Friday, June 30, 2017

Flipgrid and HyperDocs: Amplifying student voice in purposeful digital lesson design.

This is a collaborative post written with the incredible Sean Fahey, an amazing 6th grade teacher in Indiana. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his blog at  

If you follow either one of us on Twitter, you will quickly find out that we have many things in common. Two of those being our passion for Flipgrid and HyperDocs.  We are avid HyperDocs creators and have created many HyperDocs collaboratively and share them with our PLN on Twitter. We are also both Flipgrid Ambassadors and love sharing this amazing tool with other educators. We believe that powerful digital lesson design infused with the power of amplifying student voice is truly a game changer in the classroom.
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Whoa. Stop the music. You don’t know about Flipgrid or HyperDocs? Well then you have our permission to stop reading and explore any and all of the resources below.

OK now that we are all on the same page with the WHAT, let’s talk about WHY HyperDocs and WHY Flipgrid and HOW we can use them together to amplify student voice in purposeful digital lesson design.In a recent episode of the Cult of Pedagogy podcast those two were brought together.  In the podcast Jennifer Gonzalez is interviewing Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis the creators of HyperDocs. Towards the end of the interview they are discussing HyperDocs and having great design and purpose when creating and using HyperDocs. Then Lisa mentions FlipGrid!
HIGHFILL: ...You know when a new web tool comes along, you’re all excited? Like everyone’s excited right now about Flipgrid and whatnot.
HIGHFILL: But then I want to ask them, what are you going to do with it? How are you going to build the pedagogy around that cool tool?
HIGHFILL: And where in the lesson flow would it fit in your HyperDocs? So it’s really saying, “I love flashy new tools. Now let’s think about how you can effectively use them in the classroom, and then link it into your HyperDoc that way.
Lisa makes a great point. How many times have you got caught up in all the hoopla over a new edtech tool or update? Flipgrid is THE hot new edtech tool educators are excited to use. However, like Lisa asks, “What are you going to do with it? How are you going to build the pedagogy around that cool tool?”

We need to make sure that we slow down and think about why are we including the technology we have chosen for our lessons. We shouldn’t just toss in a Flipgrid or any other edtech tool we might like just because we need or want to use technology.  Karly’s friend Nick Zefeldt, advises that when implementing educational technology we need to make sure and ask “Is it meaningful and is it manageable?”


Well we say “Yes!” to Flipgrid being both when used correctly and we want to give some ideas how you can effectively use Flipgrid in the classroom, and then link it into your HyperDoc lessons. The reason being that great HyperDocs are created and taught with purposeful lesson design and pedagogy and Flipgrid being so versatile by allowing for video feedback and increased student voice within your digital lesson design.

While HyperDocs can take many forms (slides, maps, drawing, forms etc), we will be referring to the sections from the basic HyperDoc template for our examples. The basic HyperDoc template has seven parts that students go through as you complete the lesson. This template was created by Sarah Landis to help other get started and gives an excellent description of each part.

There are tons of ways you can incorporate Flipgrid into your HyperDocs, here are just a few ideas for getting started. Note: You can go to “file” then “make a copy” of any of these templates or examples to use with your own class.

Use Flipgrid to engage students at the beginning of a lesson by including a video, image, quote, or another inspirational hook in your topic for student to respond to.

  • Idea 💡  KWL chart gets a video REMIX. Have student respond to a topic sharing what they know. Then have them reply to themselves and classmates sharing what they want to know. After the lesson or unit have students come back to their own video and respond to themselves with what they have learned. Woo! A FlipGrid KWL


Students explore a topic through a collection of resources (articles, videos, infographics, text excerpts, etc.) in the HyperDoc.
  • Idea 💡 Bring in experts and take your students beyond the four walls of your classroom! Flipgrid hosts an amazing opportunity with their Flipgrid Explorer Series. They have done two so far and more are planned! Use the expert videos in the explorer series for your students to learn about new and exciting animals, places and careers. HyperDocs are a perfect accompaniment to this series as you create your digital lessons around these topics and extend the learning in your own classroom .
  • Idea 💡 So Flipgrid’s explore series doesn’t fit into your curriculum? Then create your own! Teachers can do this by creating a ‘virtual field trip’. Go to a place (we’re thinking state parks, historical sites, museums, etc)  that is of value to your lessons and record short videos of the sites to bring the content to your classroom.  Add the videos to a Flipgrid for your students to explore and respond to. Even better collaborate with other teachers across your district, state or even in other countries to create an explorer series for many different classes to connect through.

Apply and Share:
Create an assignment for students to apply what they learn by using web tools to create, collaborate, and/or connect beyond the classroom.  Then collect student work to provide feedback, and/or include a section for students to share work with an authentic audience.
  • Idea 💡 Have students use storytelling web tools to apply their learning. Then appsmash with Flipgrid and get them to share with the class and beyond! Students show what they know using video or digital storytelling in a different app then upload to Flipgrid to share.
  • Idea 💡 You don’t need to appsmash. Students can simply connect with other students across the school, state, country or world! Before , during and/or after a unit have students connect with each other to share what they learned.

Give students an opportunity for digital reflection on their learning journey using Flipgrid to guide students along their learning progression and set new goals.
  • Idea 💡 Have students reflect back on the lesson or unit and share what they have learned. This is a powerful way for students to be thoughtful about their learning process.

This quote from Matt Miller reminds us that we must be intentional in our teaching and integration of technology no matter what tools we decide to use in our lessons. “The bottom line is that pedagogy must drive technology. The mindset that fuels digital learning is good teaching trumps good tools.”

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Getting Started with Scratch and Makey Makey

Makey Makey, an invention kit that turns anything (that conducts electricity of course) into a touch pad and Scratch, a FREE visual programming language developed by MIT, are the perfect combination for bringing computer programming and hands-on project making together. At my school we have found that by teaching the kids how Makey Makey works along with guided lessons in Scratch the kids are putting them together and getting some pretty amazing results.

So how do you set your students up for success as you incorporate computer programming AND making into your lessons? Well, this is definitely a work in progress we found and created some resources we are using to teach computer programming with Scratch and make it hands-on with Makey Makey.

What if I don't know anything about Makey Makey or Scratch???

Guess what?? That's OK! You can learn along WITH your students! That's what we am doing and WOW they sure are teaching us a lot. It's a bit uncomfortable for us teachers at first but it's worth it. If we waited to be the expert in all tech tools before we used it with our students our kids would sure be waiting a while. So check out the resources below and jump in and get creating with your kiddos!

Introducing Makey Makey

Makey Makey is a HUGE favorite at Sun Terrace. This little kit is quite popular with our elementary school kiddos who greatly enjoy playing Flappy Bird with their Play Doh or banana controller.

To guide the students as they explore HOW Makey Makey works I taught a unit on electricity and circuits to our 3-5th graders (you can easily adapt for K-2). Using this "Getting Creative with Makey Makey" HyperDoc, originally created by Cathie Gillner, students explored electricity and how circuits work to discover which materials conduct electricity and which are insulators. The hands-on component of Makey Makey made the engagement level skyrocket and students began using their science vocabulary with one another as they created their models and built their controllers.

If you look at the HyperDoc you can see that the majority of programs the students are working with are created in Scratch. The kids LOVED playing games with their Makey Makey controller. Also many of the awesome projects that Makey Makey has on their site either have a program already created in scratch for the students to use or they ask students to remix an existing project. While we found that some students can easily remix a project given the directions on the site most of us (including me) need some experience in coding with Scratch in order to successfully write a program that will work with Makey Makey.

Getting Started with Scratch

At Sun Terrace we code all year. Students use in their classrooms, they use Blockly to code the Dash robots, an unplugged favorite game is Robot Turtles and of course we go big during the Hour of Code in December. But we knew we needed to do more so this spring we began taking it to the next level with a more focused approach to teaching computer science.

To teach the students computer programming with Scratch our Technology committee decided on using the Creative Computing Curriculum Guide from Harvard Graduate School of Education as a starting point. It's a BIG hit with the kids and once the kids get rolling with programming the possibilities for using Scratch across the curriculum are pretty much endless. The guide is very easy to follow and if you are ok with learning with your class and quite possibly ending up having them teach you then you can definitely get started with this guide.

We created challenge cards with additional directions and links to the handouts for each activity to gamifying the curriculum and to make as it easy to implement as possible for our teachers to use with our classes. This makes it simple for students to go back to previous lessons and review what they missed or may have forgotten.

To gamify the curriculum we used Alice Keeler's Gamify Your PD: Badges and Level Up template and created a Scratch Ninja Badge spreadsheet. Each lesson (with a few modifications) has a badge. Students earn stars as they work toward their Scratch belts. We made a copy of the badge spreadsheet for each student and assigned in Google Classroom so they could keep track of their achievements. So far they are loving it! All of the lesson cards are linked in the template too for easy access to lesson resources.

Click on the link below to get make a copy of the badge template with links to the lesson cards too! So far only units 0-2 have been badged and gamified so check back after the summer when I should have them all done 👍  The idea to make Scratch Ninja badges came from Lisa Guardino a wonderful computer science teacher mentor of mine who used the belt system with her kids when teaching Scratch, thanks Lisa!

Scratch Ninja Badges Template
Once our students were rockin and rollin with coding they could easily make the jump to using Makey Makey to control their Scratch programs. NOW comes the fun part and the possibilities for incorporating these projects into math, science, social studies and ELA are endless. We are already starting and have lots of resources to share but that's another blog post 😉

So that's how we are got started combining computer programming with making at Sun Terrace Elementary. We are just beginning to dive into all of the ways we can get students exploring, discovering, thinking and creating with Scratch and Makey Makey but are as excited as the students are to see where this takes us. What have you tried? Have tips, ideas, resources for beginners? Please add them to the comments below!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Catch the Flipgrid fever! 15+ ways to use Flipgrid in your class.

If you haven't heard of Flipgrid yet then you will soon be seeing it everywhere. I had my first experience with Flipgrid on March 2nd in a #Ditchbook chat. I was hesitant to try it out and almost skipped the chat because I wasn't sure about trying to learn how to use yet another tool at 7pm on a Thursday night. However, Matt Miller and my Ditchbook pals Sandy Otto and Craig Klement assured me it was easy peasy and I decided to try it out. Boy am I sure glad I did! 

Flipgrid is a video response platform where educators can have online video discussions with students or other educators. Teachers can provide feedback to students AND better yet students can provide feedback to one another. With Flipgrid One (Free) you get one grid with unlimited topics. So if you have multiple classes or subject areas you can just create a different topic for each and share that topic code. With Flipgrid Classroom ($65 per year) you get unlimited grids, topics, responses and replies to responses. You can definitely do a TON with the free version so check that out first and if you decide to take it further then you can look into getting a classroom account. Check out more info on the differences and how to get started here.

(Want to try Flipgrid Classroom for FREE? Sign up and use promo code KARLYMOURA for free access until Sept. 30, when it will revert to a free Flipgrid One account.)

My first few experiences with Flipgrid were in a educational chat setting where a group of educators from all over the country shared ideas and inspired one another online. I have become so excited about using it with students and other educators that I have become a Flipgrid Ambassador. But don't take my word for it, check it out and try it yourself!

It really IS as easy as 1-2-3 to get started using Flipgrid with your class.
1. Create a discussion board and share the link with your class. (With the classroom account you can embed fully functional Flipgrid cards or a grid in Google Classroom, Haiku, Blackboard, Canvas, Schoology along many other sites or in an LMS)
2. Students record their video (Flipgrid can be used on ANY device)
3. You and your students reply to one another and take the discussions further.

So how can you use the Flipgrid with your class? Here are 15 ideas for using this video platform in your classroom. 

1.  Reading response goes digital. After your class reads an article, chapter or book have them respond to a question about their reading. Take the conversation further by having students comment on each other's responses.
2. End of year (semester) reflection. What better way to say goodbye than to have your students record a video reflecting on their learning over the course of your class? (I'm pretty sure many of these would require a box of tissues for those tear jerker posts!)
3. Advice to next year's class.  How cool is it to have a Flipgrid of advice videos from your current students to show next year's class? Check out this End of Year Reflection HyperDoc and link a Flipgrid in the share section.
4. Debate a topic! Add a Flipgrid to the share section of this "Great Debate" HyperDoc by Rayna Freedman to get your students debating.
5. Show what you know! Choice and voice are so important for getting students to share their knowledge with us. What better way to do that then to add Flipgrid as an option in a Show What You Know BINGO board?
6. Reflect on a lesson or unit. Seems simple but having your students reflect on a lesson is great feedback for us as teachers. How did it go? What changes would you make? What was your favorite part? Take a look at their responses for planning next year.
7. 30 second book talk challenge. Have your students share about their favorite book in 30 seconds or less. Check out this example.
8. Exit tickets get a makeover. Post the question "What did you learn today?" or better yet ask your students "What did you create today?" for the students to answer before leaving class.
9. Number talks. Have students explain their thinking and critique the reasoning of others as they work through a math problem.
10. Brainstorming in the Engineering Design Process. Students can jump very quickly to planning or even building before they get out their ideas in a brainstorming session. Slow them down a bit and capture their thinking as they throw out their ideas on Flipgrid. Add a Flipgrid to the brainstorm portion of this Intro to Engineering Design Process HyperDoc.
11. Put a spin on student of the week. Have each student record a video sharing why that student of the week is special. Students will enjoy watching video messages from their classmates sharing why they are a valued member of their classroom community.
12. Reboot your standard biography report. My friend Sean Fahey had the fabulous idea to use Nadine Gilkison's amazing Biography Inquiry HyperDoc to teach students all about biographies. Finally have students dress up as the person they are researching and record short presentation video.
13. Welcome back to school Flipgrid style. Have all staff record a welcome back message for your students at the beginning of the year. Ask a local (or national) celebrity to join in and give a shout out to your students.
14. Appreciation/Thank you card. After a field trip, on your admin's birthday or during Teacher or Classified Staff appreciation week have your class record their own video thank you cards.
15. Appsmash! OK, I'm kinda cheating here since this is really WAY more than one idea but it's just too good to leave out. I have had the opportunity to connect with an incredible educator and Flipgrid Ambassador, Jornea Erwin. In this episode of Flipgrid Unplugged Jornea shares SO many ideas for how to appsmash with Flipgrid to kick it up another notch. Once you have a few Flipgrids under your belt you REALLY need to check this out!

Want to check out even MORE ideas for using Flipgrid inside and outside of the classroom?  These amazing posts by Sean Fahey and Jen Giffen are FULL of great ideas.

The opportunities to utilize this platform with your class are endless. The best way to get started? Try it out yourself! Share how YOU have used or will use Flipgrid with your students below!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Google Expeditions & HyperDocs. A Perfect Pairing.

A few weeks ago I had the honor of being a guest on the new Google Teacher Tribe Podcast hosted by Kasey Bell and Matt Miller. In the episode I shared a few of the exciting things we have going on at my school (Sun Terrace Elementary) with respect to integrating technology. I decided to share two big game changing tech tools that happen to pair perfectly with one another to create an exciting and truly engaging learning experience, HyperDocs and Google Expeditions.

HyperDocs, are "a transformative, interactive Google Doc replacing the worksheet method of delivering instruction, is the ultimate change agent in the blended learning With the HUGE community of educators sharing resources all the time there are tons to choose from to edit and share with your class. Just go to "file" then "make a copy" and an editable copy is saved to your Google Drive. Check out lots more information and resources I shared in a previous blog post HyperDocs! Need I Say More?  and at

Google Expeditions are virtual field trips that take students to places like outer space, national parks, museums, underwater and even back in time! They link virtual reality with engaging background information to guide students on a memorable visit to places they may never be able to see physically. There are tons of expeditions available and they are adding more all the time. New to Google Expeditions? Check out this smore flyer all about using Expeditions with any class even if you DON'T have a VR viewer!

Now put them together for an eduawesome adventure in learning! Here are some HyperDocs & Expeditions pairings. Have others? Please share them in the to this crowdsourced spreadsheet.

Maybe you have found a really great Expedition but can't find a HyperDoc to go with it. Well never fear, a Google Expeditions HyperDoc template is here! Use this HyperDoc template (complete with an Explorer playlist) to guide your students as you explore amazing places all over the world and beyond!

Google Expeditions HyperDoc Template
Have other ideas or resources for making the most of Google Expeditions with your students? Please share them in the comments below!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Is It Meaningful? Is It Manageable? Reflections & Takeaways from the 2nd Annual MDUSD & East Bay CUE STEM & EdTech Symposium

The annual Mount Diablo Unified School District & East Bay CUE STEM and EdTech Symposium, sponsored by Tesoro is the brainchild of awesome Shauna Hawes who has put on an incredible event two years in a row. Shauna was deservingly our 2016-2017 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year, finalist for the 2017 California teacher of the year and most importantly a very valued colleague and wonderful friend. She works tirelessly to put on this event that makes us ALL #MDUSDProud. Shauna says that her job is to find her students' bests and help shape their visions of what their own bests can be. What she doesn't realize is that she does this for her colleagues as well.

The second annual event was a Saturday in February filled with wonderful sessions led and attended by fabulous educators around the East Bay and even from afar. The day began with a Keynote by a wonderful friend of mine, Nick Zefeldt, who spoke about his journey as an educator and how he guides others as they integrate technology into their classroom. Nick and I have known each other for awhile now and was my first call when I became a Teacher On Special Assignment. His guidance and support has been invaluable as I have muddled my way through supporting teachers with educational technology. His advice to keep two questions in mind when choosing what tools or strategies to use with your class resonated with the audience. He encouraged all of us to ask ourselves. Is it meaningful? Is it manageable?

My first presentation was with an awesome, and super funny, colleague of mine, Mark Tobin. I learned SO much from working with him and planning our session. He encouraged us all to get our students asking the questions and for us teachers to get out of the way. Mark modeled how he does this by using Dan Meyer’s 3 Act Math with his students through Google Slides and Robert Kaplinski’s problem solving framework. He also created a digital breakout that we used as a fun way to begin and for teachers to understand how important it is for our students to experience productive struggle. Mark’s advice is simple, teachers need to talk less and students need to do more. His goal is that when teachers come in to observe his class they don't see him teach, they watch his students learn.

For the second session of the day I had the pleasure of presenting with THE Joe Young to a group of amazing educators on Google Expeditions and we had so much fun. The question of how to really use this technology in your class and whether or not this was just a "gimmick" came up in the beginning of our session. This was a great question and led us to a valuable conversation about beginning with what you want your students to learn and discover then find an engaging way to bring it to them. We took them on some exciting virtual field trips, shared resources and brainstormed ideas on how to use this technology in a meaningful and manageable way. Joe is such an inspiration to me and to so many others. I feel honored to have been able to present with him and hope to do so again. He wrote an amazing reflection blog post that captures the day and our session perfectly!

The final session of the day was a presentation with my pal Chrissie Cattalini on using Green Screen in the classroom. This was the second time Chrissie and I have presented this session together and as usual I was in awe of her ability to bring creativity and fun into her classroom while still keeping the rigor high and addressing the standards. Chrissie is a fabulous educator and wonderful friend and I am very lucky to work with her on so many of our passion projects. On Saturday we had a small but mighty group of brilliant educators who created some fantastic images and videos using Green Screen. This session was very hands-on and just like we should often do with our students Chrissie encouraged the attendees to just play. They learned through exploring the app and came up with great ideas for using this technology in their classrooms.

A HUGE highlight of the day was rolling out our STEM Lending Library! The tools available for checkout were on display all throughout the day and educators and students got a chance to try them out. The idea for the MDUSD STEM Lending Library came from the CUE Rockstar STEAMPunk Mobile Lab. Craig Yen had the idea to bring it Mount Diablo Unified School District. After the first STEM and EdTech Symposium in 2016, Tesoro allowed MDUSD to use the remaining funds to establish the STEM Lending Library of products that teachers would have seen at the Symposium, but needed to use and practice using in the classroom before finding the funding to purchase for themselves. In the spring of 2016 Shauna Hawes, Craig Yen and I came together along with Jonathan Eagan to put together a list of tools to purchase for the library. Since then the Valley View MOUSE Squad (led by Shauna Hawes) has been working hard to create the website and check out system for teachers and administrators to get materials and return them. The Library has tech tools like Dash, MakeyMakey, Raspberry Pi, Drones, VR Headsets, 3D Printers and more for ANY educator in the Mount Diablo Unified School District to check out for two weeks at a time and use in their classroom or with their staff.  It was so exciting to see the STEM Lending Library be fully rolled out successfully a year later!

It was a wonderful day and once again made me incredibly proud of my district and the amazing learning community we have created. There were tons of highlights are resources shared throughout the day. Check out the storify of tweets and the padlet of shared resources from #STEM17 below.

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