Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #6:

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Poll Everywhere: An Overview

Poll Everywhere is a free live poll service (with available upgrades) to engage your students during lessons. This is a tool I have used since my first year of teaching that I have kept in my teacher toolbox. The company was founded in 2007 and has grown in options of how you can survey and engage your students.

Features (free and upgraded)

There are a variety of polls to choose from and Poll Everywhere continues to add features every year. I have never personally upgraded to a Premium account. The main difference between the Free and Premium memberships are data recording and data segmentation, which I do not use. See the K-12 Education Plans for upgraded pricing and features.

Poll Everywhere started with the classic Multiple Choice poll, one that I still use the most often. My students love the real-time responses that come in and they start shouting out, “No, it’s C! It’s C!” fighting for the answer they chose. My students are immediately engaged when they see the bars bouncing back and forth every time a new response comes in.

The following is a list of polls that you can create (all free). For more detailed descriptions of each activity, check out Poll Everywhere Activity Explanations.

Types of Polls & Data Presentation

  • Multiple Choice – Watch the bars bounce back and forth!
  • Word Cloud – A beautiful and creative visual.
  • Q & A & Upvote The audience can submit open-ended responses, then upvote or downvote other submissions.
  • Clickable Image – The audience clicks on an image to respond.
  • Survey – The audience can answer multiple questions at once at their own pace.
  • Open-ended – Select your visualization type: text wall, word cloud, cluster, or spotlight. Choose from icebreaker, retrospective, discussion, brainstorm, short answer, or bulletin board.
  • Competitions – Exactly as it sounds! Gamification. (Only multiple choice questions are a part of this type poll at this point.)
  • Leaderboard – Vote on your favorite team!
  • Emotion Scale – Choose from the smiley faces!
  • Presentation Feedback – Choose from multiple choice, word cloud, Q & A, clickable image, open-ended text, or ranking options.
  • Assign Teams – A quick poll to see who is on what team.
  • 2 x 2 matrix – Participants can click on an image to relay information (i.e., click on the map to show your region; click to rate projects from low to high priority).

Styles of data presentation

Poll options (Image source:
Example of a Donut Chart (Image source:

Ideas for the classroom

I tend to do stand alone polls but new features permit you to build several activities into one poll. When you create a poll (top left blue button), you can assign a poll to a group or leave it ungrouped to receive all answers in one area. Once you have added one poll style, you will see the “Add another activity” button in the bottom right. Note! Make sure to choose the style of activity you would like to add next before clicking “Add another activity.” If not, you will simply add the same activity from your previous question type. (If you’re first activity within the poll was Multiple Choice, your second activity will be Multiple Choice unless you choose another activity.)

I primarily use polls to introduce cultural content. For example, I ask my students about the origins of Step dancing, which leads into this Gumboot Dance cultural video and discussion of the history of Step dance origins. I also poll students on the meaning of the invented French verb “giraffer.” When they discover that students in Africa created this word to describe another student cheating off of his or her paper, I then ask them to make up their own “to cheat” verb based on our geographic surroundings!

Class competitions and film festivals easily integrate polls with voting for the winners. The clickable image can test your students’ knowledge of geography. I also personally love the Word Cloud function for emotional check-ins. On Fridays, we have #vendredis, sometimes both in the beginning and end of class when the content is heavy. Have your students upvote their favorites!

Sometimes polls are just for fun. I often enjoy the “Who do you think will win the Super Bowl?” or “Do you think Peyton Manning will return to the NFL?” poll when I was teaching in Denver. My all time favorite is the World Cloud where students suggested names for the then upcoming birth of my daughter. The top two? Stormageddon and Padrah 2.0.

Fun or serious, Poll Everywhere is a way to engage your students that is quick and easy, providing the perfect transition for discussion and your upcoming lesson. Give it a try! I’d love to hear how you use Poll Everywhere!

Food for Thought

Thoughts to kick off 2019-20: What’s your why and who is Generation Z?

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Many of us are about to kick off another school year. We’re recharged, fresh full of ideas, some made into a final product while others are still mulling around in our heads. And then…

…it’s February. The shortest yet longest month of the year.

Maybe not all of you feel this way but February has always been the month where all things come to a slump. My toolbox is empty and I start to fall into rote patterns of teaching that make me feel ashamed. Where has my creativity and energy gone and how do I get it back?

What’s your why?

I recently read Simon Sinek’s Start with Why and the question constantly haunts me…in a good way. “What’s your why?” has made me continually reassess why I do an activity, how I teach a lesson, and most importantly, to always remember by audience. I believe in teaching with tech in moderation, with intentionality, and not simply using it to check off a box on an evaluation. Choice boards provide differentiation and a number of mediums students can explore. Edpuzzle provides accountability. GSuite tools can put the responsibility and ownership into students’ hands…and the list goes on.

How, among the thousands of resources out there, do you navigate what is the most effective? Know thy audience. Let’s talk Gen Z, shall we?

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Let’s situate this next discussion first. This 2:34 minute video is well worth your while (and quite enlightening): How to Communicate with Generation Z (YouTube)

“Our goal is not to prepare them for our future, but for their future.” -Holly Clark

I could not agree more with Holly Clark’s ultimate takeaway from this poignant video describing Gen Z. Gone are the days where worksheets and repetitious drills rule the learning. Yes, we all made it out alive and graduated after being subjected to piles of worksheets and hours of lectures, but the fact is that the world has changed. (There is arguable room if these were ever the best practices but let’s stay on one topic.)

Gen Z learners, those born after 1995, were born into a world of all things technology. They consume on five screens and technology is as much a part of their world as breathing. While their attention spans are admittedly short, this generation considers themselves entrepreneurial, innovative, and wanting to make a difference in the world. How do teachers fit into this equation?

Digital Responsibility and Engaged Learning

Regardless of how tech savvy this generation may be because it is second nature, digital citizenship is a component we cannot ignore. Fact-checking and valid resources, professionalism in communication – these only scrape the surface of how we can raise our students to be digitally responsible. In this day and age, these lessons need to be consistently and continually embedded into our lessons.

How do we reach them? Back to Holly Clark’s point, we are teaching their generation and not ours. A variety of teaching tools and methods need to be employed to keep constant student engagement. Put the lesson in their hands! Let them be the creators and take hold of their learning. Give them choices and different platforms to work with (Nearpod, Google Sites, Slides, and Docs, etc.), any of which can be collaborative and touch on the Four C’s (creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking). Let them explore and engage, coming to their own conclusions, developing outside-the-box ideas. Nurture their inquisitive spirit but also guide them to be responsible and professional learners.

Students need ownership. Students need to create and collaborate and develop communication skills that are even more crucial in this ever-connected global world than any generation before. If students graduate high school with little or no exposure to the tools around us, we are to blame, teachers. While it sounds like Gen Z is entrepreneurial enough to educate themselves, we would still be doing our learners a disservice by not exposing them to the mediums they will one day use when they are in the working world. The more exposure, the more experience can only lead to a well-rounded and adaptable individual who will be ready for most anything that comes his or her way.

In closing, I want you to continually ask yourself three questions over the course of the school year:

  • What is my why?
  • Am I teaching with intentionality or is [insert activity] just for the sake of checking a box?
  • Most importantly…Who am I teaching?

Have an amazing school year, and…

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #5: Wakelet

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Video tutorial: Wakelet Tutorial

Check out these updates! Wakelet updates (July 2019)

I recently published a post with tools to help organize and manage various aspects of your life. Wakelet is certainly at the top of that list. Here, I will detail more about Wakelet’s features as well as how educators and students are using it in and outside the classroom.

What is Wakelet?

Wakelet provides an extremely user-friendly platform to save, share, and organize content from across the web into beautiful collections. I love Wakelet because it reaches a variety of sources so that my thoughts and ideas aren’t scattered across email, Twitter, Pinterest, bookmarks, Google docs, etc. I can save all of these to one location and easily add text with descriptions to each item. I can also search for other collections and make a copy or export it as a PDF, as well as share it with friends and colleagues.

Let’s get set up!

Sign up for a free Wakelet account and also add the Wakelet Chrome Extension. By adding the extension, you will easily be able to add to your collections while perusing the internet.

How does it work? Once logged in, click on “Create a new collection.” Add a cover image (upload your own or choose from Wakelet’s library), give your collection a title and description, and start adding items by clicking on the green “plus” icon. You have a variety of options available (see photo below):

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Once you have added an item, click on the pencil to edit any description or notes you might want to add. When you are at the Wakelet home page, your open browsers will appear on the right. You can drag and drop them to automatically be added to a collection. Click on the “Easy reorder mode” and hover to the right to move items up and down.

Note! You have the option to make your collections private or public. You can also search for public collections by topic or people and easily add their items to your own collections.

Saving from the Chrome extension: If you are on a website, in a Google Doc, etc., you simply need to click on the blue Wakelet extension icon at the top of your browser and you will be prompted with this screen to save the item to a collection. It’s as simple as that!

Teachers and students can organize and collaborate with ease.

Wakelet published this article on how teachers and students are using Wakelet with beautiful examples of student and teacher work. Here are a few ideas:


  • Collaboration among other teachers & idea boards
    • Tech coach: Compile tech tool sites and video tutorials for your team.
    • PLCs: Create a collaborative board with ongoing resources. Add a document with your weekly agenda plenty in advance to promote preparedness and discussion.
    • Professional development organization: Encourage teachers to make a collection with their own notes and sources regarding the PD topic, especially if reoccurring throughout the year.
    • Speaking pictures: I have an Google Doc of random pictures that serve as speaking warm-ups. I added the doc to a collection but like the idea of being able to see all pictures at once without continual scrolling within a doc. I will be adding more pictures to this public Speaking Pictures (Padrah Gatewood) Wakelet. Feel free to make a copy!
  • Weekly newsletter: Share your collection with parents to keep them apprised of what is happening in your class, along with any upcoming events or important announcements.
  • School website: Some schools have opted out of overloading their website with information and instead share out a Wakelet collection with parents on a regular basis.
  • Student resources: Share your notes, articles, videos, and supplementary materials with your students in a public collection.
  • Search for public collections by topic or person: Easily make copies or choose a single item from a collection to add to your own.
  • Save your tweets and articles for later:
    • My “Read later” collection contains tweets with links to articles, or other materials I don’t have time to read until later.
    • I read a recommendation to add tweets in reverse order to see them from start to finish if saving a Twitter conversation.


  • Digital storytelling: This is a beautiful example of digital storytelling featured in the above Wakelet article. The author weaves the story of a dressmaker in Khair Khana, Afghanistan, who risked everything to protect her family from the Taliban. Audio accompanies the text at key transitions. The author’s voice navigates the reader through the dressmaker’s story in her writing by simply adding the “text” item in Wakelet. Further resources are included, such as the Council on Foreign Relations website, a Vimeo video bringing visual and audio to the reader. Imagine the possibilities and how expressive presentations could become beyond the standard essay.
  • Collaborative research: The ability to collaborate on a collection means that students can be at their respective homes or study spaces and still working together toward their common project.
  • Portfolios: Students can keep a collection of their work and see their progress from over the year.


  • Recipe collections: Add a friend as a collaborator and see their favorite eats!
  • Activities and resources for kids: My Pinterest was just taken over by Wakelet. I love the ability to add notes or just simply the picture if I don’t want to navigate Pinterest –> find a board –> click on Pin –> scroll, scroll, scroll through pages to finally see the activity.
    • Collaborate with other parents to post upcoming events and times.
  • House projects: DIYs, decorations, etc.
  • Book club: Add future book ideas with commentary and reviews.
  • Travel:
    • Plan a trip collaboratively as a family with links to sites of interest, hotel and flight info, comments on top places to visit.
    • Create a collection with your family photos and favorite memories!
Marker Mic Drop, Marker Mic Drop Moments

Marker Mic Drop Moment #3: Roberto Gudiño, Faculty and Head of Production (Scottsdale Community College, AZ)

This Marker Mic Drop Moment goes to Professor Roberto Gudiño, Faculty and Head of Production of the Scottsdale School of Film and Theatre at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. Professor Gudiño was one of the participants at the mindSpark Learning EdTech Institute I facilitated in San Diego, CA. He was awarded a new Promethean Panel for his final presentation of an interactive Google Site that his students will use in the fall semester.

Roberto is a first generation college student who earned his MFA in Film Production at UCLA’s film school, one of the top in the country. He also earned his Master of Science in Mass Communication from Florida International University, and has achieved a number of other academic accomplishments. His dream is to help future filmmakers acquire the skills they need to achieve their dreams, especially in an ever-changing world of technology.

The mindSpark Learning EdTech Institute is designed to equip teachers with technology tools to best prepare their students for the modern workforce. The San Diego participants ranged from a kindergarten teacher to college professor, all realizing the need to start preparing their students now for the future.

The educators were exposed to a number of tools, but first situated their use of technology with realistic discussions of their “why” for technology in the classroom. Professor Gudiño echoed the sentiments of his fellow participants: They all want their students to make meaningful connections, be intentional and thoughtful in their tech use, and to make their devices more than a fancy notepad. The two-day workshop required presentations of how tech would be implemented into their classroom, giving teachers tangible materials that they had built in a day to have for future lessons.

“I know [the Institute] definitely helped my students learn the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.”

Professor Gudiño had very kind words to say about mindSpark Learning’s summer institute:

“Padrah, our EdTech Institute facilitator, was amazing! She guided us through concrete ideas on how to apply EdTech in the classroom and we had ample opportunities to practice hands-on with different tech tools. The pace of the learning institute was perfect as we collaborated in groups with various educators from throughout the country. What a great experience! I couldn’t recommend this institute more and I know it definitely helped my students learn the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.”

Participants compiled a number of EdTech tools they had learned the previous day and a half to develop a personalized resource for their class. Roberto Gudiño’s class site is a polished example that integrates a number of tools, particularly making use of the GSuite products.

Asking the question, “What’s your why?”

Professor Gudiño’s care and thoughtfulness toward his students was immediately evident in our morning discussions about his why behind teaching with tech. His concern for how best to equip his students with the skills they will need for a competitive workforce drives his desire to learn more about technology use in the classroom. Professor Gudiño’s growth mindset is admirable because he clearly wants what is best for his students.

In a matter of a couple hours, Professor Gudiño created an interactive class site that could be used for his Film Story Structure unit. The site is engaging, visually appealing, and goes well beyond the sage on the stage, sit and get teaching style.

One of Professor Gudiño’s strength? Diversification. The site first hooks students with an edpuzzle to test their knowledge and weaves a number of activities throughout thereafter. Students not only complete Google Forms for discussion and exit tickets, but ultimately create an Adobe Spark video to bring their knowledge and understanding to a creative and personalized form.

Professor Gudiño’s worked throughout the institute with great care and empathy toward his students. His questions and insights clearly demonstrated that he wanted to be intentional about his teaching. He is not interested in using tech simply for the sake of tech, but instead wants to best serve his students throughout various mediums but with purpose. To compliment this mindset, he expects the same of his students. Professor Gudiño hopes his students will foster the same intentional attitude about their use of tech in their studies and future work in the cinema world.

Professor Roberto Gudiño is a model example of the growth mindset needed among educators today in this ever-changing world. His intentional and mindful attitude and professionalism along with artistic creativity makes him a role model for future film students. Great work and thank you again, Professor Gudiño!

Follow Professor Roberto Gudiño at to see more of the exciting work he is bringing to students, fellow educators, and the cinema world.

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #4: edpuzzle

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Video tutorials: edpuzzle Overview (Part 1) and edpuzzle Overview (Part 2 – Gradebook)

This week’s Tech Tool Highlight is edpuzzle, my new favorite tech tool that I will be implementing this school year. Edpuzzle allows you to edit and assign video content, inserting questions and comments for students to answer. Edpuzzle provides a gradebook with student progress, comparative data over time, and the ability to manually update grades and provide feedback, as needed. I had previously used similar tools but find that the ease of edpuzzle as well as its data integration capabilities will be a go-to for my classroom.

Why I love edpuzzle: Not only is the platform incredibly easy to use, but it focuses on key considerations for the student: self-paced work and accountability. Teachers all know the struggle of balancing the pace of a class with various skill levels and an endless list of content. Edpuzzle is the tool that will help guide, reinforce, and also hold your students accountable.

How to set up Edpuzzle

Set up a teacher account at When you use THIS LINK, you will automatically earn three videos toward your storage bank. You can send out your own referral code (found under “Invite Teachers”) and each of you will earn three videos. Spread the word because the more you share, the more videos you can create!

The top right menus are where you will find your profile, classes, and gradebook. Now, take a look at this beautiful button:

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Yes, that’s right. One more reason to integrate GSuite into your teaching world. You can save yourself the hassle and import directly from Google Classroom. Once you have created your classes (“Add new class” on bottom left), then you can assign videos, see student progress, and update grades. Want to give a student only partial credit for not watching the entire video? You can manually update grades as you see fit.

So many videos, so many choices…

You have the option to upload your own video (think Flipped Classroom) but there are a number of resources that may already have what you need. These include:

  • Edpuzzle
  • YouTube – Add the Edpuzzle Chrome Extension to automatically edit from YouTube!
  • Khan Academy
  • National Geographic
  • TED Talks
  • Veritasium
  • Numberphile
  • Crash Course

Once you have selected a video, click “Edit” on the lower righthand corner. Here, you can have a variety of options. Save and finish (top right buttons) your work when it is complete.

  • Crop the video
  • Add voiceover
  • Add audio notes
  • Quizzes – This is where you can add the following questions:
    • Multiple choice: Automatically graded (see Gradebook).
    • Open-ended: You will need to manually grade these later.
    • Comments: Highlight an important aspect of the video for your students.
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Storage space and organizing your content

Teachers can save up to 20 videos upon initial registration but can earn more by referring other teachers. Click on the top right profile icon and “Invite Teachers” to see this screen and each of you will earn three extra videos toward your account:

If you want to organize your videos by topic or level, click on My Content (left menu) –> Add content (blue button, right) –> New Folder and name it accordingly. For example, I have grammar and culture folders, making my content easier to navigate when I want to find a video to assign to a class.

You can also create Student Projects (My Content –> Add Content –> Student Project). Once you have created the project, you can assign it to a class and see their compilation of videos. This project could show you the depth of students’ understanding and serve as a compilation of review videos for the entire class.

Online PDs

Edpuzzle also offers online professional development courses for teachers, including beginner, intermediate, and advanced Edpuzzle levels, flipped classroom training, gamification, diversity and inclusion, project-based learning, and more. Click on this link to access all of the trainings: Edpuzzle Online PD

I just completed the Edpuzzle coach certification, which I highly recommend! The estimated time is 90 minutes but will likely take you less to complete. You will learn all about Edpuzzle and its nuances in short, manageable videos that use the platform to continually familiarize you with how the system works. You’ll be awarded a certificate, this cool badge, and access to a private Facebook group where you can share ideas with other coaches.

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Interested in furthering your Edpuzzle skills? Click here to get started!

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #3: Let’s get organized!

Alright, everyone. Time to talk organization. It’s summer and the least I could do is filter through those folders that have become overcrowded with “How’d that get in there?” or clean up that desktop. If this is you, take at least ten minutes to delete the unnecessary and drag and drop files into specifically-named folders. You’ll be much happier come August!

The New York Post didn’t sugarcoat anything when they called this desktop “anxiety-inducing.”

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Time-saving tools:

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The LastPass (Google Chrome Extension) will save you the frustration in remembering how many asterisks, percent or dollar signs you sprinkled throughout your password. Our digital era has made it unavoidable to have multiple passwords, all with their own length requirements, symbols, and a mix of upper and lowercase…all with good reason for your security! Keep those passwords strong but help yourself out with a password saver, like these recommended in the Best Password Managers 2019 ( article.

Let’s take a look at LastPass, for example. Once the Chrome Extension has been installed, you will be prompted to create an account, if you haven’t already. Common websites you visit (Amazon, Facebook, Netflix) will appear in the upper right corner. Click on one, log into that account, and LastPass will ask if you would like it to save that password. Click on the extension icon (red square with an ellipsis) to add more items, if you choose, such as drivers license, passport, bank or credit cards, etc.

Creativity and organization all in one:

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If you are a more visual person like me, you’ll love Wakelet. This free tool allows you to save and organize content like you normally would with your bookmarks, except more. You can create collections with images and add your own text in a user-friendly platform. Your login will prompt a green button to “Create a new collection,” title your collection, then add a link or item from the options listed. (See screenshot below.) Consider this one collective notepad from across all your sources, neatly organized and visually easier to find rather than scrolling through only names of websites.

Download the Wakelet Chrome Extension and check out The Educator’s Guide to Wakelet, a straightforward overview of how to optimize Wakelet for your classroom.

Google Keep and Tasks

I love using Google Keep (especially through the mobile app) for ongoing lists and notes. I can color code each list to make it stand out and easier to find. I can collaborate with colleagues on our upcoming presentation. I can also add images, links, create checklists, and set reminders, suiting almost any list or note need imaginable.

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Google Tasks allows me to create a Task from my email or type in one directly. Need to remember to submit the grades analysis to your principal before Friday? This tool will help keep you on top of that to-do list.

Highlight the email via the checkbox on the left. Then click on the vertical ellipsis (“the snowman menu”) and “Add to Tasks.” You can also set reminder times and subtasks.

Wondering where those Tasks went? Click on this Google Tasks icon on the righthand side of your Gmail inbox.

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Time for some fun…

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Summer is meant to wind down, relax, and take in good quality time with friends and family. You can use Apple Wallet or Pass2U Wallet (Android) to organize your concert, movie, flight tickets, coupons, all at the convenience of being in one place. Did you take a family vacation and want to easily share your photos with everyone? Check out this How to video:  Apple Shared Albums for how to create private albums and easily share photos beyond AirDrop and texting.

Enjoy your summer! Until next time!

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #2: Be Internet Awesome with Google

“Kids are inherently curious.”

Be Internet Awesome, a Google platform for children to become better digital citizens, is fairly new in the past couple years but gaining more and more attention in recent months. Let’s take a look at what you can find in this program.

Be Internet Awesome is “helping kids be safe, confident explorers of the online world.” Kids will always be curious but can access information (good and bad) in a simple click more easily than ever before. None of us are naive to the potential online dangers and Google has presented this program for students, families, and educators.

An overview:

“If it isn’t right to say, it isn’t right to post.”

Google’s Internet Code of Awesome is straightforward and pure common sense. The fundamentals are to be internet smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave. Common issues are addressed, such as responsibly communicating with others. This can range from online strangers and scams to cyber bullying. Whether it’s not clicking on every message or pop-up you see on your screen to securing your password, Google covers the most common issues facing our students today. For example, Google asks students to treat other online users as if they were face-to-face. If it isn’t right to say, it isn’t right to post.


Google has provided a 98-page curriculum (updated 2019) for teachers (or families) to use, extensively covering how to share with care, not fall for fake, secure your secrets, exhibit kindness online, and know when to seek help from an adult. The accompanying printables include a parent letter, activities, a family guide, internet tips, and a pledge. (See above links.) The curriculum provides rich discussion and activities to truly embed the importance and understanding of responsible digital citizenship. A further seal of approval? Google’s 2019 curriculum has the ISTE Seal of Alignment.

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Play safe. Learn safe. Stay safe.

Interland is the interactive platform to engage students in what they learn from their families and teachers. Four challenging games engrain these valuable lessons. Students can learn to discern fake sites or offers on the Reality River, then travel to Mindful Mountain where they learn to share with care. The Tower of Treasure will secure their secrets and Kind Kingdom teaches that it’s cool to be kind.

Let’s take a look at Kind Kingdom: Students are asked to report negative behavior in order to restore the peaceful nature among the kingdom. Players collect hearts to spread kindness to sad internauts who need some love. Ten points are awarded with each thumbs up or heart given to another character. Block the monsters who spread negativity (a clear bullying example)!

Google has provided a thorough and interactive program for students, their families, and educators to be engaged in their digital citizenship responsibility. While the program is intended for younger students, the materials could be applied across all ages. I would strongly encourage teachers to involve parents as we all transition technology into our classrooms. Teachers often field the questions and issues of tech use, how much tech, too much tech, not the right use or amount of tech…the list goes on. Google makes it easy for us to open the conversation to parents and provide ample resources to tackle this challenge together. If we fail to teach smart digital citizenship, would we not be doing a disservice to our students?