Tech Talk 113

Fall Edition, 2019

Media Literacy: Resources for Teaching Critical Thinking

What it means to be "literate" has changed now that we are living in such a media-rich world. An important responsibility we have as educators to help raise up critical thinkers who can make sense of print, images, video and audio that they see in the world around them. To make sure we're able to meet this responsibility, we must, as educators increase our own media literacy as well.


Deepfake videos is a topic I've personally been learning more about. They are made by using artificial intelligence (AI) to alter a video of a person (often a celebrity) so that it appears they are doing and saying things the original video did not contain. Read more about why you should understand deepfake video technology and teach students to be aware of it in the article from Common Sense Media below.


Common Sense Media has lots of other resources for teaching students digital citizenship in all areas including being a critical consumer of digital media. I've also included below a link to a video-based lesson for grades 10-12 about exploring newspaper bias.


They also have materials to share with families like the K-5 family tip sheet I added below for engaging parents to help students learn to spot fake news. You could share the link with families or use the side button to make paper copies to share. (Sending home a week-at-a-glance with a blank back-side? Consider copying some tip sheets on there!)


Every educator should do their part to help our students become critical consumers of digital information! Are you doing your part?

Checks for Understanding: Gathering Data for Decision Making While You Teach

Ideas for Using Technology to Check Student Understanding

Here's a great article by Caitlin Tucker with ideas for using technology to check for student understanding during instruction. Caitlin Tucker is one of my Twitter contacts that I get some great ideas from! If you aren't on Twitter and want some help getting started, reach out and I'd love to help you get started!


Another important tool that teachers in USD 113 have at their disposal for checking for understanding is Nearpod! A tip I've shared with several people is to take time to create a Nearpod lesson in your library that is general enough to be reused over and over with a variety of teacher inputs. For example, I have a Nearpod lesson that is nothing more than 5 Draw It! slides that I can ask students to join. The prompt for each slide says "Answer your teacher's question here." I can put a question on the white board, I can ask a question verbally, or I can show a picture with my projector to act as the prompt (remember...with Nearpod, the teacher doesn't have to use a projector). The Draw It! option allows students to enter a written answer with the drawing/writing tools, OR type using a textbox tool OR even add a photo response using the iPad camera. So a student could even copy a problem on paper, work it out with traditional paper and pencil, then snap a photo to submit to the teacher to see in the Draw It! activity. Starting the Nearpod lesson in student-paced mode would give you the option to have it be a center or station activity that students did or simply a place for students to answer 5 questions at their own pace once you've given them the prompts to follow. Let me know if you'd like to experiment with this with support! I'd love to help out!

Five Ways to Turn a Worksheet into a Collaborative Critical-Thinking Activity

Angela Watson is a blogger I respect and find value from reading. She blogs at The Cornerstone for Teachers about practical classroom management and also has a podcast called Truth for Teachers described like this: "Each Sunday, a new short episode is released to speak life, encouragement, and truth into the minds and hearts of educators."


A recent blog post gave ideas for turning a traditional worksheet into a more engaging activity that encourages speaking and listening, collaboration and more. Read the post by clicking this link. I thought this might be a great activity for taking some of our tried and true resources and making them better meet our district goal of increasing student engagement! Let me know if you try it out!

A Social Media Simulation to Help Young (and not so young) People Learn Digital Citizenship Skills

Social Media Test Drive is a new resource I've seen and experimented with that is designed for those who are not yet using social media or new users of social media. It promotes positive digital citizenship habits that can make a social media experience much more positive. Modules Title are: (Read descriptions at this link.)


  • How to be an Upstander
  • Is it Private Information
  • Shaping your Digital Footprint
  • Online Identities
  • Social Media Privacy
  • News in Social Media



The tool, which works on any device, starts with a short overview lesson, then interactive guided activities that simulate a social media feed with "hotspots" for clicking on, and even an independent activity that allows users to simulate how they'd respond to a real social media account. Though it is geared for young people new to using social media (probably geared for grades 5 - 8), I learned some things myself! It would even be a great resource to share with families to promote doing together. Check it out!


Are you passionate about Digital Citizenship? Celebrate October as Digital Citizenship Month and consider the #DigCitCommit campaign. Great resources at this link: digcitcommit.org