Saturday, December 3, 2011

Engaging Students with Interactive Multimedia

Weekly Reader Digital Editions:
Engaging Students with Interactive Multimedia

The Weekly Reader has been a valued source for leveled, non-fiction articles for many years. This year, the new Weekly Reader Digital Edition has been introduced. It's purpose is to enhance the printed version by adding multimedia features such as video, audio, and animation to improve comprehension of the text. All digital editions are available free with your paid subscription to the printed magazines.

Check out my 6-minute tutorial to get a glimpse of what's in store for you! 

Digital Media Implementation Plan (A Proposal)

Digital Media Implementation Plan:
How Would You Train Your Teachers?

Here's a proposal for the purely hypothetical implementation of a digital media implementation plan in my workplace.

Check out my 5 3/4-minute movie to see the presentation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My First Mobile Blog Post!

Mobile Blogging:
All You Need is Your Smart Phone to Post to Your Blog!

This blog posting was sent from my iPhone 4!!!

I just discovered that I can blog remotely using my smart phone (I have an iPhone 4.) Life just keeps getting better!

If you use like I do, all you have to do is go to your blog's Settings tab, select the sub-tab labeled "Email & Mobile", and then scroll down to the area labeled "Posting Options".

You'll be asked to create a secret email address. This is the email address you'll need to blog remotely. You also decide here if you want your emailed postings to be published immediately or saved as a draft for later editing.

Once you're finished with that, enter your blog name as a contact on your smart phone. I entered "Teacher Tech Trends" as a contact in my phone's contact list, and added this secret email address defined on

Now, if I ever want to post something on the fly, with or without a photo, I just email my blog from my phone! The subject line of the email becomes the title of the blog post, and the contents of the email message become the body of my post.

So convenient!
Sent from my iPhone

Monday, November 14, 2011

Adobe Flash for Educators

Animate Your Lessons:
Using Adobe Flash for Teaching Purposes

I just completed a 7-hour online course at called Flash Professional CS5 Essential Training. This is a comprehensive course that covers Flash animation topics such as:

  • Drawing and manipulating basic shapes
  • Using the toolbar for controlling line, color, size, shape, and alignment of objects
  • Working with multiple layers of objects
  • Working with the timeline
  • Working with text
  • Creating "tweens" to animate an object from one state to another
  • Working with buttons
  • Incorporating audio
  • Incorporating video
  • Learning the basics of ActionScript, Adobe's native programming language
  • and more!

This is not the kind of training that one should take in all at once.This training is chunked into 24 chapters, and each chapter is further subdivided into mini-lessons that don't last more than 5 minutes or so. I viewed the videos over the course of about 3 weeks, practicing with my sample project as I went along. That is how I find I learn best - designing a project side by side with the videos I am watching. This way I really get some practical experience and internalize my learning.

If you are already familiar with other graphics programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator, you'll find that the Flash interface is very similar so you might breeze right through the training. If you are new to Adobe products (or graphics software in general) - be patient with yourself! This is very powerful software and therefore pretty complex for the new user. Take it in stride, practice what you can, and leave the rest for another day. Most importantly, just try to have fun with it!

I chose a kid-friendly science lesson that explains the various stages that a frog must go through from egg to adulthood. The target audience for this lesson is Grade 2. At the end of this lesson, students should be able to accomplish the following:
  • Given an unlabeled graphic of the stages of a frog's life cycle, students will be able to correctly identify and label each of the stages. (knowledge)
  • Given a specific stage of a frog's life cycle, students will be able to explain (in writing or verbally) three or more details about that stage. (comprehension)

The following are my first three flash projects!

The Splash Page: This is a single piece of artwork that contains no animation. Its sole purpose is to display the title and author, with some relevant graphics. Click here to see my Flash splash page.

The Mini-Lesson:This is a 1 1/2 minute animation that explains the five stages of the life cycle of a frog. Believe me, I went through a lot of trial and error to get this working. It took me about two entire weekends to work on this (and I was working at it morning, noon, and night!), most of that time spent still learning the Adobe Flash software features and its interface. I think my next project won't take nearly this long! I must note here: I'm not an artist, so I took a look at other graphics and animations of the frog life cycle that I found freely on the web. I was so impressed with Harcourt's version, I borrowed a lot of the ideas for my drawings and also borrowed much of the script from the audio (Geez, I hope they don't mind!) The purpose of my initial Flash project was purely to gain some experience with the software. My next project will be more original, I promise! Click here to see my Flash mini-lesson.

The Quiz: This is an interactive quiz with button interaction that is controlled by Adobe's proprietary programming language, ActionScript. I happen to have about 15 years of computer programming experience from my first career before I became a teacher, so I took to this like a fish takes to water. However, this subject matter could be a bit hefty for those who are new to programming. Go forth, tread lightly, and as I mentioned earlier, be patient with yourself! Click here to see my Flash quiz.

Upon completion of any online course, awards you with a completion certificate. This is nice to have for your résumé, online portfolio, or professional blog. Here's mine...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reflection on My First RILS Experience

The RILS Framework:
A Structure for Incorporating Relevance, Innovation, and Emergent Technology into Lesson Planning

RILS: Relevant and Innovative Learning Scenario
The RILS framework provides a structure for planning a learning scenario for students that goes beyond the typical lesson plan. It is an opportunity to marry imagination, student choice, social networking and engagement, Gardner’s multiple intelligences, and Bloom's Taxonomy in a way that results in a more profound and satisfying teaching and learning experience for all.

My first personal experience with RILS detailed here, and having reviewed the RILS of other colleagues seen here, has opened my eyes to a new way of thinking. It made me think more deeply about how emergent technology can be used to address Bloom's Taxonomy in ways I had not previously thought of. It also leverages the many social connections that can be made when using the Internet in a positive, constructive way. Students have the opportunity to share their work with a wider audience, which means that they are more invested in what they are working on. In addition, this social participation encourages them to collaborate and critique one another's work in an engaging, respectful manner.

As I was implementing my RILS project, a few things came to mind:

  • It is important for the students to see an example of what the outcome might look like. Had I not created a PhotoPeach slideshow of my own using "About Me" sentences similar to what they had already written, I think they would have been very confused about where they were going. It is paramount that the instructor should create a model example for the students to follow for any project utilizing emergent technology.

  • It is key to allow time to have a practical experience with the tool before embarking on their project. For example, I asked my Grade 1 students to log in and log out of the tool five times before we started, just to make sure they could do this on their own later. They also spent time uploading and deleting their images several times, just to get the hang of it. Doing these things once and moving forward would not have allowed the students to really familiarize themselves with the tool well enough to use it independently. By the second day, they were off and running with the sign on process and uploading their images to get started on their work.

  • As most students struggled while navigating the keyboard to write their sentences, I wondered if I should require them to edit them for spelling and punctuation. I decided for this first experience, that it was an accomplishment in itself to get their slides annotated with text, regardless if they did not start their sentences with capital letters, use correct spelling, use correct spacing, etc. I did not want to overwhelm them with too many rules the first time around. However, for the next experience, I will add on the additional requirement to make sure the sentences are well formed. This will require some keyboarding lessons for using CAPS LOCK for toggling between capital and lowercase letters, using the spacebar appropriately, and finding the keys for common punctuation marks.

For teachers who desire to take that first leap in using emergent technology in the classroom, I recommend the RILS framework because it guides you through the process of thinking though how the technology addresses Blooms' Taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation) as well as incorporate Gardner's Multiple intelligences (audio, visual, musical). I had a very positive first experience with this, and judging by the feedback and engagement level of my first graders, so did they!

[Untitled diagram]. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Links to More RILS

Emergent Technology:
How are 21st Century Educators Using Emergent Technology in the Classroom?

21st Century educators everywhere are exploring new ways to integrate the use of technology into their lessons. Some of my colleagues are designing interesting projects, and using emerging technologies in creative, unexpected ways. These are called Relevant Innovative Learning Scenarios, or RILS.

Check out the RILS that some teachers are implementing!

Sahpreem is using an awesome tool for his early elementary age students to help them improve their story telling and reading comprehension. StoryJumper allows you to create a digital story using their proprietary artwork, your own artwork, or photos you upload. Check out his documentary and my comments here on

Amanda found a tool that does the reverse of StoryJumper, described above. This tool called StoryBird used pictorial prompts to inspire storytelling. I love the idea of giving students a beautiful illustration and letting their imaginations go wild to craft a story that goes with it. This creative teacher found a way to utilize this tool to teach grammar for her older elementary age students. Check out her documentary and my comments here on

Kristen discovered a unique way to use Voki to engage her at-risk high school seniors in Illinois. Click here to see my comments on her blog, Kristen's Korner. Scroll to the end of her post to see her documentary on what she and her students accomplished. It's really amazing!

Cyndee is exploring ways to use Wordle world clouds with her adult learners. They used Facebook to share, comment on, and reflect on their results. Great job, Cyndee. Click here to see her documentary and read my comments on her blog, Cyndee's Communication Center.

Rodolfo is using a free, online music studio called Soundation with his Recording Engineering students in Puerto Rico. They also compared and contrasted this tool with similar tools. Take a look here to read my comments on his blog, The Sword and the Book, to view how he applied this emergent technology. ¡Muy buen trabajo, Rodolfo!

[Untitled illustration of pencil to computer]. Retrieved October 22, 2011, from:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Relevant Innovative Learning Scenarios ( RILS )

Bring Your Students’ Writing to Life!

A Relevant and Innovative Learning Scenario
by Alexandria Jiménez

Brief Overview:  This learning scenario takes early elementary students beyond the traditional writing process by teaching them how to publish their writing using an engaging, easy to learn, multimedia tool called PhotoPeach. It may be implemented in short modules to take place over a week or two, depending on the size of the class and the technology available.

This activity meets the following Common Core Standard for
Writing, Grades 1 & 2:

W.1.6 & W.2.6 With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers

1.        Target Audience:
The target audience is one small group of English Language Learners (ELLs), consisting of 11 first graders, from a variety of language backgrounds. Classes take place in a small classroom equipped with a laptop cart, SMART Board, laser printer, and a broadband Internet connection. This scenario will take place during the Literacy block.
2.        Materials:
2.1.         A teacher’s computer with ability to project on a screen or board
2.2.         Computers (PC or Mac), 1 per student
2.3.         Headphones, 1 per student
2.4.         Broadband Internet connectivity in the classroom
2.5.         Teacher’s account at, with one student account set up for each child in the class
2.6.         A sample PhotoPeach slide show already created by the teacher, to use as a sample of what will be expected from students

3.        Objectives:
At the end of this scenario, students will be able to:
3.1.         recall the url for PhotoPeach, and sign in using their assigned username and password (knowledge)
3.2.         explain how to search for and download images to their desktop from (comprehension)
3.3.         produce an “About Me” slide show using the images downloaded above (application)
3.4.         discriminate between various types of music, transitions, and speeds for the slide show to create a desired mood or feeling (analysis)
3.5.         critique the slide shows of their peers by posting and responding to comments (evaluation)

4.        Procedure:
4.1.         Before Starting:
Students will already have completed three or more sentences for their “About Me’ writing portfolio piece. Ex: I like to sing. My favorite color is blue. I love my puppy.

Students will also have learned how to search for images on the Internet using
4.2.         Review:
Teacher will display his/her own “About Me” sentences on the board, similar to those the students have written, and discuss them with the class.
4.3.         Motivation:
Teacher will grab students’ attention by playing his/her own “About Me” slide show (created in PhotoPeach), illustrating the same sentences discussed above. Ex: slides of a person singing, a blue object, a cute puppy. Tell students that they will learn how to create their very own slide show based on their “About Me’ sentences. This should generate some excitement.
4.4.         Review:
Teacher will review how to search for images on using keywords that directly relate to the “About Me” sentences. Ex: sing, blue, puppy.
4.5.         Model #1:
Teacher will demonstrate how to save a downloaded image onto the computer’s desktop, using the contextual menu revealed upon right clicking. (Right click on image, choose “Save Image As…”, select Desktop as destination, click Save)
4.6.         Practical Experience #1:
Allow one or two sessions for students to experiment with searching for and downloading images to the desktop as described above. Some children will require more guidance from the teacher. Others may master this quickly and help their peers.
4.7.         Model #2:
Teacher will demonstrate how to locate, log in, and log out of PhotoPeach ( using a username and password. Explain that each of the students in the class will be using their own, unique username and password.
4.8.         Practical experience #2:
Allow some time for students to practice locating, logging in, and logging out of PhotoPeach.
4.9.         Model #3:
Teacher will demonstrate how to upload their saved images from the desktop into PhotoPeach. Also, demonstrate how to easily drag them around into a different sequence, and how to delete them.
4.10.     Practical Experience #3:
Allow one session for students to practice uploading, sequencing, and deleting their images in Photo Peach several times.
4.11.     Model #4:
Teacher will demonstrate how to select music to accompany their slide show.
4.12.     Practical Experience #4:
Allow some time for students to sample different kinds of music to accompany their slide show. It is recommended to use the headphones for this activity.
4.13.     Model #5:
Teacher will demonstrate how to add text, titles, and transitions to each of the slides. The text used will be their “About Me” sentences.
4.14.     Practical Experience #5:
Allow two sessions for students to experiment with their slide show in different ways by adding their text, titles, and transitions until they are satisfied. Finalize the slide shows at this point.
4.15.     Model #6:
Teacher will demonstrate how to view another student’s slide show, and post a comment on it at the end. Replay the slide show to let students see the comments appear at the end of the show in the form of film credits.
4.16.     Practical Experience #6:
Allow students one or two sessions to view their classmates’ work and post comments. Encourage students to comment on the creations of three or more classmates. Provide sentence starters and sentence frames to help students construct their comments.
4.17.     Reflection:
Have students play their movies in front of the class (using the projector/display) and have them reflect on the process of making their slide show. Ask students to think of the part they enjoyed the most, the part they enjoyed the least, the part that was the easiest, the part that was the hardest, etc. to encourage reflective thinking.

5.        Web 2.0 Tool:
PhotoPeach is a Web 2.0 tool that allows you to create and share a very simple slide show using still images that you upload. Slides may be further enhanced by adding simple text, transitions and music. This tool is low-complexity (simple interface, few features), but high-interest (colorful, visual) for young learners.
6.        Social Participation/Social Learning:
Students will learn socially as they help one another find images for their projects on the Internet, as they learn to locate and log into Photo Peach, as they explore the steps to making a slide show, and as they present their creations to one another. Students will be encouraged to work together to find suitable images and music not only for their own slide shows, but for their classmates as well. Students who master the skills will help guide others who are struggling.
7.        Making Connections:
This scenario provides several exposures for making connections:
7.1.         Connection with Previous Knowledge
This project will connect to the “About Me” writing portfolio piece that they have completed prior to beginning the creation of their slide show. It will also connect their prior learning on how to search for images on the Internet, in that they will now apply that new skill to search for images relevant to their “About Me” sentences.
7.2.         Connection to Self
This slide show is directly related to themselves, as they will have chosen images that illustrate the sentences they wrote describing their personal lives.
7.3.         Connection to a Local or Global Audience
The slide shows may be shown as part of a literacy celebration that takes place in the school, or they may be played for other classes and teachers in the school. Since the slide shows are available through PhotoPeach online, they are also viewable by anyone in the world, if the privacy setting is set appropriately. This way, anyone in the world can view and even comment on it.

Note: It is important to protect students’ privacy by excluding any personal information or information about their school from the slide shows. Usernames for student accounts should not be so detailed as to reveal their true identity or location.

8.        Create/Produce:
The final product will be a slide show called “About Me”, made up of at least three slides, three sentences, transitions, and some music. The product will be shared with others in the class, as well as people in the greater school community (other teachers, students, administrators, parents.)
9.        Assessment:
The final product will be evaluated using the following rubric:


Far Below Expectations


Approaching Expectations


Meets Expectations


Exceeds Expectations
Slide show does not contain any text.
There is evidence of an attempt to include one or two sentences.
Three sentences are included.
More than three sentences are included.
Slide show does not contain any images.
There is evidence of an attempt to include one or two images.
Three images are included.
More than three images are included.
Slide show does not contain any transitions.
Slide show contains 1 transition.
Slide show contains 2 transitions.
Slide show contains 3 transitions.
Text contains many errors which impede meaning.
Text contains some errors which may impede meaning.
Text contains few errors which do not impede meaning.
Text is error-free.
There is no evidence of having posted comments on others’ work.
One comment has been posted on others’ work.
Two comments have been posted on others’ work.
Three or more comments have been posted on others’ work.

10.    Reflection:
10.1.     Student Reflection
Students will reflect on the process of making their slide show as they present them to their peers. To help them along, students will be asked to consider the part they enjoyed the most, the part they enjoyed the least, the part that was the easiest, the part that was the hardest, etc.
10.2.     Teacher Reflection
The teacher will be able to reflect upon this learning scenario via verbal feedback from the students, assessment of their final products, and observation of their levels of engagement throughout.

[Untitled illustration of boy cooking]. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of an 8-ball]. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of an orange sea anemone]. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of kids playing soccer]. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of a sewing machine]. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of pizza]. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of woman singing]. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of sea turtle]. Retrieved October 18, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of the number ten]. Retrieved October 18, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of Ronaldhino (soccer player)]. Retrieved October 18, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of I love my sister]. Retrieved October 18, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of red iPhone. Retrieved October 18, 2011, from:

[Untitled photograph of chicken fingers]. Retrieved October 18, 2011, from: