Category Archives: Digital Citizenship

Top 10 of NCTIES 2018

I just returned from the NCTIES Conference! I have been going to this conference for five years and find that it always delivers! The Keynote presentations inspired me and the sessions led by teachers from all over my state gave me strategies and technology tips to enhance my teaching. I am going to share some of my favorite Top 10 ideas from the Conference in this blog post!

1. Kristen Ziemke
As the keynote speaker, she shared that 81% of kids ages 6 – 8 use You Tube weekly and love to hear and see stories. We should be explicitly teaching them to tell their stories and how to hear the stories of others. When we present our students with images to view and video to watch, Kristen suggests that we ask them, “What do you see, think and wonder?” The conversation that will occur will be grounded in the “text evidence” within the images allowing students to make inferences, visualize the environment, wonder what is going on and determine important information. Students should be given opportunities to think about how images and videos impact them then do something about it.

2. Microwriting by Kristen Ziemke
Micro writing is the writing of short pieces of text that question, summarize or synthesize and often adopt new literacies to gain feedback form authentic audiences. Kids’ writing could be shared in a Google Classroom, Twitter, a Blog or through the SeeSaw app. When kids are engaged in writing, their effort increases. Today’s tools make it possible to create, publish and share content. Since we all have a story to tell, we must show students how to make their words count so that their voices will be heard. She emphasized that teachers should have students study how Tweets are crafted, what is included in comments to a blog post and write these types of writing often to see if they can get better over time.

3. #Innovate4Littles: Using Tech for Inquiry Based Project

These teachers shared Project Based Learning through the Cycle of Inquiry.
The Cycle of Inquiry can have the following steps:
Wonder (They post what they want to know on Post It notes on a wall or on a Padlet space.)
Start Over

I love the idea of classroom teachers having a “Soft Start” to each day to allow kids to go through the inquiry cycle and be able to interact with materials at a Maker Space station in their classes. STREAM Centers during Soft Start include:
Art supplies
Kinetic sand

Allowing kids to regularly play with items as they investigate a topic and create a visual representation can then be extended to digital work. Their pictures of their work or digital projects that they make can be shared in SeeSaw . Students will sometimes record their thinking about their projects using Flipgrid. I was so impressed with the ideas of this session that I shared the presentation with my K-2 mini team leaders at my school which will enable us to further discuss:

4. Technology and Media
A Media Specialist and Technology Teacher collaborate to read various stories then have students create a digital product. Their resources are found here:

App Smashing with Literature presentation:

5. Green Screening the School Newscast
The presentation with all the details of how the tech facilitators work with students and classroom teachers to produce a school newscast that is shown on the following week is found here:

6. Jack of All Trades, Master of None presentation
An animated teacher librarian from Chatham County schools developed an amazing website with tremendous resources on Digital Citizenship, coding, Digital Literacy and many other important topics. I will use her resources with my students:

7. Getting Started with Green Screen
The presentation that was provided allows us to see how these teachers use the DoInk app on iPads to have students create digital stories with Green Screening:

This link provides a Google Sheet with Green Screen lesson ideas tied to Standards:

Legos and Green Screen presentation:

8. STREAM Session
These teachers showed us many books that they read to students and STREAM Design challenges tied to the science standards. I loved everything that they shared and the format of their presentation:
Google link:

9. Making Makerspaces Work
The “Making Makerspaces Work For Elementary” session provided great suggestions on what could be included in an Elementary Maker Space in the Library Media Center and many management tips on how to have students come to the Media Center to use the Maker space:

10. Closing Keynote by Kevin Carroll
Wow! This man inspired me! My head was spinning with the amazing sessions which I had been a part of then he got me thinking about how to head home to inspire my students to tell their stories. Here are some of his words that will continue to resonate with me:
“Play gives resilience and sustained effort to hang in there.

Play is a catalyst.

Don’t talk about it. Be about it.

How you do the little things is how you do all things.

The opposite of play and fun is depression. Have joy all the time.

Play is something we all have in common.

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. – Plato

Inspire others to be a collective community of confidence. Be the storytellers which will inspire.

Our ideas and actions matter.

Set goals.
Believe in yourself

It is possible. Surround yourself with catalysts.

Challenge and lovingly shove them toward the future.

Replenish my energy.
There are 86,400 seconds in a day to achieve better than I was yesterday.

Be better than I was yesterday.

Build community, make friends.

You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.

Be where I am. Show up.

Positivity will be reciprocated.

DREAM stands for:

Doubt is success testing you.
Greatness awaits you.

If your dream doesn’t scare you it is not big enough.

# gsd (get stuff done)”

This Conference had a shared Google Slides presentation which was also crowd sourced for many other incredible resources:

Flipgrid Zoo

Recently, I consulted with a team of third grade teachers at my school to develop a topic for students to write about once they had researched animals. We decided that students could provide an opinion and supporting reasons as to why the animal that they researched should or should not be kept in a zoo. Students would use the facts that they had gathered to inform their writing. Once they had completed their writing, I visited their classrooms and introduced them to a tech tool known as Flipgrid. I made a free teacher account and set up an assignment where students would record themselves reading aloud their writing on their Chromebooks.

Students enthusiastically participated and self assessed their videos. They enjoyed watching the videos that their peers had created too! I disabled their ability in Flipgrid to type a comment about the videos until a future assignment. We discussed the importance of stating respectful comments to others verbally to practice the skills of a digital citizen. I shared an Emoji Reflection Guide which they used to self assess. In the future, I plan to enable their ability to give Emoji reactions in Flipgrid.

Overall, using Flipgrid engaged my third grade students and gave every student a voice! One student who is rather shy chose to record her video in an area away from others. I told her that shy students can record their video and share it without having to stand and deliver the message in front of others. She seemed relieved to be able to record her words without any pressure.

Many students felt like “You Tubers” and loved this experience. They see videos on social media which provide entertainment and information at home. Using Flipgrid to respond to a topic that they had researched allowed incredible opportunities to communicate, listen and be heard!

I have included images from this lesson below and a link to the actual Flipgrid where over 100 of my third graders shared their opinions and supporting reasons as to why animals should or should not be kept in a zoo.



I recently returned from the ISTE 2017 Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  This conference which is sponsored by the International Society for Technology in Education was my first!  I love attending one of their affiliate state conferences which is in my state of North Carolina which is called NCTIES and takes place in Raleigh, NC during the first week of March.  After taking a lot of pictures, I compiled them in a highlights Animoto video and hope to share a lot of the resources and ideas that I learned in this post.

Since I had never been to a national conference with 21,000 people, I knew that I should prepare.  I studied the session descriptions in the ISTE17 app and created my schedule in a Google Calendar which I later placed into the ISTE Conference app.  There are sessions to attend, keynote speeches to hear, playgrounds to try out the latest digital devices, a classroom of the future to tour from PowerSchool, lines to wait in for Apple and Google Sessions and sore feet due to all of the walking.  I stayed two blocks from the Convention Center and took the ISTE Shuttle a couple of times, but mostly, I walked to and from the Convention Center with my heavy bookbag with iPad and Chromebook along with lots of teacher swag given to me by Exhibitors!  In the evening, I liked getting to walk along the Riverwalk which is a beautifully designed area in downtown near the Convention Center where there are restaurants and stores galore!

I enjoyed participating in The Joy of Professional Learning activities from Apple Distinguished Educators.    They want to transform professional development into “PL or professional learning”.  In my school district, “PL” is associated with “Personalized Learning”, but in the case of this session, a book series has been created by Apple Distinguished Educators which you can access for free on the iTunes store called “The Joy of Professional Learning”.  I would highly recommend checking out their amazing lessons and activities to promote professional learning with educators.

I also recommend another iBook download from another Apple Distinguished Educator,Jenny Grabiec, called “iCan with iOS”(Apps, Tools & Strategies for Students with Learning and Attention Issues) which is a great way to learn about various Apple accessibility features on iPads.

I heard a few of the presenters mention the Reggio Emilia teaching approach based in Italy.  It is not a new approach to teaching and learning, but a new interest in it is rising as it relates to developing innovation in schools.  The idea is that opportunities should be given to students by teachers to help kids construct their own understanding of the world through their environment and through communicating with others.  I really like the idea in this approach of documenting children’s ideas throughout the process of learning something.  Playing and learning are inseparable in the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching.  The ISTE17 presenters and Exhibitors delivered in sharing many different ways to learn by playing and to design lessons based on the new ISTE Student Standards.  Flocabulary has partnered with ISTE and developed this music video to illustrate the ISTE Student Standards!

The idea of having students express their thoughts and creativity in a variety of ways was alive and well in many of the sessions that I attended!  Having students research a global location then build a three dimensional model of it with 3Doodler cool glue pen was an amazing idea!  Making students’ thoughts and voices visible in various ways such as in Flipgrid by having children record their responses to a question which others in the class will watch and also respond to, is an example of this approach.  Using technology to show progressions of thinking using Bloxels video game builder is another way to provide children with iterations or multiple attempts at designing a video game using hands on blocks.  Displaying a child’s thought process in programming a Blue Bot, a cousin of the Bee Bot, can be done in Blue Bot TacTile Reader or with Blue Tooth connection from the Blue Bot to a digital device which supports their app.    Building and programming with Scratch the Itty Bitty City using a MicroDuino is another way to allow children to play and test out their coding sequences.  Another favorite of mine is the Cubetto wooden box by Primo toys which can be programmed using a series of colored blocks which is a great way to play and design a course like a computational thinker while collaborating with others.

Adam Bellow and Steve Dembo, in their joint session, referenced “The Space” by Rebecca Louise Hare and Dr. Robert Dillon, however, they discussed that you can have an innovative maker space without a space dedicated to it.  In this case, educators would have a mind shift toward making and playing in order to allow opportunities for students to discover and construct new understandings of how the world works.  They believe teachers should start the class with this question:  What do you want to learn?  When students can investigate a topic of study in an inviting space with various tools to show their thinking, then they will be excited.

My favorite keynote was Jennie Magiera on Tuesday morning.  I included a lot of her slides in my Animoto video because she inspired me so much to tell my story.  We all have stories that we want others to think about us and then, there are the real stories.  In my case, I have made ISTE sound amazing and for the most part, it was.  I posted pics on Facebook and Twitter (@edu_maples) from the conference and from our trip to see the Alamo, a special part of our American history.  Now, there were other stories that developed for me.   For one, I did not particularly like the food.  I got a migraine headache on Tuesday afternoon.  I couldn’t breathe and needed my inhaler due to smoke that poured out of a restaurant in the mall which was very close to the Convention Center.  I happened to be leaving the Convention Center for lunch right when the fire began so the streets filled with smoke.  The images in my video should help you see the scary story that unfolded.  Thankfully, although the Marriott across from the Convention Center was evacuated, the Convention Center was fine.  I had a heavy bag which made my back sore.  The good news in all of this was that my husband went with me so he began to carry my bag as he dropped me off and picked me up each day from the conference!  Our three and a half hour direct flights were a bit bumpy due to storms, but we made it.  Truly, the good far outweighed any of the bad stories.

It was an honor to attend this conference and learn from the best thought leaders!  I hope that my story will continue to develop as I implement the strategies and tools that I learned about at this conference and have a positive impact on my students.  I do not have Jennie Magiera’s title as Chief Innovation Officer in the Chicago Public Schools, but she has helped me to frame my thinking and my journey as a teacher and as an Innovator.  I was named a PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator a couple of years ago, but it is a continual journey of designing a path of experiences for my students that amplify their voice and document their thinking as they construct knowledge.  I am looking forward to processing more of the information that I have shared in this post.  I hope you enjoy it too!  Jennie shared that technology should connect us to each other in a positive way.  I really want to connect with those of you who are reading my blog by sharing what I learned!

My excitement soared as I gathered the following resources in the many sessions that I attended.  I have decided to provide links to the resources with a short description of the resource to share the love with you!

I loved Tim Fey’s Poster Session on “From Library to Learning Commons”!  Here are the resources that he shared:

Bloxels Video Game Design:

Kickin It with Kinder-STEAM –

Mari Venturino’s blog:

Dr. Wes and Shelly Fryer’s STEAM Poster session:

Google Drawings –

Digital Consumption and Creation in a Changing Literacy Landscape by Steven Anderson and Shaelynn Farnsworth’s presentation on how literacy is changing –

Movie Making with students –

Teach, Jane, Teach blog –

Adobe Spark video/digital storytelling:

Technology Centers and many other engaging tech integration ideas!


Digital Storytelling Network resources:

Sphero robots –

Universal Design for Learning Google Drive file by Gerstein and Bray –

Breakout EDU and Digital Breakouts –

Making Thinking Visible –

Seedling Scavenger Bingo – a great app to use to have students work together to look for pictures of categories where they have to fill in each box on the Bingo digital board!

Great resources on Personalized learning –

Personalized Learning –

Making with Circuits:

Be Internet Awesome!  Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Google:

Google for Littles:

Google Tools:

Google Add Ons:

G Suite and the Writing Process:


Digital Literacy with Google Tools:

iPads for Elementary:

iPad as Creation Device:

Spark Creativity and Innovation:

Sphero robot projects and Literature:

Close Reading with Thinglink:

Augmented Reality in Education:

Learning Spaces Images:

Stop Motion Animation:

Get Ed Funding website:

Digital Storytelling:

Design Thinking in a Makerspace:

Do’s and Don’ts of a Maker Fair:

Girls Building STEAM:

Makerspace in Library Programming:

MakerSpace ideas (Great videos!):

MakerSpace Playbook:

Using Snapchat in the Clasroom:

Badging Padlet:

Badging TED Talk video:



Discover. Play. Build.

This week I am celebrating and linking up with Ruth Ayers and the Celebrate Link Up that she hosts each weekend!

Every time I enter a restaurant, I see people in booths or at tables who are glued to their phones.  They just don’t seem to talk to the ones they are with unless a phone is not present.  Their heads go down as they study the content on their phone.  Sometimes, their faces light up when they see something funny appear in their account on the phone.  When people are engaged in conversations with each other at restaurants, there is typically a distinct joy on the faces of people whom I observe.

My family members and I have been guilty of scrolling through social media sites while sitting at a restaurant, but after I saw others recently at a local restaurant seemingly disengaged from their family members based on seeing very little verbal interaction between them, I decided that something needed to change.  I needed to model the behavior that I wished to see.  I think that I am an Effective Communicator, but I decided to really work on my verbal communication with my family and them with me.  I changed my behavior and stopped looking at my Smartphone at home and in restaurants during meal times.  While I was changing my habit, my school participated in some Professional Development that directly related to the topic of communication as a part of being a scholar.

In my school district, we are working toward designing personalized learning for our students.  I really like a Personalized Learned Profile that was developed by teachers in my district.  Recently my school’s teachers had an afternoon of PD where we analyzed the definitions of each of the descriptors on the PL Profile and had to defend which one we thought was most important.  At first, I leaned toward “Creative and Critical Thinkers” as being paramount, but I am now shifting toward “Effective Communicators” as being a characteristic that must be present if a person is to be able to do anything.  I have shared the definition on the PL Profile with my students and told them that we need to develop our verbal communication along with written and digital communication techniques.  Here is the PL Profile:

The image above and more information about Personalized Learning in my school district can be found here:

I am thrilled to have shared the Device Free Dinner Challenge, a national movement to promote talking at dinner time, not looking at a digital device, with my students during the past couple of weeks.  My thought was that something needed to change in our community to promote healthy and effective communication in families.  Common Sense Media has spearheaded the Device Free Dinner Challenge movement and provided directions on how it works at their website.   The Challenge consists of three parts:  commit as a family to put devices out of sight during dinner, have a “Device” basket to place the devices and engage in conversation with the family during dinner.

After I introduced the Challenge to my third, fourth and fifth graders, I have encouraged my students to share stories about how they have seen people using digital devices outside of school.  Here are some of them:

  1.  A child’s parent and the child were watching the child’s other sibling play ball one night recently, but the parent wasn’t watching.  The parent scrolled through Facebook the whole time until the end when the parent turned to the non playing child and said, “Honey, who won?”  Clearly, the parent was present but not really there.
  2. A child told me that at a recent 16th birthday party for her sister, a bunch of the 16 year old’s friends were on their phones and not talking.  They were in the same big great room of the house, but were texting each other based on the “dings” that were heard by the child.  The child went upstairs to get the family’s cat then brought the cat down to the others.  The party goers put their phones down and wanted to  focus on the cat.  The cat made them talk.
  3. Many children told me that while they eat dinner, their parent or siblings are frequently on the phone looking at something such as Facebook while the family is eating.  Children reported that they did not feel like the parent who was focused on the phone was not really paying attention to the child.  Sometimes when the child kept trying to talk to the parent or a sibling who was preoccupied with the phone, it made the parent or sibling irritated and they responded, finally, with an aggravated comment like, “What?”
  4. One child told me that her mom travels a lot so they will often Face Time her while they are eating dinner at the child’s house so that the mom can “be” with the family at dinner.  I think this is an appropriate way to use the digital device.
  5. Most students had observed people on their phones at restaurants and noticed how that the phone placed a barrier in communication between people sitting at the same booth or table.
  6. Several students said, “My mom/dad is constantly on Facebook.  Every time we eat, s/he is looking at their phone.”
  7. One child told about a restaurant in another state where she visited last summer that had “Device” baskets at each table to promote conversation at the table with the actual people who were sitting there.
  8. Many kids expressed the idea that they like it when their parents talk to them about their day or go around the table telling one positive thing and one negative thing that happened during the day.  They understand that time is limited with seeing their families and have a desire to enjoy their time together.
  9. A few students told me that they had already started the Device Free Dinner Challenge and they liked that the devices were put away.
  10. Some students told me that their parents have always had the policy of “No Devices at the Table” even before the Device Free Dinner Challenge.

I also had promoted the Device Free Dinner Challenge at my school’s Art and Cultural Fair on a Tuesday night recently while standing next to a special bulletin board that I had created about the Challenge.  Parents gave me excellent feedback and thought it was a great idea.  Some even told me that they already don’t allow devices at the dinner table.  I handed out the Family Commitment sheet that I had copied on brightly colored sheets of paper.  In more than one instance, a family member took the sheet, looked at their spouse and replied, “He/She really needs this!” and laughed.  I think that people realize that it has just become the norm to have phones out at dinner time but that is probably shouldn’t be commonplace.  I also shared with parents some conversation starters to share at the table to promote development of healthy relationships.


As I introduced the Challenge to each third, fourth and fifth grade class when I saw their class for Technology Special Area Class which accounts for close to 600 students at my school,  I also gave each child a mini family commitment sheet from Common Sense Media to take home.  They would share the Challenge with their family to let them know that they are working on being effective communicators.

I had already sent every K-5 teacher a blurb about the Challenge which they sent to every family on their email distribution list.  This is what I wrote in the blurb:

K-5 Teachers:

Please copy and paste the following message in your weekly email to your students’ parents in your weekly email:

This message is from our Technology Teacher, Lisa Maples:

Have you heard about the Device Free Dinner Challenge?  It’s a movement to balance technology use and promote healthy relationships in families.  The Today Show on NBC did a report on this topic on Jan.25, 2017 found at this link:
Some experts say technology has created a culture of obsession and addiction. TODAY’s Sheinelle Jones shares a look at the partnership between NBC Universal’s …
The Challenge encourages families to have conversations with each other around the dinner table and commit to placing devices in a basket away from the table along with turning off the TV so they can just focus on each other.  By listening to each other talk about their day, they would continue to build strong relationships and contribute to the overall health of their children.  The American Academy of Pediatrics supports this challenge.  Researchers have also found that when kids eat dinner with their families, it leads to happy and healthy children, improved academic performance and fewer problems with behavior or substance abuse.
I have placed a link below which shows how the Challenge works. If you’d like to participate in the Device Free Dinner Challenge, print out the challenge and share it with your family.  Family members can sign their name and commit to putting away devices during Dinner time so that conversation can flow!
Research has proven that family dinner is good for kids.  Hands down. How often can you take your nightly family dinner and make it one percent better than the

Family Conversation Starters for Dinner Time can be found in a free downloadable pdf at this website:

Having a hard time getting kids to open up about their day? These free printable family conversation starters will get kids talking and laughing as family.

While my family and I have had dinner together at restaurants and at home in the past two weeks, we have participated in the Device Free Dinner Challenge.  I have felt that we had excellent conversation and paid attention to each word even more than we had done when we allowed phones at the table.  All I know is that I want to enjoy my time with my family and friends.  I feel devalued and not important when any of them pay more attention to their device than to me.  Children need to feel that they are valued as do adults.  They are growing up in a time when everyone around them appears to be engrossed in something on the Smartphone. I want them to have my attention.  They deserve it.  I am celebrating today because I have been present and not distracted by technology while with my family!

Watch this video from Common Sense Media to see how the Device Basket is used to put away devices before dinner:

Have you tried the Device Free Dinner Challenge?  Believe me, you will see a positive effect at the dinner table!

STEAM it up!

In Spring of 2015, I was awarded a $3,000 STEAM focused grant in which students learned to code robotic Sphero Balls and use Lego Story Maker Kits to build scenes which they used in digital storytelling projects.  The Charlotte Hornets, Lowes and Fox Sports provided this grant to me as a part of their Teacher Innovation Grant.  I have been so thankful for these resources.  I decided to share my reflections on my work with my 2nd – 5th grade students in this blog post.


Students need opportunities to tinker, learn to code and create projects as a part of Project Based Learning (PBL). My two ideas to engage students in PBL gave them the opportunity to experience learning with the following eight components: significant content, a need to know, a driving question, student voice and choice, 21st Century Competencies, In Depth Inquiry, critique and revision and a public audience. They needed materials with which to build and to code. My project had two components: Coding with Sphero Robotic Balls and Digital Storytelling with Lego Storymaker Kits.

Students in my school have participated in the worldwide Hour of Code for the past three Decembers using resources at I wanted for students to have the ability to write the code to see a three dimensional object follow their commands. The resources at have been a good foundation for my students along with apps such as Daisy the Dinosaur and Legos Fix the Factory, however, I wanted to provide additional real world opportunities to create code. Students would work together to develop commands for the Sphero balls and cause them to run through mazes using coding apps on the iPads. I accomplished my goals of having my fourth and fifth grade students think like a computer programmer and articulate the process of coding the Sphero balls.
The Legos Storymaker project was innovative because it provided a way for students to design a beginning, middle and end of a story using Lego scenes then write about their stories. Students developed narratives and wrote text to go along with scenes from their Lego story settings. They published the narratives in creative ways through Google Slide Presentations and in Pic Collage creations on the iPads. I reached my goals of providing a creative way for students to construct a story in a collaborative setting and then be able to use the image of their Lego story as they wrote and typed about their stories.

In my role as the K-5 Technology Teacher at my school, I love to engage my students using innovative apps and projects that require researching and development of digital stories. The Sphero and Lego Storymaker Projects allowed me to take my students into deep thinking projects where in order to succeed, they had to communicate thoughts verbally and in writing, collaborate in teams, critically think as they brainstormed solutions and developed digital stories after building with Legos, and created projects that showed the world that they are 21st Century Learners.

I used the Sphero robots with 200 4th graders and 230 5th graders. The Sphero robotics ball project impacted students because it provided a way for students to see what it feels like to be a coder/computer programmer. There will be a shortage of computer programmers in the next 10 years according to recent data published at My exposure to coding through the Sphero robots excited students to learn to code in an inviting fashion. Getting to work in collaboration with other students to make a Sphero Chariot go through a maze also allowed students to problem solve using a Driving Question such as “How can you save the monster using your Sphero robot?”. Students began to realize the value of discussing commands for the Tickle app that would accomplish their group goals and reach a target where they were supposed to go through a maze that they had created and then “save” a monster. They were able to come to my class for additional classes to allow them time to develop their ideas, test their programs in the Tickle app and make adjustments to reach their goal.

I used Lego StoryMaker kits with 200 2nd Graders 230 3rd Graders. The third grade students brainstormed on graphic organizers their beginning, middle and ends of their Lego collaborative stories and are in the process now of typing their stories in Google Slides. Each student will also revise and self-assess his or her Lego story creation using the following rubric:

Assessment Rubric for Lego Fiction Story

Writing Process: Student devotes a lot of time and effort to the writing process (prewriting, drafting, reviewing, and editing). Works hard to make the story wonderful.

Introduction: First paragraph has a “grabber” or catchy beginning.

Characters: The main characters are named and clearly described in text and most readers could describe the characters accurately.

Creativity: The story contains many creative details and/or descriptions that contribute to the reader’s enjoyment. The author has really used his imagination.

Setting: Many vivid, descriptive words are used to tell when and where the story took place.

Pace: Individual scenes are easy to follow, make sense, and moves the story along at an appropriate pace.

Organization: The story is very well organized. One idea or scene follows another in a logical sequence with clear transitions.

Dialogue: There is an appropriate amount of dialogue to bring the characters to life and it is always clear which character is speaking.

Spelling/Punctuation: There are no spelling or punctuation errors in the final draft. Character and place names that the author invented are spelled consistently throughout.

Proper formatting: Title, name, and paragraphs are present and used properly.

Assessment Citation:


I have shared my lesson ideas on Twitter where I am a part of a global Professional Learning Network using my Twitter handle of @edu_maples. On Feb. 17, 2016, I shared an Animoto video ( that I had created in honor of Digital Learning Day showing my third graders involved in building with the Lego Story Maker kits and creating stories about their Lego scenes on iPads within the Google Slides app. On Dec.8, 2015, I shared on Twitter a link to a You Tube video ( which I made of fourth and fifth graders programming the Sphero robots using the Tickle app to navigate the Spheros through mazes which they had created. These videos show many examples of how students learned to code, to collaborate, to creatively think and plan and to design their own innovative paths with the Spheros and to design Lego stories.

Kindergarten and First Grade students did not participate in these projects, but they are very excited about doing them next year as I repeat the projects that I did this year. They could see the Legos kits out around my class and the Sphero robot balls which caused great excitement for them!

Learning to code Sphero balls allowed 4th and 5th grade students to work in teams to build Sphero chariots that they maneuvered through mazes using iPads using the Tickle app while revising their work through trial and error. They had to critically think as they problem solved in groups and programmed the Spheros to reach their destination. Students communicated with small groups as they built Lego Story Scenes using the kits. They built their scenes in groups of three and decide on the plot of the story, characters, setting, etc. using special spinners to help guide their thought process. They uploaded photos of their scenes to their Google Drive Accounts and inserted the images into individual Google Slide Presentations which they used to plan a fictional story on a graphic organizer.

The third graders are in the process of finishing the typing of their Lego Stories and revising/editing with a Lego Story Rubric. I am also still working with CMS Technology leaders to get the StoryMaker software downloaded onto the computers and iPads at my school. Second and Third graders published Lego Storymaker projects in Google Slides and in the Pic Collage app even though my original idea of publishing on the StoryMaker software did not occur just yet.  I had planned originally on having third graders upload their images to the Lego StoryMaker software, but have had some difficulty in getting it uploaded on to CMS School computers. I am in the process of working with CMS engineers to figure out how to make this happen. I think that there are multiple ways to share their Lego scenes so using Google Slides and Pic Collage have been perfect ways to have students share their scenes and create written stories. I plan to use the StoryMaker software in the future.

In order to accommodate all of the 4th and 5th Grade classes and allow them ample time to learn to program the Spheros, I had to work with each of the 4th and 5th grade teachers to have students come to see me for additional class times. I worked with the PE teachers who allowed me to use their gym space for students to have more room to spread out and create obstacle courses for their Sphero balls to move through. I also realized that since I only see each class for 40 minutes every 8 school days, I had to give third graders time to play with the Legos and generate their group stories then invite them back for extra class times. I had to show them how to take pictures with iPads and upload the images to their Google Accounts which is a multistep process. Once the images were in their Google Drive accounts, they had to plan their stories and begin the process of adding text boxes, speech bubbles, transitions, etc. I had to have them plan their stories with me in follow up classes which prolonged the project.

Students have been extremely engaged with planning their stories and using their plans to type. I have been excited to see their enthusiasm for this project. In addition, I realized that students in 2nd grade would not need to have to upload their Lego story scene images to Google due to how long it took 3rd graders. I had them build one scene then upload the scene to the Pic Collage app on the iPad which they then used to type descriptive phrases and arguments about why someone would not need to destroy a bird’s habitat and not cut down trees that were depicted in their Lego scenes. They have been able to successfully follow all directions and save their images to the Camera Roll of the iPad all in the 40 minutes when I see them.

I think in the future, I will have the third graders plan their stories immediately following my class when they return to their homeroom classes using graphic organizers while their collaborative stories are fresh on their minds. Allowing them to “play” with the Legos and use the Lego StoryMaker Spinners that came with the eight kits has been a great way to allow creativity to flourish. I have heard many students show their excitement and enthusiasm for developing their Lego story which provided momentum as they became writers of their individual stories. I love that students didn’t just have to draw pictures on a graphic organizer, but had been able to think with group mates about the content of a fictional story and build it with Legos. Students in 2nd and 3rd Grade loved to get to tinker with the Legos and use them as a basis to communicate later in writing in their Google Slide Presentations and in their Pic Collage Digital Storytelling projects.

I made a video and uploaded it to You Tube in hopes of having the Tickle App award our school with a drone which students would use to program. The link to the “Hour of Code with Tickle App and Spheros” video is here:


I created an Animoto video to highlight how my third graders used Lego Story Maker kits as a part of the 2016 Digital Learning Day!


I created an Animoto video to show second graders being Makers and Thinkers as they used the Lego Story Maker Kits and the Pic Collage app to design posters of why we should not cut down trees. This occurred during the week of Earth Day 2016!

I have included a final collection of images which showcase how students in third grade have created Google Slide Presentations about their Lego scenes. Click on the hyperlink below to see the Animoto video with images!  

Lego Digital Storytelling

iCARE…Do You?

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How would you feel if your friends were rating you online?  Should there be more conversations in schools to promote appropriate use of technology outside of school?  Using social media requires a degree of respect, however, some tweens and teens are  rating each other in certain apps, hiding inappropriate images that have been circulated among students in what appears to be an innocent Calculator app just in case mom checks their phone, circulating, in social media, racially insensitive memes and trying to outdo each other in images that they post of themselves which show little amounts of clothing or none.
As a K-5 Technology Teacher, I have a character education idea to give a common dialogue about promoting caring, respectful and responsible interactions among students in our schools as an expansion of digital literacy.  In an effort to build upon a culture of caring and respect at the Elementary level, I developed a character acronym to guide students when posting online.  iCARE is the acronym which stands for
Using the words in the iCARE acronym, values of a caring, respect and responsibility could be promoted in schools.  By using iCARE as the platform, opportunities could be provided through service projects and in interactions in classrooms and throughout the school to build an expectation of CARING and RESPECT which will hopefully spill over into out of school interactions, especially online.  iCARE allows a dialogue to exist between students to build an expectation of respect in all interactions including online behavior.

While in person and online, students encounter each other and develop ways to communicate.  In order to promote self worth and self esteem, iCARE spotlights ways to communicate face to face and online with respect.  Too often, students have disrespected themselves by posting inappropriate images of themselves or others, belittled others through rude comments (Ex.  TBR – To Be Rude which often precedes an ill spirited text or online posting) and seem to not care about the long term ramifications of their actions especially as it relates to racially charged texts and memes which perpetuate a lack of respect for various ethnic groups.  It is time to take action and raise the bar.  We have expectations for behavior at school already, however, iCARE gives a place to gauge interactions as respectful or not and provides opportunities for students to discuss how to change outcomes into respectful ones.

iCARE could build on Character Traits by having students celebrate ways that their classmates communicate and respectfully encounter each other at school or in social media. For example, in January, the traits that we focus on in my school are Justice and Fairness.  Classes could talk about how they see people being treated fairly and unfairly by pointing to examples in the media.  Teachers could show examples of how kids have not been treated fairly by other students online and have students brainstorm ways to change the tone to a respectful one.  Students would decide how they would encounter the same situation online and what they could do to promote respect.

During February, students could examine situations of how to be a responsible citizen by creating hearts on paper which would have examples written on the hearts of how they are responsible, respectful and caring in online and face to face encounters with others.   Schools could add to an online social media outlet like Twitter to share compliments of how people have been respectful, responsible and caring with the hashtag:  #iCARE.

In March, students could focus on Courage or doing the right thing when others aren’t.  iCARE conversations in classrooms would again spotlight ways to be courageous.  Students could take the iCARE Pledge to promise to communicate and respectfully encounter others in person and online AND focus on examining how their choices online are courageous or cowardly.  Teachers could have students examine ways to be courageous if online sharing in Social Media puts others down or tears down their reputation.  Teachers could talk about how students who put others down are sometimes just seeking ways to build themselves up but are going about it all wrong.  Students could brainstorm the following scenarios:

Brainstorm acceptable ways to communicate courageously.


Brainstorm respectful interactions and projects to empower people.


Brainstorm ways to respect ourselves and those who do not look like us.


Brainstorm ways to not perpetuate stereotypes.


Brainstorm how to give “likes” for sharing appropriate information online instead of seeking to “one up” someone and put a riskier image or meme online.  Discuss apps to build a sense of community instead of oversharing inappropriate topics for tween and teens.


In April, our spotlighted trait is Perseverance.  This could be a time to think about continuing the traits and persevering to make a difference in the lives of others.  Students could show that they care by developing iCare school projects to target how to help others such as tutoring, volunteering and community service.


In May, the character focus trait is Hope.  We could end the school year by sharing stories how students have had hope when they have seen others choose to communicate and respectfully encounter others.  Students could nominate each other for iCARE Awards where they would outline how other students have demonstrated character traits while communicating respectfully face to face and in online interactions with others.


I would like to have students design an iCARE Tee Shirt for our community.  A portion of the proceeds from each school could go to fund a service project such as the Servants With a Heart food preparation for hungry families in Charlotte and Nicaragua or to fund another charity.  My school’s students packed 50,160 food packages in September of 2015 for Servants With a Heart which had a huge impact on students and their ability to make a difference.  I blogged about that experience here.
This could be the beginning of a movement to usher in a culture of caring in other schools too.  iCARE…Do you?


On September 11, 2015, my school’s 1,100 plus students participated in a service project.  We worked with Servants With A Heart, a nonprofit group which provides raw materials for people to put together into bags of beans, rice and vitamins which will be given out to people who need it in my home town and in poverty stricken communities in Nicaragua.  A generous gift was given to our school to allow our students to participate in this project.  Students came into the gym at assigned times and each had jobs along an assembly line to put together, weigh and pack the food bags.  Our students packed just over 50,000 bags of food!  There are already plans to raise money to host another food packing session for the 2016-2017 school year!  It was absolutely amazing to see adults and children working alongside each other to accomplish a goal that would make a direct impact on other children in our area and in another part of the world!

This service project has allowed students to work together to make a difference in the world.  Some of my first graders used the app called Super Duper Story Maker Free to draw a picture and write a sentence about the project.  Fourth Graders described how they made a mark on the World during the Dot Day Observance Week in mid September by designing special dots that described how they put the food bags together.  They used an Augmented Reality app called Quiver to hover over the Dot and cause it to pop out and spin while looking at it on the iPads.  They loved being able to describe what they did and how they’ve made a big impact on the world.  Fourth Graders have also been creating Google Spreadsheets on poverty figures by county in my state from 2012 to 2013.  They are opening their eyes to differences in rates and speculating about what could have caused decreases or increases in county poverty rates.

Recently, I came across the Kid President Video above where he calls us all to action, to open our eyes to the problem of poverty and world hunger and to do whatever we can to end poverty and hunger.  I plan to share his video with my fourth graders and ask them to analyze what makes him persuasive.  Next, I will ask them to develop their own digital presentation in the form of a public service announcement where they will describe how to make a big impact on the world by being a digital citizen.  These are the days when students need to have opportunities to participate in service projects and in creating digital projects that call others to action.  The digital creation which they create will be done using a platform such as We Video or iMovie where students will provide images and cite their image sources.  The purpose of their public service announcement videos will be to cause others to consider elements of digital citizenship when communicating in online environments.  Students may not be able to end world hunger or online bullying, but they can get others to notice that they can make a difference in the words that they choose to say online, when sharing personal information online and when citing their work.

Kid President asked us to open our eyes to what is happening in the world concerning world hunger and poverty.  I will ask my students to open their eyes to how they can be influential role models when creating online digital projects and when they communicate online.  The Kid President video gives us a great act to follow when making our own digital citizenship videos.  My students will enter their digital public service announcement projects into a district contest where they will have opportunities to win robots for our school.  I am excited about the collaboration that will exist among students as they develop storyboards for their digital citizenship projects, communicate by writing scripts and create their public service announcements by putting their ideas together!  We will begin these projects during late October which is Digital Citizenship Month and Connected Educator Month!

Another great resource on Digital Citizenship can be found at the following website:  What will you do to celebrate and open students’ eyes to the importance of having traits of a digital citizen?

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