I’m in the beautiful state of Missouri at the 2015 METC in St. Charles. The #METC15 folks do a great job of creating a very positive learning environment centered around the idea of technology integration. So a good time for me to share some ideas and gather new stuff from others.

(I’ll be live blogging here throughout the day so be sure to refresh for most recent version.)

One bone to pick? Internet access is less than perfect. Way less than perfect. But I feel your pain – tech conference and internet can often be difficult to pull off.

I spent this morning working with about 50 educators during a two hour hands-on session. We discussed specific tech tools that can help integrate literacy skills into social studies instruction.

metc15 session

I always enjoy the longer sessions because we get the opportunity to share ideas and talk more with one another. It’s not just some sort of 45 minute app showdown. We focused on Google Earth and its very cool Historical Imagery widget, Padlet as a collaborative document analysis tool, and Canva as a digital storytelling site.

The idea? We want kids to mess with a compelling question by analyzing and evaluating evidence – then create a solution that addresses the problem. Each of the three tools aligns to a specific part of that sort of C4 Framework inquiry arc.

We also quickly discussed the iPad apps – Storehouse and Adobe Voice. Both are very sweet digital creation tools.

Find the presentation and links to the resources, examples, and handouts here.

After lunch, I sat in on a session by Nick Cusumano who shared ideas of using Google Tools to focus on close reading into a variety of content areas. Some helpful ideas here. I liked his idea of using Google Forms, the DocAppender add-on tool, and the EdPuzzle add-on to gather the thinking of his students.

Following Nick’s session, Shannon and Parker and Jennifer Gosnell shared a variety of ideas for doing teacher professional learning. Get their presentation here. And this is not necessarily all applicable for classroom teachers with their kids but there is some stuff that you might find helpful

First rule of thumb? Focus on allowing teacher choice. It’s okay to design professional learning in a variety of ways including face to face, individual learning, on-demand / just in time learning. This is something that we should also be doing with our students.

Start by asking what they want – AND how they want it delivered – using Google Forms. A surprise for them? Very few of their teachers want things delivered via email. Kids are the same way. I love Remind for this.

I also like the idea of creating a YouTube channel for 30 second clips that highlight stuff teachers / kids need to know or be able to do. Their sample was 30 Seconds of Google by Greg Lawrence.

What about 30 Seconds of Historical Thinking? Modeling how to source a document or to how to contextualize a document in 30 short seconds? I like this idea.

Something else I liked for teachers was creating a one page textual summary of a tool or idea and posting that page in places where teachers hang out – such as on the copy machines or on the back of the faculty bathroom door. What might that look like for kids?

The last thing I liked was their Tech Smackdown using a tournament bracket idea.I have seen teachers use the bracket idea to battle historical characters or historical events. They also suggested using Speed Geeking. This format would also work well with kids to share research on specific topics – basically another way to jigsaw information. 

Last session of the afternoon? Media Literacy in the Digital Age by a guy named Bill Bass.

Question of the session? What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century? Media literacy has to be a part of that conversation. It’s no longer just about reading and writing text. But there are different definitions to the term.

But one way to think about media literacy is Bill’s quote:

It’s not about PowerPoint. It’s about presenting, convincing, persuading, explaining. It’s about evaluation. It’s about choices. And it doesn’t matter what class kids are in – this needs to be part of the conversation in every content.

Bill also suggests that the definition also includes the idea of responsible digital publishing, not just the creation of content. He suggests that we need to train our kids to create and publish online content that looks like this or like this.

So we need to train kids to effectively analyze content and appropriately produce / share content.

These are just the sorts of skills that we need to train our kids to be good at in the social studies. Sourcing. Contextualizing. Asking good questions about bias and perspectives. This perhaps one of the most difficult skills to develop is putting personal bias aside when asking these sorts of questions.

The new Zoom In tool and the Stanford History Education Group have great tools for training kids to do this. Bill just demo-ed a few images from the Boston Massacre – a perfect example of training kids to ask better questions. (Want to try this yourself? Head back to one of the earliest Tips of the Week ever.)

A few other places that Bill suggests:

Some good stuff and interesting conversations.


Long day. But powerful.