct vocabulary instruction.

Understanding these two assumptions, educators recognize vocabulary instruction must be multifaceted. Student learning of vocabulary and instruction of vocabulary must come from multiple angles. Students must have multiple exposures to build depth and understanding . On average, students learn 3,000-4,000 words a year from grades K to 12th. This amount of word learning far surpasses what can be taught in the classroom. Learning of words happens incidentally and from all types of contexts; in school, out of school, from communication and conversations, television, social media, and music. Students are constantly learning words!

When determining how to teach vocabulary, I like to use the following neumonic developed by Blachowicz & Fisher.

Flood – Flood your classroom with words related to your concept or topic. Not all learning requires intentional and teacher-directed instruction. Enriched environments that promote interesting encounters students have with words increases incidental learning.

Fast – Use fast instruction when an easy definition or analogy will build on knowledge the students already have. Instruction is fast paced where the teacher identifies the word, provides a synonym, gives an example of use, and then asks students to provide their own connection or synonym

Focus – Use focus instruction for words where deeper, semantically rich teaching of a new concept is required. Instruction involves both definitional and contextual information, multiple exposures to the word and it’s meaning, and deep levels of processing so that students develop a rich base for word meaning.

Technofied Vocabulary Instruction  (2)Technology provides support to both educators and students on vocabulary instruction and word learning. For instance, applying the 4 components of a multifaceted and comprehensive vocabulary instruction, students are encouraged to identify vocabulary that is unfamiliar to them in their independent reading, mentor example, or nonfiction article from another class. This choice recognizes different needs, prior knowledge, and interests students have in your classroom. Use semantic mapping to aid in the learning. Try Coggle, as a way students can organize and group their word work.

Technofied Vocabulary Instruction  (3)Hyperslides (a dynamic presentation in which different slides are linked together, providing choice to the student. Think a digital form of Choose Your Own Adventure.) can be used for a short student analysis, or to provide students with a quick way to strengthen their understanding and exposure through a “Would you rather” question. I have found it best to model an example and provide as a future option for student creation. When students construct their own understanding, word learning is deepened. Click here to experience a short demo I created with Google Slides.

Technofied Vocabulary Instruction  (5)Model it – word learning is supported through enriched environments where students are word aware! Educators must do their part as well, seeing that vocabulary acquisition is largely incidental. Crosswords, word games, vocabulary websites, thinking aloud your own struggles when encountering a difficult word, videos, images and word walls demonstrate the constant vocabulary learning by the teacher. I am a collector of moments and beautiful words, and one of my favorite things to do is identify and Pin literacy devices I find on Pinterest. This modeling is one that students enjoy and frequent, noticing the additions and pinning some to their boards.

Technofied Vocabulary Instruction  (6)Graphic Dictionaries are great for Tier 3 words that are content specific. Have students create their own graphic dictionary according to content or unit. Use Google Docs and the (g)math add-on to create a Math Term Graphic Dictionary! It is not only functional and individualized by each student, but it provides an opportunity to utilize a digital resource available.

Farnsworth Instagram TemplateFinally, try using social media to engage, create, and collaborate digitally with students through Wuzzles (word puzzles). Share a class Instagram account in which all students take turns posting to, or utilize your own Snapchat app and stories to post Wuzzles to extend learning. Another alternative is to create and use templates that models form and structure found on social media platforms. Create a Vocab-O-Gram with an Instragram template found HERE.

Source: Gambrell, Linda B. and Lesley Mandel Morrow, eds. Best Practices in Literacy

Instruction. New York: Guilford. 2015. Print.

 

Digital Literacy: Teaching Infographics, a sub-genre

infographic components

During the past few months, I have had the pleasure of teaching a Digital Storytelling course. The focus was on how students can use digital modes to communicate their understanding of concepts, topics, and problems. Recently, the learning was on infographics. We live in a visual world, digital communication makes up most of the reading one does daily. Videos, images, and infographics are commonplace and examples of reading and writing digital literacies.

Digital modes of communication are best taught as sub-genres in the classroom. When considering Infographics and how best to teach students to consume and create them, the following are guidelines that will assist you in this endeavor.

First, start with an inquiry lesson in which students investigate a collection of infographics that are considered to be of high quality. I like the ones listed in the article entitled, 11 Best Infographics of 2015. students will find a variety of designs, structural examples, along with content areas. Students are charged with Identifying Commonalities, Naming Components of Good Infographics, and Providing Reasons to Justify Claims. (All which are aligned to the Common Core Writing Standards).

Second, identify a mentor “text” (in this case an infographic) in which students can use to refer back to when making decisions on their own infographic. Remember, a mentor text is one that has many access points students can use. It can be one that is teacher-created, or student-created, as well as one from an expert. It does not need to align to content, instead, the focus is on skills and components students use and show when designing an infographic.

Third, good writers/designers plan before they start creating an infographic. A storyboard or checklist containing components of an infographic will provide structure to budding designers. Check out Google Templates for examples, or better yet, have students create their own. The more complete their planning is, the more successful their creation of infographics will be.

Finally, provide a checklist containing the 7 Elements above with explanations, examples, or other activities that allow students to dig into the different areas while constructing their  own knowledge of this sub-genre.

  1. Topic: Student-Choice should be given when selecting a topic. Remember, we are working on skills and components of stellar infographics that they can use from this day forward, not the content! The topic should be relevant, engaging, as well one that is not currently an infographic that they can Google and copy.
  2. Audience & Purpose: Identifying audience and purpose of communication provide a lens in which to look through when sharing information. Just as in all types of communication, the skills students use to demonstrate their understanding through an infographic are transferable to multiple digital and text-based modes.
  3. Structure: Infographics have structure similar to what a reader may notice in non-fiction. Description, Compare and Contrast, Order, Sequence, Chronological, Cause and Effect are a few of the ways students can consider when structuring their information and flow.
  4. Hook: Good Infographics have a catchy title or image that “hook” the viewer at first glance. Students should identify this, not only in mentor examples but also as a skill that is transferable to all forms of communication. Taking time to practice this skill is essential!
  5. Balance: Infographics have a balance between text, images, icons, and white space. Succinct communication through words, phrases, and images demonstrate a command of the information and also design elements.
  6. Design: There are many different strands to infographics when dissecting design elements; start with the basics and build from there. Notice color schemes, fonts, and images. How do they promote or detract from the message? A site for those of us that are clueless when it comes to color choices is Coolors which generates possible options for users. When deciding on fonts, Canva’s Design School provides examples as well as reasoning.
  7. Sources: Finally, when students cite their sources, they not only enhance their credibility when providing data, support, etc., but they are also demonstrating good digital citizenship by avoiding plagiarism and recognizing copyright.

My love for infographics has been reawakened through the teaching of this course. It allows me to blend my passions in literacy and technology. Teaching digital literacy, and the modes that are associated with it as a sub-genre provide accessibility to educators and students for reading, viewing, and creating their own! Here are a few sites to support the creation of Infographics:

Day 3 Digital StorytellingGoogle Draw

Canva

Piktochart

Easelly 

The Teaching of Writing, A Promise to Students

A Guide to the Common Core Writing Workshop Middle School Grades (1-3)

Frequently, the answer to the question posed above is one met with hesitation. While most of us can answer the type of reading or math instruction a student will receive in our school, writing instruction is one area that is often glossed over, or assumed to be present in the ELA classroom. Teaching students to write is viewed as complicated, and many teachers resort to focusing on grammar and conventions. While these two areas should be included in any writing program, they often extinguish the love of writing in students. Likewise, rarely does a department or school have a comprehensive writing program; one that scaffolds and builds off of the previous year’s instruction. Typically, it is a game left to chance if a child receives writing instruction by a highly-qualified teacher; and even then, without an intentional writing program agreed upon by the department and school, gaps in writing instruction equal little growth seen in students.

The Common Core gives as much attention to writing as it does reading. In fact, three of the reading standards require students to read like writers. “Writing is assumed to be the vehicle through which a great deal of the critical thinking, reading work, and reading assessment will occur” (Lucy Calkins). Students abilities to read and understand will be assessed through their ability to write. The Core also provides an infrastructure into which a curriculum can be developed. Vertical alignment to the core provides foundations a student learned prior onto which one can stand upon and build from.

BUT…

The Core is the WRONG answer to give as to why one should reform their writing curriculum… instead,

  • You believe in kids.
  • You believe in democracy.
  • You believe in the right for all people’s voices to be heard.
  • You believe that writers make choices for deliberate reasons.

(Calkins, UoS)

The Standard-based approach to writing includes a shared commitment by the whole school, it is the work of everyone. Writing, like reading and math, is one of those subjects that affect a learner’s ability to succeed in other areas. Finally, there is a shared commitment to teach writing, and some infrastructure that assures enough of a curriculum that teachers can build off of prior instruction.

Lucy Calkins also outlines the “bottom-line conditions” needed for writing. I have created an infographic highlighting these conditions.

Conditions for writing

Complete slides found here