Self-Assessment – A Semester of Connected Learning Revisited

Our Semester in a Nutshell!

1. Exploring key ideas of connected learning (within weekly topics and cycles).

2.  Contribute to our classroom community in some way each week.

3.   Engage with another community outside this course each week.

4.   Document your journey as you go in support of your own assessment and reflection, with specific attention to issues of equity.

5.    Design a framework for a project you will take forward past this class

6.     Share/demonstrate/perform some aspect of this for community input/feedback.


  • How well do you feel you successfully met these expectations this semester?

I feel that I was successful in exploring the key ideas of connected learning throughout this semester. I feel I particularly enjoyed the maker movement, opening learning and peer supported learning portions of this semester. I enjoyed the opportunity to create weekly makes using new technologies guided by innovative weekly prompts. I especially enjoyed learning about the maker movement and the notion that a student’s interaction with online communities does not have to simply be about consumption but also about production, creativity and innovation. Students are not just parts of an lone community but they are active participants within it. I think I was able to tackle this topic with my annotation, my Socrative screencast, my MindMeister mind map, my Pixton comic strip “pop up” and my bracelet make. While the former makes were more typically technology oriented, I really liked the idea of making my bracelet by hand, out of materials I had around me, and sharing a real, tangible product through a digital forum. Making does not have to be purely online but can and should involve making and sharing things that we create using materials and our own two hands. What is powerful about this message is that the “production centered” component of connected learning is not limited to the creation of a blog or a Twitter account but reaches far beyond that to digital forums which allow students to share tangible products. One of my favorite platforms for sharing this which I came across this semester was Voice Thread, a website which allows users to narrate descriptions of their own projects, designs and creations and is based off the the notion that not everything can be properly or effectively conveyed via text or digitally created designs. Sometimes photographs or drawings and your own voice are necessary to keep the human in connected learning.

Another favorite weekly topic which I think proves my commitment to the course was a commitment to peer supported learning. I was instantly intrigued by this topic and how it allowed students to engage with their fellow students in such a way that allowed not only for critical self-evaluation (Do I deserve this particular badge? Why or why not?) but also allowed students the opportunity to design, create and award badges that reflected their own personal values in terms of character and academic achievement and what that should look like in the classroom. I was able to create my own badge, the “Inspired Mind” badge, aptly named after my blog, apply for the badges of fellow ED677ers, as well as incorporate a set of original badges into my final Edmodo page make. In addition to badges, I also really embrace the idea of utilizing student portfolios and other means of qualitative grading into student assessment because I feel that it offers a more holistic view of the student both in terms of character and academics (very similar to the badges) and that it offers an excellent means of differentiated instruction and assessment for students who do not learn via typical classroom activities or perform well on summative assessments. I think that my Edmodo page could be transformed into a student portfolio of sorts in that it stores all of a student’s work in a single location and offers educators the option to create a variety of both formative and summative assessment to track student progress. When I have the opportunity to add to my Edmodo page in the future, I would add an “end-of-the-trimester” assignment in which students would choose their best work from that trimester, place it into a designated online “folder” and then add an explanation which describes in detail why their selections represent their best work.

Additionally, I made weekly contributions to our group with my Finding, Searching and Seeking posts, as well as my many other posts sharing my thoughts about issues within the connected learning community in addition posts which shared resources and detailed my weekly makes. Each week, I would try to connect with a community beyond our own class, whether that be through Twitter, via a link on my blog or the Google+ page, or by using a new connected learning resource with my own students at Kulp Elementary. For example, I was able to incorporate Google Docs, a discussion on the pros and cons of Twitter and other social media, as well as use screencasting and audio recording to narrate student PowerPoint projects. It was awesome seeing the concepts and resources discussed in the abstract come to life in the real world. In terms of equity, I was constantly refining my inquiry until I chose to create a final make that paid special attention to the needs of my autistic support students and learning support students in general. I felt that Edmodo would be the perfect platform to maintain equity in the classroom for these types of learners in that Edmodo allows for open communication  between parents and teachers and also puts all student learning materials in one, easy-to-access location – a very important feature for students who often struggle with organization and who so greatly benefit from digital learning resources and tools that appeal to their auditory, verbal, kinesthetic and fine motor needs.

  • Where do you think you could have improved?

As I wrote about in my final “Seeking” post, I think that I could have definitely improved on the connections that I made with fellow classmates. While I learned so many valuable tools and methods for connecting with fellow learners and was (for the most part) successful in utilizing these resources in my weekly-makes, if I were given another opportunity, I would have put more thought into how I could have shared my makes and my blog posts with the rest of the group and beyond. I feel almost like I created my blog within a vacuum that only I and a select few other people had access to. This was in part due to my lack of familiarity with the Goggle+ community (this entire semester I was sure that I was sharing my posts with the entire Connected Learning community only to just find out that this was not the case!!!!) as well as a lack of motivation caused by the lukewarm responses to my blog posts.

At the start of the semester, I commented that I was discouraged by the lack of traffic to my WordPress and this discouragement made me less likely to check up on the blog posts of other classmates. I think that this teaches a valuable lesson in the world of connected learning – unlike face-to-face communication and interaction where a response is generally required and instantaneous, connected learners need to put forth the extra effort required to keep lines of communication open and flowing. Connected learning communities are only viable and their benefits only worthwhile if all members are equally dedicated to the shared purpose of that community. Networks must remain open and accessible if these online learning ventures are to be accessible. For me, this would have meant more frequent updates to my Twitter, leaving more comments on classmates’ blogs and making sure to post (and most importantly properly post) more resources and inquiries to our shared blog and Google+ community page.

  • How do your successes and reflections on improvement inform your connected learning moving forward?

Thankfully, I feel that my connected learning successes far outweighed my failures for this semester. I walk away with knowledge of so many interesting and practical tools for incorporating technology and online learning into the classroom. Reflecting on the semester, I learned that connected learning takes commitment and truly requires a group of individuals with a common purpose and passion – whatever that may be. Maybe you want to create a connected learning community of small farm owners geared towards promoting the sale of local produce or a connected learning community of social studies teachers dedicated to archiving and sharing teaching resources. Whatever your purpose may be, all members must be dedicated to contributing to and keeping up-to-date the community so that it remains a viable and active resource that is constantly making, creating and sharing something new and exciting for others. I think my greatest successes this semester, and the most exciting, were the makes that I knew could directly benefit other learners, such as my curation of connected learning resources and the overall maintenance of my WordPress blog. Both of these makes provide instance access to different tools and avenues of exploration for anybody interested in connected learning.

  • What else do you want me to consider when assessing your performance over the past semester?

When assessing my performance, I would like you consider the amount of self-reflection placed into my blog posts and my weekly finds, searches, and seeks, as well as the quality of my weekly makes. I always asked myself how I could make my “makes” (for lack of better wording!) the best they  could be and how I could incorporate technologies that were both teacher and student friendly, such as Socrative, Pixton, MindMeister, Edmodo, VoiceThread, Adobe Filmmaker, and AppsBar (among many, many others). I think that it is also important to consider the effort and time placed into the maintenance of our blogs and the quality of our posts. It was difficult to maintain the pace that I began the semester with (posting 5 or 6 posts a week at times) but I finally fell into a rhythm as the semester progressed, which I think is a more realistic expectation for a teacher blogger!

My Final Seeking Seven Sunday #S7S (My 67th Blog Post Apparently!)

1. I really appreciated the opportunity to share the ideas that we had four our final makes on Wednesday night and to hear some make that were already completed. I thought that incorporating YPAR – Youth Participartory Action Research – into Lizzy’s Final Make was a great way to delve more deeply into the participatory culture aspect of connected learning. It got me thinking about our many discussions about participatory culture and how educators can play an important role in transforming young peoples’ attitudes towards technology. We can work to create hands-on, maker inspired assignments and projects that prove to young people that they do no have to be idle bystanders and consumers of technology but that they can instead be active participants in the thriving maker community of learners!

2. As a future secondary social studies teacher (fingers-crossed) I think it would be awesome to assign a YPAR themed project to my students, much like Lizzy’s final make (which can be found here! I think that giving students a chance to follow a passion, have their voices be heard, and see a final product is so rewarding and motivating for students. I also thought it was great to see how Lizzy incorporated a Google Docs chat session into her YPAR project…this brought back both good and bad memories for me. Good, in that it exposed me to a new form of collaborative technology that I was unfamiliar with and bad in that the chat progressed to quickly and in so many different directions that it was almost impossible to keep up! Much like our dreaded (at least in my opinion) Twitter chat.

3. I was thinking a lot last week and at the start of this week about the forum for my online class blog. I knew that I wanted to create a blog designed for the 5th grade special education students I work with, but I wanted a site with more structure than Tumblr or WordPress or the laundry list of other blogging sites has to offer. Edmodo was the perfect fit in that it is designed with educators in minds and features a number of resources that facilitate assignment completion, group collaboration and discussion, as well as giving quizzes and tests online.

4. I was also so happy to see that the badge maker movement – something I thought was pretty much contained to the P2PU and Mozilla communities had made its way on to Edmodo. This was definitely the deciding factor as to why I finally chose Edmodo for my final make. It is great and so convenient that it provides a space for students to design a title, criteria, and design for their badges without ever having to log out of their Edmodo account.

To take a look at my Edmodo account and some of the badges that I created simply go to, enter the group code uy7gxe and enter your first and last name, as well as a username and a password. It’s that simple to join!

5. I also liked the idea of creating a Titan Pad blog chat. It reminded me of a conversation on a Google Doc. I had some trouble assigning myself a color to write with and getting acquainted with this new forum but its is definitely another means of collaboration that I will add to me ever-lengthening list!

6. I have been meaning to write a post about “Is Play the Work of Children?” and even have a rough draft written! Even though the semester is officially over I am determined to get this post completed! It was very interesting to read how kindergarten skills, while so fundamental for all of us, are often thrown by the wayside as students get older.

7. Lastly, I wanted to end my final seek with a bit of a regret. I have enjoyed blogging and posting each week, but I wish that I would have commented more on other’s posts. While I took the time to read and admire the work of my classmates, I wish I would have taken my own advice from the start of the semester to put more time and energy into communicating with my fellow classmates!

My Final Make! My Edmodo Experiment

For my final make, I decided to create a mock Edmodo page for a 5th grade Autistic Support classroom. Simply visit and enter the student group code uy7gxe to access Ms. Norden’s 5th grade group. You can also access my Edmodo page via the following url:

I was first introduced to Edmodo a couple of years ago when I was completing practicum work at Upper Dublin High School. The teacher I was working with, an 11th grade American History teacher, used Edmodo as a means of answering review questions posted by the teacher. Students in the class post their own responses and are then able to view and comment on the responses of their classmates.

When I was thinking about what my final make would look like, I was trying to think of an online student resource that encompassed all of the facets of connected learning:

1. Production Centered

2. Focused on Promoting Peer Culture

3. Openly Networked

4. Tailored towards Student Interests

5. Academic

6. Designed Around a Shared Purpose

infographic 2

Edmodo is a multi-purpose resource that can be tailored to fit the unique needs of any student population. One of my inquiries towards the end of the semester was how to design learning activities that appealed to those students who are typically left on the margins; those students who are disengaged or struggling for a variety of reasons whether that is a lack of resources at school, lack of support at home, learning disabilities, and the long list of other challenging circumstances which students confront daily. Later on as I started planning my final make, I wanted to revise my inquiry to better suit the needs of the population of students who I work with – 5th and 6th grade autistic support students.

I noticed that as I read about connected learning and looked deeper into the many initiatives being taken to bring connected learning into the classroom, there was not a lot of emphasis being placed on how connected learning can benefit special education students. I have witnessed how my group of autistic support students thrive on digital resources and benefit from assistive technologies and began to think how Edmodo could help to address the needs of my students. It is ideal in that learning activities can be directly tailored to the diverse interests of the students I teach (interests as diverse as streets, bridges, and road signs to wrestling and horror movies!) It also opens up a vital line of communication between home and school, something that is integral to the success of special education students. Many times, homework and forms are lost between home and school, and having a place where parents and students can visit to keep track of progress and stay on top of assignments is invaluable for their success.

This particular Edmodo page is designed with the beginning of the school year in mind. My group code, which is needed to access my page, Ms. Norden’s 5th grade group, is uy7gxe. With this code, anyone can access my Edmodo account. The url for my page is  Students are able to access  a number of back-to-school activities on the Edmodo page, as well as  leave their responses to questions on the class “newsfeed.” This way students are able to get to know one another and create a sense of classroom community via a digital forum. In addition to being able to post assignments to the Edmodo page, students also receive alerts for upcoming due date as well as quizzes and tests, a feature just as valuable for parents as it is for students (considering that oftentimes, a lot of information is “lost in transit” between home and school). Also, parents have a unique group in which they can leave messages for the teacher or ask questions pertaining to assignments or just general inquiries. I think that it is invaluable for students to have a “one-stop-shop” where they can not only complete their schoolwork and prepare for assessments, but also where they and their parents can communicate with the teacher(s).

Another feature that is really awesome from the standpoint of connected learning, is that students have access to differentiated resources and reading material via the Library feature of the Edmodo page. Here, students and parents can gain access to links, videos, PDFs, and essentially any other kind of uploaded document from their home computer. The links and other resources that I included on my “mock” Edmodo page are geared towards beginning of the school year activities which are complete with detailed instructions and due dates to assist student and parents.

Edmodo is also an excellent tool for anybody trying to incorporate connected learning into their classroom because it allows you to award your students with badges. I thought that the idea of tracking student progress with badges was a very innovative and creative way of assessing students in a digital format. One of the students’ first assignments for the new school year, in fact, is to create their very own badge which can later on be awarded to a classmate. That way, students are playing a part in setting expectations for their classroom behavior as well as their academic goals, providing an essential sense of ownership over their work. Students can apply for each other’s badges, and then students, with the guidance of their teacher, will be the one to decided whether a student has met the criteria for a particular badge.

Student badges can be found under the “Progress” tab of the Edmodo homepage and virtually any type of badge can be created and uploaded. Badges include the Good Citizen, Homework Helper, and Hard Worker badge, and badges that I created for students include the Inspired Minds, Online Superstar, Kudos for Kindness, and the Best Effort badge.

I began creating the page by leaving a welcome post, much like Facebook, and then posted a series of “Getting-to-Know-You” questions to get a sense of student interests and learning profiles. This also serves as a valuable opportunity for students to communicate with one another and leave comments on each others’ posts. Additionally, I created the student’s first assignment, accessible to both students and teachers, which is located under Library Items and a specially created Back-To-School Folder. Their first assignment is to complete a 25 question survey focusing on student interests and then to write a paragraph response responding in more depth to one of the 25 questions.  The assignment location, details, and due date are all available on the Edmodo page, making is much easier for both students and parents to understand expectations and keep track of their progress.

The next assignment is to read “James and the Giant Peach,” as a class and to complete a variety of corresponding learning activities. Similar to the “Back-to-School” Folder, there is a separate “James and the Giant Peach” Folder so that all assignments are readily and easily accessible for students and parents. In addition to classwork and homework activities, teachers can also upload quizzes to Edmodo which can be a combination of multiple choice, True/False, Short Answer, Fill-in-the-Blank, and Matching questions. I was able to very easily create and upload a quiz for this novel which is a combination of MC and short answer questions, which are then readily accessible for scoring by the teacher. You can also incorporate a number of free apps onto your Edmodo page, as well as many other apps available at a low cost. For example, I asked for students to use the “Bookopolis” app to write their own book reviews for “James and the Giant Peach” and included several other free ELA apps for students including Grammaropolis and StoryboardThat, an interactive app which allows you to create storyboards which an end product very similar to a comic strip on Pixton or other comic strip makers. Better yet, Edmodo provides apps tailored for special education students such as SNAPPINESS which helps students hone their reading and comprehension skills.

Another awesome feature of Edmodo is that you are able to alert students whenever assignments or assessments are upcoming, a critical line of communication that is often lost between school and home. Students are also able to look at a month-to-month calendar that allows students to manage their time efficiently and to complete homework and prepare for assessments on time.

As I continued to explore Edmodo, it seemed like the options were almost endless and it became more apparent that its resources and features are ideal for a special education population of students. In addition to the Back-to-School and “James and the Giant Peach” assignments,  I was able to create and upload two separate projects, as well. One project was the “What is a Hero?” project and the other is a “Be Your Best…Earn A Badge!” project. Both of these can be found in the Project Folder under the Library tab on the Edmodo homepage. Once I review these badges, then students can upload them under the Progress tab and award students their badge over the course of the trimester. These badges will be used to earn rewards as chosen by each individual student and serve as an excellent means of classroom management and creating a cohesive classroom environment centered on student accountability.

Another great feature of Edmodo is that you are able to share group codes to any student in the school. This is a great way of exhibiting student work and creating a community of connected learners. For example, students in other classes can create their own badges and these can then be uploaded to our class Edmodo page to create a more extensive, school-wide collection of academic and character badges. Students are also able to create and join “Playground” groups where students with similar interests are able to post links to webpages, videos, and other online material that are of interest to the group. Teachers can then create projects or “makes” for each of these “Playground” groups, and students can collaborate online across classes and even across grade levels to design creative projects that are interest-driven and production-centered. I was also able to create a Current Events group with the group code 52pw8p and the url The specific details for this assignment can be found in the Current Events Folder under the Library Tab on the homepage. The creation of separate subgroups that can be accessed by all students with the group code, as well as the creation of interest-driven “Playground” groups are both examples of how Edmodo is an awesome forum for connecting learners both within the classroom, across grade levels and among different schools. The Current Events project requires students to create discussion questions which other students must then respond to, creating a community centered around inquiry and the sharing of online resources.

Another interesting feature that helps to bring the class together in the morning is the polling feature which is easily accessed via a poll tab at the top of the homepage. For example, I created a very simple poll – “What is your favorite time of year? Autumn or Summer?” These types of questions help to generate conversation and warm students’ minds up for the day ahead.

As a whole, Edmodo is an excellent resource for all students and any grade level. It allows you to curate resources,post assignments and projects, and create interest-driven and production centered groups that allow students to work creatively and collaboratively. It incorporates so many of the elements of connected learning that we explored this semester including badge-making, the use of digital apps as learning tools, and the sharing of various resources (articles, videos, blogs, etc.) in a single and easily accessible location. I would recommend this FREE resource to any educator interested in incorporating connected learning into their classrooms in a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate, and highly interactive digital space.

#S7S Seeking Seven Sunday

1. This week I really enjoyed our discussion on Wednesday night about the journey that each of us have taken as connected learners. The tools I discovered and the skills I walk away with this semester are definitely ones that I will be able to carry on with for many years in my teacher careers.

2. Similar to Jingru Chen, I also appreciated Christina’s post about her Six Image Memoir’s. Oftentimes, pictures really are worth a thousand words and this is a wonderful example of how that principle can be applied in a digital forum. This would be a fun way to infuse connected learning into our classrooms and also a great way for students to utilize their smartphones in a creative and educational format!

3. I loved Tahira Jones’ Flipagram and how she used a digital format to share her everyday life experiences. Such an easy, yet powerful, means of sharing your life with others online.

4. I enjoyed reading through Helga Porter’s curation of various online videos that she uses to inspired students in her classroom and encourage them to be their best selves. I particularly liked that they spanned several subject matters so that all teachers can benefit from this curation. The idea of a video curation is one that I also considered last week when I curated several YouTube videos that help to educated others about the benefits of connected learning.

5. And for any of  you who have not checked out Kid President on YouTube, you are missing out! It is awesome to hear inspiring messages spread via social media and to see humor being utilized to spread positive energy and messages among not only the kids who watch this video, but even the adults. I was laughing and even on the verge of tears the first time I saw this video. Kid President’s “20 Things We Should Say More Often” is funny and inspiring for anybody who watches it!

6. Here is another Kid President video shared by Tahira Jones that I think everyone should have a chance to look at! This one comes in a close second for me. Building off of this, I also love the way that Lower Merion School District made their own rendition of Pharell’s “Happy.” Helga Porter shared a video on her blog produced by the district and writes

At the beginning of this school year, teachers and students collaborated and choreographed to interpret their own wacky brand of “happy.” Although many school districts have done the same thing, it just brings a smile to my face to see people letting go of their inhibitions and just having fun!

I couldn’t agree more!

Here is link to Kid President’s “Awesome Looks Like You.”

Here is a link to Lower Merion’s version of “Happy,” – a great example of how a school can build character, community, and connected learning skills all at the same time.

7. And last, but definitely NOT least, for any public educator, I wanted to bounce my frustrations regarding PSSAs off of other in this course. All the resources  put into these tests and the stress and time putting into preparing for them seems like it mounts little by little each year. I wonder to myself when does it all just get to be too much and at what point are the students being done a disservice by our preoccupation with these exams? I find it discouraging that greater numbers of good teachers, even those who are decades into their careers, are leaving the profession due to increasing stress and accountability measures. Take a look at this Lancaster Online article posted by Tahira that looks into the story of one Pennsylvania teacher, who resigned at the age of 42 to pursue a career in medicine after the sight of her students struggling to cope with the pressures of standardized testing finally took its toll.

#S7S Snap, Crackle, POP

Seeking/Searching this week: 6/7 things this week that “pop out” to you when you think about seeking equity in connected learning … and then thoughts on how we can design for true equity in connected learning.

1. I actually incorporated Voicethread technology into a project I completed for my inclusion course with Heather Hopkins. The video posted to our weekly email “Students Doing History with Voicethread Technology,” a Digital Is posting and it immediately “popped out” to me as a way to incorporate connected learning into the social studies classroom. I could see myself designing a project in which students would be asked to create visual podcasts in collaboration with students at another school. This intermingling of not only age and generations but also of varied perspectives and viewpoints on historical events would be a powerful way to teach students the evolutionary nature of history and social sciences.

Using voices, whether they are of experts, witnesses to historical events or student interpretations and analyses of these events, brings the content to life. When accompanied with student created images, students are able to take the podcast to a different level and they begin to realize, as Gail Desler states in the video, “that they are creating content that others can use.”

The idea of making and remixing have been common points of discussions on our blogs and during our weekly meetings because they are such powerful tools that are able to give students pride and ownership over their work. They are not just consumers of their educators but active and creative participants in their learning.

The Voicethread video can be found here:

2. In think a constant struggle for all teachers is how to get their content areas to truly “pop” for their students and be as engaging and creative as possible. All students need to be able to find the “me” in their learning and uncover the “so what.” I really liked the website suggested on Lizzy post, Get The Math, in which students are able to explore the way in which math is applied in a number of careers. These careers include fashion, music, sports, videogame design, and other areas of interest for our students. And best of all, the website provides ready-made lesson plans for teachers to take into their classrooms. This idea is great not only for mathematics…I would love to see similar sites designed around history, English/Language Arts, the science, music, etc. When students ask us, “Why are we learning this?” we can point to the various career opportunities that exist down the road if they choose to pursue a subject that strikes their interest.

3. Another shout out to Lizzy’s blog (I feel like I do this a lot but she does share a lot of very interesting and relevant resources!) is ClassFlow. You simply have to create an account on your computer, laptop or tablet, download original lesson plans or used those shared in the ClassFlow community. Each student is given a unique passcode which allows them access to the lessons and resources you share in your account and better yet, students are able to upload assignments and post responses straight to the ClassFlow account, be it from school or from home. This website really “pops” for me because it allows students to collaborate in an online setting and view each other’s responses, opinions, and viewpoints. A little extra “pop” for teachers is that ClassFlow will automatically calculate grades and assessments and provide performance data!

4. Differentiated instruction is a buzzword that “pops” in the mind of every educator and each educator faces the daily challenge of modifying their curriculum to fit the needs of all of their students. We can no longer simply “teach to the middle” and hope that all of our students fall into place. Instead, we need to modify curriculum and find resources that target those students that struggle as well as those students who are advanced. As mentioned in my last blurb, ClassFlow is perfect for this because teachers are able to

Create student groups within ClassFlow based on your teaching needs. Send different content to different groups or individuals. Administer self-paced assessments with questions of different levels of difficulty.

5. Another great way to differentiate instruction so that our lessons “pop” for all of our students is to distribute an Interest, Readiness, and Learning Profile Questionnaire such as that created by Denise Murphy and Beth Ann Potter which can be found in Carol Tomlinson’s How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms. This way you can start off the school year knowing what types of topics interest our students (law, music, art, history, sports, etc.), how ready students are to learn by asking students to complete a pre-test in your content area, and lastly, letting students tell you how they learn best. What makes learning “pop” for them? Is it alone, in a group, with time constraints, without time constraints, with noise, without noise, etc. This allows teachers to tailor learning so that students feel comfortable in their learning space and while it is absolutely impossible to accommodate for and differentiate to every student at every moment of the school day, this is definitely a great start. This is an excellent resource I have been using for ED512 and you can find it here!

6. Another idea that came up On Erik’s blog this week was the creation of student anthologies, similar to the idea of student maintained portfolios. I have always disliked the idea of students throwing away their hard earned work, especially because it is such great documentation of all of the progress they have made over the year. Of course, it would be impractical to keep all student work in a portfolio, so students should be asked which pieces really “popped” for them and showed their best work.A great online student portfolio maker that I came across was ThreeRing. It is an an online student portfolio that allows student to upload and peer review their work to a class account with a unique and secure pass code. You can upload student project and assignments by name and organize them into folders for later viewing and grading.

The following benefits of ThreeRing were taken directly from the following link:



  • Capture and self-report evidence of what you’ve learned
  • Take pride in your work and feel ownership over your learning
  • Get descriptive feedback on concrete evidence from your projects and performances


  • appleAssess growth using real projects, performances, and work: goodbye bubbles and hello authentic assessment
  • Simple workflow and organization help you reduce clutter, files, and copying: send work home to parents and keep it for yourself!
  • Video made easy, no more messy email attachments or jammed up hard drives
  • Show instead of tell using qualitative evidence to anchor feedback

7) My last post is going to be about a teaching hack that “popped” out to me in my search and which that fits in perfectly with our “meme make” from a few weeks back. One teacher suggested having each student in your class create their own unique (and of course your must stress, school appropriate) meme to create classroom ground rules and expectations for behavior. I feel like this would be a really fun and creative way to start off the school year with your new group of students. I remember always dreading the first day of school because it would be a dry and repetitive review of rules and expectations for the year. Giving the students a hand in this process, and better yet, doing it in digitally current and age-relevant way for our students, will give the students a sense of ownership over their classroom environment ( a theme I am always going back to) as well as start the year off on a fun and light-hearted note.

My Pop-Up Make of the Week

For this week’s pop-up make, I decided to use a really awesome comic strip website called, which I stumbled upon while visiting the #popupschool Magazine which can be found at under the Pop Up School Toolbox. The website describes itself as an:

online magazine… created by a group of young people and their teachers from six schools in London UK and Oklahoma USA. It describes our experience of the OklahomaCreativity World Forum (Nov 15-17, Oklahoma City USA). We like to think of it as a Pop Up School. We are all passionately interested in helping to promote creative learning in our own schools and beyond.

I decided to create a comic strip designed around the book, Hatchet,” by Gary Paulsen, which is included in the 6th grade curriculum at my school as a part of a rotating Book Club. Students are required to take on a the role of the “Super Summarizer” for the book they are assigned and must describe the characters, setting, important events, problem, and ending/solution of their book to the class.

Instead of simply writing this information in paragraph form as is usually required, why not create “Pop-Up Comic Books?” Once a student has created a Pixton account, which is free for a Basic subscription, they are able to collect each other comic strips, leave comments, download the comic strips for future reference, as well as utilize features very similar to the “Like” button on Facebook. You can choose whether a comic strip was creative, funny, artistic or any combination of these.

I like the idea of each Book Club group creating a unique comic strip and then having the rest of the class view a “pop-up” version of the comic strip using the mobile laptop cart. This way, students can comment on comic strips in real time, provide suggestions to the group, and most importantly, have access an auditory learning experience (via group presentation), visual learning experience (via comic strips graphics) as well as a kinesthetic learning experience (through typing comments and providing feedback online). In this way, this “Pop-Up Book Club,” while being simultaneously fun and creative, reaches a wide variety of learners and learning modalities – a great way of incorporating differentiated instruction into your classroom.

Take a look at my “Pop-Up” Book Club comic strip!