Three Ways Digital Storytelling Supports Formative Assessment

Three Ways Digital Storytelling Supports Formative Assessment


Here are three ways that digital storytelling supports formative assessment:


  • Digital Media/Snapshots of student learning, while they are learning.
  • Reflections that help students pivot and make new iterations.
  • Summarizes the experience to help students review and see their growth.


Digital Media/Snapshots

I have students take small video recordings (5-8 seconds) of moments they deem important.  I emphasize “deem important” because this forces them to reflect on what they are doing and how they are going to do it.  I then have them make a plan on what they will take snapshots of.  They can use a GoPro, smartphone, tablet or their Chromebook camera.  Next they should  capture those key moments in the lesson and think about how they are going to explain them.  When they see their product, work, collaboration, or lack thereof, they realize that the truth is staring right at them.  They have a visual artifact of what they did while they were doing it.  They are observing themselves.  This certainly supports the purpose of improving their learning.



Rusul Alrubail made a list of the benefits of student reflection.  I think in order to believe that reflection can help improve student learning, it is important to see its benefits.  When students are given a guide/template on how to reflect on their learning, it becomes the center of their learning.  Eric Patnoudes says students begin seeing the difference between “good” and “good enough”.  They are forced to be truthful with themselves.  Reflection templates help them analyze all of their decisions.  These reflections should be written out or narrated alongside a video so that that their group members, parents and teacher can give feedback on their learning.  This helps them improve on what they are doing.



After every game, a coach has to think about what they are going to say to their team, win or lose.  A great coach lets their players have a voice during this time.  Education is no different.  If teachers give their students the opportunity and time to summarize the learning that just took place it gives other students an insight to what other students are thinking.  Many students will say things like this, “I never thought of that” or “I was thinking the same thing”.  When students summarize, they are owning their learning.  


Adding It All Together

Teachers that have their students take snapshots of their learning, reflect on that learning and then summarize it, they are creating an artifact of their learning.  They are telling a story of what and how they learned.  The student can now use that artifact to see their growth over time.  They can “SEE” their growth and they can make iterations along the way.  The digital portfolio supports formative assessment because when you implement these three suggestions, it WILL improve student learning.

Three Reasons Digital Portfolios are Important



Today there are emerging technologies that make it very easy for students to tell their story.  Students have access to devices; and video editing tools like GoPro Splice are abundant.  There are speech-to-text apps to help students who struggle with writing. Storing data on Google Drive for students is unlimited.  With so many digital tools available, it is easy to create a digital portfolio of their learning. Here are three reasons why digital portfolios are important:  


  • Standardized tests to do not tell the whole story.
  • Students can look back and reflect on their learning which helps them own it.
  • Sharing their story with an authentic audience results in more learning.


Many teachers and parents are frustrated with standardized tests.  I have taught for twenty years and I have mixed feelings. Many of my students perform very well on standardized tests; and I do think they have value.  There are students who are good at recalling information and answering questions with paper and pencil; and I do believe that there are wonderful careers for students that have these skills.  


Teachers, including me, get frustrated because we know that a standardized test doesn’t give all students a chance to show their proficiency.   Many of the students who don’t perform well on standardized tests have beautiful, curious  minds, ask thought provoking questions, are brave and courageous risk takers, and just need an alternative way to demonstrate their learning.

What if students were allowed to “show” their learning? What if students could demonstrate their proficiency using a digital portfolio by defending what they have learned?  The Coalition of Essential Schools points out that some states are beginning to do this. “Portfolios are gaining currency as an assessment alternative to report cards and transcripts; numbers of schools, and even entire states -- notably Kentucky and Vermont -- are using portfolios to get a more accurate description of a student's capabilities.”  With digital learning on the rise and states beginning to look closely at portfolios as an assessment alternative, we are entering a time where all students can show their proficiency.  


Digital Portfolios set the stage for student reflection. Reflection is often overlooked in the classroom yet it is an essential ingredient to student learning.  Beth Holland wrote an article called Digital Portfolios: The Art of Reflection.  She said, “through the act of collecting learning artifacts and compiling them into portfolios, students should have an opportunity to reflect upon their experiences and see their own growth.”  I agree with Beth.  Digital Portfolios offer an amazing opportunity for students to reflect on their learning. Students need teachers and parents to teach them how to reflect.  I have found that students love reflecting and that makes them very cognitive about their thinking which amplifies metacognition. I read an article by Karen Barnstable  called Four Dimensions of Reflective Learning and I adapted it to share with my students.  I explain to them that there are four types of reflection: inward, outward, forward and backward.  Here is something I write on my whiteboard:


Backward- Does your work and video tell a story of your learning?

Inward- What are your standards?  Are you meeting them?

Outward- Did you do your work as well as the others in your group?

Foreward- Was there a character trait from another student that you want to copy or emulate during your next task?


This reflection guides the students toward capturing the right artifacts and thoughts that should be included in their digital portfolio.  This is valuable because students can look back and see how they were thinking.  Looking back on a document, video, picture or drawing is good, but looking back on how they reflected helps the student see what they learned and how they were thinking.


Digital Portfolios offer students the opportunity to share their work with authentic audiences.  Monica Burns simply states in her article The Value of an Authentic Audience why students should have authentic audiences. “When we establish authentic audiences for students, they can see the purpose for their work.” The magic happens when students have purpose.  I explain to my students that the videos that they put in their digital portfolios are for parents, other teachers, students from other schools and the list can be long.  I also explain that when you show others how you did something, you have become part of the learning system.  You are now a contributor.  Students watch Youtube videos to absorb something and I explain to them that you can’t always be the person who absorbs, you also have to give back to that system.  When students add videos to their digital portfolios, they are creating a learning journal of what they did and can contribute it to system.  I love analogies and I feel students need to take care of their portfolios like a garden.  They need to water them, take the weeds out, and share the crop when it grows.  Students take better care of their digital portfolio because there is purpose.  This past fall I had the privilege to listen to Eric Patnoudes run a session at the Fall CUE conference in Napa Valley.  Eric showed this video with teachers to show them the power of giving your students an authentic audience. Check out what the students and teacher say about authentic audiences at the six minute mark.
Have your students start creating a digital portfolio and guide them on how to take care of it. Explain why they are important and have them begin reflecting on their learning!

Three Ways To Use A Drone At School

Three Ways To Use A Drone At School


Students love drones and there are a lot of ways to incorporate them into the classroom.  I have the GoPro Karma Drone and it is incredibly easy to fly, gives you awesome footage and students can fly it on day one, so there are no reasons not to have one!

Three easy lessons might be:  measurement, collaboration,  and estimation.


Measurement.  All students in all grades work on measurement.  I was recently talking to a wind turbine repairman from Las Vegas who said he climbs turbines to check if they are working properly.  He said, “ I wish our company had a drone.  If we had a drone, I could fly it up there and determine any problems the turbine has without risking injury.”  I said, “For safety reasons?”  He replied, “Yes”.  That brings us to our first way to introduce drones, safety!


All new quality drones like the GoPro Karma will tell you how high they are flying and how much flying time you have to operate the drone.  In this lesson, take four eight-foot PVC poles (wind turbines) with a red or blue colored cap on each and place them at least 100 feet apart from each other.  Students will fly the drone over each pole and record them.  All red top poles indicate  the pole is working correctly and the blue colored tops indicate there is a problem.

Students use measurement wheels to map out their flight and use the recordings to determine which poles work and which poles don’t.  The students record their flight and explain why their team did a great job of identifying the working and nonworking poles.  Teachers could implement a number of math standards into this real life assignment.

Collaboration.  21st Century Skills require people to collaborate.  Drones are becoming a solution to many companies.  Look at  Amazon Prime Air.  Drones are here to stay and it is the responsibility of teachers to incorporate this fascinating technology into the classroom.  


In this lesson, students will incorporate weather and math to determine which day of the week they should guarantee delivery based on weather and time.  Students need to prepare by mapping out the weather for the week and then based on the day they choose, they perform a simple take off and landing to simulate a package drop off to a three different customers.  Students will determine who gets the first delivery, second delivery and third delivery.  Students will collaborate with each other to come up with a plan and execute it.  All the teacher needs to do is map out where the deliveries are and the students do the the rest.  To take this to another level, give students the GPS locations of the deliveries and have them find the spots.


Estimation:  School parking lots can get jammed up at times.  Schools usually have protocols in place to maximize efficiency in student drop off and pick up.  Teachers should have their students fly drones over the parking lot during different times of the day to capture footage of what is happening with buses and cars to make decisions and rules. You are probably asking, “Who is flying the drone when the buses are picking up and dropping off?”  The students are.  Teachers will need to plan this in advance and see if some of the walkers are willing to come in early or stay after to get the footage (they will be begging).  You could also ask students who use the bus to get footage during the day to prove there are times during the day that have much less traffic congestion.  When students have the footage before, during and after school, they can estimate the amount of traffic during multiple times during the day.  Students will then use that footage to make a plan of the best way buses, cars and packages are to come in and out of school.  Students will present this to the class and to the Board of Education.


Drones will change the way we live.  Now is the time to get them into the classroom to prepare students for the future.  Plus, drones are a lot of fun, too!

5 Tips When Managing a Digital Classroom

Five Tips for Managing a Digital Classroom


Every day, schools across the country are adding more devices to the classroom.  Here are five tips on how to manage the digital classroom.  


  1. Whether your school is 1:1 or you have ipads on a cart, I strongly suggest that you have groups of two or three students working on one computer.  The reason behind this is to maximize their work.  When students are on their own device, it can be very difficult to:
  • monitor what sites they are on
  • keep them focused on the tasks at hand
  • prevent them from drifting to other sites (kids don’t want to watch their partner surf the web)

When students are sharing a computer they are collaborating and that is a 21st century skill that all students need.  So tomorrow, get your students in groups and set the extra Chromebooks and ipads off to the side.


  1. Students need to know where to store devices, how to store them, and which one is theirs.  Most teachers number the devices.  I find this useful for many reasons. 1. If my students are using Lego EV3 #1, I want them to also use ipad #1 and GoPro #1.  They will always know where there device is, where their codes are and where their footage is.  If my students are using the Lego EV3 #1 and it is synced by Bluetooth with Ipad #1, I won’t have to to sync them again and they will be ready to go for the rest of the year.  This goes for syncing GoPro #1 with ipad #1.  This allows for an easy workflow.  They also know where to return their devices.  Most schools agree that when a student feels ownership of a device, they will take better care of it.  


  1. Digital Citizenship needs to be addressed every day.  We can not manage a digital classroom by saying, “you were just texting, so everyone needs to put away their cell phones.”  This is not teaching digital citizenship. Teachers must  explain and reinforce  good digital citizenship.  Because students are learning how to use digital equipment in the classroom, this is a great way to introduce debates and open forums.  Don’t get irritated with a student when they make a poor choice with their device, help them understand what went wrong and how it impacts them.  Students will love talking about this!


  1. Use a student management system to organize your day and your students.  I use Google Classroom and SeeSaw to help manage my class.  These systems help cut down on paper, give your parents a window into the classroom, allow students to share and collaborate creatively and make your life easier because they can save time.  There are so many features on Google Classroom and SeeSaw but don’t be nervous, there are many webinars, videos and tutorials to get you started.  Just try one new thing each week or two and before you know it, you will have the hang of it.


  1. Time, Time, Time!  Tell your students when they are on their device, there are time limits.  Put up a timer on your projector using the website Classroom Timers.  This will help your students and groups stay focused on the goal.  Students should be using their device as a tool.  If it is not a tool to complete the job, then it should be closed or put away.  If I tell my students to look something up, build a model on Tinkercad or edit a video, I always put up a classroom timer and give them an allotted time.  We discuss how long it should take so they have ownership of the time which is another great skill for them to develop when sitting in front of a computer.  This prevents surfing the web and rabbit hole syndrome where students are just searching and looking.


Technology is overarching education, it is not going away.  It is our responsibility to teach students how to manage it and use it effectively.  CrossBraining is very interested in how you manage the digital classrooms and we would love to hear your tips!


Digital Storytelling in the Classroom


The Importance of Digital Storytelling


Digital storytelling is going to transform education. Technology is the overarching tool that drives all industries and education is no exception.  Teachers and students have access to smartphones, computers and GoPro cameras in their school or classrooms.  Some schools are putting a device in every student's hands.  

I teach in rural Michigan and every student has a Chromebook, 40 percent of my 5th grade students have a smartphone, 65 percent of my 6th grade students have a smartphone and 92 percent of my 7th grade students have a smartphone.  This means that every student in our school has the ability to take pictures, record video, add music and edit video and tell a wonderful story and share it with an authentic audience.


Students already use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and now Snapchat to communicate with each other.  Video and images have dramatically changed HOW communication takes place. Facebook allows for longer videos and longer stories where Twitter only allows for 140 characters which forces the user to make a pitch.  Snapchat only allows 10-second videos and when it is opened it only stays on for 10-seconds.  However, expeditioness plays a critical role in how students communicate their story.  


Here are some interesting facts about video:



Schools across the country want their students to focus on the four C’s (critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity) for 21st century skills and; digital/video storytelling bridges these learning skills across subjects and disciplines.  


Digital storytelling offers a unique, personalized authentic experience for the student and it is student-driven.  It gives the student an opportunity to SHOW their learning on a platform they are comfortable with and  like to use with their friends.  Digital storytelling is great for:


  • Personalized instruction and learning
  • Metacognition (students think about their thinking when they create a video of their learning)
  • Sharing learning with parents, teachers, administrators and community
  • Engagement
  • Portfolios
  • Formative assessment


Digital Storytelling also documents the lesson that is being taught.  Every time a student captures their learning they are essentially capturing the lesson being taught.  When teachers share those videos with each other, the world will have access to lessons that are being taught across the world.  The facts already say that one billion unique users are using YouTube each month.  Teachers would be able to review and rate lessons and it would not matter where they were teaching, they would have access to the best lessons on the planet.

CrossBraining understands the power of video.  CrossBraining shows teachers and students how to create 45-second narrated videos of the learning that takes place in the classroom. We have a template that steps both students and teachers through the process to learn, capture, and share. But it gets even better, our new app will be coming out soon! Stay tuned.

MACUL 2017


Here is a breakdown of MACUL 2017 at Cobo Center.


Sir Ken Robinson KeyNote Speaker

Each year thousands of teachers join together to share great ideas and tools with each other at MACUL.  MACUL is the Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning.  Teachers come from all over to:

  • Attend engaging sessions
  • Go to the Makerspace Area
  • Learn about new STEM products
  • Learn how to incorporate new Google tools into their lessons
  • How to use video in the classroom
  • How to transform education


This year’s tagline was Learning Forward.  This amazing conference started with one of the world’s most forward thinkers, Sir Ken Robinison.  Michigan teachers packed Cobo to hear Sir Ken Robinson spread his message about change and how it starts right in their classroom.  He talked about miracles and how they happen everyday in our classrooms.  He also shared how education and standardized tests are not working.  He showed the packed crowd a picture of parents in India climbing a building to help their child cheat on tests.  He then said, “customize, not standardize!”


I don’t think there could have been a more fitting person to amp up the crowd before the teachers headed off to sessions.  I had anticipated watching Sir Ken in person since MACUL mentioned this last year.  He certainly moved me and I choked up a number of times.  


Here are some of my favorite quotes he said:

“There is something in the system that obstructs the learning.”  

“Humanize education.”

"A school is a community of learners; everything else is negotiable.”

“How do we change the education system? Don't think someone else is the system. You are the system.”


The last one was powerful.  You could just tell that every teacher in that hall went to their sessions with a purpose.


My First CrossBraining Session

I applied this past fall to have a Session on “Using GoPro Cameras in the Classroom”.  This session focused on Collaborating, Creating and Communicating.  It was an absolute honor to be able to hold this session and to show teachers how to get students to make 45-second videos of their learning using key terms from the standards.  The teachers became students and made their own narrated 45-second videos of Mixtures and Solutions.  Mixtures and Solutions can confuse students but when they plan, perform, make changes to a video creation that is student driven, they simply don’t forget.  Here are some of the videos that were made in that session.  Note, the competition was fierce because the winning team each got a GoPro Session.


 Winning team
MACUL is doing everything it can to help motivate and inspire the attendees to be the game changers because “we are the system”.  It takes volunteers and presenters like Andy Losik @mrlosik and Ron Madison @madison_ron Brad Wilson @dreambition and many more to pull this off and CrossBraining is stoked to continue learning from the great teachers in Michigan and to do its part in sharing tools that help create positive change.

Let The Student's Teach and The Teacher Facilitate

I am going to start off by saying that I know enough about computers to get by, but I am far from an expert.  I have taught for twenty years and I remember getting my first access to the Internet in 2000.  The boundaries between education and technology are becoming blurred and there is one thing that seems to be stuck in the mud:computer education.  Yes, we let students USE computers but there is little to no teaching taking place on what is inside them.  For years, I rested on the crutch of simply saying, “I don’t know how they work, so how could I teach computers.”  That has all changed and this article is about how it happened.


The third grade teacher across the hall from me had a student named “Ted”who was fascinated by copy machines.  He told me that “Ted” would be in my class next year and that Ted loved hanging with the tech guys who came and fixed the machines.  I thought it was cool that the teacher let Ted do that.  He told me again that Ted was going to be in my room next year and that he wanted Ted to have an opportunity to keep working on computers.


The following year, in my fourth grade class, the copier broke.  I asked Ted if he could fix it, even though I didn’t really think he could. Well, he did, and our lives has never been the same since.  Ted has fixed the copiers, whiteboards, coolers for the fish tank, computers, cameras and the list goes on.  I let him try to fix everything.  Yes, he still hangs with the copy guys to brush up on new technologies.  He craves up to date information. The company that sells and fixes the copiers went as far as giving Ted a one hour tour of their company and to end the tour told him they would send him a full size copy machine delivered to his house.  Not the ones that go in your home office, the ones that go in a school.  His mom said it was a dream come true because he used to ask for one for Christmas and that he had drawings of them on his wall.

When Ted was in 5th grade I had a group of adults come to observe my class.  One of them happened to be an advisor to our Governor.  Ted showed him a circuit board that he was working on and the advisor pointed to it and asked what it was. Ted looked at him, but didn’t speak for almost 30 seconds, which seemed like eternity.  Finally, Ted looked at me and said, “Mr. Nichols, this is tough to answer because it is a capacitor and those are not easy to explain to people who don’t know what they are.”  Everyone cracked up but even I really didn’t know how they worked. He looked at the Advisor and said, “It is like a battery but only works when it is needed. They are more complicated than that but that is the simplest way I can explain it.”

Ted is now in 7th grade and I am lucky to have been teaching him for the past four years because I am a STEM teacher.  So let’s circle back to the beginning.  I had never taught a computer class but I really thought it was time.  But I wasn’t going to teach the class, Ted was.  I told Ted and his buddy to make a list on Amazon of everything they would need to make a computer.  Their eyes nearly popped out of their heads as they tried to say “serious?”

My plan was to get them what they wanted so they could build a computer...on the condition they would teach the other students.  I baited them.   One became two and two became four and now ‘Ted’ has 8 which by the end of this school year needs to be 10-16.  That was the deal.

Right now you are probably wondering  how I graded them.  The answer is simple.  CrossBraining.

I told them to write out what they wanted the newbies to learn first, and how they pass in order to go to phase 2, 3 and 4.  I was thinking that question would take a few days to answer but it actually took three seconds.  They said, “Newbies have to take apart a computer and put it back together naming all the parts and what they do.  They must submit a short video to you about each phase and tell the audience what they are doing.  They must capture their plan on video, showing how they are going to take the computer apart and put it back together.  They need to point out mistakes and how they fix them.   That video will become a tutorial for the next newbie.”  They get it.

What makes this story so powerful is that school has not been easy for Ted.  Tests don't accurately describe his proficiency but now he is running the computer class like an awesome boss and keeps me informed about every move his students make.  I became the facilitator.  Do you want to know who is taking his next class?  Me!

Teachers are facilitators of a student’s journey.  Let the the students go.  Yes, it is uncomfortable at times and yes it can be a little dangerous and messy.  If you have a process in place, can guide them, and have them report back to you what they are doing and how they are learning, both you and the students win.  The CrossBraining Learning Solution gives teachers the tools they need to let their students explore their passions while giving the teacher a template that manages the learning process.
P.S.  The Advisor never forgot “Ted”.  The Advisory Board asked me yesterday if Ted would meet with the Governor.   I said, “Sure, and he can tell the governor how he teaches my computer class :)”  

Student Made Videos

Here are seven reasons why teachers should join the CrossBraining Nation in using powerful student made videos in the classroom:

  1. Promotes Creativity
  2. Promotes Student Metacognition
  3. Student Review
  4. Motivates Teachers
  5. Formative Assessment
  6. Informs Administration
  7. Instant Lesson Database

Reason 1. Creativity.  Giving a student the opportunity to be creative is not always easy but it is incredibly important.  Teachers are often nervous about giving their students the freedom to explore ways in showing their learning because, let’s face it, it means that they might not be able to do it, there are risks involved.  If a teacher guides them and gives them some tools to show off their learning, the students might just surprise you, in fact, it happens all the time.  

Yes, there will be a few students who need explicit instructions on how to create their video but when you see what some of your students do with little to no guidance, that is when you will realize that it is worth it.  Last week, my class was given the task to create a beverage container along with a 3D printed cap that went on top of their bottle.  They also needed to create their own label and make a 15 or 30 second commercial promoting their drink.  I had a group of girls who did not ask me one question all week and simply needed me out of their way.  They approached me on Friday and said, “do you want to see what we did?” I was a little nervous because remember, they were basically on their own all week, of their own choosing.  I thought, “I’m not sure.”  I asked them what their beverage was called and they said, “Ghost Water.”  What they showed me (their video), gave me chills. It was awesome.  They let their creativity go wild and you could tell they had a blast making this and putting it all together.  I started giving them high fives and all the students wanted to see it.  I told the students that they would have to wait until we unveiled all the videos the following week.  Even though not one other student saw the video yet, I could tell that others knew and wanted to up their game.  Creativity encourages competition, excites students, and reveals talents.  Teachers who give their students the space and tools to be creative are the ones who are giving their students the opportunity to find out who they are and what talents they have.  

Reason 2. Metacognition.  CrossBraining centers its lessons around metacognition.  We can't say this enough that when a student is in charge of demonstrating their learning, they catch mistakes and make improvements on their own. They think about what they learned and they own it. When teachers give them an authentic audience, metacognition goes into overdrive.

Reason 3.  Review.  Student review usually consists of going back through papers and locating the right information to review. If a student has multiple short 35 second videos of their learning and used key terms from the standards, review is now a simple touch of the button. Here is a scenario I would like you to think about. What if a teacher said, "go back and watch the videos you made on September 5th to review the Science and Language Arts concepts we went over and feel free to watch other student videos that were made in class." CrossBraining believes this is idea needs to be explored and we believe it is a method that students will respond to and love as an option for review.

Reason 4. Teacher Motivation.  Teachers rise up when they are talking about one of their favorite lessons and even get pumped when talking about it. If teachers have their students capturing their learning taking place in the classroom, you better believe that the lesson is going to be great. No teacher is going to have their students capture boring lessons. When districts adopt the Crossbraining Method, the teachers’ metacognition kicks in as well and the teachers instinctively demand more of themselves because they know there is a window to their classrooms.

When teachers begin sharing videos, great lessons rise up and become the expectation that the teachers have placed on themselves.  No principal or building administrator will have to tell them to step up, it happens authentically.  Let’s also talk about what happens when a teacher starts seeing the creative ways that students demonstrate the learning in their room.  When my students showed me “Ghost Water” and nailed every expectation, you better believe that I was pumped.  The teacher will see their lessons come alive through the interpretation of the student.  The teacher gets stoked and it drives them to go harder on the next lesson.  It is cool when an administrator says, “nice job”. It feels good, but when you get students high fiving you and other students, that is over the top.

We will explore the next three reasons later this week.  Give student made videos a try.  Let your students show their learning! The CrossBraining Method really works!

WeVideo, Soundtrap, Explain Everything Apps- CrossBraining Uses Them All

When you purchase a CrossBraining’s GoPro STEM/PBL Kit you will get 10 GoPro Session Cameras, attachments, SD cards, a guide with engaging lessons and a Teacher’s Manual that steps you through the process to teach your students  how to make 30-45 second videos on capturing the standards.  We have used all three apps being offered by Google and we will show you how they can be used independently or all together to produce amazing formative assessment that will show a student’s learning.


CrossBraining Curriculum Lessons
CrossBraining Lessons

CrossBraining has written articles about WeVideo before and we love their product.  CrossBraining students use WeVideo on a daily basis and there isn’t a time when a GoPro isn’t hooked up to one on a Chromebook.  WeVideo’s cloud based platform makes it simple to use and often students continue working on projects with each other when they get home.  When students have the opportunity to keep on working and they do, you know that the assignment is meaningful.  My students often use the WeVideo option Collaborative and Shared so that they can work on a video together or work on the editing together.  This is a great feature.  This is only the beginning because with this app bundle students can now add some more flavor to their video.I recently had the pleasure to Co-Present at a Session at CUE with Eric Patnoudes called Really Good, or Just Good Enough? Benefits of Publishing Student Work Online and then later Eric invited me back to chime in on his session, A Few of My Favorite Things: A Super Duper Edtech Geek Out.  I had a great time meeting teachers who were trying to find a way to give their students authentic audiences; and to figure out what tools would help them do it.  Even though I was co-presenting, I caught myself mostly listening to what Eric had to say because I wanted to hear his take on it.  He showed an awesome video on how high school students have other students from other schools critique their ideas.  Here is the link  In essence, students want to tell their stories and get feedback (CrossBraining Method).  CrossBraining created the GoPro STEM/PBL Kit  to get you started. There are three Google Apps for Education that are being bundled by CDW-G that are the creative tools that help put everything together.  Here are the three apps; WeVideo, Explain Everything and Soundtrap and here is how CrossBraining brings them together so that students can SHOW the standards.  


My students have used Explain Everything for years.  CrossBraining is very excited to see that it is available on Chromebooks.  Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard that gives your students the opportunity to show their learning through their voice and how they see it.  Here is an example of a student’s video on wiring. . Students can now take this explanation and put it into their WeVideo.  My students are making Mousetrap Vehicles this week out of Legos and they are using Explain Everything to explain how the lever and spring work together to make the vehicle move.  Here is a video of what it looks like when a student uses WeVideo and Explain Everything together.  (Insert Video).

CrossBraining encourages students to be creative and I am always interested to see what kind of background music students will pick for their video.  Most apps offer a variety of sounds and songs that students can use for their videos but when a student approached me about making their own, I got fired up.  That is when I was introduced to Soundtrap.  Now students can make their own music for their videos.  Every classroom has students who would love to rise to the challenge of making their own music for their video.  Soundtrap on Google Chrome Store now gives them the tool to do so.  In this final video, you will see how CrossBraining brings it all together.  

I want to make sure that everyone knows that each of these apps can be used independently and that each of these apps have a plethora of options and features that I didn’t mention.  I only skimmed the surface.  What excites the CrossBraining Nation the most is that we have tools, a kit and a method that gives kids an option to show their learning outside of summative assessment.

Here is Why Tech Ed Conferences are Selling Out

Educational Technology Conferences are turning into the “it” place to be. The people who put these on really know what they are doing.  I had the privilege to sit down and talk with Eric Patnoudes from CDW-G a few months ago and when he asked if I would come out to CUE to co-present with him, I said yes before any details of the conference, dates, flights, hotels were even mentioned.  Eric is passionate and knows what he is doing by working at helping schools create a successful path to implementing Tech Ed.  I jumped at the chance because CUE is simply the Rock Star Conference.  Here are three reasons why conferences like CUE draw in the crowds and why they sell out like a rock star concert:


#1- Tech Ed is cool. Caleb Warren and Margaret C. Campbell recently took a critical look at six studies on coolness.  “Cool is the art of being pleasant or commendable without making any discernible effort to do so”.  The subject of Teachers and Technology has been interesting  to observe over my career.  You have teachers fighting to go to these conferences and ones who are nervous and scared to change. The word technology can make some feel scared .  CUE, ISTE, MACUL, FSTE have all made Tech Ed cool.  They have made it pleasant!  They KNOW that some teachers are nervous about change and being less tech savvy than others so they made it fun.  Two Bit Circus started a Kickstarter to fund the idea of having a blast learning about STEAM.  It is all about having a blast first.  



#2- Conferences like CUE stay on top of all the newest trends and look at the things that work or have potential to work.  When Jon Corippo, Director of Academic Innovation, CUE, asked CrossBraining to be part of the STEAM Punk Playground, I couldn’t believe it.  What an honor.  This is the guy who is the creator of the CUE Rock Star Camp Series, The CUE Rock Star Admin Camp Series and planner for the CUE Super Symposium and JET Review Program. The reason why it is an honor is because Jon knows Tech Ed and also has an incredible approach to how he spreads it.  CUE brings out the toys and lets the teachers play with them and test them.  His STEAMPunk Mobile lab lets teachers sign up to use the Tech Ed kits in their classroom before they ever think of making a purchase.  I love this model.  (I never want our CrossBraining Kits sitting on a shelf not being used.) Other conferences are taking notes and this is how great STEAM kits get noticed and used.  CrossBraining is a startup made up of a few seasoned teachers, an awesome business manager and somehow Jon found out about us and is giving us a try and letting teachers in California give our kits a try.  CUE makes it possible to see it all, and test them!



#3-  They all talk to each other.  The tech ed people have a passion in them that you just don’t see every day.  They love SHARING.  I have met so many awesome tech ed people and often the emails sound like this, “I can’t wait to come to CUE and start spreading the news”,  and then I get a response like this, “We are so stoked!”  These champions love making others feel welcome and they love letting other conferences put a finger on the pulse to see what is coming and what works.  I met a guy named Andy Losik at a CrossBraining discussion and I told him that CrossBraining was going to CUE.  His eyes lit up and said, “are you talking with Jon Corippo?”  and I said, “Yes”.  He went on about how CUE and MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) share and discuss what works and how they approach their conferences and how much they respect each other.  I shook my head because this is exactly how education will change for the better.  The people who are leading the charge are not praising themselves, they are praising others and spreading the news.  I just recently found out that Andy was the Michigan Technology Teacher of the Year and he never once told me that; and all I saw in our brief conversation was passion.  No wonder Jon and Andy get along so well.


CrossBraining is honored to be a part of this movement. We will do our best to hone in on the things that we need to change to make our product better so that the world can learn how to tell their education story through the use of video---- giving parents and others a window into their learning to spark meaningful conversation.