Month: January 2017

Website Wednesday: Dotstorming

lrvgncofby Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Cyber and Blended Learning

Dotstorming is a great online “brainstorming” tool that you can use with your students to generate ideas.  Like Padlet, Dotstorming allows students to post a digital sticky note with text or images.  Dotstorming takes it one step further, however, by also giving students dots that they can use to vote for the ideas they like best.

There are some things that I really like about dotstorming. Teachers can rank the ideas based on how many votes they received. I also like that your participants do not need a login to join the room. Finally, I like that you can limit the number of votes (dots) that you assign.

I used dotstorming during a recent professional development session.  Teachers researched different implementations of blended learning around the country and posted their findings within the dotstorming room.  Then, they used their dots to “vote” for the ideas they wanted to explore further as a group.

Check it out and let us know what you think!


Food For Thought Friday: Forget Resolutions, All You Need is #OneWord

Nicole Stulak, K-5 Instructional Coach

At a time when many of us are neglecting our New Year’s Resolutions and goals for the year ahead, maybe all we really need is one word.

The inspiring #OneWord concept is based on the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page. You can check out the One Word That Will Change Your Life Video here.

This powerful, yet simple idea has you select one word to focus on, a word that says who you want to be and how you want to live your life. One word that you invest your energy in and acts as a guide as you make decisions and go about your every day. One word that drives your goals and aspirations instead of lists of resolutions that often are time-sensitive, forgotten or never kept.


The #OneWord movement has the power to positively influence classroom culture and has gained momentum on social media as teachers and students return to school this month, ready to tackle the year ahead. Check out these hashtags #oneword2017 #OneWord #oneword365 and the links below to see how one word can make a BIG impact.

The One Word Project by Mr. C SharesEase

One Word Can build a Mindful Class Culture via Middle Web: All About the Middle Grades

The STEMtastic Classroom

My #OneWord for 2017 is BALANCE… reflect on your life, what word would you choose to guide YOU through 2017?


                    Hidden Lakes Elementary #OneWord    Norfolk Senior High #OneWord


ISTE Standards for Students


by Sara Brosious, Downingtown East High School Instructional Coach

What are the ISTE Standards for EdTech Integration?

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) created standards for students that outline the skills students need to thrive in a digital environment.  The standards are designed to prepare students to be future-ready for citizenship in a digital society.  The standards are intended to help educators to provide student-centered learning experiences and “ensure that learning is a student-driven process of exploration, creativity and discovery no matter where they or their teachers are in the thoughtful integration of ed tech.”  

You can view the ISTE standards and their descriptions here.

Website Wednesday: Google Search Like a Pro

captureby Michelle Curcio, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach and Google Certified Teacher

Searching Google happens millions of times a day.  Any Google search too, will result in millions of hits for you to peruse!  Would you like to be able search Google better?  To limit your results to just those hits you really want?  Follow the tips and tricks below and learn to search Google like a pro!  And while you are at it, have some fun with Google as well.  Happy searching!

Start with Basic Searching

Start with simple searching.  

  • Ask a basic question.  Example:  ‘Who was John F. Kennedy?’
  • Type in a simple search term.  Example: ‘Oatmeal Cookies Recipe’.
  • Don’t worry about conventions!  Google doesn’t recognize punctuation, spelling, capitals, or articles (a, an, the)  so there is no need to include them!                   Example: Instead of ‘Who was John F. Kennedy?’ try only ‘John F. Kennedy’.
  • To search for a specific location add it’s name.  Example: bakery, Exton, PA.
  • Choose words that are likely to appear on the site you’re looking for. For example, instead of saying ‘my throat hurts’, say ‘sore throat’, because those are the words a medical site would use.

Next, Use Specific Search Terms

When using some specific terms, Google will recognize the request and do the work for you! The answer or tool you need shows up right in the search results!

  • Weather: Search weather to see the weather in your location or add a city name, like ‘weather Philadelphia’, to find weather for a certain location.
  • Dictionary: Type ‘define’ in front of any word to instantly see its definition.
  • Calculations: Enter a math equation such as  3 * 9123, or solve complex graphing equations.
  • Calculator: Type the word ‘calculator’ to bring up a simple or scientific calculator that works within the browser.
  • Unit conversions: Enter any conversion, like ‘10 dollars in euros’ or ‘5000 ft to meters’.
  • Translate: Type ‘translate’ and convert any phrase from one language to another.  Choose from hundreds of languages!
  • Sports: Search for the name of your team to see a schedule, live game scores and more.
  • Song Lyrics: Follow the name of any song with the word ‘lyrics’ to see the entire song.
  • Timer & Stopwatch: Type ‘set timer’ and the amount of time and let Google count down for you!
  • Flip a Virtual Coin: Type ‘Flip a Coin’ and be sure to choose heads or tails!
  • Google Newspaper Archives:  Search newspapers archives for every newspaper ever printed with a ‘Google Newspaper Archives’ search.  Search for a topic and click ‘search archives’ Click on the image to zoom in! (note: this site is no longer being updated by Google).
  • Quick facts: Search for the name of a celebrity, location, movie, or song to find related information.


Finally, Use Symbols and Search Operators

  1. Search with the @ symbol to find social tags.  Example: @micheleacurcio
  2. Search with the $ symbol to find items for sale in your price range.                  Example: Uggs $125
  3. Use the # symbol to locate popular hashtags for trending topics.                     Example: #education
  4. When you use a dash before a word or site, it excludes sites with that information from your results. This is useful for words with multiple meanings, such as  Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal.                                                                        Example: jaguar speed -car or pandas
  5. When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as the ones inside the quotes. Use this when looking for an exact word or phrase.  Example: “imagine all the people”
  6. Add an asterisk as a placeholder for any unknown words or wildcard terms.              Example: ‘a * saved is a * earned’.
  7. Separate numbers by two periods without spaces to see results that contain numbers in a range or the date of an event.                                                            Example: camera $50..$100 or World Series Winner..1972.
  8. Limit results to information from a particular website or domain.                              Example: Cubs
  9. To get results from multiple sites or domains, combine then with OR.              Example: Cubs OR site:.espn
  10. Find sites that are similar to a web address you already know by beginning with the word ‘related’.                                                                                                                 Example:
  11. Find pages that might use one of several words by placing ‘OR’ between them.  Example: marathon OR race
  12. Get information about a web address, including the cached version of the page, similar pages, and pages that link to the site.  Example:
  13. See what a page looks like the last time Google visited the site.                       Example:

Just Plain Fun!




Tech Tip Tuesday: Helping Student Teachers


by Mike Kang, Downingtown Middle School Science Teacher

Sometimes I’ve struggled with the best way to give student teachers access to our tech-based school environment. First, it was Moodle. Now it’s Schoology. With an incoming student teacher, how do I deal with giving her access to my courses without compromising my digital privacy?

People outside our district cannot currently create accounts within the domain for security reasons. However, Schoology is available outside of DASD using So, I can have my student teacher make her own Schoology teacher account, create her own Schoology course and then share it with me. She can create assignments, articles, discussion forums, quizzes and I can quickly pull them onto my page. With her Schoology account, I can even make her an administrator in my course if it’s appropriate.

For our elementary teachers, a colleague suggested student teachers can make a google site and then the teacher can link to it.

Problem solved! An almost seamless integration for the student teacher into the digital class. Now … onto helping her deal with classroom management.

Food for Thought Friday: Do 1:1 Devices Improve Educational Outcomes?

by Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Cyber and Blended Learning

This past December, the ninth and tenth graders at Downingtown East and West went 1:1 with a choice between two laptops.  They could also continue to bring their own devices. The Downingtown STEM Academy, Lionville Middle School,laptop.png and Downingtown Middle School students are now all 1:1 with iPads and our elementary students have more access to devices than ever before. With such a large financial investment in these technology tools, we educators, our School Board, the taxpayers, our parents and our students need to know that it was worth it.

So what does the research say? Binbin Zheng, Chin-Hsi Lin and Chi Chang from Michigan State University and Mark Warschauer from the University of California, Irvine reviewed 65 journal articles and 31 doctoral dissertations published from January 2001 to May 2015 to examine the effect of one-to-one laptop programs on teaching and learning in K–12 schools. Their findings were published in the Review of Educational Research this past December. As with any research, especially meta-studies, there are many nuances to the findings. In general, the findings of this research were positive.

As with any research, especially meta-studies, there are many nuances to the findings. In general, however, the findings of this research were positive. The findings showed that  1:1 programs “significantly increased academic achievement in science, writing, math, and English; increased technology use for varied learning purposes; more student-centered, individualized, and project-based instruction; enhanced engagement and enthusiasm among students; and improved teacher–student and home– school relationships” (Zheng, Warschauer, Lin, & Chang, 2016, p. 1075).

There is a lot of food for thought to digest this weekend.  Enjoy!

You can read the entire study here.

Zheng, B., Warschauer, M., Lin, C. H., & Chang, C. (2016). Learning in One-to-One Laptop Environments A Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 0034654316628645.

Schoology Improves Document Viewer

by Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Cyber and Blended Learning

At the end of December, Schoology quietly released enhancements to its Document Viewer on the web. These changes improve the way that students view any file you’ve uploaded directly to Schoology.  Additionally, the way that you view students’ assignment submissions on the web and in the native iOS and Android apps have been improved.

You can watch this video for a demonstration of the new look and features: