Digital Learning News Brief

December 2, 2014

Digital Learning Spotlight: Authentic Student Tasks and Products

Karen Sanchez at North Richland Middle School differentiates Science instruction by offering choice boards to students when they are given assignments that require them to demonstrate mastery of standards.

Ke'Andra chose to create a media project in which she played the role of both news anchor and field reporter as she explained different concepts related to plant and animal cells.

Brianna showed her creativity by composing original lyrics and choreographing her performance in a music video in which she explains concepts related to plant and animal cells.

When students have choice in demonstrating mastery it is evident that engagement increases and students are more likely to recall detail in learning and apply that learning in the future. -Karen Sanchez, 7th Grade Science

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Twitter Chat, Tonight from 8:00-8:30 PM

Join us tonight, December 2nd to discuss Best Practices for Digital Learning.

Tonight we will consider these three questions that focus on Blended Learning Environments:

  1. What have you heard about blended learning environments?
  2. How can teachers and students benefit from a blended learning environment?
  3. What training or support do you need to implement blended learning?

According to the Clayton Christensen Institute, "Blended learning involves leveraging the Internet to afford each student a more personalized learning experience, meaning increased student control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of his or her learning."

Project Innovate - iPads for Teachers!

Starting in January, teachers can personalize their innovations with their own teacher iPad Mini. To receive yours, sign up for a brief training where you will receive your iPad immediately. Registration links will be published in a December Digital Learning News Brief. The first 100 to sign up and complete their training will also receive $15 credit for instructional apps.

Holiday Websites and Resources, from

No matter which holidays you choose to celebrate, December is a wonderful time of year. Make sure your students and staff are all in the holiday spirit with some of these fun websites below.

While studying a holiday tradition, person, or event, have your students jump over to the Trading Card Creator to create an informational card. You can create one for a fictional person, real person, fictional place, real place, physical object, event, abstract object, or design your own. When done, you can save it as a PDF and/or email it. There's also a free iPad app and one for Android, too.

Make-A-Flake allows you to virtually cut folded paper and preview the snowflake. Whether you have students create a flake and then write a story of the flake's travels or whether you have them incorporate specific mathematical features (rhombus, triangle, etc.), this site will be the start of holiday fun.

Scholastic offers interactives, lesson plans, recommended books, and more for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

This site, 10 Little Snowmen, offers a cute game that lets young students practice their reading while they help build their own snowman. Kids can select a hat, scarf, set of eyes, nose, and more to create the perfect snowman. When he is complete, there is a special snowman song to help celebrate.

See what two of Santa's reindeer are doing with their 24-hour video cam. You can even see Santa feed the reindeer several times a day.

Find lots of different Hanukkah activities, stories, videos, and more at this website from

Norad offers a tracking system for Santa Claus and is presented in a high-tech animated program and Google Earth. It includes a Kids' Countdown Village with a new holiday game every day until December 24. It is also available on your mobile device with apps for both Android and iOS.

As always, don't forget about checking out YouTube for videos about the different holidays. You'll find Elmo explaining Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Use the ten activities at Holidays Around the World to help your students learn about customs of the season in different cultures. Brief descriptions accompany each lesson, and appropriate grade levels for each activity appear in parentheses. Click any lesson headline for a complete teaching lesson plan.

You can find more ideas on different Pinterest boards, including this one for Hanukkah, one for Kwanzaa, and this one for Christmas. All of these focus on educational activities for the holidays.

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Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. ~Larry Wilde