Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #7: Class Dojo

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What is Class Dojo?

Class Dojo is a platform whereby teachers can engage families and create a more connected educational experience. Families can have a better understanding of what happens daily in their child’s classroom. Teachers can easily communicate messages in a split second. Students can build their own portfolios. According to the Class Dojo website, ninety-five percent of U.S. schools use Class Dojo to engage kids and connect with families. Ninety-five percent prompts at least looking into it. So, let’s take a look. Shall we?

Class Dojo’s mission is to connect teachers, students, and parents to build an all-inclusive learning environment. By doing so, Class Dojo strives to…

  • Create a positive culture through the encouragement of positive behavior.
  • Give students a voice: students can share their learning by adding their own photos and videos to their portfolios.
  • Share photo and video moments with parents to create a more connected experience.

Furthermore, you have Class Dojo’s guarantee that it will be “free for teachers, forever.” The platform is compatible with iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and any computer, and always built with privacy in mind.

Let’s get set up!

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Note! This is addressing the teacher login. Read on for how to connect students and parents.

Hop on over to and sign up for an account. After finalizing the typical account procedures, you’ll find yourself ready to set up your classes. Click the large blue plus sign and personalize the course title and grade. Now, click on the “Options” dropdown menu in the top right, then “Edit class” and let’s see what we can do:

Add skills: There are a variety of skills already in place, (“Working hard,” “Participating,”) but you have the option to delete these. You can add positive and “Needs work” skills, altering the skills and point values to your class. You have the options of allowing parents to see all points, only positive points, or no points at all.

Class Dojo in the World Language classroom: A competitive game changer.

I tailor the skills to create a cumulative speaking grade over the course of a week. Here’s my breakdown:

  • +3 points for an answer completely spoken in French
  • +2 points for an answer in “Franglais” (part-French, part-English)
  • +1 point for a good effort
  • -1 point for being chatty in English
  • -1 point for avoiding speaking

I had to add the last category because some students decided to go on strike and not speak at all or were painfully shy, thus maintaining a 100% average over the course of the week for doing nothing. Points are put in during or immediately after class so students can see where their average sits. A pleasant ring sounds for positive points but an ominous noise will stop students dead in their tracks from chatting, wondering if they were the guilty -1 point party. I encourage students to continually check their averages and increase their speaking toward the end of the week if they are not satisfied with their standing grade.

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Add students: You have the option of copying and pasting an entire student list, adding them individually by first and last name, or finding a student. If the student is already in another teacher’s Class Dojo class at your school, then he or she will appear once you begin typing their name. You will also be able to see the teacher’s name, enabling you to easily connect with other Class Dojo teachers at your school.

Invite students and parents: Students can connect with your class via text message, QR code, or their Google account. You can also download respective student and parent invites for their own personalized codes. Additionally, you can invite parents via phone number or email.

No one is left out: features for everyone.

Here’s a brief breakdown by user of great features built into Class Dojo:


  • Set quiet hours to tell families when you are busy. (Change under “Account Settings” and “Messaging.”)
  • Class Dojo Toolkit (Available through the app.) Click on the class and you’ll see the “Toolkit” icon on the bottom of your screen with various options:
    • Classroom Directions App: No more repeating yourself! Easily display directions.
    • Random Group Generator: Group students by pairs, threes, fours, or more.
    • Classroom Music: Choose from two playlists: “Focus” or “Active.”
    • Classroom Noise Monitor: Show students the noise meter through the app and encourage them to self-manage.
    • Think Pair Share: Add questions or topics and pair students to discuss.
    • Random Student Selector: We don’t mean to as teachers, but sometimes we fall into calling on the same students. Use this tool to switch things up!
    • Classroom Timer: Students can have the constant visual of how much time remains.
    • Today: Display announcements or morning messages for students to see as soon as they log into their account.
  • Dojocast: Your phone acts as a remote that connects with your computer. Click here to see more on how to sync your phone and computer.
  • Organize by classes and then further by folders, such as “Exit Tickets.”


  • Student stories: These student-led digital portfolios are the ultimate tool within Class Dojo for student ownership. Students can create their online portfolio to showcase their work, approved first by their teacher which is then ready to share with parents. For privacy, parents can only see their child’s portfolio.
  • Students can add photos, videos, drawings, annotate images, add to the journaling section, and upload files to their portfolios.
  • No more remembering passwords! Login is simple with a QR code scan.
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“You see all the different activities […] Now you get to be a part of something you normally wouldn’t be able to because you’re at work.” -Edison Elementary parent (Westland, MI)


  • Join by using any device.
  • Messages can be translated into 35+ languages.
  • Leave encouraging messages for their child within the student’s digital portfolio.
  • Cherish beautiful moments: “Her teacher captured a moment last year, one of my favorites, when she was in first grade. She was on the playground making a wish with a dandelion. That’s one of mama’s favorites. I’m going to keep that.” -Edison Elementary parent (Westland, MI)

“In order for education to truly happen, it has to be mom and dad, family member, whoever is working with that child […] for success to happen.” -Edison Elementary teacher (Westland, MI)

Class Dojo is a powerful tool that can help unite all parties involved in a child’s education. The ease in which teachers can connect and vary their class activities is easily facilitated by the app. Parents will now be able to have a visual they can save and cherish to accompany that story of “What did you do in school today?” on the car ride home. Let’s not also forget the student empowerment that can come by giving our students a platform to express themselves, share, and take pride in their work.

If you haven’t already tried Class Dojo, I encourage you to apply it in your classroom today! The ability to edit the “Skills” will make it easy to tailor the app to your content. Want to share Class Dojo with other teachers? Click for resources and FAQs and spread the word!

Food for Thought

Edcamp: A first timer’s review (Tyler, TX – July 25, 2019)

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Whether it’s Edcamp, Camp Nanowrimo, or choose the camp of your interest, camp is no longer just for kids. Edcamp is a participant-driven professional learning experience that is held around the world. Not sure what to expect? Read on for a breakdown.

Edcamp – Tyler, TX (July 25, 2019)

Edcamp’s origins

Edcamp, first organized in 2010, began with a group of Philadelphia teachers who gathered for an “un-conference.” Their structure was inspired by BarCamp, a user-generated technology and web conference, where participants drove the direction of the conference. There was no single presenter, no slideshow, no set agenda. The Philadelphia educators decided that BarCamp was exactly the platform teachers needed. They exchanged information and began spreading the word.

How does it work?

The day runs from 8 am – 3:30 pm and is typically held at a local school. Enthusiastic greeters help you check in and you will receive a bag for any swag you might collect throughout the day. The process was seamless and in small chunks, with clear stations of where to go next to complete the process of the interest cards.

All participants are encouraged to write down at least three topics of interest to them. You may get lucky that there is someone else with the same niche as you, but it is recommended to keep your categories in broad sweeping categories with perhaps a little specificity. For example, Design Thinking, EdTech, or Social Emotional Learning were among the popular topics. EdTech had so much interest, though, that there were plenty of subcategories, such as gamification, organizing your classroom with Google, and a beginner’s guide of how to integrate tech into the classroom.

All participants then proceeded to the main room to enjoy a Chic-Fil-A breakfast while they perused the day’s agenda, accessible via QR codes posted around the room. The live Google Doc (an agenda with access to session notes) was updated with the schedule while Edcamp organizers set the tone for the day with introductions, explanations, and yes, some giveaways.

Sessions and the “Rule of Two Feet”

I chose my first session of interest from the Google Doc and planned on staying there for the next hour. Edcamp stresses, though, the “Rule of Two Feet,” of which I personally took advantage. This rule is a no-pressure encouragement to leave a session and join another if that session is not satisfying your needs. I had wavered between two sessions and could actively follow the notes of both via the live Google Doc. I chose to switch, intrigued by what I was seeing in the notes. The environment immediately feels open-minded and judgement-free so yes, get up and move if you need to!

My sessions varied throughout the day. The first two had designated leaders, recognizable in their bright green Edcamp volunteer shirts, who simply kick started the discussion. Neither “leader” ever controlled the conversation but simply launched the topic. A designated note taker is decided, although anyone is free to add to the document (accessible on the day’s agenda). Conversation naturally flowed from one topic to another, but always staying on point with the overarching theme of that hour.

When I showed up to the third session, we were all newbies waiting for a person in charge to walk in the room. That’s when you need to step up. No one was there to organize that hour and that may be the case in some sessions. Pre-session discussions in the room naturally chose a leader and a designated note taker and that’s the idea: participant-driven professional development. You get out of it what you put into it.

Edcamp swag

Oh…and did I mention there are prizes?

Throughout the day, you will see the Prize Squad dressed to the nines, (I wish I had taken their picture), entering rooms and occasionally engaging in the discussion. T-shirts and cards for free bowling rounds were sprinkled throughout the day. Nearpod subscriptions were given away before lunch. The longer you stay, the better the prizes!

At the end of the day, you return to the main room to scan another QR code to access a Google Form. This is where you submit an email address and complete a short survey in order to receive your certificate. Fact: Edcamp data shows that 80% of administrators exposed to the Edcamp model not only approved it for teacher training credit, but also included it as an approved professional development within their district. The day concluded with a wrap-up, rock climbing memberships, awesome tech toys for the classroom, and enthusiasm.


What is the number one universal complaint of teachers? Time. If we had more time to collaborate with our peers, can you imagine what else could happen in our classrooms? Even when I go to a conference and ideas are furiously written down in my notebook to catch them all, I still need the time to decompress and process them later. Edcamp lets you bring these ideas to the table and work them out. There is an immediate sense of comfort and no shame, no wrong questions during the discussion. Everyone was incredibly respectful to not commandeer the conversation and shut out others. Ideas flowed and naturally led from one point to another. Don’t forget that you have the notes to look back on later, too!

MakerSpace already set up in anticipation of curious participants.

I connected with other educators in my area and thanks to email and social media, can continue to feel inspired by the amazing works happening in their school. This free un-conference experience reinforced the sentiment that I have always believed in: We are collaborators, not competitors. Thank you, Edcamp, for a wonderful experience!

Discussions about Project-Based Learning.

Interested in finding a local Edcamp? Check out the Edcamp website for more information. empowering educators worldwide.

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #6:

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Poll Everywhere: An Overview

Poll Everywhere is a free live poll service (with available upgrades) to engage your students during lessons. This is a tool I have used since my first year of teaching that I have kept in my teacher toolbox. The company was founded in 2007 and has grown in options of how you can survey and engage your students.

Features (free and upgraded)

There are a variety of polls to choose from and Poll Everywhere continues to add features every year. I have never personally upgraded to a Premium account. The main difference between the Free and Premium memberships are data recording and data segmentation, which I do not use. See the K-12 Education Plans for upgraded pricing and features.

Poll Everywhere started with the classic Multiple Choice poll, one that I still use the most often. My students love the real-time responses that come in and they start shouting out, “No, it’s C! It’s C!” fighting for the answer they chose. My students are immediately engaged when they see the bars bouncing back and forth every time a new response comes in.

The following is a list of polls that you can create (all free). For more detailed descriptions of each activity, check out Poll Everywhere Activity Explanations.

Types of Polls & Data Presentation

  • Multiple Choice – Watch the bars bounce back and forth!
  • Word Cloud – A beautiful and creative visual.
  • Q & A & Upvote The audience can submit open-ended responses, then upvote or downvote other submissions.
  • Clickable Image – The audience clicks on an image to respond.
  • Survey – The audience can answer multiple questions at once at their own pace.
  • Open-ended – Select your visualization type: text wall, word cloud, cluster, or spotlight. Choose from icebreaker, retrospective, discussion, brainstorm, short answer, or bulletin board.
  • Competitions – Exactly as it sounds! Gamification. (Only multiple choice questions are a part of this type poll at this point.)
  • Leaderboard – Vote on your favorite team!
  • Emotion Scale – Choose from the smiley faces!
  • Presentation Feedback – Choose from multiple choice, word cloud, Q & A, clickable image, open-ended text, or ranking options.
  • Assign Teams – A quick poll to see who is on what team.
  • 2 x 2 matrix – Participants can click on an image to relay information (i.e., click on the map to show your region; click to rate projects from low to high priority).

Styles of data presentation

Poll options (Image source:
Example of a Donut Chart (Image source:

Ideas for the classroom

I tend to do stand alone polls but new features permit you to build several activities into one poll. When you create a poll (top left blue button), you can assign a poll to a group or leave it ungrouped to receive all answers in one area. Once you have added one poll style, you will see the “Add another activity” button in the bottom right. Note! Make sure to choose the style of activity you would like to add next before clicking “Add another activity.” If not, you will simply add the same activity from your previous question type. (If you’re first activity within the poll was Multiple Choice, your second activity will be Multiple Choice unless you choose another activity.)

I primarily use polls to introduce cultural content. For example, I ask my students about the origins of Step dancing, which leads into this Gumboot Dance cultural video and discussion of the history of Step dance origins. I also poll students on the meaning of the invented French verb “giraffer.” When they discover that students in Africa created this word to describe another student cheating off of his or her paper, I then ask them to make up their own “to cheat” verb based on our geographic surroundings!

Class competitions and film festivals easily integrate polls with voting for the winners. The clickable image can test your students’ knowledge of geography. I also personally love the Word Cloud function for emotional check-ins. On Fridays, we have #vendredis, sometimes both in the beginning and end of class when the content is heavy. Have your students upvote their favorites!

Sometimes polls are just for fun. I often enjoy the “Who do you think will win the Super Bowl?” or “Do you think Peyton Manning will return to the NFL?” poll when I was teaching in Denver. My all time favorite is the World Cloud where students suggested names for the then upcoming birth of my daughter. The top two? Stormageddon and Padrah 2.0.

Fun or serious, Poll Everywhere is a way to engage your students that is quick and easy, providing the perfect transition for discussion and your upcoming lesson. Give it a try! I’d love to hear how you use Poll Everywhere!

Food for Thought

Thoughts to kick off 2019-20: What’s your why and who is Generation Z?

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Many of us are about to kick off another school year. We’re recharged, fresh full of ideas, some made into a final product while others are still mulling around in our heads. And then…

…it’s February. The shortest yet longest month of the year.

Maybe not all of you feel this way but February has always been the month where all things come to a slump. My toolbox is empty and I start to fall into rote patterns of teaching that make me feel ashamed. Where has my creativity and energy gone and how do I get it back?

What’s your why?

I recently read Simon Sinek’s Start with Why and the question constantly haunts me…in a good way. “What’s your why?” has made me continually reassess why I do an activity, how I teach a lesson, and most importantly, to always remember by audience. I believe in teaching with tech in moderation, with intentionality, and not simply using it to check off a box on an evaluation. Choice boards provide differentiation and a number of mediums students can explore. Edpuzzle provides accountability. GSuite tools can put the responsibility and ownership into students’ hands…and the list goes on.

How, among the thousands of resources out there, do you navigate what is the most effective? Know thy audience. Let’s talk Gen Z, shall we?

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Let’s situate this next discussion first. This 2:34 minute video is well worth your while (and quite enlightening): How to Communicate with Generation Z (YouTube)

“Our goal is not to prepare them for our future, but for their future.” -Holly Clark

I could not agree more with Holly Clark’s ultimate takeaway from this poignant video describing Gen Z. Gone are the days where worksheets and repetitious drills rule the learning. Yes, we all made it out alive and graduated after being subjected to piles of worksheets and hours of lectures, but the fact is that the world has changed. (There is arguable room if these were ever the best practices but let’s stay on one topic.)

Gen Z learners, those born after 1995, were born into a world of all things technology. They consume on five screens and technology is as much a part of their world as breathing. While their attention spans are admittedly short, this generation considers themselves entrepreneurial, innovative, and wanting to make a difference in the world. How do teachers fit into this equation?

Digital Responsibility and Engaged Learning

Regardless of how tech savvy this generation may be because it is second nature, digital citizenship is a component we cannot ignore. Fact-checking and valid resources, professionalism in communication – these only scrape the surface of how we can raise our students to be digitally responsible. In this day and age, these lessons need to be consistently and continually embedded into our lessons.

How do we reach them? Back to Holly Clark’s point, we are teaching their generation and not ours. A variety of teaching tools and methods need to be employed to keep constant student engagement. Put the lesson in their hands! Let them be the creators and take hold of their learning. Give them choices and different platforms to work with (Nearpod, Google Sites, Slides, and Docs, etc.), any of which can be collaborative and touch on the Four C’s (creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking). Let them explore and engage, coming to their own conclusions, developing outside-the-box ideas. Nurture their inquisitive spirit but also guide them to be responsible and professional learners.

Students need ownership. Students need to create and collaborate and develop communication skills that are even more crucial in this ever-connected global world than any generation before. If students graduate high school with little or no exposure to the tools around us, we are to blame, teachers. While it sounds like Gen Z is entrepreneurial enough to educate themselves, we would still be doing our learners a disservice by not exposing them to the mediums they will one day use when they are in the working world. The more exposure, the more experience can only lead to a well-rounded and adaptable individual who will be ready for most anything that comes his or her way.

In closing, I want you to continually ask yourself three questions over the course of the school year:

  • What is my why?
  • Am I teaching with intentionality or is [insert activity] just for the sake of checking a box?
  • Most importantly…Who am I teaching?

Have an amazing school year, and…

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #5: Wakelet

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Video tutorial: Wakelet Tutorial

Check out these updates! Wakelet updates (July 2019)

I recently published a post with tools to help organize and manage various aspects of your life. Wakelet is certainly at the top of that list. Here, I will detail more about Wakelet’s features as well as how educators and students are using it in and outside the classroom.

What is Wakelet?

Wakelet provides an extremely user-friendly platform to save, share, and organize content from across the web into beautiful collections. I love Wakelet because it reaches a variety of sources so that my thoughts and ideas aren’t scattered across email, Twitter, Pinterest, bookmarks, Google docs, etc. I can save all of these to one location and easily add text with descriptions to each item. I can also search for other collections and make a copy or export it as a PDF, as well as share it with friends and colleagues.

Let’s get set up!

Sign up for a free Wakelet account and also add the Wakelet Chrome Extension. By adding the extension, you will easily be able to add to your collections while perusing the internet.

How does it work? Once logged in, click on “Create a new collection.” Add a cover image (upload your own or choose from Wakelet’s library), give your collection a title and description, and start adding items by clicking on the green “plus” icon. You have a variety of options available (see photo below):

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Once you have added an item, click on the pencil to edit any description or notes you might want to add. When you are at the Wakelet home page, your open browsers will appear on the right. You can drag and drop them to automatically be added to a collection. Click on the “Easy reorder mode” and hover to the right to move items up and down.

Note! You have the option to make your collections private or public. You can also search for public collections by topic or people and easily add their items to your own collections.

Saving from the Chrome extension: If you are on a website, in a Google Doc, etc., you simply need to click on the blue Wakelet extension icon at the top of your browser and you will be prompted with this screen to save the item to a collection. It’s as simple as that!

Teachers and students can organize and collaborate with ease.

Wakelet published this article on how teachers and students are using Wakelet with beautiful examples of student and teacher work. Here are a few ideas:


  • Collaboration among other teachers & idea boards
    • Tech coach: Compile tech tool sites and video tutorials for your team.
    • PLCs: Create a collaborative board with ongoing resources. Add a document with your weekly agenda plenty in advance to promote preparedness and discussion.
    • Professional development organization: Encourage teachers to make a collection with their own notes and sources regarding the PD topic, especially if reoccurring throughout the year.
    • Speaking pictures: I have an Google Doc of random pictures that serve as speaking warm-ups. I added the doc to a collection but like the idea of being able to see all pictures at once without continual scrolling within a doc. I will be adding more pictures to this public Speaking Pictures (Padrah Gatewood) Wakelet. Feel free to make a copy!
  • Weekly newsletter: Share your collection with parents to keep them apprised of what is happening in your class, along with any upcoming events or important announcements.
  • School website: Some schools have opted out of overloading their website with information and instead share out a Wakelet collection with parents on a regular basis.
  • Student resources: Share your notes, articles, videos, and supplementary materials with your students in a public collection.
  • Search for public collections by topic or person: Easily make copies or choose a single item from a collection to add to your own.
  • Save your tweets and articles for later:
    • My “Read later” collection contains tweets with links to articles, or other materials I don’t have time to read until later.
    • I read a recommendation to add tweets in reverse order to see them from start to finish if saving a Twitter conversation.


  • Digital storytelling: This is a beautiful example of digital storytelling featured in the above Wakelet article. The author weaves the story of a dressmaker in Khair Khana, Afghanistan, who risked everything to protect her family from the Taliban. Audio accompanies the text at key transitions. The author’s voice navigates the reader through the dressmaker’s story in her writing by simply adding the “text” item in Wakelet. Further resources are included, such as the Council on Foreign Relations website, a Vimeo video bringing visual and audio to the reader. Imagine the possibilities and how expressive presentations could become beyond the standard essay.
  • Collaborative research: The ability to collaborate on a collection means that students can be at their respective homes or study spaces and still working together toward their common project.
  • Portfolios: Students can keep a collection of their work and see their progress from over the year.


  • Recipe collections: Add a friend as a collaborator and see their favorite eats!
  • Activities and resources for kids: My Pinterest was just taken over by Wakelet. I love the ability to add notes or just simply the picture if I don’t want to navigate Pinterest –> find a board –> click on Pin –> scroll, scroll, scroll through pages to finally see the activity.
    • Collaborate with other parents to post upcoming events and times.
  • House projects: DIYs, decorations, etc.
  • Book club: Add future book ideas with commentary and reviews.
  • Travel:
    • Plan a trip collaboratively as a family with links to sites of interest, hotel and flight info, comments on top places to visit.
    • Create a collection with your family photos and favorite memories!
Marker Mic Drop, Marker Mic Drop Moments

Marker Mic Drop Moment #3: Roberto Gudiño, Faculty and Head of Production (Scottsdale Community College, AZ)

This Marker Mic Drop Moment goes to Professor Roberto Gudiño, Faculty and Head of Production of the Scottsdale School of Film and Theatre at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. Professor Gudiño was one of the participants at the mindSpark Learning EdTech Institute I facilitated in San Diego, CA. He was awarded a new Promethean Panel for his final presentation of an interactive Google Site that his students will use in the fall semester.

Roberto is a first generation college student who earned his MFA in Film Production at UCLA’s film school, one of the top in the country. He also earned his Master of Science in Mass Communication from Florida International University, and has achieved a number of other academic accomplishments. His dream is to help future filmmakers acquire the skills they need to achieve their dreams, especially in an ever-changing world of technology.

The mindSpark Learning EdTech Institute is designed to equip teachers with technology tools to best prepare their students for the modern workforce. The San Diego participants ranged from a kindergarten teacher to college professor, all realizing the need to start preparing their students now for the future.

The educators were exposed to a number of tools, but first situated their use of technology with realistic discussions of their “why” for technology in the classroom. Professor Gudiño echoed the sentiments of his fellow participants: They all want their students to make meaningful connections, be intentional and thoughtful in their tech use, and to make their devices more than a fancy notepad. The two-day workshop required presentations of how tech would be implemented into their classroom, giving teachers tangible materials that they had built in a day to have for future lessons.

“I know [the Institute] definitely helped my students learn the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.”

Professor Gudiño had very kind words to say about mindSpark Learning’s summer institute:

“Padrah, our EdTech Institute facilitator, was amazing! She guided us through concrete ideas on how to apply EdTech in the classroom and we had ample opportunities to practice hands-on with different tech tools. The pace of the learning institute was perfect as we collaborated in groups with various educators from throughout the country. What a great experience! I couldn’t recommend this institute more and I know it definitely helped my students learn the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.”

Participants compiled a number of EdTech tools they had learned the previous day and a half to develop a personalized resource for their class. Roberto Gudiño’s class site is a polished example that integrates a number of tools, particularly making use of the GSuite products.

Asking the question, “What’s your why?”

Professor Gudiño’s care and thoughtfulness toward his students was immediately evident in our morning discussions about his why behind teaching with tech. His concern for how best to equip his students with the skills they will need for a competitive workforce drives his desire to learn more about technology use in the classroom. Professor Gudiño’s growth mindset is admirable because he clearly wants what is best for his students.

In a matter of a couple hours, Professor Gudiño created an interactive class site that could be used for his Film Story Structure unit. The site is engaging, visually appealing, and goes well beyond the sage on the stage, sit and get teaching style.

One of Professor Gudiño’s strength? Diversification. The site first hooks students with an edpuzzle to test their knowledge and weaves a number of activities throughout thereafter. Students not only complete Google Forms for discussion and exit tickets, but ultimately create an Adobe Spark video to bring their knowledge and understanding to a creative and personalized form.

Professor Gudiño’s worked throughout the institute with great care and empathy toward his students. His questions and insights clearly demonstrated that he wanted to be intentional about his teaching. He is not interested in using tech simply for the sake of tech, but instead wants to best serve his students throughout various mediums but with purpose. To compliment this mindset, he expects the same of his students. Professor Gudiño hopes his students will foster the same intentional attitude about their use of tech in their studies and future work in the cinema world.

Professor Roberto Gudiño is a model example of the growth mindset needed among educators today in this ever-changing world. His intentional and mindful attitude and professionalism along with artistic creativity makes him a role model for future film students. Great work and thank you again, Professor Gudiño!

Follow Professor Roberto Gudiño at to see more of the exciting work he is bringing to students, fellow educators, and the cinema world.

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #4: edpuzzle

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Video tutorials: edpuzzle Overview (Part 1) and edpuzzle Overview (Part 2 – Gradebook)

This week’s Tech Tool Highlight is edpuzzle, my new favorite tech tool that I will be implementing this school year. Edpuzzle allows you to edit and assign video content, inserting questions and comments for students to answer. Edpuzzle provides a gradebook with student progress, comparative data over time, and the ability to manually update grades and provide feedback, as needed. I had previously used similar tools but find that the ease of edpuzzle as well as its data integration capabilities will be a go-to for my classroom.

Why I love edpuzzle: Not only is the platform incredibly easy to use, but it focuses on key considerations for the student: self-paced work and accountability. Teachers all know the struggle of balancing the pace of a class with various skill levels and an endless list of content. Edpuzzle is the tool that will help guide, reinforce, and also hold your students accountable.

How to set up Edpuzzle

Set up a teacher account at When you use THIS LINK, you will automatically earn three videos toward your storage bank. You can send out your own referral code (found under “Invite Teachers”) and each of you will earn three videos. Spread the word because the more you share, the more videos you can create!

The top right menus are where you will find your profile, classes, and gradebook. Now, take a look at this beautiful button:

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Yes, that’s right. One more reason to integrate GSuite into your teaching world. You can save yourself the hassle and import directly from Google Classroom. Once you have created your classes (“Add new class” on bottom left), then you can assign videos, see student progress, and update grades. Want to give a student only partial credit for not watching the entire video? You can manually update grades as you see fit.

So many videos, so many choices…

You have the option to upload your own video (think Flipped Classroom) but there are a number of resources that may already have what you need. These include:

  • Edpuzzle
  • YouTube – Add the Edpuzzle Chrome Extension to automatically edit from YouTube!
  • Khan Academy
  • National Geographic
  • TED Talks
  • Veritasium
  • Numberphile
  • Crash Course

Once you have selected a video, click “Edit” on the lower righthand corner. Here, you can have a variety of options. Save and finish (top right buttons) your work when it is complete.

  • Crop the video
  • Add voiceover
  • Add audio notes
  • Quizzes – This is where you can add the following questions:
    • Multiple choice: Automatically graded (see Gradebook).
    • Open-ended: You will need to manually grade these later.
    • Comments: Highlight an important aspect of the video for your students.
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Storage space and organizing your content

Teachers can save up to 20 videos upon initial registration but can earn more by referring other teachers. Click on the top right profile icon and “Invite Teachers” to see this screen and each of you will earn three extra videos toward your account:

If you want to organize your videos by topic or level, click on My Content (left menu) –> Add content (blue button, right) –> New Folder and name it accordingly. For example, I have grammar and culture folders, making my content easier to navigate when I want to find a video to assign to a class.

You can also create Student Projects (My Content –> Add Content –> Student Project). Once you have created the project, you can assign it to a class and see their compilation of videos. This project could show you the depth of students’ understanding and serve as a compilation of review videos for the entire class.

Online PDs

Edpuzzle also offers online professional development courses for teachers, including beginner, intermediate, and advanced Edpuzzle levels, flipped classroom training, gamification, diversity and inclusion, project-based learning, and more. Click on this link to access all of the trainings: Edpuzzle Online PD

I just completed the Edpuzzle coach certification, which I highly recommend! The estimated time is 90 minutes but will likely take you less to complete. You will learn all about Edpuzzle and its nuances in short, manageable videos that use the platform to continually familiarize you with how the system works. You’ll be awarded a certificate, this cool badge, and access to a private Facebook group where you can share ideas with other coaches.

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Interested in furthering your Edpuzzle skills? Click here to get started!

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #3: Let’s get organized!

Alright, everyone. Time to talk organization. It’s summer and the least I could do is filter through those folders that have become overcrowded with “How’d that get in there?” or clean up that desktop. If this is you, take at least ten minutes to delete the unnecessary and drag and drop files into specifically-named folders. You’ll be much happier come August!

The New York Post didn’t sugarcoat anything when they called this desktop “anxiety-inducing.”

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Time-saving tools:

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The LastPass (Google Chrome Extension) will save you the frustration in remembering how many asterisks, percent or dollar signs you sprinkled throughout your password. Our digital era has made it unavoidable to have multiple passwords, all with their own length requirements, symbols, and a mix of upper and lowercase…all with good reason for your security! Keep those passwords strong but help yourself out with a password saver, like these recommended in the Best Password Managers 2019 ( article.

Let’s take a look at LastPass, for example. Once the Chrome Extension has been installed, you will be prompted to create an account, if you haven’t already. Common websites you visit (Amazon, Facebook, Netflix) will appear in the upper right corner. Click on one, log into that account, and LastPass will ask if you would like it to save that password. Click on the extension icon (red square with an ellipsis) to add more items, if you choose, such as drivers license, passport, bank or credit cards, etc.

Creativity and organization all in one:

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If you are a more visual person like me, you’ll love Wakelet. This free tool allows you to save and organize content like you normally would with your bookmarks, except more. You can create collections with images and add your own text in a user-friendly platform. Your login will prompt a green button to “Create a new collection,” title your collection, then add a link or item from the options listed. (See screenshot below.) Consider this one collective notepad from across all your sources, neatly organized and visually easier to find rather than scrolling through only names of websites.

Download the Wakelet Chrome Extension and check out The Educator’s Guide to Wakelet, a straightforward overview of how to optimize Wakelet for your classroom.

Google Keep and Tasks

I love using Google Keep (especially through the mobile app) for ongoing lists and notes. I can color code each list to make it stand out and easier to find. I can collaborate with colleagues on our upcoming presentation. I can also add images, links, create checklists, and set reminders, suiting almost any list or note need imaginable.

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Google Tasks allows me to create a Task from my email or type in one directly. Need to remember to submit the grades analysis to your principal before Friday? This tool will help keep you on top of that to-do list.

Highlight the email via the checkbox on the left. Then click on the vertical ellipsis (“the snowman menu”) and “Add to Tasks.” You can also set reminder times and subtasks.

Wondering where those Tasks went? Click on this Google Tasks icon on the righthand side of your Gmail inbox.

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Time for some fun…

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Summer is meant to wind down, relax, and take in good quality time with friends and family. You can use Apple Wallet or Pass2U Wallet (Android) to organize your concert, movie, flight tickets, coupons, all at the convenience of being in one place. Did you take a family vacation and want to easily share your photos with everyone? Check out this How to video:  Apple Shared Albums for how to create private albums and easily share photos beyond AirDrop and texting.

Enjoy your summer! Until next time!

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #2: Be Internet Awesome with Google

“Kids are inherently curious.”

Be Internet Awesome, a Google platform for children to become better digital citizens, is fairly new in the past couple years but gaining more and more attention in recent months. Let’s take a look at what you can find in this program.

Be Internet Awesome is “helping kids be safe, confident explorers of the online world.” Kids will always be curious but can access information (good and bad) in a simple click more easily than ever before. None of us are naive to the potential online dangers and Google has presented this program for students, families, and educators.

An overview:

“If it isn’t right to say, it isn’t right to post.”

Google’s Internet Code of Awesome is straightforward and pure common sense. The fundamentals are to be internet smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave. Common issues are addressed, such as responsibly communicating with others. This can range from online strangers and scams to cyber bullying. Whether it’s not clicking on every message or pop-up you see on your screen to securing your password, Google covers the most common issues facing our students today. For example, Google asks students to treat other online users as if they were face-to-face. If it isn’t right to say, it isn’t right to post.


Google has provided a 98-page curriculum (updated 2019) for teachers (or families) to use, extensively covering how to share with care, not fall for fake, secure your secrets, exhibit kindness online, and know when to seek help from an adult. The accompanying printables include a parent letter, activities, a family guide, internet tips, and a pledge. (See above links.) The curriculum provides rich discussion and activities to truly embed the importance and understanding of responsible digital citizenship. A further seal of approval? Google’s 2019 curriculum has the ISTE Seal of Alignment.

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Play safe. Learn safe. Stay safe.

Interland is the interactive platform to engage students in what they learn from their families and teachers. Four challenging games engrain these valuable lessons. Students can learn to discern fake sites or offers on the Reality River, then travel to Mindful Mountain where they learn to share with care. The Tower of Treasure will secure their secrets and Kind Kingdom teaches that it’s cool to be kind.

Let’s take a look at Kind Kingdom: Students are asked to report negative behavior in order to restore the peaceful nature among the kingdom. Players collect hearts to spread kindness to sad internauts who need some love. Ten points are awarded with each thumbs up or heart given to another character. Block the monsters who spread negativity (a clear bullying example)!

Google has provided a thorough and interactive program for students, their families, and educators to be engaged in their digital citizenship responsibility. While the program is intended for younger students, the materials could be applied across all ages. I would strongly encourage teachers to involve parents as we all transition technology into our classrooms. Teachers often field the questions and issues of tech use, how much tech, too much tech, not the right use or amount of tech…the list goes on. Google makes it easy for us to open the conversation to parents and provide ample resources to tackle this challenge together. If we fail to teach smart digital citizenship, would we not be doing a disservice to our students?

Marker Mic Drop Moments

Marker Mic Drop #2: María José García Vizcaino (Montclair State University)

How would you describe these photos in detail?
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Imagine it’s a Friday night and you are headed to the movies with friends or family. You settle in with your popcorn, endure too many previews, then the opening scene of the feature film finally begins. It’s quiet, no music. You hear a little rustling and perhaps some footsteps. There’s a loud banging – was that a door? – and then nothing. You can tell the screen is filled with dark tones because you do not sense any bright white flashes. You can feel the suspense as the silence ensues until finally, there is another disruption. Loud noises, the sound of two men struggling, and what sounds like pots and pans are falling all around them. Are they in a kitchen? Who are these two men? What do they look like?

As a person with no vision issues, I’ve taken for granted how much I could gather from the opening scene of a movie. I immediately know the environment, can make assumptions about the characters based on their physical stature, and can feel the intensity of the plot because I have the visual attached to this experience. What if you were deprived of this opportunity, though, every time you watched a video?

Jason Strother, freelance journalist and adjunct professor of journalism at Montclair State University in New Jersey, reported for Public Radio International (PRI) on audio accessibility services in the United States, namely Spanish audio description. While the services have improved over time, resources are limited but slowly on the rise for Spanish speakers. Audiobooks have become more prevalent but theatres are not required to provide audio description in any language.

It’s a translation not from one language into another, but from one medium to another.”

María José García Vizcaino, Associate Professor of Spanish and Latino Studies at Montclair University, created the Spanish Audio Description course, a first of its kind. Her students, many native Spanish speakers, first recognize and work through their dialectal differences in vocabulary in order for the language to be uniform in its translation. Professor García Vizcaino emphasizes that the class is not only working on traditional translation, but also transforming the experience by taking the language from one medium to another. The images that the visually impaired cannot see are “translated” into the oral form, thus allowing them to recreate the scene with their imaginations.

These students do not just sit in their classrooms and watch movies to translate. The class partners with New York’s Repertorio Español to enhance the live theatre experience. A student watches the production on a live black and white monitor from the costume room, providing description to the theatre patrons wearing the visually-impaired accommodated headsets.

“This was my first time in a theatre,” 58-year-old Saeed Golnabi said after the show.

I would like to commend Professor García Vizcaino for the amazing work she is doing with her classes. The marker mic drop for me is the amount of empathy displayed throughout her students’ work. The examples are endless. Let’s name a few:

  • Cultural differences: Students realized dialectal differences when coming from various Spanish-speaking countries. (For example, the word for “supermarket” can vary greatly per country.) Communication opens up in recognizing these nuances.
  • Looking closer at their own community: Students had to put themselves into the visually-impaired person’s world to understand what they lack in a theatre experience.
  • Service learning: Students not only increased their knowledge and developed empathy within the four walls of the classroom. More importantly, they took this knowledge and served the community. You can hear the joy in Saeed Golnabi’s voice, a 58-year-old man who was leaving his first live theatre experience. He had also only been to the movies a couple times in his life.

Teachers, how are your students applying their learning? We are easily swept up in covering the content by the end of the year, but what is our true goal? That we made it through Chapter 20 in the textbook? Or should it be that our students walk away with valuable lessons and touch the lives of those around them?

My previous school, Mullen High School in Denver, CO, taught me the difference between the standard community service graduation requirement and service learning. The Lasallian Catholic motto of “Enter to learn, leave to serve,” greets students and faculty every day upon entering the school.

This principle has greatly affected the way that I approach my lesson planning and what I want my students to know and feel when they walk out my door. I cannot say that my teaching has involved life-altering projects to benefit the community, but my mindset made a significant shift from my four walls to the bigger picture. The first step in approaching a marker mic drop moment like Professor García Vizcaino? Start the discussion. Look at your local community. Make comparisons. I think you will find that students crave a voice. Allow them this voice and I’m certain they will astound you with their compassion and perspective.

Thank you, Professor García Vizcaino, for bringing an example of how our teaching and student learning can affect the community.

For the full article, click here: Visually impaired non-English speakers face accessibility language barrier at the movies (Jason Strother, PRI)