Month: November 2017


worksheetby Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Blended and Cyber Learning

For the month of December, we will again be taking the #antiworksheet challenge.

So why are we picking on the worksheet or (worse) the packet of worksheets? Well, a worksheet is not that engaging or exciting for students. It’s often not student-centered or meaningful. They’re rarely collaborative. And, it’s very easy for students to copy someone else’s worksheet.

So for the month of December, we are going to have a challenge – the #antiworksheet challenge! If you frequently use worksheets in your class, we’re going to give you digital alternatives every day during the month of December.  Of course, there are lots of non-digital alternatives to worksheets, too – but this is a tech chat.

We would love to hear your ideas!  Email them to or comment on this post.


Website Wednesday: Let’s Recap

by Khristina Hunt, Downingtown West Instructional Coach


Recap provides teachers with new, creative ways to gather evidence of students’ thinking using video. It helps create new learning connections between students and teachers and fosters more transformative dialogue by everyone.

In addition to asking students to summarize the most important concepts from a lesson, teachers can also elicit quick feedback on how well students think they grasped a topic. Expand assessments, encourage reflective practices and empower students with Recap. It’s all short-form response, providing quick, energetic bursts of valuable data for teachers. Recap is built for teachers, students, and even parents.



Here’s how it works: Teachers create (typed or recorded) and assign prompts or questions to individual students, or the whole class. They’ve also added the ability for teachers to set maximum response times, set due times, and to set a poll that gathers qualitative data. As responses start rolling in, the Daily Review Reel—a selection of student responses set to engaging music and visual effects—is quickly generated for the teacher, along with a snapshot of the entire class’s responses. Teachers can then adjust subsequent lessons, spend more time on topics and dig into individual data to better enable students learning at different paces.

Here are a few other ideas for how you can Recap in your classroom:

  • Implement a more engaging approach to formative assessment—Collect richer, more valuable insight on performance by equipping students to respond in a multimodal format (video). Recap can be used for video exit tickets or admit slips, reading logs, self-reflection, and simple Q&A to assess students.
  • Support Common Core standards—Get students to explain their answers in verbal form, provide descriptive feedback and demonstrate evidence of thinking on video with Recap.
  • Strengthen language skills—Include the use of Recap at the end of a unit or chapter, where lab and oral responses are already expected of students.For example, a Spanish teacher can quickly test listening comprehension and verbal skills by recording a question in Spanish, prompting students to then respond in kind.

Please see your instructional coach for more assistance with this quick formative assessment resource.


Website Wednesday: Actively Learn

by Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Cyber and Blended Learning

Have you ever assigned your students a text to read, but weren’t sure if they actually read it? If so, you’re going to love today’s website!

Tools like EdPuzzle and PlayPosit allow teachers to make videos more interactive by embedding quiz questions directly into the video. Actively Learn is a website that lets teachers do the same thing with text.

Teachers can import an Internet article, a Google Doc or a PDF.  Once the text is added, the fun begins.  Teachers can add multiple choice questions, short answer questions, notes about the text, links to additional information, images and even video.  Teachers can also choose to “whiteout” certain sections of the text.

When students engage with the text, the questions pop up as they read along in the text, so it forces them to slow down and to engage with the reading. There are so many other things that students can do once they’re in Actively Learn, such as:

  • take their own notes, which the teacher can view
  • highlight and take notes on specific parts of the text
  • hear a part of the text read aloud, speed up or slow down the reading speed, and highlight words as they’re being read
  • translate a part of the text
  • change the font size, color, and spacing

One of the downsides of the website is that you have to create a “class,” have your students create accounts and then join your class. I definitely think these extra steps are worth it!

I think you’re going to really love this website.  Check it out and let us know what you think!


Food for Thought Friday: No Such Thing as a Digital Native?

by Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Blended and Cyber Learning

What if I told you that there was no such thing as a “digital native,” the term coined by Marc Prensky to describe children who grew up in the age of mobile devices, social media, and the Internet? Would you think differently about your students?

A paper published in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education this summer suggests that the idea of a digital native is a myth. Authors Paul Kirschner and Pedro De Bruyckere argue that today’s children are actually not highly tech-literate nor do they inherently understand or use technology better than older adults.

“Research also shows that though learners in this generation have only experienced
a digital connected world, they are not capable of dealing with modern technologies in the way which is often ascribed to them (i.e., that they can navigate that world for effective and efficient learning and knowledge construction).” – Kirschner & De Bruyckere

Educators make a mistake, they say, when they assume that students have the digital skills needed to be successful learners.

For example, researchers from New York Institute of Technology, the University of Connecticut and Utah State University looked at over 1,000 middle schoolers and their teachers and found that the teachers used productivity tools, such as word processing, and search engines more frequently than the middle schoolers. Students, on the other hand, used technology mostly for social connections and interpersonal communications outside of school. Surprisingly, this study found that teachers seemed to have a better grasp of the uses of technology than the digital natives did!

Kirschner and De Bruyckere want to debunk two prevailing myths regarding digital natives:

  1. Students do not “naturally” have the digital skills they need to learn.  Like any other skills, digital skills need to be “properly taught and acquired before they can be applied.”
  2. There is not a generation of digital immigrants that lacks the digital proficiency of younger people. In their research, the authors found that differences between teachers’ and students’ digital skills were more related to their roles than their ages.

I encourage you to read the entire paper when you get a chance.  It just may change your thinking about digital natives!


Website Wednesday: ReadWorks

Image result for readworksby Jackie Longan, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach

I love when I am able to share a website that’s easy-to-navigate with resources that are practical, customizable, and best of all… FREE! is one of my favorite resources for articles that I can use with students to help build background knowledge and enhance content-specific vocabulary about topics across all curricular areas.  It allows me to search and sort by grade level, subject, Lexile level, and genre.  

Additionally, ReadWorks offers article collections in its Article-A-Day” sets.  This suggested approach promotes reading one article from the set, every day, for ten minutes.  It also includes lesson and question ideas to go along with the sets.

I hope you find this resource useful, and if you get to check it out, let your Instructional Coach know what you think!

Monday Mentions: Breakout EDU in 1st Grade at Beaver Creek

by Michelle Curcio, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach

BreakoutEDU is a fun way to engage students in activities that have them thinking critically, problem-solving, troubleshooting and working collaboratively.  BreakEdu games require players to work together to solve a series of puzzles in order to open one or more locked boxes.  Many of the games are complex and are designed for older students and adults.  First-grade teacher Rachel Kass however, after participating in a professional development session on BreakoutEDU,  found a way to use the puzzles with her young students.  By modifying the traditional tasks she created puzzles that are both age-appropriate and that maintain the essential skills we want all of our students to learn.

After spending several days with students on activities such as working collaboratively and learning to open a simple padlock, Rachel created multi-step clues to lead center groups to the combinations needed to open a Breakout Box.  

Watching the first graders enthusiasm as they solve the puzzles and gather to reflect has been exciting. Rachel has clearly demonstrated that our youngest students are able to participate in complex problem solving that is rigorous and at the same time, fun!  


Video of Rachel’s Class During Breakout: