Lights, Camera, Devices, Apps, Action

I really enjoy creating short clips for my Instagram feed. Adding sound and motion to content really puts the viewer in the context of the moment and shows the tone of what’s happening. Ten seconds is usually my limit. I was sad to see the demise of Vine. I loved the idea of what content one could push in six seconds. Zack King (a fellow Oregonian) showed us what was possible with movie shorts and Vine. His Ted Talks is one that I showed to my class to inspire them to tell their story.

I am constantly taking pictures of the classroom process to document progress which I also share on social media such as Instagram. My Instagram is private and is where I share mainly with my PLN what’s happening in my corner of the world.

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Creating videos has serve multiple purposes in teaching and creating community. This year our school started a Club called Eagle Vision where we share what the school’s Core Values mean to us as learners. The kids work on ideas for content and we create a video for the monthly assembly. We also do a trailer for the upcoming Core Value. I have found iMovie to be useful for this as there is a Movie Trailer Template.

Using Animoto I created a video as closure during a long term substitute teaching job. The students and I were very attached to one another. They were going to have to transition back to their regular teacher. The video remembered the good times we had and served also as a communication tool for parents.

I unashamedly use the movie shorts from the Assistant in Google Photos. I found if you can show children what they look like on task their confidence increases and it strengthens our community of learners. They never tire of seeing themselves learning. This goes for teachers too. During learning walks I take pictures and short videos of them in action. This extends to the learning community as a whole because parents also view these videos. Teachers also benefit seeing themselves in action and can reflect on their own professional growth.

I have a YouTube Channel where you can view some of the videos I have created using Google Assistant, Animoto and iMovie. I still have only scratched the surface of iMovie. Our school uses the Adobe CS6 Suite and Windows Movie Maker. Both I haven’t yet investigated.

My next challenge is to encourage teachers to use these media choices with their instruction. It is important for them to model creating content with different forms of media for their own professional development along with teaching kids about how to remix and construct new meaning through various forms of media.

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Vietnam Infographics

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The fourth grade team at our school had created a unit on Vietnam Culture for socials studies. They wanted the children to create infographics as a final assessment. I was asked to help with this because they wanted to use an online media source to create the infographic.

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Since the children were studying Vietnam I decided to search for Infographics on Vietnam and I was surprised to find so many. This was great because it also meant if the children searched on their own they would have resources to see as well.

This assignment was awhile ago so at the time I wasn’t aware of CRAP. Instead I looked at The 6 Principles of Design I created an anchor chart and went through this with the children. I had the students divided into groups and they looked at the Vietnam Infographics. They looked for the principles of design in the Vietnam infographics and we shared as a class what we liked, the principles we could see and what the infographic was about.

In doing the assignment again I would have the students look at CRAP and point out where they saw evidence of this.

I would include some other questions as well:

Questions to ask: What is the story in this infographic? What makes this different than say a poster? What makes this different than say a mind map? How is data presented?
Can you point out where you see CRAP elements? (I can’t wait to say this) How does it help your learning? What topic would you want to create with an infographic?

I would also share Kathy Shrock’s short view presentation on infographics. Adobe Education Exchange is also great free resource for teaching infographics and other visual literacy concepts.

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Less is More…

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In February I ran a session at the Vietnam Tech Conference at Saigon South International School. The session was on visualizing ideas through infographics. The session was actually a final project in a previous Coetail Course.

I had an hour for the session and it was a lot of content. My goal was to have the teachers work on their own infographics. I created a google slide and decided to keep my whole class instruction to fifteen minutes. In reality I ran over about ten minutes. This was because the presentation also had a short video. The original slide show makes me cringe…it was very wordy and I admit I read aloud parts…

My revision is much more visual. I realized it was impossible to push this much content in such a short amount of time. I needed to pare things down and offer resources for later use. I used photographs I had taken from student work and had the benefit of pictures from the session so I added these too. This made me feel the presentation was more authentic.

I also included an infographic I created myself modeling the finished product.

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The biggest revision I made was changing the links to pictures with the links embedded. In the interest of time I dropped the bio slide.

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The slide show was meant to be a tool for the teachers to use while they worked. Embedding the links gave a visual for what was to come instead of just a blue line. I also had given the teachers paper copies of infographics to use as resources. I had eight examples. Next time I will only do three. Less is more.


Jeff Utecht mentioned it is time consuming to collect pictures for a presentation. I agree. I found myself overthinking on what pictures to use. It is much easier just to type out words on a slide instead of finding the right visual concept. Just like painting it’s the prep that counts more than the final coat.

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The Mind’s Eye

This last week we began our If You Learned Here global book collaboration project. I began the project by showing Grades 3 through 5 pictures and videos of 4th past 4th grade classes.


My current school is in Vietnam and approximately 98% ESL. It’s really important to front load vocabulary and also work on schema or background knowledge before content is addressed. This also includes visual content.


We started with the word “curiosity” and together came up with a definition that was correct and everyone understood. Then we moved on to the teaching point:

“I’d like to talk with you today about curiosity. Imagine children who live in a different country than yours far away. What would you want to know about them? Think about this as we look at pictures of my old class from last year.” At this point I introduce the pictures and videos. The discussion started and was facilitated by me with deeper questions such as:


Why is it important to know about people who are different from us? Do you think people around the world have more differences, or more things in common? How can we learn about different countries around the world? If you could tell people around the world about school, town, and country, what would you want them to know?

Next I had the students investigate the different schools participating. We regrouped and revisited the previous questions. The children had a concrete understanding of the project and ideas swimming in their head about what was to come over the next few weeks.

After this students submitted a google form with their answers. We will go through the data and create our page using Book Creator. After this children will begin to create their own visual content when they answer questions from children at the participating schools.

For the rest of this post I shamelessly pulled from the New York Times. They have excellent resources in their Learning Network Section. This year they are doing a picture prompts in response to written article responses as a form of differentiation. The pictures are still connected to articles but can offer different perspectives. They also offer strategies and ideas for visuals I plan to use this example:

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Use It or Lose It!

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Before I was a teacher I had a painting business. The business is still in operation and specializes in high-end residential painting and remodeling. The ad above is part of a post card campaign designed by Eric Stevens at Tower of Babel. I believe it hits at the heart of CRAP. Here are some bullet points to consider!

  • There is contrast with color choices, application of color and font sizes.
  • Repetition is evident with the style of font and how it looks as though it was painted over with a paint roller.
  • The copy is aligned
  • The juxtaposition of the logo is within proximity to catch your eye but not distract.

Eric also designed our logo. When my husband and I started the business we were both on the younger side. At times it was a challenge to our credibility so we set out to have a logo that was “retro” one that looked like the company had been inherited from another generation. I would never hesitate to suggest using a professional like Eric to create a brand for your business or for marketing purposes.

Yet it would be “cheating” to do this with my assignment and to my own journey on how I can apply design fundamentals to my work. More importantly, share and teach it with others. My focus after Chinese New Year is on Grades 3,4 and 5. I decided to see how the new Google Sites might work for online portfolios. To learn and model I created a web page about Ed Tech at AIS. Shout out to Erin for her post on her own site. It was a huge resource. My parents are Vietnamese and don’t speak a lot of English so visuals and user ease is vital. I embedded links into screen shots of educational websites and apps. I still need to add links for the parent page and will do this when school is in session next week. The new Google sites is very basic compared to the power house Weebly yet for myself and my students this will be a great start to learning about Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design without being overwhelmed with choices. I also believe innovation comes into play when you don’t have every bell and whistle. What can we do with what we have?

One other aspect I realized is that my pictures are in a virtual pile on my desk. I need to have a system of organizing and storing photos taken at school. It spent a lot of time looking, downloading and transferring pics. I would love to hear about the types of photo storage systems other people use.

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My last post focused on my work last year at a Title 1 School in Oregon. For my final project I contacted a friend from my teacher college days at Lewis and Clark. Shyla Middleton is a 4th Grade teacher in Portland, Oregon. Her school is also Title 1. She is a generous hearted woman who gives her all to a class with kids who have a lot of challenges in their lives.

Shyla received a grant for a class set of Ipads. Because I am now in Vietnam I thought it would be a great idea to include my friend in If You Learned Here. It is a global collaboration project I learned about through a tweet from Kim Cofino about 3 years ago. I thought of Shyla because this project is a way to bridge the digital divide for the students in Shyla’s class. They will connect with my class and others around the world. It is my hope this inspires them to continue with education and discover what else they can accomplish through technology.

We borrowed heavily from the awesome website that Mary Morgan Ryan and Carolyn Skibba put together for the project. This was the first time it was put into a template and I really liked it because I have a more organized framework to meet deadlines with. I am not a classroom teacher but I have communicated with Grade 5 at my school and they are interested in the project. It also fits into our School’s Core Values along with being cultural and intercultural.

I’m excited to complete this project in the spring when it comes on board. If anyone is interested they are always looking for International Schools to fill their roster. It’s a great process, well organized and a lot of fun!

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The Best is Yet to Come…

Last year I taught 4th grade in America. I was at a Title 1 School. It was 100% free breakfast and lunch. I was the recipient of a district technology grant and awarded 10 Chromebooks for my classroom. I was also given an iPad. I was the only teacher in the school who had a set. There was an additional set of 30 for the rest of the school which was K-5 with about 650 students. My students had many challenges yet, they all had a resilience developed through the lives they led. Not only were were facing an achievement gap but a digital divide as well. Over 50% of the class did not have a computer or internet at home. I was curious to see how the Chromebooks would impact the classroom and how the children would respond to using them. Their experience with technology was limited to the PCs in the library computer lab and standardized testing.

I was up front and told them we were the only class in school to have this set. In fact, we were only one of a handful elementary classes to have a set at all. In a district with 40,000 students that was a pretty big deal. We were going to be the leaders in the school on how to use these. I told them I was going to present to the district at the end of the year all the work we accomplished. I told them I was going to expect them to teach not just other kids but teachers too because there was only one of me and way more of them. My first observation was how organic the transformation of the class was. Community was the first aspect of the class that came together. We all learned together what a Chromebook was. I had some boys use zip ties, foam and tape to fashion a storage cart. We came up with an agreement on how to share the Chromebooks and refined it as the year progressed.

I was determined NOT to use the technology as a drill & test prep tool or as a means to engage for classroom management purposes. I squeezed as much as I could into that year. Google Classroom, Scratch, Global Codeathon, Breakout EDU, researching, infographics, blogging on SeeSaw, collaborating in the class and internationally with If You Learned Here. I looked at the school’s adopted reading curriculum and used the Chromebooks to access it online. We created videos to share learning with the school community.

I observed how the children began to self regulate their behavior. During the entire school year there were only a few instances of behavior management connected to the Chromebooks. They became problem solvers because they had to work together. Because of this I am actually more a proponent of 2:1 VS 1:1.

I had an Asbergers student who at the start of the year was supposed to be in a special behavior class but due to lack of paperwork filing was mainstreamed. He became the “go to guy” for students and teachers. He could code, youtube and create other kinds of content. He went from being the odd one out to an average kid who is in a mainstream Grade 5 this year. His test scores were in the 90th percentile. He finally had an outlet to keep up with his racing intellect.

The beauty of the Chromebooks is it allowed for mobility. You can work together anywhere. This flowed into other parts of learning. We also became comfortable in front of the Ipad camera. The tongues and posing turned into reflective moments where we watched and appreciated one another for the work we did. It still could be funny and we laughed together. Because there was so much content created with them accomplishing so many things they began to see themselves through my eyes. How amazing I thought each and every one of them was. I shared with the principal and she cried knowing the lives of these kids and what they were doing.

This year in my new school I am limited to PC’s in the lab. We are working on lots of great things yet I do appreciate the mobility of laptops and hand carried devices. My hope is next year we will have access to devices and it will broaden our scope.

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Stuck in the Middle

I was not excited to do the readings for this assignment. I was anticipating dry copyright facts and the ethical stipulations of applying them to one’s work. Instead I discovered the world of re-mixing and fair use.

By Lưu Ly vẽ lại theo nguồn trên [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I work in Vietnam. While there are copyright laws in place. You can still get your Math book photocopied or any book for that matter. You can also buy bootleg DVDs of the latest movies and television shows. Counterfeiting is rampant and it is scary when you find out your medicine is not real.

As an educator in Vietnam my students are preparing for higher education abroad. Many of them will travel to other countries to attend schools. Aside from following the school’s ISTE Standards if my students are not taught to abide by copyright I would be setting them up for failure and serious academic consequences in the future. Being a global citizen also means an awareness of created content, ownership and citing sources. It’s important for monetary and proprietary reasons. You want to give the source credit for the work so in turn he/she/they benefit from the exposure. There is also the benefit of learning more due to a cited source or making a new connection. As a teacher I have personally contacted other teachers to tell them I am using the materials on their websites. I thank them for taking the time to share and tell them how they are helping my class. I have never not had a teacher graciously reply in gratitude. “To teach copyright law I use Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum. It’s pretty complete and standard aligned. I work with the classroom teachers to find ways to enhance the lessons and differentiate within each class.

At the same time I felt rather conflicted with Brian Lamb’s article with regards to having teachers stop worrying and love the remix. While I understand his perspective it seemed to me another university professor out of touch with the “real world” responsibilities and expectations of the classroom teacher. Yet I did like how he stirred the pot and began to look for more recent academic publications on remix culture. I found this Youtube video from Yale by Dr. Francesca Coppa which nine years later, answer’s Brian’s question, “…why should a culture of remix take hold…”

The video is long but in my opinion worth while. It goes through the history of remix culture and notes the different genres. It is extremely helpful in understanding the impact of remix culture and what it means to be transformational. Instead of just being a consumer you are also a producer by creating within various genres and platforms. You are giving feedback to content produced in mass culture and transforming it into something uniquely yours. In present day, social media links us together to share these innovations and again provide an opportunity for a transformative experience to others.

This is inspiring me to have a re-mix challenge for my students. To take things created for Mass Culture and transform them into a new expression of ideas.

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I am Older than the Internet

Screen-Shot-2016-12-16-at-2.25.26-PM.png December 16, 2016

December 16, 2016

After a class discussion on technology and the internet Max one of my dear 4th grade students came up to me excited. “Ms. Hernanz!”, he chirped. “I just realized something…you are older than the internet.”

I grinned, burst out laughing and agreed. The joy this job brings is at times priceless. I suppose being older than the internet is better than being old as dirt. Being at the tail end of Generation X I am part of an age co-hort that will be able to recount what privacy meant before the internet. My sense of self was developed in real life not online. I made mistakes that weren’t shared with the rest of the world or society. My celebrations were also my own not to be reflected upon by the masses. Yet, I have to remember my bias. This is not better but vastly different than the lives of my students.

At this time I live with the premise there is no privacy. It is legal for the government to read your email, your google searches can be subpoenaed, utilizing technology is an exchange of services for your personal life.

It begs to question in this day and age: What is privacy? Why is it coveted? Why is it important? For me privacy means my identity and my life are my personal business not to be shared with the rest of the world. I want to to decide what is shared and what is not.


As an educator by virtue I am a public figure. I am expected to be a role model for social and academic purposes. My students come to me and discuss what they find after they have googled me. These are children young as 8 and 9 years old. At this age they are looking at graphics more than reading content and because they are children they ask ALOT of personal questions.

Children push limits as a method for learning. How far can they go? I view these experiences as lessons on personal boundaries. As an educator I teach respecting personal physical space, personal property and personal opinions. Included is also respect for yourself in real life and on the internet. This means you need to decide what boundaries of discussion you have with others regarding what your post and what is posted about you in person/online.

This is important because you are modeling how to develop a sense of self. You show limits to having others judge & impact how you view yourself. You show what it means to keep the power of who you are and how you feel about yourself instead of giving it to others to decide for you.

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You can run but you can’t hide…

“Create your digital footprint before it creates you” I can’t attribute this quote to anyone. I read it in a random blog over five years ago. It stuck with me then and still does. There wasn’t much. Or so I thought until I signed in to Wolfram Alpha. One of the things I love about Coetail is I am always learning something engaging. Good grief! My Facebook life is metered out in quantifiable categories that are rather unremarkable yet also seem very personal. I still can’t explain how or why this was so disturbing except that my FB life was distilled into little bits that could be taken out of context. A little paranoia began to set in as I remembered a date rape case in Oregon. It set a new precedent when the judge allowed for the defense to have access to hard drive data that included Google Searches. I remember reading another article where the victim felt as though she was raped all over again. The realization of what a digital footprint actually consists of is much, much more than your social media navigation.

International teachers automatically have digital footprints through their school’s websites. Because of logistics most keep in touch with family and friends through some form of social media. International teachers can move from job to job every few years versus staying in one district for an entire career in the US. You may have several jobs over the course of an international teaching career. So it is prudent to keep up a front stage behavior and have your best self visible.

Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A question I have asked elementary students from grades 2 to 5 over the last seven years is if they wanted to be famous. Yes or no? Back in 2006 the majority was yes! Being popular and having money was a cool thing. However, the answers have evolved. Children are learning to define what fame means all on their own. They now share that it sounds fun but the problem is you can’t control who likes you and who doesn’t. They don’t want to be in the middle of that. There are pressures to be liked and cool. They also understand there are different kinds of fame. They see the differences between people who do good deeds, bad deeds, entertainers, and athletes.

These kinds of conversations with kids reveal how observant and wise children can be. Teaching children to make the right choices and more importantly how to recover when mistakes are made is an important role for teachers.

So how we teach children to have a positive digital footprint? We model and extend our learning community outside of the actual school and into the virtual world. We show the world is not a scary place but with guidance place to discover and celebrate.

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