Designing with Passion Part 2

Designing with Passion Part 2

Now that I have almost all of my CASAS 83-84 materials and quizzes converted to Google Docs, I am looking for a simple way to give students access to the materials. I would like them to be able to go to whatever materials they need to review and support their learning on specific content they need to work on.

I would prefer something within Google so that they don’t have to log in to a different site. Any ideas?

I’m thinking a grid of some kind – maybe a la blendspace — something very visual but that gives them direct access to the materials they need.

More ideas – gleaned from Hacking Literacy Voxer group – our school is just two blocks from our town’s public library. It’s time to get everyone a library card and show them how to find books on their own!


Designing with Passion Project

Designing with Passion Doc

Many many thanks to my amazing colleague and friend Sarah Thomas @sarahdateechur for inviting us to participate in her Designing with Passion project for educators.  In the space of about 20 minutes, the ideas that had been swirling around in my head became visible to me in this doc. My project, which I have been “unknowingly” working on for the last nearly five years, is to create dynamic interactive ESL and math literacy materials for adult immigrants with no previous education in their L1. Another part of the project, or perhaps a different project, but at this point they dovetail very easily, is to infuse appropriate digital learning materials throughout all levels of my ESL class (I teach all levels 1 – 6).

So the transition is from almost “0” learning materials for the very low literacy students to abundant print AND digital materials. And for the more literate students – to transform the curriculum so that it doesn’t look at all like a book based class, but rather a digital AND print class.


There are so many elements – I have started by creating a foundation with Google Docs. Students now follow our class notes (I use Google Docs as a whiteboard) on their tablets. They can interact with the google doc at any time during the class.

MaterialsFound a homeschool store near by. Will explore for hands-on materials that might be available to purchase for cheap.



Capstone 8-14


Vocabulary Mastery – CASAS 81X using Quizlet

81x vocab list

 Goals: As a result of this unit, students will be able to

  1. Create their own  flashcards using the free version of Quizlet either on a computer or their own device (BYOD)
  2. Find pictures for the designated vocabulary within Quizlet.
  3. Read, correctly pronounce, and understand what the words mean.


Students will use technology to learn vocabulary related to CASAS 81X and 82X standardized test. They will:

  1.  Create their own illustrated vocabulary cards using images from Quizlet’s free version. 
  2. Practice the vocabulary using Quizlet’s study tools.
  3. Share their set with others in the class.


Time Frame: 3 to 5  1-hour periods – depends on skill level of student

Teacher Resources:

  1. Computer, devices
  2. Google Drive and Google Docs
  3. Projector
  4. CASAS Vocabulary List
  5. Quizlet

Student Resources

  1. CASAS Vocabulary List
  2. Translator app (if needed)
  3. Computer or handheld device of their choice
  4. Quizlet account

Teacher Preparation

  1. Vocabulary lists
  2. Set Quizlet parameters
  3. Instruction sheets for volunteers
  4. Screencasts for volunteers and students

Teacher Directions For Lesson

  1. Give typed vocabulary sheets to students.
  2. Show Screencasts:  How to Set Up a Quizlet  and How to Use Quizlet Flashcards.
  3. Provide time for students to practice using Quizlet. 
  4. Observe, provide assistance and make adjustments as needed. 

ISTE 2: Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments




1. Build your PLN via a social network. My current “go to” PLN is my Edumatch Voxer group. This group knows about every EdCamp and EdTech conference in the country, as well as other related events. Anytime I have a question about apps or materials, I put it out there and someone (usually more than one person) has solutions. For example I had been using EdPuzzle to divide a video into short segments but EdPuzzle lacked some features I needed, so I put the question out there and within a few minutes people had suggested  3 or 4 alternatives. There is always ongoing discussion about various education issues, topics and ideas for implementation. They are also active on Twitter with a Twitter chat called “Tweet n Talk” every Sunday at 6PM. There is a MichEd group which I also belong to.

2. Follow the 21Things for Teachers Twitter Network #21things4


3. Build PLN via educational organization: MACUL

a. SIG – I tried to join several SIG Google groups, both by clicking the links provided and using the QR codes. I always got the message “…no group named “_____” so I tried following on Twitter. I am following  @SIGMM_MACUL and finding some very good resources including many tweets from Ruston Hurley’s keynote at MACUL 2016. Lots of good stuff in that keynote. I’m not a big fan of the Twitter format – I find it cluttered, but I do like the networking and sharing of resources that the Twitter platform makes possible.

b. MACUL Journal article – Individualizing Instruction

macul journal fall 2015

This article targeted three free tools that I’ve been playing with – Blendspace, Screencastify and EdPuzzle but I hadn’t taken the next step to create individualized lessons. After reading this article, I have a framework for creating my first individualized lesson. I can use Google Forms to create the pre and post tests, put them as well as video and other resources into Blendspace, use EdPuzzle to segment any videos I add and Screencastify to record any instructions or additional resources.

4.  Use an Educational Organization’s Resources: REMC projects page > Connected Educators 

On the REMC projects page I found several Connected Educator Videos. I chose one on Livebinder because I want to learn how to use it better. Getting Organized Digitally. It was out-of-date (2013) and although some of the features are still current, several have changed and it was confusing trying to follow along. The tutorials on LiveBinder are more current.

ISTE 5a, c, d

13-Digital Images

Digital Images Assignment

1. Talking Avatar

This was a lot of fun but very limited without a subscription. I like how easy it was to add my own background and my own voice. I can see using this as a fun way to introduce a lesson, add transitions in slides, share assignments, announcements, etc. I have an idea to announce the class party with a talking avatar along with a digital invitation.

2. Flickr Photostream

I have had a Shutterfly account for years but haven’t used it much since there are now so many more ways of sharing photos and making books. I also have a Snapfish  account via Meijer Photos which I use mostly for times when I want to print. I found the Shutterfly interface very cluttered and the only two choices I could see for sharing were email and setting up one of their websites. I chose the website option, but it was cluttered and confusing, so I moved on to try something new – Flickr. I like Flickr for a few reasons – first and foremost the interface is simple and I could share quickly. Also there’s already a Flickr sharing option on my Mac and it works! I had downloaded the Shutterfly extension and it didn’t work.

3 and 4: Edit photos and create slideshow

Fotoflexer – I like the variety of tools and fun effects, but as a long-time user of several other image editors both on the computer and on various devices, I found this online editor Fotoflexer very slow and clunky. This is partly due to bandwidth issues I have at home but also there are a lot of tools that are so much easier to use in other apps. I wanted to use the pictures that I had uploaded to Flickr but Fotoflexer wouldn’t work with Flickr in Safari. I switched to Chrome and got the two accounts linked, but still couldn’t access my new Flickr photos (only old ones appeared).  It was getting very time-consuming and frustrating so I decided to try another editing app.

PicMonkey is available as a Chrome app, and I found it much more up to date and much more intuitive than Fotoflexer. Many features require a subscription, but there is plenty that can be done with the basic version. I love the visual interface. See screenshot below.


My students already use device-based photo editing and sharing tools via Facebook and a few other social media sites, so they would need a compelling reason to do the same activities on a computer. For example, if they’re doing a computer based project it would make more sense to use the online tools rather than switching back and forth from device to computer.

PhotoPeach Slideshow– this slideshow is about our class trip to the Tulip Festival. I kept it simple with just a small amount of text for reading practice. Students will generate much conversation from these few slides, which will become a pronunciation and conversation activity.

Our Trip to the Tulip Festival


Presentations Assignment


For this assignment I decided to follow the Native American theme and consolidate all l the resources I’ve discovered. There are, of course, many ways to do this from a simple Google Doc with links and QR codes to a shared Diigo outliner to a group of links on my Face of the Classroom to a Padlet, and many more. In the interest of adding more tools to my toolbox, I decided to try Blendspace, which was completely new to me.

Of all the presentation tools I’ve explored, Blendspace is, to me,  the simplest and quickest way to put all resources in one place and share them.

For a visual learner, Blendspace is excellent. I love that with the grid you can see all the slides at once. I love how easy it is to add and delete resources. I love that I got  my resources for one project together in one place with just a few steps. I think this format will be very helpful to my students in their research. I already have a Padlet set up with some of the same resources. Padlet is great because students can add questions and comments, but it doesn’t have a presentation format like Blendspace does. The presentation format is really useful for giving an overview before students dig in on their own.

On the other hand – Blendspace still has many limitations that would hold me back from using it extensively.  The text only format is really limiting. In my opinion there needs to be a lot more flexibility with slides like a traditional slide program has. But for what it does, and for how quickly I could put this list together compared to the amount of time it would take tweaking all the settings in other slideshows, I am very happy with the results for now.



Thing 12-Interactives

1.  Google Maps

This project identifies all the countries where our class comes from. We are also working with the tool which gives mileage from destination to destination.

ghesl st pats countries

In class today we looked for each student’s house in their home country. This experience was pretty incredible. We were able to find even the village where several of my students had come from Dagana, Bhutan. Google maps even has a feature that points an individual photo/video to its location on the aerial map.

2. Quizlet Flashcards

Irregular Verbs Past Tense Practice

Because of the audio and interactive games, this activity redefines (SAMR redefinition) quizzes and is a huge time saver. It takes a lot longer to make flash cards by hand and  students don’t get instant feedback as they can with the digital format. The variety of interactive activities can improve retention. I will post students’ feedback soon.

Housing Ad Abbreviations Flashcards

This entry will take longer to write than it did to make flashcards! Last night I was preparing a lesson targeted at a specific skill — reading housing ads — some of  the abbreviations are really confusing to ESL students. So I first made a chart in Google Docs with a few variations and practice exercises.  Then I thought of reinforcing it with a Quizlet. I discovered that I could take the Google Docs list, add a tab between the abbreviation and corresponding word and copy and paste the entire list into Quizlet. Instant quiz!  Huge huge timesaver!  The quiz showed up on the student’s iPad (of course) and by the end of the lesson he knew 18 out of 20 abbreviations. Talk about the value of technology!

3. Interactive Sites

Teachers First – the site has a wealth of resources on a wide variety of topics. See Examples below:

Carlisle Indian Industrial School – I would use this resource in the classroom to point students to a site with examples of original historical documents. These records include original student paperwork, stories and many other primary sources. Some have been scanned into pdfs and are available on the site. Others have yet to be scanned but have been catalogued and are at Dickinson University.

Navaho Code Talkers  – this site is full of interviews with Native Americans who served as Navaho Code Talkers in World War II. These interviews will provide students with information from the direct experience 0f people who were code talkers as well as personal reflections about their lives as Native Americans.

Teachers First BYOD – my class is a BYOD and this link has many resources that have been reviewed and are device agnostic, free with enough useful features that it is not necessary to upgrade to a paid version.

Timelines: Both Dipity and Timetoast had some excellent  feature that i can see using in a variety of ways. The timeline makes historical information very visual.  I really like the feature in Timetoast where you can change the timeline format: For an example see the short slideshow below: Native American Inquiry

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also liked  Dipity and will explore it further. Native American Timeline

iCivics – A component of our ESL program is helping students who want to become American citizens. iCivics is a wealth of material including in-depth interactive activities and about the American system of democracy. This is a site I will investigate more thoroughly.