School Year Podium: Tech Top Three

When I think about using technology in my classroom, I never want the chromebook to be an expensive pencil. How can I help my students experience collaborative learning that gives them a voice, and is authentic? How can I help them own their learning, and to think more deeply in more complex ways?

This year we began by organizing our Google drive into folders for long-term success in CISD. Over the course of the year we used many technology tools to leverage our learning, including Google Slides and Canva to create Word Study presentations, JamBoard to record stop & jots during reading, and the Clips app to create videos for our drama unit, bring their scriptwriting to life. We also used Book Creator in an unconventional way to write and produce book club podcasts, and Flip to prepare for STAAR academic vocabulary.

Effective digital learning is not determined by how the teacher uses technology, but how the learners use technology. These are our top three we used to learn:


Clips is an app found in the Apple store, so we used our campus iPad cart for this assignment. Working in groups, students chose a scene from our Read Aloud and converted the scene to script form. They were given 5 days of class time to write and record their scene. Once they began, they realized very quickly that if they wanted their work to match their imaginations, they would need to make costumes and props at home. This extra work I was delighted to see without any ‘homework’ assigned from school. Any extra editing they also completed at home on their own devices. We enjoyed watching our book come to life, and we loved seeing our peers on the big screen! Writing can be powerful and fun!


Flip was probably the kids’ favorite. Out of almost fifty STAAR commonly used vocabulary words, each student was assigned 2 or 3 to teach any way they wanted using Flip. They posted their word onto their class Flip page, and it then became their responsibility to watch their classmates’ posts and take notes on the remaining 40+ words they were not assigned. After watching a few that were very well made, some students opted to re-do their work.

I’m glad they enjoyed the assignment, and it definitely made a boring topic more exciting. But on the teacher side, it was a little more time consuming than I planned. I needed to watch every video/lesson for accuracy (but also to ensure they were all appropriate). Next time I might disable comments.


Aren’t the best discoveries sometimes accidents? After attending the campus Technology Coach training where we were introduced to Book Creator, I immediately saw what it could offer with its audio capabilities. At the time, I was brainstorming how best to set up podcasting for one hundred 5th graders. I loved how all the viewer initially sees on this app is the book cover. What if my book clubs created their cover, but then instead of creating a book…they recorded their conversations about the book?

It worked great! The app is very intuitive, and each book club was able to shelve their recording with the others in their class. Every 5th grader had access to each shelf, so each class could see everyone else’s work in our LC. I think this added to overall quality, as they knew they would be watched by their peers. Hands down, my favorite way we used technology this year!

‘A’ for Authenticity

Today I worked on my ePortfolio for the first time since completing the ADL program. It has been a strange experience, and uncomfortable. Dr.H was very intentional throughout the program on insisting that we have choice, and that our innovation plan should fit the needs of our community. At every opportunity he told us that our ePortfolio belonged to us. I can still hear him saying via Zoom…”It’s yours, make it work for you!”

Yet, honestly, I was in grad school. There was a rubric. I would receive a grade. I was earning a degree.

Today, I’m not. For the first time, It truly became completely mine. What direction will I take my innovation plan? How will everything I’ve learned fit into the the true needs of my learning community?

After that initial fear, I realized I really do have everything in place that I need. I made a few minor tweaks, revised my proposal, and am gearing up with my small team of influencers. Because I learned with the COVA approach, I can now move forward in the learning process and perpetuate choice, ownership, voice, and authenticity for more learners to come.

Final Answers

This program has clarified pieces of visions I’ve had for a while, and given me a map on how to reach goals for my students, my school, and my district. I now have the language and leverage to conduct better conversations and execute plans that I know will help our students become the digital learners and leaders that THEY need to be for a future we can’t even yet imagine. 

Q: What has worked for you?

A: What truly does work is the COVA framework. This final discussion post and synthesis process of our entire learning is proof of that. I’ve been putting together this last piece for my ePortfolio, and as I reflect back on the choices I’ve made in this entire program, my voice is even now being shaped as in this authentic process I am realizing all I have done. 

Q: What can you improve upon?

A: Now that I have worked through a two year loop in my LC, I know that I can always plan better. Continual experience will recursively aid in better planning.

Q: What lessons have you learned?

A: I have learned so much… but the most important lesson is that I don’t have to know it all, that the whole point is THIS. That I will always be learning. The strengths I gain along the way will make my journey moving forward easier, and weaknesses will remain my teacher.

But also, I’ve learned the importance of collaboration and finding “my” people.

Q: Where are you looking to anticipate change?

A: I am asking next year to take over the GT work on our campus. I theorize that if I work with a smaller cohort, our work has a greater possibility of success. 

Q: What is the diversity measure of your network?

A: In one way, the level of intellectual diversity is limited as I am still looking for specific stakeholders that are “disruptive ready”. I understand Torres’s point here is that great leaders are able to work and experience success with a diverse set of people, which in some ways I don’t see as relevant in initiatives such as mine. ALL are welcome, and I do believe that as far as race and culture is concerned, my personal diversity measure is strong.

Q: Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?

A: Yes! Let’s do it. I’m so ready to apply the gas, but am not in that clutch position. YET.


I remember reading through the program map on Dr. H’s ePortfolio when I started my first course, 5303. I cobbled together each assignment on Google Sites and didn’t even really understand the titles of the other courses that lay ahead of me. Now, looking at that list of familiar topics is astounding. 

I decided to pursue this degree plan because it seemed, in 2020, that we desperately needed help on how best to teach in an online environment. I learned so much more than I could have imagined. Learning theory, inquisitiveness, and self-directed learning I now see as obvious foundations to any education initiative. Understanding the importance of having an organizational change strategy and being prepared with quality instructional design are absolutely necessary when talking about online and blended learning, especially when doing so effectively brings change to an organization. Our innovation plans will only happen if we work within our professional learning networks initiating crucial conversations as we create new cultures of learning in significant environments that are fostered through the use of ePortfolios.  

Somehow, one step at a time, with a cohort I’m honored to be a part of, we did it. We constructed all of that knowledge. On this side of the process, it’s almost more astounding to see how it all actively fits together. Every single thing I learned fit into my personal practice, and intuitively led me to where I needed to go next with my innovation plan. The instructional design of THIS curriculum was well thought out, if only visible upon completion.

And upon completion, the learning is visible here. THIS construction serves as the ultimate Bloom’s example of higher order thinking. Here we have created, evaluated, and are now analyzing. It’s the ultimate in applying digital learning.

Resources in Digital Environments

In the digital environment of this course, I have been in a unique position to reap all possible rewards. Through most of my learning journey in the ADL program, I have worked with Allison Palmer, Pedro Beltran, and Brianna Rodriguez. We discovered what each of our strengths are, and learned to work together leveraging those strengths. My strength is writing, so I took the lead in most of our drafting. The publication that Allison submitted was a piece focusing on ePortfolios as assessment that we edited for her. Pedro and Brianna’s was similar, with a focus on blended learning. As ePortfolios fits under the umbrella of blended learning, this wasn’t a stretch for us as a team of four to edit and collaborate.

At the same time, I had been working through a draft of another piece that included ideas I’ve been playing around with for a while during this program. After formalizing that draft, I shared it with Jane Ngyuen and Tamara Sanford – two colleagues that I met in my very first DLL course in October of 2020. To have the opportunity to look at how far we have all come since that time was a gift. I enjoyed reading their work and collaborating with them again during the writing portion of this course.

For the podcast, I again played around with old and new. My previous work with Allison, Pedro, and Brianna was too good not to include in my ePortfolio, as it includes a conversation with Dr. Harapnuik.

This Spring as I encountered the directives for the podcast anew, I considered how I might conduct one in my own learning environment. I invited 4 key stakeholders in my district to participate in a conversation on our gifted and talented program in this district and how technology effects that program. More than a quality product, it was a strategic move for continuing to invite my colleagues to look at how we are providing all learners in our district with choice, ownership, and voice in an authentic way.