Monday, July 8, 2019

Curation You (and I) Can Do

I took a small break last week from my curation theme and I'm operating more on "summer time" right now, hence the delay in posting. I've covered WHY we should curate & shared a few digital tools you can use in "Digital Curation Tools You Can Do". I followed that with 3 activities you can do WITH your students and why this can be time well spent in"Curation Activities You Can Do".

This week, I'd like to share some of the ways I, personally, have curated resources, ideas, tools, tricks, and much more. Honestly, I am a kind of person who likes variety - not too much - but some. This could be a bad thing for some people, but I enjoy it. Each time I find something new, I find things I like, and don't like, about it. It always makes me rethink WHAT I'm curating and forces me to really think through WHY I'm curating, not just for the items, but also the tool I am using to curate with.

I want to share these photos without an explanation. Don't worry, I'll get to it later. I just ask you to take a look at the 3 photos of shells.

For the past few years, I have been reading, absorbing, collecting, seeking, learning, and being amazed at everything that is out there. Not a day goes by that I haven't learned something and I love it! I had a teacher say to me, after showing some ways to manipulate images and text in Drawings, "HOW do you know all this?" He was amazed each little thing I showed him. I smiled and laughed, and being a tad embarrassed, said, "I spend an extreme amount of time learning and playing with this stuff. I love it that much!" 

There's no way I can keep all of this in my brain, and I've been on a journey to find the perfect system to curate all the good stuff I find.

Starting off, I did the best thing I knew how. At the time, I created a Google Doc to collect it all. Initially, it was just a listing of the things I found. Then I learned about Table of Contents, so I began grouping them by category (Google Drawings, Google Admin, Google Sheets, etc) and yes, I did put them alphabetically. That Doc has now grown to 32 pages long!

Want to take a peek? Click HERE.

Next, I tried to find a better method. I began feeling I needed to do more than "just curate". I needed to get it into a place I could share it. So, I created a Google Form to give myself consistent parameters of information collection. I really believed this was going to be the "answer" for me. While it's a great system to collect items, I very rarely referred to it. I would literally collect, and then not do much with it. Definitely NOT a good idea, at least not for the purpose of sharing. I have just over 290 "things" in the resulting spreadsheet. It's not a bad method, it just hasn't worked out for me the way I'd hoped based on my WHY (I wanted to share the info, not just collect).

Here's a LOOK at this one, if you are interested.

My next curation adventure was to create a blog because I REALLY wanted to share all the "stuff" I was finding and learning. I created a blog - called "My Brain Can't Hold It All" so that I could help myself keep track of it. I did refer to both of my previous curation collections to help start me off. This has evolved into my "second" blog ... TYCD: Resources. I now post to it nearly every Tuesday with a tool, a resource, activity, or something I believe will be helpful. I don't go into much detail, just a quick overview and I try to tuck in why I think it is a good one. This is linked at the top of my blog, on the tab "TYCD: Resources". 

You can also click HERE.

And that leads me to where I am today. I don't have ONE perfect system. Instead, I use several different ones - each for their own reason.

๐Ÿ“จ I use email to curate items that I feel I need to share with specific people or groups (typically those at my job). 

๐Ÿฆ I use Twitter to share out quickly & tag people I feel benefit from this item. 

✍ I continue to use my "2nd blog" - TYCD: Resources - to share out to a large audience; but I focus on THIS blog, "Tech You Can Do", to share out details and bigger projects & ideas. I also fell in love with the label structure and the fact that Blogger is a Google product.

๐ŸŒด I continue to use Pearltrees on my "Professional Learning" tab on this blog to share people I follow & admire, Twitter-ers I follow, and several professional learning options people can take advantage of. 

๐Ÿ—ฃ I use a Google Site to house a collection of templates my colleague, Beth Kingsley & I, have created and freely share for teachers to use. (You can find it linked above on the "Templates for Teachers" tab or click HERE.) 

๐ŸŒŠ And finally, I've recently jumped on the Wakelet wagon and have created a decent number of collections that I am proudly sharing out for the first time via this blog. [Check out my new Wakelet Collections tab at the top.]

To wrap this up, let's go back to the photos I shared at the beginning. While walking on the beach, I had a realization about curation. You see, two of my daughters and I had great fun collecting seashells. One daughter collected one particular shell, the other collected pretty much anything she could find. I collected just couple that really spoke to me. As I was thinking about the method and the results of our collections, I realized each of us had our own WHY, our own method, and each of us ended up with our own beautiful collection. And through this realization, I've realized that what I've been searching for is not one single tool, but rather, a collection of tools. Maybe that's what is perfect for me.

I hope that my journey to finding curation tools, ideas, and resources helps you. Maybe I've shared a tool or two that inspires you to curate your own collection. And maybe you will share that collection with me and we can inspire each other.

Have a question or comment? Feel free to comment below, reach out to me on Twitter @kiefersj, or email me at

Sunday, June 30, 2019

#PodPeeks: Teachonomy Talks

Today I'm highlighting another awesome podcast I've added to my playlist, Teachonomy Talks with Chuck Poole. Most of the podcasts I listen to I do a great deal of learning. Teachonomy Talks is a bit different ... and I love it! It's DEFINITELY a thinker, but it's more of an "inspirational thinker". Each episode is short and packed with inspiring and reflective thoughts. I love how Chuck shares short and thought-provoking ideas.

I have shared many Teachonomy Talks episodes with others. Often, I feel like Chuck knows what is going on in my brain and he is speaking directly to me and they provide reaffirmation, a different perspective, or just some inspiration to give me a boost.

You can find all the episodes (currently there are 131!) on your favorite podcast player or on the Teachonomy Talks website. Here are a few episodes I'd like to highlight:

๐Ÿ’™ Episode 131: "Where Do You Shine Your Spotlight?"
๐Ÿ’™ Episode 126: "Thoughts for Teachers: Do You Look Through Your Backup Camera"
๐Ÿ’™ Episode 115: "Two Minute Timeout for Teachers... You Were Built to Sail"
๐Ÿ’™ Episode 107: "Two Minute Timeout for Teachers... YOU are a Masterpiece"
๐Ÿ’™ Episode 101: "Thoughts for Teachers: Do Your Flaws Forms a Foundation?"

I could go on ... but if you tune in for one or two of these, I'm sure you'll be hooked, and you'll find many more wonderful episodes.

I also want to give Chuck's entire website a shout out ... don't just stop at the podcast. Chuck also writes a blog (I subscribe to it), it active on Twitter (@cpoole27), has a YouTube channel, a Facebook group, AND he wrote a book! His message is definitely one you need to check out.

Looking for additional podcast recommendations? I've highlighted numerous ones on the label "#PodPeeks" here on this blog. You can click on the link at the bottom of this blog, the label to the far right or here ⇨ #PodPeeks.

Next week when I return, I will have another curation blog - this time I will be share some of my curations.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Curation Activities You Can Do

Last week, I shared "Digital Curation Tools You Can Do" with 3 digital tools you can use to curate the various articles, ideas, activities, books, etc that you come across. If one of these works well for you, awesome! 

This week I want to share a different idea about curation. YOU don't have to do it all. 

"Why not have STUDENTS help with the curation of sources?"

Today, I'm sharing 3 different ways you could have students curate WITH you below, but let's talk about WHY you should have students curate sources.

We all want our students to be using good and credible sources, right? So quite often, we provide the sources FOR our students. But we are missing out on a big opportunity when we do this. At some point, students will be researching on their own. They will be sifting through vast amount of information that is at their fingertips. Have you ever seen students research? They go for the first few links - not the best ones - and call it a day.

That's why I think this is such a good activity. The skill of finding good, credible sources is a tough one. It's tough for many adults! I've heard many teachers comment on how their students don't find good sources and ask how we help them get better.

Think about this the next time you ask your students to do research. What if you collaborated with them on this task? What if this was step one in the research/project/activity? Hear me out ...

This can be beneficial on a couple of levels for you and your students. First, even if you ask each student in your class to find a single source, you could end up with 20+ sources of information on your topic. How great is that? Students finding the sources and then having a bank to refer to? Hot dog! Can you imagine what your bank of sources would look like if you have each student find 2 ... or more? And how about then having students use that bank of sources to DO the project or activity? How awesome!

Before curating, start out with reminders as to what makes sources good and then challenge students to go find ONE. Now, that might sound super easy, but I'm not suggesting JUST finding a source. The student must provide a short summary of the info AND ... here's my favorite ... explain why they chose this source. Explain what makes it "good"? I also think you should layer in a little fun and suggest that if more than 1 person submits the same source, the one with the best explanation gets credit and the other(s) have to find a new source! Now we get into providing the best explanation ... kicking it up a notch!

The second, and possibly more important piece to this activity, is for you to then have discussions about the sources they have collected. Once you have your initial bank of sources, take some time to pull up a few of them and talk through them as a class. Have the student who found the source explain their thinking and allow other students to ask questions. Now we are dipping into presenting skills. Yay!! 

After the first few, you might want to challenge your students to pair up and have these discussions with a partner and provide the opportunity to change their source. We all can pick out bummers, so putting into practice immediately can help students solidify their knowledge. They are curating and evaluating sources as the same time. And yes, they HAVE to explain why they think it's credible. 

Having conversations about the credibility WITH the students allows them to share their thinking ... and allows YOU to clear up misconceptions or help them reframe their thinking. And might I add ... they are seeing the CONTENT over and over with each source you cover? It's like a double-gift. And ultimately, you and your students have a solid bank of sources to work with.

Now, as I mentioned at the beginning, I have 3 different ways you can collect the information to ensure your students have a place to start. They only require a Google account and you can customize what you are looking for. I've created 3 different curation collections using Google Sheets, Forms, and Slides. They all have the same format, and to give a clearer idea, I used the idea of finding sources for an American Revolution unit. You can adjust colors to fit your theme. Feel free to make your own copy and use it. They will all open up in Template mode, so click on the blue "Use Template" button in the top right corner and it's all yours. I will also house these on my Templates for Teachers website.

Google Form  A Google Form is another simple and easy way to collect sources, this time with less concern over information getting lost or changed. Allowing students to enter information using the Form, and then sharing the resulting Sheet can be shared with just viewing privileges. Don't worry, you and your students can still click each link so it can still be shared as a bank of sources. It would be an excellent starting point for doing a class collaboration on curation. Forms keep the information organized and allow you to give very clear instructions. You are welcome to click the link below - it will make your own copy and from there you can modify it or use it as inspiration.

COPY Form for "American Revolution Curation"   (Sorry ... the template URL trick doesn't work for Forms)

Google Sheet ↭ A Google Sheet is a simple and easy way to collect sources, or anything else, really. Give each column a name and a purpose and let the information be gathered. The sheet I created has 5 columns: one for the student's name, one for the name of the person/event/fact, one for the URL, one for the summary, and one for the reasoning behind the selection of the source. The beauty of a Sheet is with the top row "frozen", you can alphabetize by any column you'd like. If you ask students to find 3 sources, alphabetizing column A will allow you see quickly how many each student has submitted. I also find the ability to have multiple tabs along the bottom keep information separated yet all in the same spot. You are welcome to take and modify this Sheet to make it work for you and your students

Google Slide ↭ A Google Slide is DEFINITELY not for your first go-round with classroom curation. I created a Slide deck in the same theme as the Form and the Sheet. There is a slide for a Person, Event, and Fact. Each student would need to make a copy of each. You will end up with quite an extensive Slide deck! I did color code the Slides to make it slightly easier. Like the Sheet, sharing editing privileges opens up the ability for accidents to happen. Another way to go about doing this, is to give each student a copy of their own to work on, and then share the Slide decks with viewing abilities. I really love Slides and can see this working ... but please know that this is probably the toughest one. You and your students need to be very cautious about using it. As with the Form and the Sheet, you are welcome to use this Slide deck or take it and customize it for your use. 

I do hope these are helpful activities for you and your students. I believe these can be incredibly powerful ways to help your students become better researchers!

Have a question or comment? Feel free to comment below, reach out to me on Twitter @kiefersj, or email me at

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Digital Curation Tools You Can Do

Do you ever feel like you have information overload? 

I do. A lot. I see so much I want to read or try or create or soak in or share out. I feel like I am constantly reading and looking. My husband often asks, "How do you have so much going on in your brain?" ๐Ÿ˜Š But I don't feel like this is a bad thing ... not at all.

What I struggle with is keeping all the good things I see organized in a way that will make sense to me now AND later. Call me crazy, but I've not found "the perfect" system. I hear people swear by this tool or that tool, and I feel a little jealous! I wish I had "the perfect" system. I've tried out others' systems, but it doesn't work for me - not in the "perfect" sense. I like a lot of things about a lot of tools, so until I find "IT", I will continue to use a variety of tools to curate what I come across & want to keep.

Why curate? I couldn't possibly do everything right now ... I need to prioritize, and I support a variety of teachers with a variety of needs. I curate a wide variety of tools, activities, people, books, blogs, resources, conferences, and more. I do this all year long and summer is a great time to take a good look at what you've got and sift through. In fact, it's on my to do list ... to better organize - for both personal and professional items. 

If you are interested in digital curation tools, I've got a few to share, but there are dozens out there. These are ones I've spent some time working with and feel like I can comment on.

Pinterest ↭ hands down, my oldest curation tool. I got hooked on Pinterest when I was pregnant with my middle daughter. I could sit and snuggle her and scroll through Pinterest in small chunks or long periods when I could just rock with her. I love being able to create boards for groups of ideas. And the secret boards are perfect for projects you don't want everyone else to know about! Many dinner recipes were found this way. I don't use it a great deal anymore - I'm not a fan of the many links where you are linked out to a place you also have to have an account or you have to pay to use. I do curate my blog posts there under a board I call "Tech You Can Do" (LINK HERE). Pinterest has both an app for mobile devices as well as a Chrome extension that I use.

Pearltrees  another social bookmarking tool. While I've used it some, I've not dug in deep. I love the visual aspect of Pearltrees. I love that I can add more than websites to it. I've used Pearltrees only for a year or so and I think it provides a nice view of curated "things". Right now, I have 3 groups of "pearls" where I've curated Twitters I follow, various learning opportunities I want to share out, and professional learning with podcasts and people that I admire. I have embedded them on my website and from the stats, this page gets a fair amount of views. (LINK HERE) Pearltrees has a Chrome extension that I'd highly recommend if want to use it. It also has a mobile app that is easy to use.

Wakelet  is similar to both Pinterest and Pearltrees. It is also a digital bookmarking tool. This is a newer tool with a familiar feel. I have tried to get into using it, but being honest, I've not. I do know several people who really like Wakelet, and it's a top tool in the edtech world. You can make collections and these collections can be shared. Wakelet is intended for those 13 years and older. But collections can be shared with younger students.

If you are interested in learning more, check these links out:

Authors - Sean, Karly, Dr. Randall Sampson, Jen Saarinen, Scott Titmas, Claudio Zavala Jr., Paul West, John Bimmerle
*** UPDATE!!! *** Thanks to Andy, my Tech Director, for sharing this tip ... teachers can share Wakelet collections with students in their Google Classrooms. How awesome!!! Kim Mattina shared this "how to" VIDEO. (Thanks, Kim!)

Email ↭ I know this is probably on everyone's "Do Not Do" list, but I've found it to be a great tool for curation. I often email myself a link with a short note attached so I know who I was wanting to share with or a note to remind myself later what I was thinking. If it's school related, I email it to my school account; if it's for me personally, I will email it to my personal email account. This has worked REALLY well! Part of the reason it works, is the little badge reminds me I have something waiting for me. And I check my email several times a day. It is definitely going to be a tool I continue to use. (Hey, sometimes you just have to be a rebel, right?)

This is a very small collection, so if I don't list one here & you have an awesome one, please reach out! Maybe you will have the one I've been searching for.  Next week, I'll be back with a different take on curating and curation tools.

Have a question or comment? Feel free to comment below, reach out to me on Twitter @kiefersj, or email me at 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Summer Learning: Midwest Leadership Summit reflection

Last week, I shared several suggestions for educators to do some summer learning. I am excited to share the first summer learning activity I've done this summer. I was fortunate enough to attend the Midwest Leadership Summit this past week. And it was amazing!!! 

100% a dream come true!

Today I'm going to focus on Day 1 with George Couros. But let me back up a bit ... I bought the book "The Innovator's Mindset" about 2 years ago after reading good reviews. The summary of the book really appealed to me. . . . And then it sat on my shelf, unread. Our curriculum director, Becky Tompkins, pulled it out in a meeting and asked if we'd be interested in a book study. I agreed, thinking now I'd have some accountability in reading it.

Reading doesn't describe what I did with this book! Post-it notes, highlighting, scribbling notes in the margins, texting excited aha's! and "I love this!" messages back and forth is a more accurate description. Nothing in this book is earth shattering. It all simply reaffirms everything I know to be good teaching and learning. The book gave me the opportunity to pump my fist in the air and say, "Yes! THIS is what we need to get back to. THIS is good."

Our team loved it so much, we hosted a district wide professional book study. We gamified it - giving me the opportunity to put into action some much desired attempts at gamification. We incorporated several tech tools to demonstrate classroom application with our teachers. We hoped at least 10 would sign up and we had over 70! Using our LMS, the digital conversations across buildings brought me to tears on more than one occasion. Teachers bravely shared ideas inspired by the book. What an impact it had ... the conversations it sparked ... the relationships it helped me build and strengthen ... the excitement it inspired. Incredible! It was an amazing success!

I then facilitated round #2, as a joint venture between my district and BCESC. Another successful adventure where more teachers from my district and teachers in surrounding districts were able to share in the same wonderful discussion and idea sharing. I followed that with round #3 with even more teachers.

Now ... back to THIS summer. 
When I was invited, I locked in the date on my calendar - no way would I miss this. A great group from my district was attending and I was excited. I arrived early and we snagged the closest tables to the podium. George was finishing setting up, so Becky, my curriculum director, and I jumped on the opportunity to get our books signed and snag a selfie with him. When others from our group arrived, I shared my excitement. Our tech director even teased me about all the post-it notes hanging out of my book. I told him it demonstrated the thinking I was having while reading the book and what better honor could I give George but to show him that thinking he inspired?

We settled in and George began. To demonstrate the power of being a connected educator, George gave me a shout out --- whaaaaaatt????? That blew me away! He covered many of the quotes I've included below and I spent the day listening and reflecting and talking with a room full of people who share the same ideas and goals. Below are just a few of the quotes that had an impact on me while reading. If you've not read this book, maybe these quotes and my reflection on them might encourage you to pick it up. You won't regret it. And if you need someone to chat about it with, please don't hesitate to contact me ( or on Twitter @kiefersj). 

The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros

"Once you stop learning, you start dying."
~ Albert Einstein

The book starts out with this quote. WOW! It drew me in immediately and I think about this quote often. I always think back to college when my dad teased me that I was going to be a perpetual student. (I may have been changing my major for the 3 time ... ๐Ÿคฃ) Now I think back and say, "How did he know???" YES! I would absolutely consider myself a perpetual student. What a compliment! I can honestly say I learn something every day. Maybe it's something I planned to learn, other times it's things I need to learn to do my job, and still other times, it's something I didn't expect to learn.

"If you don't believe in your idea, why would anyone else?"
~ #InnovatorsMindset

This one really speaks to me on a personal level. I had been toying with the idea of blogging for a while. I made excuses. I found other things to do. I reasoned with myself that no one would read it ... after all, I wasn't a writer. Reading this quote really hit home. If I didn't believe in it, of course no one else would! So I decided to take the leap, and with continued support from my husband, I published my 1st entry on November 18, 2017. I set the goal to write once per week, and for the most part, I've been successful . . . And I've had a lot of positive feedback. (Thank you, George! I might not have started sharing out if not for this.)

"... innovation is not about changing everything, sometimes you only need 
to change one thing."
~ George Couros

This quote has meant a lot, not just to me, but for many of the teachers I work with. This allows us to be human. This encourages us to make change possible. All of us can identify ONE thing to adjust/change/modify/overhaul and follow through to make it happen. ONE thing. Take one step. The enemy to this thinking, most often, is ourselves. When I'd talk with teachers about what they wanted to try/do/add/modify, we'd talk about this quote. I reassure them they didn't need an overhaul. They should only look at ONE thing to change. I firmly believe, once that "ONE thing" happens, another one thing will happen, and then another, and so on.

"... innovate inside the box."
~ George Couros

This final quote is one I talk about most often. Changing one thing allows us the grace to start. Innovating inside the box brings together the real world with the dream world, in a very realistic way. The way I explain this quote is to take all of the challenges we face and STILL DO SOMETHING to make learning work for our learners. We DO have limits with finances, personnel, state & curricular mandates, as well as time, and many more limits. All of these are limited. And 99% of the time, we can't do anything about these ... we have to exist within these. Wishing and hoping they change won't help. However, we don't have to allow them to be "game-over". We can exist within these and make wonderful things happen for our learners. That's where the challenge is - that's where the true beauty and joy will be found. 

Let's work together to flourish within the boundaries around us. Truthfully, isn't that what we want our students to do, too?