Conference Reflection 1

I need a place to reflect on the ZILLION things I learned at the CUE Conference, and I think this blog is the place to do it even though it’s primarily my class blog. Students, feel free to try these tools! Teachers too!

Day 1 – Core Technologies for the Common Core – Outstanding! Thank you Kyle Brumbaugh(@brumbaugh) and Elizabeth Calhoon (@ecalhoon). This session was so packed with tools and ideas that I have to divide it in two- Part 1 focuses on ELA.  Below is a link to all of their slides.

Slide Show link

My take aways…

1) Think DEPTH when you think of Common Core.

2) Pair 21st century tools with effective Project Based Learning (PBL) to really teach the Common Core.

3) The tools they shared are amazing for teachers and students–and they are DEFINITELY not limited to ELA. If you have a Science article, Social Studies primary source, or if your students in any subject area are writing, students can use these tools:

  • Hopefully many of you know about to help gauge text complexity of books. For grades 6-8, CC appropriate levels are 955-1155.
  • newselaNewsela  “Read closely. Think critically. Be worldly.” If you need a source for nonfiction/current events in your classroom, this is it! The beauty is that you can adjust the Lexile of the articles for your class, or for individual students. Here’s a sample Lexile choice for an article about the Space Shuttle at the CA Science Center.




  • — Paste in text you’ve written, or text from a website, or from an article and it will give you a Lexile!  Students can gauge the complexity of their own writing, or you can decide if an article you’re using is right for your class.
  • Hemingway –this is a website or an app. Paste in your writing and it analyzes it for complexity, readability, amount of passive voice among other things. A good first step for students to take before they submit it to you!
  • For vocabulary — you already know about typing define: in the Google search box to get a definition. Have you clicked on the arrow?



  • For me, these graphs make word origin more understandable and interesting:



  • Google Docs (the word processor in Google Drive) contains some excellent research tools. Click on the word “Tools” and choose “Research.”



a) You will see a pane appear on the right of your document. There you can search, and use your document to take notes, add a link to the website, cite, insert images w/citations. It’s a fantastic way to keep your research all in one place!


b) When you hover over a link, as you can see, you can preview the site, insert a link to it, or cite it! When you choose cite, a footnote is immediately created!! (Oh, how I wish I had this tool when I was struggling!!) An image can be dragged into the document, and is also immediately cited. Easy peesy!

c) If you click the little arrow under the search bar, you can filter your images’ usage rights (variety of copyright options) and the type of citation (MLA, APA, Chicago).

  • Finally, for projects, the presenters talked about YouTube’s new editing tools.  These tools allow anyone to take pieces of videos and create their own–great for student projects as well as for teacher use.
  • Other tools discussed: Evernote, Evernote in conjunction with Google Drive, add ons to the Google Chrome browser (such as one called “Clearly” which wipes ads from websites), using the Kindle app and uploading ebooks from Project Gutenberg (texts in the public domain), and for writing, Blogger or other educational blog sites.


These tools not only aide the student, but the teacher. As the presenters said (and we are always telling ourselves), “Have the students do the work!” Have students read at their level, write and pre-edit on their own, use powerful research tools. Not only are you having them do the work, you are giving them the tools and the power to create. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Mark Brannan via Compfight