CC (Creative Commons) Explained

How to give proper credit where credit is due

If you’re like me, your understanding of technology and its related parts goes only as deep as is necessary to get the job done. Nothing wrong with that, I say, but in the age of digital citizenship, we ought to know more about how to cite the images that bring our words to life. I am by no means an expert and have much to gain from reading and listening to others, so I share this link with you, for the same purpose.

How to write an attribution (from the Creative Commons Wiki)

More about attributions and license versions

Here, Creative Commons offers examples (visual examples) of the good, bad and ugly attributions we (as consumers of free images) should know about in order to be better stewards of these great resources. If you want to share other links to credible information about becoming a good digital citizen, please do so in the comments section. I am happy to re-post.

What My School Needs Next

CC: by Geralt

This week, while pouring over content to expand my knowledge of citizenship versus digital citizenship, I stumbled across an old resource from a class I took last year. It led me on a squirrel chase where I discovered an entire curriculum that was exactly what I have been dreaming of creating for my school. The curriculum blended moral decision making with technology use at every grade level. It was/is the perfect presentation for digital citizenship in Catholic schools. It is what the world of Catholic education is missing, at least in my world, and quite possibly what’s missing in public schools, too. Continue reading…


Freedom to Learn: A story of success



Have you wondered if all your hard work will somehow make a difference to anyone? I have. Deep inside I know I have brought significant change to my school but this week I actually watched the evidence of that change through a program a new teacher introduced last month, a classroom version of TED Talks. She is a part-time interim teacher of English and Creative Writing and her gifts are tremendous. With her insight and experience, she immediately connected to our middle school students and gave them a platform to reveal themselves in ways they never did before.

CC;, photo by Ejam Maail

I was excited to be a part of her adventure by scheduling a guest speaker for her students, a personal friend, Brett Lewis, who had recently been in New York recording a real TED talk about being a peer helper to students with special needs. Brett is a sophomore in a neighboring public school and shared with them his experience preparing for his talk, and the real purpose behind the TEDx Youth world stage. He spoke about his nerves and excitement, explained how long it took to memorize his speech, and talked about the attention his talk has received.

Last Friday, was the first of our mock TED Talks. Students gathered in the English classroom (which happens to have a stage) where a large red piece of paper was laid to stand on, just like in NY. In his typical fashion, my 8th grade son, Braden, a student in the class asked me to help him gather some items so he could create a more “realistic” TED stage for his peers. Let me remind you that I am the Technology Director for his school, but on this day I was not working. It is not unusual for him to scurry through the school helping others with their technology – often at the request of teachers – so I was happy to give him a hand.

We don’t have much extra in our school so he and I (and my husband who happened to be there volunteering) pilfered from other classrooms. Braden set up a TV on the floor, a a laptop and video splitter on a stand, so the presentation could be viewed by both the speaker (from the forward facing TV) and the audience (through a small projector he brought from home). He borrowed my Bluetooth presentation clicker and proceeded to log into the laptop that sat on the floor. On the back wall he projected a countdown timer from another laptop and projector which was visible to the speakers on the stage.

He moved with great speed, as if he had manipulated these items many times before; switching out VGA cables until his electronic masterpiece was working. Finally, Braden asked (or should I say, told) his teacher to log into her Google account from the laptop on the floor and tell all the students to share their presentations with her. And he said to her, “may I go first?”

My husband and I began to usher ourselves out but our son motioned for us to stay. We slid to the back to make room for students who were piling in to watch. And then he began, “Why are my teachers always picking on me?”…realizing this, we captured his talk. As he closes out this chapter of his life along with his 8th grade peers, I can rest soundly knowing that however meager our resources as educators, it is by granting our students (and children) freedom to learn that that we-and they- will succeed.

All clip art retrieved from Google Images with CC license to share

Reflecting on Creating Something New

It’s finished. My first online course. It may not make you a rocket scientist, but if you want to learn all about Google and how to use its resources in the classroom, you can master it pretty easily by following the content in my online course. Then you’ll know how to help students become rocket scientists!

Many online programs help teachers be successful. Here’s a short list of what others are talking about. It’s a sampling of resources that help make teaching easier, more fun, certainly more effective, and it’s all online. To learn more about my recent experience creating an online course, check out my project reflection.

  • Khan Academy
  • CodeAcademy
  • Sophia
  • Curriki
  • Better Lessons
  • AVID

Building Quality Classes

Tqualityhe topic of quality has reared its head several times this week so I thought I would share some thoughts. While working on my newly created online course, Google Tools Workshop, which is nearly finished, I learned a great deal about what makes an online course “good”. In his 2015 book, Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning, which I consulted often, Bates offers multiple resources that include research and guidance about building online courses that are worthy of one’s time. The free, online book is a valuable resource. It’s helped me refocus on quality as I guide others everyday.
Creative Commons share with attributions: by flickerbrad

Quality in the Classroom

Unintentionally Blending Learning

While developing an online class, I’ve also been working with teachers to evaluate the impact technology is having on student learning in their classrooms. In elementary classrooms, teachers have become fond of using reading and math apps on the iPad. My role, among others is to ensure technology products help students and teachers achieve the learning standards set by our state (at the least) and to understand how, if at all, teachers can provide evidence of improved learning when technology is used. Continue reading

POP Goes Google Online

For those who have followed my work at Prince of Peace (POP) during the imageslast few months you know I have created and implemented a professional learning program as part of my year long  “IT” campaign. For those just joining me on this journey – welcome – and a brief explanation is in order.

“IT” represents many things and my school has agreed to adopt “IT” as the theme for everything we focus on this year. Our overarching goal is to help teachers reach a higher level of comfort with technology so they can take learning into their own hands. In support, we have assembled a Tech Committee of teachers to lead the program. All teachers willingly participated in a 4 week technology education program (with a 5th week for feedback), delivered entirely by skilled faculty. I am thrilled to report it was a success!

Now I am moving the program onto an online platform. This is new and exciting for me. The same lessons provided to teachers in the fall will be available to them again in the spring, through Schoology. Teachers wanting to learn more about Google tools for teaching can attend all six courses, at their own pace. The online courses will help our school keep all teachers up to date in their use of Google in education as well as advance their skill, staying at the top of their game, as teachers.

To view the inner workings of a course as it is being developed visit: Google Tools Workshop; Part 1.

Please visit the Projects Page for other information being used to support the course development.

Finding the Right Code for Kids

greenfoot-logo Programming

So many educators want to incorporate coding into technology education. Is it just a fad? An article from 2014 New Yorker suggests we are jumping the gun. Why is there such a push for children to learn to code in school? As technology director I rarely need to know code except to occasionally modify a default setting in a browser or customize a website, or lookup an IP address. When it comes to coding to make our systems work, I call upon trained professionals who are “coders”; often behind the scenes types, without whom our world might fall apart.

So why are we bringing it into education? Why all the hoopla? I mean, besides the obvious answer that pretty much everything we touch functions because some coding wiz kid made it operational. Here’s my unqualified explanation.

As a technology teacher, coding is as important as the pencil and paper that is a staple in every other class. It is the language of those who rarely volunteer, who neither lead nor follow, and those who can spend hours doing something that requires nothing but intense concentration. You know, those kids who don’t seem to contribute anywhere else.

Some kids are just built to understand the curious nature of code. They are often, but now always, the same kids who sit quietly in the back of the classroom daydreaming; the ones who stay up all hours obsessed with playing strategy games online while their parents see the activity as pointless. And they are likely the same kids who never really stand out – until we need them.

Over the years I’ve observed these traits in students who join my coding classes. They are creative, smart, hard working, and dedicated to mastering their craft. Failure has no effect on them. I am yet to have a student give up, cause trouble, or fail to complete what he or she started. The problem is that many of these same kids have no passion for the mundane riggers of math, history or  English classes, instead they crave the logic of a coding puzzle.

maxresdefaultWhat these students really learn from coding is that they have a place in the world. They discover they are an elite bunch who recognize “friends” as those who conquered the farmer level in, or make it through the Khan programming animation program. These students are a mix of girls and boys who are self proclaimed nerds, athletes, introverts, and socialites. Why do we teach coding? Maybe it’s because we might just need more than the basics to keep our world humming, and it will be those thinkers who can tackle the jobs that haven’t even been created yet. code-and-minecraft

On a side note, for anyone wanting to introduce coding as a class, an after school program, or even a summer camp, there are plenty of FREE resources for you – the teacher – to lead the way. You don’t actually need to know how to code, you simply need to know how to get the kids connected to it so they can learn on their own.

khan-academy-logoTry up to middle school. It is a great precursor to real coding. I use code studio at the middle school level beginning in 6th grade. From there students can easily move into java script using Khan programming intro to animation, which builds on the basics from  Finally, consider, which teaches how to build games using java developer. Visit my students’ robotics website for more information at