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Some of the best tips and tricks I know are for staying organized. Watch this Chat with Deb video to see some of my favorites.



Thank you to Intel's Teachers Engage for sponsoring this Chat with Deb


A recent conference gamified their exhibition hall where vendors set up tables to discuss their work and sell their books and other products. Participants received a grid identifying 16 tables in the hall. If they got a stamp from 10 of their 16 tables, they could enter to win an iPad.

The game ensured participants explored the full hall and visited tables they might otherwise skip.

At least, it was supposed to.

Gamification incents specific behaviors by tying them to challenges and rewards. Gamification differs from games because the objective is those behaviors, rather than collecting the rewards. Sometimes, though, the game takes over.

I love browsing the books in exhibition halls, but I skipped past all of them in favor of collecting my stamps. I played the game, but I did not engage with the hall.

Was the problem the game’s design or me? A bit of both.

The grid only required that I locate tables, not that I spend time at each. However, I chose to focus on the game rather than the hall. I knowingly followed the rules while ignoring the (unstated) true objective.

The conference could have designed the gamification better, but I could have also been a better player.

So here are a couple questions and a challenge for you to tackle in the comments:

(1) How can we suss out the real objective of gamified systems? What do you think the true objectives of the Nitro system in the Engage Community are?

(2) How could I have been a better player in the exhibition hall?

And the challenge:

Describe how the conference could have designed the gamification for the exhibition hall better.

Recently, some educators that I work with, showed interested in having their students use Google Tour Builder to create a tour of locations from a historical time period. We could do this on desktops, but the teachers really want the students to be able to use their Chromebooks, which is not possible with Google Tour Builder since it uses the Google Earth download.


So I found two alternatives that will allow students to build a "tour" of locations on a map and also include text, images and even video.



Alternative 1:


My Maps:




With My Maps, students can add a marker, and then add an image to go with the marker. Students can also draw lines between different markers. One of the nice features of My Maps is that you can add layers. To display a "tour" the students can turn the layers on or off to show more or less at a time. For this tool, the students would use the extension, Screencastify to record a narrative to go with the "tour".



Alternative 2:




Click here to view my Tackk!!


Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 12.24.29 PM.png


Tackk is a webpage design tool that allows the user to add titles, text, images, audio, video and Google maps.  If you add more that one image, Tackk will play the images like a slideshow.  For this project, the students could record audio using a site such as Vocaroo to incorporate audio to narrate the parts of their "tour".


If you are looking for a way for students to show a tour using a map and incorporating images, audio, video or text, I highly recommend My Maps or Tackk.

Untitled-1.pngCongratulations to everyone who has been completing missions over the past week or so and scaling levels. This kind of engagement is exactly what we wanted to see when we started using the Nitro Gamification Module. Of course, we're still in the early days yet, so we have hit a few stumbling blocks. Thank you for being patient as we smooth the system out.


We've already made a few changes.


First, we've made the You're On Track missions slightly more difficult and have limited them so you can only earn them once per day. Other badges, like Frequent Flyer, have been temporarily deactivated while we figure out how to work in the 30 day limit. Basically, you guys were too good at these repeated missions. As we get a better idea of how you all work with the gaming module, we'll be making more of these minor adjustments to keep the system balanced.


Note: mlperry13 posted more information about the repeatable missions here.


We've also been making some changes in how the systems tracks your progress toward the mission requirements so that you can earn your badges. For example, we recently fixed up the Tag, You're It mission. If you have a badge you think you've earned, but still have received, let us know and we'll look into what's going on in the background.


Our last update is this blog. Three to five times each month, I'll be sharing updates, behind-the-scenes peeks, commentary, and other news related to gamification in the Intel Teachers Engage community. If you have any questions or topics you'd like me to tackle, please leave a comment below or send me a private message.


And, if you haven’t yet, why not drop by this thread and share your ideas for future missions and badges. Each comment you leave here, there, or elsewhere on the site will help you collect more points and continue moving up the levels to Master.



Posted by deb_norton Apr 13, 2015

Oh how I love a little competitive fun. Have you ever heard of an App Slam?  It's a friendly sharing of favorite apps followed by a vote to see which app gets the most votes.

Having an App Slam is a great way to have students guide and personalize their own learning and it also incorporates a lot of creative thinking and technology.

Here is how it works:

Students (or teachers) choose an app that they think is a winner.

They then create a demonstration (video, live demo, example or other)


The demo slam


  • is short (1-3 minutes) in length,
  • highlights the features of the app,
  • demonstrates how to use the app, and
  • ends with the word SLAM.



Here is a Thinglink with some awesome examples of App Slams:

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 9.58.52 AM.png

and here is a popular App Slam from two young ladies who are showing how amazing Google Translate is:

So as you can see, the idea is not just to share an app, but to do it creatively and convincingly.

In a classroom or school, teachers could use a tournament bracket creator such as this one to organize the app slam.  For voting on the apps, teachers could use Poll Everywhere or Plickers to collect the student's votes.

What I love about App Slams is that students demonstrate how an application can be used to help solve a problem or take learning to another level. 

I highly recommend having a friendly App Slam with your students or even between educators to grow awareness of the amazing apps that are out there.


What is a Librariansaurus? A library profession that is becoming extinct. This is what is happening to some of the school library jobs in my district. We recently adopted site-based budgeting which allows principals to make staffing decisions for each school. The certified library positions especially in our elementary schools are slowly disappearing. You might be asking yourself…why the librarian? Well, they have to cut somewhere and if librarians are not providing good library service or not making the staff aware of their awesomeness then their importance may not be evident.


I am a library services director for a school district with 80+ schools. I started this job last July and my first mission was to figure out why eight of our schools did not hire a certified librarian. They chose to replace that position with a paraprofessional. I heard just about every story of why they did not want a librarian but that was not a help to me. I made it my quest to find out why a principal would want a certified librarian. I called one of the elementary principals who had a librarian that to me is like a Disney Princess. I thought for sure she would tell me that the reason she loved her librarian was because she could find the perfect book for every child. I was wrong because she said she valued the librarian because of the AR data she provided for data reviews. OK, so this gave me an indication a principal might not have an idea of ALL the things a librarian does. I called my former principal and asked why she valued me as a librarian. She said you put on one really great book fair. WHAT! I then realized that our librarians (including myself) are not showing their value. They are quietly keeping those libraries running but not displaying to the staff why they are critical to the school. 


I had my first evaluation meeting with the assistant superintendent and he gave me one main charge. This would be to reinstate the good reputation of a school librarian in our district. I thought long and hard and then realized that we need to connect to our stakeholders. How do we do that? How do we tell our story?  


I wanted to focus on four groups: students, teachers, administrator and community. What do we communicate to them? I spent many hours this year sending emails to administrators about the amazing library cultures that our librarians are creating in their schools. I knew I could not do it alone. We have to change the work ethic and we need librarians to be advocates for themselves and their jobs. This is staffing time for most school districts and I feel as though we are playing chess and being as strategic as we can to win the game. Anyone can check out books so how is a librarian different than a paraprofessional?  


These are some of my success stories:


    1. This librarian has always done school voting for our state award winning books. The principal never acknowledged this until the librarian created a bulletin board of data from the school election. Sharing data in a new way brought recognition to her programming.


    1. A librarian attending the class and used one of the lessons for her evaluation. The principal was so impressed with the relevancy of content that she praised the librarian. Attending a class gave her the tools to be successful and her principal was excited to see coding content brought into their library.


    1. A librarian told me she did not need to be an advocate for her work because it spoke for itself. She received a few negative comments from the administration then realized she had to show her value of her amazing lessons because the administrators do not always walk in at the perfect time.  



This is a link to a presentation on connecting school libraries to stakeholders which shares some of the examples from my school district. . What are some of your success stories from your libraries? Please post and share below. 


There are so many designated weeks or days for different groups or loves. You have national ice cream day, teacher appreciation week and even a national boss’s day. This week is a week to celebrate your librarians and libraries. It is National Library Week. Try not to spend just this week appreciated your librarian but be an advocate for them with your school administration. We do not want our school librarians to go extinct! Shannon Mersand made a great comment in her blog post which made a plea to join forces with your school librarian. Take her up on that challenge and see how beneficial this collaboration can be to your school and classroom.


I hope you decide to join me on my journey of being a library services director since I will use the Engaging Libraries blog as a home for my thoughts. I have some amazing librarians and I plan share many of their stories with you. There are so many blogs written by individual librarians and their educational voyage but these posts will spotlight a district and a professional path of many. I look forward to sharing with you and I know we can start some supportive conversations. 


Teaching students to connect globally and to recognize what is happening outside of their immediate community is so important in education today. To me, Global Citizenship means expanding and deepening our understanding of people and events from around the world.

To celebrate National Library Week and incorporate Global Citizenship, watch this Chat with Deb video:


Click here for the presentation.


Thank you to the Intel Engage Community for sponsoring this Chat with Deb.


Gamification and Engage

Posted by mdconley57 Apr 8, 2015


Today we launched an exciting new feature in the Engage community. This morning the Nitro Gamification Module was released in the community. So what does this mean and why are we so excited about it? Well, it represents a brand new, innovative way for you to interact with the community's content and your fellow members. From here forward, every time you do something in Engage you'll be working toward a Mission, and each Mission carries points and a badge. Also, as you work through the new Missions and earn points and badges, you'll advance through new set of bands and levels in the community that represent your professional learning path and the different ways take action.You'll start as an Explorer and work your way through the Intern, Apprentice, Artisan, and Master levels of the Explorer Band. After Explorer, you'll continue to climb the band ladder as a Citizen, Mentor, and eventually Master, completing each of the four aforementioned levels at each step along the way. Due to the technical requirements of the module, your points have reset to zero and for now you're starting at the base level (Explorer Intern); also note, the system only began tracking your activity this morning, so actions completed before that will not retroactively be applied to Missions. In the coming weeks we'll award Legacy Member Badges (and associated points) that recognize your prior contributions and points and levels achieved.LegacyPlat.png

You can learn all about the Missions, badges, and bands and levels via the Reputation section of your profile; you access this by clicking the "More" tab and selecting "Reputation" or by clicking the "Points Detail" link below your profile picture. The short video below walks you through those steps. We have currently released all the standard Missions and badges for the Explorer and Citizen bands. In the coming weeks we'll release the Missions and badges for Mentor and Leader, as well as unique badges tied to specific events, activities, and themes in Engage. We will provide information and updates each time new Missions are released, and you can follow all the action by joining the Gamification Hub group. Click the "Join this group" button in the upper right banner to join and receive updates and notifications.


We are jazzed about this, and we hope you are too! Start interacting, and reach out with questions by responding to this post or using the Help and Feedback tab at the right of the Liking this post, bookmarking, or leaving a comment you'll also earn points and badges, so check the Reputation section on your profile to see.


Thanks - Marshal and the Intel Engage Leadership Team

Engaging with Nitro Gamification and Badges (click the full screen button to expand)

Click here for a text version of the instructions covered in this video.

Not everyone learns the same way. We all have our preferences of how we like to obtain and show understanding of content.  This is especially true of our students.

Research shows that students who have choice over their learning can reduce dropout rates.  Click here for an example.

So why not use a different learning model and try and motivate students with a personalized learning experience?

Here are three models to personalize the learning for your classroom.

#1 Project Based Learning - In this model, units and lessons are set up with real life projects. Students work their way through the project and usually comprise a final project to share.  PBL often is very motivating for the student and can involve team work.

Click here for more information about PBL.

#2 Peer Led Classrooms - In this model, the teacher is a facilitator and the students are instructors.  Students who have mastered the content first, help other students to learn the content. Students often learn better from their peers than from the instructor.  The teacher plays an important role of cheerleader and students need to be able to learn cooperatively.

Click here for more information about Peer Led Learning.

#3 Flipped Classrooms or Self Paced Classrooms - In this model the teacher records their lessons and students can work at their own pace to learn the material and demonstrate understanding. During class students are able to work in groups and also get one-on-one time with their teacher.

Click here for more information about Flipped Classrooms.



Spring is the perfect time of year to spice up your instructional methods and give students some choice in their learning. I highly recommend giving one or more of the above three learning methods a try.


I Was A Big Winner!

Posted by deb_norton Apr 1, 2015

Recently I was a big winner at the WEMTA Conference in Wisconsin Dells.

My big winnings was a Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet. Honestly, I wasn't sure what I had won until I looked it up.

Watch this Chat with Deb to see how this tablet can be used to create a flipped video:

Click here for 4 great tips for Flipped Teaching.

Thank you to Intel's Teachers Engage for sponsoring this Chat with Deb.



Engage is a unique community. I type this blog post from a small town in the Midwest United States. Last night's Intel Teach Live webinar broadcast from Texas, and it was attended by community members from several different countries. If you look at the Engage homepage, you can see a map of all the other Intel Engage communities around the globe and professional learning content feeds from each of them, and you see those members in this space and in their local spaces each day via this platform. Outside Engage, teachers Skype with their peers across the world and connect with global colleagues over Twitter every day.


This may be a new concept for many educators, but this is the reality our current students (especially the youngest among them) are growing up with. Not only will they become accustomed to this as part of their education, but they will grow up to be citizens in a world of countries intertwined by technology and economy. Preparation for this starts now, and the new world opened up with innovative and emerging tech makes this learning engaging, inspiring, and fun!


What do you think are the most important skills for our students to possess in order to become global citizens?


As you engage this month, please pay special attention to activity related to global citizenship. As part of this focus, we'll also look at sustainability, and what is required to ensure that the world our students inherit is safe, healthy, and prosperous. The content area focus for April is Social Studies, and how project-based approaches and critical thinking are perfect matches for instruction in that domain. Finally, we encourage you to help us celebrate National Library Week on April 12-18, and Earth Day on April 22. See you online!

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