All posts by mangeroth

GoOpen with OER

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Spring of 2017 saw me at Lewis Central High School at the GoOpen Summit. I was somewhat familiar with the GoOpen and OER movement but not nearly enough. Do you like all of the big acronyms in this so far? Let me define them.

GoOpen — “The U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen campaign encourages states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning”

Openly licensed educational materials “In the 2016 National Education Technology Plan, the Department defines openly licensed educational resources as teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under a license that permits their free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with others. Digital openly licensed resources can include complete online courses, modular digital textbooks as well as more granular resources such as images, videos, and assessment items.”

OER — “Open educational resources (OER) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes.

Open Education “…is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Web, in particular, provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse knowledge.”

So in essence, we are looking at instructional content that resides in the public domain or carries a creative commons license which allows anyone to access it and use it as is or repurpose it for their own curriculum. This sounds great and as in all things it is not as easy as it sounds. What are some of the qualifiers a teacher is looking at when incorporating OER into their classroom or for a school district considering becoming a GoOpen District?  

  1. How much is the ‘total cost of ownership’? Even though the content itself is free there is time, energy and resources needed to create the curriculum and/or textbook.
  2. What is the quality of the resources available? Iowa Learning Online has put together an OER Commons which acts as a hub for many of the OER products.  On this, they have an OER Evaluation Tool page. These resources will guide teachers while building their curriculum.  
  3. Do students and teachers have the Internet access and the devices to use the OER content which is digital? Your school district’s Clarity Survey information will contain the answers to this question.

Now that you know about the GoOpen movement, which is a program from the United States Department of Education, the Office of Educational Technology and OER, Open Education Resources, you may ask how can I get involved?  

Green Hills AEA is partnering with Northwest AEA and Prairie Lakes AEA to provide seventh-grade social studies teachers an opportunity to write curriculum for the new Iowa Social Studies Standards. The content will be open and available to all teachers.  The units will incorporate OER resources, Iowa AEA Online Databases, and appropriate websites. The units will contain all of the tools needed such as assessments, project suggestions, and opportunities to differentiate to meet the needs of all learners utilizing the MTSS process. There will be an opportunity for 1 recertification credit available.  At the end of the sessions, each participant will have at least one curricular unit available in a shared Google Team Drive Folder to teach in 2018-19.


  • Create an environment of shared understanding around the OER movement.
  • Design Social Studies unit(s) to be shared with all teachers across the state.

Green Hills AEA is committed to serving districts and teachers in utilizing OER to design high-qualitycurriculum for students. We will continue to provide hands-on opportunities for learning and creating content in a collaborative manner. If you have questions or need assistance with OER contact your Green Hills AEA Instructional Technology Consultants:

Stephanie Lane –

Judy Griffin –

Maryann Farrell –


Google Keep just joined Google Docs


For those of you out there who like using sticky notes and can’t get enough of Pinterest, you will love Google Keep.  It is virtual sticky notes and so much more.  I was not a fan as I am a list person, not pictures.  It is always good to take a second look and now that Google Keep is integrated with Google Docs under Tools, I am feeling enthusiastic.  It does sync across all types of devices.  So let me share some of the features and end with a YouTube Video from the Ditch the Textbook blog.  

First of all, it works on all devices and syncs your resources.  I really like the audio notes because it records your note and transcribes it.  

You can add collaborators to your Google Keeps and you can organize them with labels and color coding.  

An amazing feature which you will see in the video is how Google Keep turns a text picture into editable text.  

Of course, it sets reminders and has checklists.  The reminders can be the usual ones based on date and time or it has another fantastic feature where the reminder is based on your location.  Works with GPS.  

You can search your Google Keep.  No more, ‘where did I put that note’.  It has a Chrome extension so it is easy to add a website to your Google Keep.  This could be a great way to save your favorites.  

10 ways Google Keep can streamline your life at school by Ditch That Textbook

Spotting a “fake”


I rarely say, “what happened to the good old days?”, because I do firmly believe these are the best of days.  However, in the field of information and access to information, I do long for the days when I used a book, an encyclopedia, a textbook, a magazine and/or Walter Cronkite to get information which I could be confident was accurate.  The present day allows access to information resources 24/7 most of which are not vetted for accuracy.

Fake news has been around since of the invention of the printing press.  These stories are always sensationalized, use people’s prejudices and often incite violence.  The late 1800’s and early 1900’s saw newspapers use ‘yellow journalism’ to sell papers.  It was not until the 20th century that news reporting took on a professional and ethical cloak.  Is that being threatened now by free internet pseudo news outlets?  Yes; it is!! This can be attributed to how easy and fast news can travel via the Internet.  It is disturbing to see how eagerly people accept these fabrications without question.  news-1729539_1920

So what is the role of education to arm students with the tools they need to spot a fake?  “Digital literacy is the ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information.”  The key verb is ‘evaluate’.  According to a study from Stanford University, “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning” ‘student’s ability to reason about the information on the internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.’

What can educators do?  Teaching evaluation skills usually is a one class/year event.  

The good news is that teaching students to evaluate content isn’t all that hard to do.  

Have students Ask these questions when reading non-fiction content:

  1. How believable is this story to me?  
  2. What do I know about this news source?
  3. Can I spot any loaded words in the piece I am reading?

Here are some tips on how to spot ‘fake news’:

  1. Stay away from sites with suspicious-looking web addresses, like those ending in .lo or
  2. Pay attention to the article’s author. If there’s no byline on a story, or there is only one author for every post on the entire website, watch out. It may be an imposter.
  3. Check if there’s an “about me” section on the website. This makes it easier to spot whether the news source is legitimate.
  4. Get your news from a variety of places. The best way to ensure that you’re not scammed by fake news is to read from a diverse array of news sources, and not just what pops up on a Facebook feed.

Resources for teaching “Evaluating the Internet”.  


Critical Evaluation by Kathy Schrock

The Advanced Google Searches Every Student Should Know by Alan November




Grab a seat on your couch and join educators from all over the world for a 24 hour free online conference.  Get tips and tools to boost student engagement, collaboration and productivity in the classroom.  Sessions around the clock and around the world.  December 2, 2016 at 5:00 PM — December 3, 2016 at 6:00 PM CST.  Register for the Event.


Follow the hashtag on Twitter to see who is presenting and on what topics.  #GoogleEduOnAir

Cyber Security Curriculum from ISU


Iowa State University has created the nation’s first cyber security curriculum for the K-12 classroom.  We hear a lot about literacy and digital literacy.  What about security literacy?  The Security Literacy Project is dedicated to providing educators the materials needed to teach security-literacy to grades K – 16. The prime goal of practical computer security literacy is to provide students with the information and processes to secure their digital devices and information. The topics and objectives of the teaching modules are designed specifically to meet this goal.

The primary method for educating students and the general public about cyber security has been through limited awareness campaigns and the construction of top-ten security lists.  

Formal computer security education is the key to combating the threats intrinsic to the Information Age.  Each day, people are inundated with alerts and pop-ups informing them about patch updates, antivirus signatures, firewall exceptions, suspicious emails, and malware threats but lack the proper education or vocabulary to make value-based decisions regarding the benefits and consequences of taking specific action on these items.  This course in practical computer security provides the context and knowledge for students to apply computer security best practices when faced with a novel situation and the ability to be proactive, not reactive, in the face of new threats. It is argued that computer security literacy is not only the next logical step in computer security defense; it is the most important step that, we, as individuals can take.  Through this website and project ISU encourages and promotes security literacy.

Two types of materials are available to support various classroom settings and curricular objectives.  

  • The first set of materials are called Cyber-Toons and are short (1-2 minutes) videos designed to be played in a class to simulate discussion around a topic.  The Cyber-Toons can be included into any class and are more targeted at middle schools.  An instructors guide, discussion questions, and short assessments are provided with each of the Cyber-Toons.
  • The second set of materials are longer modules (5 to 10 minutes) that are also in video format.  These are designed to be used in class or in a “flipped” course (where students watch the videos before class).  Like the Cyber-Toons instructors can pick modules based on topic to be included in any existing course.   A curriculum for a school that wants to teach an entire course on security literacy is also provided.  The modules are designed for upper middle school and high school.  

Access the course at

Oldies but Goodies


tablet pc and colorful real books. 3D illustration. Vintage styl

I came across a list of 50 Web 2.0 Tools for Educators.  Many were ones I had not used for awhile.  It occurred to me that all of you may have forgotten about these too.  Here is a link to the Simple K-12 List published in October, 2015.   

Several on the list would be useful in teaching reading and writing.  

Blabbarize makes pictures talk.  It is a free resource.  It does require a login.  Students could write their own stories and then record themselves reading the story.  Once published the picture will tell the story.  

Vocaroo is another audio tool.  It doesn’t require a login.  Students would push the record button and record what they wanted to say.  When finished the site generates a URL of the recording making it easy to share with others.  This would be a great tool to have students review their fluency and for teachers to archive student improvement in fluency.  

Story Jumper  “StoryJumper is a site that gives teachers, students, parents, and authors a fun set of intuitive tools for writing and illustrating stories. Our goal is to inspire anyone that’s ever wanted to write an illustrated story to get started!”
Storybird  “Storybird lets anyone make visual stories in seconds. We curate artwork from illustrators and animators around the world and inspire writers of any age to turn those images into fresh stories.”

Where should a young Social Scientist look?

Do you wonder where to get high quality information and data about all of the countries of the world?  Would you like to skip combing through a plethora of useless resources on Google to find a few nuggets of information about different countries?  The Iowa AEA Online Databases offer the solution.Where should a young Social Scientist look-  (1)

CultureGrams from ProQuest goes beyond basic facts and figures with local perspectives on more than 200 countries, detailing daily life and culture, including history, customs, and lifestyles. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, each concise, reliable, and up-to-date report is written and reviewed by local experts, providing users with unique, intimate cultural details from a real insider’s perspective.

Britannica Online offers several databases for the young social scientist.  The first is the Britannica Encyclopedia school edition with over 120,000 articles revised and updated on a continuous bases.  These articles are offered for elementary, middle and high school students.  Each has the text to speech component.  Multimedia and additional resources are included. Encyclopædia Britannica World Data Analyst combines detailed statistics with powerful tools for analysis and display, this resource features a unique collectioWhere should a young Social Scientist look-n of in-depth information about the countries of the world and allows you to create interesting and informative comparative charts and tables. The last is SIRS, Social Issues Researcher for grades 9-12.  This provides information on current topics in countries of the world from newspapers, magazines, reference books and select websites.  Young Social Scientists will find much in not all what they need in these resources.  

Image Quest


Are you looking for some high quality images?  Don’t want to rely on Google Images?  Did you know that Image Quest is part of the Britannica Online product provided as one of the Iowa AEA Online Databases.  Here is a direct link.  You will need to log in with your AEA Database Username and Password.  Ask your teacher librarian for these or call the Green Hills Media Center for access.  844-366-0503.
You can access it through the Britannica Portal too.  Click on the Your Britannica Resources in the upper right.   Choose Image Quest on the top of the drop down.  

How to diagnose the truth??

“We live in an age of information overload, including abundant misinformation, unsubstantiated rumors, and conspiracy theories whose volume threatens to overwhelm journalists and the public.” Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Study: “Computational Fact Checking From Knowledge Networks,”

Someone said to me recently that it was easier to be a student before the Internet because most of the information came from print resources which were written by experts in the field and vetted by editors. Therefore the accuracy of the information was not suspect. In this context I do have to agree with my friend. So how can turn students into discerning consumers of information who can vette information without the aid of an editor?

I do wonder about truth. Information and resources are increasing exponentially. Now all of us are potential authors with a world audience. It is part of the soul of every librarian that all have access to information and be able to discern what is valid and what is not. As a librarian and now instructional technology consultant I understand the importance of information literacy. How do we vette information now?

There are ways to get at the truth in the online world however it takes time, knowledge and diligence. Caitlin Dewey, a columnist for the Washington Post, was writing a weekly column entitled; “What was Fake on the Internet” has given up. She posted her last one December 18, 2015. She states that she just can’t keep up with the numbers. So what is an average person to do? Quit reading the Internet? Unlikely.

Here are a few tips.

One of the best ways is to use the advanced search in Google. Click on the gear once you have put in your search topic. You will then have the options to narrow your search by last update, site or domain, exact phrase, and language to name a few. So for instance. I could search for all of the articles about Pope Francis as an exact phrase, then add in the past year with the site .gov. The results are only from U.S. government sites within the last year about Pope Francis.

What’s the first thing you should do if you see a fishy headline? Google the exact headline. You should immediately see links debunking it if it’s fake.

There are some Fact Checking sites available. Of course if I really wanted to be suspicious I would ask who checks these sites. Snopes The website was founded by David Mikkelson, who lives and works in the Los Angeles area. What he began in 1995 as an expression of his interest in researching urban legends has since grown into what is widely regarded by folklorists, journalists, and laypersons alike as one of the World Wide Web’s essential resources. Both, and check the campaign trail. What about Wikipedia? Here is a link to an article “Using Wikipedia to Automatically Fact-Check the Internet”

Check the source. Does the About page give any clues as to the sponsors or purpose of the page?

What about the author? Did you know that Twitter and Facebook puts a Blue Check Mark next to their account name if they have verified their occupation?

So why does it matter that much of the information we view and perhaps believe is inaccurate? What decisions do we make based on the information we believe? Political thinkers have long claimed with Jefferson that, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” The idea is obvious: If citizens are going to make even indirect decisions about policy, we need to know the facts about the problem the policy is meant to rectify, and to be able to gain some understanding about how effective that policy would be. In the larger sense, if we are going to decide who runs the country — and we are, if you think the electoral college allows for that — we need to know the facts about the candidates’ records.