Curating with Storify!

storifyOf the various tools that Christina suggested we use to complete our curating project, I decided to give Storify a go….and I am so thrilled that I did. It allows you to seamlessly embed content from virtually anywhere, be it YouTube, Google, Google+, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram – the list goes on. Upon starting, you are asked to create a title and a description for your webpage, but from that point forward you are free to simply click and type as much or as little text as you would like as well as search for and embed online resources with a click and a drag of your mouse. It really was SO easy to maneuver, even for somebody such as myself who had never even heard of Storify before Christina mentioned it in last week’s email.

You can alter the text, add images, quotes, videos and links. I even just realized as I was typing this post that there are ready-made templates available to help with the design of your webpage. There’s always next time I guess. Overall, Storify is a great resource for students, is definitely easy enough for most students to navigate, and works well as a means of sorting through large amounts of information and compiling the essentials into a single, easily accessible location. I also liked the sequential nature of Storify and the way that it is set up much like a blog, except in this case, from start to finish.

Take a look at my very first Storify. Let me know what you think!


Curating….An Age Old Practice Revisited and Redefined


When we were told that we would have to “curate” something as our weekly make, my mind instantly flashed to museum curators, working to select and painstakingly catalog artwork for a museum exhibit. However, after a bit of research, I stumbled upon this New York Times article from about 5 years back which explains how curating is no longer an antiquated practice but rather something that is alive and thriving which extends far beyond the reaches of prestigious museums and has become commonplace on sites like Flickr, Etsy, and Pinterest. In this age of unprecedented digital access and know-how, virtually anybody with a computer can be their very own curator. This article was an interesting read as I decided how I wanted to go about creating my first curated page.

Eventually, I settled on which allows you to easily select the best resources for any topic of your choice. I decided to find the best resources for people new to connected learning and found the process to be fun and very user-friendly. This is another online application that I can add to my growing list of must-see sites since the start of the semester. My completed curated page on Storify will be posted shortly!

The New York Times article, titled “On the Tip of Creative Tongues: Part One” can be accessed below…..Definitely check it out! I also included a short excerpt from the article that looks into the evolving role of the curator in today’s digital world. Why do we need someone to select and filter material when we have it all at our fingertips. What is the value? This article will give your a little more insight on those questions and their application in a world that is virtually “at our fingertips.”

“The idea that the viewer/consumer has the best understanding of what they want is now taking precedent. So who needs a curator when you’ve got yourself, right? Well, if the role of the curator is to be a filter, than it looks like they are still just as much in demand as they were before.”

The Possibilities of Peer Supported Learning


After watching “Connecting to Something Bigger: The Power of Open, Peer-to-Peer Learning,” I wanted to share my thoughts on the possibilities of peer supported learning and ideas I have for incorporating this type of learning into my own classroom.

An interesting point of discussion that came up during the webinar was whether or not students more highly value teacher feedback or peer feedback. And how can we create an environment where students feel safe within their learning community so that they are more inclined to participate in peer-to-peer learning or “an ecosystem where we are all connected learners?” as posed by Paul Oh. Paul Allison says that one step is getting your curriculum uploaded to an online forum so that students have access to learning materials in an open space as well as creating a forum where students can upload their work and leave feedback. I think that using websites such as Edmodo  to display student work and receive student feedback would work well. I agree with Paul Allison that students need to be taught how to leave proper feedback and need to be reassured that their voices are valuable and that their opinions do matter. Peer-to-peer learning can be incredibly powerful and engaging so long as their is the proper guidance on the part of the teacher and so long as the teacher has laid the groundwork for the students to be successful in their learning.

Another issue that was discussed during the webinar is the possible fear of judgement that some students may experience when posting their thoughts and work online. How do we get students to feel comfortable with online, peer learning communities? I can think of many students who would hesitate to post their work online and it’s important to reassure them that they are part of an open community of learners who are looking to grow and learn. It also serves as an important lesson as to how students should present themselves online and how they should interact and form an online identity. Additionally, how do we get students who are scared to post their work online comfortable with posting to the web where virtually anyone could have access to it?

I also liked the point brought up towards the end of the webinar, when one participant points out the “eco-chambers” which oftentimes forms within openly networked communities and how connected learning groups can actually become so insulated to the point that they actually promote inequity. One way to combat this, it was suggested, is to create connections with classrooms who are engaging in peer-to-peer learning so that connected learning remains fresh and is constantly being injected with new ideas.

Within a classroom setting, I love the idea of using shared Google Docs and Google Slideshows as a way of allowing students to collaborate via a digital and interactive forum. As student entire their thoughts and responses to a given prompt, they can see their classmates’ answers in real time. This will not only serve to spark new ideas for students who may be struggling with a response, but it also gives students the chance to build off of and comment on the ideas of their classmates. Becoming familiar with all of the awesome tools that Google has to offer has been so beneficial this semester and I will carry this forward into the classroom. I think creating a spontaneous slideshow, like the one created on Wednesday, is a fun way for students to express their thoughts not only in writing but also visually. Sharing their slide with the class also gives students a chance to practice their presentation skills and to practice fielding questions from the group.

Applying for the “Awesome Bloggers” Badge

Having received a Credly “Blogtastic” blogging badge from Helga earlier in the week, I wanted to take some time to apply for badges created by other classmates through the P2PU website. This challenge is a way for me to uncover the difficulty or ease of use of this badge-making technology before introducing it to students.

The first step was simply logging on to the P2PU website and badges created by ED677 students were automatically displayed on the screen. I decided to start off by applying for Amy’s “Awesome Blogger” Award which listed the following criteria:

  1. Create a blog.
  2. Blog 3 weeks in a row.
  3. Post your blog to your own personal website or social media site.

Next, I submitted a project for this badge to serve as evidence that I met all the necessary criteria. The project, for this particular badge, is my Inspired Minds 2015 blog. I included a screenshot of the application page to give everyone a sense of what it entails.

awesome blogger

Above is a link to my submission page. Just have to wait for Amy to approve the badge and I will hopefully be the proud recipient of the “Awesome Bloggers” award!

Using Documentaries to Enhance Learning

I wanted to give a shout out to Eric’s blog post, “That Feeling When You Have A New Lesson Idea.” I am sure that all educators can relate to the on-going struggle that is trying to get students to “buy-in” to their learning and to make relevant connections to their own lives. I think that creating a bridge between classroom and home is a critical step in getting students more engaged and more interested in their education. I agree with Eric that documentaries are a great means of getting students involved and allowing them to analyze larger societal issues through the lens of real people, just like themselves. I think that documentary films can bring to life certain issues that just cannot be portrayed as strongly in writing. As a social studies teacher  I like the idea of framing lessons and units around big ideas, such as justice, equality, unity, peace, etc. so that students are aware of the bigger picture and can constantly relate content back to a central theme. I am a huge documentary film lover, so ending a unit with a documentary that addresses this big idea but in a modern-day context is a great way to get students in a mind-frame where they can relate past historical events to present-day issues so that they suddenly become far more relevant and alive.

One of my favorite documentary recently is one that Eric shared on his blog – “A Place at the Table.”  This documentary explores the issue of hunger and food insecurity in the United States and provides poignant first hand accounts of several families struggling to keep enough food on the table. This documentary would be perfect to show during a unit on social justice or current social problems. I like the idea of students being able to comment and share their initial reactions to the documentary through a shared Google Doc which will later serve as a discussion guide for the class. For me, documentaries bring learning alive in a way that texts sometimes cannot. However, it is important to incorporate them into your teaching in such a way that students are not just passive recipients of the film but are actively learning and thinking throughout the length of the film.

For anybody interested in this film, it is available to stream for free if you have a Netflix account.

place a t the table A Site for Creating, Sending and Receiving Badges

I wanted to thank Helga for emailing me her “Blogtastic” Blogger Award through Credly. Credly is another badge making website, much like P2PU. It allows you to send and receive unique badges. Below is the badge Helga send me a few days ago. It includes a graphic of the badge, the issuer, as well as the criteria necessary to receive that badge.


Inspired by Helga’s Credly badge, I decided to sign up for an account (which is super easy!) and create a badge of my own. It is called the “Creative Mind” Award. In order for me to send it, I would just have to type in the names of Credly members who have met the criteria and they will receive their badge in their registered email account. I sent my badge to Helga Porter as a “thank you” for my badge.

Credly Creative Mind BadgeThis week, I also wanted to comment on the Edutopia article, “Badges and the Common Core,” shared by Helga on her blog. I like how Matthew Farber makes creative connections between gamified learning, a badging system and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I think his approach to gamification in the classroom is very innovative in that it dispels the notion that a gamified classroom is one where students play video games all day and do little learning. Insteadm Farber promotes designing curriculum around problem-based learning activities (PBL) as well as challenge-based learning (CBL) which all share common characteristics with games. These include rules students must follow, strategic thinking and an end objective. Students must then work their way through various “levels” and along the way earn badges that are designed to represent mastery of a particular common core state standards as well as leadership and collaborative skills.

Here is a link to the Edutopia article…

badges and CCSS