OnCUE

Author - Kristin Oropeza

Sticker Swap Returns to Fall CUE

When: Sunday, October 20th from 8:00-8:45am in the outdoor covered seating area between the Gym and the Cafeteria

Where: Fall CUE at Rancho Cordova High School

What: Educators sharing their stories & passions while also swapping swag (stickers!)

Who: CUE officially announces a call for “official” sticker swappers — those who have a story to tell and a sticker to share that helps to spread that story. ALL attendees to Fall CUE are invited to come through, talk to the “official” sticker swappers, and gather sticker swag. They can also trade with one another. Official swappers will be wearing visors to let others know they have stickers and stories to give away.

Why: CUE’s annual sticker swap started with one purpose: to grow your PLN by talking to the swappers and learning more about them and their stories and sharing your own story.

Apply at bit.ly/fall19stickerswap today!

If you have any questions about the sticker swap, make sure to reach out to Jodi Green for more information!

CUE Nominating Committee Looking to Fill Seats

The CUE Nominating Committee has two important seats to fill. This crucial board committee ensures high-quality leadership and continuity for the long term direction of the organization. 

The committee is seeking new voices, new perspectives, and diversity in leadership as well as organization-wide participation.

An ideal committee member should have successful board and/or leadership experience as part of their professional experience. The committee is seeking new voices, new perspectives, and diversity in leadership as well as organization-wide participation. Current CUE Affiliate Board members and newcomers are encouraged to apply by submitting a letter of interest to Sharon Sutton, Nominating Committee Chair (suttonsharond@gmail.com).

The deadline to apply is October 12, 2019. All Letters of Interest will be reviewed by the Nominating Committee chair and CUE leadership.

Time Commitment

Up to four virtual (no travel required) meetings per election cycle. Timely response to emails to review candidates is required. To read the Nominating Committee Policies & Procedures, click here

#WeAreCUE

Fall CUE Keynote: Catlin Tucker – Reimagine Your Role, Rethink Your Workflow & Reclaim Your Life

Teachers are tired. Our jobs are multifaceted. We design and facilitate lessons. We monitor student progress and collect student data. We provide feedback on and assess student work. We attend meetings and communicate with parents about student progress. It should not surprise anyone that most teachers feel like they are treading water. They do not feel they have the bandwidth to try new instructional models, teaching strategies, and technology tools. 

I am convinced that the biggest barrier to innovation is not an unwillingness to embrace change, but rather a general lack of time and energy.

Most teachers feel depleted because they are doing the lion’s share of the work in their classrooms. They put tremendous pressure on themselves to do it all…design, facilitate, instruct, support, and assess. However, our propensity to do the work is robbing students of the opportunity to take ownership of their learning and robbing teachers of the time they need to rest and recharge. 

Learning should be a shared responsibility between the teacher and the learner. The student must be equally invested in the learning happening in the classroom. Teachers must partner with students to shift the responsibility of learning from the teacher to the learner. Students must be taught how to be active, engaged learners who are capable of tracking, assessing, reflecting on, and articulating their progress. 

To embrace a partnership model, teachers need time and space in the classroom to connect with students, teach them to set goals and monitor their progress, help them develop their metacognitive muscles, provide timely and actionable feedback, and conduct side-by-side assessments and grade conversation. To do this, teachers must free themselves from the front of the room. They must be willing to experiment with different instructional models beyond the whole group lesson. 

Real time feedback in action

Blended learning encourages teachers to reimage the way they design and facilitate lessons to ensure they have the time and space to truly partner with students and rethink their workflows. I don’t think teachers should drag home stacks of paperwork to grade after a long day at school. The neverending paper trail that plagues most teachers is energy-sapping and counterproductive.

It’s exponentially more valuable and rewarding for teachers to provide students with feedback as they work and assess student work with the student sitting right next to them. 

Teachers no longer need to dedicate massive amounts of class time to disseminating information. Instead, we need to embrace new roles as architects of learning experiences, coaches supporting skill development, and facilitators of learning. If we welcome, instead of resist, these new roles and engage students as partners in learning, we can rediscover our joy in the classroom and reclaim our lives beyond it.

Metacognition in Action

Catlin Tucker is a Google Certified Innovator, bestselling author, international trainer, and keynote speaker. She was named Teacher of the Year in 2010 in Sonoma County where she taught for 16 years. Catlin is pursuing her doctorate at Pepperdine University and working as a blended learning coach. Catlin’s books Blended Learning in Grades 4-12 and Blended Learning in Action both bestsellers. Corwin published Catlin’s newest book Power Up Blended Learning in September, and she is already working on a new book designed to help teachers achieve balance with blended learning. She is active on Twitter@Catlin_Tucker and writes an internationally ranked education blog at CatlinTucker.com.

CUE Booms! Return to Fall CUE this October

When: Saturday, October 19th from 3pm – 4pm

Where: Fall CUE at Rancho Cordova High School

What: Educators sharing their stories & passions in 3 minute inspirational, high-energy talks. 

Who: We need YOU! Are you ready to #CUEBoom? We’re looking for you! Got something you are passionate about? Ready to share your energy with others? Feeling ready to inspire your CUE family with a message from your heart? We’re looking for YOU! 

In the past, CUE Booms have been about topics ranging from building relationships to making to helping students build a strong sense of identity. The message you want to craft and communicate is up to you!

Apply at bit.ly/CUEBOOM19 by Monday, September 23rd at 11:59 pm PST.

If you have any questions about CUE Booms or want additional information, please contact Amanda Haughs or Abby Almerido.

Narratives to Teach SEL Skills

Want to inject some social and emotional skills into your classroom routines? Simple – have students share stories!

In a recent Edutopia article, author Marissa King suggests that stories can help build and sustain classroom culture, while also developing important SEL (social-emotional learning) skills in students.

King states that “Using shared narratives is an effective strategy to build positive classroom culture while introducing or reinforcing SEL skills. In addition, it requires minimal teacher prep and is easily customized to fit different kinds of subject matter.”

Building a canon of classroom stories is a great route to go in developing important SEL skills. Having students write narratives after they’ve had the opportunity to get important subject matter context is ideal. King further recommends, “Even a short writing assignment can add crucial stories of when a student successfully used an SEL skill in another area of his or her life.”

Reading SEL-related stories or novels also serves as an illustration of how to use SEL skills. Similar to improving academic skills, SEL skill development takes time to develop and requires regular opportunities to practice.

To read more of King’s article and to find out how to use narratives to build SEL skills in your students, read her Edutopia article here.

Assessing Writing Without Grading

Over the next several weeks, OnCUE will be introducing readers to some of the presenters who will be showcased up in Sacramento at this year’s Fall CUE Conference. These presenters want to give you a teaser of what to expect at their session – and hopefully inspire you to join them! Read on to hear from them – in their own words – about their passions, stories, and areas of expertise.

Currently I am an ELA Teacher Leader in Vallejo City Unified. In this new position I hope to bring the focus to literacy across content and support teachers and students in all that they do. Previous to my experience here in Vallejo, I was Technology Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) in the Woodland Joint Unified School District. There I supported K-12 with the integration of technology into the educational setting. I left the high school classroom after ten years of teaching to begin working with educators as learners; however, I spent the majority of my time in K-6 classrooms supporting teachers and students as we navigated the challenges and successes that educational technology can offer. While in the classroom, I taught English, theatre, AVID, ELD, and ran the English Language Learner program. I am a recent graduate of CSU Monterey Bay with a Master’s of Science in Instructional Design and Technology. Not only did I study instructional pedagogy, but I also had the chance to master media arts as part of the program. Clearly my passion for technology is a large part of whatever I do! 

In my Fall CUE session, “Assessing Writing without Grading Essays,” I hope to break the traditional bindings of writing instruction and introduce new ways to assess the same skills without grading 100 essays. Skills-based writing assessments are a game changer! We will use technology to enhance student engagement (and grading ease) and learn how to really dive deep into teaching writing skills and assessment. These skills will help support ELD students, struggling learners, and advanced learners alike. Each task is easily differentiated for the various types of learners one might have in a class at any given time. With these skills, teachers can truly begin to facilitate learning and allow the students to reach higher standards.

Join Crystala Button on Sunday, October 20th from 10:15-11:15am in H114 for her session, “Assessing Writing Without Grading Essays.”


Crystala Button currently works as an ELA Teacher Leader in Vallejo City Unified School District in Vallejo, CA. She is a recent graduate of CSU Monterey Bay with a Masters of Science in Instructional Design and Technology and utilizes her skills in supporting ELD students, struggling learners, and advanced students alike. You can find her on Twitter at @lilbuttonbutton.

The Fast & The Curious – An EduProtocol Review

I finished my first week of teaching technology this past week and it’s been exhausting! I forgot how much it takes to go into roughly 24 classrooms over the past week, present a lesson that’s going to keep the whole gambit of students engaged, all while trying to impress teachers that I’ve never worked with before – and many who I have.

My first lesson usually runs the same – I introduce myself (or reintroduce myself) and review (or introduce) the expectations I hold students accountable for during our technology time. Depending on how long we have – 30 minutes for the young ones and 45 minutes for 1st-5th grades – we often finish with some sort of low-entry point activity.

A slide from my slide deck – introducing Mrs. Oropeza!

This year, after attending a CUE Rockstar event in Oxnard this summer and getting amped up to try some EduProtocols, I decided that it would be a good idea to try one out. On my first day with students. With no previous practice.

I thought I would try “The Fast and the Curious” protocol – it seemed easy enough. Instead of having me stand up and lecture, I would let students learn the expectations through a fast-paced game. (The kids I worked with last year were ecstatic when we tried Kahoot this past year, so I knew that Quizizz and this particular routine would pique some interests across the board.)

I signed up for Quizizz and made a quiz with relative ease. I noticed some pretty great features of Quizizz right away:

Quiz Appearance: Unlike Kahoot that uses pictoral representations for answers (shapes/colors), Quizizz lets users utilize both words AND pictures (that have been uploaded). This is great for students who may be young learners, non-readers, non-English speaking, or students who may have special needs.

This is an example of how pictures can be uploaded to represent answers.

Content Library: Quizizz has a large library of user-created quizzes to use…and many educators have already turned to Quizizz for this particular Eduprotocol, so there was a wide variety of quizzes ripe for the choosing.

Data: As a former Special Education teacher, I am all about the data. I really appreciate that I can see the various reports generated by each quizzing session. It’s also helpful if I wanted to compare quiz scores and overall progress toward mastery.

Reports allow me to see how many times I have given the quiz, along with the number of students from each session and the class average for that particular session.
Pulling up individual sessions gives me more individualized information on each user that participated in that particular quiz session.

Memes: Want to connect with today’s students? Throw some memes into your lesson! Not only were the memes funny, but the students loved the motivation factor of the selected memes.

Overall, the students enjoyed it. We noted that most students saw an improvement from one session to the immediate feedback and follow-up quiz. I was surprised that students – including many of my upper graders – didn’t groan and moan when I said we were going to retake the quiz right away. They were excited – some even downright joyous.

I even managed to wrangle in some of the teachers to sign up for Quizizz – one small step for Tech TOSAs, one giant leap for EdTech kind! For future trials, I would like to tie in some science or social studies content and see if it sticks. But until then, you can bet that I will be experimenting with other EduProtocols!

Personalized Learning Spaces

Over the next several weeks, OnCUE will be introducing readers to some of the presenters who will be showcased up in Sacramento at this year’s Fall CUE Conference. These presenters want to give you a teaser of what to expect at their session – and hopefully inspire you to join them!Read on to hear from them – in their own words – about their passions, stories, and areas of expertise.

Do you know where YOU learn what best?

Learning space design goes well beyond decorating the classroom, cute bulletin boards, and flexible seating. Becoming a learning space designer means the integration of research into the work of intentionally designing learning spaces. More and more teachers are asking their students the question, “Where do you learn what best?” to prepare them for life beyond school that will most likely include co-working spaces, mobile work spaces, working from home, and many other options.

Each requires students to be able to answer that question, and it is our role to begin that preparation. In addition, we should be asking students about what in the classroom supports their learning and then craft personalized solutions for their students. Using the research that is emerging around learning space design, teachers can build a coherent strategy that allows students to have choice and agency throughout their active learning environment.

My session for Fall CUE showcases these ideas in a practical way that allows all teachers and leaders to engage in proactive ways to optimize their learning spaces. The learning space tells the non-verbal story of the learning, and it is essential that all learning spaces reduce stress and anxiety and maximize deeper learning.

Continue to follow the hashtag #learningspaces and #intentionaldesign leading up to the event to get some great free resources and ideas. 

Join Dr. Robert Dillon on Saturday, October 19th from 3:00-4:00pm in the Library for his session, “Technology Integration for Modern Learning Space.”


Dr. Robert Dillon has served as a thought leader in education over the last twenty years as a teacher, principal, and director of innovation. Dr. Dillon has a passion to change the educational landscape by building excellent engaging schools for all students. Dr. Dillon serves on the Leadership Team for Connected Learning, a Saint Louis based organization designed to reshape professional development to meet today’s needs. Dr. Dillon has had the opportunity to speak throughout the country at local, state, and national conferences as well as share his thoughts and ideas in a variety of publications. He is the author of many books on intentional design in learning: Leading Connected Classrooms Engage, Empower, Energize: Leading Tomorrow’s Schools Today; Redesigning Learning Space; The Space: A Guide for Educators; and Powerful Parent Partnerships.

Secret Weapons for PBL

Over the next several weeks, OnCUE will be introducing readers to some of the presenters who will be showcased up in Sacramento at this year’s Fall CUE Conference. These presenters want to give you a teaser of what to expect at their session – and hopefully inspire you to join them! Read on to hear from them – in their own words – about their passions, stories, and areas of expertise.

Technology IS your secret weapon for PBL and other important project based learning topics! 

Our students love technology, and – let’s be honest – there is no shortage of options for technology in our classrooms these days! Technology can be an educator’s best weapon and easy to use IF it’s the right fit for you, your students, and the learning experience you want to create. If you are looking to “up your PBL game,” or simply looking to explore and experiment with one of the many project-based learning topics, technology can be your secret weapon to success…or it can feel like one more thing to do on your growing checklist and feel completely overwhelming. Drawing from my experience bringing PBL to schools around the world, I want to share with you five secrets for using technology as a tool in PBL to ensure best practices of teaching and learning, that will surely save you time and make your life easier!  

Secret 1: Think about your end in mind

PBL is rooted in Understanding by Design, and therefore when planning a project one must always think about the end in mind. As you plan your next project consider what a final product might be – what students can produce to show that they have mastered the required content and skills of the project. As you brainstorm final products for your authentic project idea you can consider how technology can be infused by asking yourself:  “How might technology enhance student learning throughout the process of this project?” and “How can technology push my students deeper in their learning by applying or ultimately communicating their learning in a new way?” In a recent project planned with elementary teachers from Foothill Knolls STEM Elementary teachers came up with this project idea that incorporated technology as a lever for deeper learning by having students ultimately produce a published book using the digital website of Shutterfly. For more great tech tools to use in your next project, check out this guest post by 5th grade teacher Camille Nunnenkamp. 

Secret 2: Embed technology in formative assessments

One of the least sexy project-based learning topics is “assessment” but have no fear – it’s not as dirty as it sounds! After identifying a final product for a project, the next step in project planning is to identify benchmarks for student learning, tied to “deliverables.” These deliverables are pieces of student work that show the results of scaffolded learning experiences and student progress toward developing mastery of content and skills needed to ultimately product the final product within the project-based learning experience. These deliverables are then assessed by the student, peers and teacher and used to provide opportunities for feedback and reflection to allow for assessment for learning, not just assessment of learning. 

When I’m working with teachers I remind them that benchmark deliverables can be traditional in nature, for example quizzes, labs, essays or outlines; or they can also incorporate technology. A few of the most common deliverables that infuse technology include:

– Infographics created on Piktochart to show the collection of student research on a topic.

Flipgrid to provide students with feedback on benchmark deliverables

Explain Everything is a great tool for student-product diagrams that can highlight content vocabulary and understanding. 

Secret 3: Use technology to make learning authentic

Authenticity is often defined by schools that I support as a tenant of High Quality Project-Based Learning. Authenticity is the word used to describe the connections made for students between the content they are required to learn and real-world issues, and is one of the most exciting project based learning topics to explore! Students can make connections to the real-world through any number of the following:

-Video conferencing with experts to interview on project content, or ask for feedback on a project idea (Check out skype a scientist). 

-To capture observations during field work by using pic monkey to edit photos taken or Thinglink to explain the components of the photos captured. 

-Garageband can be a great tool for recording interviews “in the field”. 

Secret 4: Let technology be a lifesaver 

Every educator knows the importance of organization, and technology can be an incredible tool in this regard for not only teachers, but students and parents, as well. A best practice of PBL is developing a project hub where all content is stored for a specific project-from project overviews and entry documents, to calendars and project resources. Google Docs, Evernote and Newsela can serve as wonderful tools for a project hub, by allowing teachers to collaborate by adding resources to help one another, and providing access to students and parents. This hub is shared on day one of the project, during the project launch, and referenced daily. Keeping all project materials in one place and collaborative not only increases student agency, but will save you time and headache by having all project material in one place. 

Secret 5: Technology can showcase student work 

That’s right, in PBL you are going to need to get your swag on and exhibit student learning with a REAL audience. Technology can help this feel like an “easy lift” by giving you the outlet to get student work in front of a meaningful audience. I love to see social media leveraged both by teachers and students in PBL-either by a teacher or student run class social media account that showcases project processes or by student-created social media campaigns using platforms such as Canva, as a final product. Social media, for better or worse, is part of our daily lives and this generation has a wonderful opportunity to learn how to use it with social responsibility and to advocate for change or educate audiences, so let them share what they know with the world and inspire others!  

Want to learn more about how technology can help take your projects to the next level? Join my  interactive session at Fall CUE, where we will explore how technology can make PBL more convenient for YOU,  while also engaging your students in a new way. You can also learn more by following me on social media @crafted_jennypieratt or visit www.craftedcurriculum.com.

Join Jennifer on Saturday, October 19th from 1:45pm-2:45pm in H117 for her session “Overcoming Technology Overload: Technology as Your Secret Weapon in PBL.”


Jenny Pieratt, Ph.D.. is President of CraftED Curriculum — a leading provider of Professional Development for PBL across the US and abroad. Jenny is a published author and active speaker on Project-based learning. She was a founding staff member at High Tech High North County, a former School Development Coach at New Tech Network, and National Faculty at BIE. You can learn more about how technology can help take your projects to the next level by joining Jenny’s  interactive session at Fall CUE, where we will explore how technology can make PBL more convenient for YOU,  while also engaging your students in a new way. You can also learn more by following Jenny on social media @crafted_jennypieratt or visit www.craftedcurriculum.com

Empowering Learners in the Classroom

As many educators prepare to return to work and welcome a new group of students for the new school year, it is a great time for us to reflect on classroom practices and look toward new ways of empowering our next group of students.

Empowering our students is one of the greatest tasks and privileges that we hold as teachers. You, as the classroom teacher, have the profound opportunity to inspire and liberate student voice not only in your own classroom, but, hopefully, beyond that.

As you greet new students in the next few weeks and start learning this new group’s quirks and strengths, think about employing some of these ideas to empower your students and help them find their voice.

1. Give choices.

And not just on that multiple-choice quiz! Students want to feel like they have choices – that they are in control of their own learning. (My three-year-old toddler would agree!) It’s okay to release the reigns every once in a while – and please, give yourself that permission! Choice boards and menus are great ways of letting students have agency in what they work on in the classroom.

2. Ignite fires.

(No, not literally!) Help students discover what they are passionate about. What is it that they really care about? What interests them? What gets them excited? Find these questions out and continue to build that fire within each student. Use this knowledge to guide your teaching and help bring their interests into what’s being taught in the classroom.

3. Grow your storytellers.

Every student has a story to tell and it’s our job as educators to cultivate and help those ideas thrive. Educational technology has made storytelling in the classroom easier than ever. Using blogging, podcasts, videos and multimedia creation websites – like my favorite, Adobe Spark – teachers can make sharing even your most shyest student’s story that much easier…and fun.

4. Encourage self-expression.

As a “forever special education teacher,” I am all about letting students show mastery through multiple means. Let them use the tools, strategies, and processes that work best for them. It doesn’t have to be standardized or uniform from one child to the next. Honoring their voices will build trust and encourage further risk-taking. Let students get creative with the how and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the what.

5. Get students involved in the assessment process.

As educators, we are all too aware of the role assessment plays in what we do in the classroom. Instead of letting rubrics and scales get in the way of determining student growth, let students be agents of their own assessment. Have students set goals, check their progress and then adjust course as necessary. Let students engage in self-reflection, peer-assessment and student-teacher conferences. Students should learn to welcome the idea that learning is all about progress over perfection, and that mistakes are not only expected but also embraced.

6. Inspire debate.

It’s critical for students to understand that not everyone is going to have the same opinion as them – and that it’s okay to show dissent. Empower students to disagree and be comfortable in expressing differences. Finding and exercising our own voice is a protected right – we should not expect any less from our students. Debating is an excellent opportunity to showcase student voice.

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