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Where learning, technology and community meet.









April 2017

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contents tm

April 2017 Volume three Issue four A quarterly magazine

Where learning, technology and community meet.

10 inquire

Maya Penn Student entrepreneur refuses to limit her list of titles, skills.

14 feature

Learning about learning Why research into the brain matters for educators.

28 feature

Role players Understanding the roles of tech, instructional coaches and how they are evolving.

20 cover Brave new media world What media literacy means in the age of alternative facts.




6 about us

7 invigorate

Changes coming to your member magazine

8 engage

Mobilizing the maker movement

39 dispatch 40 salute

Steve Isaacs Visionary teacher is passionate about amplifying student voice.



Advocating for edtech, testing our resolve

44 backstory

10 things everyone should do before 8 a.m.

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Where learning, technology and community meet.

executive editor Julie Phillips Randles chief marketing officer Tracee Aliotti contributor Tim Douglas contributor Jennifer Fink contributor Jennifer Snelling contributor Julie Sturgeon art director Sharon Adlis ad production manager Tracy Brown advertising sales manager Cici Trino 916.990.9999 iste board president Mila Thomas Fuller, Ed.D. Assistant Director of Online Learning University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Education iste immediate past president Kecia Ray, Ed.D. Executive Director Center for Digital Education

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) is the premier nonprofit organization serving educators and education leaders committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world. ISTE serves more than 100,000 education stakeholders throughout the world. ISTE’s innovative offerings include the ISTE Conference & Expo — the world’s most comprehensive ed tech event — as well as the widely adopted ISTE Standards for learning, teaching and leading in the digital age and a robust suite of professional learning resources, including webinars, online courses, consulting services for schools and districts, books and peer-reviewed journals and publications. For additional information, please visit and Our vision. The vision of ISTE is a world where all learners thrive, achieve and contribute. Our mission. As the creator and steward of the definitive education technology standards, ISTE’s mission is to empower learners to flourish in a connected world by cultivating a passionate professional learning community, linking educators and partners, leveraging knowledge and expertise, advocating for strategic policies and continually improving learning and teaching. Letters to the editor. Letters to the editor in response to content in entrsekt are welcomed. All letters will be edited for length and AP Style. Please send your 200-word letter to Copyright 2017 ISTE. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the publisher. Published April 2017.



Editorial guidelines. entrsekt’s articles are written in accordance with the magazine’s editorial guidelines, which may be found at Story ideas may be submitted to Articles published in entrsekt are edited for style, content and space prior to publication. Views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent ISTE policies or positions. Endorsement by ISTE of products or services advertised in entrsekt is not implied or expressed. Subscriptions. ISTE members receive entrsekt each quarter as a membership benefit. Nonmembers can subscribe to entrsekt for $49 per year. To subscribe, please visit or contact our customer service department by emailing or calling 800.336.5191. About entrsekt. entrsekt ISSN 2334-2587 (print), entrsekt ISSN 2334-2595 (online) is published quarterly by the International Society for Technology in Education, 1530 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209, USA. Periodicals postage paid at Portland, Oregon, and at additional mailing office. Send address changes to the ISTE membership department at 621 SW Morrison Street, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97205, USA.


Changes coming to your member magazine

photo by steve smith

Mila Thomas Fuller ISTE Board President

The iste board is committed to p u t t ing m e m be r s f ir st. That’s why I’m excited to share that we’ll be introducing the next generation of the iste member magazine, starting with the July 2017 issue. Look for changes to the name, a new look and refined content. These changes are geared toward making the magazine even more member friendly and member-centric. After an in-depth review process and a survey of members, we’ve selected the name Empowered Learner for the refreshed publication. This name reflects the iste ethos and emphasizes the important role of the educator to empower students – as well as themselves – as lifelong learners. The name is also a nod to the 2016 iste Standards for Students and emphasizes iste’s trajectory – it’s no longer about using the technology but rather empowering learners through edtech. The look and feel of the magazine is also changing. You’ll notice a smaller size and a design that’s friendly, accessible and clean. Features and columns will be labeled so readers can clearly

see what they’re in for and how it benefits their learning. Empowered Learner will also include direct connections to other iste communications channels and to iste pln s . When it comes to content, you’ll find a member-written column, a global column and a staff column, along with coverage of affiliates and advocacy efforts. In addition to the two feature articles you’re accustomed to, we’ve added a standards feature that will offer clear, practical tips, advice and strategies for implementing the iste Standards in the classroom. Other new sections include a member crowd-sourced infographic, and a compilation of short articles called “What Works” that will include reader stories about successful lessons and initiatives. (Please be thinking of stories you’d like to share!) And look for a host of new ways for members to participate in content. Thanks to this overhaul, here’s what we can say for sure about the new iste member magazine: Empowered Learner offers an informed and in-depth take on edtech

trends, practices and policies, including viewpoints on how technology empowers learners across continents and learning environments. It provides real-world success stories, no-nonsense applications, member profiles, and a look at state, national and international edtech initiatives and successes. The magazine delivers empowerment, inspiration and practical advice for iste members.   After all, empowerment and inspiration are what iste is all about. We hope you enjoy the new publication. Look for it at iste 2017 and in your mailbox.




Mobilizing the maker movement

photo by mat t roth

By Ryan Imbriale



I’ll never forget the choice I had to make in middle school. Enroll in band or industrial arts. The labyrinth that is middle school scheduling didn’t allow for students to participate in both, so I elected to grow my talents in the musical arts. Making that choice put me on an academic path that set the tone for my entire learning journey. While I loved playing an instrument and have never questioned the choice to engage in that experience, sacrificing the opportunity for exposure to the industrial arts bothers me to this day. In the context of school, I was not offered any other opportunities to build, create, design or construct. This lack of design thinking carried forward into high school, and influenced my college major and career path. Fortunately, a new vision for “making” across all subjects has led to an infusion of maker learning within education. In “The Call to Excellence” from the Baltimore County Public Schools’

(bcps) guiding document called Blueprint 2.0: Our Way Forward, we say that our work, once fully implemented, “will provide students with the flexibility to learn in different ways on different days.” The statement adds that students “will be able to access multiple and varied opportunities for learning, exploration and enrichment ...” Baltimore County is home to an incredibly diverse urban-suburban school district. Our students represent 108 countries and speak 85 languages, meaning equity must be at the center of every discussion had and decision made. We’ve made great strides toward creating equitable learning environments – our district’s transformation of teaching and learning, powered by customized and personalized educational experiences, is already well on its way to realizing our initial vision grounded in equity and access – but the work doesn’t end there. bcps continues to push the envelope and raise the bar for excellence, creating access to innovative learning opportunities for every student. As our work of transforming teaching and learning has progressed,

the maker movement, both in and outside of education, has been democratizing design and production, thanks to dropping product costs and increased access. The maker movement at bcps grew organically. Teachers and students clamoring for hands-on, experiential learning opportunities gravitated toward creation rather than consumption. It became clear that we had to provide systemic supports to foster this work and spread making curriculum to all of the district’s 173 schools, centers and programs. While costs for tools and materials have declined over the years, it’s a reality of our system, as well as many others throughout the world, that not all schools can fund and support these efforts at the same level. To fully support equitable maker learning opportunities, we established the bcps Makes program, a multi-pronged approach supporting everything from tool acquisition to fully developed learning experiences. These offerings include direct school

support for their makerspaces, while simultaneously creating districtwide programs in which all students can engage in these learning experiences. The centerpiece of the b cp s Makes program is our Mobile Innovation Lab, a renovated school bus that contains the tools and technologies for all students to engage in innovative learning experiences. The Mobile Innovation Lab Residency Program serves our elementary schools, providing experiences in robotics, 3d design, programming, electronics and engineering. Our planning team has worked across content area offices to plan instructional activities that not only provide opportunities to learn and apply skills and concepts reflected in standards such as the 2016 iste Standards for Students, but also core content standards. This allows us to establish a presence at any school during any point in the academic year and provide meaningful exposure to career and technical fields – something missing in most elementary school experiences – while simultaneously addressing digital age and core content skills. By mobilizing the equipment housed on the Mobile Innovation Lab, we provide not only an opportunity for all students to engage, but also an avenue for administrators and teachers to see the benefits of making some of these experiences a permanent fixture in their buildings. In addition, thanks to our efforts around the creation of a centralized maker learning lending library, teachers throughout the district can borrow and use – at no cost to them or their school – these tools in their classrooms. By centralizing these efforts, we maximize efficiency in our spending while simultaneously allowing schools to “try before they buy” or

even sustain maker programs through a rotation of borrowed materials. I often wonder if my career path would look dramatically different had I been given the opportunity to build and design earlier in my schooling experience. The maker movement has many aspects of that industrial arts class I missed out on, but what is so exciting is that it takes the isolated course model and pushes opportunities into elementary school classrooms, ties the learning directly to content standards and provides access for all students.


Ryan Imbriale is the executive director of innovative learning for Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland. For the past 19 years, Imbriale has worked to improve teaching and learning by emphasizing edtech’s value in reaching as many students as possible, as effectively as possible. He is a former iste board member.





Maya Penn Student entrepreneur refuses to limit her list of titles, skills By Julie Phillips Randles



Maya Penn learned all about labels when she moved into a new neighborhood at the tender age of 8. She thought she was rocking her natural hairstyle – but to her new friends, not so much. “Fortunately, I knew how to immediately squash those feelings by remembering my mother’s loving words,” she writes on her blog. In short, she needed confidence in her own magic as an African American, as a girl, as a student. So Penn has created her own labels: eco-fashion designer, children’s book author, artist, animator, coder, public speaker, entrepreneur, philanthropist and environmentalist. And this Atlanta-based teen has done it all before her 17th birthday. She started by crafting ribbon headbands from fabric lying around the house and parlayed the praise and a $200 budget from Mom for supplies into an online business called Maya’s Ideas. She learned to sew to expand her product line, using eco-friendly materials to create scarves (Samuel L. Jackson bought one), hats and jewelry, and now even sells upcycled and vintage clothing, including coats, skirts and vintage party dresses. She began making six figures by the time she was 13, and is now scaling her business into the multi-million dollar realm, mainly because Penn operates her business from her own website rather than a shopping site – a website she built totally from scratch at age 10 by teaching herself html

coding. Today, she also speaks Python, Javascript and other languages, the better to code for her animation series about pollinators – featuring bees, butterflies and hummingbirds as superheroes, of course. So it's no surprise Penn was asked to participate in Google's Made With Code initiative, and she then took her involvement deeper. She started her own nonprofit, Maya’s Ideas 4 the Planet, in 2011 and uses that platform not only to promote environmentalism but to host her own girls coding workshops. Worn out yet? Penn isn’t. Young women in developing countries have Penn to thank for 5,000 eco-friendly sanitary pads that she created and distributes through MedShare. Using a $1,000 seed funding grant from The Pollination Project, she wrote and illustrated Lucy and Sammy Save the Environment and Wild Rhymes, then printed both children’s titles on recycled paper. The experience convinced her to say “yes” to sitting on the organization’s grantmaking advisory board so she can give back to other youth-centered environmental projects. She is also the author of You Got This: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path and Change Your World, a book that inspires youth to make their dreams a reality. But just to make sure she’s giving enough back to the community, Maya Penn donates 10 to 20 percent of her company’s profits to Atlanta-area and global charities.

Maya Penn, 17, believes her generation will have greater opportunities to use their voices to make a positive impact on the world and to fight for the causes they're passionate about. entrsekt



“ Start an idea book – a journal where you can write down all of your ideas for your business.”

You have many entrepreneurial efforts underway. What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?

Start an idea book – a journal where you can write down all of your ideas for your business. Whether it be a small thought that crosses your mind or the next big idea, it’s important to have it written down. Even if it doesn’t seem important, it may be very useful in the future. Do a lot of research about what you want to do and what field you’re passionate about and want to pursue. Also, when you start, don’t get discouraged if something goes wrong, or you make a mistake or things are going slower than you expected. It’s actually good for things to go wrong in a business because every experience, good or bad, is a learning experience and it helps you and your business grow because you gain knowledge from trial and error. For many adults, public speaking is their biggest fear. You’ve already given three Ted Talks. What’s the secret to a great talk? 

Be prepared. If you are given time to prepare and practice your talk, use all of that time to the fullest. entrsekt


The biggest worry most people have is making a mistake in front of their audience. Mistakes are not the end of the world; you’d be surprised how easily people dismiss or ignore a goof up if you just correct yourself or keep moving on. Also, depending on the situation, talking about something you’re passionate about can help things come more easily. Finally, for me, the biggest key to confidence – this applies to more than just public speaking – is not being afraid of being afraid. Sometimes, focusing on trying to get rid of your fear can cause more stress and distraction. I still get totally nervous when I speak in public. It’s not about pushing away the fear, it’s about not letting the fear be the focal point.

Penn says, while it can seem daunting at first, coding offers limitless opportunities to create.

You’ve said you started your first business “out of curiosity.” How did being curious shape your learning and what you chose to study?

Following your sense of curiosity often leads to gaining knowledge, trying new things and making discoveries. I had a passion for both fashion design and giving back, and I wanted to share that passion with others in a meaningful way. So I asked a curious yet bold question: What would it be like to start my own fashion business? That question lead to the founding of Maya’s Ideas and discovering the world of entrepreneurship, among other things, at just 8 years old.

photos by inspire media

“It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, this fear that whatever we do is too small to matter,” she has told reporters. “You don’t have to have a ton of confidence to do everything you want to do. Go ahead and be afraid. Change will definitely come.”

How did being home-schooled influence your sense of curiosity?

Home-schooling has given my parents the opportunity to incorporate many of my passions, such as coding, animation, entrepreneurship, etc. into my curriculum. It definitely has given me more space to let my curiosity flourish.   You’ve learned more than one computer programming language. How did you learn to code and why do you think more girls don’t code?

I got into coding because I wanted an official website for my company. I was 10 at the time, and all I did was look up “how to build a website from scratch.” From there, I started teaching myself html. I also started learning Python and Javascript, and I even use coding for my animation. There are so many resources available today that make it more accessible to dive into coding and other stem fields, which makes it even more unfortunate that there are so few girls studying coding and computer science. I think the biggest issue is not only lack of representation of women/girls in stem fields, but lack of encouragement as well. Many girls don’t have people telling them that pursuing a career or even just an interest in coding is possible for them. Whether it’s parents, teachers, mentors, friends or other peers, there’s a lack of guiding girls in the direction of at least trying out coding. From afar, the world of code can seem daunting and confusing, when it is actually incredibly creative and nearly limitless to what you can create. It only takes one moment to create the spark that can turn into a lifelong love of computer science. Who inspired your environmental efforts and entrepreneurial spirit?

My parents instilled in me at a young age the importance of giving back to the environment and the community. Some of my earliest memories include recycling and me and my parents donating canned goods or clothes to food banks and homeless shelters in Atlanta.  These things have taught me about how crucial it is to make a positive impact on the planet in anyway that you can. Despite my parents both being entrepreneurs themselves, my  entrepreneurial  spirit found me when I started my company (though I may have still inherited their entrepreneurial spirit somehow). As my business started to grow, I grew along with my business and I had to learn the ins and outs of branding, marketing, knowing your customers, etc. I learned through research and trial and error.  

What are your long-term goals?

My long-term goals are to continue scaling up my business, my nonprofit and my animation studio and keep making an impact through all of my endeavors and inspire others to give back through doing what they love. How will your generation shake up the world?

More and more young people have a chance to use their voice to make a positive impact on the world and fight for the causes they’re passionate about. Now more than ever, we are shifting in a conscious direction in almost every aspect of our world and our society, and more people are starting to realize that they have to be the change that they want to see. This is especially true for the current generation of young people who will also be the future leaders in our world. It seems like you get quite a bit done on any given day. What time management advice can you share? 

A lot of it comes to narrowing down what’s important to focus on right now. What are the few projects that are most critical to get completed now? Then create time slots in your day to work on each project. After getting ready for the day, I start with four hours of schoolwork, then I’ll go to my studio to work on my company. Orders, projects, website updates etc., I’ll do these for about two hours. Then I’ll also take a few hours to work on either my nonprofit, my animation or any other projects.  

“ You don’t have to have a ton of confidence to do everything you want to do. Go ahead and be afraid. Change will definitely come.”

What will you do next?

My company, Maya’s Ideas, has scaled up and is now doubling its production team and will be rolling out a new and unique spring/summer 2017 line of eco-friendly clothing and accessories that is heavily inspired by nature. I will also launch a bigger animation and film studio in Atlanta called Penn Point Studios, and the first project I will be releasing is an animated series called “The Pollinators.” This year, I’m launching an initiative through my nonprofit Maya’s Ideas 4 The Planet to provide seed grants to young female entrepreneurs who aspire to start their own businesses. I am also putting into action a girls’ empowerment event and a stem/steam workshop for girls where my book  You Got This!  (Published by Simon & Schuster) will be used during the workshop to guide and inspire the girls.







By Jennifer Fink

How do people learn? That question has boggled scientists, philosophers and educators for millennia. How, in fact, do humans process, remember, retrieve and use information? How do they build upon existing knowledge to create new ideas and inventions? The answers to those questions, after all, seem infinitely useful, particularly to educators charged with helping students learn. Yet for a long time, those questions went unanswered. “Before about 1880, it seemed silly to try to understand how the mind worked, partly because the mind moves so rapidly and doesn’t really seem to be open to systematic investigation, and partly, I think, due to belief in free will. People thought the

mind was what the soul directed you to do,” says Daniel T. Willingham, Ph.D., professor of cognitive psychology and author of Why Don’t Students Like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom. The philosophers who had attempted to understand the mind’s functioning prior to then relied on their own “thinking about their thought processes” and introspection, Willingham says. And often, they used the most complicated machine of the era as an analogy for the mind. Descartes, for instance, compared the mind to hydraulics, picturing thoughts and information as water moving through pipes. Later, Willing-

ham says, “people likened the mind to a telephone switchboard, with all these wires interconnecting.” The inclination to compare the mind to complex machinery persists to this day: How often have you heard the brain referenced in computer-like terms, with ram representing shortterm memory storage and hard drives compared to long-term memory? The problem with all of these representations is that none of them are based on actual, scientific investigation of the mind. So for centuries, teaching and learning techniques have been based on conjecture, speculation and anecdotal insight into how the mind works. All of that is changing. Thanks to advances in technology and rigorous entrsekt


Learning about learning

The left and right brain are interconnected, and humans, it turns out, do not process information predominantly on one side or the other of the brain.



scientific experimentation and observation, scientists now know more than ever before about how the mind functions. And increasingly, they’re disseminating that information to educators and others, in the hopes of optimizing learning and teaching.

THE LEARNING SCIENCES, DEFINED Learning sciences are an interdisciplinary science, informed by neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, sociology and computer science. In essence, they are the scientific study of how people learn – with a heavy focus on figuring out how to use those insights to facilitate learning in the real world. Both the term learning sciences and learning science as a scientific discipline are relatively new; that may be why some educators are unaware of the learning sciences. But because this field of study speaks to the heart of education – how to best help humans learn – it’s important for educators to develop at least a basic understanding of the learning sciences, says Mindy Johnson, an instructional designer and communications strategist at the Center for Applied Special Technology (cast) and iste member, while recognizing that the field is bound to change. “Teachers need to understand that learning isn’t a static thing, and the learning sciences aren’t a static thing either,” Johnson says. “The purpose of learning sciences is to find new methods, new resources and new strategies for educators, but it’s also to develop new research. It’s important to make sure that we’re adapting what we know about learning.”

LEARNING MYTHS, DEBUNKED Unfortunately, many commonly held beliefs about learning are wrong or misleading. “The information coming out of learning sciences debunked some of the old models that everybody believed for a long time,” says Carolyn Sykora, senior director of the iste Standards program. Take the old idea that some people are predominantly left-brained (analytical and verbal) or right-brained (intuitive and creative). “One of the key findings of learning sciences is that processing is much more distributed,” says Jim Flanagan, iste chief learning services officer. The left and right brain are interconnected, and humans, it turns out, do not process information predominantly on one side or the other of the brain. In his book, Why Don’t Students Like School? Willingham writes, “Learning style theories don’t help much when applied to students, but … are useful when applied to content. Take the visual-auditory-kinesthetic distinction. You might want students to experience material in one or another modality depending on what you want them to get out of the lesson; a diagram of Fort Knox should be seen, the national anthem of Turkmenistan should be heard and the cheche turban… should be worn.”

LEARNING SCIENCE IN THE CLASSROOM So, what is true about learning, and how can educators best apply those insights in the classroom?

That’s not a simple question to answer, in large part because the field is so new and ever-evolving. Yet some learning science-based insights are already making their way into classrooms around the world, such as the idea that brain development continues well into early adulthood, that the brain is actually quite malleable, with connections created and pruned throughout a lifespan. That learning science-infused insight underlies thegrowth mindset. Learning science is also revealing important information regarding working memory, long-term memory and automaticity. Consider the example of learning to drive, Flanagan says. “When we’re initially driving, it takes a lot of working memory, but over time it becomes familiar and transfers into long-term memory to the point that you’re not even thinking about it. But there’s a process you have to go through for that to happen.” That process is relevant to mathematics and to the debate over whether or not learners need to memorize math facts in the age of smartphones. It’s also a good example of how keeping up with learning sciences can influence teaching for the better. Educators, he says, should be asking “What does learning science say about how we develop automaticity? What are the steps?” i s t e considers the learning sciences so important, they’ve incorporated them into the 2016 iste Standards for Students. The Empowered Learner standard states that “students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.”

In today’s day and age of instant access to information, “learning how to learn is really the key skill,” students need to develop, Sykora says. That’s why the standards include the learning sciences, and why the standard says, “informed by the learning sciences.” “We recognize that it’s a rapidly moving target and that all of us will have to keep up with how to learn,” Sykora says. The learning sciences will also be embedded in the 2017 iste Standards for Teachers, scheduled to be released in June. Still not sure how or if learning sciences can improve education? Consider this explanation of learning

sciences from Willingham: “There are certain principles of learning that are so deeply embedded in who we are as humans that you see them across all sorts of different classroom contexts, you see them across all ages, across different types of kids and across different subject matters.” One such learning science-based principle is that the brain is not designed for thinking; it’s designed to save you from having to think. That statement “seems like it’s going to have depressing implications,” Willingham says, but what learning science has actually revealed is that the brain builds all kinds of automatic responses as a time saver. Learning

science is showing that curiosity is key to encouraging engaged thought, and has further revealed that humans “are intrigued by problems that we think are solvable,” Willingham says. So an educator who wants to engage her students would do well to present them with solvable problems. This poses a bit of a challenge, because the learning sciences have also revealed that “the difficulty of the problem is enormously important,” Willingham says. Humans are not intrigued by, nor do they spend much time on, problems that are too easy or too difficult – and as you know, what’s too easy for one student may well be too difficult to another.

Learning sciences is also revealing important information regarding working memory, long-term memory and automaticity.



Learning about learning

“Students need to know themselves and how they learn so they can progress through content more easily,” Hansen explains. “Teachers do that through reflective techniques and by asking students what works for them, but that’s teacher-led. Once we move into highly personalized classrooms, it’s going to be student driven.” Teaching students about metacognition – the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes – is a good starting point, even with the youngest learners. “If a student tries in a situation and fails, as long as they reflect on it, it’s worth it,” Hansen says. It not only helps them figure out their learning styles, it starts the process of creating reflective qualities – a boon to all learners.


Students also benefit from understanding how learning happens because it can inform how they learn best.



Further underscoring this difficulty is the fact that the learning sciences have found that background knowledge is also enormously important. A student with a passion for flight and aerodynamics – one who has spent hundreds of hours watching documentaries, reading books and experimenting with paper airplanes – is going to quickly grasp the concepts of “thrust” and “lift” when introduced in science class, while students who lack that background will likely take longer. That’s where universal design for learning (udl) and personalized learning come in. “udl is really about removing barriers and providing multiple ways for students to be engaged, to find ways to access information

and to represent it,” Johnson says. “It takes what we know from the learning sciences and translates it into actionable things educators can do for their learners.”

WHAT STUDENTS NEED TO KNOW Students also benefit from understanding how learning happens because it can inform how they learn best, notes Randy Hansen, a professor at University of Maryland University College and a member of the iste Board of Directors. After all, in a world where students can get almost any information in any form or mode, understanding which is best for your learning style can make all the difference.

iste’s Flanagan believes the learning sciences will help educators apply technology in education in ways that benefit students. The last few decades have shown educators (and others) that simply introducing computers and other tech tools into the classroom is not enough to advance student learning. “We’ve been applying a lot of technology to teaching and learning for 30 years now. And we don’t have enough to show for it; for the dollars put in, we’re not seeing the return on investment,” Flanagan says. “We are trying to enhance learning, so we need to look at what the learning sciences are telling us. Only then can we reflect on what the right integration of technology is.”

So far, for instance, the learning sciences have revealed the importance of relevance: humans are more motivated to learn things that are applicable to their lives. Humans also learn best in social settings, which may be one reason why very, very few people (less than 7 percent) who register for massive online open courses (mooc s) actually complete them. Technologically, these courses represent tremendous opportunity because they make learning accessible to more people. But just because they use tech, doesn’t mean the approach to learning is going to be effective. Educators who focus on technology and

ignore pedagogy risk a failed learning opportunity. Flanagan and many others are hopeful that advances in learning science will begin to point the way toward more useful and beneficial uses of tech. One possibility: short-cycle feedback. The learning sciences have shown that immediate, meaningful feedback fuels learning; showing someone a video of his golf club swing, for instance, allows him to make adjustments. In a classroom of 30+ students, it’s difficult to give individual, immediate feedback, but perhaps, Flanagan says, “technology can play that role – and play a more advanced

role along the way.” Quite possibly, Flanagan says, in the future,“we’ll have programs that not only give you feedback but that understand your thinking process and help you understand where it’s right or wrong.” jennifer fink is a writer, registered nurse, mother and educator. she is also the creator of buildingboys. net, a one-stop shop for educators, parents and others who care about building healthy boys.

The learning sciences have shown that immediate, meaningful feedback fuels learning.






BRAVE NEW MEDIA WORLD What media literacy means in the age of alternative facts By Jennifer Snelling


ost-truth, alternative facts and fake news. Media has changed a lot since we began tweeting, but the last year has left media and its consumers in a crisis. A Pew Research study revealed that 62 percent of adults get their news from social media. We now live in a hyper-partisan world where sensational fake news often spreads faster than real news, according to a post-election BuzzFeed analysis. In this age of citizen journalism, media literacy is a confusing proposition. Adults may assume that digital natives, who can text, post and Google at the same time, are able to sort through the information onslaught better than they can. In fact, Stanford University released a study in November that indicates students have a lot of trouble discerning the credibility of online in-

formation. For example, 82 percent of middle schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website. Even worse, this study was completed well before the reports of fake news surrounding the u.s. presidential election surfaced. There is hope. A study by the Civic Engagement Research Group found that media literacy training does make people significantly less likely to believe a factually inaccurate claim, even if it aligned with their political point of view. Journalists, news outlets, teachers and individuals all over the country are reinvigorating media literacy and civic education. Stanford has created a series of lessons called “Civic Online Reasoning,” and California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez has introduced entrsekt



Today, the problem is sifting through a huge volume of resources to identify what is quality.



two bills. ab 155 would require the state to incorporate “civic online reasoning” in its existing curriculum frameworks, and the bill’s companion, sb 135, would similarly require the state’s education board to create a “media literacy” curriculum. Still, the current media landscape is a brave new world that most adults find difficult to navigate. How can we help students become competent media consumers and responsible digital citizens?

The new media literacy

For adults who grew up in the age of the card catalog, it was difficult to access a large quantity of information. Today, the problem is sifting through a huge volume of resources to identify what is quality. This is an enormous shift that is disrupting all our institutions, including journalism and education. Frank Baker is an iste member, author of the iste book Media Literacy

in the k-12 Classroom and creator of the website Media Literacy Clearinghouse, a resource for teachers. Baker says the education system must value teaching media literacy, news literacy and information literacy, which he says all involve critical thinking about media messages. Asking students to read closely and ask questions of both print and multimedia, op-eds, newspaper articles and fake news examples is the backbone of media literacy. “We must engage students with the news,

and they must understand how news is reported,” he says. Reading carefully and thinking critically about the media sounds a little old school, but it is the backbone of media literacy even, and maybe especially, now that the content is infinite and at the touch of our fingertips. We still need the skills to determine if a piece of information is legitimate. The Center for Media Literacy was created to address this situation. President and ceo Tessa Jolls describes media literacy as being able to “access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with media in all its forms. We believe these skills are essential, as citizens of a democratic society for both children and adults.” “All our institutions are based on the idea that information is scarce, but now it’s plentiful. What’s scarce are the process skills for discernment. In order to have a democracy and a free society, we have to rely on the discernment and judgment of each and every citizen, and that can only happen through education,” says Jolls. “They must have a methodology to rely on that’s evidence-based and is, frankly, scientific. That’s really where media literacy comes in. It doesn’t give people the answers, it just poses the questions on a base of concepts that hold true when it comes to media messages.” Connection to the ISTE Standards

Certainly, existing education standards such as the Common Core seek to encourage evidence-based reasoning, but is that enough? Not quite, says Carolyn Sykora, senior director of iste’s Standards program. “[The 2016

iste Standards for Students] were crafted long before fake news came into the headlines, but part of the Digital Citizen and Knowledge Constructor standards are to give students the skills that allow them to be informed citizens. It lays a foundation for not just college and career, but these things are really about growing an informed citizenry that can contribute to our society in a positive way.” ISTE student standard 3: Knowledge Constructor

Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others. One of the indicators of a successful knowledge constructor is “Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance

of information, media, data or other resources.” Another is “Students build knowledge by actively exploring realworld issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.” Both these indicators sound a lot like thinking critically about media. (Learn more at As a third and fourth grade gifted reading teacher at Loveland Elementary in Loveland, Ohio, Heidi Weber embraces print and digital sources, side by side. Weber says when her kids see information online, they often assume that it’s true. She uses, a website created by teachers to help students learn to spot inaccurate information. The site tells the story of an explorer, such as Christopher Columbus, then throws in a line about how the Native Americans were excited about the cell phones. As Baker pointed out, teach-

We still need the skills to determine if a piece of information is legitimate.




The first question of media literacy is to ask who authored it.



ing kids to read carefully is the first step in media literacy. Cybercivics is a media literacy and digital citizenship curriculum for middle schoolers. The first year of Cybercivics focuses on digital citizenship and how what you post on social media reflects on you. In the second year, Cybercivics focuses on copyright, plagiarism, cookies and filter bubbles.

After building these basic skills, Cybercivics goes on to focus on media literacy in the third year, i.e., how to evaluate for veracity and stereotypes and how to avoid becoming a purveyor of inaccuracy. The founder and teacher of Cybercivics, iste member Diana Graber, says that by middle school, kids are ready to become good, ethical think-

ers. “They should use these muscles in the classroom with friends before they go out into the online world and make critical mistakes,” she says. Graber teaches students to use author Howard Rheingold’s “craap detection test” when assessing media. Is the information current? Is the information reliable? Who is the author? What is the point of view or purpose?

Graber says teachers can imbed this test into any subject where students are doing research. The first question of media literacy is to ask who authored it, says Baker. “Most people forward messages that originate via social media with little or no regard to who wrote it or what their purpose is,” he says. “That’s unfortunate. If students don’t care who creates the news they consume, they’re destined to become media illiterate.” Mike Ribble, an iste member and author of the iste book Digital Citizenship in Schools, says students must also go beyond reading. For instance, some websites are made to look like an official news website but, in fact, are fakes. Students must know how to investigate “About” pages, scrutinize url s, go back to the source if a study is referenced, suspect the sensational and become familiar with independent debunking sites such as

Snopes or, as well as understand that a Google search employs filters that will return biased results. “We have to be more critical of information. We have to become critical thinkers and not just believe the first thing that my Google search comes up with,” says Ribble. “We want students to see that how many likes or shares they have on Facebook is not a good metric for deciding if information is true or real.” ISTE student standard 2: Digital Citizen

Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical. With the political debate around the election playing out almost entirely on social media, the term “digital

citizen” takes on a whole new meaning. Ribble points out that while there is a lot to contend with on the technology side of media literacy, it must be based in societal civility. “When I say digital citizenship, I mean we have to be able to communicate and interact and be willing to hear other people,” he says. “If all we’re doing is yelling so loudly that we only hear ourselves, we’re not going to be able to work as a society. It will break us down as an organized group of people.” This points to one of the indicators of being a successful digital citizen: “Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.” We have rights and responsibilities as members of society, says Ribble. If we share fake or inaccurate information, we are culpable in that

With the political debate around the election playing out almost entirely on social media, the term “digital citizen” takes on a whole new meaning.




Another rule of thumb is to avoid trolling, which is a form of cyberbullying. Likewise, think carefully before sharing memes or slogans taken from a partisan website.



lie. Further, if we have the knowledge that something is fake or inaccurate and we don’t point that out, we bear responsibility for the perpetuation of that misinformation. Graber agrees. She says we must show kids how to be “empowered upstanders.” That can translate to teaching them to block or flag inappropriate or inaccurate content and not to like or follow things that are inaccurate. These simple acts change the algorithms and helps change the information that is out there. Another rule of thumb is to avoid trolling, which is a form of cyberbullying. Likewise, think carefully before sharing memes or slogans taken from

a partisan website. These are usually intended as a slap to the other side rather than to start a meaningful conversation. “Giving kids all those ideas and mechanisms to be powerful participants of their world is super important,” she says. “We want to be responsible consumers of media but also to be great producers of media. Not just digital citizens, but digital leaders.” ISTE student standard 7: Global Collaborator

Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and

working effectively in teams locally and globally. We live in a global society, but sometimes those in our own country can seem the most foreign. According to the iste student standards, two indicators of a Global Collaborator are particularly appropriate. “Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning,” and, “Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.”

It’s more important than ever to examine our own biases and look beyond our own culture. Without being critical thinkers, we tend to click on things that confirm what we already believe. “It’s going to be important to teach students to step away from some of those biases,” says Ribble. “That’s a whole other conversation about empathy and character. As critical examiners of information, we have to be able to step back and see that there may be another side to this that doesn’t fit with what I want to be true.” Otherwise, we find ourselves in the territory of, in Stephen Colbert’s word, “truthiness.”

In fact, it has always been teachers who have kept media literacy alive, often without support at an institutional level. “Media literacy has always been looked at as an ‘add on,’ and in fact, it’s central,” says Jolls. “It’s through media literacy students can obtain content knowledge and contextualize content knowledge.” Not to mention participate fully as citizens in a democratic society as well. Is it too much to expect teachers to add media literacy to their already packed checklist of content to cover? In this day and age, media literacy is a basic life skill students need across every single subject.

“If all teachers are building media literacy skills into their content areas, then that student will graduate having had teachers modeling and creating learning activities that allow students to practice those skills,” says iste’s Sykora. “We can’t afford not to take the time to develop this skill in our students.” jennifer snelling is a freel ance writer who writes for a variet y of publications and institutions, including the universit y of oregon. as a mother to elementary and middle school-aged children, she’s a frequent cl assroom volunteer and is active in oregon schools.






ROLE PLAYERS Understanding the roles of tech, instructional coaches and how they are evolving

By Tim Douglas and Jennifer Snelling

When we’re young, we have a s e e m i n g ly e n d l e s s sta b l e o f real-life, human resources to help us along our path. We have tutors, teachers, principals, specialists, childcare professionals, and yes, coaches, but usually for athletic pursuits. As we turn into adults, our access to coaches tends to drift away. Maybe we think we don’t need that type of influence. Maybe we feel like we need to do everything ourselves. Maybe we believe we know best. Maybe we’re too embarrassed to ask for help. In the world of athletics, teams do everything they can to compete, to succeed and to win. Sports organizations invest in strength experts, nutritionists and a variety of specialists to gain an advantage. Many schools have done the same by entrsekt



How tech coaching works, what the goals are and exactly who takes on this role is being worked out in classrooms and districts around the globe. employing technology coaches to help teachers improve their practice and support educators along the spectrum of integrating technology into their classrooms. How tech coaching works, what the goals are and exactly who takes on this role is being worked out in classrooms and districts around the globe. And while there may be some uncertainty as to how to navigate the coaching terrain, experts say the relationships among the various stakeholders are the bedrock. entrsekt


“The best coaches know their players – in this case, teachers,” says Ruth Okoye, an iste member and director of k-12 Initiatives at The Source for Learning, the parent company of the TeachersFirst community based in Virginia. “You need to know your players because you need to understand who you’re coaching. This builds trust.” iste member Kara Gann, who manages strategic partnerships at

Schoology, an online learning management system, is even more direct in describing how relationships need to work for everyone involved, from the district to school leadership to the teacher: “A lack of trust will lead to failure.” Getting started

The first introduction many educators have to their edtech coach is asking for help with some aspect of classroom technology. iste member Christina

DiMicelli is a technology integration specialist at Pinkerton Academy, the largest independent high school in the nation, with around 3,200 students. DiMicelli says that is only the beginning of what edtech coaches have to offer. Edtech coaches walk educators through the rollout of tech initiatives, offer professional development opportunities, and work specifically with departments or teachers who want help creating a project for their students. Developing relationships between tech coaches and teachers, says DiMicelli, is key to improving learning outcomes for students. For example, a social studies teacher at Pinkerton asked for DiMicelli’s help with his contemporary issues class. The teacher had asked students to research a subject of their choice and wanted to guide them through some media literacy development using technology. The school uses Chromebooks, so he and DiMicelli discussed some Chrome extensions, settling on Feedly, which allowed the students to personalize and organize information based on key words or publications. DiMicelli put together some instructions on how to use Feedly, then visited the class to give a demonstration. “Any time you can get students to look at the large amount of information coming at them in a different way or find a better way to organize it,” she says, “you’re helping them take better care of their own learning environment. And, yes, now we’re hitting one of the iste Standards.”

The coaching didn’t end there. After visiting the classroom, DiMicelli continued to check in on the teacher, asking if he needed any help and, in the process, got a better sense for the classroom culture and where he was hoping to take his students. A few weeks later, when she came across a news piece about the Facebook Journalism Project, she forwarded it to the teacher. He responded with interest and now the coaching relationship continues to flourish. “Integrating tech can often be very overwhelming for teachers,” says DiMicelli. Coaches can bring the human side of technology, showing educators that it’s not as big and overwhelming as they think while also getting to know their classroom culture, “since it doesn’t matter how bright and shiny the tech is if it doesn’t further the learning objectives.”

on than those who are experiencing the same frustrations, challenges and obstacles? As the president of iste’s Edtech Coaches Network, iste member Katie Siemer, director of curriculum and technology integration with Forward Edge, is proud of the invaluable insight this pln provides, especially in helping coaches show their value and define the position. “At the beginning of the year, we have a lot of coaches who make coaching menus,” she says. “It’s to educate the educators and principals about what we can do for you. This helps personalize the coach and show how [we can] be used.” The pl n also offers monthly webinars presented by its members and a fall and spring book study, along with monthly Twitter chats and other opportunities. Okoye says the more, the better.

Edtech coaches walk educators through the rollout of tech initiatives, offer professional development opportunities, and work specifically with departments or teachers who want help creating a project for their students.

Coaching the coach

With a swirling of scenarios based on individual educators’ needs, how does a coach know what to do and when to do it? Given the balancing act between the district and the classroom, where can a coach turn? The district may have a hands-off approach because perhaps the leadership doesn’t quite know what to do with this new position. A teacher may not understand how to integrate the coach into the classroom. Despite what is usually a lack of universal protocol or a clearly defined position, many feel it’s still up to the coach to make it work. Trust building, situational analysis, understanding what is needed and how to deliver, that’s a lot of hats. Who better to lean entrsekt



As districts, teachers and coaches paint a clear picture of the position, it’s just as important to define what a coach isn’t. “One of the problems is a lack of professional development,” Okoye says. “For technology coaches, there is really a shortage of helping them understand how to be a coach. They’re great at tech but not the coaching part of it. That needs to be connected.” Fixers versus guides

As districts, teachers and coaches paint a clear picture of the position, it’s just as important to define what a coach isn’t. entrsekt


“When I work with teachers, I always say if it’s broken, I probably can’t help you fix it. I’m the person who will help you use the tech,” Siemer says, as an example. It may be up to the coach to make the best of the opportunity, but the real power rests elsewhere. The most important perception about the role of a tech coach comes from the district. Ultimately, district administrators

play a significant role by determining whether to fund and hire staff for this position. “School leaders like coaches, especially if the coach operates at the district level and can reinforce the district’s goals,” adds Gann. How it looks live

When Dansville High School English teacher Janelle Rinker was ready to introduce her class to The Great Gatsby, she knew she needed to first introduce

them to America in the 1920s, a time period with which many of her students were unfamiliar. Rinker, whose school is in New York, enlisted the help of Kim Derrenbacher, a Google For Education certified trainer in her small, rural district. Derrenbacher and Rinker spent a class period brainstorming. Together, they decided to have students pick a famous person from the era and learn what the flappers and gangsters of the 1920s were wearing, where they were going, what music they listened to, and what they did for fun. Derrenbacher suggested the students make either a Pinterest board, Google My Map or a ThingLink. The projects also included an audio component where the famous characters had a 60-second conversation with each other. For example, Bessie Smith had a conversation with Louis Armstrong using an audio recorder extension, Google Translate and Pholody. Derrenbacher created three mock-up projects, one for each platform, to give the students an idea of the expectation. Rinker says that besides engaging students, the project touched on many learning objectives, including perspective, research and plagiarism, speaking and listening skills, peer feedback and reflection. Additionally, because the students were able to activate prior knowledge, they gained insight into the novel and their papers at the end were more insightful than they would have been otherwise. “Kim pushes teachers, gently, to embed meaningful technology into

their instruction, even small components,” says Rinker. “She also makes teachers aware that they can contact her at anytime to do mini lessons and help plan lessons.” Darrenbacher says the challenges her teachers face are that they have very little time thanks to high-stakes testing and other requirements. They can’t sit around and play with apps all day to find what is suitable. Further, they’re often afraid to bring something into the classroom that they’re not familiar with. She says not to worry, those things are in the coach’s job description. A teacher can tell the coach what they want to accomplish and what the expectations are and the coach can help

find the right technology. “Also, don’t forget that the kids can mostly learn the tech on their own,” she says. “Teachers shouldn’t be afraid to say, ‘Hey, you’re going to know a lot more about this product than I do.’ Almost without fail, the kids will exceed expectations.” Currently, the use of technology coaches is scattershot, Okoye says. And where there are tech coaches, their roles vary given the district, state or overseeing body. “Coaching is in a different shape, in different places, but I’ve seen it succeed. I know it can succeed.”

A teacher can tell the coach what they want to accomplish and what the expectations are and the coach can help find the right technology.




The standards for coaches provide a framework for what coaching can look like in the digital age. “It’s rapidly evolving,” says Siemer. “Principals and schools have often thought until now ‘well, we have the software and the devices, now the magic will happen.’ This isn’t how it works. There [needs to be] a shift in awareness of the role and acknowledgement that [coaching’s] an important position.” But while an effective, traditional coach wears many hats, there needs to be some common ground and expectations, and while there is no blueprint, there are some guides to help create successful coaching/teaching collaborations. entrsekt


ISTE Standards provide the road map

Many educators rely on the iste Standards for Coaches that focus on visionary leadership; teaching, learning and assessments; digital-age learning environments; professional development and program evaluation; digital citizenship; and content knowledge and professional growth. The standards for coaches provide a framework for what coaching

can look like in the digital age. These standards encourage reflection and professional development for both instructional and technology coaches in how to think about their roles as professionals and their engagement with teachers, explains Sarah Stoeckl, Ph.D., senior project manager for iste Standards. “If a coach is open about their use of the coaching standards, that can also engage their teachers in thinking actively about the relationship between coach and teacher,” Stoeckl says. New and experienced coaches as well as organizations anywhere on the

tech-integration spectrum can leverage the coaching standards. Those new to coaching will find the standards helpful in developing themselves as professionals who want to truly enhance teaching and learning with technology, and meaningfully integrate the valuable functional attributes technology can bring to coaching interactions, Stoeckl notes. Internationally, the iste Standards for Coaches have been particularly useful in regions where technology integration is just getting underway, or where schools are making a concerted effort to think beyond replacement in their use of technology. For example, last year in Malaysia, iste staff and faculty led coaches just beginning to adopt and integrate technology throughout their school system in understanding how the standards can support teachers and students in meaningfully using technology for learning. The training was part of a program contract iste established with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (mdec) to train 90 coaches. In the Gulf States, on the other hand, technology is often accessible in schools but the model of teaching is still traditional, so iste’s work with coaches and leaders in that region shows how to rethink learning design and teacher coaching. “I think iste’s coaching standards have been a huge help in developing, defining and fulfilling a coach’s role,” Siemer says. “Oftentimes, people say, ‘I’ve become a coach, now what?’Or ‘we have the money for a coach, what

do we do?’ The iste standards are helpful.” The standards are a tremendous guide, and when it comes to “visionary leadership,” Siemer knows where to start. “Coaches need to be part of developing the curriculum,” she says. “Coaches can bring a great deal of strategies and knowledge to the party.” Site-level work is key

After taking into account federal mandates and other considerations, deciding the course of study in schools starts at the district level. Coaches need to have a clear connection to the district, especially regarding the curriculum, but the real work is done at the site or sites where they operate. “Coaches who are based in districts tend to have a clearer vision,” says Gann. “I think a coach should come from the district, but they need the school’s support.” Okoye agrees, but notes that the arrangement needs to fit the situation. “It depends on how the division or district is organized,” she says. “If it is well organized, it’s best for the coach to coordinate things from [the district office]. If not, the coach should be at the school and work in the school.”

iste member Kathy Booth, special services coordinator and technology coach at Lopez Island School District in Washington. For a coach, observation before action makes a great deal of sense. There is no need, and in fact it may be counterproductive, to leap before looking – a concept that resonates across the globe. Responding via email, Zara Zac, who participated in an online course that was conducted by iste in Malaysia, writes, “In my view, coaches should have first experienced the environment at the school for three months before offering adjustments and changes. Understanding the environment also includes the interaction between the school and the district education department.”

For a coach, observation before action makes a great deal of sense.

It’s about relationships

Regardless of the location, hierarchy or protocol, it comes back to the oneon-one between the teacher and the coach, and the onus is on the coach to find the right lanes. “A coach can’t come in as a knowit-all. Understand your teacher, assess ability and go from there,” explains entrsekt



“ Tech coaches in 2017 are already as important as principals and teachers in order to make sure technology is being used effectively.”

Proof of concept

As with every position, the budget always looms large, but with this role, it seems to take on a little more importance. “You need to show success,” says Gann. “When you fund something, you need to make sure it’s worth it. Coaches need to have metrics. Did their involvement in changing teacher practice help increase student achievement?” “I have the privilege of looking at a variety of programs across the United States,” says Gann. “Some flourish, some are disjointed … there are many models for success. It’s evolving. So entrsekt


one of the main frustrations coaches have is, is this a one-year job? A coach says, ‘I see changes, but does the district see the value?’ It’s one of the first positions that may be cut.” “Coaches need to let administrators know about their position,” Siemer says. “It’s a salary. They need to set aside money for this. And the work will also help tell the story, because once a coach shows progress, the word will spread very quickly. Teachers will talk and share success stories.” Siemer believes that most coaches have already proven their worth.

“Tech coaches in 2017 are already as important as principals and teachers in order to make sure technology is being used effectively.” tim dougl as is a former television news producer who also served as a senior media consultant for several speakers of the california state assembly. today, dougl as is a freel ance writer who covers a wide range of topics.

jennifer snelling is a freel ance writer who writes for a variet y of publications and institutions, including the universit y of oregon. as a mother to elementary and middle school-aged children, she’s a frequent cl assroom volunteer and is active in oregon schools.

Gamify literacy with this simple guide! Supercharge learning, boost comprehension Get leading-edge tips for applying gaming techniques to improve literacy and enhance student collaboration in Gamify Literacy. Written in collaboration with literacy experts and gaming professionals, this new ISTE book includes game-based learning lessons that can be modified by grade level.

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Hours of FREE PD at your fingertips Expand your digital toolkit and explore new ideas for learning and teaching with the ISTE Professional Learning Series. These 30-minute webinars, presented by members for members, deliver new ideas and strategies for use-it-today adoption in your classroom. Spring series topics include: • • • • • •

Becoming an Apple teacher. Digital citizenship. Edcamps. Revamping classroom layout and design. Coding for young learners. Curriculum mapping with Google.

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Advocating for edtech, testing our resolve

photo by steve smith

By Craig Thibaudeau ISTE Chief External Relations Officer

As we approach the end of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office and the end of another college basketball season, I’ve been reflecting on a book about another forceful personality. John Feinstein’s 1986 book A Season on the Brink chronicles the Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball team’s tumultuous 1985-86 season, focusing on the personality of its coach, Bobby Knight, as he tries to guide his team to a winning season. Knight, as you may know, is famous not only for winning three ncaa National Championships, but also for causing controversy due to his treatment of players and the media. Knight’s team did not capture the title in the year about which Feinstein wrote but, the following year, his team won it all, defeating my hometown Syracuse Orangemen. Tumultuous times and a strong personality were surmounted and things worked out. While the jury is still out on whether President Trump will succeed in his aims, there is no question that his pronouncements on education and selection of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education have shaken-up federal education policy. At iste, we don’t yet know what the Trump Administration’s focus on school choice will mean for investments in education technology and broadband infrastructure. Indeed, we may even lose some battles that we had hoped to win. But we must keep our eye on the prize, and when it comes to iste’s advocacy work, that means maintaining the larger principle of federal investments in E-Rate, closing the homework gap and the digital divide, and supporting professional learning. Like Knight, we may have to ignore losing a few games and focus on the long-term goal of a championship. For iste to be successful in preserving its education priorities and chalking up policy and funding wins, we need

the help of our advocates in the field, including iste members, to show Congress and the Trump administration that edtech is valuable – both now for our students’ education and later for them to successfully navigate the increasingly high-tech job market. April is iste Advocacy Month and we’re planning a number of efforts to ensure iste members’ voices are heard in Washington. In May, we will join forces with the Consortium for School Networking (c o sn), the State Education Technology Directors Association (setda) and the Center for Digital Education to hold advocacy days in Washington. This collaboration and the focus on advocacy days will give iste members the opportunity to learn about the issues and deliver your message of edtech’s value directly to your senators and representatives. There’s no denying that iste and its members stand at the brink of serious potential change for education technology with a Trump administration. We still do not know which way things will go for us and our priorities – glory or defeat. We do know that without a strong effort on our part, defeat is all but certain. We’ve had major wins in the past few years, including a $1.5 billion annual cap increase for E-Rate, and edtech received preferred status in the new Title iv flexible block grant program in the Every Student Succeeds Act. Last year, the iste community sent more than 7,000 letters to Congress supporting edtech funding. And we have an advocacy network that is 20,000-people strong. An even stronger resolve will be necessary to protect our wins in the months ahead. We encourage you to join us. Protect the advocacy work we’ve done. Share your voice. The time is now.



Steve Isaacs says the creativity and critical thinking involved in creating games gives students choices and lets them tap into a passion.




Steve Isaacs Visionary teacher is passionate about amplifying student voice

photos by k yo morishima

By Tim Douglas

What’s in a game? For Steve Isaacs, who is a teacher of game design and development, quite a bit. For starters, games are giving him a fulfilling career at William Annin Middle School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, where he’s taught for 19 years. “I created my job,” he says. “This was never on the school’s radar, but I built it.” But perhaps the best aspect of teaching gaming is that it allows his students to play with a purpose. They may not be learning lessons in conventional ways, but they are absorbing information and enjoying the process. “I’m fascinated with what is behind making games… the type of thinking, the creativity,” says Isaacs, who was named iste’s 2016 Outstanding Teacher. “This really gives students choices and lets them tap into a passion.” Which suits Isaacs just fine. He’s not against traditional classroom settings and delivering lessons in the usual ways. He just believes that, in this day and age, there are better ways to prepare learners for the world. Games are largely dependent on technology and effective ways to use it. For Isaacs, this is the ideal nexus to instruct modern students. He’s a firm believer in the maker movement, which

allows students to be hands-on with their learning and to create products. “I see this as empowering learners in the makers’ age,” he says. “I provide resources and support to the kids rather than direct, traditional instruction. This lets the students really own their learning.” His nonconventional approach to instruction applies to the physical environment as well. Isaacs admits that he is on a quest to build “the perfect space.” Through donors and the parent-teacher organization, he’s fortified his classroom with high-definition, large-screen televisions and added every gaming console imaginable. To top it off, he’s filled their space with a variety of comfortable furniture. Desks are out; Yogibo is in. He’s quick to add that relaxation and comfort are not the enemies of instruction. Game creation takes effort and teamwork. His students need to create as they depend on each other. “The real goal is to create a studio where each person has a role and a function and will learn,” Isaacs says. “In game design, there are so many parts to play, from graphic design to how the game will work. It’s not a linear path. The students work together to use the tools to make games. entrsekt



Steve Isaacs

He’s a firm believer in the maker movement, which allows students to be hands-on with their learning and to create products.

They have a lot of options for how to get there and a great deal of learning to do along the way.” Their learning is put to additional tests as well. For the past few years, Isaacs’ students have posted their accomplishments for various audiences via blogs, a variety of websites and a host of social media platforms. This opens the students’ work to several new worlds and allows experts to evaluate their products, creativity and thinking. “I’m very passionate about student voice. This lets educators see what we’re up to and challenges students to show their best effort.” As committed as Isaacs is to technology and the value of gaming, it all came about thanks to a bit of good fortune. He started as a teacher in special education and was based at a science and technology magnet school where he quickly saw how his colleagues were using technology to enhance their students’ education. It didn’t take long for Isaacs to get hooked on edtech integration and then eventually expand to gaming. “I just happened to be there, but being there really opened my eyes.” He continues to keep his eyes wide open and to evolve – as do his students, who are currently exploring cutting-edge

technology via virtual reality – and his enduring curiosity may also help explain his passion for Minecraft, a game that allows users to create their own worlds using building blocks and other resources. For Isaacs, the game is revolutionary. “When I brought this into the classroom, it was a huge aha moment in education because I wasn’t the expert, the kids were,” he says. “I saw their enthusiasm and I saw the potential of creating games and learning within Minecraft. I became the lead learner.” He’s so committed to the game, he’s now helping to take the power of Minecraft on the road. As one of the producers of Minefaire, a Minecraft fan experience, Isaacs is bringing together thousands of educators, parents, students and experts to demonstrate how this game can be used to transform education and thinking. And for Isaacs, the collaboration is as important as the content. “We need to be connected,” he says. “All of us – families, the community – but especially for us in the edtech world, where change is happening so fast and it’s a relatively new experience.” Game on.

tim dougl as is a former television news producer who also served as a senior media consultant for several speakers of the california state assembly. today, dougl as is a freel ance writer who covers a wide range of topics.



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Statement of Ownership. Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation (Required by 39 U.S.C. 3685). 1. Title of Publication: entrsekt. 2. Publication No.: 10825754. 3. Filing date: October 20, 2014. 4. Issue Frequency: Quarterly. Number of Issues Published Annually: 4. 6. Annual Subscription Price: $49.00. 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication (Not Printer): International Society for Technology in Education, 621 SW Morrison Street, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97205. 8. Complete Mailing Address of the Headquarters of General Business Offices of Publisher (Not Printer): for business name and address refer to #7. 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Addresses of the Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor: Publisher: ISTE, 1530 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 730, Arlington, VA 22209; Editor: Julie Phillips Randles, 524 Rye Court, Roseville, CA 95747; Managing Editor: Tracee Aliotti, Chief Marketing Officer, 621 SW Morrison Street, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97205. 10. Owner: Refer to #7. 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgagees, and Other Security Holders Owning or Holding 1 Percent or More of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages, or Other Securities: None. 12. The purpose, function, and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes has not changed during preceding 12 months. 13. Publication Name: entrsekt. 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: Fall 2014 (Volume 1 Number 2). 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation. Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months. 15a. Total Number of Copies (net press run): 19,788. 15b. Paid Circulation. 15b1. Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (Include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies): 16,430. 15b2. Mailed In-County Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (Include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies): Zero. 15b3. Paid Distribution Outside the Mails Including Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other Paid Distribution Outside USPS: 267. 15b4. Paid Distribution by Other Classes of Mail Through the USPS: 707. 15c. Total Paid Distribution [Sum of 15b]: 17,404. 15d. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail) 15d1. Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County Copies included on PS Form 3541: Zero. 15d2. Free or Nominal Rate In-County Copies included on PS Form 3541: Zero. 15d3. Free or Nominal Rate Copies Mailed at Other Classes Through the USPS: Zero. 15d4. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail (Carriers or other means): 2,077. 15e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution [Sum of 15d]: 2,077. 15f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and 15e): 19,481. 15g. Copies not Distributed: 307. 15h. Total (Sum of 15f and 15g): 19,788. 15i. Percent Paid (15c divided by 15f times 100): 89.3%. Actual No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date. 15a. Total No. Copies (net press run): 17,864. 15b1. Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (Include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies): 19,073. 15b2. Mailed In-County Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (Include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies): Zero. 15b3. Paid Distribution Outside the Mails Including Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other Paid Distribution Outside USPS: 93. 15b4. Paid Distribution by Other Classes of Mail Through the USPS: 680. 15c. Total Paid Distribution [Sum of 15b]: 18,437. 15d. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail) 15d1. Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County Copies included on PS Form 3541: Zero. 15d2. Free or Nominal Rate In-County Copies included on PS Form 3541: Zero. 15d3. Free or Nominal Rate Copies Mailed at Other Classes Through the USPS: Zero. 15d4. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail (Carriers or other means): 594. 15e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution [Sum of 15d]: 594. 15f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and 15e): 19,031. 15g. Copies not Distributed: 42. 15h. Total (Sum of 15f and 15g): 19,073. 15i. Percent Paid (15c divided by 15f times 100): 96.9%. 17. This Statement of Ownership will be printed in the Winter 2015 (Volume 1, Number 3) issue of this publication. 18. Name and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager, or Owner: Tiffany Montes, Senior Director of Finance, International Society for Technology in Education. Date: October 20, 2014. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties).


Digital Citizenship Defined

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10 things everyone should do before 8 a.m. The alarm buzzes and, like clockwork, your hand reaches out from the covers to slap the snooze button. Wrong choice. Scientists warn us that this habit restarts the brain’s sleep cycle all over again, so on the second go-around, you’re likely at an even deeper, earlier sleep phase. The results: you feel even worse than you did the first time. Instead of wrestling with grogginess, get up and cultivate these morning habits to start your day successfully:

Prayer/meditation. If you want to start slow, at least piddle with a purpose. This is your bubble in the day to roll in the limitless opportunities and possibilities the next 16 hours could hold, and appreciate your blessings. Sweat. Join the measly one-third of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 who regularly exercise, according to the Center for Disease Control’s National Health Interview Survey. You know it’s good for you – why risk skipping it as life piles up? Eat 30 grams of protein. That’s not the bacon industry talking, it’s Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois. These foods leave you feeling fuller longer – and reduce calorie intake for the day. Drink. Water, that is. Nutritionists say drinking 24 ounces of warm water – ahem, not coffee – in the early hours rehydrates your body, increases your alertness and flushes toxins that make you vulnerable to illness.

Check in with yourself. While you’re downing your protein, remind yourself of your core set of beliefs and the character traits you want to cultivate today. “I am kind; I am a good mediator; I am efficient” gets you farther than working the puzzle on the back of the Capt. Crunch box.

Turn the shower to cold. Not because you’re a sadist, but because doing this regularly treats symptoms of depression often more effectively than prescription medications. Look for long-lasting, positive impact on your immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems, too.

Tackle a top-priority project. If it needs to be done, these quiet hours are the best time slot to dig in without interruptions.

Pick up your stuff. Put the dishes in the sink and throw your socks in the hamper. Look forward to coming home to a cocoon rather than more chores. Blast your favorite song. Set your morning routine to a catchy tune or some inspiring lyrics to give your day a happy beat. Use a real alarm clock. Smartphone wake-ups come with the temptation to start your day with emails, texts and other demands. Don’t surrender your special hours to this buzz kill.

By Julie Sturgeon entrsekt


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