Monday, May 4, 2015

Showcase: National History Day

This past fall Lisa Sutterer a teacher at Euclid Middle School took on the challenge of participating in the National History Day competition with her students.  This competition encouraged students to conduct original research on historical topics of interest. These research-based projects had five genres ( webpage, performance, paper, table top exhibit and documentary).  Students used Google Scholar and Templates from their teacher in Google Drive to begin their research portion.

Four (4) projects from Euclid Middle School students went on to State and three (3) of these projects are on their way to Nationals on June 14-18 at University of Maryland, College Park.  Congratulations!

Here are a few ways these students leveraged technology to conduct primary source interviews, capture audio files and make historical connections and perspectives come to life.

(below) Three students were able to interview Bob Burdick in person.  He was the editor and president of the Rocky Mountain News from 1994-2000. Students used their mobile devices taped to a tripod :-) and then used Camtasia or iMovie to edit and produce their video of Mr. Burdick.  See example here.
interview  bob burdick.jpg
(below) Students video conferenced with Daryl Moen a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. They used Skype to video conference and Camtasia along with Audacity to capture the video and audio of this primary source interview.  

Another student was able to interview Laura (Quirk) Armstrong who assisted Woodward and Bernstein on the case during the time of the Watergate scandal. This student used a clip of the audio interview  See example here
This student captured the audio interview over the speakerphone using Audacity and a snowball mic.

Audio File

These are all great examples of how technology supports content.  These students leveraged technology to focus their research and primary source information to visual and audio clips along with quotes to better convey their message.

To learn more about the great work happening in Lisa Sutterer’s classroom contact her at

Additional Resources
National History Day:
Overview of what National History Day is.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

2015 Inspired Learning Conference

Inspired Learning Conference - Teachers Leading Best Practices

Littleton Public Schools was proud, for the 7th time, to host the Inspired Learning Conference on April 25th, 2015.   Teachers from Littleton Public Schools as well as Weld District 6, Falcon District 49, Weld Re-8, Academy 20, Brighton 27J, Denver Public Schools and Douglas County Schools were leading and sharing best practices. We were excited to have 4 school board members and our new Superintendent Brian Ewert attend and address the conference participants..

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Sessions covered a range of topics:  Virtual Exit Slips, Student Conferencing, Formative Assessment, Google Classroom, Blogging, Personalized Learning, Gamification, Flipped Classroom, Student Feedback, Getting Started and more.  We are fortunate to have active professional colleagues who take a Saturday to learn and share with others.


This year we combined a traditional conference (pre-planned sessions) with an EdCamp strand that Chris Moore and Nate Ubowski guided.  See schedule of sessions here.  This open discussion gave everyone a platform to share their experiences/success/struggles and was a great addition to the conference.

I would like to thank the following individuals who helped support/organize this event.
Our fabulous School Board Members, our current Superintendent Scott Murphy, and new Superintendent Brian Ewert, Mark Lindstone - CIO, Mike Porter - Director of Technology, Patty Turner - Director of Learning Services, Randy Stall - Instructional Technology Specialist

Amy McIntosh, Penny Potts and Erin Gonshor for co-leading the Inspired Writing Cohort and helping prepare these teachers to present at this conference.

Arapahoe for the use of their facilities

Monday, April 13, 2015

Showcase: 2015 Innovation Avenue

Innovation Avenue was April 11th at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center
Innovation Avenue is Littleton’s yearly student showcase that occurs before the LPS Foundation Spirit Dinner.  This year the Spirit dinner was sold out with over 550 in attendance.  This was a great crowd to showcase the work happening in Littleton Public Schools classrooms.  We once again had a group of nearly 100 students and teachers proudly showcasing how technology supports the content standards they are learning.

Kindergartners confidently walking the crowd showing off their iPad project.

High school students explained the construction process of building a prosthetic foot for a duck and more... 

Middle school showcased the Middle School STEM programs and more...

A wonderful night for Littleton Public Schools. We are so thankful to have students and teachers that take time on a Saturday to share with the Littleton community their expertise and great work happening in LPS classrooms.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Showcase: Poetry Inspired by Art

Arapahoe High School Poetry Inspired by LPS Elementary Student Artwork

April is National Poetry Month.   This topic sparked a collaborative connection between  several of our Littleton elementary schools  Highland, Centennial, Field  and Arapahoe High School.  The outcome we were hoping for would be poems generated by high school students that were inspired by elementary artwork along with a greater connection between buildings and learners of all ages.
Here is one example of over 100 to choose from
Poem by: Kirk Zieser (Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream) CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO

First our elementary art teachers shared artwork with Arapahoe High School language arts teachers by using tools like Google photo albums or Google docs. (handout)


The language arts teachers Anne Smith and Maura Moritz had their students choose a piece of artwork from this list that inspired them and had them write a poem about it. These students then used tools like Screencastify, WeVideo, Prezi and SnagIt to capture a video or audio of themselves reading the poem with a picture of the artwork. These poems were then shared back with the elementary art students.  Imagine the excitement of a kindergartner that saw how a "big kid" in the district was inspired by their artwork.

Here is the complete 2015 collaborative Poetry Inspired by Art project:  

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Art Teachers:
Gayla Ruckhaus: Centennial Elementary
Scarlet Lammers: Highland Elementary  

To see other amazing collaborative projects happening at Arapahoe High School visit Anne Smith’s or Maura Moritz’s websites.  Student voice is a centerpiece for these Master Teachers. Checkout their Wikified Research Project, Skyping with Authors like Daniel Pink and Ted Talks just to name a few.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Showcase: Celebrate Pi Day ( 3.14 )

March 14th each year ( 3.14 ) is a special holiday for math-lovers.  It is called Pi Day.  This day is used to celebrate the mathematical constant pi. Pi is an irrational number and is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its radius, and it starts with 3.1415926535897…this number continues into infinity.

Lynn Duran a math teacher at Euclid Middle School celebrated today (March 10th) a few days early.
Here are a few great pictures of her students, working with online math simulations, learning from outside speakers (engineers..), using manipulatives, and of course eating Pi.
Incorporating technology with online math simulations
Working with guest speakers ( engineers... )
Using manipulatives

Eating Pi

To learn more about Pi day and what Lynn and other LPS math teachers do contact Lynn Duran at Euclid Middle School.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Showcase: Collaborative Tools in the Math Classroom

Padlet an online collaborative sticky board has been around for awhile, it was previously called Wallwisher.  We have seen Padlet used in lots of classrooms.  I wanted to showcase Elena Jones a math teacher at Goddard Middle School using this with her 8th grade students.

Rather than a typical study guide Elena decided to shift this from an independent activity to a collaborative activity that held students accountable for the information they were sharing.

Elena created a different Padlet for each topic (chapter) that was going to be assessed on the midterm exam. Students were required to contribute to at least five different boards. Their next step was to analyze each board to see if all vocabulary was covered. As they worked, students would ask her to "clean-up" or organize the board by re-arranging student comments so they were all visible. As they found a word missing, the students would ask who wants to add this missing information.  As Elena saw duplicate vocabulary words on a page, she would address the two students and have them discuss their definitions and come up with one 'best' definition. When students didn't know the definition of a word, she encouraged them to use their resources (internet...).

Here is one example of her student generated boards.

Students used these boards to study vocabulary and concepts for their midterm. Students really enjoyed collaborating and critically reading other student contributions to create these collaborative boards.

When I asked Elena if she would do it again and how effective she thought this was she responded. “This was a very effective and efficient way to engage all students to review for a dreaded mid term. Students had to collaborate to review vocabulary rather than complete a study guide. I will do this again for the final!”

In addition to using collaborative tools in her class, Elena is presenting at the InnEdCo Conference this summer at Keystone and has previously presented at our district Inspired Learning Conference that happens each April.  If that was not enough she also has a class set of iPads that she uses very effectively in her math classroom.  If you have questions or want to get a hold of Elena Jones check out her class website.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Showcase: Outsmarting the Smartphone: Using Technology to Create/Enhance Student Work

Only a LPS teacher for one year, Colleen Monahan has already become an outstanding addition and leader to our LPS teaching staff.  She is an educator of 8th and 7th grade students at Powell Middle School.  Not only did she come to Littleton Public Schools with a National Board Certification (2008) but she came with a clear connection to middle schoolers and how to use technology to ignite a topic and have students create amazing student work products.

Let me share just a few examples.
Project 1: Colleen used WeVideo which is an online video editor.  Last year students created book trailers. This year she is using WeVideo to create short story trailers.   Take a look at her WeVideo Presentation presented to teachers at the LPS District Inspired Learning Conference 2014.
Additional Documents: Student Directions and Collaboration Space (Google Doc)

Student WeVideo Example: Hatchet

Project 2: Vine/Instagram
Students created 6 second (on Vine) or 15 second (Instagram) videos to demonstrate the understanding of the main idea/supporting details in an article from Junior Scholastic!  The purpose was for students to share the main idea with supporting details.
Sample Student Product: 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Project 3: Poll Everywhere
Here students used their smartphones or chromebooks to access Poll Everywhere, an online poll.  This was used to integrate math into language arts.  Students answered where they were in their reading progress based on a list of choices.  They then calculated averages and discussed how to analyze a bar graph.

Project 4: Project Discovery
Purpose: To get out of the box and have students try something new (volunteer, crochet, indoor skydiving, new food, skiing, sport...) Only topics off limits (video game, movie or book)
Students used their smartphone to take a photo of themselves outside of school trying out their Project Discovery choice.  
Project Discovery Student Guide  Students needed to:
  • identify/create research questions ( not ‘look-upable’ - as Colleen tells her students )
  • reflect on their experiences and research
  • present online through Ustream where parents could login and watch presentations online
  Parents had great feedback.  Here is just one of many parent emails.
Good Morning,
I want to tell you how much fun it has been learning about, cupcakes, bell ringers, pasta, sushi, scuba diving and horses!   
My Mother and I have been watching for a few days, as I have been sick and recovering from surgery.   
It has been fun watching the smiles, nervousness and creativity of your kids.
Thank you so much,
Tina ( parent )

Parent Communication Colleen used to participate in the online viewing of student presentations

All of these projects can be done using a smartphone and/or chromebook/other device.

To top it off, Colleen was accepted to present at CCIRA (Colorado Council International Reading Association)  
Her session write-up: Outsmarting the Smartphone (middle school)
This presentation will focus on how educators can easily use technology to increase student engagement and meet standards. Attendees will walk away with an array of tech tools, and tips for successful implementation in the classroom!

Take a look at the other tools she uses with students and will be showcasing at CCIRA.  
Vine/InstagramWeVideoPoll EverywhereRemind 101UstreamSocrativeClass Dojo, Twitter, phone camera feature and Google split screen for PARCC prep
If you are interested in learning more about what Colleen Monahan does with her students using technology, check out her class website.

If you are involved in innovative work in your classroom let us know so we can highlight your students great work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Showcase: Blogging: Writing about what you read.

Blogging: Writing about what you read.
Writing about what you are reading is a great way to share with others your thinking about a book or topic.  Writing in an online format allows you to share with an even larger audience.  Jill Maxey a teacher at Franklin Elementary School has a successful and authentic way this is happening for her students.

Jill’s last two book blogs have focused on historical fiction.  She has had three main purposes:
  • dig deeper into the text
  • better understanding of setting ( historical events - great depression )
  • increase audience along with parent / student conversation

Last years 4th graders participated in a blog around the book Watsons Go To Birmingham.  
This past year her now 5th graders have just started participating in a blog around the book Bud Not Buddy.  

So far this years parents are participating in high numbers, which brings great conversation and skills of how to disagree with someone in a respectful way. Even your mom or another parent :-)
see below
Kris ( parent ) AddyD ( student )

Here is how Jill got parents involved.  Parent Invitation Letter to Blog
This letter outline was initially created by Penny Potts another amazing teacher at Franklin that also blogs with her students.

To add another layer, Jill also has a Gifted and Talented blog where GT students respond to topics about their emotional health in learning.. Fear of Failure, Peer Pressure, Do Overs, Self-Esteem….  Check It Out at

Consider blogging in your classroom. Here are some Littleton blogging resources.