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Monday, October 23, 2017

Breaking the Internet with Positivity!

One of the aims of my #DigCit course is to help cultivate the leader in each of my students.  By the end, they need to show that they have transitioned from being a good digital citizen to being a digital leader.  One of the ways that we accomplish this is by tackling the negativity that haters and trolls put out there.  This is the intro that one of my students wrote for this project...

"Doing this project about haters and trolls has taught me more than I expected it to. During this project we were asked to find a platform we have never used before, you can access the platforms here. This forced the class to go out of our comfort zone, but ultimately helped us because next time we go to chose a platform we will have more knowledge on some sites.
This task greatly increased our knowledge of haters and trolls. One fact that really stuck with me personally was about feeding the troll. I always thought it was best to stand up for yourself and other people while being bullied or trolled. However after learning that trolls feed off of the reaction of others, it’s clear that the best thing to do while being trolled is unfollow, block and ignore. We had a choice of how to do our projects and some of us did presentations and others in the class made videos and narrated it as it played which was a very effective learning method.   Keep reading to find all about how we combat haters and trolls!
One of the things that I was most excited about with this project was our Twitter chat on Friday, October 20th. Unfortunately real life intervened in the middle of our study of haters and trolls. The Monday after we finished our presentations, we watched the tragedy in Las Vegas unfold. We could not believe the amount of negativity that was being spewed at the victims before we even knew who the victims were! It was unbelievable!! We felt that after learning about all the negativity that haters and trolls were putting out there, we wanted to break the internet with positivity!! You can see the archive of the chat here. We were the #1 trending hashtag for the half hour of our chat! That was unbelievable to me! There were over 1000 tweets in that half hour and you can see from this map below, we really were able to spread positivity all over the world!!"

I am so impressed with all that they have accomplished during this project!  Most students were outside their comfort zone (both with process and product), they are now more cognizant of the fact that they can in fact be a source of positivity and that a group of students in Endwell, NY really can make a difference!!!  If you would like to see their projects, click here.  If you would like to read their blog reflections (and maybe give them some feedback!?) click here. (Some of these links will not work after September 2018 because the graduating student's accounts are deleted).

Here is a link to an example of the parent email I sent home afterwards.  It has all of the links you would need for all that we did. Email Example

If you have any comments or feedback you would like to share with my class, fee free to comment below and I will share it with them!  Thank you!

I would love to hear how you and your students are helping to spread positivity and kindness!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Changing Role of Substitute Teachers

As an educator, one of our top priorities has always been the learning that is taking place in our classrooms.  For the longest time (prior to tech), if we were out, we had to rely on the sub to continue the learning or we had to give the students busy work since the learning happened with us.  Clearly, with technology, that has changed.  However, the biggest shift for me, that has happened over the past few years is that I am no longer the sole source of learning.

I don't know about your district, but we are very short on subs and extremely short on subs that are certified to teach your students in the subject matter you teach each day.

*Update* Even though I wrote this last year, it still holds true for my four day trip to Utah for Digcitsummit.*

I recently had surgery that required me to miss a week of school.  When I planned the surgery, I intended to only miss the day of the surgery, but that didn't happen. I teach Economics, US History, 2 sections of AP Government and Politics Digital Citizenship, and Entrepreneurship this semester.  We have had 8 snow days and 10 delay days this year.  To say I was worried about losing another week of instruction time because of my surgery would be an understatement.

Here's how I kept the learning from being delayed during the week:

1. Schoology (or whatever LMS you are using) 
A. the calendar
1. housed my instructions for the period.  I could leave both written directions and audio ones by uploading an .mp4 file with directions explained.
2. housed the Google Slides that I was able to be updating as the days went on and was always a live version for them to look at. This housed the agenda for the each day.
3. housed any files or links that I needed them to access.

B. Discussion
1. allowed the students to ask questions in a public forum that could be answered by students or myself since I was monitoring each discussion during class periods.  It also allowed each student to see what questions had been asked/answered.

C. Messaging
1. Students were able to ask me questions they did not want in a public forum and I was able to answer them in real time.
D. Quiz
1. I was able to use this as a check for understanding at the end of each topic or unit depending on the class.
E. Individually assigning
1. Based on the data from the formative assessments (Quizlet, Kahoot, Schoology CFU, Bell Ringers) I was able to individually assign a remediation type activity to help my students close the gaps in their instruction.
F. Updates
1. One of my students was able to to record the presentations I was missing and then send me the link and I uploaded it to Schoology so that I could see them, give the students feedback and then allow the students to view it for reflection and growth purposes before their next presentation.

Had I known I was going to be out for the whole week (I was under the impression each day that the next would be my return to school), I would have also utilized the student completion rules so that the students could work more independently at a pace that worked for them on the whole week's instruction, assessment, tasks, etc.

2. EdPuzzle
A. I was able to screencast any direct instruction and then embed multiple choice and open ended questions to check for understanding.
B. I then used the data from the embedded videos to drive what they did the next day.

3. Google Drive
A. Google Forms for bell ringer questions.  The data from these would not only check for understanding, but it would give me feedback as to their level of understanding and then it would drive any reteaching  I also used Google Forms to ask students to evaluate the inquiry question, so for example, at that point in the inquiry each day, did they feel the evidence they evaluated led them to believe that the Cold War was an act of peace or an act of war.  We were able to track their changing opinion with the data pie charts.
B. Google Slides to house the agenda for each class period. This was also displayed by the sub on the Smartboard.
C. Google Docs and the commenting feature for those students that were working on their business plans. This proved invaluable for students who were stuck and needed some question, clarification and direction time with me.
D. Google Docs for my sub plans.  I was able to share them with my sub ahead of time (if I knew who my sub was the next day) and they could ask questions through the comment feature.  I was also able to share them with a colleague so they could help the sub if need be.

4. Google Hangouts
A. I used this to have face to face time with my classes in addition to providing the opportunity for my students and I to continue the discussions we were having in class for my AP Gov class as well as to discuss each day's inquiry in US History.  In Economics, I was able to provide a little bit of direct instruction about supply and demand to make sure that the students understood the intricacies of the two topics.

5. Quizalize/Quizlet
A. I was able to provide a formative assessment each day that was linked to the previous day's content that would give me data about the gaps in understanding that each student/class had. I explained above how that would drive the instruction/tasks for the next day.

6. Kahoot
A. This was a fun way to end the period (as it always it is) and another source of data in identifying the gaps in understanding.  A student would "drive" the game each day.  They really like to use the bluetooth keyboard when running the Kahoot game!

7. Tab  Cloud Chrome Extension
A. I was able to create a Tab Cloud of any and all tabs that the sub would need that day.  I had a colleague log me onto the computer and then I had the date on the Tab Cloud so all the sub had to do was click on the extension and then click on the plus next to the date and voila! All the tabs they needed (Google Slides, Kahoot games, etc) were up and ready to go for them.

8. Flipgrid
The students answer a check for understanding in their own words or reflect on their learning in a quick 15-20 second video in Flipgrid.  I can listen to these while I travel or am out for surgery or a meeting.

My sub plans basically instruct them to open the Tab Cloud, which tabs they need for each of the classes, instructions about taking attendance and then giving me feedback to give shout outs to the students who were awesome and any issues I needed to address.

Needless to say, the learning didn't even suffer a hiccup with my week long absence!  I don't miss the days that a day I was gone lead to a day of busy work or instruction that didn't work out so hot from the sub. What are you doing in your classroom that helps the learning to continue in your absence? I would love to hear, in the comments of this blog, how you are continuing the learning!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Our Students Held A DigCit Summit!

Back in October, I explained extension activities to my Digital Citizenship course.  These are activities, proposed by me or by them, would take the information we learned in class and extend their learning about the topic.  One of my students, Rachel Meller (@rachmeller) decided that she wanted to do a Digital Citizenship Summit.  I was over the moon about the prospect of bringing our message of digcit and digital leadership to a larger audience.  Even though everything we do in class goes beyond our four walls and forty minutes, we wanted to hold something for our local community to share our learning and to promote more digital citizenship and digital leadership awareness.

The planning began in mid October and we reached out to Marialice Curran (@mbfxc) to see what her thoughts were and to see what guidance she could give us.  This started the ball rolling and we were along for the ride!  What developed over the next few months and culminated in our event was absolutely amazing!

Although I was involved in the planning, this was a student driven initiative.  They planned the logistics, procured sponsors, set up the speakers, spoke with both our principal and superintendent and set the agenda for the day.  I was in awe of their abilities to bring this together!

One of the best (there were actually a lot of best things) to come out of that day was a documentary called Positively Social that was a collaboration of our video specialist from BOCES, District Media Relations Coordinator and students, staff and administration from many different school districts around the region.  The outcome was a professionally made video that really highlights how we are teaching digcit and how students are leveraging social media for so many positive purposes.  Everyone that has seen it, both at the event and in other venues, has raved at the insight it shows into what our students are achieving!  Hope you enjoy it!  Feel free to share it!

On the day of the event, our Superintendent, Jason VanFossen (@vanfossenjason) kicked the day off, introducing all of the students involved and our State Senator (@fredakshar), who visited with us for a better part of the morning.  We then showed Positively Social, which then led into our Keynote Speaker Curran Dee.  He is the CKO (Chief Kid Officer) of DigCitKids and an advocate for technology use in the classroom that extends the learning possibilities.  He spoke very passionately that he learns differently at school than he does at home.  It really hit home for the educators in the audience.  By the way, did I mention he is 10 years old?  Want to learn more about Curran's passion?  Watch this Tedx Talk.  It is well worth the 15 minutes! So powerful to see what we are doing in the classroom from the perspective of a student!

Next we had breakout sessions where we encouraged our attendees to use the power of two feet.  Here is the plan for the day, a little bit more about our speakers and the session list. 

After lunch, we had one of the most powerful parts of the day.  We had two students who wanted to talk about how they have leveraged social media.

Casey Adrian (casey_adrian), Class of 2018, spoke about how he has leveraged social media to become a published author.  He pointed out how accessible publishing is to all of us now and that we don't have to have a million dollars nor have connections to be published anymore.  You can access his book, Broken Euphoria, on Amazon.

Next up was Alicia Vesely (@veselyalicia), Class of 2017.  She wanted to share her journey through the LGBTQ community and the support that she has received because social media allows her to access a supportive community that those before her did not have.  Talking about being an upstander and how being able to reach across the state, country or globe to help someone could make the difference in that person's life.  

Our last speaker of the day was Marialice Curran (@mbfxc) who spoke about why digcit is so important and why it is all of our jobs to make sure that we are not only engaging our students with use of tech in the classroom, but responsible use of it.  Promoting the positive instead of block and ban will better prepare our students for their futures!

Our day concluded with a student panel where audience members could ask students about all things technology, digital citizenship and digital leadership.  This was a very meaningful experience for those of us in the audience because we don't always seek out student voice in the classroom, let alone in a community setting like this.

Thank you to
Molly, 3rd grader
Curran Dee, 4th grader and Keynote Speaker
Chris Card (@cardytheparty), Class of 2017, Maine Endwell High School
Stephanie Muggeo (@stephmuggeo) Class of 2018, Maine Endwell High School
Theresa Karabon (@theresaaa104) Class of 2018, Maine Endwell High School
Casey Adrian (@casey_adrian) Class of 2018, Maine Endwell High School
Sarah Schepis (@sarahschep) Class of 2017, Maine Endwell High School
Rachel Meller (@rachmeller) Class of 2017, Maine Endwell High School
Alicia Vesely (@veselyalicia) Class of 2017, Maine Endwell High School

Overall, the day was a huge success!  I am so thankful for all who were involved, all that attended and all that made the day happen.  This is a testament to social media and the power of collaboration that it enables. Marialice and I have been collaborating for over 3 years but just met each other the day before our event.  It was like a reunion of two people who had known each other our entire lives!  I would recommend holding a summit in your community or district.  It is such a transformational event!  If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to me via Twitter (@MrsMurat) or email:

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Our Journey to the Inauguration

Each year in AP Government and Politics, my overriding goal is to make the class as applicable to the lives of the students as possible.  This year presented us with many opportunities to take in government as we journeyed through this election cycle.

It all started in October with a visit from incumbent State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (@donnalupardo).  Each year when we get to the section of curriculum regarding initiative and referendum she comes in to talk about the practical implications of those two democratic features in government and on our lives.   She additionally spoke about the impact of Citizens United on her campaigning as well as the role of interest groups in an election cycle.  The students were able to ask her questions and she was able to answer our questions in a way that furthered our knowledge or statewide politics, bipartisan work in the state legislature, caucus's within the state legislature and fundraising during a campaign.  We are very thankful for her visit to our class.

Next up was Election Day.  In class, we grouped up to breakout the key of the White House in several different BreakoutEDU (combination of paper and digital) that a couple students and I constructed.  All groups broke out just in the nick of time!

The BreakoutEDU was designed so that the students had to use the concepts we have been learning about in class in real life context to work through the clues.

That night, we had a gathering to watch the election results in my classroom.

The conversations that night reflected my student's curiosity, knowledge of the electoral system and the media.  They were keeping track of which states their candidate needed to win in order to capture the elusive 270 votes needed.  It was fascinating to sit back and watch them experience this night together as they saw what we had been learning about unfold in front of them. Most of the students knew who their candidate was and as results came in, there were cheers and disappointment going back and forth as we watched the race to 270 tighten up.

In early December, we were blessed with a visit from our incumbent State Senator, Fred Akshar (@fredakshar).  His visit was about a month after the election and he was able to share his knowledge of what it was like to campaign again so soon after winning the special election that put him in office the year prior.  He spoke of how financing influences campaign decisions, what life if like in the public eye and how things function on a day to day basis both in Albany and while he is home in his district.   We are very appreciative of his time with us.

In December, we were given a once in a life time opportunity to watch the Electors in NY cast their ballots. We traveled to Albany on December 19th and after a tour of the capitol building we were seated in the gallery to watch the proceedings.  Adding to the excitement, former President, William J. Clinton is an Elector for NY.  The process was fascinating and so were the questions from the students.  It was clear that they were not only curious about the process and people in the room (Governor Cuomo, LT. Governor Hocul, Mayor DeBlasio, etc.) but also about the implications of faithless electors (had there been any).  I am not going to lie, I was geeking out about being in the same room with a former President but also about getting to watch this process.

That brings us to the inauguration!  We left school on Thursday morning around 4:30AM and arrived at Union Station around 11.  We divided up by chaperone and went our separate ways.  We were able to see the National Museum of American History, the outside of the Capitol building, the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial, the reflecting pool and the outside of the White House.  Unfortunately, everything past the end of the reflecting pool was closed due to the pre-inauguration ceremony.

Friday morning, the student's got a lesson in bureaucracy and what happens when you combine multiple agencies.  We arrived outside the 7th St entrance to the National Mall at 4:30 AM and prepared to wait for the gates to be opened at 6 AM.  6 AM came and went as we waited for the gates to be opened. Finally around 8 AM the gates opened and we got through security and went to stake our spots at the viewing section.  We were very lucky to get into the first non-ticketed section and chose to stay by the Jumbotron so we could get a close up view of the events of the day.  The reality of the 4 hour wait that was ahead of us started to sink in for the students and we began to talk about the experience, the day, the meaning of the ceremony and logistics of the day.
Once it began, the students were attentive, asking questions and running the gamut of emotions.  Some were very excited about the possibilities that our newly sworn in President offered.  Others were very upset about what a Trump administration would mean for them.  Regardless of your politics, it was a trip of memories and shared experiences.  I would not trade that for anything.  I am excited to spend the rest of the school year with a group of teens who care about their country, care about their neighbors and want to work to make this country more reflective of what they feel it should be. 

We Have Become Digital Leaders

Throughout #DigCit this semester, we have been working to prove that we are digital leaders.  All of this was based on a sketchnote by @gcouros, @sylviaduckworth and @jcasatodd.

If you will notice, there are 5 criteria on the right side that denote digital leadership.

1. To learn and share learning.
2. To empower other with no voice.
3. To address societal inequality.
4. To promote important causes.
5. To be a more positive influence in the lives of others. 

Those 5 criteria were our driving force this entire semester.  I have blogged a couple times regarding our activities this semester and you can access them here:

We first visited the project rubric in September so that we could keep the end in mind. Here is the rubric: 

We worked hard this semester to move from being a digital citizen to being a digital leader and here is the evidence of our work: Projects

One of the things that is a priority for me is providing an authentic audience for my student's work.  This semester, I added in Periscope so that we had a live audience during the event in addition to the asynchronous audience we would have through my blog and pictures tweeted out.  I wanted to make sure that we had an authentic audience for this project, but I also wanted to make sure that the students had the opportunity to invite people who were meaningful in their lives to witness the evidence they have of their transformation to a digital leader.  Each student was asked to invite two people.  Some chose parents, some chose friends, some chose teachers and some chose administrators.  I invited all of the people the students asked to visit as well as our Superintendent (@vanfossenjason) and a couple other administrators throughout the district.  Each day we had between 6-10 judges in our room.  We also were blessed with a virtual Periscope audience that was anywhere between 3 and 60 people!

The judges (both in person and virtual), which included the students in the class, were given a Google Form to vote during each presentation.  Here is the Google Form.  If you clicked on the link, you noticed that it gave an opportunity for the audience members to give shout outs to the presenters in addition to evaluating the criteria of the projects.  I think this part of the feedback process is important for the students to grow in confidence and grow in their digital leadership.  I created a Google Doc for each student that had all of the data from the Google Form evaluations and the shout outs so that they could do a blog reflection after our project.  One thing I forgot to do on this form was to ask the audience if the students had mastered the platform they chose.  The students had to choose a different platform each time they did a project and the students in the audience would vote if they felt that student presenting had earned a Techspert badge for that platform.  You can see and example here: Techspert Badge. 

Here is an example of the Google Doc given to the student for data and shout outs after their presentation. 
Here are two examples of the blog reflection: Stephanie and Rachel
You can see the Periscope broadcasts by searching Mrs Murat under people in Periscope.  They are all titled DigCit Leadership Projects.

I would love your feedback on the project, class or student's work.

Thank you!