Category Archives: Teaching & Learning

Solar Eclipse Nearpod Resource

Welcome back! We hope you’ve had a great start to the new school year.

Are you as excited about the solar eclipse as we are?! We’d love to hear what you plan to do, or what you did with your students. Leave a comment or tweet us @svvsditc

Science Coordinator, Mike O’Toole, partnered with Nearpod to create a slidedeck that includes some questions, safety instructions and resources to get us thinking about and prepared for the upcoming solar eclipse. One of my favorite resources is the flying along the path and mapping the path from Esri. Here’s a clip.

ESRI resource of eclipse

Below is the Nearpod that you can use with students. If you want to have a copy that allows you to see your students responses you will need to add the slidedeck to your library. If you have a District Edition license you can find it in the District Library. If you don’t have a license but one one, go here to find out how to get one.

Photo Stream in the Classroom

photostreamUntil recently I never considered using Photo Stream in the classroom.  I thought it was a great place to store my pictures but that was about it.  A few weeks ago I was able to learn and use Photo Stream during professional development and realized that the tool had several instructional applications.

1) Warm-ups/BOBs/Bell Ringers 

Create an album in your Photo Stream and add pictures to activate prior knowledge or review key concepts from a previous lesson.You can differentiate this by creating different albums for different sets of kids depending on their abilities. You can set any album to become a slideshow by taping on the slideshow button.  The slideshow will automatically put music to it but through the options menu you can change themes, music and set it to repeat (if desired) or take the music out.

When you are in the album tap on the slideshow button in the upper left hand corner
Change theme and music from the options setting







2) Formative Assessment

Create a shared album with your students.  Have them take quick snapshots of their work or short video discussing their learning. Have them add the media to the shared photo album and you will have a quick collection of student progress. Since Photo Stream also allows you to comment or like a photo (similar to Facebook) you can have students provide feedback to each other through this album as well. Students can post photos to a teacher or another student’s share album by following these steps:

1) Select the desired photo                              2) Tap iCloud Photo Sharing








3) Add a comment (optional)                   4) Select the appropriate album








Tap Post







3) Exit Tickets

Similar to formative assessments have students take a photo or short video that summarizes their learning or reviews the most important concepts from the lesson.  You can quickly review the photos/videos to check for understanding.

4) Student Curation

Have students create albums and share them with you to demonstrate their learning.  This is a great way for a group to work together to gather media surrounding a certain theme.  The group is forced to communicate and make decisions about which visuals best demonstrates learning.

Things to Consider: 

  • This guide from Apple will walk you through the steps on how to create a shared album from both an iPad and Mac computer
  • Does the album need to be shared?  If you are using it just to display images to students you might not need to share it.  It could be posted on a website or projected in the room.  If you want kids to add content or comments it must be shared.
  • Sharing requires you to enter email addresses.  Consider creating an email group for your class so that you can just type in the email group (as opposed to individual names) when sharing.

New Video – Advice From St. Vrain Teachers

Several middle school teachers from our district share their thoughts to help other teachers as they make the shift to a 1-1 learning environment. The topics range from practical applications, to general approaches that may offer insight to teachers as they  navigate this change in teaching and learning.

Reflections on Practice in a 1-1 Environment – Advice From St. Vrain Teachers



Technology-Curriculum Alignment Resources

When the State of  Colorado revised the Academic Standards in 2009 student use of technology was embedded into the content standards.  The ITCs and Curriculum Coordinators have developed a set of resources to help facilitate the connection between technology and curriculum.  Check out the updated  Technology-Curriculum Alignment Resource Page to access these resources.


LTP Spotlight on Practice: Formative Assessment

Altona Middle School 6th grade language arts teacher Ali Knight talks about how she has established routine and used the iPads for formative assessment.

  • Apps mentioned in the video:
    Notabality– An annotation and note taking tool purchased by the district for every LTP iPad.
    News O’ Matic– An age appropriate news source purchased by Altona Middle School.
    Edmodo– A classroom management app Ali discovered. Used primarily for the quiz feature.

To see the full list of the SVVSD LTP Provided and Recommended Apps please click here.


5 Links Monday (on Tuesday 12/2/14)

Welcome back from the Thanksgiving break! Here are the links for the week:

Link #1 – Resources for Teaching and Learning Digital Skills and Web Literacy

At the end of reading “A Brief History of Web Literacy and its Future Potential,” I followed a link to Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map. Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 6.08.52 AMThese substantive resources have a bit of pizzaz with names like “Crap Detector 101,” or “Navigate like a Superhero,” and are designed for teachers’ learning and for them to use them in the classroom. I think all of my students would be interested in learning how to punk a friend using X-Ray Goggles, or creating their own evil twin (a featured teaching resource).

Link #2 – MindShift’s Guide to Digital Games and Learning

This guide won’t tell you how to get your students to stop playing games on their devices. This guide will provide research about gaming and screen time, how to select games for learning, dealing with obstacles when using games in the classroom, and more. As pointed out by Stevan Kalmon (see comments), this report provides  “reframing how learning can occur, and how teachers can use games without having to change everything they do.”

Here’s a third grader appealing to teachers to use games in the classroom:

 Link #3 – The Spatial History Project

Stanford University hosts this collaborative project designed to engage learners to analyze history using visual and spatial methods.
The intended audience is for higher education, but may give some ideas for looking at classroom topics from a different perspective.

Link #4 – How do the Lungs Work?

This TED-Ed feature includes a video, guiding questions, a space for conversation, additional resources, and the ability to customize the lesson for your classroom.

Link #5 – How Mindfulness Can Help Teachers and Students

This resource explores how practicing mindfulness can help educators and students how paying attention to one’s state can help deal with the current expectations in education and distractions organic in a tech saturated world. Here’s an interview with a program director at a school that focuses on mindfulness.

Did you find any of these resources something to write home about? If so, leave a comment below.

Awesome learning and collaboration opportunity


As we talk with teachers in schools, one thing we hear often is a desire to get together with peers from around the district to share with and learn from one another.  So, we’re hoping to kick off a new type of professional learning event to meet this need……

Join us for an upcoming iPad Geek Out!

Want to learn more? Look below for details.  Hope to see you there!

Register for an iGO East at

Register for an iGO West at

*A guest post from Michelle Bourgeois

Civic Virtue Being Taught, Learned and Practiced

“…the only title in our democracy superior to that of President, the title of citizen…”  Jimmy Carter

Silver Creek Social Studies Teacher Justelle Grandsaert believes that a civics education should not only prepare students with knowledge about U.S. Government but also help to develop the skills necessary to be active citizens in a democracy. To reach this goal she teaches the state and local government unit through a Civic Action Project (CAP). The project asks students to identify a state or local issue that they would like to influence by either creating, amending or removing an existing law or policy.  Then students embark on civic actions to enact change surrounding the issue.  This task requires students to research a complex local issue, identify the correct level of local government and  develop advocacy and participatory skills.

According to Grandsaert, “The CAP projects enable students to engage in their community, to see government as relevant and viable, and to recognize that their own voice matters. They have the opportunity to improve the community and seek change at the local level. Local leaders come in to talk to the students, students go out to talk to local leaders- the process is dynamic and empowering.” Through this process students frequently meet with School Board members, City Council Representatives and County Commissioners.

Austin L., Mayor Coombs and Anthony H. after their meeting about recreation options in Longmont.
Austin L., Mayor Coombs and Anthony H. after their meeting about recreation options in Longmont.

This year students are looking to impact a diverse range of issues from banning plastic bags and immigration reform to funding for mass transportation and labeling of GMOs.  Some of the actions her students have engaged in thus far include:

  • Meeting with Superintendent Haddad about school start times.
  • Meeting with Mayor Coombs to discuss revamping a skate park in the city and increasing recreational opportunities in Longmont.
  • Several students have written formal letters to the Governor on topics including banning plastic bags in our state  and funding for mass transportation.
  • Several students have written formal letters to the Times Call concerning topics ranging from light pollution and funding for the arts to improved school lunches.
  • One student has changed the policy at Silver Creek regarding earning letters. She has now successfully added the opportunity to earn a letter in drama.
  • Three students met with the Director of Safety at the University of Colorado regarding blue lights and decreasing sexual assaults. They are lobbying the City of Longmont to do more to create safe areas for individuals.
Although CAP projects take on many topics they all include common a website portfolios which showcase their topic, civic actions and reflection on the process.  Here are a couple portfolios from last year.
This is how one teacher is engaging students in their community. I would love to hear how others are connecting curriculum with the community around them.


The Many Faces of Notability

While at Sunset Middle School I observed two teachers using Notability in different ways for different purposes.  In all instances students used the tool to engage in curriculum and reach individual learning needs.

Notability for Accommodations

Alex Armstrong, Math teacher and IB Coordinator, uses the audio feature in Notability to meet IEP accommodations.  Students are able to take a picture of their work in Notability and record the explanation instead of manually writing it.  The student then airdrops the file to Ms. Armstrong who is able to see the work and listen to the explanation.

Student work with audio recording for the explanation.
Student work with audio recording for the explanation.

Notability for Annotation

Matt Coniglio, Language Arts Teacher, instructs students to use Notability when annotating digital texts.  In this activity Mr. Coniglio used his iPad to take photos of excerpts from The House on Mango Street.  Students accessed the excerpts in Drive and opened them in  Notability where they were able to highlight, write and add sticky notes to identify conflict, theme, similes and metaphors.

An example of annotation tools in Notability.

Notability for Warm-ups

Another great idea from Matt Coniglio is using Notability for student warm-ups.  Originally students used Drive to complete and share their warm-ups with him,  however, the use of Notability enabled Mr. Coniglio to design warm-ups where students could create graphs and pictures as well as traditional text.  When the warm-ups are ready to be turned in students upload them to Google Drive.

In this warm-up students are creating a pie chart to show the various activities they engage in during the school day.