Exploring Voicethread Using PBL and ARCS Instructional Design Approaches

VoiceThread can provide a powerful communication mechanism to facilitate increased student attention, confidence,  relevance, and satisfaction. Often students lack self-motivation, do not feel confident in online learning environments, lack feedback, support, or don’t a clear understanding of course expectations. Implementing J.M Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivation (1983) through VoiceThread can increase student engagement and student motivation within blended learning environments.

Working with a GT teacher, Patty Christensen at Carroll ISD last year, we designed a VoiceThread project as a component within a 5th grade GT Project Based Learning (PBL) ELA and Social Studies lesson. As her instructional digital coach, I was able to assist Patty through the design of a PBL activity that implemented many blended learning components employing VoiceThread, KidBlog, and Edmodo. Students took the career role of a library scientist and investigated a famous creative leader. Activities led students through a media literacy series of activities to critically review journal articles and biographies about their famous leader’s life. Through this project, students connect prior learning to a current real world scenario or issue. Research materials were stored using Edmodo, making information accessible outside of class. Students presented their projects using VoiceThread and peers reviewed and facilitated feedback and questioning using ARCs instructional model within VoiceThread. Afterwards, students reflected about the experience in KidBlog, embedding all components of the project based learning activity.

Patty will be sharing her PBL project with me at TCEA’s ELA/SS Academy on Tuesday, Feb.  We hope you find some of these resources useful.


In Search of Creative Leaders PBL Lesson

Patty Christensen’s  Website


Connecting PBL and STEM… 40 Free Engaging Resources To Use In The Classroom

21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning

Welcome to one of my most resource-filled posts ever!  One that is dedicated to highlighting some amazing free resources that will help support STEM-based PBL in the classroom .  Before introducing this goldmine of resources… I want to  thank you for continuing to return and for continuing to share this blog with others. If you haven’t subscribed, please take a moment to do so. You will be guaranteed future posts by subscribing by either RSS or email. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter at mjgormans. I really do enjoy  networking with all of you! Now… on to  that goldmine I promised you. Have a great week!

Entire PBL 

The sites below are considered to be great resources that provide ideas or blueprints for an entire PBL project. Included in most plans are project titles, content addressed, 21st century skills, driving questions, products, procedures, and evaluation. The…

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Celebrating International Dot Day 2015 #dotday

Source: Celebrating International Dot Day 2015 #dotday

Divorced or Separated? Five Back-to-School Tips to Reduce Your Children’s Stress

helping children thrive

As you check off items on your children’s back-to-school supply list, consider this: Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your children is to help reduce the stresses that arise at the beginning of a new school year – particularly if you are recently separated or divorced.

The research-based tips I will share with you here have been developed particularly for families in marital transition. But the underlying principles can help all children – of all ages – to cope with the stresses of a new school year.

The single biggest question on children’s minds during times of transition is, “What’s going to happen to me?” This is true whether they’re toddlers or teens or any age in between. They almost always experience – and often hide from their parents – a myriad of uncertainties and emotions about what lies ahead.

And then…there’s a new school year –…

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Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Higher Education

User Generated Education

The Flipped Classroom, as most know, has become quite the buzz in education.  Its use in higher education has been given a lot of press recently.  The purpose of this post is to:

  1. Provide background for this model of learning with a focus on its use in higher education.
  2. Identify some problems with its use and implementation that if not addressed, could become just a fading fad.
  3. Propose a model for implementation based on an experiential cycle of learning model.

Background About the Flipped Classroom

This first section provides information from various articles that describe the flipped classroom, and how it is being discussed and used in educational settings.

In its simplest terms, the flipped classroom is about viewing and/or listening to lectures during one’s own time which frees up face-to-face class time for experiential exercises, group discussion, and question and answer sessions.

It’s called “the flipped classroom.” While there…

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Don’t Stop Believing…Leading Change Through ACTION

Today I had the privilege of spending the entire day with Eric Sheninger. He encouraged us to consider who will tell our story if we don’t. What will they say?

That was an important and scary question for me to consider right now. I am gun shy as my major professor stated. My story is an amazing story and I have been blessed to meet and work with some amazing educators. This is my perspective from past experiences. I have seen kids make a very large impact in the world . I have been so blessed to identify my passions early on and to have had a creator put special opportunities in my path along with some amazing kids, teachers, and leaders.

Assisting the community of Dublin, Texas with  Dr. Shaun Barnett and his wife Keri Barnett with a 1:1 K12 technology initiative in 2010, I became a leader. I am grateful to both of them for their leadership.  I believe this was the 2nd 1:1 K12 initiative in the state of Texas. Serving as the district instructional technologist and grant coordinator and later under a different leader a technology coordinator, I became a connected educator. I found myself working and leading the state in, dare I say the word, Project Share (the state’s first attempt for a connected Learning Management system) with Ms. Barnett. At that time, I had no one really in the area or Texas to connect with or to assist me. We brought in Alan November and Apple to assist in training.  What did I do? I joined a PhD program to connect with the top scholars of the world and began using social media to include Project Share, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. I  located people to assist me in understanding how to connect others to content. I became a passionate curator, creator, researcher, publisher, and scholar and feel as if I was blessed to oversee some amazing transformations. No one really understood what I was doing, but now I believe we planted a seed for not just a rural community, but for an entire global movement.

Project Share: It didn’t work out, but the concept was right on. The ability for all students in Texas to have a digital portfolio via an LMS in which stakeholders could communicate and introduce blended learning was futuristic. I submitted a proposal and was surprised when we were selected to serve on a panel at the first SXSWedu conference. Yes, the LMS platform was flawed, Epsilen, but the IDEA of sharing was truly noble and ahead of it’s time. However, I found change slower than expected and a lack of understanding on the concept of connected learning. In fact, at the end of the experience after hours of free assistance from me to the Epsilen team, my participation in focus groups, and a public push for improved LMS features and training ,  I  found that I had lost my ability to even post or share with a wider network within Project Share. What did I do? I turned to other tools like Canvas and continued my passion to assist in helping others see the power of open source and communication.

Student Voice: I remember introducing the concept of video creation with Samuel Parsi from Apple in a Challenge Based Learning PD. From that students began creating video and we were invited to lead change via a Ignite session in Austin in 2012 in the Digital Square. I remember taking students to TCEA 2012 in Austin in which my friends Randy Rogers, Dwight Goodwin, Mark Hooker, and Scott Floyd invited my students to participate in an Ignite session on their cause to TAKE 5: 5 Ways to Change Your Community and their efforts to QR code their 5 small museums. We used Google Maps to track our cause, which became eventually a Save Dublin campaign, #saveddp. Their efforts to save their rural town through digital curation left a huge impact. Mark invited our students to the first TED student event and we saw our first 3D printer. That led to a NASA STEAM camp program, which at that time and to my knowledge was the first STEAM camp program in Texas. 

Makered and STEAM: No one in 2012 understood the maker movement. I am grateful to Whitney and Tom Kilgore who invited me to be to host some of the first #txeduchat events, all focused on STEAM and makered ideas. Those ideas assisted us last year in leading the entire world with the first student NASA launch parties . We also hosted a Google Hangout to reflect on STEAM programs.

From this experience, I was able to take ideas to the Kennedy Space Center. This month I found myself leading makercamp at the Dallas Perot Museum and again saw kids amazed to create 3D objects for 3D printing for the first time in the Perot Learning Lab. During their makerspace, kids were amazed and so excited to see everyone enjoying their reflections.

I was invited to Washington DC last October to lead a social media event at a NASA clean room facility. What did I do? I didn’t shut out the students and take it in just for myself. I brought the kids in, thankfully with Mr. Chris Underwood and Bea Price. They agreed to Skype with me all day and I believe that was the first time at a NASA press conference that Skype was used  during public questioning. We had 5th graders asking tough questions to some of the top heliophysics experts of the world.

Even though I have had been afforded all of these opportunities, I found myself during this entire time wondering if I could continue the charge. It is hard to be a bright light within an institution and at times hard to overcome obstacles, barriers, fear, efforts to control innovative change. It is hard to remain positive. Change is difficult . Managing my time and focus had become difficult along with maintaining a belief that I could be positive and actually continue in the public education sector.

This spring I had many opportunities to move to the private sector. I have had some leaders tell me “Your too bright to be in public education.” “Jennifer, you need to be at a university.” “There is no future in public education, everything is moving to charter and online options because the system is broken.”

I say to these naysayers, I BELIEVE in everyone’s right to an equal opportunity and the spirit of public education. I BELIEVE in YOU. I BELIEVE in our CHILDREN. I AM GRATEFUL  and WE WILL SUCCEED.

Focus on Positive

Camp Google is a month long online science camp for kids, launching on July 13

Scholarships with July 2015 deadlines

JLV College Counseling

JLV College Counseling Blog | 66 Scholarships with July 2015 deadlines

Attending college can be quite expensive for students and their families. Luckily, there are many college scholarships and contests available to help pay for a college education. Students should seek out and apply for scholarships in which they meet the eligibility requirements. Below are 66 college scholarships and contests with July 2015 deadlines. Only brief information about each scholarship is listed. Therefore, students are encouraged to visit the scholarship websites to get further details about eligibility and requirements.

Advanced Institute for Oral Health Scholarship
Sponsor: Advanced Institute for Oral health
Amount: $1,000
Deadline: Jul. 1, 2015
Description: Scholarship is open to graduating high school seniors with a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher who are planning to attend an accredited university for the 2015-2016 academic year. Applicant must submit a 500 word essay describing where they see themselves four years from now.

AIChE Minority Scholarship Award

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My mother’s puzzlement

Granted, and...

My mother is an extraordinary person. Yesterday, while I made lunch for my son, father, and her, she was playing her weekly game of tennis – at age 90 – for an hour and a half. Two days previously she had hosted 6 for dinner. She is a force of nature.

As with all such vital people, she has strong opinions. Indeed, one of the time-honored family traditions is to discuss and argue the issues of the day over meals. Naturally, when I am around, discussion often turns to education.

My mother was shocked and irritated to learn that teachers do not have to take voice lessons to become teachers. “How in the world can you engage young kids and make the teaching clear without having a trained voice?”

This query does not come from ignorance. My mother took acting lessons back in the day from the great Stella Adler and Stage…

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Interview | Time for Schoology


The initial idea for Schoology came about during college when three friends, Jeremy Friedman, Ryan Hwang and Tim Trinidad tried to develop an effective platform for sharing lecture notes with everyone in the class. After two weeks of development, the project gained traction, but not in higher education; rather, K-12 students began actively using the service and teachers began reaching out. “It got us thinking,” says Jeremy. “The learning management system that our university relied upon handled the basics just fine, but missed so many opportunities to be a more collaborative and more effective tool for both professors and students,” he says. In K-12, the problem was even larger, since most schools didn’t even have learning management platforms. “Why not create a platform for K-12 that looks and feels like the tools people use outside the classroom, but contains the functionality of a learning platform?” Jeremy asked. “Better yet, why not provide a platform that could be implemented in a single classroom with teachers and students, or implemented on a school-wide…

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