Collaborating on Professional Learning: Digital Tools

I know it has been a little over a month since my last post and as one of my professional resolutions, I resolve to uphold a regular posting schedule…again.  I was great about regular posts when I was in the classroom, but have fumbled around with what to say since I left the classroom.  Interestingly enough, I have more to say now, and just need to own up to it and make it happen.  So, I also resolve to follow through with unfinished posts (and various sundry projects as well).  To paraphrase Seth Godin in Poke the Box, not finishing a task doesn’t count as “shipping” (or delivering/presenting your work) and if you don’t “ship” you can’t succeed or fail.  Seth Godin is a huge proponent of failure as a means toward deeper, reflective learning.  As an educator, so am I.  It is about time that I take my own advice and just put stuff out there…good stuff of course, but there is no sense in having a bunch of ideas that never see the light of day.

In keeping with this resolution, below is a post I started some months ago (as in September 2015 to be exact…yes, I know I am running on super-slow island girl time here).  Hopefully some of these resources will be useful to you, your student(s), or your teammates.


Ms. W.

This past fall, I paired up with Wenona, one of our CCSD Title I Academic Coaches to deliver a Professional Learning session to our peers.  By bringing together both of our experiences within the classroom and as coaches, the two women were able to share ways in which digital tools can be used to help classroom teachers, streamline day-to-day work, and to aid in the presentation of Professional Learning.  Some of the digital tools referenced included, but were not limited to: Sway, Office Mix, Padlet, Voxer, Survey Monkey (Pro), Outlook, and more.  (see image below)

Using Tech to Streamline...Handout Chart Screenshot

This presentation was delivered via NearPod, which can be found here, or seen in PDF form as linked below.

Beyond the NearPod presentation, the general presentation materials can be found below.

Poetry Presentations

Today was a simple day in class.  After having some time to work on their poems, the students who did not present yesterday, shared their work in class.

Here is a link to some of the poems the students produced.

Once everyone was done, we had a brief discussion about the poetry writing process, the unit overall, and the parts the students enjoyed most.  The students then wrote thank you notes to one of their colleagues, thanking them for having shared their poem in class.




Sonnets and "Oh Captain! My Captain!"

In our two-week trek through poetry, we decided to “kick it old school” by looking at sonnets.  Though there are two different types of sonnets, the English and Italian, we focused on three of Shakespeare’s most notable sonnets: #30, #33, and #73.

As we discussed these three sonnets, the students constructed a Circle Map to describe this form of poetry.

We then switched gears and looked at Walt Whitman’s iconic poem “O Captain! My Captain!”  As I read stanza by stanza, I then asked the students to analyze what was being said in each stanza.  Once we finished the poem I showed them a rap version that brought this post-Civil War elegy to life with a modern twist.




Vocabulary Quiz and an Intro to (Slam) Poetry

As we tend to do most Fridays, we started class with a vocabulary quiz.

After completing the quiz, the students were to finish typing their “Dear Dr. King” Letters into their KidBlogs.  Thereafter, the were to respond to at least 2 of their classmates’ letters.  Finally, each student was to type their “If I Were President” speeches into KidBlog as well.  (The students will have to write responses to these too for homework.)

We then wrapped up the class period with an introduction to slam poetry featuring the videos below:


Adam Gottleib:

Lamont Carey:


As our closing, and ongoing poetry experiment, the students shared their thoughts on poetry thus far on this Padlet.




  • Read for 60 minutes.
  • Respond to at least 2 of your classmates’ “If I Were President” speeches onKidBlog.
    • Due by next Wednesday.
  • Finish any outstanding (KidBlog) work.


The Final #GeniusHour Work Day

Today marked the last Genius Hour day (for this Fall Semester at the very least).  After completing their Vocabulary from Classical Roots Unit #2 Test, the students worked on wrapping up their Genius Hour assignments.  Since it took some time for all of the students to finish, I waited until everyone was done with the test to discuss a few points about their upcoming Genius Hour Project submissions next week.  The highlights are below:

GH Last Work Day

The students then shared their final reflections via Padlet.


  • Read for 60 minutes.
  • Finish up Genius Hour Project (Due Friday, December 12th, 2014. NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED.)


Expository Exposed: Days 1 and 2

Both today and yesterday the students worked either individually or together to explore Expository writing.  They each started class with a question asked via the daily PowerPoint and via Padlet.  Yesterday’s topic was where the students had to choose one of two current event articles to skim and then comment upon.  The first article dealt with child homelessness and the second one dealt with gossiping.  Today’s warm up asked each student to share where they would wish to visit around the world and why.  A selection of their responses is below:

Padlet Where Would You Go


The students then continued their exploration by working on a web quest and creating a KidBlog post with a mini expository essay.  Today, upon finishing the previous task, the students then compared two songs through Essay Scorer, an online resource that automatically scores essays and provides feedback.  The links to the resources used yesterday and today can be found below:



  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Continue working on your Genius Hour project.