VSTE Conference Presentations


I’ll be updating this post as I pull the content together. These are presentations I’m doing at VSTE this year.

Common Tools, Uncommon Uses

Take a sideways look at educational uses for common tools and websites. Projectile motion in Word? Google forms for a choose-your-own-adventure novel? Yep. Stuff like that.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list and the goal is more about encouraging people to look at these tools and realize that no matter the goal of the creators/marketers we can use them in all kinds of powerful ways that were never intended. I think in the end, I’m going to organize it by concept and show multiple applications that support those concepts.


  • Movie frames for comics
  • Capture motion data
  • Summarize movies


  • Visual timer
  • ComicLife/Mind Mapping
  • Choose Your Own Adventure


  • Text manipulation
  • Self-Correcting Crossword Puzzle
  • MadLibs
  • 8 bit graphic design


  • Onion skinning to map motion
  • DIY ComicLife, Omnigraffle etc.


  • Choose your own adventure
  • Intelligent assessments


MOOCs: Define and Applied to K12

Massive Online Open Courses are catching on. What are they and what can K12 teachers learn from them? Both professional development and concrete classroom applications will be explored

After I explain what a MOOC is and show a few examples that might be interesting for K12 educators. I’m going to take what I found to be the most interesting elements from my participation in DS106 and talk about how and what I’d apply to the K12 environment both the classroom and the professional development arena.1

Stuff from DS106 that’s applicable to the classroom.

  • Aggregation blog
  • Student spaces
  • Student created assignments
  • Mixed online and f2f communities
  • Multiple media outlets
  • Cheerleading

Professional Development

  • Leveraging existing MOOCs
  • Integrating the concept into the district
  • Providing for mixed experiences for teachers
  • Aggregation and promotion

Also coming out of our office are-

iPads in Early Elementary

Henrico just deployed 4 iPads in every K/1st grade classroom. Why’d we do that? What Apps are we using? How are we managing devices? How are we documenting results?

Reflective Friends- Changing the Culture of Henrico County Public Schools

Ever feel like you’re spinning your wheels? Getting nowhere fast? Come learn what Henrico County did to establish an expectation for 21st century, student-centered instruction in all K-12 classrooms. After years of one step forward, two steps backwards, we have implemented a reflective friends process that consists of a series of classroom observations by “outside consultants” (in-house and outside our county) using our Teaching Innovation Progression Rubric (TIPC). Data is collected on 21st century instruction comparing select teachers versus random teachers, students and teachers are interviewed, and all data is triangulated to paint a baseline picture of a school’s 21st century instruction. Additional observations are performed at the end of the year to measure growth. Administrators from all schools have been an integral part of this process and learned how to use TIPC to further develop their own observational skills surrounding 21st century instruction. We are beginning our 3rd iteration of observations this year will bring all 46 elementary schools into the process this fall. We are also beginning to help school teams develop their own observational teams by bringing department and instructional leaders into the process. Reflective Friends, along with Henrico 21, is setting expectations and accountability for 21st century instruction in HCPS.

Henrico 21- Part 2- One year- 238 lessons later…

Teachers are ready, willing, and able to implement 21st century instruction in their classrooms but their cry is always “Help! Show me what it looks like!” Henrico 21 does just that. We have currently posted over 230 lessons that teachers can use as models for 21st century lessons at various levels of implementation. Participants will learn how we use the power of WordPress to format and post lessons and take advantage of the social networking aspects of WordPress. We are using this constantly evolving site to change the culture in our schools and develop community surrounding 21st century learning. Participants will learn how we use our Teaching Innovation Progression chart (our 21st century rubric) as the foundation for high quality lesson development. Henrico 21, along with Reflective Friends, is helping us begin to experience real change in instruction which is evidenced by the growth in the site from 8- to 238 lessons in less than a year.

Digital Curriculum

Changing Instructional Practices

Henrico County Public Schools is currently in a two–year process of replacing textbooks with digital curriculum. By 2013, we will create curriculum for 40 secondary content areas. The content will serve multiple purposes including face-to-face, blended, and eventually online courses. This process will involve multiple stakeholders including educational specialists, classroom teachers, instructional technology resource teachers, and the department of instructional technology. The work we are doing centers around the TPCK model with heavy emphasis on 21st century learning experiences that align with our Teaching Innovation Progression chart (TIPC). Courses are being developed using the Backwards Design framework and will include 21st century performance-based assessments. As part of this project, we are working to develop a container for curriculum and content that will be transparent and open to anyone. This is a work in progress. We will share our journey as well as any materials we have developed with all participants. We look forward to sharing and collaborating with others who are working to meet the same goals.

1 I have some more expansive ideas on how higher ed could leverage this concept to provide semi-facilitated PD for school systems but I won’t torture anyone with that right now.

Comments on this post

  1. Steve Dickie said on December 2, 2011 at 4:49 am


    How do you do Onion Skinning in Microsoft Word to teach projectile motion? I did a quick google search and didn’t find anything


  2. Tom said on December 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm


    Hopefully, it didn’t sound fancier than it is.

    Basically, I took a series of screenshots of Angry Birds or whatever. I then pulled each image into Word and set them all to “Behind Text” and then adjusted the transparency of each image and made sure they lined up properly. It’s not perfect but it works.

    I’ll be putting up example files and stuff like that in the near future. If time cooperates I might make really short screencasts.

  3. Tom said on December 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I tried two ways to add a grid overlay (show gridlines – only appeared under the images and what should have worked, using a table with standard sized cell, kept pushing the images around despite the fact that they were set to behind the text.

    I gave up and just found a PNG grid on Google and overlayed that.