Author - Kristin Oropeza

Flipgrid Gives Spring CUE a Voice

Flipgrid CUE

Instructional Technology TOSA Corey Mathias from Garden Grove Unified School District recently shared his “CUE 19” Flipgrid with the Twitter universe and educators have taken to leaving video responses to questions surrounding CUE’s annual Palm Springs event – sharing recommendations for extracurricular activities, sessions of interest, where to get your grub on, and even a section for educators who are new to Spring CUE.

Here’s what Corey had to say about sharing his grid with other educators.

What inspired you to create the “CUE 19” Flipgrid? As Instructional Technology TOSAs, we were trying to figure out a way to support our teachers who would be going to #CUE18 for the first time. We love Flipgrid and figured that we could put together some responses to share with our teachers. We also figured that we could put it out to our PLN and see what they had to say. Through the power of Twitter, we received some great responses and were able to reach a number of other CUE first-timers outside of our district. It was so successful last year that we decided to expand it this year to include an opportunity for presenters to plug their session, as well as food recommendations and activities to do outside the typical day at CUE.

Corey’s “CUE 19” Grid

What do you hope other teachers will take away from this? Spring CUE can be overwhelming, especially for first-timers. We would like teachers to not feel isolated. The beauty of Flipgrid is that it makes the responses personal. Hopefully, participants can feel comfortable connecting with their PLN IRL.

What is your one piece of advice to new Spring CUE attendees? Slow down. Don’t try to get to every session. Take time to reflect. Tweet often, create a personal vlog of a session or your day at CUE, use @creativeedtech’s CUE by the numbers template, or take time to talk to the presenter or another participant to reflect on your session. Some of my most powerful learning at CUE has been in the hallway where I have found educators who share some of the same passions I do.

Attendees can get recommendations and find out what’s happening on Corey’s Grid.

TAG – You’re It! Feedback That Empowers

Feedback is critical to what we do as educators – not only for ourselves, but as part of the learning process of the students’ whom we teach.

Author and educator Starr Sackstein writes about the power of peer feedback and how using it within the classroom not only empowers learners, but fosters independence, growth, and self-advocacy.

One way for students to provide feedback is through the TAG strategy. TAG is an acronym for (1) Tell something you like, (2) Ask a question, and (3) Give a suggestion. This strategy provides a quick, formative way for students to share feedback with their classmates, while also providing some “next steps.”

To see TAG in action, check out this video from Edutopia.

Jonathan Nalder Goes BOLD


CUE’s 2nd annual BOLD (Blended and Online Lesson Design) Symposium is set for May 4th-5th at Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA.

Of the many talented educators who will be presenting and showcasing at BOLD, Jonathan Nalder is set to take the stage as one of two featured speakers.

But who is Jonathan Nalder?

Jonathan Nalder is an out-there creative who chose Education in a ‘get a real job’ moment and ended up still loving it 20 years later. In this time, he discovered the power of personal learning tech to empower students to teach themselves, and has now spent 10 years teaching teachers across Australia and the globe how to transition to digital pedagogy. After a 6-month research sabbatical in 2016, Jonathan was shocked at how fast AI and new tech were changing the workforce. Inspired by this, he founded the FutureWe.org community to help teachers show students how to invent their own jobs and solutions, no matter what their futures bring.

With the help from over 350+ members in 17 countries, he has created the Be Future Ready Mapping Tool around the five “big picture skills” of Creativity, Community, Thinking and Planning, Project Delivery and Storytelling – and the practical programs to support students being ready for anything, such as ‘MakeXR.net’ lessons (AR, VR, 3D storytelling), and FirstonMars.net experience (creativity and team work). Now in 2019, Jonathan is supporting the awesome and free Spark Empathy Project from Empatico, a site that links classrooms from all parts of the globe in order to build community via social and emotional intelligence.

Jonathan is convinced that education, digital learning, and futures thinking has the potential to transform lives. As a current ICT Trainer at St. Peters Lutheran College, Apple Distinguished Educator, COSN Advisor, CoSpaces Edu Ambassador, ASU Shaping Edu Ambassador, and Gen[in] Student Innovation Challenge board member, he actively works to make this real and helps learners shift their thinking to embrace the coming fully-digital and automated era.

Jonathan realizes that lesson design is the exact place where best practice, big picture ideas meet classroom realities. He states, “It’s the intersection between being ready for anything, and ready for your specific students!” For BOLD in 2019, Jonathan will help attendees map out the big picture and guide them in how to practically apply best practice in their own classrooms.

What does this mean for BOLD attendees?

With predictions for how many jobs new waves of tech like AI and robotics will impact covering the 30-70% range, understanding what learners (and all of us) will need to succeed is becoming more and more important. Jonathan will help BOLD’ers tackle questions like ‘What do we need to be ready for?’, and ‘How do we even know if students are ready?

Given that helping students be future-proof also makes them a better learner today, what can future-ready lessons look like? Jonathan’s workshop will bring the real by introducing you to the Spark Empathy Project – the free way to boost community and empathy skills in your classroom, as well as:

First Kids on Mars, 2050 – How can you leverage play as well as low-tech and easy-to-access hi-tech ideas to boost creativity and team-work in your classroom? This program uses the creative scenario of solving problems for a failing Mars colony to take students into deep learning of how to work together and solve problems – and you can learn how to apply our activities to your own students needs in this session and via the ‘First School on Mars Teachers Playbook’ (free for BOLD attendees).

MakeXR – Next-gen storytelling. Getting your head wrapped around new tech as diverse as VR, 360-degree images, AR, 3D objects and holograms as well as managing a busy classroom is a lot to ask – but Make XR gives you an ‘extended reality’ framework that explains them all, as well as the lesson workflows and tips to get you started so your students can set themselves apart with next-generation storytelling skills.

Are you ready to go BOLD and get inspired by Jonathan’s work and mission? Register now and be prepared to get Future-Ready with Jonathan Nalder!

Become an Apple Distinguished Educator

Apple Distinguished Educator

The 2019 application period to become an Apple Distinguished Educator closes this week on February 6th.

Apple states that this program seeks to “recognize K–12 and higher-education pioneers who are using Apple technology to transform teaching and learning. These are the educators who are looking to change the world. They are active leaders from around the world helping other educators rethink what’s possible with iPad and Mac to make learning deeply personal for every student.”

The ADE application consists of four parts and includes a short application video.

For more information or to apply, make sure to check out the ADE website or join in on the conversations on Twitter using the hashtags #ADE2019 and #AppleEDUchat.

When Skills (Not Product) Are the Focus

Painting Canvas

I recently introduced an activity in my 2nd-5th grade classrooms that involved making mosaic art via Google Drawings. It was a great activity that I first saw on Eric Curts’ blog, Control Alt Achieve. I was excited to be delving into a lesser-used app among my teacher colleagues and was looking forward to seeing some of the creative pieces my students would be producing as a result of this study.

Eric Curts’ activity that inspired my lesson

I readied my presentation (complete with some background information about mosaic art, examples, etc.), set the parameters of the assignment (every student in the class would have to pick a picture from a given topic; while the topic had to be the same, they had creative license to pick a picture they wanted to recreate), and then waited for the masterpieces to take form.

It didn’t happen during that first lesson.

Now, the students were on task, dedicated to choosing the right image. They were using keyboard shortcuts that we had discussed in previous lessons, manipulating shapes (also discussed in a previous lesson), and using the polyline tool (where was this glorious tool when I was growing up?) in Drawings – something new. They were asking questions, exploring the app, clicking around and finding out what worked…and what didn’t. Everything that a teacher of technology hopes students will do during a lesson.

But masterpieces take time. I understood that (which is why I had planned on dedicating a few lessons to this endeavor). However, some of my teaching colleagues did not. They wanted to see the product. Like, RIGHT. NOW. They wondered aloud if it was too hard for their students…too complicated for them. One teacher gave me a look that I couldn’t quite identify – something along the lines of confusion and “Good Lord, honey…you’re in way over your head.” And their doubt took me aback. 

Student samples from Julie Lyle’s classroom

I think as teachers we sometimes forget how resilient our students are and need to be reminded how capable they can be when given the time to just create and explore – and truly be students and inquirers. (I’ve been reminded of this quite a few times already this year in my new role.)

I often remind myself that – despite what the naysayers say (or not say, through non-verbal cues) – I want to challenge these kids. I want to expose them to things they may not get to see or participate in otherwise. I want them to explore and get excited about the things we do with technology. I want them to learn things that four or five lessons later they remember and say, “Hey, I know a shortcut for that” or “I know how to do it better.” I value the skill practice, refinement, and mastery of said skills over any product that might look good for Open House.

And – not one of my students (including those in the special education classrooms I visited) ever said that it was too hard for them. They asked questions. They experimented. They persisted…and isn’t that what we want as encouragers of a growth mindset?

I know some of my colleagues won’t understand this approach. They will think that these activities aren’t worth much in the long run. But I will know better. I know that my little Michaelangelos are well on their way to creating their own Sistine Chapels…in time, once they refine their technique and learn how to use their paintbrushes.

Artificial Intelligence That Hopes to Empower Learners

Artificial Intelligence

It was only about 35 years ago that artificial intelligence (AI) and “thinking machines” were fodder for Arnold Schwarzenegger films. Now it seems AI is making its way into the classrooms of today.

In an article published for EdSurge, writer Danielle Dreilinger discusses how AI developers such as ReadyAI are now creating curriculum and resources aimed at empowering K-12 students to use AI technology to cultivate social change.

But ReadyIA is not the only company hoping to spearhead the AI revolution in K-12 education. According to Dreilinger’s article, “ISTE and AI4All are [also] developing separate curricula with support from General Motors and Google, respectively.” And with AI kits moderately priced at $2,999 (for a kit that includes Cozmo robots, tablets, laptops and game controllers), AI for students is no longer a far-fetched movie plot.

To read more from Dreilinger, visit EdSurge. To find out more about ReadyAI’s program and products, visit ReadyAI.

New Program for Crowdfunding Teacher Needs


Teachers, prepare yourselves – a new program started by website TeacherFunder.com is giving Donors Choose a run for their money…but to your benefit!

TeacherFunder allows teacher participants to apply for funding from generous donors. Similar to the Donors Choose model, TeacherFunder collects 3.9% + $1 from each donation, with the remaining funds going to the teacher.

Unlike Donors Choose, though, TeacherFunder acts more as a payment service and enables teachers to have quick access to the funds donated to them – with fewer hoops to jump through so that donations are in teachers hands sooner. That means money for supplies, field trips, books and other expenses (say, like EdTech subscriptions) a lot sooner!

To get started, visit TeacherFunder.com to register and get to work on that classroom donation hustle!

Innovating Beyond the Classroom


Educators across the nation are doing some amazing things in their classrooms. I first came across Liz’s Twitter page when looking for meaningful ways to leverage EdTech in the classroom. Liz’s page boasts tons of STEM activities, Hyperdoc lessons galore, and a wide variety of G-Suite documents that she and her colleagues have created together and shared with the Twitterverse. Read on to see how she’s using the latest trends in EdTech to create some amazing opportunities for her students to collaborate, create, and get techy!

Name: Liz Stroud

Teacher librarian Liz Stroud

Email: estroud@dg58.org

Role in Education: Teacher Librarian

Location: Downers Grove, IL

Social Media Handle: @LRCFairmount (Twitter)

How long have you been in education? This is my 11th year in education.  I was an elementary classroom teacher for seven years and this is my fourth year as a teacher librarian in a K-6 school.

Please describe a “day in the life” of Mrs. Stroud. Most days are controlled chaos, and I love it!  I get the opportunity to be in the library teaching and also in the classrooms co-teaching.  The most chaotic days are when multiple grade levels are doing different projects. I’ll run back from a classroom (I do run when the halls when I shouldn’t) to the library after showing a student that her 3D prototype finally printed with no hiccups, teach the next lesson, then while the students are reading after book checkout, I’ll quickly vacuum our CNC carving machine to get rid of all the wood shavings.

2nd graders and green screen
2nd graders getting creative with green screen pizza boxes!

What is the best thing about your job? The best thing about my job is having the flexibility to have engaging and meaningful lessons with ALL of the students and teachers.   I’ve been able to schedule a day where every grade Skypes with an author for World Read Aloud Day. For the annual Global Read Aloud, I connect the teachers with another classroom from a different part in the world, and we use various digital avenues to share ideas about the book read. The primary students are code and problem solve with our Dash robots and Beebots. The intermediate grades design 3D printing objects for teachers in the building or as holiday gifts for their family. The lessons, tools, tips, and skills I teach them in library follow them into the classroom.  Then the teacher learns through the students. The teachers are able to see new technologies and possibilities, and that creates even more excitement. I feel like I am able to do more school-wide as a teacher librarian than as a classroom teacher. I really love that. Seriously, I think this is the best gig ever!

How did you get interested in EdTech and what are some of your favorite activities you do in your classroom/library? EdTech is another way to make teaching magical.  Even when I started eleven years ago, our district had a roaming cart of twelve MacBooks.   I was lucky enough to have great mentors who dove right in and weren’t afraid to use them.

We would use them to make podcasts during reading, screencasts of our explanations during math, flyers about National Parks for Social Studies (that could pass as a legitimate flyer), and iMovies book trailers.  Not only were these students creating “cool” projects, but they were bouncing ideas back and forth with each other and really focusing on the art and craft of producing this finished piece of work that they were so proud of.   Their creations always, always exceeded my expectations.

Using read alouds and the green screen to talk about perseverance

Within the past few years with the 1:1 iPads, students are making Adobe Spark websites about the states (that look like an adult created it!), recording green screen videos demonstrating their knowledge of a biographical figure, creating Apple Clips or Animoto videos for our Math Talks. The students become creators instead of just consumers.

You mention your love of collaborating with teachers. What are some easy ways that teachers can take what you do in your room and extend it into their own classrooms? I find that the best way to have teachers use new technology ideas in their classroom is to show the students first.  They become the experts and are easily able to integrate this independently into their own classroom. Our school invested in MakerSpace/STEM supplies my first year as a teacher librarian.  This could be intimidating to just dive into and incorporate these tools into a lesson as a classroom teacher with everything else going on. I tried to ease that process. For example, I would show the students how to use the Ozobots and connect the lesson to something they were learning in class.  We would draw a route for the Ozobot to show the major events of the story. The teachers and I could then brainstorm ideas together, but the students would really be able to hit the ground running in their classroom. Give the students the Ozobots, some markers, paper, and they are set! The burden of learning all these new tools is no longer on the classroom teacher.  

Our Carvey Machine bringing the designs the 6th graders made to life
The Carvey Machine bringing the designs of 6th graders to life

You share a lot of EdTech resources on your Twitter page. How do you find the resources you share? Do you have any favorites that you follow for ideas?

I collaborate with colleagues within my district, neighboring districts, and the surrounding public libraries.  I also look on Twitter and attend local conferences. I am so lucky to have such great resources around Downers Grove.  One summer I really nerded out and spent a bunch of time exploring Twitter, meeting with a technology specialist (Lissa Blake), and the Kids Department at the public library.   Lissa and I spent almost a whole day together just geeking out over ideas that we had done or had seen at conferences or from Twitter. One of my favorites is the green screen pizza box.  Lissa had seen this at the 2017 ISTE conference. The concept was so simple (green gloves, Starbucks green straws, painted pizza boxes), but it also seemed like the most amazing idea! It’s a game changer.

People I follow: @D60HolmesTech @bethkingsley13 ‏, @bhopteacher @luv2teachtech @savviteacher @KarlyMoura ‏, @JennyLehotsky @smalchow @Jordan_priestle @Andrea_Trudeau @DrKMattson @Liz_Delzell

What is your advice to teachers who are just getting started with using technology in their classrooms?

Just. Do. It. Get your hands on as much technology as you can and just go for it. Let the students explore with you and find people who will support you. If it can make a difference in your classroom and has meaning, just do it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share or include in this interview? Not to get cheesy, but I am honestly so lucky to be passionate about what I do and get to work with kids all day and then be able to help teachers out in their classrooms, too. It really is the best of all worlds.

Liz Stroud picture

Liz Stroud graduated from Illinois State University in 2008 with a major in Elementary Education.  A few years later, she earned her masters in Administration and then in Instruction Technology with a library science endorsement. Stroud has worked in the elementary schools in Downers Grove since she started teaching eleven years ago.  She lives with her husband and their rat terrier dog in Downers Grove. She’s lucky enough to spend most of her time in the summer on Delavan Lake – an awesome getaway with family and friends. Follow her on Twitter @LRCFairmount

Get Behind Leroy’s Big Idea

Leroy's Big Idea

Applications for this year’s Leroy Finkel Fellowship (aka Leroy’s Big Idea) are currently open. This fellowship is open to all part-time or full-time K-20 educators who are CUE members and is intended to promote leadership in the area of educational technology.

CUE “Fellows” will have the opportunity to strengthen professional skills; develop an innovative technology-enhanced curriculum project, aligned to curriculum standards; and share their ideas and strategies through the OnCUE Journal, conferences, websites, social media and much more.

To submit an entry, all you have to do is submit a 60-second video (via Flipgrid) and complete the short application form. Your next big idea could get you a $2,000 fellowship, registration and travel expenses to the ISTE Conference for the current year, guidance from a professional mentor for an entire year, and an invitation to write a feature article for OnCUE Journal.

The rubric for Leroy’s Big Idea can be found here. For more information, make sure to check out the Leroy Finkel Fellowship page at OnCUE. Applications are due Monday, January 14th so be sure to submit yours today!

Classroom Newsletters Go Digital

Classroom Newsletters Go Digital

I was all about the weekly classroom newsletter as a beginning kindergarten teacher. It had cutesy graphics by DJ Inkers, homework information, tips and tricks for parents, and what I thought was an abundance of resources for my classroom parents. As my workload increased, I found myself slacking on the newsletter front; what had been a weekly resource was turning into a monthly gig.

It wasn’t until I went to a session at a local Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit that I learned that newsletters didn’t have to boring, paper things – they could be digital, they could be engaging, and they could be fun.

Sarah Malchow's newsletter, "Malchow's Tech Bytes"

Sarah Malchow’s newsletter, “Malchow’s Tech Bytes”

The presenter at this particular session introduced the class to Sara Malchow’s newsletter – a completely interactive newsletter made through Google Slides. (I also liked Meagan Kelly’s newsletter – something she shared with her students and families.) There were hyperlinks! There were animations! It was colorful and pretty – but it was also a source of information! And I knew that I needed to have one for myself.

That was two years ago.

The time to get that newsletter done never came – until my new job and a new purpose for the newsletter came into perspective. As a Technology TOSA, I have the amazing opportunity of working at four different elementary schools across our district. I go into TK-5th grade classrooms, working with approximately 1,200 students (give or take) and about 53 teachers. And I have teachers who are actually using the technology and want to learn more!

Oropeza's Tech Bytes Newsletter

My own newsletter for teachers

So, taking inspiration from Malchow and so many other educators who have transitioned to digital newsletters, I dove in and created a newsletter of my own. I’ve started simple but have my staples – my notes to teachers (where I review what I’ve been working on with students and where we will be going in the next month), no-cost-low-cost professional development opportunities coming up, a “Did you know..” section (where I include information on free resources for teachers), and finally, a chrome extension/add-on or website of the month.

Short, digestible, and to the point – most of the time. Something that the teachers I work with could read and pull information from – maybe even get inspired by. (My journalistic heart skips a beat every time I see teachers live on the document!)

Do you create digital newsletters for your class? Who do you share them with? Let me know by giving me a shout-out on Twitter @KristinOropeza – I would love to see what you’ve created!