Kids Can! Innovation Camp Project Recognized Internationally!

Kids Can! Innovation Camp, education project of Francis Jim Tuscano recognized at the HundrED’s Spotlight on Sustainability as one of the world’s most inspiring innovations to educate youth on how to help save the planet

Kids Can! Innovation Camp, created by Francis Jim Tuscano, department chair and edtech coach at Xavier School, and first done in Xavier School – San Juan, Philippines, has been announced by global education nonprofit HundrED, as one of ten most inspiring K-12 innovations in sustainability education across the world. Kids Can! Innovation Camp, one of the innovations selected from nine countries to be recognized, focuses on teaching young students the UN Sustainable Development Goals and challenging them to solve global problems through design-thinking, project-based learning, and STEAM.

Since last March, HundrED partnered with MUSE School, a sustainability driven day school in Calabasas, CA, set out to discover ten innovations in K-12 that have the potential to increase sustainability in schools across the globe. Dubbed HundrED’s Spotlight on Sustainability, the research-based initiative shares impactful, scalable innovations that address educational solutions to overcome the growing environmental challenges facing the planet. Innovations were scored by an advisory board and the ten chosen recipients were selected based on their scores for impact, scalability and for addressing sustainability in education in a fresh way.

At the heart of Kids Can! Innovation Camp is the goal of involving, engaging & providing children with the opportunity to become critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, & active agents of change. The journey towards the goal starts with empathy. The project integrates the Sustainable Development Goals, E+STEAM (Empathy and STEAM), design-thinking & ​project-based learning. The first Innovation Camp was done at the makeshift makerspace at the grade school last school year, now known as Fr. Angelo Secchi, SJ Collaboratory.

Kids Can! Innovation Camp was chosen due to its unique pioneering status and ability to create a scalable impact, reaching 90+ schools and 2,000 students and teachers from 20 countries around the world, including schools in the cities of Taguig, Batac and Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Kids Can! Innovation Camp has been translated into 11 international languages by volunteer teachers from different countries. Xavier School continues to integrate the Innovation Camp approaches in formal academic subjects and after-school clubs. Recently, the Grade 6 Filipino GEMS students under Mrs. Gina Altares, who were featured in the video, used the Camp approaches in their unit project and discussions.

In addition to receiving recognition at the Sustainability Summit that took place at the  MUSE School campus earlier this month which was attended by leading environmental advocates, authors and education leaders, the selected innovators are also featured in a compelling new video and included in the inaugural Sustainability in Education Report that will be promoted globally.

“What the world desperately needs is evidence based and scalable education innovations on this field. Luckily there are forerunners, like Kids Can! Innovation Camp who have been working on this area for years. Our mission is to put a spotlight on them,”said Saku Tuominen, CEO of HundrED. “We express our sincere gratitude, encouragement and enthusiasm to Kids Can! Innovation Camp and the many individuals and organizations around the world who are dedicated to this common goal.”

To share these sustainability innovations, HundrED has created an online platform so that educators around the world can search, trial and review Kids Can! Innovation Camp as well as receive free 24/7 support. To explore the global innovations, please

More information about Kids Can! Innovation Camp can be found by visiting: and



(New and Old) Literacies for Well-Rounded Learner of the Future

For the past decades or so, reading, writing, and mathematics (arithmetic), referred to as the 3R’s, have taken a back seat. The basic skills or building blocks that underpin learning have been often equated with traditional school setting where knowing is defined as the ability to read, write, and solve math problems. In understanding the 3R’s, one has to remember that these skills were products of a specific historical context or certain education periods where the definition of being a learned man or a knowledgeable person was shaped by the priorities and demands of the times. In the traditional school setting, being able to read, write, and solve where the main or core facets of learning. If one can read and understand the meaning behind the text, then one has accomplished an aspect of learning. One is literate.


Disrupting teaching and learning

The advent of computers in the education system revolutionized and completely changed the way learning happens. Information is now easier to access. Learners can now learn from the Internet and connect with knowledge experts from different parts of the world. Teachers have enjoyed using computers to facilitate with much efficiency much of their logistical and administrative jobs such checking of attendance, record keeping, and even delivering student progress report, hence, giving teachers more time to really focus on the crucial and essential aspects of teaching such as designing student-centered learning activates, giving effective feedback, and most importantly, building relationships with students. Technology has truly disruptive learning and teaching.

As decades passed by, computers became smarter, cheaper, and more accessible making learning more ubiquitous and undeniably necessitating newer and more advanced skills that a traditional classroom cannot seem to offer. This led to a number of educational systems and educators leaving behind the foundational nature of the 3Rs and focusing more on the newer skills. For these educators, skills related to working with and using technologies such as computing devices take a more important position because these skills will prepare students for the future ahead of them – a future where knowledge economy is accelerated exponentially AI and ultra-modern technology. Here enters the 4Cs of the 21st century which we are all familiar now: critical-thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication.

Yet, a number of educators today have also asked and pushed for the return to the 3Rs – a back to basic skills movement so that students are equipped with the core skills to learn.


3Rs and 4Cs: Synthesis Towards Deeper Learning

Reflecting on the seeming tension between the 3Rs and 4Cs of the 21st century classroom or even for the 4th Industrial revolution, these skills may not be necessarily and totally in opposition with each other. In order to have a future-proof classroom, one has to take a bigger view of the landscape to come up with a synthesis of essential skills. This may lead to some skills to be prioritized or some to be relegated down the list.

As I refer to the 3Rs, I now invite and challenge educators to see the 3Rs as not locked up to the traditional notion of spoon-feeding and content-driven learning in the classroom and not even as ends to demonstrate meaningful and deeper learning. The 3Rs should be seen as enabling skills or building block skills that help learners in engaging in deeper and more complex understanding of the world, analyzing and solving real-life problems. Teaching students to read, write, and solve ensures that all students, especially the young ones, are given the stepping stones to climb up the complexities of deeper learning and making meaning of the world.  For those at the lower end of the digital divide, which is a lot bigger than those who can access technology tools adequately, the 3Rs are more than stepping stones. They are equalizers that ensure that everyone has some of the basic core skills needed for learning.

However, the 3Rs do not need to be always termed and used as 3Rs. Educators need to transition from these skills so that they are fully integrated into the larger vision of the 4Cs of the 21st century learning. For example, reading enables someone to comprehend problems, hence becoming a stepping stone towards critical thinking. Or, writing enables a learner to communicate through written texts but the communication skills of the 21st century challenges the students to go beyond the basic of writing and explore other more powerful and meaningful means to communication. Why is this process of transition emphasized? Because in some schools, integrating the 4Cs begins with the school curriculum entails undergoing changes, difficulty, and uncertainty. A good transition from the basic to the new brings on a climate of re-invigoration, excitement, and possibilities.

Newer and Emerging Literacies

As mentioned, technology innovations accelerate exponentially, causing fundamental effects to the world, in businesses, state policies, heath, and even in the field of education. As schools aim to future-proof students, educational systems and educators need to move with the changes, understanding them in order to offer a better kind of learning that does not only answer to the changes of the present but also prepares of the uncertainties of the unknown future.

Some new literacies and underlying skills that have emerged for the past years do not only focus on technology but also critical soft skills that help develop students to become better connected global citizens. Some of these are:

  • Technological literacy such as coding and programming – Everything runs with codes, from your favorite ride-hailing apps to the most complex national security systems. Coding is often referred to as the language of the 21st century skills. Teaching students to code and program allows them to understand the world, engage with problems critically, and solve them creatively – with codes.
  • Digital literacy that centers on digital citizenship – A set of skills related to responsible and safe use of technology tools. These should be fundamentally and deeply integrated in schools as technology has become more pervasive in human life.
  • Global Competence – Understanding the world and becoming a global citizen challenge students to practice a whole set of skills that involves communication, collaboration, and respect. More than focusing on the differences, a global citizen celebrates the similarities of humanity and respect the beautiful diversity in cultures and nations. Under this is empathy, which is neither a new skill nor an emerging skill. However, empathy deserves to take a place among the skills being developed in students because it helps them to become more understanding of other people.
  • Information and Media literacy – Ability to engage critically with information and messages being delivered by media or traditional texts
  • Other sets of skills needed: entrepreneurial, financial, environmental, civic, and leadership.


In reflecting on the needed literacies and skills for today’s learners, I still believe that educators should aim to develop citizens that are well-rounded. Hence, schools and educators must see to it that the skills being taught in class should target all aspects of a student’s life so that they become “21st century literate.” We want well-rounded learners who have a heart for the world. The world is very much in need of citizens who are not just smart and better entrepreneurs. We need citizens who can make the world a better place for everyone. Hopefully, the skills we teach and the literacies we value in schools help us with our aspiration.

Global Event Alert! Kids Can! Innovation Camp

Registration open: Let your students be agents of change! Join the 1st ever global innovation camp tailored for students! Register at:

For more info visit: Follow our social media accounts: and

Why join the Global Innovation Camp?

At the heart of “Kids Can! Innovation Camp” is the goal of involving, engaging & providing children the opportunity to become critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, & active agents of change. The journey towards the goal starts with empathy. The project integrates: Sustainable Development Goals, E+STEAM (Empathy+STEAM), design-thinking & ​passion-based learning.

Big Ideas of Kids Can! Innovation Camp

  1. The Kids Can! Innovation Camp seeks to provide grade school-middle school students the opportunity to become critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and active agents of change. In order to do this, Kids Can! Project brings in the United Nations Global Goals or the Sustainability Development Goals of 2030 as a guiding tool for the children.
  2. The project framework brings design-thinking into the level of the students.
  3. The project is passion-based learning. This project also acknowledges the passion of students in creating products. Students will bank on their passion, talents, skills (individual and collaborative) as they participate in creating solutions for the problems they are working on.
  4. The project aims to help kids come up with different and genuine solutions. The kind and nature of solutions that the students can create depends on the nature of the problem they have identified. Hence, possible solutions may include but not limited to: Making or inventing ,  Information and advocacy campaigns, Call to action through service , and Philanthropy.

Watch the short video about the Global Camp.

Teachers of the Fourth: What kind of teachers will continue to flourish in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. Klaus Schwab famously announced its advent: “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.” In this revolution, humanity builds on the digital marvels of the third industrial revolution and has started to see the fusion of technologies in the digital, physical, and biological spheres. The video from the World Economic Forum spells out more about the second age of smarter machines.


Quick Glimpse into the Fourth

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is evolving exponentially, in a rapid state of growth. We see billions of people taking advantage of the ubiquity of mobile devices, working with artifical intelligence to pull out, analyze, and apply data to manipulate physical objects or create innovations. We see numerous emerging technologies such as VR/AR, 3D printing, smarter AIs, machine learning, advanced biotechnology, and self-driving cars among others. There is more to come!

All of these have started to disrupt various sectors of the world, businesses among others as AI, machine learning, and rapid computation have started to replace and put various kinds of jobs at risk. We continue to witness its impact on governments as the needed competencies and skills of the Fourth have changed affecting economies and pushing governments to check, revise and even create new policies side by side the needs and challenges of the Fourth. The people are also affected becuase in the end, it is us who consume the products and enjoy the services of the Fourth, as well as apply and learn the skills needed for the Fourth.

Will all these disruptions, how is education responding to the Fourth? More specifically, what kind of teachers do we need for the Fourth? What kind of teachers will continue to flourish in the Fourth?

Education in the Fourth

Since time immemorial, education, or learning for this matter, has evolved as a means to transferring or acquiring skills that every learner can use in daily life, either in the professional sphere or in one’s personal enclave or maybe even in both dimensions. One has to learn or so to speak, go to school, to become someone or take a professional role in the future. Those careers have been the career path of a lot of people. Nothing is new. Just the same old jobs waiting for each graduate to fill in.

However, because of the rapid growth in technology, this notion of learning to become someone or to work as someone has been greatly disrupted. Those who have graduated in college for the past two decades have taken new jobs that were not even conceived of decades ago. Because of the Internet and the growing businesses and interactions connected to it, we have seen jobs that tap on data mining and analysis, social media interaction management, and even medical researchers fabricating human organs among others. A report from the World Economic Forum (2016 ) about the future of work informs us, “by one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.” 

The dynamic changes in 21st century career now begs to ask education systems or anyone involve in the teaching and learning tango in schools: How do we prepare then our students for this future? Or equally important to ask, what kind of teachers will prepare our students for this future?

Teachers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

My personal experiences and reflections at this moment will be honestly limited in scope as I, as an educator, school leader, and learner, am stilling joyfully grappling with the marvels and challenges of the Fourth. However, let me share some of the things that I may want a teacher, like me, to have in the era of the second machine age.

1. A model of lifelong learning

Our students will not thrive if they only know and remain contented with what they have learned inside the four walls of the classroom. In the same way, a teacher who simply teaches based on and out of the learnings he or she had during her education studies will fail to imbibe the spirit of the Fourth, which is being able to learn with the changing times. Teachers who are lifelong learners do not settle on what they have known for ages. Instead, they continuously open themselves to learning more, not just for the sake of acquiring new skills, but also to become more adaptive and responsive to the call of the times. Knowledge is quickly being replaced by new knowledge itself. There are tons and tons of information being created and shared online. We already have the power to pull these information with a swipe of our fingers, but we need the mindset and the disposition to be constantly learning. The new skill perhaps is to be able to unlearn, learn, and relearn.

2. A model of empathy

In this world, much of the challenge and invitation right now is to value relationships that primarily foster our connections with one another. We are individuals but at this age, we can not but connect with others. Afterall, we are social beings. However, the rise of social media, its proliferation and intrusion, in one’s personal lives has cultivated a culture of “together but alone” – we bridge connections but shallow ones. We are progressing and yet we still find numerous conflicts and war that continue to divide the world into bits and pieces. Empathy challenges us to go beyond the wired networks that connect us to people from different places. Empathy asks us to be more human in our relationships, to see every person as a person and not as means to achieve a personal or self-serving goal. Empathy guides the innovations of the Fourth for the people, in the spirit of equity and not of inequality and injustice. Machines can’t learn empathy in its most sincere and genuine form, but humans can. As teachers, this is our advantage over smart machines.

3. A global citizen

A teacher must be a citizen of the world who appreciates and respects the differences among the different cultures and celebrate the oneness of all human being. In this digital age, connecting to persons of different culture has been very much easier. Through the power of Internet communication, one can learn and even witness the different cultures of the world. The future entails working with people from different cultural and social backgrounds. We teach our students about various cultures but we must also be a global citizen ourselves. One does need to travel, but I highly recommend traveling to personally witness the beauty in every culture. The power of Skype or video calls over the Internet has opened the windows of the four walls of the classroom and allowed students to peek into the different cultures of the world. Connect our students to real people in order for them to meaningfully practice the spirit of being a global citizen. As teachers, connect with teachers from different cultures, too. There’s just much insight to be learned from various perspectives.

4. A digital literate

Yes, a primary requirement perhaps. Digital literacy is not just about learning how to use a computer or applications, but is really cultivating a good and productive identity in the digital world. One must learn the core or essential ideas of digital citizenships to become a better person in the Fourth, where everything will be managed by more intelligent machines. Teachers must show students that basically if you want to thrive in the digital world, one must know how to work with digital tools for a digital economy where new opportunities may arise. Digital literacy covers various aspects of digital security, digital commerce, and digital citizenship among others. One red flag here is that we must also highlight that digital literacy is also about protecting one’s rights and identity online. Our learners must know this also since the digital world has its own threats also.

5. A lover of the integration of STEAM and Humanities

There has been a surging call and demand for STEM or STEAM, if including the Arts, graduates to become the core of the 21st century workforce. Afterall, STEAM graduates should basically know how to tinker, work, and even collaborate with intelligent machines. A degree on STEAM courses may provide better jobs for graduates in the future. These agenda have resulted to humanities courses being replaced, removed, or lessen in order for higher education institutions to become more future-ready. However, humanities have found their own agenda in the 21st century. While we treasure courses that would lead to technological innovations, the humanities still teaches us how to appreciate the world, think critically, argue, and even question the ethical in every venture we make in the realm of the Fourth. We are on the road of innovations but the humanities is that one which constantly calls us to pause and reflect whether one’s enterprise is for the betterment of the world. The challenge right now, however, is for the humanities to find its place and make itself more relevant to the fast changing world. At some point, the humanities are still essential. Maybe, we just need to learn how to further connect the STEAM with Humanities so that we can go beyond each other’s limitations and hopefully fill the each other’s gaps – a resounding challenge for more interdisciplinary opportunities in school.

6. A model of the 21st century skills

Yes, quite simply, if a teacher teaches, cultivates, and expects students to practice and learn the 21st century skills, then the teacher should model it also. That means being a critical-thinker, creative educator, eloquent communicator, and collaborator. 

7. A teacher of the person and NOT of the school

Last, and maybe one of the most essential qualities of a teacher in the Fourth is to better understand that as teachers, while we are tied to the requirements of the school where there is a timeline that pressures much of us to cover the curriculum and let our students do the standardized assessments, we are teaching human beings – persons who are different from each other, persons who have different stories and challenges. Let us not forget that each of our students are unique, having different sets of strengths, weaknesses, and needs. This is the beauty of being a teacher – to encounter the real person sitting on the desk. Schools right now continue to operate in the traditional factory model where all students are taught in the same manner and are expected to come out looking the same as one another. Some still care more about passing the knowledge or giving “instruction” than cultivating soft skills of the future. The teacher of the Fourth should know how to make learning more meaningful and relevant to each student, contextualizing and personalizing learning to respond to the needs of the students. Again, we became teachers or educators of learners – of every learner – not because we want to become instructors that are bound by the traditional ideas of the school. We belong to the learners and not to the school.

Further Challenge of the Fourth

The list of ideals that I have for a teacher thriving in the Fourth is simply not exhaustive and is very much open to changes. I am living in a developing country where the Fourth is slowly but surely being felt in the epicenters of big cities. On many sides of my country, some are still stuck in the second. This is a clear indicator of one of the challenges of the rapid takeover of the smarter machines – wider gap between members of the society where the affluent moves forward and the marginalized are left catching up.

This would probably be reflected in the world of education where there are schools and teachers who have the chance to first step into the Fourth while the rest are left reading about it. Ironically, I see some rays of hope here. Teahcer education institutions where future and current teachers hone their teaching skills must step up and take the challenge of preparing the teachers for the Fourth. Consequently, these institutions must also change for the Fourth. We are now seeing the need for a more systematic approach to responding to the effects of the Fourth in education. Some ideals of a teacher of the Fourth involve shifting from old paradigms and cultivating new mindsets or acquiring skills that can be done right now. I believe that these provide new opportunities to develop teachers of the Fourth. Let us not wait for the Fourth to completely leave us behind. Let us step up and take the challenge. To prepare students for the Fourth, let us prepare our teachers first.

More insight on this have been shared by my fellow Global Teacher Prize finalist and authors of the Teaching in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Standing at the Precipice. Know more about this via this link.

Kids Can: Empowering Young Learners to Address Global Problems such as Climate Change

In May 2017, I began to work on a project that aimed to involve Grades 5 and 6 students in understanding the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to think about how they could help in addressing the issues and challenges that go with the SDGs. My experience in working with technology tools and in using the design-thinking approach greatly influenced the framework for this activity. As I continued to flesh out ideas for the project, I eventually added essential elements that made the project more student-driven and more practical, but at the same time, still further developing and tapping on the creativity and critical-thinking skills of the young students.

The project slowly became bigger and bigger, which later became an inter-club collaboration that involved moderators and students from grade school clubs, such as the Young Scientists, Social Scientists, Tech Explorers, and SWAT (Students Working with Advanced Tech). This was the beginning of the Kids Can! Innovation Camp.


4 Big Ideas of Kids Can! Innovation Camp

Big Idea 1: At the heart of “Kids Can! Project” is the goal of involving, engaging, and providing children the opportunity to become critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and active agents of change.

    • As critical thinkers, they investigate and ask questions about the problems and challenges that the world is experiencing.
    • As creative problem-solvers, they used their talents, skills, and immediate resources to plan, create, test, and improve their solutions to the problems.
    • As active agents of change, they use their ideas and products to influence the people around them to take part in making the world a better place.

In order to do this, Kids Can! Project brings in the United Nations Global Goals or the Sustainability Development Goals of 2030 as a guiding tool for the children.

Big Idea 2: The framework brings design-thinking into the level of young students in the grade school and early middle school.

The phases in design-thinking are incorporated into five simpler steps that children can follow, independently or with the supervision of a teacher. See the diagram below.

Kids Can! Design Framework.jpeg

Big Idea 3: The project is passion-based learning.

This is project also acknowledges the passion of students in creating products. Students will bank on their passion, talents, skills (individual and collaborative) as they participate in creating solutions for the problems they are working on.

Big Idea 4: The project aims to help kids come up with different and genuine solutions.

The kind and nature of solutions that the students can create depends on the nature of the problem they have identified. Hence, possible solutions may include but not limited to:

    • Making or inventing
    • Information and advocacy campaigns
    • Call to action through service
    • Philanthropy


Innovation Rooted in Empathy

The Innovation Camp gave the students the freedom to choose the problem or challenge that they would address and solve. Hence, we saw different global and local problems that tackled bullying, peace, clean water, pollution, recycling, and of course, climate change. The students were given a design challenge worksheet that guided them to uncover and investigate about the problems they were solving and to come out with solutions that would address them.

One important aspect of the design challenge was the essential role of empathy in creating solutions. Hence, we spent time exploring and reflecting on how people are affected by the problems they were experiencing. As seen in their empathy map and exercise, the students explored what people affected by the problems see, hear, and say, their pains and their gains. The empathy map helped the students to deeply focus their solutions to the needs of the people being affected by the problems. It gave them the chance to feel what the people were feeling. It provided an opportunity for deeper and since insight to the experience and to the problems.



Student-Made Projects on Climate Change

In the Innovation Camp, some student projects tacked climate change through zooming in to more specific problems connected with it. The students aimed to address the global problem through working on solutions that could immediately be used in the local community. The students used recyclable materials and other tech tools to work on the prototype versions of their solutions. Here are two sample projects.

Student Project 1: Carpool Campaign

The students who worked on the carpool campaign aimed to give a more visual representation of how carpooling can reduce the amount and effect of pollution in the atmosphere. According to the group, the toxic pollutants that come from cars have been adding to the rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which traps more and more sunlight, raising the temperature on earth’s surface. Moreover, this would also lessen the effects of car emissions to one’s health and to the heavy traffic exprienced everyday in major cities.

So, using recycled materials, they imagined a campaign material that would compare the effect of carpooling to the usual drive-your-own-car situations.


Student Project 2: Mobile Game Apps for Segragation

A number of groups also worked on creating simple mobile apps that could teach students to segrate trash properly. It is well-known that human trash has been contributing to the climate change problem. In school, students are taught to segrate their trash properly so that proper disposal is done accordingly. However, according to these groups, their fellow kids are sometimes lazy to sort their trash. Hence, they created simple game apps that could teach other kids how to sort their trash properly. What was amazing in these projects was that the students were able to bring out their passion and curiosity with app development to address the problem. Truly a magnificent work!

The young coders also pitched their apps to the App Jamming Summit in the Philippines, a competition for young coders to design apps that would address sustainability and environmental problems. One of the apps, Sort It, has won in the national app-creation competition for young coders and represented the Philippines in the App Jamming Summit Hong Kong in 2018.


Kids as Agents of Change

Young learners should be given the opportunity to contribute in solving global problems such as climate change, pollution, and other enviromental issues. The ideas they can think of and the work that they can do could amaze us. We just need to provide them the venue and guidance to become problem-solvers. No one is too young to help make the world a better place.

The Innovation Camp has become a great venue for kids to become agents of change, to solve problems that adults usually work on. Through the design-thinking approach, students were able to create innovative projects rooted in empathy for other people. I believe that this is an important starting point in creating solutions. Kids should not just be taught to solve problems. They must be taught to feel for and with others. After all, innovations should be for the goodness of humanity.

Bring the Innovation Camp to Your School

The Kids Can! Innovation Camp framework and documents can be freely downloaded, used, and adapted by other educators, schools, and non-profit organizations. The framework is on its way of being translated in various languages to cater to more audience. I have dedicated a website about the Innovation Camp, which also contains documents, guides, and materials in adapting the Innovation Camp. Visit: for more information. We welcome collaborative projects and translation collaborations. Special shoutout to the members of the first Innovation Camp Team who helped me pilot this project: Jane Hernandez, Sarah Viana, Hilarie Orario, and Michelle Saddul – all amazing teachers in Xavier School.

Let us continue empowering our young learners because they can become agents of change! Kids can!

A Village’s Work: Raising, Valuing, and Guiding a Child

In a recent OECD PISA Students’ Well-Being Study (2015) conducted to 540, 000 students in 72 participating countries and economies, student anxiety about school work and tests was seen to be related with how supportive their teachers and schools are to the students and not to how long the students stay in school or prepare for the test. The study further dug deeper and revealed that bullying is still the top issue in schools, with a statistical estimate that 1 student per class is bullied a few times a month.


In the Philippines, the Department of Education reported 1, 700 cases of bullying in schools during the academic year 2013-2014. The number, however and fortunately, continues to decline, especially since the introduction of the 2012 Dep Ed Child Protection Policy. As the fight against bullying continues, new forms of bullying continue to grip the youth and young students as access to social media and ownership of mobile devices continue to increase dramatically. Cases of cyberbullying have widely spread. i-SAFE Foundation reported that 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats. The Cyberbullying Research Center revealed that mobile phones have been the most common medium of cyber bullying, which is predominantly in ways such as receiving mean or hurtful comments and being the topic of rumors.

Role of Teachers and Schools in the Well-Being of Students

The same OECD PISA study also revealed that teachers, schools, and parents play in an important role in supporting the performance, disposition, and total well-being of students as they navigate school life. OECD Chief of Staff Gabriela Ramos further emphasized that students will perform better if they feel valued, well-treated, and guided. The study remarked that there was a lower number of bullying in schools that fostered positive relationships between students and teachers. Hence, the challenge right now is for everyone in the school community to make students feel that they are valued and guided. In order to this, schools must become safe places for students. Safety here encompasses a lot of meaning. It can mean safety from external threats, whether physical, verbal, or psychological abuses, that harm the being of a person in every way imaginable. It can also mean giving them a learning environment where they are allowed to take risks, commit mistakes, and learn from these beautiful mishaps.

Some Ways to Foster a Fun and Safe Learning Environment

The goal to achieve a safe and engaging learning space or environment is easier said than done. No magic formula, short cut, or perfect model exists for this challenge since it is important to always consider the contexts of the students. Some schools and countries may need to consider threats to security that could result loss of lives. Some might consider safety in learning acquisition. However, the comforting reality is that there are numerous techniques or programs that may be put in place to help foster a fun and safe classroom. Let me take this opportunity to share some that I or my school have put in place.

  1. Promotion of Growth Mindset

The unnecessary addiction to perfection or even to high grades is not helpful to students. Often times, these expectations bring pressure to our learners that entails stress and decline of self-confidence. Introduction and promotion of growth mindset gives the learner the capacity to take risks, explore, apply, and try new learnings without the fear of being reprimanded. Mistakes are not taken against the learner. Instead, they become means for more relevant learnings to happen. As I wrote in one of my blogs:

Risk-taking is also an important aspect in promoting growth mindset. Students tend to shy away from taking risks because they are very well aware of the consequences, which normally point to point deductions, comparisons to others who have done well, or even simply, being ignored because another student had done better. Yet, risk-taking is needed in the real world. Indeed, there are consequences for the decisions we risk in real life and some of them can be really difficult to handle. Giving space or opportunities for risk-taking in the classroom does not aim for the students to perfect the act of taking risks so that there will be no mistakes or that the risk taken would always equate to success. We are actually letting them learn how to navigate the consequences so that they won’t get stuck on the mistakes and move on to do something better about it. Some students who have neither taken risk nor failed in the classroom find it difficult to manage the consequences of failures in the real world, which often result to some emotional challenges or issues that affect one’s well-being.

  1. Virtues Project

In the grade school where I teach, the whole school community re-oriented our way of seeing and dealing with student behaviors through going back to the basics of promoting virtues through the “Virtues Project.” The project was not simply about introducing virtues such as respect, self-discipline, or peacefulness to our students. More importantly, it was about letting the students be familiar and mindful of how their actions can affect their classmates, teachers, or even those around them. We wanted to make sure that we speak in the language of the virtues, which highlights the nature of the action more than the person. Hence, instead of saying: “Keep quiet!” or “You are noisy or rowdy,” teachers can say “Let us practice the virtue of peacefulness” or “I believe that we can still practice the virtue of self-discipline.” Calling out the virtues help in emphasizing and inculcating good actions in the mind of students and helping them realize that they are capable of doing such things and hence, being kind to others.


  1. Effective and Reflective Anti-Bullying campaign.

A few years ago, my school launched the “Not in My School” anti-bullying campaign to address bullying issues. It was a systematic effort and work. All members of the community, including the administrators, teachers, students, and non-teaching personnel, were involved in it. Students were empowered to speak out about bullying cases or incidents that they witness. The crucial role of a by-stander was emphasized. Different subjects in class participated in the campaign. Teachers were trained to understand and properly respond to bullying cases. Our experiences with our anti-bullying campaigns in the past years taught us to work for, design, and execute sustainable anti-bullying campaigns. Parents were also involved as parent forums were opened for parents to talk about and discuss the issues and challenges surrounding bullying.

  1. Integration of Digital Citizenship in the Curriculum

Digital citizenship covers concepts and skills that teachers, technology leaders, school administrators, and parents should teach and develop in students or technology users for them to use technology tools appropriately. Schools should establish clear digital citizenship programs that empower and help students know what to do if there are unfortunate cases of cyber-bullying or other forms of digital threats. The program should also introduce core virtues such as empathy, respect, prudence, honesty, and kindness among others. However, it should also be integrated in the school curriculum so that the digital citizenship skills are deeply applied to what the students regularly do in the classroom. It should also be the responsibility of all teachers in the school and not just their computer or technology teacher.

In our school, we also empowered our students to become digital by-standers or even to report or call out classmates or other people who engages in these kinds of digital threats. As a 1:1 iPad school, my school prioritizes digital citizenships skills to be reviewed and further strengthened every beginning of the school year. Parents and teacher also undergo digital citizenship workshops. I have written a separate blog about this topic which can be accessed HERE.

Continuous Challenge

Fostering a safe and engaging learning space where students can thrive requires a lot of preparations, critical planning, careful execution, and constant evaluation. However, to become effective, these programs should be systematic and should involve every member of the community. It is not just the work of a teacher, but of all teachers, students, parents, and non-teaching staff. After all, it really takes a village to raise and make a child feel valued and guided.




Bullying Statistics (n.d.). Cyber Bullying Statistics. Retrieved from:

No Bullying (2015). Cyber Bullying in The Philippines. Retrieved from:

OECD (2017). Most teenagers happy with their lives but schoolwork anxiety and bullying an issue. Retrieved from:





From Personal Mantra to Global Trends: An Educator’s Reflection on EdTech, Learning, and Teaching in 2017

As the end of 2017 draws near, I am taking this time to reflect on and to look back at the wonderful things that have helped me make learning and teaching more fun and engaging, which hopefully led to improved student engagement and learning.




Personal Mantra: Student-Centered Pedagogy Over Technology Tools

This has been my battle cry for years and it doesn’t hurt to remind one’s self every often to keep ourselves from diving into so many apps and gadgets that we want to use in the classroom without thinking thoroughly about the decision and its consequences. This mantra, however, also ensures that we do not just consider any kind of pedagogy, but one that focuses on the learners and their contexts. At the heart of every successful innovative work in the classroom is student-empowerment as students thrive in an environment where they make thoughtful and independent choices and their voices heard and acknowledged. In the end, this mantra hopefully becomes the philosophy of every innovative teacher who wishes to integrate technology tools in learning and teaching.

Personal Criteria in Making “Ed Tech Choices”

So, what’s the good, the bad, and the best in ed tech integration? The answer really depends on every teacher’s or student’s contexts and needs. I, for one, would like to use share some criteria that I use to say that an ed tech tool is great for learning. Here are a few:

    • supports active, creative, and collaborative learning, as well as critical-thinking,
    • promotes independent and self-directed learning,
    • intuitive and user-friendly interface,
    • provides accessibility to all learners,
    • developmentally appropriate, and
    • evaluated and recommended by other educators.

The criteria banks on the non-negotiables in a 21st century learning environment. Hence, for every decision made, these non-negotiables should always be supported or developed by the tools being used.

Amazing Ed Tech Tools

In terms of hardware, I personally would still recommend the iPad. The usual challenge, though, is still on its steep price when compared to other tablets. However, given the great apps in its ecosystem, the range of educational activities and works that students can do, the support that Apple Education gives, and the studies done with it, I believe that this would be a great investment. I have used other tablets, but at some point, they really cannot match the durability and security that I have experienced with the iPad. However, depending on the goal of using a computer or tablet in learning, other options are Chromebooks, hybrid tablet-laptop devices, or simply laptops.

A few gadgets that I simply love and can be integrated for teaching or working on STEAM projects are iQube (for circuitry), Littlebits, Sphero, Parrot Drones, and Makey Makey among others.

In terms of apps, I have always used the following classic, tried and tested apps:

  1. Book Creator – for creating digital books and portfolios, supports differentiated approach to learning
  2. Explain Everything – for anotating digital materials such as videos, images, and putting everything together into one file
  3. Google Suite for Education – free apps for collaborative activitites, Internet-dependent
  4. Seesaw – for digital journal and student interaction, suitable for young learners
  5. Adobe Spark Video – for creating digital presentations, with templates that promote better creation of presentations
  6. Core iPad apps (Keynote, Pages, Notes, iMovie, Garagebend) – these are built apps in the iPad and are great tools for productivity in class
  7. Tickle, Tynker, Scratch Jr – for basic coding for young learners
  8. Padlet or Flipgrid – for more collaborative learning and sharing of ideas

There are still other apps that I use in class but it may help to always have a set of core apps that would be used regularly. These core apps should have been evaluated well by a set of teachers in your school or maybe by others. With a set of core apps, students will not also have the hard time to learn and learn new apps every year or very term, or worst, for every teacher that they have. Organize a working committee to set the core apps. This would save time in the classroom as there would be no need to always introduce the apps to students.

Avoid causing app-chaos, which simply points to introducing so many apps that students are overwhelmed and are confused to which apps should be used. Never assume that students are always immediately good at getting how apps work. Sometimes, introducing a new app in class might even break the momentum of learning. So, focus on the core apps that would lead to efficient and effective learning.


The following have been trending for a while and will continue to be discussed and worked on by developers and education stakeholders. Some have been applied in education contexts. For example, I have been using augmented reality apps in teaching Science, virtual reality apps for Geography, and coding apps for young learners among others. So, this holiday maybe, it would be a good time to leisurely explore these ideas, apps, or approaches. That’s just an invitation. Make sure, though, that you spend taking care of yourselves during the break. Teachers need to relax, rest, and rejuvenate.

  1. Makerspace/ Maker movement
  2. Augmented and Virtual Realilty apps
  3. Coding and robotics
  4. Cloud computing
  5. Gamification and game-based learning
  6. Learning spaces
  7. Online and personalized learning
  8. Digital Intelligence Quotient
  9. Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine learning
  10. Personalized Professional Learning


Happy holidays, teachers! You did an awesome job this year!

Celebrating Failures, Humanizing Success in the Classroom

The world of education has long celebrated those who get the perfect scores and the highest academic awards. We rejoice and wonder in awe when we come across kid geniuses, often telling ourselves, that they will become the future Einstein or any other famous scientist and intellectuals. These kinds of remarks often put on a big expectation on kids. We expect them to get the highest grades, to always and be the first to recite in class, and of course, not to commit any mistakes because well, they are smart or genius. Medals and ribbons are given out to honour these students. One would always find their names on the list of honors.



Schools often miss the point of why we celebrate success of students in the classroom. It’s not because these are kids are purely talented or born genius. Maybe, it’s because they strived hard and spent much time to practice and master the skills they are learning in the classroom. Maybe, it’s the fact that behind those great grades are countless mistakes that helped them learn in a much personal, engaging, and relevant way.

What if we, teachers and students, celebrate failures and mistakes committed for the sake of learning? What if we say “it’s ok, you did your best” or “it’s alright, you gave much effort” instead of simply saying, “that’s wrong” so that our students would not feel bad about their mistakes and instead, have the confidence to try learning for the better again? What if we make our classrooms safe places to explore, to fail, and to become successful?

Experience, the Best Teacher?

We often say experience is the best teacher. However, the way we see and do learning and teaching in the classroom say otherwise. There is only one experience, from the introduction up to the end of the lesson, and students are expected to have perfected the skills in that one experience. There is neither room for mistakes or failures, making sense and learning from one’s mistakes, clarification nor second chance.

Even our grading systems show how we focus on deducting points due to incorrect answers. We focus so much on the deduction that we forget to give relevant feedback. Some teachers would just write “-1 or -2” and a few feedback such as “Explain more.” We forget to focus on giving feedback that would help learners firm up or correct the skills or ideas we want them to learn.

Risk-taking is also an important aspect in promoting growth mindset. Students tend to shy away from taking risks because they are very well aware of the consequences, which normally point to point deductions, comparisons to others who have done well, or even simply, being ignored because another student had done better. Yet, risk-taking is needed in the real world. Indeed, there are consequences for the decisions we risk in real life and some of them can be really difficult to handle. Giving space or opportunities for risk-taking in the classroom does not aim for the students to perfect the act of taking risks so that there will be no mistakes or that the risk taken would always equate to success. We are actually letting them learn how to navigate the consequences so that they won’t get stuck on the mistakes and move on to do something better about it. Some students who have neither taken risk nor failed in the classroom find it difficult to manage the consequences of failures in the real world, which often result to some emotional challenges or issues that affect one’s well-being.

More than Words: Promoting Growth Mindset

What if we focus more on the growth that happens? What if we focus on the process and the journey more than the destination?

Promoting growth mindset needs to go beyond using kinds and encouraging words. These are helpful as they can encourage students. We can always tell them to do better and not to lose faith or not to give up.

However, we also need to design and to align all areas or aspects of learning to support growth mindset. For example, learning activities should give time for students to explore, to work with others, and to always go back and reflect on what they are learning. Reflective self-regulation skills should have a place in the classroom because these skills enable students to be aware of their strengths, weaknesses, and areas to improve on.

Rubrics that guide students to develop and master skills can be used instead of simply using a flat numerical grading that lacks explanation or descriptors. Better, relevant, and meaningful feedback should be given so that students are guided on what to improve on.

Teachers can also model growth mindset. We also commit mistakes in the classroom. Every once in a while, when we catch ourselves committing some mistakes, we can use these opportunities to tell our students that we too commit mistakes and that we use them to become better teachers to them.

We can also ask our students to mentor each other. Mentoring is about working together and becoming comfortable to receive and give feedback to each other. Having a mentor or a peer whom one can trust and is comfortable with allows students to understand and see themselves through the feedback of the other person.

Last, simply celebrate failure together. Celebrate small wins together. Celebrate every bit of learning together.

Why Digital Citizenship Matters?

According to TeenSafe, in 2016, 87% of today’s youth have witnessed cyberbullying while 34% personally experienced cyberbullying. Among the surveyed students, 15% have admitted to cyberbullying others, while 24% said they did not know what to do if they would be harassed online. Most commonly reported types of cyberbullying includes spreading rumours and experiencing hurtful comments based on physical looks, race, religion, and sexuality in social media platforms. Negative impact on the victim, such as low self-esteem, development of self-harming behaviours, and suicidal thoughts, follows the experience of cyberbullying.



#DigCit – Why it Matters?

Cyberbullying is just one of the many unfortunate and unnecessary ill-effects of the proliferation of technology tools. Some sees tech tools, such the iPad, Internet, mobile phones, and social media platforms, as the source of these problems and so, reactively remove or ban them in school or classroom premises. While there might be valid reasons behind these courses of actions, empowering students, parents, teachers, and everyone in the school community with the necessary digital skills is the more proactive and essential answer to these unending issues and challenges. This is why digital citizenship matters!

What’s Digital Citizenship?

In simple terms, digital citizenship is the norms of appropriate and responsible use of technology. In school setting, digital citizenship covers concepts and skills that teachers, technology leaders, school administrators, and parents should teach and develop in students or technology users for them to use technology tools appropriately. Digital citizenship covers areas such digital security, literacy, rights, use, and digital-emotional intelligence among others.

9 Elements of Digital Citizenship.001

The importance of digital citizenship makes it a necessary area to be included in a school or district’s technology program framework. It is not enough to focus on ensuring that the physical infrastructure is ready or that the whole school or district is wired or has purchased the necessary devices. It is not enough to train teachers or staff about the pedagogical and technical aspect of teaching with tech in the classroom. Teachers should also be armed with the skill to direct students to use technology properly. Digital citizenship is not external to the student’s experience in a technology-rich learning environment. It is an integral part of it.

How to Promote Digital Citizenship?

  1. Digital citizenship should be embedded in every tech-integrated lesson or learning activity. For example, when students are taught to research or gather information about a certain topic from the Internet, they should know how to properly search for information, credit authors properly, or even to critically evaluate their sources. When students are taught to collaborate online, they must know the proper way or the accepted and expected behaviour in sharing, listening, accepting or disagreeing with the opinions of other people. When students are taught to share their learnings to the public audience via the Internet, then they must also know how to protect the private aspect of their lives.
  2. Involve parents in the digital citizenship program of the school. After school, students spend the rest of their time at home. Sometimes, they are even left alone with their mobile devices. During these unguarded moments, any form of cyber attack or cyber danger can pop out in front of the learner. Involving parents and discussing with them the importance of and the different ways to promote digital citizenship even at home can support the school’s program. The partnership between schools and parents solidifies and reinforces the program in all aspects.
  3. Design meaningful and effective digital citizenship program that caters to the student’s context/ needs and is a product of school community collaboration. There are numerous online resources which can help teachers or schools draft their own digital citizenship program. Sites such as Common Sense Media and Google for Education have excellent resources for embedding digital citizenship in daily classroom encounters. However, the most important aspect of creating and implementing a digital citizenship program is to really involve every member of the school community so that all areas will be covered. Getting contributions from each member of the community gives the message that every one’s idea is important and vital to the framework.
  4. Model digital citizenship. Students shouldn’t only be the ones who are practicing digital citizenship. Teachers and parents should also be role models to effectively develop digital citizenship skills among learners.

#DigCit in 1 minute

Here is a short-video from the 1-Minute Professional Learning, a team that works on bite-size professional learning videos for teachers, on the importance of digital citizenship. The team’s videos are accessible at:

Quest for a Relevant School Curriculum

In the 15th of May 2013, the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 was signed as a law, which made the Philippines as one of the last countries to adopt a K-12 system in the basic education years. This was a game-changer, not just for teachers, students, and parents, but for the whole country. The then newly adopted K-12 system brought a big promise of developing and forming productive future  members of the society that are ready to take the promises and challenges of a 21st century world.


Quick Look at the K-12 Philippine Curriculum

The K-12 curriculum strengthens the early education years and strongly integrates a mother tongue-based approach in teaching and learning from Kinder to Grade 3 years. It also bridges the core skills in the basic education years with the needs of college or university studies. Above all, it aims to make learning relevant to the learners, which is shown in various levels, such as personal relevance in terms of contextualization and personalization, societal relevance, in terms of integrating national and global issues, and of course, in terms of acquiring 21st century skills that can prepare students for the future.

Question of Relevance 

The K-12 was an incredible work from the Department of Education in the Philippines. It was more than a step forward. It was a big leap for the whole Filipino nation, I dare say.

However, the new K-12 system faced numerous challenges and problems, both in the local and national levels, which critically affected its effective implementation. Complaints about teacher readiness, not enough infrastructures and insufficient resources, and teacher compensation among others continue to plague the reform until now. These seeming unpreparedness in its implementation paved the way for a considerable amount of opposition from various groups of teachers, parents, government leaders, and even older students.

While bearing the same sentiments with the rest of the educators in my country, I also can’t avoid but to reflect on the effectivity and relevance of the new K-12curriculum. How relevant is the Philippine basic education curriculum now, given the fact that, with all honesty, the Philippine education system has been lagging behind the more progressive nations for years?

This quick reflection has led me to a more general and broader inquiry, what makes a curriculum relevant?

Quest for Relevance 

In its traditional sense, a curriculum usually refers to a carefully packaged list of topics and skills, learning areas, and syllabi to be taught in various disciples and grade levels. The definition of curriculum and consequently, curriculum design, systematically evolved throughout the years as teaching and learning faced new pedagogies, newer information and skills, and even literacies.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) describes a good curriculum as an essential aspect of learning as it instills in learners life-long skills and competencies, as well as societal attitudes and skills. UNESCO further points out that the relevance of a curriculum also depends on how it supports the learner’s personal development and not just on the academic skills area.

Hence, in checking for relevance, curriculum designers have to consider not just the competencies needed to be taught and learned. Competencies and academic skills must be updated to respond to the needs of the learner and to the demands of the future. 21st century learning skills must be fully integrated in the curriculum, across disciplines, and grade levels. New core competencies such as those in the Information and Communication Technology area, new literacies that focus on sustainable development, and life-long learning skills are to be seamlessly integrated in a relevant curriculum.

Current global and local issues must also be tackled deeply. Terrorism, human rights violations, threats to peace, equality vs equity, environmental issues, and many more issues plague our day to day lives. Yet, how often are these included in the day to day classroom learning? These are some of the key issues right now. A relevant curriculum should mindfully engage the students not just to be aware of these issues, but to take part in finding solutions to national and global issues.

Moving further, how are values integrated in a relevant curriculum? We talk about academic competencies, global issues, and life-long learning. Yet, values, personal, communal, or universal, play a major role in the life and decisions of learners. A relevant curriculum should enable students to clarify their values and to examine them in relation to their personal or the national aspirations.

Questions to Check Relevance

In my quest to examine relevance, UNESCO offers some great questions that educators and stakeholders can use to reflect in the quest for a relevant curriculum for the 21st century world.

1. What does the country/community want to achieve with regard to the personal development of learners and societal well-being and advancements? And how well the curriculum reflects that education vision? 

2. What are the mechanisms for making the curricula to respond to national development policies and strategies? Is there evidence that the mechanisms work effectively? 

3. How well are the key/core/cross-cutting competencies identified in the curricula aligned to education policy goals? Is there evidence that such key competencies have been at the core of curriculum development? 

4. How are education stakeholders (teachers, learners, private sector, civil society) involved in developing the curriculum vision and appropriate curriculum policies? Is there evidence of their involvement having made a difference? 

Finally, the relevance of a curriculum should be checked regularly and evaluated systematically, whether it has been responsive to the national education goals, policies, and new challenges that may arise. Hence, monitoring, assessment and evaluation of the curriculum should also be in placed and the data gathered should inform changes, revisions, and improvements in the curriculum.

Quite Personal Thoughts

If I were given the power to change school curriculum, I would add the following in the national curriculum:

    • comprehensive computer education and ICT skills integration that starts in the grade school,
    • STEAM and coding, the language of the 21st century, from Kinder,
    • UN’s Global Goals of Sustainable Development Goals as themes to be discussed across disciples and grade levels,
    • a more competency/ skill based approach to learning,
    • reinforce 21st century learning skills (4Cs) and the integration of the new  literacies, and
    • focus on strengthening the learning of Filipino language as a more dynamic language of progress and unity in the Philippines.

These are my wishes for now and I hope to influence not just school leaders, but the policy-makers.


Department of Education. K-12 Features. Retrieved from

UNESCO. Curriculum. Retrieved from

Shifting from Ed Tech Professional Development to Professional Learning

Ed Tech integration in education has been a major factor or catalyst in driving 21st century learning forward. When done meaningfully, student learning is propelled into greater heights, adding the needed rocket boost to engage all kinds of learners and to enable learning environments that welcome risk-taking, innovation, and creativity. However, tech integration can also be a source disappointment or frustration to both learners and teachers if tech tools are used in class for technology’s sake, out of fad, or worst, disconnected from the pedagogy. As I often remind teachers in my talks, tech tools, alone, cannot create magic in class.


Keeping up with Tech Changes

Where is the magic then? It is with the teacher inside the classroom. However, in order for students to meaningfully used technology tools in class, teachers must be trained to design effective and relevant learning activities that would allow for better learning with tech tools. So, teachers attend workshops, trainings, and conferences, learning new apps and skills that can help change the way they teach various minds in the classroom.

Yet, tech tools often change fast. App update notifications flood our mobile devices. New features our added to devices. With these changes come the obvious need to always make sure that teachers are updated with the skills (or app features) needed in the classroom.

How do we then sustain relevant learning or growth in our teachers, who may realistically reach that saturation point where they just realize that there is too much to learn about tech integration?

Changing Perspectives: Professional Development to Professional Learning

Teachers attend numerous Ed Tech related PDs, whether in-school or in large-scale conferences. In these PD opportunities, the attendees join mostly one-shot workshops or seminars, often depending on the expertise or topics that will be discussed or shared by the speaker. All the attendees are seen as a single homogenous group, putting  and squeezing them into a one-size-fits-all experience.

With the usual PDs, there is this traditional setup that is often experienced, such as when the seminars or workshops are too much speaker-centered and the participants are out there feeling bored or just listening to the “updates” or theories. More often, professional development sessions are often created by experts or other people that hope to “develop” teachers.

To be fair, however, professional development for Ed Tech integration has seen some major changes. For one, an Ed Tech PD should never just be about ideas or theories. A big chunk of it should involve hands on, practical, and experiential learning. Yet, without careful planning or considerations, PD trainings can be reduced into plain skills training that may often be disconnected from the needed skills in the classroom.

So, what is the missing piece in this great puzzle of professional growth?

It’s ownership of learning. This is where professional learning comes in. Today, professional learning experts and school leaders have recognized the importance of making Ed Tech trainings or workshops meaningful and relevant to the teachers. As adult learners, teachers find satisfaction and purpose if what they are learning is relevant to their context.

Professional learning recognizes the individual contexts of each teacher – the needs, challenges, and goals. In short, teacher’s VOICE must be heard. Moreover, professional learning activities must be something authentic or applicable to their present situations because it is only when a teacher sees how a tech tool can work or improve instruction, assessment, or classroom management can he or she truly realize the importance of that professional learning activity.

Six Tips in Designing Meaningful  Ed Tech Professional Learning

Let me share some of the practices or tips that I do as a professional development/ learning consultant and leader in our school.

1. Involve the participants in designing professional learning activities through getting pre-workshop data from the teachers.

Pre-workshop surveys can help gather the needed data such as Ed Tech integration skills or tools that participants consider to be of top priority to be learned, practiced, or developed. The collected data can help decide which skills or apps should be included in the workshop sessions or trainings. A professional learning leaders can also dig for more info such as technology skills level (basic or advanced) or teacher confidence that can further personalized the professional learning experiences.

2. Design various opportunities for professional learning to happen.

Skills training is essential, but sometimes, some teachers may just need some realistic hands-on workshop where they can already practice and apply what they are currently learning. Some educators would seek for closer guidance through individual coaching. Some would just simply look for inspirations or assurance or validation to what they are doing. Avoid fitting all teachers into a single kind or format of learning activity. Consider their contexts and provide experiential, active, and collaborative learning.

3. Empower and involve the resident experts in the school.

Ed Tech champions or experts are living proofs of how meaningful technology integration can improve teaching and learning. So, tap those who have experienced and improved much in their classrooms.

4. Consider giving dedicated and enough amount of time for professional learning.

Most of the grumblings or complains of teachers about professional learning is not solely about how the workshops sessions or training were run themselves. Sometimes, it is simply because there is not enough time to acquire, reflect, and plan on how to apply those newly-learned skills. Hence, it is important that teachers may be given the needed space and time to incorporate and embed the newly learned tech tools and skills in their unit or lesson plans.

5. Tap the power of technology tools.

Tight schedule, meetings, parent-teacher conferences, family life, and other commitments are already filling up the schedules of each teacher. Professional learning can happen even if the teacher is not going through a workshop or training. So why not take advantage of tech tools that can deliver bite-sized learnings or just-in-time kind of learning? Why not go beyond the school and connect with other experts via professional learning networks in social media such as Twitter or Google+ communities.

6. Sustain the professional learning of the teachers through providing support or individual coaching.

Put in place a mentoring system so that expert teachers may continue to impart their expertise to those who may need their help or coaching. Create a culture of learning and collaboration through allowing teachers to share their learnings, mistakes, challenges, and solutions to each other.

Just as much as our students deserve the best education, teachers, too, deserve high-quality professional learning. Remember, we, as teachers, can only impart what we have. Tech may change quickly, but our role as teachers still matter! Teachers, still, matter. So, keep on learning.

Hot off the Press: Pedagogy Toolkit (iBook Store)

I am proud to share that the international collaboration among technology integration experts, or more specifically, Apple Distinguished Educators, has been published in the iBook Store. The Pedagogy Toolkit showcases how the use of the iPad supports research and evidence-based pedagogies and opens us for more possibilities in fostering 21st century learning skills in students. The project was conceived in the Berlin Apple Distinguished Educators Worldwide Institute in July 2016. The multi-touch book was co-authored by Nic Ford (United Kingdom), John Hart (Finland), Missi Stec (United States), and Francis Jim Tuscano (Philippines).

Pedagogy Toolkit includes various ways on how the use iPad in the classroom can support evidence-based strategies and practices involving Phonics, Reading Comprehension, Metacognition and Self-regulation, Feedback, and Collaboration. Exemplary works of students, sharing of faculty and student about their experiences, and suggested apps are also included in the book.

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 10.42.06 AM

Download the multi-touch book from the iBook Store here.  For educators in the Philippines, the iBook Store is not yet available in the country, so, an iTunes U companion course is in the pipeline and will contain an iBook version of the book which can be downloaded in your iOS devices.

To Blend or Not to Blend and More Questions to Ask About Blended Learning

Blended learning refers to the delivery of formal education through a thoughtful combination of online learning and delivery of content and instruction with varied degree of student control over time, place, pace and with face-to-face encounter done in a brick-and-mortar setup, such as the school (Staker and Horn, 2012).

There are four main models of blended-learning with differences on how much time or of the content or instruction will be delivered online or done via face-to-face interaction in a normal classroom. These models are the enriched-virtual model, self-blend model, flex model, and rotation model (with more types under it – station rotation model, lab-rotation model, flipped-classroom model, and individual rotation model).


A number of studies have been done in various K-12 schools around the world which showed how blended learning had impacted student achievement and the improved the quality of instruction. Classrooms have been flipped to enhance learning and to give more time for practicing of skills in the classroom and for giving high quality and meaningful feedback to learners. The setup of chairs, tables, and computers in the classroom has been dramatically modified to accommodate the various learning stations needed for students to fully experience the positive effect of blended learning.

In the Philippines, De La Salle Santiago Zobel has been utilizing the power of blended learning under their successful Next Generation Blended Learning Program. In my school, while blended learning has not been officially adopted, flipped classrooms have gotten some teachers creating their own instructional videos and using apps such as EdPuzzle. Mr. Keith Sy, one of the Ed Tech champions in our school has created some awesome videos for his Social Studies class. He successfully infused a station rotation setup and at the same time, giving more opportunities for differentiated learning activities to happen. Read some of his experiences with flipped classroom in his blog. Watch a one of his flipped videos about Philippine History here.


One noticeable observation is that a number of schools have chosen to leverage the use of technology tools to enhance self-directed learning and instruction in students and the need for the teachers to interact with students to provide feedback and to build meaningful relationships with the students through face-to-face interaction. And I believe that the beauty behind blended learning is the big possibility to fuse the possibilities of technology integrated lessons and content delivery  while highlighting and dedicating more time to build relationships with students via face-to-face encounter.

So, while schools chew on the question whether to blend or not to blend, I present some more specific questions that can help stakeholders or members of the school community as they explore this form of education.

  • Why do blended learning? What is the “why” of the school? What are the “why’s” of the various stakeholders? Why now?
  • How will blended learning help students achieve the intended learning outcomes?
  • Are the students, teachers, and parents ready for a blended approach?
  • How will student’s age, readiness or even developmental maturity affect the adoption of blended learning?
  • Which blended learning model is appropriate for students?
  • How will blended learning modify or change classroom instruction, assessment, management, and lesson preparation?
  • What kind of support will teachers need in order to be prepared for the adoption?
  • What kind of resources will the students and teachers need for blended learning to happen
  • Are the stakeholders and members of the community capable of acquiring the technology needed? Are there provisions to help those who may encounter problems regarding the technological tool needs?
  • What new policies will be placed to ensure that blended learning is maximized for the good of all members of the school community?

The promise of blended learning has been slowly realized in schools or institutions that have adopted it. Blended learning is far from being a hype among the members of and stakeholders in the education community. It is here to stay.


Reference: Staker, H., & Horn, M. B. (2012). Classifying K-12 Blended Learning. Innosight Institute.

On Curiosity, Creativity, Autonomy, and Failures: 4 Lessons Teachers Can Learn from Genius Hour

Genius Hour or Time has been a buzzword not just in the workplace, but also in schools or educational institutions. Genius time, according to some, can be traced back to Google. Google allows its engineers to work on projects using 20% of their time. It has been said that some of Google’s products were once passion projects created during that 20% time allotment. In school, “Genius Time or Hour” allows learners to explore and work on their passion projects at a given amount of time. Educators around the world have employed and integrated genius time in their classroom because of its positive effect on the students. More specifically, genius time has become a way for teachers to allow innovation to take root and flourish in the classroom.


Four Important Lessons from Genius Hour

  1. Curiosity drives the project.

Allowing students to work on passion projects requires the initial steps of researching about the projects. The students may be solving a current problem or may be dreaming of creating something that would make work or any tasks easier or more efficient. Regardless of the reason behind the project, students’ curiosity drives them to explore ideas and research information about their project. That same curiosity fuels the work to be done. When they ask questions, they are driven to look for the best possible answers. Students are naturally curious inquirers. Genius time opens up for more opportunities to naturally integrate inquiry-based learning

  1. Creativity highlights individuality.

Since students work on their own projects and create products or solutions, creativity kicks in as they design and craft their work. More specifically, using tools that are readily available around them, students can create products out of every material on their reach. Creativity in genius hour is not anymore locked in the Arts. Creativity allows the student to design products with the end goal of solving problems. As individuals, students can show creativity in various ways. Creativity allows them to leave their mark on their work. It’s their indelible signature.

  1. Passion sustains autonomy.

Students work on their own, for most of the time. They might collaborate with others as they create shared passion projects. Whether individually or collaboratively, students go through the process of inquiry and project-making with less pressure and strict supervision of a teacher. Autonomy is shown as they demonstrate independence and confidence during the genius hours. Their passion on creating something worthwhile fuels learner-independence. It becomes a source of inner motivation. On the flip side, teacher’s role is modified into becoming a mentor who encourages exploration, questioning, and risking. The teacher allows autonomy to grow and bear fruit.

  1. Genius Time celebrates risking and failure.

The students are on their own. During genius time, students have been observed to be risk-takers because of their eagerness and drive to come up with a great product. Part of this wonderful attitude of risk-taking is being comfortable with committing mistakes or failures. Yes, students should be allowed to celebrate their mistakes and to learn from them. As we all know, most innovations and great discoveries can be traced back to accidents and mistakes in the laboratories or in a garage. Failures should encourage students to move forward and not to give up. Teachers should help students realize their mistakes and to learn from them. It’s about creating something positive from a seemingly negative or unfortunate.

Definitely, More than a Buzzword

Teachers around the world continue to integrate genius hour in their classes. It is definitely a great opportunity to help students learn, practice, and develop 21st century skills that are needed right now. On the other hand, allowing genius time in the classroom also trains the teacher to become a facilitator and mentor to students who are passionate to create products or solutions to problems that they see around them.

Know more about genius hour through these helpful links:


Fostering Critical Thinking in Students Amidst the Fake News Pandemic

For two weeks, my Grade 6 students and I discussed, grappled with, and analyzed the proliferation of fake news articles in the Internet, especially in various social media platforms. This was not an intended part of the lesson at first. But, since we were learning about the virtue of honesty and universal value of truth, the students themselves brought out the issue of fake news articles in our discussion. The students were aware of the presence of and how the fake news pandemic challenges and clouds the way we live the virtues of honesty and integrity.

fake-1903774_1280Like the United States, the Philippines had been thrown into frenzy when, during the recent 2016 National Elections, different unreliable websites started posting articles aimed to discredit candidates of opposing parties. The articles spread like wildfire because of the undeniable effect and pervasiveness of social media among Filipinos. Netizens turned against each other. The line between facts and lies was blurred.

So, how do we teach students to be critical of what they are reading in the Internet or watching in the news?

The answer to this complex question is not simple. However, as teachers, we can start with spreading awareness of the presence and danger of fake news around us. Spreading awareness must be coupled with a critical and evaluative attitude towards news. Teaching students to evaluate websites and sources of information must be embedded in all subjects in school because this is an essential skill as we continue to depend on the Internet as an instant source of information. The students must be able to question and know the author and institution behind the news and at the same time apply the “rule of three” which essentially asks the reader to confirm the news through reading three other valid sources.

The challenge of fighting fake news does stop here. To help other netizens know about the fake news, we must teach our students to be proactive and take part in reporting or flagging fake news. A few months ago, I have seen information campaigns that local news agencies have created to fight this epidemic through thinking before clicking and reporting to social media authorities the users that spread them.

In my own classroom, aside from equipping the students the needed skills, I also gave them the chance to take part in a proactive stance against fake news epidemic. In a few days, my students will be sharing their own versions of information campaigns regarding fighting fake news in social media. The future multimedia projects created with iPad apps will be fruits of their collaboration and critical thinking. Through these simple projects, I hope to help my students take part in the global fight against fake news in order to uphold the universal values of truth, honesty, and integrity. Wait for the next article that will showcase my students’ campaigns against fake news.

Some helpful resources in teaching students to evaluate websites or online news:

Beyond Words: Being a Top 50 Finalist for the 2017 Global Teacher Prize

So, a month ago, I received one of the most wonderful news I ever had before 2016 ended. Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize notified me that I am one of the Top 50 Finalists of the 2016 Global Teacher Prize. This was huge as I am the first Philippine-based educator to become a finalist.
About the Prize:

The Global Teacher Prize is a US $1 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.

The prize serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognised and celebrated. It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them.


About my work:

Francis comes from a remote island of the Philippines called Luzon, and was inspired to become a teacher by the fact that his own public school teachers had been inspirational for him. Despite not attending an expensive private school, Francis was able to work hard in his youth and win academic competitions. Originally he intended to attend law school, but in the end found himself motivated to try and help young people as he himself had been helped. Teaching today, Francis understands that amongst other things this means integrating and using technology in order to deepen learning. After his first year of using iPads and other tools, 94% of his students said that it had helped their learning.

More about my bio here:

I want to share a glimpse of how I use tech tools in class, not just to deepen learning, but also to make learning meaningful and relevant to my students, especially in their daily lives. This is about harnessing the power of tech tools to foster appreciation and living of values in life.
As promised, I thank my 6H students, their parents, and Miss Jane Cacacho for allowing the video to happen. Thank you for the help, Jane and the NEXT Team (Sirs Gelo and Jessie). Owe you guys big time!
Last, a huge congratulations to my fellow 2017 Global Teacher Prize finalists. We are all doing great works. Let us continue changing the world to a better place of our students and for all teachers.
  • Global Teacher Prize:

My Own PD: WW ADE 2016 Blog

The last week of July 2016 became the best professional learning yet that I had experienced as an educator. The Worldwide Apple Distinguished Educators Institute 2016 was held in the lovely and magnificent city of Berlin in Germany. It was my first time to attend a worldwide event for ADEs since becoming a member of the global community last year and attending the APAC Institute in Singapore.




Almost 400 educators from 38 different countries around the world gathered to share, learn, and collaborate on projects that aim to create a “dent in the universe” and to continue making a difference in the field learning and teaching. The enthusiasm and energy during the institute were off the charts. It was also a great opportunity to network and finally get to meet in person the other amazing ADEs that I usually would interact with or follow on Twitter.

The Institute was of course a hit because of the exclusive updates on Apple apps, such as on iTunes U and Classroom app, that the Apple Education team shared. We were given a chance to have master classes and sit in expert labs that were facilitated by the product managers or developers of Apple apps, such as Keynote, iBooks Author, iTunes U among others. We also had hands on or playground sessions dedicated for coding and STEAM. ADEs got the chance to use various coding gadgets and apps such as Bloxels, Sphere and the upcoming Swift Playground among others.

My favourite and probably the best part of the Institute was the ADE Showcases. During the showcases, our fellow ADEs shared to the community the marvellous and amazing work that they have done in their own school, district, or the international scene. There was a great mix and diversity among the presenters, which was perfect because I got the chance to see how Apple technology is employed in various contexts around the world. The best presentations for me were those that showed how Apple technology can enable and support learning among the physically-challenged learners. This was of course due to the fact the Apple has really worked on the accessibility features of its devices, especially the iPad. Kudos to Team Japan for touching my heart because of their great presentations. Shout out to fellow Filipino ADE, Peter Esperanza who shared his amazing work on flipping AP Calculus and other Math subjects.

As part of our commitment to continue making a difference in learning and teaching, we formed and collaborated in groups as we started working on projects that aim to support and help other educators around the globe, who wishes to transform the learning experiences that they design for their students. So, watch out for these amazing works from ADEs in the coming months.

Of course our stay in Berlin would not be complete if we did not have the chance to go for offsite visits and tours. The gorgeous Apple Store in Berlin was our first stop. We met with Eye Em app’s developers who shared their company’s journey towards being one of the best photography apps in the AppStore. We also had the chance to go around and play with Apple devices in the store. After that, we were free to roam around and visit the various historical and tourists spots in Berlin.




Finally, the young CEO of Math 42 app also shared to us his company’s journey from being curious students to expert and successful developers of one of the best educational app.

This was just a sharing of what happened in the Institute. Wait for my blog on the leanings that I had from #ADE2016.

Inquiry-Based Learning and 5Ds Framework

Inquiry-based approach to learning emphasises the importance of developing thinking and problem solving skills in students. As a learner-centered approach, inquiry-based approach leads students to ask questions and to use these questions as their guide in gathering and processing data they find. The gathered data is then used to solve problems and generate conclusions.

Inquiry-based learning takes several forms: analysis, problem solving, discovery and creative activities. In all these forms, teachers may guide the learners or may even let them freely explore the problems they have and to solve them on their own.

Inquiry-based approach empowers students as they use their own questions as drivers to their learning. Teachers facilitates the learning activities, often times providing effective and efficient feedback as learners progress through the various learning activities.

A lesson or unit that follows a inquiry-based approach can take advantage of the use of tech tools during the questioning, investigation, problem solving, and learning demonstration phases. The 5Ds Framework can support a meaningful and purposeful use of tech tools in these different phases. The key stages (Dip-Deepen-Do-Distribute) of 5Ds Framework fits well with the various phases of inquiry based-learning. The Discern stage wonderfully reminds the teacher to create opportunities for the giving of feedback to the learners as the lesson proceeds and the learners progresses.

Take a look at this sample unit plan that uses both the 5Ds Framework and Inquiry-based learning to create authentic, independent, and student-centred learning experiences: More Fun in Visayas Islands: An Inquiry and Investigation.


Engage with Your Audience: Q&A Google Slides Feature

Presenting in front of an audience has gone better and more interactive! Well, this is so if you have been using or planning to use Google Slides the next time you speak up on the stage, in front of your classroom, or in an auditorium.


Several weeks ago, Google Apps for Education’s Slides has been updated with a Question and Answer feature that allows audience to post or ask questions to the speaker while the presentation is going on. Of course, the speaker, using Google Slides, should allow the audience to post and send in questions. Once allowed, a shorten url link will appear on top of the presentation, which the audience can use to be able to send in their questions.

In the classroom, this can be a great tool to facilitate a more interactive discussion or exchange of ideas between the students and the teacher.


Here are the steps in using the Q&A feature in Google Slides:


1. Click “Presenter View” to use the Q&A feature with speaker notes.



2. The Presenter View looks like the screen shot below.



3. Click “On” to enable Q&A during the presentation. Questions will appear once audience send in their queries.



4. Audience view: Shorten URL link to where they can post questions appears on top of the presentation.



5. Once questions are sent in, speaker has the option to show the question during the presentation. If shown, it will be flashed as part of the presentation. Hide option is also available.

PV Question Shown


6. Additional feature! Laser pointer!




Easy to Use Quiz Feature of Google Forms

Google Forms has a new quiz feature that aims to help educators administer, well, quizzes or formative assessments to check for student’s understandings. The quiz feature is embedded in the app so there’s no need to install add-ons or extensions.


The quiz feature has been requested for so long. Now that it is part of Google Forms, take advantage of how easy it is to create a quiz with Google Forms. Furthermore, combining it with Google Classroom, all teachers can now facilitate checking for understanding in an efficient and quick way. Truly, there is less time “tech-ing” and more time for teaching.


How to create a quiz with Google Forms:


1. Start with creating a new Google Form document. Click “Settings” and in the “General” pane, options to restrict the quiz to domain users, to collect email addresses, and to limit to one (1) response are present.


Then,  look for and click on the “Quiz” pane. Enable “Make this a quiz.” Release remark immediately after submission to enable students to know their points or if their answers are correct or not.


2. Start creating your quiz questions. Choose the type of question to be created, e.g Multiple Choice, short answers etc.


d. Complete the question or the stem of the statement. Provide choices from which the students can choose their answer. Click on “ANSWER KEY” to indicate the correct answer for the item.



Choose the correct answer among the choices and it will be highlighted. Feedback for incorrect answers can also be added to help students answer the question better.





Indicate the number of points allotted for each item.



4. Return to the “Question” pane. A check mark indicates the correct answer. Notice that the beside “Answer Key” at the bottom is the number of points for the item.




The quiz will look like your usual Google Form survey or document. Share the quiz through the usual way of sharing a Google Form document.



When students choose an incorrect answer, the screen will look like this.



If the answer is correct, it will look like this.



Viewing the Response Summary for Quick Item Analysis


Teachers can also check a quick summary of the responses. Individual option to see some insights the performance of students for quiz can also be viewed. Average points, median points, and range of the points are also available. Individual item analysis can also be viewed, allowing the teacher to see how many of the students chose a certain option.


Promoting Collaborative and Reflective Thinking Using Padlet

Visible thinking aims to make thinking or cognitive processes as overt, conscious, and deliberate acts for learners. Visible Thinking routines help learners to be aware of their thinking processes, what they are thinking, and to make these concrete or tangible. It helps students to articulate their ideas in a more thoughtful and reflective manner.

Routines promoting visible thinking can occur in individual or group settings. In the individual settings, students turn to and converse with themselves, opening up for a personal metacognitive activity. Collaborative routines, on the other hand, enable learners to uncover and make their ideas concrete through sharing, exchanging, and discussing about their ideas.

While there are a lot of apps that can support the use of Visible Thinking Routines in class, Padlet remains to be a great tool to foster collaborative and reflective thinking in class.

One simple tip in using Padlet as a visible thinking routine tool is to change the background image of the Padlet wall with an image that shows a particular routine to be done in class. For example, if the learning activity asks for the use of “See-Think-Wonder,” an image showing a chart or table having “See-Think-Wonder” columns could be used as a background image.

To create the background image, use any photo editor that can make the tables or columns needed for the particular visible thinking routine. A simple way to do this is to use Keynote or any presentation tool. In the presentation, construct the columns or tables or add images that are needed for the visible thinking routine. Export the slides as images, which can be then uploaded. Another alternative is to take screenshots of the slides and upload these in Padlet.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 10.23.31 AM.png

Sample Padlet Wall featuring Tug of Truth (VTR)

Since Padlet is a collaborative tool, students can access the wall and add their ideas through adding texts or uploading images or videos. Each post can then be placed under a particular column. For this to happen, enable a freeform lay-out for students to freely add and place their notes on the appropriate part of the wall. Through this simple trick, teacher moves beyond creating a collaborative space for students. An opportunity for students to organise, categorise, and make sense of their ideas arises.

Last, the Padlet wall can become an online assessment portfolio that contains their thoughts while they are learning. Students can go back to their ideas and reflect on how these have changed or modified. Teachers can use Padlet as a platform to showcase the insights and learnings of students during the learning process.

Check sample background images for Visible Thinking routines below:

5 Professional Learning Opportunities for EdTech Teachers

Professional learning or professional development is an essential aspect of being a 21st century teacher. As students continue to learn in the classroom, teachers must also continue to learn in order to improve their teaching skills. For EdTech integrators or teachers, the integration of technology in the classroom sometimes require constant updating about the new tech tools that are available and how they can be employed pedagogically.


Continued professional learning can be in the form of formal classes though enrolling in further or university studies. Informal professional learning, which has taken various forms, gives teachers a more independent and personal take or choice in whatever aspect of teaching they want to improve on. With technology’s deeper involvement and integration in education, teachers can also take advantage of various professional learning or development opportunities that can be accessed through Internet or online resources.

5 Professional Learning Opportunities

Here are five informal professional learning or professional development opportunities that can help teachers increase their knowledge on new technologies, trends, and best practices in integrating technology in education.


a. Participating in School Initiated PDs

In order to improve learning and teaching, schools should initiate professional development (PD) sessions for teachers. It can be a school-wide event where all teachers are required to attend and participate or small departmental or grade level meeting or workshop. Simultaneous breakout sessions or trainings on the use of a certain app, strategy, or teaching method can be developed or planned for a school-wide PD event. For smaller scale events, professional sharing and conversations are great examples for teachers to share tech tools used in class, best practices in integrating tech or success stories in the classroom.

Teachers can also volunteer and participate in tech coaching and mentoring sessions. Novice teachers can work with tech integration mentors or experts in the school so that they can further improve and polish their teaching skills with tech integration. Pushing it further, teachers may also work and learn with students who are “tech experts.” Although this opportunity might threaten some teachers, it is also a good opportunity to show that students can also participate in helping a teacher understand a certain tech tool or how to use or manipulate it.


b. Joining Local Learning Community 

Educators in local areas form learning communities or groups which aims to create opportunities for teachers from different schools and contexts to share their expertise about integrating technology in the classroom. This is a very helpful opportunity because the different contexts where the members are coming from can provide more data or insights to how a certain tech tool, strategy, or teaching method can be used in class. Since the sharing or conversations are based on experiences in the classroom, each member can learn and avoid mistakes committed by another teacher. Further, the learning community can work on how they can replicate the successes and maybe, improve further what was shared.

Meet ups are often arranged by a learning community leader. Members attend and take with them whatever data or story they can share to other people. A few examples are local Google Educators Group and EdTech community meet ups.


c. Attending Professional Conferences

Teachers can surely increase their knowledge and acquire more skills when attending local, national, or international EdTech conferences. Professional conferences are great opportunities for teachers to personally learn from known experts or innovators in the education and technology integration field. Visiting exhibits from participating EdTech companies is also an interesting way to try out new tools that are being offered or showcased. Moreover, teachers can also take advantage of breaks during sessions to personally connect and meet with other educators attending the conference. It is a great time to personally build your connections among the education circle.

Check this site to know more about EdTech conferences.


d. Creating a Professional Learning Network in Social Media

A lot of educators have seen and have experienced how helpful and wonderful it is to create a Professional Learning Network (PLN) in various social media platform. The power of social media has opened a greater, quicker, and more efficient way for teachers around the world to connect, share best practices, and engage into deeper reflection or discussions in teaching and learning in general.

More specifically, Twitter has been a massive tool for educators from different places in the world to connect and learn from each other. Educational chats and hashtags in Twitter have grown so much and have seen various forms to accommodate the different subject, learning, or educational areas being discussed in Twitter. Educational chats based on locations and learning principles or ideas are also available to be explored and for participation. Check this site and discover education chats in Twitter.

Other platforms that offer PLN opportunities are Google+ Communities and LinkedIn Groups.


e. Taking online trainings and certifications

Some EdTech companies and universities are also offering free online training opportunities for teachers to further deepen their knowledge on EdTech integration in teaching and learning. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) or simply, online courses have been popular means for teachers to take further studies or trainings. While most of the training are free, getting certified sometimes would require payment.

A recent excellent example for online trainings are the Google Certification Trainings, where educators can train for the integration of Google Apps for Education in the classroom. The training is free and can be accessed wherever and whenever. The certification, though, requires an online assessment for a fee.


Do you still have more professional learning opportunities that you can share? Sound it off in the comment section.

Moving Beyond Knowledge Consumption: 5Ds Framework & Google Apps for Edu

Moving Beyond Knowledge Consumption_ 5Ds Framework & GAfE

Google Apps for Education (GAfE) is a suite of productivity apps that cater to the needs of educators and learners. Offered free, GAfE provides communication and collaborative tools to users while creating online documents, presentations, or spreadsheets among others. GAfE aims to provide quick solutions to school challenges regarding information management and dissemination, efficient feedback mechanism, and creative construction of learning artefacts.

Using the 5Ds Framework, learning designers and educators can leverage the use of GAfE in the classroom. Why are Google for Education apps great tools in employing the 5Ds Framework in designing authentic and meaningful learning tasks in the classroom?


Here are five reasons.

1. Great resources and tools for both teachers and learners

5Ds Framework requires learners to explore ideas and lessons at the beginning of the learning process (DIP stage). As they explore information related to the topic at hand, they begin to ask questions, sparking curiosity in their mind. Apps such as Google Search and YouTube provide a wealth of information that ignite the learner’s drive and thirst for knowledge. Google Earth and Google Maps contain features that enable learners and teachers to gather information through geography. LitTrips have been used to take literacy into another level – understanding concepts or learning about a topic through the use of locations or geography.


2. Presence of collaborative and communication tools

5Ds Framework puts collaboration and communication among the learners as a priority in the learning process. Because of the collaborative tools such as real-time sharing, editing, and adding of comments among users at one time, learners are given more opportunity to work together as they understand and apply what is being learned at hand. Communication becomes more efficient and faster. Learners can even communicate with each other, wherever and whenever they want.

Google productivity apps such as Docs, Slides, Numbers, Drawing, and Sites contain collaborative tools (such as ability to add comments and tag users) that make learning more effective and efficient. Communication apps such Hangouts, GMail, or the built-in chat tools provide quick channels for learners and teachers to communicate to each other.


3. Creative means to giving formative assessments

With creative and careful planning, some of GAfE can be utilized as means to give formative assessments. Google Forms has been updated to contain built-in quiz features for easy checking for understanding. Extensions and add-ons, such as Flubaroo and SuperQuiz, that enable Google Forms to create quick check-up quizzes are also available.

Google Keep, coupled with some Visible Thinking Routines in class, provides a better way for students to share and make their ideas more concrete.

Google Docs is flexible enough to be used for some visible thinking strategies also. More than being a digital worksheet maker, Google Docs is the best tool to create a Hyperdoc.

Google Drawings have been used in creating concept and mind maps for students to connect ideas learned in class.

Google Classroom’s Ask a Question feature is another example of a tool that teachers can quickly and efficiently used to check student’s understanding.

With all these features and tools, teachers can surely “Deepen” students’ understanding of the lesson at hand.


4. More opportunities to give timely, effective, and efficient feedback

As mentioned earlier, the communication and collaborative tools also functions as feedback-giving tools. Teachers and students can use these to instantly give feedback to each other. This gives more opportunities for peer-evaluation among students, too. Moreover, learners and teachers can give feedback to each other without the need to meet each other physically, opening up for asynchronous learning to happen. Hence, with these tools, the “Discern” aspect of the 5Ds Framework is well executed and followed.


5. Use of creativity and productivity apps plus access to content sharing platforms

Docs, Slides, and Sheets are simple but powerful apps that students can use to create authentic artifacts of learning. Moreover, these apps are also connected to powerful sharing platforms in the Internet.

YouTube Kids and Google Sites are platforms that enables learners to showcase what they have learned. With Google Sites, documents created with Docs, Slides, and Sheets can be published and shared online. Blogs can be posted on Google Sites, while audio-visual presentations or projects can be uploaded to YouTube. Google Play Books can also be an exciting platform to share authentic and original books created by students. Teachers can take advantage of these powerful apps to enable students as they share their work to the global audience.

5Ds Framework for Tech Integration: From Passive Consumption to Critical Interaction to Active Creation

What’s New with Version 2?

5Ds Framework V2.001

5Ds Framework (version 2) with focus on feedback-giving in the learning process

1. On Discern Stage:

5Ds Framework v2 shifts and makes evident the importance of “Discern” in the learning process. Although it was already stated before that Discern is never stuck between Do and Distribute, version 2 pushes the role of Discern in the learning process into a more encompassing one. Discern focuses on using tech tools as means of giving feedback effectively and efficiently to a learner throughout the learning process, from the beginning of the lesson until the end, which is ultimately, the showcase of one’s learning to a global audience. This acknowledges the essential role of giving timely and task-oriented feedback to the learner. Consequently and ideally, as feedback-giving is deeply and purposefully embedded in the process, learning becomes a continuous activity for the learner and a loop is created to ensure that feedback is given to the learner.

5Ds Framework for Tech Integration_ From Passive Consumption to Critical Interaction to Active Creation-2.jpg

2. From Passive Consumption to Critical Interaction to Active Creation

The use of technology in the classroom often starts from passive consumption, when the user or the learner passively takes in content or information from various tech sources, such as from web 2.0 websites, mobile apps, social media, etc. However, using tech tools for this purpose defeats the purpose of tech employment in the classroom. This act is almost, if not, purely similar, to how traditional teaching and learning spoon-feeds information to the learner. The learning process should move beyond this stage. The learning designer should ensure that the learner takes an active role in the learning process. In short, let the learner take the lead in searching, building, and creating knowledge.

This leads us to acknowledge that learners need to interact with the information, content, or topic at hand using his or her critical-thinking skills. Critical-thinking helps and ensures that the learner evaluates and interacts with what is being learned from a perspective that enables him or her to see everything in various angle, context, or understanding. Whether individually or collaboratively, learners have to use tech tools to examine what is being learned. Hence, the teacher should design learning activities in the Dip or Deepen stages that give learners differentiated tasks or opportunities to examine a problem and explore different means to solving it. The use of tech tools can be leveraged so that they can help the teacher bring these opportunities into the classroom.

Last, tech tools can help provide the learner freedom to choose the medium through which they can showcase what they have learned in class. In the Do and Distribute stage, learners look for and provide solutions to real-life problems through applying what they have learned in class. Authentic tasks or assessments are given to them. This process leads them to become active creators of information or knowledge. Learners go beyond mere repetition of the concepts or skills they have learned. They use their creative and collaborative skills to create original products that can become artefacts of their learning.

Using their communication skills, learners showcase their original products or creations to the global audience. While this is a momentous and successful event in the learning process, and by the way, the learner deserves to be commended for reaching this part, this, however, does not mean that the learning process has stopped. As they share their learnings to the world, the created products can be eventually examined by a wider audience. More feedback could be given, which can help improve the learning product. Moreover, the shared product of learning can also become a potential “source” of information for other learners across the world.

Hence, in the end, the 5Ds Framework guides educators to create a connected and meaningful tech-integrated learning process for students. If taken further, it could also lend itself to become a cycle of learning, where the final product of learning becomes a potential source of knowledge that other learners can critically interact with. Moreover, the learning process is transformed from a passive way of learning, which reflects traditional teaching, into a more active, critical, and creative act that successfully transcends the four walls of the classroom.

App Review: 1 Teacher + 37 Students + ClassCraft = ?

ClassCraft BlogEveryday, each classroom teacher is expected to manage his or her  class and to follow up on students’ behavior and academic performance. The teacher aims to put order into the class and makes sure that everyone is engaged with the various learning tasks at hand. Moreover, the teacher is also expected to encourage and motivate the kids to do better in class, participate in discussion or activities, and to perform well during assessments. Together with these is the need to communicate and work with parents for the sake of the students.


With all these expectations, how can technology support or assist the teacher to maintain an orderly class, motivate students, and give feedback to them and eventually, communicate these to their parents?

There are numerous apps that would promise answers to these expectations. The EdTech world is full of various learning management systems (LMS), classroom management apps, or apps with features that give feedback to parents or students. However, I was not just looking for apps that can help manage the class. I was also looking for apps that would help me motivate and engage the students with our learning activities. Something fun. Something that would excite my students.

The answer to this was ClassCraft.

ClassCraft transforms the class into a role-playing adventure. Taking on game elements and applying these in the classroom setting, ClassCraft offers a great experience for the teacher to use gamification in class. In ClassCraft, students take up characters that can wield powers, suffer from losing points, or level up with experience points. They can participate in random events or quests that the teacher can initiate for the class.

However, more than having these cool features and awesome graphics, how does ClassCraft help make learning for students engaging, meaningful, or collaborative?


1. ClassCraft makes learning a personal adventure for students.

As students step into their characters, they are challenged to behave well and perform well in class because they know that their teacher can reward them with points or deduct them with their HP or health points. In short, they have to learn how to manage themselves so that their character can progress in the adventure. In a way, the character reflects their performance in class.

2. ClassCraft help foster collaboration among students.

Because the game works on rewards system, students become mindful that their actions or performance in class can affect their team or guild’s overall performance. As they individually progress in class and in ClassCraft, they also think about how they can help protect or heal their teammates. They need to collaborate, plan, and work together to gain points. For example, during a group work, the teacher can put up rewards for those who finish the work well or for those who have shown great collaborative skills during the said learning activity.

3. ClassCraft engages and motivates students.

Rewards, ability to use “educational” powers or class incentives, awesome equipment, and fearsome or cute pets, who does not get motivated to work for these? Teachers can use ClassCraft as an academic motivator. I have parents telling me that their children were exerting more effort and setting more review time for a coming test so that they can receive Gold Pieces or more XP.  Another way ClassCraft makes learning engaging is through its Boss Battle, which turns reviewing, a formative activity, fun and exciting. Recently, the Boss Battle was added for the students to answer review questions, defeat a Boss, and eventually gain rewards.

4. ClassCraft teaches students to take risks and be mindful of the consequences of their decisions or actions.

While the game is all about rewards, another aspect that ClassCraft manages to subtly teach students is about taking risks and being mindful of the consequences of their actions in class. When they decide to battle a boss, they are become mindful that they can fall from the game if they fail to answer the review questions well. This possible outcome pushes them to prepare well for the Boss Battle. Helping others or protecting their teammates can also give the team great results.

FullSizeRender 6There are other helpful features that can be used when the ClassCraft account is upgraded. Features such as grade book, analytic, or additional rewards are made available to further deepen the feedback mechanism in class and intensify the role-playing adventure. ClassCraft also has a parent feature where parents can have an access and clear view of how their children are doing in class. However, whether your account is free or premium, the main essence of ClassCraft remains. It still engages and motivates students to behave or perform well, whether individually or as a team.

So, in the end, 1 Teacher + 37 Students + ClassCraft = a motivated class, taking an adventure of a lifetime. Yes! That was my experience in my own classroom in the Philippines. ClassCraft successfully helped me to manage and make learning exciting and fun for 37 young and energetic boys.


Leveraging Social Media to Create a Connected Learning Community

Leveraging Social Media to Create a Connected Learning CommunityOne big reality today: teachers, school leaders, students, and parents are using various social media platform. Well, a few maybe are not yet using any social media platform, but in the near future, everyone will be creating accounts to post photos, write their thoughts, or just randomly search for information about their favourite topic. While some educators are still not comfortable with the use of social media in the field of education, a great number of teachers, school leaders, and students have embraced and used social media to promote learning and to connect with other educators around the world.


Creating a Connected Learning Community

Using social media can create a connected learning community, especially when the values of trust, commitment to improvement of learning and teaching, and building and sharing of knowledge propel the use.

1. A professional relationship among parents, teachers, school leaders, and students that is founded mainly on the values of trust and respect can take advantage of social media. Using social media to communicate and showcase the school’s progress is a way to build trust and transparency to parents. Providing parents an opportunity to be updated with the school activities or events using social media can further cement an efficient and quick channel of communication. For example, school posts’ containing updates about school activities or accomplishments can be shared by parents who feel proud of the work of their children and of the school.

2. Educators have long tapped the power of social media to connect and learn with fellow educators around the world. Most notable of these platforms is Twitter. Numerous educational chats in Twitter have pushed the meaning and relevance of formal professional development conferences or workshops simply because educators have taken professional sharing and conversation into a free and engaging platform. Access to professional sharing has been, in fact, levelled off by an online access to Twitter. Teachers from various places around the world can now learn from other teachers, who without social media, can’t be reached by ordinary means. Not enough time or fund to join education conferences abroad? Follow the conference’s official hashtags and get free access to ideas flowing from the event itself.

3. Showcasing students’ learning artefacts has found a wider audience. Teachers and students are not anymore passive consumers of tech tools. In fact, those who share their learnings in social media are moving beyond becoming active creators of knowledge. They are actually taking part in a culture that actively chooses what should be seen online. They have chosen to show contents that promote learning and provide information that could improve a student’s learning, a teacher’s instruction, a school administrator’s leadership approach, or a parents’ support system at home.

Caveat: The Other Side of the Coin

The school community should also be aware of the challenges or issues that social media may cause in the learning community. These should not be overlooked or ignored. The use of social media has brought problems or issues among its users, whether young or old. Among these are the “addiction” of users and the fear of being left behind from what is trending online. Yes, we want to be connected with others, but a few have taken this to an imaginable height which caused “addiction” or irrational fear or dependence on social media. Sometimes, “unplugging” one’s self from the internet can give greater advantages also.

A few educators voiced out to let social media be used for “socialization.” Some students or teachers may just want to use their social media accounts for non-education related things in their life. Invading the social media realm in the name of education may remove the needed “break” of teachers and students from their usual routine in class.

Unnecessary or sensitive information about a member of the learning community might be divulge through social media. Sometimes, exchange of ideas or opinions might lead to heated arguments. In short, more than connecting members of the community, social media can cause division or gap among its users.

Yes or No?

As learning communities constantly decide on how they can leverage the use of social media, a basic aspect of education technology integration should always be taken into consideration: a proper, meaningful, and relevant digital citizenship program among members of the community. All members of the school community should still go back to why they are using social media and to commit themselves solely to these reasons.

10 Insights from First-Time EdTech Integrators 

As an EdTech consultant and trainer, I find inspiration from teachers who show openness and enthusiasm during professional development sessions.

Deep, meaningful, and relevant discussion about tech tools and learning devices in teaching and learning are often fuelled by curiosity and the will to learn. Conducting PD sessions with fellow educators and school leaders is also a learning experience for me. The raw and fresh insights from participants are often inspiring. Here are some of them.


1. “Oh! My mobile device is more than a selfie machine!” 

Mobile devices can become learning devices. The possibility is real and unlimited. It might be a simple statement but the process up ahead is exciting and challenging! Now, it’s time to articulate that vision that would fuel and affect the decisions up ahead.

2. “My iPad is more that a book substitute.”

Thinking of mobile devices as book substitute puts the process into a dead-end. There are more innovative ways to use mobile devices as learning and teaching devices. Explore and discover!

10 INSIGHTSFROMFIRST-TIMEEDTECH INTEGRATORS3. “Tech tools are TOOLS! I still need my learning goals.”

Designing learning activities that use tech tools still calls for the teacher to start with the learning objectives or learning goals. These must be articulated clearly before thinking about the apps or tools to be used. Tech tools, such as apps, should not drive the instructional design. Pedagogy should be prioritised. Then, tech tools come in as means or support to achieving the learning goals.

4. “I cannot just use any app in my class, even if it’s my favourite.”

Tech integration should be purposeful and meaningful. The use of mobile apps in class should be well planned. Just because the app is popular or a personal or a student favorite does not give you the reason to use it already in class.

5. “I need to rethink the way I teach.”

The use of mobile devices in class alters teaching styles, pushing the teacher to move from traditional methods into more progressive and innovative teaching methods.

6. “I can be a globally connected teacher. I am now creating my PLN account in Twitter!”

Teachers can learn and improve their teaching styles through connecting with other teachers around the world. Creating a social media account for PLN reason can improve the learning curve of a teacher. Of course, it is a given that the teacher follows credible educator accounts around the world. It is worth-trying to join educational chats, too.

7. “Papers? No? Kids, how about you choose your own medium?”

Tech tools can support students to choose how they can demonstrate and apply their learnings in class. Students are now independent and can even create more meaningful and authentic artefacts of learnings using mobile devices and apps. Just make sure that these are carefully planned.

8. “I need enough time and data to decide what learning device I will need.”

Invest on devices that offer the best possible tools that can enhance and transform teaching and learning. Sometimes, the more expensive ones must be considered because they can last longer and offer more educational apps. Buying the less expensive ones, but will require the instalment of paid productivity apps cancels the supposed savings. Again, balance and consider all the factors that affect the decision.

9. “Do your homework. Don’t just buy or enter into a contract with a supplier.”

Consider the ecosystem surrounding the device, i.e. the more learning apps, more updates for security and stability purposes, more support, more possibility, the better!

10. “We’re all in this together!”

Teachers need the support of school leaders, in every aspect of the process: means of purchasing these devices, further training, long term goals, etc. Involve all members of the school community. Have a shared vision!

1:1 iPad or BYOD Class “PACT”: Classroom Management Tips

Managing the class, i.e. students’ behavior, during 1:1 iPad or BYOD classes can be challenging. The level of excitement increases as students are given a device that can either help them learn or distract them from learning. As teachers, we are reminded to be aware of the importance of maintaining a class atmosphere conducive for learning and sharing of ideas.

We put up rules, expectations, and contracts with our students to make sure that our classes run smoothly. We give them reminders about the consequences of their actions in class. In short, we maintain the classroom discipline plan that we already put up in the beginning. But this discipline plan needs modification when iPad devices or mobile devices are introduced and used in class.

In my classes, I use my 1:1 PACT. What is this PACT?

2The PACT stands for four important reminders that students are challenged to do in 1:1 or BYOD classes.


P for “proper use”

Students must learn how to handle and use their devices properly, whether personal device or a shared device in school. They must practice responsibility in taking care of the devices, since they are quite an investment. This means avoiding physical breakage, scratches or bumping them on tables. Proper software maintenance must be done to make sure that all apps and the devices’ OS are updated to the latest version. Updating optimises the use of the devices in class. Older students can be asked to do this during their own time. For the younger ones, adult supervision in school or at home is surely needed. Proper use also pertains to how they use the apps or the device in class. Students should only use the device for learning or for whatever use the teacher has instructed the class. This would mean no unnecessary interactions with the device during class.


A for “active participation”

As students use the devices in class, they are still expected to become active participants in class discussions or in the different learning activities. Having devices in class should not disconnect them from the class. Instead, they are to use the device so that they can connect with their classmates and actively participate in the various learning activities. Teacher can reinforce this expectation by giving rewards to those who actively participate. Teachers can use iPad apps such as ClassDojo or ClassCraft to provide real-time feedback, praises, and rewards to students who are engaged in class activities. Learn more about these apps in this page.


C for “collaboration”

Collaboration is a 21st century learning skill that should be reinforced in a tech-integrated class. The mobile devices are great tools to promote collaboration and ensure that students cooperate and work effectively with other students. Using various apps such as Google Apps for Education or multimedia/ productivity apps, students can create artefacts or products that demonstrate their learning through working together. Collaboration instills in students the importance building knowledge together and taking part in the process of knowledge sharing. It is of great importance, then, that the teacher designs technology integrated learning activities that promote collaboration among students. In terms of classroom management, making the students work in teams or groups can further ensure that everyone is one task. Moreover, assigning roles to each member of the collaborative groups can make sure that everyone has and stays on task.


T for “treat everyone with respect”

Giving due respect to one’s self and to other people is at the centre of 1:1 PACT. Digital citizenship sits on the fundamental need to give due respect to everyone, whether online or offline. Place guidelines on how students can practice respect and self-discipline while they use the mobile devices or access data online. It is recommended that during 1:1 or BYOD orientations, students undergo digital citizenship sessions or workshops so that they can show proper behaviour as they use tech tools in class and to protect themselves from unwanted elements that may lead to cyber-bullying, online scams, or hacking.


Lastly, from the name itself, the 1:1 or BYOD PACT becomes a contract for the class. The students sign the PACT and agree to follow them always. The teacher can be more creative and make an elaborate pact or agreement. A printed copy of the PACT can be posted on the walls of the classroom or where it is visible to the students. This gives them instant reminder of what they are supposed to do and how they should behave.

The 1:1 or BYOD PACT helps teachers create a conducive atmosphere for students to maximise the use of tech tools while learning in class. Moreover, students are also expected to take part in it by practicing what the 1:1 or BYOD PACT calls them to do. In the end, while the teacher is responsible for the class, it wouldn’t hurt also if students are personally involved in the process.

What are your classroom management tips? Sound them off at the comment section.

5 EdTech Tips to Empower and Involve Parents in School

5 EdTech Tips to Empower and Involve Parents in SchoolIn order for technology integration in the classroom to be successful, the support and participation of the school community are very much needed.


School leaders train and support their teachers so that they can better prepare themselves as they aim to accomplish the tasks expected of them. Teachers expect full support from administrators as they venture on to something new that would alter the way they teach and connect with students. Students need teacher’s guidance as they use various technological tools during class activities. As students are exposed to a lot of tech products whether inside or outside the classroom, there is a greater need for the school to provide support and guidance to them so that they can manage their tech use, evaluate the information they encounter online, and create the best artefacts of their learning. With this great amount of expectations, the school can surely tap the parents as partners in education.

Parents are important stakeholders in the field of education. They play a crucial role to the academic success of their children. With the greater use of technology tools in our society today, connecting with parents has become more urgent. Of course, it is a known fact that involving parents in the learning of students can be advantageous because parents can build a stronger support system for their children at home. Involving parents would also mean giving them a chance to track the progress of their children in school, making them more aware of what is happening to their children, academically and behaviourally.

So, how can tech tools be used to involve parents more? Here are some tips.

1. Use apps that allow parental access.

Apps such as Edmodo or SeeSaw, among others, allow students and teachers to communicate with each other. Moreover, they also have features that allow students to demonstrate their learning in class. Edmodo has quiz or poll features that can test knowledge easily. SeeSaw has great features that let students express what they learned using various media and curate them in one place. When parents are given access to this kind of home-school communication apps, then the parents are given a more transparent view of the progress of their children.

2. Set-up a class blog or educational website.

Teachers can set-up a class or educational blog that can feature students’ work, announcements, or information needed by the class. Parents may follow this blog and receive updates on class activities or announcements. Plus, showcasing exemplars of student products or projects can also motivate students to do better since their work is being shared to a different set of audience outside the four walls of the classroom.

3. Use notification apps or tools.

The most convenient tools to communicate with parents are readily available. Schools can use email, text alerts, or set-up an official website. These are tried and tested means to get announcements and updates across to parents. Social media apps such as Twitter can also serve as notification or announcement tools.

4. Conduct an open house.

Schools can hold open house activities. Parents may visit or sit in during a class so that they can personally witness how students use mobile devices or tech tools in class. During an open house, empower students through letting them teach their parents on how for example they use a specific app. EdTech open nights is another modification to accommodate parents who are only free at night, especially those who are only available after their work time.

5. Hold Digital Citizenship sessions.

Children’s online safety is an essential task for both the school and parents. Have parents attend and undergo digital citizenship workshops so that they can further understand and learn how to guide and protect their children from unwanted elements online. This is a crucial task for them because, at home, parents are the only ones who can make sure that their children are shielded from cyber bullying, unwanted messages, or any privacy violations.

Some things to consider.

Of course, as much as we want to involve parents in the digital aspect of learning, we must also consider some factors.

First, teachers should be confident with his or her professional dealings with parents. Sometimes, teachers are not comfortable or confident to involve parents further in their class because in reality, there are some parents who demand too much or treat teachers unprofessionally. Unpleasant experiences with parents can also affect teachers’ confidence. Hence, before schools involve parents, school leaders should make sure that teachers are ready to engage with them even through digital means.

Second, not all parents are digitally literate. Some parents might need to learn how to use some apps or some tech tools so that they can participate in the school’s digital program. Empowering parents can also make sure that they are knowledgeable about what their children are using and doing in class. It would be a great challenge if a parent knows nothing about the use of a certain app or tech tool as compared to his or her child, who may go astray from the task assigned. Remember, tools such as iPad may distract students from learning. Offering technology sessions or digital citizenship workshops can empower parents so that they can better protect their children and guide them with how they use tech tools such as tablets.

Last, schools can also set an avenue where the parents can formally communicate and discuss with teachers or school leaders about their observations, feedback, or suggestions about the use of technology in the studies of their children. Giving them the opportunity to dialogue can further improve the technology program of the school since they provide a different perspective that only parents are capable of seeing. Parents should be empowered so that they may understand the reason behind the use technological tools in class. After all, they are also partners of the school in its mission of educating their children.

6 Teacher Tips for First-Time EdTech Integration in Class

6 Teacher Tips for First-Time EdTech IntegrationAs the new school year begins in the Philippines and as the rest of world relaxes for summer or school break, here are 6 awesome teacher tips for those who are integrating technology for the first time in the classroom. For the rest, these might remind you of your journey and practices in integrating technology.


1. Start Small and Simple

A simple learning activity with the use of mobile apps is a good start for a tech-integrated class. It can be as simple as taking pictures of plant parts in the school garden or viewing a 3D Earth model. Eliminate complex tasks to avoid complex planning at this moment.


2. Prioritize Learning Goals, Not Apps

A common mistake that teachers commit is to look for applications first rather than articulating their learning goals in class. Designing lessons with tech integration still follows the basics of lesson planning. Learning goals guide the teacher in determining what learning activity should be done. The curriculum should drive the use of technology in class and not the other way around.


3. Prepare a Plan B or C or D or…

Whether you are a newbie or a veteran teacher, there is always value in having a back-up plan, just in case something does not work. Technology is not 100% reliable. The mobile app might crash or it might not be compatible with your device or your students’. The internet connection might be slow. Think of the worst-case scenario and be ready with a good old traditional method to use in class, or even better, prevent worst-case scenarios from occurring by making sure that the devices are compatible with the app, or that the internet infrastructure can handle an entire class using tablets.


4. Update Classroom Management Plan

The presence of tablets in class excites today’s students. While such behaviors are expected, unnecessary behaviors should also be expected. Having a reward system is a big help to keep the students focused on the lesson and behave properly in class.


5. Collaborate with Tech or IT Experts

Most schools have Computer or IT teachers who can assist with the technical aspect of planning. Including them in the planning and in the execution of the lesson adds more eyes and manpower in making sure that the lesson works. This way, you do not have to worry about technical trouble-shooting.


6. Think Positive but Welcome Feedback

Trust yourself and your plan. You have given your A-game in designing the activity. Instead of worrying, motivate yourself by imagining how your students would feel after a successful class with apps or mobile devices. More importantly, open yourself to feedback from your colleagues, students, or supervisors. Give yourself enough time to evaluate your experience and learn from it.

Do you have more tips? Sound it off at the comment section.

This article was originally posted here. Visit and read more about the tips.

Google Classroom: First Time Experience

Updated (January 20, 2015)

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 10.12.45 AMLast week, Google classroom finally released a mobile app (iOS and Android) for their recent learning and classroom management app. This makes assigning homework and submitting requirements on the go! Download the app from AppStore and PlayStore. I strongly suggest that you couple the Classroom app with the other Google Apps such as Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and most importantly, Google Drive.

Moreover, they also added more features to Google classroom: Share from other apps and Turning in photos or videos (any document) from the mobile device, archiving classes (for teachers), and an “Assignment” tab for easier viewing of homework done or not (for student’s only).

Here are two videos showing the updates:

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 10.21.58 AM

After using the Google Classroom, in my school’s Grade 6 batch, I really have fallen in love with the new app from Google. Learning how to use is really easy, but I am taking this opportunity to share sites that gives tutorials and support about Google Classroom.

An interesting note on my student’s feedback here. A summary follows.

From Google for Education:

Check out Alice Keeler’s posts on using google classroom. Really helpful posts from her. Check it here:

Amy Meyer: FriEdTechnology:

Jeff Herb:

Aaron Svoboda Playlist of Getting Started:

App, App, and Away: SeeSaw for Showcasing Student Learnings

Looking for a simple app that students can use to demonstrate their learning? SeeSaw app gives you more than that!

What is SeeSaw?

SeeSaw appSeeSaw is a Learning Journal app that enables students to create an online and digital portfolio of their learnings in class. It enables students to reflect on their learnings and even on the learning process that happens in class. These help them to be aware of where they are in terms of the lessons being learning and how to further improve their performance in class. The interface of the app is student-friendly that even those in the lower grades can easily use it. Using various media such as photos, documents, videos, or voice recordings, students can document what they have learned in class.

Taking it further, these documents are readily available for the teacher to view. The documents, pictures, or videos are properly organised in folders. The teacher also moderates the SeeSaw group of the class. Log-in problems and issues for younger children are also answered and given a simplistic solution by the SeeSaw app using log-in text codes or QR codes. This wonderful app also provides a bridge for the parents to see and understand how their child is learning in class. This, hopefully, gives the parents a more transparent view of the learning that happens in class. Furthermore, it gives guidance on how they can assist their children when they study at home.

SeeSaw in Action

Taking learning and reflection to a higher level, students have started to make use of digital portfolios to curate their process of understanding. While traditional portfolios have worked before, the introduction of apps such as SeeSaw marked a multi-modal approach of curating student’s learning. Students were able to create mind maps to draw connections with what they have learned. Voice notes and image capture enabled students to showcase and share their work to their classmates. Meaningful feedback from students and teachers were posted real-time. This has become an effective way for students to even personally reflect on how they learned and understood the topics in class.

Source: SeeSaw app Youtube Channel

Some teachers have made use of SeeSaw as a venue for students to answer assessments, marking a certain shift to a paperless classroom. But more than that, the students were given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes because they now have the access to their previous works. SeeSaw has become a great means for teachers to help students further improve their learnings through easy-to-access formative assessment or activities.

Moreover, students were also given the opportunity to showcase their learnings to their classmates. The simple act of sharing what they have learned via SeeSaw has made learning and knowledge-building a communal construction and activity. Hence, more that knowledge curation, SeeSaw has provided an avenue, for students, to authentic knowledge-building.

Know more about SeeSaw

Interested in using SeeSaw app? Go and check out the SeeSaw Ambassador’s page and find an ambassador in or near your place. Visit the dedicated page for Teacher Resources, such as lessons.

Download is a free to download app and available across iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Chromebooks and browsers such Chrome and Firefox. Visit their official website.

5Ds Framework for Purposeful and Meaningful Technology Integration in the Classroom

Presentation: When Students Share their Stories (Using Book Creator app)

This a copy of my presentation to public school teachers of Tayum Central School – Abra, Philippines which focuses on the advantages of letting students (and teachers) publish their original stories or projects using the Book Creator for iPad app. This also includes a hands-on workshop for exploring the Book Creator app.

Creative Commons License
When Students Share their Stories (Using Book Creator app) by Francis Jim Tuscano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Mixing Visible Thinking Routines and QR Codes

A copy of the presentation for my seminar-workship with the teachers of Tayum Central School, Tayum, Abra, Philippines. This focuses on mixing up QR codes with Visible Thinking Routines in the classroom.

Creative Commons License
Mixing Visible Thinking Routines and QR Codes by Francis Jim Tuscano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Going Google Classroom (XS FIT 2015 Session)

A presentation on my students’ experience in using Google Classroom in class. Short note on GAFE, esp. Google Drive. Given during the Second Xavier School’s Frontiers and Innovations in Teaching Conference (April 2015)

Creative Commons License
Going Google Classroom by Francis Jim Tuscano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Presentation: Introducing Ed Tech Integration – Infoteach Workshop

This was my presentation during the Infoteach Summer Workshop with the Department of Education – Bangued, Abra, Philippines. This aimed to introduce education technology integration to the selected elementary public school teachers in Abra province.

GAFE: Checking for Understanding and Scaffolded Assessments

Below is a copy of my presentation in the AppsEvents’ Google in Education Summit 2015 in Taichung, Taiwan. Check the event’s site here:


The session dwells on how Google Apps For Education (GAFE) can become effective tools in checking for students’ understanding. A review on the importance of checking for understanding and the importance of formative assessments will be given time. The main part of the session features sample formative assessments which used GAFE Docs, Forms, Slides and Classroom. How the assessments were designed and made will be discussed. Attendees will be asked to try and answer the sample assessments. Later on, hands-on part will have them create their own GAFE-made formative assessments.

This session requires basic knowledge on Google Docs, Forms, and Slides. A tour of the Google Classroom will be also included as we go along the session.

Creative Commons License
GAFE- Tools in Checking for Understanding by Francis Jim Tuscano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

A Reflection on my Apple Distinguished Educator 2015 Application

I am so happy to finally share my reflection on ADE2015. My summer break was a very busy one – enjoying life with my family and diving into professional development/ ed tech seminar workshops for teachers.

Last month, amidst the scorching heat of summer sun in Manila, I received the greatest and most exciting email yet this year. The sweet “yes!” of Apple to my ADE 2015 application. I had to read the message so many times before I finally shared the incredible news to my family and closest friends and colleagues.

It was my first time to apply as an ADE. I first heard about the ADE from my ADE colleagues  in Xavier School. My co-teachers, Galvin and Jessica (ADE 2013) are the lead persons in our school’s 1:1 program. From that point on, I wondered on what I would gain if I join the ADE community. That moment also marked a personal challenge to use more of Apple tech in my class and to let my students learn effectively and create wonderful products that showcase the knowledge and skills that they would learn in my class.

What I love about the application is the process itself. The application process gave me the opportunity to look back and reflect on what I have been doing in line with integrating ed tech in class. I have been a teacher for almost 7 years now and an ed tech integrator for almost 5 years already. As I went back to the pictures and videos of my students learning with tech tools, I clearly saw how I personally improved as a teacher, in areas such as classroom management, lesson planning, motivating students, and integrating ed tech among others.

Integrating tech tools in my Religious Education (Christian Life Education) class has been a great challenge. I love gadgets and tech tools but using them in class, in a subject that is not mainstream, is quite difficult. The ADE application process gave me the opportunity to understand once more that as a Rel Ed teacher, the tech tools are not ends, but means to a greater mission – that is, to teach the students what it means to become competent but person-for-others members of the community and in my case, the Church.

For these moments of reflection, I am grateful.

Another aspect of the ADE application process that drove me crazy was the time to wait for Apple’s decision. Accepted or rejected. What I amazed me during these waiting period was on how ADE applicants shared their views, practices, and works in using Apple tech in Twitter. Just reading the tweets of ADE applicants gave my wonderful insights on integrating ed tech in class. I was able to learn from the best practices of other teachers and ed tech integrators. In short, there was already learning and networking at that time.

In the end, I am really grateful and honored to be part of this incredible group of educators. Fellow ADEs, see you in Singapore for the ADE 2015 Asia-Pacific Institute on August!

What Is ADE?

“The Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Program began in 1994, when Apple recognized K-12 and higher education pioneers who are using a variety of Apple products to transform teaching and learning in powerful ways. Today it has grown into a worldwide community of over 2,000 visionary educators and innovative leaders who are doing amazing things with Apple technology in and out of the classroom. Apple is pleased to welcome (ADE Name) to the ADE Class of 2015.  Learn more about this group of innovative educators online at .”


Original (short) intro video on Google Classroom and the Google Drive in Class

The Home Base – Google Classroom and the Control Room – the Google Drive. Watch the video to know a little bit more.

Student Empowerment: Publishing Student-Authored eBooks

Last week, amidst the crazy graduation practices of our Grade 6 students, I accomplished something that I am truly proud of – to have Apple iBookstore include the eBook projects of my students in their great online bookstore.

The eBooks were part of their project in our CLE or religious education class when they were in Grade 5. Their product task was to create a simple and short story showing the values that they have learned in class such as friendship, loving one’s parents, fighting temptations and choosing what is good. The class was divided into groups of 4 members to keep the group small for better collaboration.

The product task began with an initial brainstorming session, such as identifying the value they wanted to put into their story, storyboard making, describing the characters and planning the story plot. Then, after a few sessions, we asked them to use the app Book Creator for iPad to make their ebook stories. What surprised me was how my students easily understood how to use the Book Creator app. They even acted as the characters of their stories and photographed themselves. They made the stories and they were also IN the stories.


I did not plan to submit the books to the Apple iBookstore. In fact, they were just stored in my external hard drive after I graded them. However, because I needed to dig for student products for my ADE 2015 application, I was able to see again how creative and good they were. So, with some editing using iBooks Author, I finally got the chance to upload them for submission two weeks ago. They are now available for download and reading via iBooks.

When I told them about what I did, the students who made the eBooks were so happy and excited. They were so proud that their work were online. Their other teachers and parents also shared the same pride and happiness. Now, other students and kids can see their work.

As I reflect on this great experience, I realize that these are the kind of activities that would empower the students to express their own ideas and create products that can show the world the values that they believe in and treasure. The ebook activity gave them a louder voice so that the greater part of the world can hear their little voices. Kids, truly, are great!

Download the eBooks (readable for iPad and Mac via iBooks) with these links:

The Three Brothers by Shawn Mu, Juan Rosales, Sean Ong, Charles Tanay, ed. Francis Jim Tuscano


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What do I do? by Winrich Yao, Matthew Beng Hui, Jerome Dy, Matthew Uy, ed. Francis Jim Tuscano


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Getting Ready: Taiwan Google in Education Summit 2015

AppsEvents Summit Speaker BadgeI was accepted to be a presenter to the first Taiwan Summit featuring Google in Education organized by AppsEvent. I will be presenting the fruit of my Google experience in the classroom, with regards to designing and creating formative assessments using Google Apps for Education.

The link to the summit is here. A part of my presentation’s page is included below.

GAFE: Tools in Checking for Understanding

The session dwells on how Google Apps For Education (GAFE) can become effective tools in checking for students’ understanding. A review on the importance of checking for understanding and the importance of formative assessments will be given time. The main part of the session features sample formative assessments which used GAFE Docs, Forms, Slides and Classroom. How the assessments were designed and made will be discussed. Attendees will be asked to try and answer the sample assessments. Later on, hands-on part will have them create their own GAFE-made formative assessments.

This session requires basic knowledge on Google Docs, Forms, and Slides. A tour of the Google Classroom will be also emphasized as we go along the session.


Infographic: Becoming a Google Education Master!

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What My Students Say about Google Classroom: A Simple Survey

It’s almost the end of the school year in Xavier School. The Grade 6 batch will be graduating from the Grade School. This also marks the end of my initial use (experiment) with Google Classroom in Grade 6. My CLE Team in Grade 6 started to use Google Classroom at the end of the second quarter as part of our One2One iPad integration in our curriculum. It was very timely since we had enough time at the end of the quarter to introduce the new classroom management app from Google.

After a few weeks of using the app, we deployed a simple and short survey that aimed to gather information on how they used Google Classroom in class. The response was generally positive. It showed how the students were very willing to try out new things. For their part, this meant suspending their use of another app that we use in class for our subject.

The use of Google classroom app was very helpful for us CLE teachers. It helped us manage our students’ journal and reflection essays, collect interactive posters and keynote projects, and also upload materials and practice tests/ formative assessments. Because of our frequent use of this platform, our reservation and actual use of iPads and Mac labs increased.

Some notable things that transpired in our use of this platform included an improvement in the way they write their reflection essays – less spelling and grammatical errors. It gave them the chance to include images to their essays, much like, giving their essays a good lay-out. However, I think a study is needed to assess how the use of this platform helps their actual scholastic achievement, though. On the other hand, I also acknowledge the fact that it has helped me since it gave me easy and efficient ways of managing my class, files or resources.

Here’s a summary of the result of the survey we had.


Illustration: Supporting IPP with Tech Tools

Ignatian education strives to develop men and women of competence, conscience, and compassion. It is a collaborative process between and among faculty and students which fosters personal and cooperative study, discovery, creativity, and reflection to promote life-long learning and action in service to others.

The Ignatian pedagogical paradigm is a practical teaching framework which is consistent with and effective in communicating the Ignatian values and world view. Faculty, regardless of discipline, can utilize this approach so that their teaching is academically sound and at the same time formative of persons for others.*

See my illustrations below for a general look at the IPP framework and how tech tools such as iPads app can give it support.

IPP and Ipad Apps.001IPP and Ipad Apps.002



Illustration: Classroom Gone Google

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SAMR: A Guide to Effective Tech Integration in Class

The SAMR framework in integrating technology in learning activities is a helpful guide in planning learning activities or designing assessment methods.

Developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) offers principles that can help teachers assess the level at which the technology tools they are integrating in class can support or modify the traditional approaches of doing the activities or assessments.

Dr. Puentedura ( describes the following levels as:

SAMR Model.001

In the diagram shown, it is obvious that the “highest” or ideal level where technology becomes a transformative tool in education is when it is able to modify and redesign activities, which then gives students more opportunity to create products that would showcase their understanding of a lesson or apply the needed skills.

However, it does not also hurt when one begins to start with enhancing classroom activities through substitution or augmentation of activities done through traditional approaches. This is very much helpful to teachers who are just beginning their adventures with tech tools in class. In this way, the expectation is much realistic and within reach. This would then become a learning experience when one continues to deepen the tech integration in class.

As a 1:1 iPad teacher, I surely started from enhancing activities so that my students would be able to cope up with the new style of learning and also to give me a chance to adjust to the behavioral (classroom management) and academic responses of my students. Yet another thought also comes in. Remember that tech integration in class should always go back to the guiding principle of knowing the context of the students and the lessons. For example, if the students are capable of creating projects or accomplishing tasks because of their advance skills in technology, then they should be given the appropriate activity with the appropriate tech tools.

In another aspect, the SAMR model can also be juxtaposed with the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. These two models can be employed in ensuring that the learning objectives are targeted and achieved at the end of each learning activities.

For more information about the SAMR model, you may visit the web blog of the proponent:

Other websites that offer relevant information:


Flexibility of Apps in 1:1 Classes

Tables, charts, or infographics showing how mobile educational apps fit into the Bloom’s Taxonomy are now popular in the Internet thanks to technology educational thinkers and advocates. In these graphic organizers, certains apps are fitted into the 6 levels of thinking according to the education expert Benjamin Bloom. As a 1:1 iPad teacher, these have helped me to plan well my lessons and learning activities, even my assessments in class. When speaking or sharing to other educators, I would often include a table or two to give them an idea of these pedagogical charts or wheels. As a matter of fact, I even discussed these along side lesson planning. Furthermore, I also titled my sessions “Bloom’s 2.0 or 3.0 or Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm 2.0.

However, as I progress in my teaching career, I noticed that these graphic organizers might sometimes not necessarily be true. I have noticed that some highly advance and highly functional educational apps may be fitted in more than one or two levels of thinkings. Sometimes, a once simple app, after updates from the developers, may offer more features to support learning in class.


book-creatorWhat is the key idea? The nature of the learning activity, the questions or exercises used in assessments may indicate the place of an app in a Bloom’s 2.0 chart. For example, the fantastic and popular app, Book Creator (Free and Paid) may just be on the level of remembering or understanding if the learning activity that employs the app only requires for information gathering or comprehension test. On the other hand, teachers can also level up Book Creator if it is used as a medium for creating original ebooks that would give the students opportunity to showcase new learning or knowledge that they gained from the lesson.


App Flexiblity - Book Creator.001


icon-teacher-appOther apps such as NearPod or Socrative (Teacher & Student) app are more flexible in nature because they can be used to engage students using teacher-made questions or guided learning activities. For example, I often use Socrative up for check up exercises on important concepts learned in class. After a few updates, teachers were able to add images and other special characters in making questions in Socrative. This opened the app for more higher order questions such as application of Math formula or picture or graph analysis.


In the end, I believe that teachers should, first, be clear of their learning objectives. This will decide on what iPad app will be used in class. Never structure your learning activities solely on the app, unless, the app is your lesson. Your learning objective should guide how the app will be used in class. Second, try to play with the app to explore its features. Have the kids play with the app also. This will help the teacher and the students in familiarizing themselves with its features. Last, always check for updates. Most of the time, educational app developers add new features to improve their apps.

Sample Apps used in CLE class

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Grade 6: Fourth Quarter – Lesson 9 on 7th and 10th commandments

Here are the keynote used in class: