Jenna Aronson

learning to teach to teach to learn

Connecting Educators Around the World

Backchanneling is a term I’ve never heard before. In the classroom, students and teachers can use networked computers to have a real-time online conversation alongside the primary classroom activity. This means that students can actively engage in the activity by listening and commenting through back channeling. This tweet explains that teachers can poll students on a particular classroom event or decision, conduct informal assessments, assess students prior knowledge about a  given topic, brainstorm ideas for a writing project, and hold discussions about a video showed in class. Backchanneling encourages students to ask questions about anything they don’t understand and empowers their voices to make them appreciated participants in the classroom.

Webinars are an incredible way to share information through the internet with people all across the world. Webinars are seminars on the web, or web conferencing! Anyone in remote locations can sit at their desk, classroom, or in bed and listen to a seminar on a certain topic. On Thursday, April 17th, there is a webinar on preparing students for digital learning success at 2:00 pm CT. In this webinar, Phillip Duhn, Director of Digital Instruction & Technology at Greenwich Public Schools in Greenwich, Connecticut, will be discussing how to integrate technology into everyday instruction to ensure that students have the digital literacy skills needed for their education and in the future. This sounds awesome and I would definitely register if I didn’t have class at the exact same time…

Along with webinars, there are also conferences to attend to learn about new teaching strategies and ideas. The Reinventing the Classroom Virtual Conference will be on Thursday, May 1, will share the most innovative, long-lasting and creative projects in worldwide education. During this conference, educators will gather online to share ideas about teaching with technology, student devices, online learning, subject specific edtech, creative edtech, web 2.0, and administrative support. This conference will last almost 24 hours, so educators around the world can share their ideas! This is one of the coolest ideas I’ve ever heard and is a walking advertisement for why technology in education is essential.

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Goodbye to Red Felt Grading Pens

I have learned the importance of feedback through my Personal Learning Network and in class. This blog post talks about the importance of narrative feedback, a new approach to giving suggestions to students through conversation. Instead of just receiving a letter grade a feedback from a teacher, through narrative feedback, students are able to be critics of their own progress and achievement improvement.

Some teachers think it is too time consuming to give narrative feedback compared to just placing a number or letter on students’ work (if so, they shouldn’t be teachers!!!), but now there are many incredible web tools to assist teachers in proving feedback.

1)   Kidblog allows students to be writers and self-evaluators, but leaves a comment section so teachers can leave private or public comments on students’ posts.

2)   Schoology gives students and teachers the opportunity to communicate in writing.  It is also known as a high-powered Learning Managing System (LMS) and has built-in media features, so teachers and students can respond with audio and video feedback as well.

3)   Kaizena is an app that interacts with Google Docs and allows teachers to highlight text and leave voice comments on students’ work. Students can access Google Docs at school, at home, and on their various devices.

4)   Voki is an animated podcasting site, so students and teachers can create videos with animation and voices to evaluate their work and provide feedback on other assignments.

5)   Diigo is known as a social bookmarking website and app, but also is an undervalued tool for meaningful narrative feedback. Students can bookmark and annotate websites and teachers can comment on this content. Also, Diigo has an EDU version, so teachers can turn a classroom Diigo into a Learning Management System.


We all know what it feels like to receive a graded paper from a teacher with a letter at the tops and red markings everywhere, but narrative feedback is a much better approach to pull students away from worrying so much about the grade and more about the learning. As much as we try to avoid it, our education system puts too much emphasis on the scores of students’ work rather than their progress and learning. If I had received narrative feedback from my teachers in middle and high school, I would appreciate that my teachers took the time to highlight my success and give me personal suggestions. Hopefully, students will learn not to just glance at the grade and forget that the assignment ever existed, but rather take in narrative feedback and think about the conversations they are having with their teachers about their improvements for the future.



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Google Voice: Making our World Even Smaller


Google has done it again. It was first a search engine and now it has many, many different app including Gmail, Google Images, Google News, Google Drive, Google Circles, etc…now there’s Google Voice.

Most people would agree that texting is easier when trying to communicate with someone compared to email, but teachers don’t like to give out their personal phone number. Education is all about communication, so now with Google Voice, they can set up a new phone number with Google. The site then asks for a forwarding number, so incoming phone calls can be directly linked to the teachers personal phone number without the students having access to knowing their digits

Another cool feature of Google Voice is that voicemails and text messages get transcribed and sent to a Gmail account. Teachers can see their students’ text messages and voicemails all together in their email inbox and reply through email, but students will receive these messages through texts.

Basically, Google is just making communication easier and easier. Students should feel comfortable to contact their teachers for assistance and support, but it may be easier to send your teacher a quick text rather than running around the school finding them during their free periods. Some teachers might argue that this is crossing the lines of privacy because teachers should not be “texting” their students, but in reality, Google Voice is just making it easier for students to get the support they need to be successful in the classroom. This is a great solution to keeping their personal phone numbers separate from their work environments.

Parents should also be given the teacher’s Google Voice number to contact with questions or concerns. Teachers can keep all of their communication records with students and parents in one location to keep organized and best prepare what is needed for each individual. Before reading this blog post, I had no idea that Google Voice existed and I can easily see myself creating a Google Voice number for my students, parents, and other co-workers in the future.



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the technology never ends!

TACKK is a free tool that can be used for creating digital profiles! Students can create their own digital work and insert text, photos, videos, and audio files. TACKK portfolios are great to be used as blog posts instead of just boring text. I might even consider using this free website for upcoming assignments in this class. If students don’t have access to iMovie or Quicktime at home, they will be able to log onto TACKK and work on their digital portfolios as home. As a student, I would have much preferred to use TACKK or another digital portfolio site instead of writing an essay for any assignment. Teachers should start having their students play around with digital portfolio sites at a young age because I have a feeling that they will be completing more and more assignments using technological devices and programs compared to being confined to Microsoft Office.

This teacher videotaped all of his lessons and posted them on the classroom website. Students can then access the lessons at all times and pause, fast forward, and rewind the lessons to review any material that he or she desires. I have never thought of doing this before, but I don’t know why all teachers don’t do this! How easy is it to place a video camera at the back of the classroom and at the end of each day, upload the videos to the classroom website. If the teacher is concerned about the public viewing this videos, then he or she can make the classroom website private with student log-ins. I can’t wait to tell my parents that I finally found a way to put our FLIP video camera to use. I think it’s been sitting in the cabinet for a couple years now…

A lot of the tweets I have discussed in my blog relate to education, but in reality, technology is invading every field of life as well….and rapidly. Especially in airports and on airplanes, new technological devices are popping up everywhere. From automated passport-controled kiosks to automated luggage deposit stations to do-it-yourself boarding stations, airports are using technology to decrease lines, frustration, and cluster during the traveling process. When I just came home from Berlin over spring break, I went through customs in a total of 10 minutes because there were 20 automated stations where we scanned our own passports and then just got the receipt checked over by a airline employee. After a 9 hour flight, it was a huge relief to skip out of the normal hour long customs line!


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Coding? Explain please!

When I hear the word coding, I think of computers, engineers, and something that I know absolutely nothing about. This blog post explains that coding is becoming more important than ever before because computer related jobs are growing at a rate of 2x faster than any other jobs. If our main goal as teachers is to help our students become successful members of society and prepare them for their future, then we should provide them with all of the necessary skills to enter the real world.

Most people use computers everywhere they go whether it is in the workplace or at home, yet barely anyone knows how they work and what all that embedding stuff we talk about in class means! Now, people are even considering coding as a fundamental literacy skill for students because many of them will need to code in order to do their jobs in the future.

England schools are ahead of the game. Beginning in September 2014, England is implementing a compulsory computer coding in schools at all grade levels. Obviously, this isn’t a joke and coding may be mandatory in United States schools by the time I’m a teacher. What this means to me is that technology is playing a huge role in the new emerging ideas of education. Although education seems to be one of the slowest fields to make serious changes, technology isn’t going away. Ever. Let’s embrace it and learn the real science behind the machines we literally cannot live without.


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tweeting galore

UtellStory, Narrable, and YouTube audio slideshows are three different applications that allow students to create slideshows and presentations with audio. Children love to tell their own stories, especially when they’re the ones talking! Digital storytelling is important for students to participate in because their creative minds and ideas should be heard by many people. Digital storytelling allows students to produce their own work and share it with other students and educators in other classrooms and schools.

It is so important for all students to receive individual feedback on their work in order to monitor their growth. Feedback should be given in the right way in order to allow their students to understand what to improve on or keep the same. Teachers shouldn’t be the only ones giving feedback to their students; students should be giving feedback to their teachers as well. This allows teachers to learn what learning strategies these students enjoy and understand what helps the students learn best. Also, feedback shouldn’t just be given at the end of a unit or at the end of the year. It is something that is constant and should be given and received during the learning process.

This tweet gives the rankings of 50 educational blogs that are well liked. I have learned that building a strong personal learning network means listening and reading other teachers’ ideas, opinions, and findings. I can add these educational blogs to my feedly account, so I can read them all from one source instead of visiting 50 different websites each day. By building my personal learning network now when I am only a sophomore in college, I will be very prepared to share my own ideas and reach out for advice through social media.

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The Unknowns of Google, iPads, and Cell Phones

Every student knows that Google is a search engine. It is the website that most likely pops up when the Internet is loaded on the screen. Google is one of the most powerful and useful websites created, but there are so many ways students can use Google to its potential. The article in this tweet explains 14 different ways that students can get more out of their Google searchers. Here are some of the ones that I wasn’t aware of, but these can help both me and my students receive the most specific and relevant online research.

  1. Use “~” followed by a search term to find search results that include related words to that term
  2. Don’t ask Google questions!
  3. In Google Scholar, you can use “author:” followed by the author name to find articles by a specific author
  4. Use the Google search bar as a calculator, converter, and as a dictionary!

More and more school districts are providing their students with iPads, but teachers are in need of training for how to use them effectively in the classroom. This article demonstrates a 1:1 framework for teaching with iPads. Through iPads, students have access to authentic networks and can creative individualized material on apps like Twitter, Reddit, and Quora. Students can publish their own thoughts and ideas on their iPads and share them with their peers and other communities. Another component of this 1:1 framework is students have access to personalized feedback on their iPads. With their own screens, games, and automated learning software, apps can provide students with instant feedback, immediate progress, and tools to self-direct their learning by choosing topics that cater their interests.

As the push for technology in the classroom becomes stronger then ever, this article in the tweet offers suggestions for teachers on how to successfully allow cell phones in the classroom. Teachers should have students keep their phones upside down on their desk throughout the day instead of just pulling them out when they use them as a dictionary, to take notes, or complete assignments. This way, the teacher can keep on eye on the phones at all times and the students become immune to having their phones available rather than as a distraction. The teacher has to have clear expectations for the students if their phone goes off in class. There should also be no difference in the amount of time or ways the teacher uses his or her phone compared to the students. Teachers should not be texting in class and should use the device as much or as little as the students. They can update the class website, demonstrate class activities, or pull up photos to teach the students how to effectively use their cell phones in the classroom.

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Always a Big Brother to Me

I don’t want to give a description of this video because it is more special to watch and learn about Jordan through his story.

Here is the link to the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation Facebook page:

email me ( if you want a bracelet for $5!!

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A Need for Objects with On/Off Buttons

This tweet includes a link to a website which shares social media strategies for any classroom. It explains how study after study demonstrates the benefits of networking and this begins in the classroom. Social networking allows teachers to incorporate real-world experiences into the classroom. Here are the most important strategies suggested for teachers:

  1. Twitter: Teachers should tweet classroom updates, links, polls, due dates, and quick formative assessments. Create a unique Twitter hashtag for the classroom so that students feel they can tweet their opinions and ideas for their classmates to see.
  2. Google Plus: This is the site for discussions! Create a class “circle” and allow students to discuss, debate, and express ideas.
  3. SchoolTube: This is an awesome website for teachers to create engaging and creative videos to share with other educators! SchoolTube videos can be short, but get students attention instantly with the different colors, fonts, music, and voices.

The only experience I’ve had with geocatching is in a high school P.E. outdoor adventure class to go on a scavenger hunt around the school grounds. Until I read this article, I never imagined using geocatchers in the classroom. Geocatching is a new outdoor hobby that combines technology and nature using GPS technology. These are great technological devices to introduce to students when teaching about nature. Geocatchers are little devices with a minicomputer inside that let the user track different items and locations! I would love to use this technology with my students by creating scavenger hunts outside to teach them about plants, trees, grass, and caring for mother nature.

Many more schools are supplying students with tablets to use in the classroom and teachers need to be prepared and knowledgeable about how to use them successfully.  A tablet provides a multidimensional approach to appeal to a wide variety of learning styles. Tablets increase the amount of collaborative work between students and teachers. Teachers are using the term “flipped classroom” to explain how students can take notes at home on their tablets which allows for more engaging activities during the school day in class. Some teachers are finding a benefit in online testing, which gives them immediate feedback on the progress of their students.  From my own experience with tablets, I would encourage my students to use the tablet to become organized with their assignments, due dates, and schedules. Tablets are beneficial for all students because certain individual accommodations can be made including typing class notes or instructions and online textbooks.

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Thinking Beyond Social Media

Most people assume that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are purely designed for social media. As an active member of all three programs, I have learned how the power of these websites makes permanent changes to society. On January 12, 2014, my cousin, Jordan Michael Filler, lost his battle with heroin addiction at the age of 23. Jordan was like a brother to me and I miss him more everyday. Unfortunately, the demons that lived inside Jordan won this battle. Jordan was one of the most selfless, determined, and loving people I have ever met. As part of his legacy, The Jordan Michael Filler Foundation – Saving our Children from Heroin, has been established to take Jordan’s fight out from behind closed doors and into the spotlight, creating awareness of this horrible addiction. Through scientific research, legislative reform, increased public awareness, and providing treatment to children whose families cannot afford it, The Foundation will make a difference in the prevention and treatment of heroin addiction.

The Jordan Michael Filler Foundation’s Facebook page was created and within 48 hours, 5,000 people had “liked” the page. 5,000 people from around the world!!! My family and I were absolutely speechless. Do we even know 5,000 people? Who would have ever thought that such outpouring love and support could be shown from 5,000 people on Facebook in 48 hours?

That was my tweet 24 hours after the Facebook page had been created and 32 people “favorited” my tweet. My friends, family, and people I don’t even know from college campuses, high schools, and communities around the world are on board to save other children, and their families, from suffering in the fate of Jordan.

This is the definition of digital citizenship. The Jordan Michael Filler Foundation has become what it is today because of social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have proven to be one of the most powerful sources of change in our current society. Just at this article embedded below explains, digital citizenship isn’t just about learning how to safely engage on the Internet. An important aspect of digital citizenship is learning how to use websites to their potential. I don’t even think that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram should be coined as “social media” sites. There are millions of other uses besides posting pictures, expressing feelings, and accepting friend requests. The strength and power of these sites has infinite possibilities to make serious change around the world because of their networking capabilities. The way that the next generations will learn to make changes to society through the Internet is by teaching them in school. Teachers need to support every student in becoming a safe, productive, and valuable digital citizens. By incorporating technology into lesson plans, teaching safe practices on the Internet, and providing examples of how to take advantage of the endless programming opportunities, we will see a shift in our society by bringing our daily lives online.  Teachers have this incredible opportunity to teach their students how to become the most effective digital citizens to ever exist. 

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