November 13, 2017



Digital Equity:

Future Ready Schools ® (FRS) –led by the Alliance for Excellent Education and with support from AT&T —has launched a new program, the FRS Digital Equity Program, that will provide school district leaders with the resources, leadership strategies, and support to better plan and implement a digital learning strategy to personalize learning for all students.

Digital equity—or removing the opportunity divide amongst students who have and do not have access to digital resources —has become a prevalent topic among K-12 educators in recent years. As many districts and schools across the country move closer to fully transitioning to technology-enhanced, student-centered learning, there is a need to understand and address the barriers that inhibit many students from receiving a high-quality digital-age education.

What can we do as educators to advocate for digital equity in our rural schools? Take a look at the Future Ready Schools Framework and have some thoughtful conversations around these issues today.

Future Ready Schools Framework:

Thanksgiving Resources for all grades:

Don’t miss these great Thanksgiving digital resources for your class, thanks to PBS Learning Media!

Update!!     Book Creator for Chrome:

I have to plug Book Creator again because over the last few days there have been some great new features added.  You can now send books to your printer or save them to PDF. Just click on the share icon to grab that paper copy and stick it on the wall! They want to make book creation available to everyone, including (actually especially!) early and struggling writers. To that end students can now speak into the text box using the microphone. They have also received some great feedback on improving the classroom workflow around libraries, and here are the first 2 improvements:

  • As a teacher you can now edit your students’ books.
  • Edit any book in your libraries to add feedback to a student’s work, or make a small change before publishing online.

Now, when a student joins your library they will see your books automatically. This makes distributing a template or instruction book to your students super simple – just add it to the class library. In addition, they’ve created a comprehensive set of help articles which you can search right in the app based on the common questions others have asked. This makes it easy to learn how to use Book Creator.


Learn how to make the most of Epic! in the classroom and become Epic! Certified. Epic! Certified teachers are part of a select group of teachers that have demonstrated a thorough understanding of how to use Epic! in their classroom. Log on to Epic! and complete the following steps and you’ll receive an Epic! Certified badge and certificate so you can share your new status with your colleagues.

Getting certified is easy:

  1. Find a book and read it.
  2. Create at least two student profiles
  3. Find your classroom code
  4. Explore books and content by category
  5. “Favorite” a Collection
  6. Create a Collection
  7. Find a book at your student’s reading level

If you’ve set up Epic! and are using it with your class, you have probably done all these steps! Click the link to get certified today!

Leveled Readers:

Throughout most of my teaching career, my passion has been around early literacy, with a focus on beginning readers. There were many times, both as a first grade teacher and as a media specialist, that I questioned some of my methods around leveling readers. I came upon this great blog post focusing on the idea of leveled books and I love this quote from Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell:

It is our belief that levels have no place in classroom libraries, in school libraries, in public libraries, or on report cards. That was certainly not our intention that levels be used in these ways. We designed the F&P Text Level Gradient™ to help teachers think more analytically about the characteristics of texts and their demands on the reading process, and the A to Z levels were used to show small steps from easiest to most difficult. The goal was for teachers to learn about the characteristics of each level to inform their decisions in teaching—how they introduce a book, how they discuss a book, how they help children problem-solve as they process a book. We created the levels for books, and not as labels for children, and our goal was that these levels be in the hands of people who understand their complexity and use them to make good decisions in instruction.

I encourage you to spend a little time in this conversation by reading the blog post linked above, and this article. As much as I believe there is a purpose for our use of AR, I agree that it should be used as levels for books, and not as labels for children. Please share your comments with me: I love the conversation!

Thanksgiving Books:

It can be hard to decide how to approach Thanksgiving in your classroom. There are the glaring misconceptions that still prevail about the first Thanksgiving and current associations that range from a day of mourning to football and parades. What’s a teacher to do? Well, you can start by sharing some of these favorite Thanksgiving books for kids, thanks to

In addition, do you need any Thanksgiving writing prompts? Here are several to get you started:

And since we’re on We Are Teachers, here is your link to five Kid President quotes that might be fun to print and share with your class:

Yikes! I’m stuck on We Are Teachers!! Here is a list of Ten Things Instagram Made Me Buy!


Have you been talking to your students about gratitude this month? Here is a great article from Vicki Davis highlighting five ways to encourage a heart of gratitude in your classroom. Try a few of her ideas today!

Mapping Resources:

It’s time for Geography Awareness Week! This year’s theme is “The Geography of Civil Rights Movements.” GIS has a few resources that suit this study along with other great geography resources from National Geographic:

Explore free mapping resources for Elementary Students (or folks just getting started with maps too), Get your resources for GIS Day, which is approaching fast! GIS Day 2017 is November 15th!

Science Journal App:
The way I see it, this is a long-awaited tool! Let your class explore the world like scientists with the Science Journal app from Google. Students can measure real time data and record their observations in a digital notebook. The redesigned app is now available on iOS and Android with over 20 new activities from educational partners, all easily located here:

The Origin of Everything:

Do your students ask why? The Origin of Everything YouTube Channel from PBS investigates the “why” behind many aspects of everyday life. The fun videos are perfect for your most curious students, or for getting students excited about learning on their own. Video topics range from history (Why is there a South and North Korea?) to pop culture (Where does the #Hashtag come from?).

**You will want to preview these videos before sharing with students – and it is also a good idea to post or share them in the Viewpure frame to take out the ads and previews. Not sure what Viewpure is? Locate it here: And contact me if I can help you with it.

Digital Copel Brain Games:

Brain Games is new app that sparks a child’s curiosity, helps them concentrate on solving problems, and gives them a space to have fun all at the same time. The lessons built into the app are split into three different age groups. As children progress, they’ll unlock more & activities as they walk through Copel Town. Children earn badges and points, and teachers/parents can view the progress children have made.

The lessons in Digital Copel fall into six categories: math, language, logic, shapes, memory and knowledge. With Digital Copel, up to ten lessons can be played each day for free (but you can purchase a subscription for unlimited playtime). There is a 20 min “take a break” feature enabled by default included in Digital Copel. With this feature, children are prompted to pause after playing the game for an uninterrupted number of minutes.

If you have parents asking for suggestions for learning activities for their devices at home you may want to suggest they try Digital Copel’s Brain Games.

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