Emily Tate, reporter at EdSurge, recently highlighted the Digital Equity Act – a bill that the U.S. Senate introduced that would invest hundreds of millions of dollars to expand broadband access in communities that currently lack it.
The Digital Equity Act of 2019 is taking on the task of closing our nation’s “homework gap.” This act would create two annual grant programs – one competitive, one formula grant – equally $125 million each that would aim at helping all 50 states (along with Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico) in “creat[ing] and implement[ing] digital equity plans, launch[ing] digital inclusion projects and support[ing] evidence-based research to measure the effectiveness of both” (Tate, 2019).
Almost a dozen organizations have signed on to endorse this new bill, according to Tate, including the American Library Association; the Consortium for School Networking; the International Society for Technology in Education; the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).
Educators across the nation are doing some amazing things in their classrooms. STEM Teacher Whitney Roth is an avid sharer of ideas on social media. Not only does she share the amazing things that are happening in her classroom, but she also takes her cue from other educators around the country and is doing her part in disseminating great ideas from other teachers and educational leaders. Read on to see how she’s taking STEM beyond the walls of her lab!
Name: Whitney Roth
Role in Education: TK-5th Grade STEM Teacher
Location: McKinley Elementary/San Gabriel Unified School District
Social Media Handles: @justkeepsteming
How long have you been in education?
This is my 12th year teaching. I taught six years of 6th grade Math and Science, 4th grade, 5th grade Math & Science, and am currently in my 3rd year as the TK-5th grade STEM teacher at McKinley.
Please describe a “day in the life” of Ms. Roth?
An exciting part about being a STEM teacher is seeing all the students in the entire elementary school. Each day of the week presents a new grade level and content/project that students are working on. School runs from 8am-3:30pm. I normally get to school around 7:30 to start prepping the lab. I have amazing lab assistants who help to organize, set-up, and prep iPads/Chromebooks. They normally assist from 8-8:30. I see between 3-5 classes a day, depending on the grade level. The classroom teacher is also present during STEM Lab, so it truly helps to connect the subject matter they are learning in the classroom with the projects in STEM Lab, while simultaneously having more hands on deck to work with students and foster cross-curricular connections. The last class leaves at 3pm, allowing my lab clean-up/set-up/planning/grading to range between 3pm-5pm, depending on the day.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best part about my job is seeing the innovation and collaboration that students experience. Being in this position for three years has allowed me to work with the same group of students and see their growth over time. Witnessing the amount of time and detail they put into a plan, the increased level of sharing and communication with others, and their continued development of a growth mindset (to fail forward) truly makes my heart smile!
What are some of your favorite activities you do in your classroom and/or with students?
One of my favorite things to do is to build in mathematical thinking and number talks for about 10 minutes. I do it whenever I can, though it is definitely easier (timewise) with 4th and 5th. These activities range from ones I’ve created, to YouCubed activities, Which One Doesn’t Belong boxes and justifying answers after posing Would You Rather Math scenarios. I like having students discuss their thinking in small groups first because it helps them to build confidence, allows students to see how multiple methods are used to arrive at the same answer, and gives them time to think critically and practice responding orally, in a low-stakes situation.
Additionally, fifth graders have really enjoyed created Caine’s Cardboard Arcade. Each 5th grader works in teams of 3-4 to create a game out of cardboard and other reusable materials. It’s a great way to kick-off the engineering design process and build teamwork, especially at the beginning of the year.
Lastly, first through fifth graders have all experienced Breakout EDU games, and absolutely LOVE them. Breakout EDU is similar to an “escape room” concept but has students work in teams to find and put together clues which reveal the combinations to multiple locks. It’s a fantastic activity to foster the 4C’s while teaching and/or reviewing content in any subject matter.
What are some ways that teachers can readily/easily incorporate STEM/STEAM components into their classroom routines? (Any pointers?)
Use the engineering design process and incorporate a skill/concept you’re already working on. For example, if you’re working on adding decimals, have a budget in your engineering challenge that includes decimal values. While planning and then building, students will need to change their materials and constantly recalculate their new budget. They don’t even realize how much they’re practicing adding decimals. Better yet, it gives the opportunity, as a teacher, to give real-time feedback, check their calculations and correct misconceptions.
Reflection! I LOVE using Flipgrid and Seesaw as tools for students to individually reflect on their learning. Once students have built something, experimented with materials, or played a new game, give them the opportunity to build language and technology literacy skills by using one of these reflection tools! I then add a new text feature (adding a caption, labeling materials, etc), in Seesaw for them to focus on while orally recounting their work.
Integrate and create. You just finished a read aloud or are learning about communities, give them random materials to build something that connects to the book or community. I have collected “happy trash” (recycled materials) in the back of the room which is an easy go-to location to allow them to construct and create. Place materials in small bins, along with tape, and other school supplies and have them create something from the book or lesson you just read about.
Are there any resources (e.g. resources, templates, activities, people to follow, etc.) that you can share that might inspire more STEM in the classroom?
How has your online PLN helped what you teach in the classroom?
I am so grateful for all of the people mentioned above because they have created, tried, tested, reflected and shared on so much of what is happen in their classrooms/educational settings online. This has allowed me to learn and grow from their experiences and expertise, while encouraging me take more chances in my own classroom. To see how a shared idea, picture, or post on Twitter is transformed to your own classroom is truly incredible.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with others?
As an educator, we get to empower! We don’t need to be experts in everything. I love that I am able to expose students to topics, devices, or challenges and allow them to create. They produce work that is more than I could have ever imagined. Giving students an opportunity to be engineers and programmers, and apply mathematics and science to solve real-world problems, ultimately expands what they think of themselves and of others!
Whitney Roth was born and raised in Pennsylvania. She has always loved learning (and swimming) and earned her undergrad degree in Business Administration from Villanova University. Her teaching path began when she was accepted into the Teach For America (TFA) program. Through TFA, she was placed at a middle school, in Los Angeles, and taught 6th grade Math & Science. During these two years, she fell in love with teaching young mathematicians and scientists, creating lessons and curriculum, and growing with and from other educators. Since then, she’s had experiences in public, charter, elementary and middle schools, as well as having spent time teaching in both CA and CT. After knowing that she wanted to pursue her Masters in Elementary Mathematics, Whitney completed her degree at CSULA. For the past three years, she has been teaching K-5th grade STEM in San Gabriel Unified.
Dave Lee, podcaster for “The Waves of Tech” and technology enthusiast, had the opportunity to cover this year’s Spring CUE Conference in Palm Springs, CA.
Lee, who’s covered the conference before, stated, “It’s always a great experience with educators and innovators in the industry. I had the great opportunity [of] interviewing Kristina Ishmael, Hans Tullman, Matthew Markstone, and Adrienne White of Ozobot. All were amazing and rockstars in what they are doing. I highlighted [this group], both on the podcast and on our website – all the interviewees, as well as the different vendors I visited.”
To check out Lee’s podcast and interviews from #CUE19 or to listen to more from “The Waves of Tech,” visit their page today.
It’s been roughly two weeks since #CUE19 and I have only JUST had time to revisit (and REALLY synthesize) my experience that was Spring CUE! When colleagues ask how my conference was, I tell them that it is one of the larger conferences that I’ve been too and while it was all the things that have already been said about it – amazing, fun, exciting, innovative, and filled with real-life connections (both in the curricular sense and through meeting members of my PLN in real life) – it was also intimidating and slightly overwhelming as someone #New2CUE.
So, here are some lessons learned from one CUE-bie to the next.
1. OVER-PLAN – but realize you probably won’t make it to everything on your list. My teacher bestie/co-presenter and I planned out our entire weekend (Thursday-Saturday) with every session, meet-up, and outing that we planned to partake in. We had events that overlapped and were happening concurrently, if not one right after the other. On Thursday night alone, we had four events we had planned on going to – we only made it to two of them. Similarly with the sessions we had planned on going to, we ended up relishing our “down time” in the hallways and connecting with our people in the interim that we didn’t make it to all the sessions (oops.) And that’s ok!
2. ARRIVE EARLY TO SESSIONS. We arrived ON TIME to our first session on Thursday and walked into a full room. We managed to squeeze in (literally, behind a partitioned wall where we couldn’t even see the speaker) and sit through most of the session…until the lower half of our bodies went numb and we had to hobble out. If you’re going to a session, make sure to arrive early. You don’t want to have to find a seat on the floor (which we later found out was a CUE “no-no” and fire code issue).
3. TAKE-IN THE POSTER SESSIONS. I really enjoyed the poster-sessions that I got to see at this year’s conference – especially the K-2 strand. I had the opportunity to hear from Susan Stewart (someone I follow avidly on Twitter) and ask questions in a more personal setting. The fact that the poster sessions were “themed” was just icing on the cake – I would LOVE to see this again next year!
4. DO THINGS THAT SCARE YOU. I’m an introvert – a home body. I don’t like big crowds of people I don’t know. But I pushed myself to NOT be like that for the three days I spent in Palm Springs. I went to meet-ups. I talked with new people. I was the first to introduce myself in a new setting. I asked questions and engaged, rather than passively stand by. I went to IHOP at 1am with CUE strangers. And it was probably one of the better parts of my CUE experience. I had the opportunity to connect with educators from across the state and see that I wasn’t alone in my experience.
5. PLAN FOR THE WORST BUT HOPE FOR THE BEST. Angela and I presented early on Saturday morning. We forwent going out to karaoke and any other shenanigans in lieu of going over our presentation for the hundredth time and putting ourselves a little more at ease for our first-ever Spring CUE presentation. We arrived at the Hilton early and were prepared to have a long fight with the AV equipment. But we were pleasantly surprised at how quickly we were able to set up. We only had to call the AV tech ONCE and he was very kind – he even volunteered to bring us up coffee! Our session went surprisingly smooth and from the feedback on the survey we gave, attendees were generally appreciative of all the tools we introduced! We also had an angel come to support us – Nora Trentacoste from TextHelp! She was able to help troubleshoot (with one of the tools we were presenting on – Read&Write) while we were presenting and getting educators connected – this helped immensely. So, if you’re presenting…and you have connections, make sure to work them! It was a blessing to have Nora there to help out.
6. GO OFF-STRIP. While my colleagues ended up booking rooms at hotels that were exorbitantly priced that were near “the strip” that is Palm Springs, I booked at a boutique hotel that was only a 5-minute drive from the convention center. The hotel literally had 8 guest rooms – each one came with a front and rear patio, easy access to the (heated, 24-hour) pool, a full kitchen, one of those fancy showers, and one of the comfiest beds that I have ever slept on. The manager/owner of the hotel gave all of the guests his personal cell phone number in case we needed anything. And, we got a stocked fridge (daily) with pastries, orange juice, water, yogurt…and a complimentary bottle of wine. I LOVED this place! It was cheaper than the other hotels and I felt like I had a more personalized hotel-staying experience – something you really appreciate after a long day of Spring CUE!
7. VOLUNTEER. One way I got talking to people was working the Membership Booth with Angela early Friday morning. Despite the fact that it was 8am, we had dozens of people coming up to the booth to say hello, asking about CUE membership, and grabbing some #CUEswag. (We also had some amazing St. Patrick’s Day goodies – woot woot!) Volunteer. Not only does it get you a free ticket into CUE (if you volunteer at least 6 hours), but it also gives you the opportunity to talk to everyone and anyone who’s coming up to you at the booth, sign-in, or at the doors to sessions.
8. HIT THAT STICKER SWAP. On a whim, we signed up to participate in the #SuperMuch Sticker Swap – and it was so much fun! Not only did we have the chance to talk to attendees who randomly came by, but we also mingled with peers that we’d only spoken to via Twitter – and finally had the opportunity to meet and greet IRL. I also fan-girled a little bit when I saw Marlena Hebern sitting at a table, ready to chat – so I approached her and gushed about how I bought a second copy of her and Jon’s book from the CUE Gear Store. Take in the sticker swap – if not for the chance to hang out with some really cool people, than for all the amazing stickers you’ll walk away with.
9. GET THAT PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP! So, if there was one thing I can say to sway you to upgrade to a premium membership, it’s this – $10 books!! I literally left this conference with four new books – one of which I already had the e-version of. But for $10…why not! What I saved on my books is literally what a CUE membership costs ($40). DO IT!
At the risk of sounding like a green freshman right after her first prom, my first Spring CUE was everything I hoped that it would be – and it gave me a head-start on my game plan for #CUE2020. I took my cue (get it – aren’t I punny?) from the veterans who eagerly shared their advice – and it paid off. I will definitely be back next year – with even more stickers.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote, through the passing of the 19th amendment.
To commemorate this monumental achievement in women’s history, NewseumED is offering free, online resources to help students understand and comprehend the magnitude of the women’s suffrage movement. Included are lesson plans, videos, activities, and artifacts that can be used to observe Women’s History Month (March) – and all year round.
These lessons are standards-aligned and support historical connections, media literacy, and civics and citizenship. Teachers may need to sign into NewseumED for access to some of the resources but registration is free.
Check out these resources today by going to NewseumED.
Author and international EdTech leader Alan November will take Palm Springs by storm later this week at this year’s annual Spring CUE Conference. The renowned educator turned author and international presenter will be showcasing his session “Saving Democracy: Educator’s Survival Guide to Fake News Across the Curriculum” on Friday, March 15th.
November, who has presented his passion projects around the globe and speaks frequently on the need for more media and information literacy in school systems, has a long and intimate past with CUE.
November recalled his first experience coming to California for CUE. He stated,
CUE was the first conference I ever attended – I got there because a CUE member (a librarian) walked into my classroom in Lexington, Massachusetts and saw what I was doing with kids and technology and said, ‘You have to present at CUE!’ I had no idea what CUE was – no idea what the conference was. I presented at CUE – I got this standing crowd in my room. And people, you know, seemed grateful for my workshop – this was in the early 80s, ’83 or so. I was stunned. I had never presented…I had no idea. Surely, I was going to fail. But it turned out, I didn’t. CUE basically launched my speaking career – I have this affection for CUE. We’ve been at it since at least the ’80s. That’s how I got associated with CUE.
Glen Warren, director of Literacies, Outreach, and Libraries at Encinitas Union School District – who is also November’s co-presenter and close friend – stated, “Alan found his voice at CUE.”
Warren, who works closely with November, refers to him as a “game changer – leveraging technology for teaching and connecting with students while getting students connected.” Warren likened November to the Beatles, stating, “Teachers adore Alan November. Alan is the freaking Beatles – you’re going to either love him or don’t.”
It’s clear which way most education professionals lean when it comes to Alan November. November’s work on media and information literacy has brought him accolades across the EdTech community and teachers, administrators, and fans alike flock to his sessions.
During our interview, I asked November who his target audience was and what he hoped they gained from coming to his session. He stated,
“Everybody should attend because this is an EdTech problem. This is crazy. This is the biggest unintended consequence, I believe, of technology without the attention it deserves to solve it. Leaders need to come because we need to set this as the number one priority. We’ve got to solve this problem. You can’t have the most powerful medium in the world, ever invented – the web – without teaching kids the architecture of how it’s organized.”
He continued with a powerful analogy, “That’s like not teaching the dewey decimal system when you go into a library – just go find a book. We would never do that – but we do the equivalent of that every day with kids. So, PhD professors need to come. First grade teachers need to come. Superintendents need to come. It’s serious.”
November will also be hosting a CUE Speakeasy session, specifically geared for administrators. I asked him to tell me a little bit more about this session. “Yes, it’s different…it’s basically the $1,000 pencil problem – that a lot of what the most powerful schools are doing is old work. There is a large energy source or another keeping school culture the way it was – and then we have all of this technology. So [the session will be] taking a look at seven design questions I’ve developed over the years – representing unique contributions to technology. One of them is teaching critical thinking skills – making thinking visible. I think it’s one of the most powerful things we can do for teachers – designing the tools like Prism or SeeSaw where teachers gain new insights on how students are thinking. We couldn’t do this prior to technology. I don’t know why schools don’t focus on that as a very strategic opportunity to improve achievement. Then, there is global collaboration – the opportunity to widen ones’ perspectives. Why would you teach anything, including any novel, without teaching kids about the people who live in that place? In fact, of all the countries that I have visited in the past, the United States is the worst, by far, in connecting kids globally.”
With Spring CUE a little less than a week away, attendees are gearing up, organizing their “Scheds”, and looking forward to California’s biggest EdTech conference of the year.
With so many sessions and workshops to choose from, attendees will not want to overlook the various, themed poster sessions that will be happening on all three days of the conference. But, if you’re #new2CUE like myself, you might be asking…
What is a poster session?
Cate Tolnai, CUE’s Director of Member Engagement, explains, “A poster session is a two-hour long presentation where the presenter is really accessible to anyone walking by, anyone stopping to chat. They are meant to include informal conversations and allow for direct question and answering between presenter and attendees. They are SO fun because you get personal contact with people who are stopping by and connecting with you.”
Unlike in previous years, this year’s poster sessions are themed and will include strands for primary (K-2), the eLearning and Computer Science Learning Networks, along with strands specifically geared for TOSAs and even a strand for Media and Information Literacy, among others.
Ben Cogswell, a kindergarten teacher and former Technology TOSA out of Salinas, CA, will be presenting his poster session during the “Primary Focused” strand. Cogswell states, “There’s five of us that are doing a primary powered poster session. My session is on Green Screen using DoInk. We are just really trying to build more of a primary network of people who can share. My session will focus on getting our youngest learners and teachers to create and be creative.”
Brandi Miller, an Instructional Technology TOSA in the Rowland Unified School District, is eager to get to Palm Springs and present her poster session during the TOSA-focused strand. She tells OnCUE, “My session is about working as a TOSA when you support multiple school sites. [It’s about] how to manage your time, provide support to hundreds of teachers with different needs, and communicate your work with those who need to know what you’re doing. I’m hoping to reach other TOSAs or anyone in a support position working across multiple sites.”
Nancy Minicozzi, a Instructional Technology Coach from Las Virgenes USD and part of the “TLC” Ninja duo podcasting team, is also presenting in the TOSA strand and said this of her session. “Our session is about pineapple charts and we hope to target teachers, TOSAs, tech coaches, and admins. Pineapples are the international symbol for hospitality. Pineapple charts are a way for teachers to invite others at their school into their classroom for informal observations,” she states. “We learn so much by watching each other and pineapple charts are an easy way to let other teachers at your school know what you are doing, when you are doing it and that you are welcoming them in so they can visit and see you in action. It is one of the best and easiest ways to organize professional development.”
But TOSAs aren’t the only ones who can benefit from these poster sessions. Tom Covington, a Technology TOSA from Bassett Unified School District and part of the duo podcast team “TOSAs Talking Tech,” has been doing poster sessions for the last three years. He states his team’s session will focus on “doing manic minute interviews coupled with a tour of our recording rig and our podcasting workflow, while also trying to share ideas about how audio can be used in a classroom setting.”
How do poster sessions differ from regular sessions?
Cogswell explains, “Poster sessions are great for having more in depth Conversations with presenters. You can have conversations with Presenters and get lots of bite-size pieces of information on the different poster sessions. You’re a lot more in the driver seat at a poster session in my opinion then at a regular session.”
Miller also adds, “I love poster sessions because you can really interact with the presenter and ask specific, personally relevant questions. They are a great format to connect with others and grow your PLN.”
What’s the best way to take on these poster sessions?
Covington shares his tips: “Just walk up and start talking. Don’t be afraid to interact, that’s what we are there for. The worst thing for a poster session is to not have someone there. We want to talk to you. Hit as many papers as you can, it is a free-flow kind of hallway. Take pictures to links for resources to look into later. They are supposed to be hit and run session stress. Don’t be afraid to contact the poster presenter later! I love follow up questions and I love helping others.”
Minicozzi agreed, adding, “[Attendees] should feel free to ask questions of the presenters while they are visiting the table, but they should also take any resources they have, review them after the conference, and reach out to the presenters after the fact if they have questions.”
Why are poster sessions so popular?
Miller discusses why she enjoys poster sessions and why she returns to the CUE conference every year. “This is my fifth CUE conference and my second time presenting a poster session there. I’ve also presented poster sessions at ISTE,” she states. “I love CUE because the connections I’ve made with other educators has really helped me when I experience the highs and lows of being an educator. Even though the conference is large, I feel like I really have the opportunity to meet people from Twitter and other educators whose work I’ve admired from afar. It’s like a big family reunion!”
What additional advice would you offer to those who are #new2CUE?
Veteran CUE conference attendee and presenter Covington shares his tips: “Come prepared – [have your] charger, water bottle, notepad or app for notes. Build in some downtime,” he advises. “Plan for long lines for lunch unless you go walking. Drink lots of water. Go to after hours functions, ask about them and find them. You will learn tons, but forget it in a week or two. The friends you make and connections you grow will stick with you. Be on Twitter – it’s half the conference. Go to your affiliate meeting and follow everyone on Twitter. Go to karaoke. Make friends, find colleagues and don’t be afraid to ask questions!”
Cogswell also shares his pointers. “Don’t feel like you have to go to every session,” he states. “Make some time for the vendor hall, make some time to connect with people in the hallways, look for events after the day that you can continue to network with people. And lastly, get on Twitter and check out the #cue19.”
Minocozzi shared her tips – via sketchnote on Twitter. Here’s what she had to share about getting the most out of the conference.
For a complete list of the various poster session strands or to add any of them to your Sched, make sure to visit the Poster Session page.
Although “audio blogging” has been around since the 1980s, podcasting – as we know it today – didn’t gain popularity and traction until 2004 when broadband internet and audio playback devices become more readily available to consumers.
In recent years, podcasting has taken off among educators and is now being used in classrooms with students as a means of teaching critical skills in the areas of reading and writing.
Sasha Jones, Education Week writer, interviewed educators from across the United States who have taken to podcasting. Teachers share their tips and recommendations for getting started, while also divulging how they are using podcasting as a tool for not only teaching reading and writing, but for teaching speaking and interviewing skills.
Read her entire article here and take a listen at some of the amazing student podcasts that are being produced!
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.
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.
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.”