November 2019

The President's Message


Rachelle Dene Poth

Hello members of the Teacher Education Network!

We are off to a great start for professional learning this year and our leadership team is excited for some of our upcoming events. We had a great Twitter chat in October about digital citizenship and becoming a more connected educator. Collaboration is so important in the work that we do and we enjoyed collaborating with the #PasstheScopeEDU team and Marialice Curran for our monthly chat!  If you did not get a chance to participate in the chat, be sure to go back and read through all the great resources and ideas that were shared by checking out the #isteten hashtag.

The TEN fall book study of my book In Other Words, has just wrapped up. I am honored that my book was chosen for this year’s book study and have enjoyed the conversations and new connections made by being involved. It was great to hear from other educators about their interpretation of some of the quotes from the book, opening up about their own teaching experiences, and reflecting on the vignettes and contributing author stories that were included in each chapter. I am grateful to Steve Wick for organizing the book study and creating a really nice professional learning experience for everyone involved. The book and questions made it easy for everyone to be able to join in the discussion. Book studies and Twitter chats are wonderful opportunities to become more connected and be more reflective in our practice. 


For November, we have chosen the theme of “Digital Age Learning Environments” with a focus on how we can connect research and practice. This will be one of our recurrent themes throughout the year and we are working on sharing information with our network. Our team will continue to do research so that we can provide the best resources for our community members. We hope that you will consider contributing to our upcoming newsletters and that you will share research that you have done or methods that you are implementing in your practice. 

Connections via Teletransporting


Guest Post Carolina A Ramirez, Technology Coach, @edootech, Miami, Fl

As a Technology Coach and World Language Educator, I cannot stop emphasizing that today’s technology not only opens a door to a more global society, but indeed gives us the advantage of teletransporting ourselves into other cultures’ backyards. According to a research study made by Google called “Project Oxygen” to determine what makes a great manager, the so called soft skills came as predominant in the list. The soft skills valued on leaders are a secondary result of foreign language acquisition. While in other parts of the world, children who enter high school are already mastering their 3rd or 4th language, in the US we struggle to make sure kids have only two years (which in some cases this means 30 minutes a day) since this is a college requirement. 

Let’s connect the research and apply it to the everyday life.The use of technologies such as video calls, podcasts, recording devices, VR devices, apps, 


and any other tech tools that can help us acquire or articulate a new language will give us the opportunity to grow our communicating and listening skills in different languages and comprehending perspectives from a diverse gamma of cultures. In addition, having empathy towards others and connecting ourselves to other ways of thinking will confer us a better sense of understanding people whose beliefs differ from ours, making us better critical thinkers when interpreting nuances, or making connections across complex ideas. As a result, today’s technology is opening doors for valuing and respecting other cultures. So put all that research into practice, pick the right technologies taking into consideration infrastructure (connectivity) , foster the right environments, build new opportunities, encourage your students’ positive attitude, and get to work. I heard someone saying; it is not about working hard, but “heartworking” while maximizing the learning of all students.

Virtual Community of Practice


Julie Delello, Ph.D Dir. for the Center for Teaching and Learning Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Tyler

The New Media Consortium predicted that social media will be used as a platform for continuous sharing of information and collaboration in education over the next five years (Adams Becker, Cummins, Davis, Freeman, Hall Giesinger, & Ananthanarayanan, 2017). The use of social media has emerged as a way to allow instructors to create a virtual community of practice (VCoP), which includes the following three components: the domain (the group of individuals who share a common interest and learn from each other), the community (the members who build relationships with each other while networking/interacting), and the practice (the group shares a collection of resources that can be linked to learning) (Wegner, 2006; Hall, Delello, & McWhorter, 2017). 

To create this community of practice in my own STEM based courses, I use SNS such as Facebook and Twitter. For example, I use closed Facebook groups to supplement instruction, break down the distance barriers felt due to the lack of face-to-face interaction, and allow for the sharing of ideas with their fellow classmates. Students are able to share their assignments/projects with one another (See dancing robot example of a shared project). Students also learn to use the microblogging platform Twitter. I require my students to participate in a series

of five Twitter chats during the semester (see assignment). Students are given a preliminary list of chats, chat schedule, topics of discussion, time, day of the week, and descriptions of the various chats. Students are given the freedom to collaborate with and learn from those with similar interests in informal learning environments at various days and times. Students keep a reflective notebook on what chat they attended, what they learned from each chat, and who they chose to follow (see Delello & Consalvo, 2019).  

Students are also more visual than ever before. In fact, students spend 1-5 hours per day networking and even more on the weekends posting pictures and videos across social media sites (Knight-McCord, Cleary, Grant, Herron, Jumbo, Lacey… Emanuel, 2015). Videos, emojis, Bitmojis, GIFs, and memes are quickly becoming part of a students’ social media landscape. Students have reported that the use of such visuals communicate their feelings better than words (Tenor, 2017). Moreover, some educators have found the use of visual social media tools like Bitmojis and GIFs to be positively reinforcing to their students (King, 2019). For example, 37% of


educators surveyed incorporated visual images like memes, emojis, and GIFs to facilitate a lesson noting that the use of visual social media allowed them to better relate to their students (Will, 2017). For this reason, I have started using more visual images like Bitmojis with my students. I am able to use such images as responses to great work and also embed them into our Facebook and Twitter pages to further connect with students. If you have not created your own Bitmoji before, see my course introduction assignment here. The example below (see Figure 1) is from one of my student’s introductions posted on our Facebook page along with her background information. The Collaborative Class blog has posted ways to even make your own printed stickers. 

Screen Shot 2019-11-06 at 3.13.14 PM.png

Example of student created bitmoji.

Teacher Tech


Guest Post Christine Tiday, M.Ed. Dir. of Teacher Intern and Auxiliary Programs Susquehanna University

It’s the last week of the spring semester and final projects are pouring in. Students are asking for help, great ideas are springing to life and I’m being asked if our handbook can be seen by future employers. How is this final project unique? Well…

For the last few weeks of Technology in Education, 40+ pre-service teachers have been test-driving telepresence robots, making QR codes, and experimenting with VR lessons. The students have also been submerged in the “mundane” with online gradebooks and LMS programs. This is what we expect from a Tech in Ed course, but their final project, the Teacher Tech handbook, will be in the local public schools within the month and there is a lot of work to be done.


For me, a 14-year veteran of the high school Spanish classroom, the genesis of this handbook was the Twilight craze. My Spanish IV students could think of nothing but vampires. I embraced the mania and we wrote a Spanish mini-novel about some handsome undead creatures and made it available online. The book was short and silly and we gave it away for free to over 100 schools, from Forks, Washington to the Netherlands. What I learned was that engagement can explode when the students see others interested in their work.


Building on the student-author concept, I re-designed Technology in Education at Susquehanna University to include a tech aqueduct between my pre-service teachers and the local school district. I wanted my students to investigate and summarize great tech tools and, hopefully, save a few hard working teachers some time.

Through the collaboration of two sections of Technology in Education, we came up with 3 chapters: Charts (comparing tools), Featured Tech Tools, and Worksheets that Feature Tech (some QR, MLA citation practice, and a great VR map). Once all the projects were in, I compiled the student work into a 50-page handbook. With the Master of Education program as our sponsor, we printed enough for nearby districts to get 2 copies in each faculty room and a QR to lead them to the free digital version.


Teacher Tech distribution went smoothly and positive feedback included a local teacher/presenter commending the students on their work. As I move forward with this project, I hope to guide future classes through new ways of organizing, presenting, and sharing tech. We are planning collaboration Grove City and exploring a Teacher Tech virtual “Lunch and Learn” to accompany the 2020 Teacher Tech release. My goal is to engage pre-service teachers by creating practical ways for them to share their new knowledge with local educators. You can check out our Teacher Tech handbook here: You can contact me, Chris Tiday, at

Challenges of Effective PD for Teachers


Guest Post Ilya Zeldin, CEO, Education technology entrepreneur

In K-12, teacher training is at least a $4 billion market, or approximately $1100 per teacher per year. And yet over half of teachers report no positive impact from professional learning on their teaching practice. “Treats them like children” is one of the key complaints about training. 


Professionals leave when they do not receive professional development that supports their learning needs. Almost half of all new teachers leave the profession in the first five years. Nationwide, shortage of teachers already exceeds 110,000 vacancies.


Can the best models in adult learning be relevant to support teachers' development? If we are to expect that teachers will use the available tools to personalize learning for their students in the classroom, why can't we do the same for teachers themselves? 

Research-Based Models

Based on the report from Education Reimagined, there are Six Areas for Innovative for Learning Environments, which represent the best practices in designing asynchronous learning that make adult learners thrive in their professional learning. Asynchronous learning recognizes that people may start at different levels of knowledge and learn at different paces. The six elements worth considering in designing the learning environment are:

  1. Skills, Knowledge and Dispositions that prepare learners for lifelong success.

  2. Competency-based learning experiences organized around building capacity to do things proficiently.


   3. Learning that is Personalized, Relevant and Contextualized to each learner's individual needs, strengths, and circumstances, and

       adaptive to real-life challenges, interests and experiences.

   4. Empowering Learner Agency through capacity for educators to organize and drive their own learning experiences. 

   5. Socially Embedded learning that is rooted in communities where learning with others is a central part of the learner's journey.

   6. Finally, learning communities that are Open-Walled where learning is unconstrained by time or space, and integrates opportunities

       beyond the limits of the primary learning environment.


Research in Practice

2gnoMe (To know me) is one of the solutions that aims to connect this kind of research to practice for adult learners. Our approach puts teachers in the epicenter of their professional learning, tethering all available resources around every teacher. District leaders get a 360-degree view of their teachers' learning activity with clear-eyed information about its effectiveness, across any learning framework or set of standards. 


Designing systems that work with educators must include deep research into skills awareness and asynchronous learning. For example, we realized that there is no shortage of PD resources for teachers but the missing piece is understanding who needs what kind of training in the first place. By leveraging the science of learning, technology can bring research information and tools to practice, and enable best practices to supplement every district's unique learning environment. To see how 2gnoMe supports districts' teachers, visit

My Virtual Reality Story


Guest Post Jesse Newcomer, History teacher, Montgomery Area SD

My name is Jesse Newcomer and I am a teacher from Montgomery Area School District in Montgomery, PA. Our district is small which makes all of the teachers very close, much like a family. My district thought it would be beneficial for a presenter to come and talk to us about virtual and augmented reality. He explained how this new technology was improving students’ retention and learning within the classroom. He also explained how it is meant to be a supplement to the lessons that are already being taught. I tried them on and he showed me how Google Expeditions worked and how he was trying to get teachers in local districts within the county to borrow these from his organization. This equipment was something that would help my Geography class to be upgraded to a whole new level. The first thing that needed to be done was to ask the students if this is something that they would like in the classroom and is it something that they have ever used before. The answers were yes and yes. Fundraisers would take too long and since I was a first-year teacher, I did not have that many sources yet. The technology coach of the district, Ms. Kelly Concini and I researched prices, pros, and cons of the equipment. We decided that these would be a great asset to our district.

Principal, Mr. Joe Stoudt of Montgomery Area Jr. Sr. High school talked to me about it and knew that it was something that I really wanted my students to experience. He asked our superintendent, Mrs. Daphne Bowers to see what her thoughts were on the virtual reality equipment and she loved the idea of it. Everything seemed to be falling into place and then in late January, early February, Mr. Joe Stoudt pulled me into his office and told me that he was fully willing to back me on this project and bought me ten of the virtual reality headsets. My students and I were really excited to get the new gear for our classroom. I told my college professor, Dr. Lynn Hummel of the MSIT program at Bloomsburg University and he assured me that the virtual reality equipment was a great investment.

In the middle of March, I received the equipment and my students could not be happier with the outcome. In just a few weeks, they were putting on the headsets and using virtual reality equipment that we were waiting for. This is one of the best things that I was able to get being a first-year teacher right out of college. I would advise anyone to try and get this equipment for your classroom as well. It was worth the wait and the students really love to use the technology in the classroom on a weekly basis. In an ever-changing career like teaching, be flexible and open minded to new technology for the classroom.


Get Connected to New Accessibility Features in iOS 13


Jennifer Courduff, Professor, Azusa Pacific University, @gamine64

Many of you know that there was recently a significant update in iOS 13! There is so much cool stuff that it’s easy to forget to check out the amazingly significant updates to accessibility. Our friend Dr. Luis Perez has a great write up on the many new and updated features on his blog:

Check it out! 

Remember - knowledge is power. The more you know, the more you have to share with those around you!

Digital Tools to Explore

Rachelle Dene Poth, Spanish and STEAM Teacher, @Rdene915

  • Abre provides a single hub for all school and school-home related communication for staff, students and parents.There are many integrations available within the platform to enhance student learning. As a classroom teacher, several of these apps caught my attention and are tools that I use in my class such as Duolingo, Flipgrid, and Quizlet. 


  • Note Affect is a multi-purpose platform with capabilities to facilitate communication, collaboration and increase student engagement in learning. Using NoteAffect enables you to focus more closely on student engagement by exploring the analytics available for each lecture and each student.

  • Wakelet is a versatile tool that can be used for more than just content curation. It can be used to create a flipped classroom, provide access to different activities and resources for students to use when completing a lesson and much more. It is a great tool for curating content for students or to collaborate with colleagues.


Learning Tools by Microsoft, A Tool that Kicks Down Barriers!

Sam Fecich, Assistant Professor, Grove City College @SFecich

Hi ISTE TEN readers. 

I want to share with you one of my new favorite tools that takes accessibility features to the max! When I asked a group of special education teachers to name their most common accommodations they listed the following: 

  • Text to speech

  • Speech to text

  • Highlighting feature

  • Dictionary 

  • Pronunciation

  • Enlarge text

I too had these same wants on my teacher accessibility tool wishlist. Let me tell you, Microsoft answered with Immersive Reader. Instead of buying specific software or add ons for each feature Microsoft has upped their game when it comes to accessing educational technology with a feature called “Learning Tools”. It seamlessly integrates into OneNote, Outlook, Edge, Word, and PowerPoint. But, that’s not all, the learning tools feature can also be used on any device and it is free. Let me share with you my favorite features:

  • Speech to text – supports dictation in several languages within one note and word.

  • Text to speech – This feature reads aloud the text on the screen. There are two voices that you can choose from and you can download others if you wish. I like to use this feature on Microsoft Edge browser because it can read aloud a webpage, PDF file, or ePub file. In fact, I use this tool on a  weekly basis while I am working in my office I have Edge read aloud a post or article from one of my favorite edtech blogs.

  •  Immersive reader – it can recognize the words from images. This is a powerful feature that shouldn’t be overlooked. Friends, this tool recognizes the words in pictures and reads those words aloud! It even reads math symbols and equations! How cool is that?  

  •  Highlights individual words as it reads it aloud to students.  This is a great way to stay on track while reading a long passage.

  • Break words down into syllables. Perfect for students who are learning how to sound out words.

  • Picture dictionary - It actually uses Boardmaker symbols to show drawings of words in the passage. 

  • Identify the parts of the speech. Meaning you can color code a passage into different colors based on the parts of speech.You can customize colors and labels too! 

  • Line focus is where you can focus on one line, three or five lines of text at a time. This is a fantastic feature if you want to just focus in on a few lines at a time instead of a large paragraph of text.

If you want to give learning tools a try you can see a demo and try if yourself here: Another one of my favorite Microsoft features is in Edge, it is called Reading view. Reading view takes all the junk from a webpage and makes it easier to read. It allows the reader to focus on what the important content is on the page. In addition, you can adjust the view style of the page. To learn more about how to enable reading view on Edge visit this website:

My friends if you pair the reading view and the read aloud feature on Edge you have one heck of a literacy tool! Think about that, you have cleared the page of extraneous content and you are having it read aloud – that is powerful! I encourage you to tinker around with these tools and think about how they can enhance the access to quality content in your classroom.


Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice with Mixed Reality Simulations

Peña L. Bedesem, Associate Professor, Kent State University, @DrPenaBedesem

Bridging the gap between research and practice has been consistently challenging in the field of special education. Pre-service and in-service teachers are often inundated with evidence-based practices for students with disabilities but are rarely provided the opportunity to master those practices in a way that is meaningful - that is until now! Mixed reality simulators provide a space for pre-service and in-service educators can try out, practice, and master evidence-based practices with ‘real-time’ support from coaches. Researchers at the University of Central Florida have created the TLE TeachLive (, which is simulated classroom where participants (i.e., in-service teachers, pre-service teachers) can interact with ‘student avatars’ to practice skills such as lesson presentation and behavior management strategies. While the participants are interacting with the avatars, coaches are observing and providing feedback right then and there. Participants can also interact with parent and administrator avatars to practice communication and collaboration skills. Although the military and medical field have been using simulation training for a while now, it is still relatively new in the field of education. This is truly an exciting time for education! For a glimpse of how mixed reality simulations can help future and current teachers, go to


"You're Still Here? This is the End...Go Home"

Dennis McElroy, Professor of Education, Graceland University @acoustimac

Anyone who has watched "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" knows what line I'm paraphrasing in the title. What a magical movie about three friends who take the day to explore Chicago while their classmates languish at Shermer . High School. Mr. Rooney is on a mission to "nail" Ferris and put a stop to his hijinks once and for all. 

Times have changed since 1986. We still have students like Ferris in our schools, but now we should be embracing their sense of adventure. This month our theme has focused on connections between research and practice using digital age learning environments. If we do this properly, it's quite possible our modern day Ferris will be immersed in a virtual reality simulation rather than skipping school for the day. 

The challenge we leave you with is to examine your teaching strategies. What are you doing that actively engages your students in collaboration? How are you giving them voice? How do you connect what you hope they are learning to the real world? This is your challenge. Now...go home. Relax. Tomorrow is a day filled with opportunity!